In the mid-19th century Charles Chiniquy was a priest in the French Canadian Roman Catholic Church. To make a very long story short, Chiniquy constantly wrestled with the teachings of Rome since they didn’t mesh with the teachings of Scripture. After a long and intense spiritual struggle, Chiniquy left Rome for the Reformation. The unabridged edition of this book is quite long and detailed, but it is worth the effort. (FYI, you can find it on Kindle for less than $2.00.) I’m reading through the unabridged edition, and though I don’t agree with it all, it has been a fascinating read; it’s not one I’ll set down and forget about.
One section that stands out for me is where Chiniquy recounted a sermon about Mary that he preached when he was a Catholic priest. (Speaking of Mary and Rome, here’s a summary of Rome’s teaching on prayer to Mary.) Chiniquy’s sermon went like this (edited/abridged):
“I was sincerely devoted to the Virgin Mary. Nothing seemed to me more natural than to pray to her, and rely on her protection. The object of my sermon was to show that Jesus Christ cannot refuse any of the petitions presented to him by his mother; that she has always obtained favors she asked he Son, Jesus, to grant to her devotees. Of course, my address was more sentimental than Scripture, as it is the style among the priests of Rome. But I was honest; and I sincerely believed what I said.”
“The Gospel says, in reference to his parents, …’he was subject unto them (Lk. 2:51). What a grand and shining revelation we have in these few short words: Jesus was subject unto Mary! Is it not written, that Jesus is the same today, as he was yesterday, and will be forever (Heb. 13:8)? He has not changed. He is still the Son of Mary… in his divine humanity, he is still subject unto Mary. This is why our holy Church, which is the pillar and fountain of Truth, invites you and me, today, to put an unbounded confidence in her intercession. Remembering that Jesus has always granted the petitions presented to him by his divine mother, let us put our petitions in her hands, if we want to receive the favours we are in need of.”
Chiniquy says quite a bit more about devotion and prayers to Mary in this sermon. At one point, he says that because Jesus is so holy and we are so sinful, we cannot go directly to Christ. Therefore, he preached, we should go to Mary – because she is the mediator and intercessor between sinners and Christ. Chiniquy even quoted Pope Gregory XVI: “Mary is the only hope of sinners.”
Soon after he preached this sermon, Chiniquy was reading through the Gospels where he found accounts of Jesus rebuking Mary and the stories where Jesus says his mother and brothers are those who do the will of God (e.g. John 2:4, Mark 3:34-35, etc.). These texts pierced his conscience like a sword, and he felt incredibly guilty (to the point of tears) for preaching lies:
“A voice, the voice of my conscience, whose thunders were like the voice of a thousand Niagaras was telling me: “Do you not see that you have preached a sacrilegious lie this morning, when, from the pulpit, you said to your ignorant and deluded people, that Jesus always granted the petitions of His mother, Mary? Are you not ashamed to deceive yourself, and deceive your poor countrymen with such silly falsehoods? …Do you not see you have presented a blasphemous lie, every time you said that Jesus always granted the petitions of His mother?”
Chiniquy took his concerns to a bishop who could not answer his questions, but simply directed him to the early Church fathers. Chiniquy then looked deep into the fathers, but did not find them advocating the worship of or prayers to Mary. He continued to wrestle, thinking that he was able to put up with Rome’s several errors more than Protestantism’s many errors. Later he came to the conclusion that there were more errors in Rome than in Protestantism. Therefore he left Rome and her unbiblical superstitions, unchristian traditions, and distortions of the gospel. By the way, Rome hasn’t changed her position on Mary. The Reformation happened for a reason!
The above quotes can be found in chapter 46 of Charles Chiniquy, Fifty Years in the Church of Rome.