Do Anglicans pray to Mary?

Discussion in 'Theology and Doctrine' started by AnglicanUSGirl2, Oct 15, 2018.

  1. AnglicanUSGirl2

    AnglicanUSGirl2 New Member

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    Last Sunday I went to an Anglo-Catholic Church, because I heard it was more traditional. I really enjoyed the service, but at the end, I got confused because they said the Hail Mary (which I don't know the words to). I thought that Catholics pray to Mary, but Anglicans do not. In the Episcopal Church where I usually go, we don't pray the Hail Mary. But is this an ancient tradition that we are supposed to do?
     
  2. Peteprint

    Peteprint Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I no longer pray to Mary or the saints since becoming Anglican. Many Anglo-Catholics have revived the practice (including image veneration and the rosary) since the Tractarian movement of the second half of the 19th century but, traditionally (the better part of the 1500's, 1600's, 1700's, and 1800's), Anglicans have not engaged in such practices. You can do it if you want to, but you are not required to. I find it problematic myself, but I respect the feelings of Anglo-Catholics who don't.
     
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  3. Shane R

    Shane R Active Member

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    What you most likely heard was the Angelus, which is a sequence of prayer incorporating the Hail Mary in each stanza. It is common in Anglo-Catholic parishes and is often accompanied by the Last Gospel (John 1:1-14).
     
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  4. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    I am quite fond of the Angelus, and often use it as part of my devotional life.

    Praying to Mary is not really how I understand it, so much as joining with Mary and all the saints in prayer. In a family when we talk to one another, it is not always because we want something, so much as a sharing of our common goals, aspirations, history, and love for one another. For me the Angelus represents some sense of family, in the theological context of a strong incarnational emphasis.

    I recognise it is not for all Anglicans, and many will struggle with it. Clearly most of it comes straight from scripture, save for the petition 'pray for us O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ'. My understanding of this I that I fail, and indeed the church fails to be the full measure of the new life in Christ we are promised, and recognise that it is only with the support of God and the whole church living and departed that we have a hope of being better.

    It is not essential for Anglicans to want to incorporate this in their own spiritual journey, nor is it a problem if they do. If it helps you, use it, if it gets in the way, don't do it. We are Anglicans, and we are not all the same. We celebrate a diversity, along our common journey into the greater vision of the glory of God.
     
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  5. BibleHoarder

    BibleHoarder Active Member

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    That is an Anglo-Catholic practice and is not part of traditional Anglicanism. Anglo-Catholicism is its own branch of Anglicanism and a later development, not like Orthodox Anglicanism.
     
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  6. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    It's pretty simple. You're addressing a creature, a finite person no different from you or I, and making a prayer to her. It is the definition of idolatry. Praying to God is not 'sufficient', or not 'fun' enough I guess? I'm not sure what it is, but the entire Scripture cries out for how wrong it is.

    The only reason the Angelus even exists on your radar is because it's been promoted by 1 billion people. Like if they didn't do it, I highly doubt you would be doing it. So maybe it's just fun to consider oneself aligned with so many people.
     
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  7. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    The Anglican Church is not a PLU Church. We exist not for ourselves but for all. There is a great deal at the heart of our faith that we hold in common, and there is also a great deal beyond the very heart which is where we listen to one another, learn from one another, and rejoice in the liberty and diversity of the Gospel.

    Mary always points to Jesus. Outside the context of Jesus, Mary is a young woman in the outskirts of a nondescript town and of no relevance to anyone of note, save God alone.

    Prayer is not just intercession, nor is it just words spoken. Prayer is also listening, and much of the Angelus is the prayer of listening to words of scripture as we recite them.

    The collect of the Angelus, which is the real petition, and the response to the words we have heard and reflected upon, of the Angelus reads:

    Almighty God, pour your grace into our hearts,
    that as we have know the incarnation of your Son
    through the message of an Angel,
    so by his †cross and passion
    we may be brought to the glory of his resurrection,
    through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.​

    For those (very few I imagine) who care, I do not identify myself as an Anglo-Catholic.

    I recognise in the face of great pressures, we might want to try and shore up the boundaries of acceptable Anglican belief and practice to a narrow confine, however that is not an Anglican way, we are not a Church dominated by a magisterium, and from our inception, and through the turmoil of the Tudor and Elizabethan period we were always the Church for all the people. The Yorkists and the Lancastrians, for the most part knelt and the same table to receive the bread of life.

    Grace of course is a theological term, and one of the great joys of Anglicanism is that it spills into our life together.
    Annunciation.jpg
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2018
  8. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    I think I should point out that the collect use as part of the Angelus is a match for the Collect for the Annunciation in the Book of Common Prayer, 1661/2, following the prayer books of 1549, 1552, 1559, and no doubt following the collect from liturgies going back in England.

    It seems that it matches a prayer used at the Synod of Hatfield in C670, so it can probably dodge the accusation of being modernist.
     
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  9. Symphorian

    Symphorian Well-Known Member

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    You are correct Botolph. The majority of Collects found in the BCP originate from ancient Sacramentaries. The Collect for the Annunciation comes from the Sacramentary of Gregory, A. D. 590.
     
  10. DivineOfficeNerd

    DivineOfficeNerd Active Member Anglican

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    Even such reformers as Calvin still said the Hail Mary. Asking for another Christian, alive in this world or the next, is by no means idolatry. As for some of the Roman practices regarding Mary, I would think perhaps that an accusation of idolatry may be in order, but merely saying Ora pro nobis is a reflection of good theology. Even such divines as Jeremy Taylor suggest that Mary is perpetually praying for us, writing that "possibly her prayers obtained energy and force to my sermon, and made the ground fruitful, and the seed spring up to life eternal." John Donne of St. Pauls also wrote in a poem -

    For that faire blessed Mother-maid,
    Whose flesh redeem’d us; that she-Cherubin,
    Which unlock’d Paradise, and made
    One claime for innocence, and disseiz’d sinne.
    Whose wombe was a strange heav’n for there
    God cloathe’s himselfe, and grew,
    Our zealous thankes wee poure. As her deeds were
    Our helpes, so are her prayers; nor can she sue
    In vaine, who hath such titles unto you.

    Perhaps a better way to look at it is to suggest that Pray for us is less of a command, and more of a statement of that which already is. She, and all the saints who are united in Christ, are interceding for us.
     
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  11. Toma

    Toma Well-Known Member Anglican

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    My problem with asking Mary (or any believer who has fallen asleep) for prayers is that one can make no distinction between the spiritual/worshipful act of petitioning God, who is unseen, and Mary, or anyone else who is unseen. There is a very fine line between the two, and the vast majority of believers are not theologically astute or educated enough to discern that line. The temptation to make all spiritual beings we address into gods is strong. Non-idolatry it may be, but still contain the seeds or danger of idolatry. Early Roman Catholic prayers to Mary started out as mere petitions for prayers, but look how far they took it, along with the Eastern Churches. Seeds grew over time.

    Botolph, what do you mean by "the liberty and diversity of the Gospel"? How far can boundaries stretch? Can we believe the three persons of the Trinity are God, and eventually add Mary? Or another saint? After all, they've been divinised by theosis/salvation, haven't they? There are all sorts of subtle arguments that may arise from this, as we know from scholasticism & casuistry. It seems, to me, better to be less liberal and diverse in areas of danger. Perhaps that makes me a bad Anglican. I've always been more insistently dogmatic, like a Lutheran or Calvinist.

    DivineOfficeNerd, Calvin & Luther weren't right about everything, of course. :) I don't believe it's good to theology to ask someone who has "fallen asleep" (as is the constant language of the New Testament) to pray for us. The Scriptures use the word "sleep" for a reason. The saints are not aware of what goes on upon the Earth until their bodily resurrection/awakening in the Kingdom of God. If they are 'awake' and aware, they must be omnipresent as God is, to hear so many petitions. So, here creeps in the danger of an idol arising.

    Interestingly, the Scriptures command us to pray for others, not necessarily to ask others to pray. Silly distinction, I know, but I myself don't ask people to pray for me. God's grace and providence is enough.
     
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  12. Peteprint

    Peteprint Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Per my Orthodox background, I believe that the departed are in the intermediate state (Hades/Bosom of Abraham). The idea that saints have already made it to heaven has little scriptural warrant. Regardless, I don't see how the departed can hear our prayers, though I would suspect that they do pray for us if they are in Abraham's Bosom, and I see no problem with praying for the departed, asking God to have mercy on their souls. The idea that Mary, or any other saint, can hear the prayers of millions of Christians each day and then act on them is problematic to me. As a mere Christian, however, I don't condemn those who want to pray to saints; perhaps they are right and I am wrong. In either case, I don't believe my salvation depends on praying to saints. I will place my trust in God, and my hope in Christ.
     
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  13. Toma

    Toma Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Being a "maximalist" (or perhaps a Confessionalist), someone who needs to be firm on every single doctrinal question, I find leaving any stone unturned to be disturbing. Perhaps this is a lack of faith on my part. Or perhaps it's a genuine attempt to be consistently faithful.

    I do not pray for the departed. I would dearly like to do so, given a few departed people whom I love very much. But I believe praying for the dead is one of the greatest sins I could commit. It is essentially asking God to change eternity, which is changeless. It is to ask God to change the fate of a soul, which it has justly merited, either without Christ or by virtue of His blood. Their fight is over, their struggle done. To pray for them feels as if I am insulting God, the departed, and my conviction about the power of faith (which is meaningless in face of the Reality it hopes for).
     
  14. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    I assure you I am not seeking to pick a fight. For me, the question of prayer and the faithful departed comes down to an understanding that the work of Jesus on the cross was to defeat the final enemy, death, and in the words of John Donne, Death, thou shalt die! If I believe the resurrection, then it seems that death does not get the final say, it is not the end, death is defeated, and if I may pray for the living, then to suggest that I may not pray for those who are done with life on this mortal plain, is in some way not to take seriously enough the resurrection, and the victory of the cross.

    I would support you in what you are saying, in that in no sense would I suggest trying to get God to change is mind. Death is physically definitive, however I am of a view that it is no longer spiritually definitive, as a direct result of the saving work of Christ.

    May God's holy name be praised.
     
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  15. JoeLaughon

    JoeLaughon Active Member Anglican

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    DON,

    Can you cite the source for Calvin saying the Hail Mary? I'm reading Zachmann's John Calvin & Roman Catholicism and this is interesting to me.
     
  16. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I would say that, far from a minor point, what you say here is the WHOLE question. If we can say that it is more descriptive than anything, then I am actually fine with it. No objections. But the reason we know it is not descriptive is because the grammar makes it in the imperative case. The grammar shows that it is not descriptive but petitive. It is a petition, not a description.

    However if you do want to press the argument that it's merely descriptive, I'd urge you try to cut out the imperative, petitive, and 'prayer-like' aspects out of Hail Mary. And, as you know, the Roman Catholics and Anglo-Papalists will scourge you alive. That's because they know it's a prayer/request, and not a statement. You're trying to build a bridge with people who actually aren't of the same mind as you.

    Yeah I too don't know about that. Perhaps you could cite a source on this?

    The Hail Mary is not just 'asking someone to pray for you.' First and foremost it is liturgical, i.e. in a sanctified context of a divine service. Secondly it is shaped like a prayer, in the entire culture and environment of a holy petition to God. Except it is addressed to a human. You don't pray to a friend next to you; you don't address them liturgically (ie. in a manner which resembles a divine service!).

    I don't have any problem with that. It's just a poem about Mary. What's not to like? I'm not saying we need to take St. Mary or any of the Saints out of our religious worldview (far from it). All I am saying is this: a liturgical, sanctified, rarified, religious, pious, and emotionally profound prayer of appeal, must be reserved to God alone.
     
  17. JoeLaughon

    JoeLaughon Active Member Anglican

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    I've never understood issues that some folks have with the Hail Mary outside the pro ora nobis. The first two sentences are straight from the Word.

    In theory, doctrinally I would consider saintly intercession res indiferentes however pastorally I would caution against it.
     
  18. Will_

    Will_ Member

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    To me, Article XXII of the 39 Articles specifically forbids invocation of the saints. The closest I could see someone approaching that practice and not having doctrinal issues would be to ask God for the prayers of the saints. In other words, comprecation rather than invocation.
     
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  19. BibleHoarder

    BibleHoarder Active Member

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    This could include prayers of the living by asking God to encourage other believers alive on earth to pray for the same thing, as well as the ones in heaven, provided they even hear us at all.
     
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  20. Will_

    Will_ Member

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    I actually had not thought about that, but I think that is an excellent point. :thumbsup:
     

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