Most Catholics teach about honoring the saints, and mostly about "venerating" the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Though in my country (I'm from the Philippines), the line between honoring saints / Mary and the way we should honor the Lord is very thin, to most extreme cases, like some documentary I watched in TV, wherein one bedridden young woman prays to Mary to heal her from her sickness (got no link sorry).

What are the similarities both acts share? How must they differ (aside from the recipient of the act (God for Adoration, Saint / Mary for veneration))?

OFF-TOPIC: My original question was: Why do Catholics "venerate" Mary and why do they give somewhat "more emphasis" on "venerating her" over directly praying to Jesus?

My original question might not suit here, though if you were compelled to answer me, thanks a bunch!

  • 1
    I'm not sure that asking Mary to heal someone is ipso facto evidence of crossing the line, or superstition. Scripture records that the disciples healed the sick, drove out demons, etc. In Acts 5:15 Peter's shadow heals the sick.
    – Ben Dunlap
    May 15 '12 at 14:40
  • On this website there is an interest discussion of this in relation to the "Adoration of the Cross" ceremony held on Good Friday. Do we, Catholics, "adore" the Cross? If so, is this idolatry? (the answers seem to be Yes and No respectively, because of something called "relative latria", based on St. Thomas Aquinas)
    – luchonacho
    Apr 11 '20 at 15:54

So, there are many different forms of prayer, the three involved here are intercessory prayer and prayers of blessing and prayers of praise (which is more of paying honor to the saints and God).

Then there are three forms of paying homage to God and His Saints in heaven.

Veneration is the honor given to the saintсѕ аdoration is the honor given to God alone.

In Greek there's latria (worship/adoration due to God alone), dulia (veneration given to the saints) and hyperdulia (veneration given particularly to Our Lady).

The difference is, you really can't say that Our Lady did such and such for you, but traditionally Catholics understood what you were saying when you said such a thing. We understood her to be the Mediatrix of All Graces without a dogma. Bl. John Paul II took his motto, 'totus tuus Sum Maria', which is to say, "I'm all yours Mary".

The idea is that you can't really praise her enough, and all praise of her makes Our Lord happy, just like anything you say nice about my mom would make me happy!

You go overboard when you start calling her a Goddess, start having baptizing in her name, start really believing that it is her, not God who is working miracles. But cults like that die out and are suppressed by the Church eventually.

So, in short, you can't say enough good things about Mary, you can't praise her enough and everything done for her is done for Jesus.

It's not essential to salvation, but 'to Jesus through Mary' is not a bad path for any Catholic.

  • Thanks for answering! Follow-up: How come the line between Honoring God and honoring Mary is very thin?
    – Rek
    Aug 27 '11 at 0:40
  • 2
    She's the Queen of Heaven an Earth, the very next in line for praise. Although the gulf between her and God is as infinite as it is between us and God, the mere fact that she is different affords her a special place. Perhapse the line only seems thin because we aren't capable of giving God the glory He is due and we attempt to give as much as is humanly possible to each? In any event it's our problem as finite humans, not a theological problem.
    – Peter Turner
    Aug 27 '11 at 1:43
  • 1
    On this website there is an interest discussion of this in relation to the "Adoration of the Cross" ceremony held on Good Friday. Do we, Catholics, "adore" the Cross? If so, is this idolatry? (the answers seem to be Yes and No respectively, because of something called "relative latria", based on St. Thomas Aquinas)
    – luchonacho
    Apr 11 '20 at 15:55

I believe the issue of "adoration" versus "veneration" is a game of semantics that Catholicism has created in order to continue their glorification of Mary.

According to the Athansian Creed, "Fides autem catholica haec est: ut unum Deum in Trinitate, et Trinitatem in unitate veneremur", which Wikipedia and most other English translations of the Athanasian Creed translate as, "And this is the catholic faith, that we worship the one God in the Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity..."

Notice the Latin word venerēmur. It is a conjugation of the verb veneror. From this Latin word is derived the English word "venerate." But, notice the English translation of the Creed: it states that we "worship" God using the verb venerēmur (veneror).

The Wikipedia article on "veneration" states,

Adoration, which is known as latria in classical theology, is the worship and homage that is rightly offered to God alone. It is the acknowledgement of excellence and perfection of an uncreated, divine person. It is the worship of the Creator that God alone deserves. Veneration, known as dulia in classical Catholic theology, is the honor due to the excellence of a created person.

If indeed "veneration" is honor of a created person, then why is the Latin verb veneremur used in reference to the Trinity in the Athanasian Creed? There is no doubt that Christians "worship" God, and so venerēmur must refer to worship due to God alone, not a created person.

If only "adoration" was "rightly offered to God alone," we would expect to see the verb adōrēmus, not venerēmur in the Athanasian Creed.

  • If we adore God, of course we also revere him. That doesn't mean we don't revere others too. Jul 30 '13 at 19:33
  • @JohnPeyton—I’m sorry, but I don’t buy that line of reasoning. When we speak of what is properly due to God, we speak in the highest terms, so that, if worship is the highest form properly due to Him, we say that we worship Him, not something less than worship. We don’t stop at something less than what He is properly due, because that would be dishonoring Him. Do you speak of Mary being given the most that she is properly due? Than how much more should we speak of God as being given the most that He is due, not something less.
    – user900
    Jan 21 '17 at 3:36

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