In the Roman Catholic Catechism prayer to Mary is explained in part 4, chapter 2, article 2. The Catechism talks about the “twofold movement of prayer to Mary” which 1) consists of magnifying the Lord for what he did through her and 2) “entrusts the supplications and praises of the children of God to the Mother of Jesus.” This twofold movement is found in the Ave Maria (Hail Mary), the traditional Catholic prayer which addresses Mary, who is “full of grace.” The Catechism also calls her “the dwelling of God…with men,” and ascribes to her these names: “the Mother of Mercy, the All-Holy One.”
Because Mary is at the top of the human ladder of blessedness, the Catechism also says we can “entrust all our cares and petitions to her: she prays for us as she prayed for herself…we give ourselves over to her now…to surrender ‘the hour of our death’ wholly to her care.” In fact, Rome says, “We can pray with and to her. The prayer of the Church is sustained by the prayer of Mary and united with it in hope.”
This is one of the major reasons why the Reformation happened: because Rome was steeped in corrupt, idolatrous worship. And this is why the Reformation matters today, because Rome has not repented of her idolatry; the above quotes are from the Roman Catholic Church’s modern Catechism.
Herman Bavinck was right: “In Rome, Mariolatry increasingly crowds out the true Christian worship of God. … It is against this idolization of the human that the Reformation rose up in protest” (RD III p. 282).
The [Lutheran] Smalcald Articles (Part 2, article 2) also say it well: “The invocation of saints is…one of Antichrist’s abuses that conflicts with the chief article [the gospel] and destroys the knowledge of Christ [Phil. 3:8]. It is neither commanded nor counseled, nor has it any warrant in Scripture. Even if it were a precious thing – which it is not – we have everything a thousand times better in Christ.”
The Westminster Confession of Faith 21.1 puts it this way: “Religious worship is to be given to God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and to him alone: not to angels, saints, or any other creature: and, since the fall, not without a mediator, nor in the mediation of any other but of Christ alone.”
The Lutheran and Presbyterian confessions are right. Since Christ alone is sufficient for everything we need in salvation (body and soul, life and death), we don’t have to look elsewhere for anything. When we do so, we are turning from Christ, committing idolatry, and acting as if his work is not enough. This is one great reason to thank God for the Reformation – he used it to bring the focus on back upon Christ and him alone. Post tenebras lux!