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Catholics/Regarding the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary


QUESTION: Hi, A former catholic who's now a baptist approached a question to me. I told her that I'll talk to her later, I'm just going to pray the rosary. Then she told me that I can pray to God directly. I told her that I know that but I still want to pray the rosary. She asked me this question regarding the litany:
"How can these (Seat of wisdom, Cause of our joy, Spiritual vessel, Vessel of honour, Singular vessel of devotion, Mystical rose, Tower of David, Tower of ivory, House of gold, Ark of the covenant, Gate of heaven, Morning star) pray for you?

I hope I can explain her how. Although I know the explanations are not from their literal meaning.

ANSWER: You know I just don't understand why this is such a difficult concept for Protestants to understand---and I never have.  I probably never will.  

The ironic thing is that this same friend of yours would have no issue praying for you--yet she seems to believe for whatever reason that while SHE can pray for you Mary can't, nor can anyone else who is in heaven.  God would be very pleased if your friend prayed for you, He would be very pleased if someone else on Earth prayed for you, but He would be very displeased if Mary or someone else in heaven prayed for you.  That is simply absurd and your friend knows this deep down.     

When this is pointed out to Protestants they claim that the dead cannot pray.  Mary is dead, therefore Mary cannot pray for anyone or hear the prayers of anyone.  Of course the Bible says that God is not a God of the dead but of the living--so it is difficult to see how Mary is dead (or any other saint) still more difficult to suppose that she would be in Hell.

Protestants will point to a verse in the Old Testament forbidding contact with the dead.  Of course what the Protestant doesn't tell you is that the context of all prohibitions against contact with the dead is soothsaying and fortune telling.  If a Protestant can't tell the difference between taking a problem to Mary and asking for her prayers and summoning the dead or trying to get Mary to reveal the future--if the Protestant can't tell the difference between magic/spell casting and going to Mary with a problem and asking her prayers, there is nothing more to say.  

Those who are in heaven love what God loves.  God loves those of us who are on Earth, and He is concerned about those of us still on Earth, therefore those in heaven are likewise concerned about us on Earth and they love us.  Because of this they would want to pray for us especially when we ask them to do so in much the same as any Christian on Earth would pray for us if asked.   

The Rosary in essence is a meditation on the life of Christ.  The Mysteries of the Rosary are basically the Gospel in summary form.  The Joyful mysteries focus on the events surrounding the birth of Christ.  Mysteries of Light focus on the events in Christ's public ministry.  The Sorrowful Mysteries focus on the Passion and death of Christ, the Glorious Mysteries on the Resurrection and fulfillment of the promises of Christ in Mary the type and figure of the Church.  

The purpose of the Hail Mary's and Our Father's is not some kind of vane repetition of prayers but meant to keep the mind focused on the mysteries.  They are meant to prevent the mind from wandering.  

I want to suggest that your friend ask me these questions directly.  It will make the discussion much more efficient.  I will be able to directly respond to her questions and counter points.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I also want to know the answer to her question  How can  Tower of David, Tower of ivory, House of gold pray for us. That's just to be prepared if someone asks me as well. Thank you Father.

I am not sure I understand your question.

"Tower of David, Tower of Ivory, House of God" etc.--are all just references to Mary.  Hence your question is "How can Mary pray for us."

Prayer is essentially a form of intercession.  The reason prayer is possible is because Jesus has redeemed us--he has placed us "at peace" or "at one" with God.  Where before man and God had been at enmity (hence intercession is impossible) now man and God are at one.  

The intercession Mary and the saints--and the elect of God on Earth exercise is nothing other than the intercession of Christ.  When one becomes a believer the merits of redemption (the life of Christ) is infused into the believer.  In prayer--the believer is making use of the power of Christ within.

Because a Saint is someone who is fully redeemed (unlike those of us on Earth who are still await heaven) the merits of Christ are perfectly manifested in their prayers.  In short: Mary and the Saints are an EXTENSION of the intercession of Christ because the life of Christ is in them in its fullness (as they are in heaven and fully made perfect.)

So--the basis of Mary's intercession and our own (as the Church on Earth) is the intercession of Christ.  When we pray or Mary or the saints pray we are not exercising an intercession other than that of Christ.  


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Father Dave Bechtel


I am a Catholic priest in good standing and in active ministry in the Diocese of Scranton PA. I can answer most any question about the Catholic Faith, however my area of specialization is Systematic Theology. Systematic Theology is a branch of theology that focuses on the fundamental tenants of the Faith and the Dogmas of the Faith. I have specialization on the Reformation and Catholic vs. Protestant theology/issues and answering Protestant challenges to the Faith.


I was ordained in June of 2008. Since that time the thrust of my ministry has been specialized. In my first assignment I was an assistant pastor. A year later I was sent to work in education. I spent six (6) years in education and have now assumed my first pastorate. While education was the thrust of my ministry, nevertheless I continued to have a hand in parish ministry, hospital chaplaincy and prison chaplaincy. Now that I am out of education I will obviously be focusing more on parish work than specialized ministry. I have two years of formal Clinical Pastoral Education and prior to ordination I successfully pursued Board Certification for health care ministry through the NACC. My certification needs to be renewed and I plan to seek dual certification in health care ministry (NACC and APC) when I renew my certification. I have a breadth of experience working with Protestant ministers and collaborating with them to achieve the goals of hospital pastoral care and chaplaincy. These ministers run the spectrum from the liberal to the conservative.

Bachelors of Science-- University of Scranton PA Masters of Arts Theology--- Saint Mary's Seminary and University Baltimore MD Masters of Divinity--- Saint Charles Borremeo Seminary Philadelphia PA Board Certified Chaplain (up for renewal)

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