On this 500th anniversary year of the Protestant Reformation, Roman Catholicism is once again demonstrating the key role it plays as the creator and maintainer of Mary worship.
One of six statues of Our Lady of Fatima, blessed by Pope Francis at the beginning of the year, is today concluding its tour of Northern Ireland.
The Irish News notes how, “In a celebration of 100 years since the Virgin Mary appeared to three children in the Portugese village, the three-foot-high statue started its journey in Armagh. A series of services will take place across Ireland to mark the jubilee year of the apparitions. It was brought to Ireland from Rome by the Alliance of the Holy Family International with the Alliance of the Two Hearts Ireland. Members of the public will be able to pray before the pilgrim statue in each of the churches it visits.”
The statue was welcomed by the Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin, who crowned it in St Malachy's Church in Armagh on Friday [see photo above]. It then 'journeyed' to the Raphoe and Dromore dioceses before arriving at St Eugene's Cathedral, Londonderry at 12.30pm, then on to the Clogher diocese, before visiting 10 parishes in Down and Connor from Thursday until Sunday.
A spokeswoman for the Down and Connor leg of the pilgrimage said they were "especially blessed" as the statue would be in the diocese for four days, journeying to churches in Dunsford, Belfast, Toome and Coleraine:
"We have a team of 10 priests and 13 lay people and we are working to make the Down and Connor pilgrimage very special," she said. "Pilgrims may bring roses for blessing for the sick and housebound if they wish and a white handkerchief for the traditional Fatima farewell. Children are welcome to come dressed as little shepherds. A number of schools are also getting involved welcoming the pilgrimage. Our Lady of Fátima gave her message for the world to three little shepherd children so it’s very appropriate that children are leading by example in our diocese."
Schedule for Sunday, 12 March 2017
The 'pilgrim statue' will visit the following churches at the following times:
St. Peter’s Cathedral, Belfast
8.45 a.m. Arrival of the Pilgrim Statue of Our Lady of Fatima
9 a.m. Mass
10 Devotions including Rosary, Enrolment in The Brown Scapular, Consecration to The Immaculate Heart of Mary
11 a.m. Solemn Mass with music by Schola Cantorum
12 noon Departure of the Pilgrim Statue for public rosary procession to St. Paul’s Church
Public Rosary Procession
12 noon The Angelus
12 Public rosary procession commences outside St. Peter’s Cathedral commencing to St. Paul’s Church, kindly stewarded by The Legion of Mary
St. Paul’s Church, Belfast
12.45 p.m. (est) Arrival of the Pilgrim Statue of Our Lady of Fatima
12.50 p.m. Prayers and devotions
2 p.m. Farewell to Our Lady of Fatima as the Pilgrim Statue leaves Belfast and journeys to St. Mary’s Pro-Cathedral in Dublin
In the light of this profound attention to and reverence for Mary, surely Bishop J. C. Ryle was correct to claim that, “Roman Catholicism is a gigantic system of Mary worship, saint worship, image worship and relic worship. In one word, it is a huge organised idolatry.”
Comments for Consideration
1. Nowhere in Scripture are we told to put our eyes upon anyone other than the Lord Himself.
We are told to fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). When we take your eyes off of Jesus and put them on anything else, or anyone else, we will be led astray.
In addition, it is Jesus who is the model of virtue, not Mary. Though she was greatly blessed and undoubtedly a godly woman, she still needed a saviour. Mary testified, “My spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour” (Luke 1:47). Contrary to the Roman Catholic teaching that Mary was sinless, Mary herself admitted that God was her Saviour. A sinless person does not need a Saviour. Our eyes should be kept on Him.
2 The only proper object of our worship is God.
Jesus said, “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve" (Matthew 4:10). God clearly warns against creating any idol before which anyone should bow, for example in Exodus 20:4-5: "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them … .”
It goes without saying that the countless images of Mary strewn throughout Catholic churches all over the world are most assuredly shrines of idolatry since thousands of times a day Catholics over the world break the commandment of God by bowing before these images in worship. These recent ‘mobile Mary’s’ only add to this idolatry.
3. The idea the Christians should pray to/through Mary is nowhere taught in Scripture.
A prayer to Mary usually begins with the repetition of the "Hail Mary.” This is not what Jesus told us to do: “When ye pray, use not vain repetitions as the heathen do” (Matthew 6:7). Jesus then proceeded to show us the right way to pray: “After this manner therefore pray ye, ‘Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name ... '.” (Matthew 6:9) and, "At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God” (John 16:26-27).
Jesus told us to pray directly to God the Father in His name (i.e. His authority, by faith), therefore praying through "Mary" (or any of the saints) is improper: we go directly to the Father!
In our hearts and with our lips we glorify Christ, and reject Mariolatry as dishonouring to God and destructive of faith in Christ. We glorify the one Mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5), Christ Jesus our Lord, who was crucified, dead and buried, and who rose from the dead and ascended up on high (Ephesians 4:8) and was welcomed into heaven by the multitudes that no man can number and is worshiped by the redeemed as the being by whom and for whom all things were made (Colossians 1:16).