Why did Mary offer a sacrifice in the temple? Contrary to Catholic claims, does not that mean that she did sin? What are the fundamental differences between ritual impurity and actual sin in the Old Testament, and how are those distinctions made in Judaism – but more importantly – in light of our Christian faith and the New Testament? All of these things will be explored in a few moments.
Leviticus 4:2 starts: “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, If anyone sins unintentionally in any of the Lord’s commandments about things not to be done, and does any one of them […]”. No one disputes that the Bible uses the term ‘unintentional sins’, the dispute is whether or not such sins were really considered punishable moral transgressions before God. Protestants are put in a very similar position when they encounter the use of the word ‘works’ in the NT and their contextualization of justification (e.g. Revelation 20:12 & Romans 2:6). They argue negatively whether works really count for our salvation. The purpose of this article is to do something similar when it comes to the Jewish concept of ‘ritual impurity’ and to analyze its relationship with Jesus and Mary’s sinlessness.
Judaism in general identifies three levels of sin (Hebrew: 𝘢𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘢): 𝘱𝘦𝘴𝘩𝘢, an act of defiance towards God; 𝘢𝘷𝘰𝘯, a very hard to control evil act with no specific intentions to defy God; and 𝘤𝘩𝘦𝘪𝘵, an unintentional sin or fault. (Wikipedia)
An almost unanimous Jewish modern explanation is offered for this third category, where sin does not carry eternal consequences – but it is more commonly referred to as ‘someone missing the target’. Among the subsets of 𝘤𝘩𝘦𝘪𝘵, we find many errors and conditions that can render humans ‘sinful’ in this sense, but I would like to single in on the state of uncleanliness. 𝘛𝘶𝘮𝘢𝘩 was the state of being considered ritually impure. The term was used to describe two conditions:
Ritual impurity – the opposite of taharah (“purity”), also known as “impurity of the body”.
Moral impurity – the opposite of kedushah (“sanctity”), also known as “impurity of the soul”; this category also includes activities which are disgusting or abominable. (Wikipedia)
Clearly, ritual impurity did not carry a ‘sinful’ meaning and was more of an unfortunate condition that rendered people unable to fulfill or participate in the Jewish life. Whereas moral impurity did relate to sinful behaviors, regardless of their level of gravity.
It is extremely important to learn and acknowledge that ritual purity laws and their consequences CEASED when the Second Temple of Jerusalem was destroyed. This is imperative to understand in our Christian teaching, because the destruction of the temple was the culmination of God’s judgement upon Jerusalem. Jesus unarguably challenged these purity laws. It was clear that such laws were not going to be the core of the Christian message; in fact sometimes they acted as roadblocks to a fulfilling Christian life.
The accusation has been raised that Mary did sin because she had to offer a sin offering for her period of impurity. In fact the whole family had to do it, not just Mary. If Mary had had a normal birth, then her blood at birth and after birth would have polluted anyone who was in contact with her blood, including Joseph and Jesus. For that culture, the blood of a woman was considered impure, whereas the blood of men were seen as a sign to seal the pact under God’s covenant in circumcision. But overall, the Jewish sense offered a profound respect for blood in general, for they believed that the life force of creatures was in the blood (Leviticus 17:11). Touching any type of blood was considered impure because you were participating in the foreign and fallen life of another creature.
Catholic theology claims that Mary did not have a normal birth. She remained a virgin and Sacred Tradition teaches that Jesus’ birth was perfect in the sense that He did not cause any harm to His mother’s bodily integrity. Nonetheless, she was legally considered impure because it was assumed by many that she had a normal birth; just as Jesus was considered legally guilty by the High Priest, though there was no fault in Him.
Protestants love to claim that Mary was not sinless because she had to offer a sacrifice in the temple (Lk 2:24) according to Leviticus 12. However, this is a rushed conclusion. If it were to mean that Mary was considered sinful because of her 7-day period of impurity, then look at what this forces them to say about Jesus. Luke 2:22 is better rendered by the ESV when it reads: “And when the time came for 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙞𝙧 purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem […]”. Let us remember, Hebrew children were not considered fit or fully pure until they became circumcised on the eight day, the day after the mother would become pure again. Does this mean that Jesus was impure, or ‘sinful’ as well?
More so, how about passages in which Jesus directly performs actions that would render him impure, and therefore ‘sinful’ in the eyes of Protestants? Let us look at Mark 5, Matthew 9 and Luke 8; where Jesus resurrected Jairus’ daughter from the dead 𝙞𝙣 𝙝𝙚𝙧 𝙝𝙤𝙪𝙨𝙚 and 𝙗𝙮 𝙝𝙤𝙡𝙙𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙝𝙚𝙧 𝙝𝙖𝙣𝙙 once she was dead.
Numbers 19:11 and 19:16 is clear in stating that a person becomes impure when they touch a corpse. Numbers 19:14 states that a house and the people in it become impure when a corpse is present. So when Jesus is at Jairus’ home raising his daughter, he is engaging in two behaviors that would render him impure, thus ‘sinful’ according to Protestants. The same case may have occurred when He resurrected Lazarus.
We also know from Leviticus 15:25-27 that anyone who is in contact with a woman with an irregular discharge of blood becomes ceremonially impure. So we see that in the same above mentioned passages of Mk 5, Mt 9 & Lk 8, when the woman with the bleeding touches Jesus, that would have rendered Him ritually unclean – and thus sinful? But we know that Jesus remained sinless from other places in Scripture (2 Cor 5:21, Hebrews 4:15, 1 Peter 1:18-19 & 2:22, 1 Jn 3:5, John 8:29).
What is the answer then? The answer is found in the emphasis and intent of those texts (Mk 5, Mt 9 & Lk 8). Three times we find the story of Jairus’ daughter and the healing of the woman with the hemorrhage in the Gospels. Here we have Jesus and the NT writers explicitly emphasizing that those things that were considered unholy or unclean were mere disciplinary measurements to educate Israel; with the coming of the Messiah such things are passing away. This idea is reinforced by the many times that Jesus rebuked the Jews for focusing on the external purity laws alone, as they failed to internalize the Law in their hearts and acknowledge Him as Lord in their minds.
When Jesus challenged these practices it did not mean that God 𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘨𝘦𝘥, for neither He nor the Jews ever regarded such actions as morally sinful, except when done with the intent of disobedience. The transition to a better Law is the message that Jesus is bringing – discarding the traditions of men, abrogating aspects of the Leviticus Law and fulfilling the Mosaic Law.
We have proved that impurity/uncleanliness was never a moral charge against the person in and of itself unless the person negated the purification rituals that needed to be done afterwards. Mary, like Jesus, obediently submitted herself to the Law even though she did not need to. Jesus did not need to be baptized, but let us remember His words: “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness”. Mary, in perfect obedience to the Word of God at that time and by the grace of her son Jesus, did exactly the same to fulfill all righteousness.
A quick recount of a few Bible verses that offer support for the different Marian dogmas and doctrines we Catholics believe in. Following the principle of typology, with the Old and the New Testament interacting with each other, we see Mary as the New Eve and as the New Ark of the Covenant; how the biblical authors depict her role in the Church and salvation history.
Saint Paul did not speak of Hell in the same terms as the other Apostles did. A minority of both believers and non-believers see in St. Paul a door that could lead to a universalist interpretation of biblical soteriology. Some of the passages that seem to reinforce this recent development is the parts where he wishes the reconciliation of everything (e.g. Colossians 1:20). However, though he did not speak a lot about damnation in the same way other Holy Writings did, he is still clear about his interpretation when it comes to the fate of the wicked.
When we take a closer look, however, we see Paul may have believed in the now traditional Christian understanding of Hell. 2 Thessalonians 1:8-10 talks about ‘everlasting condemnation’ for those who do not know God and do not obey the Gospel. He prefers the use of words like ‘wrath of God’, and ‘condemnation’ to describe eschatological judgement.
The interesting thing is that, unlike John, the Gospels and Peter, he never refers to the Lake of Fire, Gehenna or Tartarus. In a sense, his idea of ‘separation from God’ will later serve to update our spiritual understanding of these realms, where judgement unfolds.
A few point out that the fire of destruction that Paul sometimes talks about, may not really mean a fire of damnation, but a purging one. This is our opportunity as Catholics to confirm what we have been telling everyone for centuries about our doctrine of Purgatory! Without question, Paul does speak about the cleansing type of eschatological fire. That’s why many Christians have historically found in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 an understanding of ‘refinement’ or ‘purgation’ of the Elect. The innegable connection to Zechariah 13:8-9, 14:1 suggests the Elect will be refined by the Lord in the Judgement Day. Even the Greek construction of the NT passage, when comparing it with the OT Septuagint version, is strikingly similar.
The nature of the ‘Day’ Paul talks about can be understood as a day that ‘reveals’ (ἀποκαλύπτεται / apokalyptetai) many things. In this Day, the Lord as a refiner’s fire will cleanse His chosen ones (Malachi 3:2-3).
The second type of fire Paul speaks about, is a fire of vengeance (ἐκδίκησιν), which we read in 2 Thessalonians 1:8-10. Here he completes the thought on the nature of this day, when the ‘Lord Jesus’ ‘comes’ in ‘the majesty of his power’. Unbelievers and disobedient Christians are the object of this vengeance, awaiting ‘everlasting destruction’ (ὄλεθρον αἰώνιον).
According to some sources, 𝘖𝘭𝘦𝘵𝘩𝘳𝘰𝘯 (destruction) does not automatically entail ‘extinction/annihilation’, rather it can be taken as ‘death/punishment/undoing’. The fact 𝘢𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘪𝘰𝘴 can be accompanied by concepts like punishment (Mt 25:46 / 𝘬𝘰𝘭𝘢𝘴𝘪𝘴 𝘢𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘪𝘰𝘴) or life (𝘻𝘰𝘦 𝘢𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘪𝘰𝘴), talks about its use as an adjective. Talking of extinction/annihilation in ‘everlasting’ terms would be misleading, since in a logical sense extermination happens only once, and ceases after the object is destroyed.
The evidence is clear: given these passages, Paul does not uphold an universalist position, where everyone will eventually be saved. Rather, he is constantly concerned to inform believers to attain salvation and avoid the wrath of God.
Por siglos los Católicos han sostenido que el pasaje de 1 Corintios 3:12-15 prueba la doctrina del purgatorio. Ya que San Pablo advierte sobre las obras que cada quien edifica en Cristo será juzgada en el Día del Juicio, para revelar de qué calidad es dicha obra.
San Pablo obviamente adopta el lenguaje del Antiguo Testamento, que presenta a Dios como un fuego que purifica a sus elegidos en el final de los tiempos (dado su uso de ‘el día’). La idea es que aquellos elegidos para la vida eterna que no construyeron en Cristo de una manera perfecta, serán salvos, pero antes sus obras y ellos mismos ‘sufrirán pérdida’ mediante un proceso de purificación. Mientras que el fuego de destrucción, como sugiere el contexto que le sigue a los versículos aquí citados, está reservado para aquellos que despreciaron la obra salvífica de Dios.
Junto con las figuras de la Bestia y el Anticristo, este personaje es sin duda uno de los más malentendidos en la historia del Cristianismo. Un principio básico es seguir el consejo del Apóstol Pedro (2 Pedro 1:20): “ninguna profecía de la Escritura es de interpretación privada”. El libro del Apocalipsis, conteniendo escrituras de carácter profético, tiene una temática propensa a ser distorsionada por muchos para su propia destrucción (2 Pedro 3:16). Así que es importante entender este libro a la luz del Antiguo Testamento, según el entendimiento de las primeras comunidades cristianas, quienes fueron los principales destinatarios del mensaje de San Juan.
La identidad de esta figura bíblica es revelada en Apocalipsis 17:18. El Apóstol recibe la siguiente pista:
“La mujer que viste en la visión representa la granciudad que reina sobre los reyes del mundo.”
Esto quiere decir que la mujer es un lugar, y Apocalipsis 11:8 nos dice claramente cuál es esta gran ciudad:
“Y sus cadáveres estarán en la plaza de la grande ciudad que en sentido espiritual se llama Sodoma y Egipto, donde también nuestro Señor fue crucificado.”
Todo cristiano sabe que Jesucristo fue crucificado en Jerusalén, no en Roma, ni en Meca, ni en Estados Unidos. Esta pista debería de ser suficiente para entender quién es esta mujer. Sin embargo, hay líderes religiosos que continúan negando esta verdad, con el fin de manipular a las masas a través del miedo y de mentiras. Veamos más elementos que en su totalidad, una vez descubiertos, dejan muy en claro la naturaleza de estos pasajes bíblicos.
Adicionalmente, Juan comenta que esta ciudad persiguió a los santos y mártires de Dios (17:6):
“Vi a la mujer ebria de la sangre de los santos, y de la sangre de los mártires de Jesús; y cuando la vi, quedé asombrado con gran asombro.”
En Apocalipsis 18:20 vemos que Dios le hace justicia a aquellos que han muerto a causa de sus persecuciones:
“¡Alégrense también ustedes, santos, apóstoles y profetas!, porque Dios, al juzgarla, les ha hecho justicia a ustedes”.
Jerusalén no es solo la responsable de haber matado a Esteban (Hechos 7:54-60), el primer mártir y a otros discípulos de Jesús (Hechos 12:1-2), sino que también persiguió y mató a los profetas del Antiguo Testamento:
“Y en ella se halló la sangre de los profetas y de los santos, y de todos los que han sido muertos en la tierra.” (Apocalipsis 18:24)
Este testimonio concuerda con el Lamento de Jesús en Mateo 23:37-39, cuando dice:
“¡Jerusalén, Jerusalén, que matas a los profetas, y apedreas a los que te son enviados!”
(Lucas 11:47-51 es clave para entender esto.)
Algunos dirán: ‘pero Jerusalén no era el centro del mundo ni de las naciones, ni tenía poder sobre los reyes y moradores de la Tierra’. Apocalipsis 17:15 dice que: “Las aguas que has visto donde la ramera se sienta, son pueblos, muchedumbres, naciones y lenguas.”
Hechos 2:5-11 nos narra cómo Jerusalén se llenaba de gente de todos los rincones de la Tierra durante la Pascua Hebrea:
“Moraban entonces en Jerusalén judíos, varones piadosos, de todas las naciones bajo el cielo. Y hecho este estruendo, se juntó la multitud; y estaban confusos, porque cada uno les oía hablar en su propia lengua. Y estaban atónitos y maravillados, diciendo: Mirad, ¿no son galileos todos estos que hablan? ¿Cómo, pues, les oímos nosotros hablar cada uno en nuestra lengua en la que hemos nacido? Partos, medos, elamitas, y los que habitamos en Mesopotamia, en Judea, en Capadocia, en el Ponto y en Asia, en Frigia y Panfilia, en Egipto y en las regiones de África más allá de Cirene, y romanos aquí residentes, tanto judíos como prosélitos, cretenses y árabes […]”
De igual manera, esta mujer viste:
“[…] púrpura y escarlata, y adornada de oro, de piedras preciosas y de perlas, y tenía en la mano un cáliz de oro lleno de abominaciones y de la inmundicia de su fornicación y en su frente un nombre escrito, un misterio: BABILONIA LA GRANDE, LA MADRE DE LAS RAMERAS Y DE LAS ABOMINACIONES DE LA TIERRA.” (Apocalipsis 17:4-5)
Acerca de las vestiduras del Sumo Sacerdote, Éxodo 28:15,17-20 dice:
“Harás asimismo el pectoral del juicio de obra primorosa, lo harás conforme a la obra del efod, de oro, azul, púrpura, carmesí y lino torcido […] lo llenarás de pedrería en cuatro hileras de piedras; una hilera de una piedra sárdica, un topacio y un carbunclo; la segunda hilera, una esmeralda, un zafiro y un diamante; la tercera hilera, un jacinto, una ágata y una amatista; la cuarta hilera, un berilo, un ónice y un jaspe. Todas estarán montadas en engastes de oro.”
Éxodo 39:29 lee de la siguiente manera:
“También el cinto de lino torcido, de azul, púrpura y carmesí, de obra de recamador, como Jehová lo mandó a Moisés.”
Además, el Sumo Sacerdote usaba un incensario dorado y una mitra que tenía una inscripción sobre la frente:
“Harás además una lámina de oro fino, y grabarás en ella como grabadura de sello, SANTIDAD A JEHOVÁ.” (Éxodo 28:36)
Vemos que el nombre de la Ramera ha cambiado, dado que ya no refleja la ‘Santidad de Jehová’, sino que refleja su propia inmundicia de fornicación e idolatría.
Sabemos también que existe una base bíblica que históricamente compara a Jerusalén y el Pueblo de Israel con la prostitución por medio de idolatría:
“tus adulterios, tus relinchos, la maldad de tu fornicación sobre los collados; en el campo vi tus abominaciones. !!Ay de ti, Jerusalén! ¿No serás al fin limpia? ¿Cuánto tardarás tú en purificarte?” (Jeremías 13:27)
De hecho, todo el capítulo 16 del Profeta Ezequiel acusa inconfundiblemente a Jerusalén por haberse prostituido con los reinos e imperios de la región, adorando a dioses ajenos:
“Pero confiaste en tu hermosura, y te prostituiste a causa de tu renombre, y derramaste tus fornicaciones a cuantos pasaron; suya eras.” (Ezequiel 16:15)
De hecho, cuando Ezequiel escribe en contra de Jerusalén, también le hace parentesco con las ciudades de Samaria y de Sodoma (v. 46, 48).
“Y tu hermana mayor es Samaria, ella y sus hijas, que habitan al norte de ti; y tu hermana menor es Sodoma con sus hijas, la cual habita al sur de ti. […] Vivo yo, dice Jehová el Señor, que Sodoma tu hermana y sus hijas no han hecho como hiciste tú y tus hijas.”
Recordemos que Juan nos dice que espiritualmente, esta mujer en Apocalipsis es conocida como “Egipto y Sodoma”.
Es por eso que Dios mismo ordena a Oseas a casarse con una prostituta. Ya que Dios quería que nosotros entendiéramos lo que Él mismo ha sufrido con Jerusalén. Jerusalén es una esposa que ha cometido adulterio una y otra vez, pero aún así Dios ha buscado amarla y reconciliarse con ella. Es por esto que el juicio en Apocalipsis es severo, ya que no habrá más oportunidades para Jerusalén.
Evidencia extrabíblica nos hace ver que Jerusalén, al igual que muchas otras ciudades alrededor del mundo, se asienta sobre 7 colinas: los montes Ophel, Sión, Moría, Besetah, Acra, Gareb y Goath. Otra lista con diferentes nombres es: Monte Scopus, Monte Nob, el Monte de la Corrupción (2 Reyes 23,13), El original Monte Sión, la colina Suroeste también llamada Monte Sión, el Monte Ofel, y “La Roca” donde se construyó la fortaleza “Antonia”.
La Mujer montando a la Bestia indica una alianza estratégica o una unidad ya sea teológica o política. No hay acto de mayor traición que el que Jerusalén hizo, representada por el Sumo Sacerdote, al negar al Rey de Reyes y al aceptar al César (Juan 19:15). Vemos que el Imperio Romano y las autoridades judías conspiraron para matar al Mesías (Hechos 4:27).
Apocalipsis 17:16 dice también:
“Y los diez cuernos que viste en la bestia, éstos aborrecerán a la ramera, y la dejarán desolada y desnuda; y devorarán sus carnes, y la quemarán con fuego”.
Esto tiene un profundo significado profético, ya que Juan pronostica que esta alianza no será para siempre, sino que se revertirá en contra de la Prostituta para su propia devastación. Tal como sucedió con la Destrucción del Segundo Templo de Jerusalén bajo el asedio de los romanos.
Toda esta evidencia apunta a que Jerusalén es la Mujer que monta a la Bestia. Sin embargo, cabe recalcar que la Gran Ramera de Babilonia no es lo mismo que la histórica Babilonia, archienemigo de los israelitas. Nótese que se lee “Gran Ramera de Babilonia”, no “la Gran Ramera, Babilonia”. Veremos más adelante la naturaleza de esta Babilonia.
When we Catholics look at the many instances Scripture describes someone as being full of grace, as in the case of Jesus (Jn 1:14), Stephen (Acts 6:8) and Mary, we need to ask ourselves why would the Father equip them with boundless amounts of grace?
Since one of the most trustworthy definitions of grace is “God’s undeserved favor”, we Catholics can confidently state God granted Mary His ‘high favor’ by making her ‘full of grace’ in order she may fulfill the purposes the Father designed for her. And such purposes are raising the Messiah and providing spiritual support and intercession for His Church.
The Greek use of kecharitomene makes it almost impossible to translate the passage in common terms, but that doesn’t mean we can’t infer the idea the author wanted to convey. The word in question is a perfect passive participle in the feminine, better understood as “having been graced” – but it also partakes as a title or a as name, since it is preceded by the archangel’s salutation. So just as we would greet a king: Hail, His Majesty -or- Hail, Rabbi -or- Hail, King of the Jews; it must be understood God wanted Mary to be identified with such a title.
Words can be confusing when you want to define terms, and terms can be confusing when you want to define actions. Many concepts like “adoration, veneration, worship, reverence, homage, prayer and devotion”, though accurate to describe certain actions and ideas, lack a consistent use and meaning throughout history. When criticizing religious doctrines, such as the Catholic Marian dogmas, Protestants should use Catholic definitions and later compare such practices with those present in Scripture and history — just as they would expect us to use distinctions they do that we don’t consider biblical (e.g. sanctification vs justification, and regeneration vs baptism). This we do in order to avoid the ever changing nature of words to mud our study. An illustration of this is the word ‘worship’ itself, which in the Old English was simply used to describe any acknowledgement of worth, whereas nowadays has become a synonym to ‘adoration’.
Prominent Catholic figures like Augustine, Jerome and Aquinas explained in their writings the different senses in which Christians should honor God and creatures. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 2628) summarized their position and defines what we mean by “adoring”:
Adoration is the first attitude of man acknowledging that he is a creature before his Creator. It exalts the greatness of the Lord who made us and the almighty power of the Savior who sets us free from evil. Adoration is homage of the spirit to the “King of Glory,” respectful silence in the presence of the “ever greater” God.Adoration of the thrice-holy and sovereign God of love blends with humility and gives assurance to our supplications.
As for the latria, hyperdulia and dulia distinction, the Church states the following:
«The special veneration due to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is substantially less than the cultus latria (adoration), which is due to God alone. But it is higher than the cultus dulia (veneration), due to angels and other saints. As the Church understands the veneration of Mary, it is to be closely associated but subordinated to that of her Son. “The various forms of piety towards the Mother of God, which the Church has approved within the limits of sound and orthodox doctrine according to the dispositions and understanding of the faithful, ensure that while the mother is honored, the Son through whom all things have their being and in whom it has pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell, is rightly loved and glorified and His commandments are observed”» 
In the end, the way a Christian honors or worships (in the old-fashioned sense of the word), can be broken down as follows:
Once confronted with such a clear doctrinal distinction, many have attempted to argue from Scripture that such distinction is unbiblical, though without success. Such is the case of James White, who insists the Bible condemns any type of intercessory/petitionary prayer, service and veneration in a religious context when such actions are not addressed to God. In the end, White’s argument is a modified version of what Calvin argued in his Institutes , but instead of focusing in the Greek, White focuses in the Hebrew text. Others  have addressed such type of reasoning more specifically, so I won’t take the time to go over his arguments; only those that happen to overlap with Matt Slick’s article “Do Catholics Worship Mary?”.
According to Slick, the biblical way in which the people of God pay their homage to God alone is by:
■ setting up altars,
■ bowing down,
■ being devoted to,
■ entrusting one’s self to,
■ celebrating feasts to,
■ giving glory to,
■ having locations of (?),
■ looking to,
■ praying to,
■ and/or worshipping.
There is a fundamental flaw in this interpretation. Both Protestants and Catholics will agree that these actions in and of themselves are not sins. They only become sinful if the recipient of some of these actions is someone other than God. Some actions are owed to God alone, like adoring or setting up sacrificial altars; while others, like bowing down, can be performed towards human beings without any guilt. Let’s analyze some of these controversial actions:
Not surprisingly, in Slick’s article there was only an image to argue that Catholics adore Mary. Never in the history of the Church has the Magisterium officially taught or produced a document inviting Catholics to adore Mary in the same way we adore our almighty God. The challenge to produce such evidence has been laid out many times, and Protestant apologists have continuously neglected such proof. Old pious prayers with archaic lofty and exalted language won’t suffice as evidence.
The accusation that Catholics built altars to worship Mary is a common misunderstanding of ancient architecture. Due to their scale, Romanesque and Gothic layouts in churches would allow certain subdivision of interior spaces, also known as chapels, to allow the building to host more than one activity at a given time — even different masses at a time. In big churches like basilicas and cathedrals, these chapels, yet part of the larger apse, would be often be considered separate from the larger main layout. Chapels would often be dedicated to certain persons of the Trinity, saints, angels or even patrons; and some of them would be equipped with altars to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Eucharist in a smaller scale, with a smaller crowd. The sacrifices taking place in these secondary altars were never offered to the saint or angel to whom the chapel was dedicated, for that matter, the offers were not directed towards the surrounding images or statues. As explained, these spatial arrangements allowed for the personal devotions to these heroes of the faith to be more intimate, and to manage the crowds when the need arises.
Altar sacrifices should indeed be offered to God and to God alone. Bishop Epiphanius of Salamis in his Panarion denounces the heresy of the Collyridians, who pretended to offer quasi-Eucharistic sacrifices to the Virgin Mary. The group was immediately condemned and classified as a heresy by the Early Church. This only reaffirms the ecclesiastic commitment to offer the Holy Virgin proper veneration, and it confirms the always-present understanding that the Eucharist was the ultimate pleasing-to-God memorial sacrifice. It is worth to note Epiphanius was one of the few Church Fathers who was somewhat scandalized to some early Christian practices that involved the decoration of churches with images and statues of the saints. Again, this only proves it was already common by the time he wrote about this issue.
One of the earliest Christian prayers, the Sub tuum praesidium (c. 300 AD), reads as follows: “We fly to thy patronage, O holy Mother of God; despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin. Amen.” Entrusting ourselves to the care of angels and saints, and entrusting them with our petitions through the power of the Holy Spirit, so that they intercede before the Father, is not unbiblical. The book of Revelation portrays angels and saints in Heaven, receiving the prayers of the holy ones here on Earth, and presenting them to the Father (Rev 5:8, 8:3-4*).
Additionally, the Catechism teaches:
The Holy Spirit who teaches the Church and recalls to her all that Jesus said also instructs her in the life of prayer, inspiring new expressions of the same basic forms of prayer: blessing, petition, intercession, thanksgiving, and praise. 
The petitions in which we mention Mary’s role are primarily prayers of intercession…:
Since Abraham, intercession – asking on behalf of another has been characteristic of a heart attuned to God’s mercy. In the age of the Church, Christian intercession participates in Christ’s, as an expression of the communion of saints. In intercession, he who prays looks “not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others,” even to the point of praying for those who do him harm. The first Christian communities lived this form of fellowship intensely. Thus the Apostle Paul gives them a share in his ministry of preaching the Gospel but also intercedes for them. The intercession of Christians recognizes no boundaries: “for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions,” for persecutors, for the salvation of those who reject the Gospel. 
… and prayers of petition:
Christian petition is centered on the desire and search for the Kingdom to come, in keeping with the teaching of Christ. There is a hierarchy in these petitions: we pray first for the Kingdom, then for what is necessary to welcome it and cooperate with its coming. This collaboration with the mission of Christ and the Holy Spirit, which is now that of the Church, is the object of the prayer of the apostolic community. It is the prayer of Paul, the apostle par excellence, which reveals to us how the divine solicitude for all the churches ought to inspire Christian prayer. By prayer every baptized person works for the coming of the Kingdom. 
Though the latter type of prayer is not as common when it comes to the figure of Mary, it is still valid to invoke her name in such manner. E.g. “Father in Heaven, in your mercy, grant me the virtues you entrusted to your servant Mary; so that with your graces I may be equipped to …”. Mary, ultimately aligns the prayer of Christians and God’s servants to “do whatever He tells you” (Jn 2:5). Let us remember James’ words (5:16): “the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective”; how much more effective will the intercession of the Mother of God be?
As preamble, Romans 14:5-6 invites Christians to avoid passing judgment over those converts who observe Jewish feasts. The context of the passage is denouncing the criticism that people whose faith is stronger have towards those Jewish converts whose faith is weaker. Paul argues that the important thing is to live for the Lord, and that’s what Catholics are called to and constantly reminded of.
Exodus 32:5 is quoted as somehow prohibiting all types of feasts. The reality is that the Bible does not forbid the celebration of non-biblical feasts. The Jews did not take it that way either. Until this day, most of them have observed the Feast of the Dedication, which Slick would probably consider unbiblical, sourced in the victory of the troops of Judas Maccabeus over the Macedonian rulers and the purification of the new temple. Some people even argue that Jesus Himself used this feast to come into the world as the true new temple. Similarly, other Jewish feasts celebrate God’s work with His people, which is the whole point of having feasts in the Church as well. When the Church celebrates someone’s feast, it primarily celebrates God’s work on his loyal servant(s). Mary is the most excellent creature that ever existed, so naturally the Church celebrates her with special consideration.
Here is where the Reformed idea of monergism becomes more apparent. We do not take away glory from God when the Body of Christ is exalted by God’s own power. The strange view that members of the Body of Christ should not have any sort of glory has crept into the Church; perhaps not acknowledging that God works in us by endowing us with His own glory. The Father conferred glory to His incarnate Son, so He may confer it to us (John 17:22). He raises us up to have us seated in Heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6), where we will judge angels (1 Corinthians 6:3) and the twelve tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28, Luke 22:30), and reign with Him if we endure (2 Timothy 2:12) and suffer in his name (Romans 8:17). All this, so that by following His Gospel, we may gain His glory (2 Thessalonians 2:14).
Our God is not a jealous one in this sense, He is a God that shares in His glory, by making us participants in the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). Therefore, we do not err when we promote the God-given glory of Mary, for this is not of her own doing; but conferred by the Lord Himself. There is a difference between acknowledging the glory of a person who has lived a godly life, and conferring a glory we don’t have via a power we don’t have, since the latter is impossible.
I recall two common instances in the Bible in which creatures have been rebuked by kneeling/bowing down to other creatures. In Acts 10:25-26, Cornelius, having little knowledge of the Christian faith, is warned by Peter not to prostrate himself before him. In Revelation 19:10, and Revelation 22:9, John can’t resist the temptation to adore the angels of God. As a sidenote, in Tobit 12:16, we have no indication that angels are displeased when humans fall to the ground before them out of fear without the intention to worship; in fact they bring consolation to help overcome that fear. We see then; bowing down, prostrating, kneeling or falling to the ground, is only considered sinful when our intention is to worship/adore the creature or idol in front of us.
We have a better and more accurate biblical analogy we should study when it comes the Blessed Mother. In 1 Kings 2, we have the Gebirah, the “Great Lady” (a typos of Mary), approaching King Solomon (a typos of Jesus). As you would imagine, this queen lady is Bathsheba, the mother of the king. In verse 19, she enters where the king is seated to intercede for Adonijah, and the king Solomon “stood up to meet her, bowed down to her and sat down on his throne”. Having bowed before King David in chapter 1:31, she now receives this level of reverence from her own son. Make no mistake, Mary is indeed the cosmical Gebirah (Rev 12:1), and as the great intercessor, we should treat her with the same level of respect.
In Joshua 7:6, Joshua fell face-down before the Ark of God. Did the Israelites adore the Ark? No, but they paid utter reverence to it because it signified God’s presence. Otherwise the Ark would have faced the same fate as the Nehushtan did. In the same fashion, Mary is the New Ark of the Covenant. She contained the Word of God in flesh, as the Ark contained the Word of God in stone; she contained the Living Bread from Heaven, as the Ark contained the heavenly Mana; and she contained the true High Priest, as the Ark contained Aaron’s rod, symbol of the priesthood. Even fake idols fell down in prostration with their heads crushed before the Ark (1 Samuel 5:4), just as Mary’s seed is promised to crush the head of the serpent and her offspring in Genesis 3:15.
All things considered, we have learned that worship in the Christian faith and Catholic theology encompasses different levels of respect; and though contemporary linguistic considerations would favor terms like veneration instead, there is no theological error in saying worshiping someone, in the traditional sense of the word, is a sinful practice. When ‘adoring’ is used as a synonym of ‘worship’, and such practice is oriented towards a creature, idol or interest, it is always sinful as it does fall into the category of idolatry.
The Reformers were tough critics of this distinction of latria and dulia, yet they had to say the following about Mary:
“The veneration of Mary is inscribed in the very depths of the human heart.”
In his last Sermon at Wittenberg, in January 1546 he preached:
“Is Christ only to be adored? Or is the holy Mother of God rather not to be honoured? This is the woman who crushed the Serpent’s head. Hear us. For your Son denies you nothing.”
In his 1531 sermon at Christmas, while strongly arguing the Catholic devotion to Mary detracted from Christ, Luther wrote:
“[…] what are all the maids, servants, masters, mistresses, princes, kings, and monarchs on earth compared with the Virgin Mary, who was born of royal lineage, and withal became the mother of God, the noblest woman on earth? After Christ, she is the most precious jewel in all Christendom. And this noblest woman on earth is to serve me and us all by bearing this child and giving him to be our own! […] True it is, she is worthy of praise and can never be praised and extolled enough. For this honor is so great and wonderful, to be chosen before all women on earth to become the mother of this child.”
“I esteem immensely the Mother of God, the ever chaste, immaculate Virgin Mary”.
He later goes on to say: “The more the honor and love of Christ increases among men, so much the esteem and honor given to Mary should grow”.
Calvin — from whom a famous Reformed Protestant said: “Among all those who have been born of women, there has not risen a greater than John Calvin”  — coincidently said:
“It cannot even be denied that God conferred the highest honor on Mary, by choosing and appointing her to be the mother of his Son.”
He again wrote: “To this day we cannot enjoy the blessing brought to us in Christ without thinking at the same time of that which God gave as adornment and honour to Mary, in willing her to be the mother of his only-begotten Son.”
This same honor we Catholics promote and proclaim, this is the honor we Catholics celebrate; for “all generations shall call her blessed” (Luke 1:48).
* Tobit 12:12 supports the role of angels and archangels as the ones who present the prayers to God.
 Merriam Webster Dictionary (online).
 The City of God, Book X.
 Letter 109, Paragraph 1.
 Summa Theologica, 2nd II, Q 103, Arts 3 & 4.
 Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium, VII, 66.
Translations are what they are… translations. As many other Catholic theologians would point out, the word ‘kecharitomene’ has a more robust and emphatic meaning when understood in the Greek. In this article, I would like to shine light on the issue of why most non-Catholics have deviated from the use of “full of grace” when translating kecharitomene in Luke 1:28. Here’s a brief exposition of the way the Protestant textual interpretation shifted when it comes to the English readings.
The earliest lucan reading in Greek is found as this:
Now, the Geneva Bible in 1557, changed the meaning of kecharitomene but retained the royal greeting of Chaire. The extraneous use of “beloved” instead of “full of grace” is probably attributed to the earlier 1568 Bishop’s Bible:
The first recorded instance of a Bible removing the royal greeting Chaire is the Etheridge translation (1849): “𝙋𝙚𝙖𝙘𝙚 𝙩𝙤 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙚, 𝙛𝙪𝙡𝙡 𝙤𝙛 𝙜𝙧𝙖𝙘𝙚”, followed by the Emphasised Rotherham version (1902): “𝙅𝙤𝙮 𝙩𝙤 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙚, 𝙛𝙖𝙫𝙤𝙪𝙧𝙚𝙙 𝙤𝙣𝙚”. It’s proven, I think, these slight but significant alterations to the interpretation are not only modern, but sourced in a doctrinal bias. Ever since the KJV, non-Catholic translations like the NIV, NASB, NRSV have diminished the title-description of kecharitomene, and avoided the rightful use of ‘Hail’ in the archangel’s salutation.
Just as “Hail” has a meaning of reverence that the words “greetings” or “rejoice” cannot fully express; kecharitomene has a significance in the Greek, which expressions like “full of grace”, much less “highly favored”, cannot fully capture.
There are actually plenty of quotes from Augustine with interpretations of Matthew 16:18 which at first glance favors the retractors of Petrine Primacy. Orthodox and Protestants often cite these passages to show the Early Church Fathers never taught Peter was the Rock on which the Church was founded.
𝘕𝘰𝘸𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴𝘯𝘢𝘮𝘦𝘰𝘧𝘗𝘦𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘸𝘢𝘴𝘨𝘪𝘷𝘦𝘯𝘩𝘪𝘮𝘣𝘺𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘓𝘰𝘳𝘥, 𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘢𝘧𝘪𝘨𝘶𝘳𝘦, 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘴𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥𝘴𝘪𝘨𝘯𝘪𝘧𝘺𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘊𝘩𝘶𝘳𝘤𝘩. 𝘍𝘰𝘳𝘴𝘦𝘦𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵𝘊𝘩𝘳𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘰𝘤𝘬 (𝘗𝘦𝘵𝘳𝘢), 𝘗𝘦𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘊𝘩𝘳𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘢𝘯𝘱𝘦𝘰𝘱𝘭𝘦. 𝘍𝘰𝘳𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘰𝘤𝘬 (𝘗𝘦𝘵𝘳𝘢) 𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘰𝘳𝘪𝘨𝘪𝘯𝘢𝘭𝘯𝘢𝘮𝘦. 𝘛𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘦𝘗𝘦𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘴𝘴𝘰𝘤𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘥𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘰𝘤𝘬; 𝘯𝘰𝘵𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘰𝘤𝘬𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮𝘗𝘦𝘵𝘦𝘳; 𝘢𝘴𝘊𝘩𝘳𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘴𝘯𝘰𝘵𝘤𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘥𝘊𝘩𝘳𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘊𝘩𝘳𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘢𝘯, 𝘣𝘶𝘵𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘊𝘩𝘳𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘢𝘯𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮𝘊𝘩𝘳𝘪𝘴𝘵. ‘𝘛𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘦,’ 𝘩𝘦𝘴𝘢𝘪𝘵𝘩, ‘𝘛𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘗𝘦𝘵𝘦𝘳; 𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘶𝘱𝘰𝘯𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴𝘙𝘰𝘤𝘬‘ 𝘸𝘩𝘪𝘤𝘩𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘩𝘢𝘴𝘵𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘧𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘦𝘥, 𝘶𝘱𝘰𝘯𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴𝘙𝘰𝘤𝘬𝘸𝘩𝘪𝘤𝘩𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘩𝘢𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘤𝘬𝘯𝘰𝘸𝘭𝘦𝘥𝘨𝘦𝘥, 𝘴𝘢𝘺𝘪𝘯𝘨, ‘𝘛𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘊𝘩𝘳𝘪𝘴𝘵, 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘚𝘰𝘯𝘰𝘧𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘭𝘪𝘷𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘎𝘰𝘥, 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘐𝘣𝘶𝘪𝘭𝘥𝘔𝘺𝘊𝘩𝘶𝘳𝘤𝘩;’ 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘴𝘶𝘱𝘰𝘯𝘔𝘺𝘴𝘦𝘭𝘧, 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘚𝘰𝘯𝘰𝘧𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘭𝘪𝘷𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘎𝘰𝘥, ‘𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘐𝘣𝘶𝘪𝘭𝘥𝘔𝘺𝘊𝘩𝘶𝘳𝘤𝘩.’ 𝘐𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘣𝘶𝘪𝘭𝘥𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘦𝘶𝘱𝘰𝘯𝘔𝘺𝘴𝘦𝘭𝘧, 𝘯𝘰𝘵𝘔𝘺𝘴𝘦𝘭𝘧𝘶𝘱𝘰𝘯𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘦. 𝘍𝘰𝘳𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘸𝘩𝘰𝘸𝘪𝘴𝘩𝘦𝘥𝘵𝘰𝘣𝘦𝘣𝘶𝘪𝘭𝘵𝘶𝘱𝘰𝘯𝘮𝘦𝘯, 𝘴𝘢𝘪𝘥, ‘𝘐𝘢𝘮𝘰𝘧𝘗𝘢𝘶𝘭; 𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘐𝘰𝘧𝘈𝘱𝘰𝘭𝘭𝘰𝘴; 𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘐𝘰𝘧𝘊𝘦𝘱𝘩𝘢𝘴, 𝘸𝘩𝘰𝘪𝘴𝘗𝘦𝘵𝘦𝘳. 𝘉𝘶𝘵𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘴𝘸𝘩𝘰𝘥𝘪𝘥𝘯𝘰𝘵𝘸𝘪𝘴𝘩𝘵𝘰𝘣𝘦𝘣𝘶𝘪𝘭𝘵𝘶𝘱𝘰𝘯𝘗𝘦𝘵𝘦𝘳, 𝘣𝘶𝘵𝘶𝘱𝘰𝘯𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘙𝘰𝘤𝘬, 𝘴𝘢𝘪𝘥, ‘𝘉𝘶𝘵𝘐𝘢𝘮𝘰𝘧𝘊𝘩𝘳𝘪𝘴𝘵.’ 𝘈𝘯𝘥𝘸𝘩𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘈𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘵𝘭𝘦𝘗𝘢𝘶𝘭𝘢𝘴𝘤𝘦𝘳𝘵𝘢𝘪𝘯𝘦𝘥𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘸𝘢𝘴𝘤𝘩𝘰𝘴𝘦𝘯, 𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘊𝘩𝘳𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘥𝘦𝘴𝘱𝘪𝘴𝘦𝘥, 𝘩𝘦𝘴𝘢𝘪𝘥, ‘𝘐𝘴𝘊𝘩𝘳𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘥𝘪𝘷𝘪𝘥𝘦𝘥? 𝘸𝘢𝘴𝘗𝘢𝘶𝘭𝘤𝘳𝘶𝘤𝘪𝘧𝘪𝘦𝘥𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘺𝘰𝘶? 𝘰𝘳𝘸𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘺𝘦𝘣𝘢𝘱𝘵𝘪𝘻𝘦𝘥𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘯𝘢𝘮𝘦𝘰𝘧𝘗𝘢𝘶𝘭?’ 𝘈𝘯𝘥, 𝘢𝘴𝘯𝘰𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘯𝘢𝘮𝘦𝘰𝘧𝘗𝘢𝘶𝘭, 𝘴𝘰𝘯𝘦𝘪𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘯𝘢𝘮𝘦𝘰𝘧𝘗𝘦𝘵𝘦𝘳; 𝘣𝘶𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘯𝘢𝘮𝘦𝘰𝘧𝘊𝘩𝘳𝘪𝘴𝘵: 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵𝘗𝘦𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘮𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵𝘣𝘦𝘣𝘶𝘪𝘭𝘵𝘶𝘱𝘰𝘯𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘙𝘰𝘤𝘬, 𝘯𝘰𝘵𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘙𝘰𝘤𝘬𝘶𝘱𝘰𝘯𝘗𝘦𝘵𝘦𝘳. — Translated by R.G. MacMullen. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 6. Edited by Philip Schaff. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1888.)
𝘜𝘱𝘰𝘯𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴𝘳𝘰𝘤𝘬, 𝘴𝘢𝘪𝘥𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘓𝘰𝘳𝘥, 𝘐𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘣𝘶𝘪𝘭𝘥𝘮𝘺𝘊𝘩𝘶𝘳𝘤𝘩. 𝘜𝘱𝘰𝘯𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘧𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘪𝘰𝘯, 𝘶𝘱𝘰𝘯𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘴𝘢𝘪𝘥, ‘𝘠𝘰𝘶𝘢𝘳𝘦𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘊𝘩𝘳𝘪𝘴𝘵, 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘚𝘰𝘯𝘰𝘧𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘭𝘪𝘷𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘎𝘰𝘥,’ 𝘐𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘣𝘶𝘪𝘭𝘥𝘮𝘺𝘊𝘩𝘶𝘳𝘤𝘩, 𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘨𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘴𝘰𝘧𝘩𝘦𝘭𝘭𝘴𝘩𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘯𝘰𝘵𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘲𝘶𝘦𝘳𝘩𝘦𝘳 (𝘔𝘵. 16:18). — John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (New Rochelle: New City, 1993) Sermons, Volume III/7, Sermon 236A.3,p. 48.
𝘗𝘦𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘩𝘢𝘥𝘢𝘭𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘥𝘺𝘴𝘢𝘪𝘥𝘵𝘰𝘩𝘪𝘮, ‘𝘠𝘰𝘶𝘢𝘳𝘦𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘊𝘩𝘳𝘪𝘴𝘵, 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘚𝘰𝘯𝘰𝘧𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘭𝘪𝘷𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘎𝘰𝘥.’ 𝘏𝘦𝘩𝘢𝘥𝘢𝘭𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘥𝘺𝘩𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘥, ‘𝘉𝘭𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘦𝘥𝘢𝘳𝘦𝘺𝘰𝘶, 𝘚𝘪𝘮𝘰𝘯𝘉𝘢𝘳–𝘑𝘰𝘯𝘢, 𝘣𝘦𝘤𝘢𝘶𝘴𝘦𝘧𝘭𝘦𝘴𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘣𝘭𝘰𝘰𝘥𝘥𝘪𝘥𝘯𝘰𝘵𝘳𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘢𝘭𝘪𝘵𝘵𝘰𝘺𝘰𝘶, 𝘣𝘶𝘵𝘮𝘺𝘍𝘢𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘸𝘩𝘰𝘪𝘴𝘪𝘯𝘩𝘦𝘢𝘷𝘦𝘯. 𝘈𝘯𝘥𝘐𝘵𝘦𝘭𝘭𝘺𝘰𝘶, 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘢𝘳𝘦𝘗𝘦𝘵𝘦𝘳, 𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘶𝘱𝘰𝘯𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴𝘳𝘰𝘤𝘬𝘐𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘣𝘶𝘪𝘭𝘥𝘮𝘺𝘊𝘩𝘶𝘳𝘤𝘩, 𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘨𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘴𝘰𝘧𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘶𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘭𝘥𝘴𝘩𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘯𝘰𝘵𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘲𝘶𝘦𝘳𝘩𝘦𝘳‘ (𝘔𝘵 16:16-18). 𝘊𝘩𝘳𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘮𝘴𝘦𝘭𝘧𝘸𝘢𝘴𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘰𝘤𝘬, 𝘸𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘦𝘗𝘦𝘵𝘦𝘳, 𝘙𝘰𝘤𝘬𝘺, 𝘸𝘢𝘴𝘰𝘯𝘭𝘺𝘯𝘢𝘮𝘦𝘥𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘰𝘤𝘬. 𝘛𝘩𝘢𝘵‘𝘴𝘸𝘩𝘺𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘰𝘤𝘬𝘳𝘰𝘴𝘦𝘢𝘨𝘢𝘪𝘯, 𝘵𝘰𝘮𝘢𝘬𝘦𝘗𝘦𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘴𝘰𝘭𝘪𝘥𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘴𝘵𝘳𝘰𝘯𝘨; 𝘣𝘦𝘤𝘢𝘶𝘴𝘦𝘗𝘦𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘸𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘴𝘩𝘦𝘥, 𝘪𝘧𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘰𝘤𝘬𝘩𝘢𝘥𝘯‘𝘵𝘭𝘪𝘷𝘦𝘥. — John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (New Rochelle: New City, 1993) Sermons, Volume III/7, Sermon 244.1,p. 95
𝘈𝘯𝘥𝘗𝘦𝘵𝘦𝘳, 𝘰𝘯𝘦𝘴𝘱𝘦𝘢𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘵𝘰𝘧𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘮, 𝘰𝘯𝘦𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘢𝘭𝘭, 𝘴𝘢𝘪𝘥, 𝘠𝘰𝘶𝘢𝘳𝘦𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘊𝘩𝘳𝘪𝘴𝘵, 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘚𝘰𝘯𝘰𝘧𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘭𝘪𝘷𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘎𝘰𝘥 (𝘔𝘵 16:15-16)…𝘈𝘯𝘥𝘐𝘵𝘦𝘭𝘭𝘺𝘰𝘶: 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘢𝘳𝘦𝘗𝘦𝘵𝘦𝘳; 𝘣𝘦𝘤𝘢𝘶𝘴𝘦𝘐𝘢𝘮𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘰𝘤𝘬, 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘢𝘳𝘦𝘙𝘰𝘤𝘬𝘺, 𝘗𝘦𝘵𝘦𝘳–𝘐𝘮𝘦𝘢𝘯, 𝘳𝘰𝘤𝘬𝘥𝘰𝘦𝘴𝘯‘𝘵𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮𝘙𝘰𝘤𝘬𝘺, 𝘣𝘶𝘵𝘙𝘰𝘤𝘬𝘺𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮𝘳𝘰𝘤𝘬, 𝘫𝘶𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘴𝘊𝘩𝘳𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘥𝘰𝘦𝘴𝘯‘𝘵𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮𝘊𝘩𝘳𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘢𝘯, 𝘣𝘶𝘵𝘊𝘩𝘳𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘢𝘯𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮𝘊𝘩𝘳𝘪𝘴𝘵; 𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘶𝘱𝘰𝘯𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴𝘳𝘰𝘤𝘬𝘐𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘣𝘶𝘪𝘭𝘥𝘮𝘺𝘊𝘩𝘶𝘳𝘤𝘩 (𝘔𝘵 16:17-18); 𝘯𝘰𝘵𝘶𝘱𝘰𝘯𝘗𝘦𝘵𝘦𝘳, 𝘰𝘳𝘙𝘰𝘤𝘬𝘺, 𝘸𝘩𝘪𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘴𝘸𝘩𝘢𝘵𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘢𝘳𝘦, 𝘣𝘶𝘵𝘶𝘱𝘰𝘯𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘰𝘤𝘬𝘸𝘩𝘪𝘤𝘩𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘧𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘦𝘥. 𝘐𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘣𝘶𝘪𝘭𝘥𝘮𝘺𝘊𝘩𝘶𝘳𝘤𝘩𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩; 𝘐𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘣𝘶𝘪𝘭𝘥𝘺𝘰𝘶, 𝘣𝘦𝘤𝘢𝘶𝘴𝘦𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴𝘢𝘯𝘴𝘸𝘦𝘳𝘰𝘧𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳𝘴𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳𝘦𝘱𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘊𝘩𝘶𝘳𝘤𝘩. — John Rotelle, O.S.A. Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (New Rochelle: New City Press, 1993), Sermons, Volume III/7, Sermon 270.2,p. 289
…𝘣𝘦𝘤𝘢𝘶𝘴𝘦𝘰𝘯𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴𝘳𝘰𝘤𝘬, 𝘩𝘦𝘴𝘢𝘪𝘥, 𝘐𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘣𝘶𝘪𝘭𝘥𝘮𝘺𝘊𝘩𝘶𝘳𝘤𝘩, 𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘨𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘴𝘰𝘧𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘶𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘭𝘥𝘴𝘩𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘯𝘰𝘵𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘪𝘵 (𝘔𝘵. 16:18). 𝘕𝘰𝘸𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘰𝘤𝘬𝘸𝘢𝘴𝘊𝘩𝘳𝘪𝘴𝘵 (1 𝘊𝘰𝘳. 10:4). 𝘞𝘢𝘴𝘪𝘵𝘗𝘢𝘶𝘭𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵𝘸𝘢𝘴𝘤𝘳𝘶𝘤𝘪𝘧𝘪𝘦𝘥𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘺𝘰𝘶? 𝘏𝘰𝘭𝘥𝘰𝘯𝘵𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘴𝘦𝘵𝘦𝘹𝘵𝘴, 𝘭𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘴𝘦𝘵𝘦𝘹𝘵𝘴, 𝘳𝘦𝘱𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘢𝘧𝘳𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘯𝘢𝘭𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘱𝘦𝘢𝘤𝘦𝘧𝘶𝘭𝘮𝘢𝘯𝘯𝘦𝘳. — John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (New Rochelle: New City Press, 1995), Sermons, Volume III/10,Sermon 358.5, p. 193
𝘓𝘦𝘵𝘶𝘴𝘤𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘵𝘰𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘥𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘎𝘰𝘴𝘱𝘦𝘭: ‘𝘜𝘱𝘰𝘯𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴𝘙𝘰𝘤𝘬𝘐𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘣𝘶𝘪𝘭𝘥𝘔𝘺𝘊𝘩𝘶𝘳𝘤𝘩.’ 𝘛𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘦𝘚𝘩𝘦𝘤𝘳𝘪𝘦𝘵𝘩𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘦𝘯𝘥𝘴𝘰𝘧𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘩, 𝘸𝘩𝘰𝘮𝘏𝘦𝘩𝘢𝘵𝘩𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘥𝘵𝘰𝘣𝘶𝘪𝘭𝘥𝘶𝘱𝘰𝘯𝘢𝘙𝘰𝘤𝘬. 𝘉𝘶𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘰𝘳𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘊𝘩𝘶𝘳𝘤𝘩𝘮𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵𝘣𝘦𝘣𝘶𝘪𝘭𝘥𝘦𝘥𝘶𝘱𝘰𝘯𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘙𝘰𝘤𝘬, 𝘸𝘩𝘰𝘸𝘢𝘴𝘮𝘢𝘥𝘦𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘙𝘰𝘤𝘬? 𝘏𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘗𝘢𝘶𝘭𝘴𝘢𝘺𝘪𝘯𝘨: ‘𝘉𝘶𝘵𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘙𝘰𝘤𝘬𝘸𝘢𝘴𝘊𝘩𝘳𝘪𝘴𝘵.’ 𝘖𝘯𝘏𝘪𝘮𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘦𝘣𝘶𝘪𝘭𝘥𝘦𝘥𝘸𝘦𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦𝘣𝘦𝘦𝘯. — Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume VIII, Saint Augustin, Exposition on the Book of Psalms, Psalm LXI.3, p. 249.
𝘐𝘯𝘢𝘱𝘢𝘴𝘴𝘢𝘨𝘦𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴𝘣𝘰𝘰𝘬, 𝘐𝘴𝘢𝘪𝘥𝘢𝘣𝘰𝘶𝘵𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘈𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘵𝘭𝘦𝘗𝘦𝘵𝘦𝘳: ‘𝘖𝘯𝘩𝘪𝘮𝘢𝘴𝘰𝘯𝘢𝘳𝘰𝘤𝘬𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘊𝘩𝘶𝘳𝘤𝘩𝘸𝘢𝘴𝘣𝘶𝘪𝘭𝘵.’…𝘉𝘶𝘵𝘐𝘬𝘯𝘰𝘸𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘺𝘧𝘳𝘦𝘲𝘶𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘭𝘺𝘢𝘵𝘢𝘭𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘵𝘪𝘮𝘦, 𝘐𝘴𝘰𝘦𝘹𝘱𝘭𝘢𝘪𝘯𝘦𝘥𝘸𝘩𝘢𝘵𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘓𝘰𝘳𝘥𝘴𝘢𝘪𝘥: ‘𝘛𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘗𝘦𝘵𝘦𝘳, 𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘶𝘱𝘰𝘯𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴𝘳𝘰𝘤𝘬𝘐𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘣𝘶𝘪𝘭𝘥𝘮𝘺𝘊𝘩𝘶𝘳𝘤𝘩,’ 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘵𝘣𝘦𝘶𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘴𝘵𝘰𝘰𝘥𝘢𝘴𝘣𝘶𝘪𝘭𝘵𝘶𝘱𝘰𝘯𝘏𝘪𝘮𝘸𝘩𝘰𝘮𝘗𝘦𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘧𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘦𝘥𝘴𝘢𝘺𝘪𝘯𝘨: ‘𝘛𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘊𝘩𝘳𝘪𝘴𝘵, 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘚𝘰𝘯𝘰𝘧𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘭𝘪𝘷𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘎𝘰𝘥,’ 𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘴𝘰𝘗𝘦𝘵𝘦𝘳, 𝘤𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘥𝘢𝘧𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴𝘳𝘰𝘤𝘬, 𝘳𝘦𝘱𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘥𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘴𝘰𝘯𝘰𝘧𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘊𝘩𝘶𝘳𝘤𝘩𝘸𝘩𝘪𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘴𝘣𝘶𝘪𝘭𝘵𝘶𝘱𝘰𝘯𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴𝘳𝘰𝘤𝘬, 𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘩𝘢𝘴𝘳𝘦𝘤𝘦𝘪𝘷𝘦𝘥 ‘𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘬𝘦𝘺𝘴𝘰𝘧𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘥𝘰𝘮𝘰𝘧𝘩𝘦𝘢𝘷𝘦𝘯.’ 𝘍𝘰𝘳, ‘𝘛𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘗𝘦𝘵𝘦𝘳‘ 𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘯𝘰𝘵 ‘𝘛𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘰𝘤𝘬‘ 𝘸𝘢𝘴𝘴𝘢𝘪𝘥𝘵𝘰𝘩𝘪𝘮. 𝘉𝘶𝘵 ‘𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘰𝘤𝘬𝘸𝘢𝘴𝘊𝘩𝘳𝘪𝘴𝘵,’ 𝘪𝘯𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘧𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘸𝘩𝘰𝘮, 𝘢𝘴𝘢𝘭𝘴𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘸𝘩𝘰𝘭𝘦𝘊𝘩𝘶𝘳𝘤𝘩𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘧𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘦𝘴, 𝘚𝘪𝘮𝘰𝘯𝘸𝘢𝘴𝘤𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘥𝘗𝘦𝘵𝘦𝘳. 𝘉𝘶𝘵𝘭𝘦𝘵𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘥𝘦𝘤𝘪𝘥𝘦𝘸𝘩𝘪𝘤𝘩𝘰𝘧𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘴𝘦𝘵𝘸𝘰𝘰𝘱𝘪𝘯𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘴𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘮𝘰𝘳𝘦𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘣𝘢𝘣𝘭𝘦. — The Fathers of the Church (Washington D.C., Catholic University, 1968), Saint Augustine, The RetractationsChapter 20.1:.
Here I address the quotations of St. Augustine’s Sermons and Retractions regarding the Petrine theory. Augustine’s stances on the issue are better summarized in his own statement we just read in his ‘Retractationes’, which are not actual retractions or recantations as we understand them in the common English; but reconsiderations, re-examinations or revisions as many Latin scholars have pointed out.
As he himself described, Augustine originally maintained the Petrine theory, situating Peter as the Rock in Matthew 16:18. Later, he preached such rock was Peter’s confession or statement of faith. Finally, he also adopted the simpler view Christ is Himself the rock, probably as a result of his constant reference to the Pauline understanding of Christ as the rock from which believers drink and his work on the Psalms.
So here we have St. Augustine upholding three different perspectives on the passage — how does He (and therefore ‘we’) reconcile them? To answer this, we need to first have in consideration two things regarding Catholic theology and the historical context in which these words were written:
No Christian in communion with the Catholic Church ever argued the See of Peter had no supreme authority over the universal church. We do find statements by Tertullian who first acknowledged the office of Peter in ‘Against Heresies’ to have such authority, but once he became a heretic, he recanted his position in ‘On Modesty’.
Because of the latter, neither the doctrine of Papal Infallibility needed to be rigorously defined nor the non-Petrine interpretation of the rock condemned. If Augustine, not being considered infallible, had maintained that the Church at large (and not Peter alone) received the power of the keys after this doctrine was defined, he would have been anathematized by the Council. But in his writings, he never denies or detaches this power from the figure of St. Peter, he only leaves the door open for the minister in the Church to opt for a more pastoral interpretation or a more doctrinal one.
It is only as a result of the many controversies questioning the authority of the Bishop of Rome that the Church infallibly defined the verses in question as follow: 𝘔𝘢𝘵𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘸 16:16-19 (“𝘛𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘗𝘦𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘶𝘱𝘰𝘯𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴𝘳𝘰𝘤𝘬𝘐𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘣𝘶𝘪𝘭𝘥𝘮𝘺𝘊𝘩𝘶𝘳𝘤𝘩“) 𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘑𝘰𝘩𝘯 21:15-17 (“𝘍𝘦𝘦𝘥𝘮𝘺𝘭𝘢𝘮𝘣𝘴 . . . 𝘍𝘦𝘦𝘥𝘮𝘺𝘴𝘩𝘦𝘦𝘱“) 𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘵𝘢𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘥𝘰𝘤𝘵𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘦𝘰𝘧𝘗𝘢𝘱𝘢𝘭𝘚𝘶𝘱𝘳𝘦𝘮𝘢𝘤𝘺. — Questions People Ask About the Catholic Church by Fr. Leslie Rumble (Kensington, Australia: Chevalier, 1972), pp. 176-177.
In Vatican I, Session 4, Chapter 1 we find the following:
The first and second point clearly collect most, if not all of the historic Catholic interpretations attributed to this passage. We see the Catechism, just like Augustine, teaches that Peter the man, his confession of faith and Christ Himself are all alluded as the foundational rocks. The Catechism later goes on verse by verse to identify the source of doctrinal developments.
Based on the third point, I must say non-Catholics who often attack papal supremacy by claiming Peter is not the rock in Mt 16:18 are quite missing the point. It is the handing of the keys alluded in the verse which alone confers Peter supreme authority over the rest of the Church, which is better understood in the light of Isaiah 22:22.
In point number 4, when the Catechism goes on to say “The Lord made Simon alone”, ‘alone’ is used in the individual sense, in comparison to the rest of the Apostles and the episcopal college. Thus, it does not exclude the understanding that the rock can be Simon’s confession of faith and Christ himself.
We conclude then, when it comes to putting to the test the Petrine theory of authority, the non-Catholic should challenge the power of the keys and the commission of Christ to feed His sheep, not the identity of the rock.
Acknowledging this, we also see in Catholic teaching there is room for more than one interpretation since they all approach the issue from different angles. We can say the rock in formal sense refers to Peter himself, just as the woman clothed with the sun refers to Mary. The rock in the material sense refers to a Christ-centered faith, since that is what Peter’s mission is fueled by. The rock in the efficient sense refers to Christ Himself, the fountainhead of grace through which the Holy Spirit edifies us in Him. Such understanding now makes much more sense thanks to the tireless work of Fathers like St. Augustine, who very often is juxtaposed against Catholic theology, but happened to be the one of the Church’s most loyal and revered servants.