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That devotion to Mary is not necessary for salvation, but intentionally rejecting her is another thing

3 min • Digitized on May 11, 2023

From A Defense of the Teachings of Mary, page 111
By St. John Henry Newman

Then I think you have not always made your quotations with that consideration and kindness which is your rule. At p. 106, you say, “It is commonly said, that, if any Roman Catholic acknowledges that ‘it is good and useful to pray to the saints,’ he is not bound himself to do so. Were the above teaching true, it would be cruelty to say so; because, according to it, he would be forfeiting what is morally necessary to his salvation.”

But now, as to the fact, where is it said that to pray to our Lady and the Saints is necessary to salvation? The proposition of St. Alfonso is, that “God gives no grace except through Mary;” that is through her intercession. But intercession is one thing, devotion is another. And Suarez says, “It is the universal sentiment that the intercession of Mary is not only useful, but also in a certain manner necessary;” but still it is the question of her intercession, not of our invocation of her, not of devotion to her.

If it were so, no Protestant could be saved; if it were so, there would be grave reasons for doubting of the salvation of St. Chrysostom or St. Athanasius, or of the primitive Martyrs; nay, I should like to know whether St. Augustine, in all his voluminous writings, invokes her once. Our Lord died for those heathens who did not know Him; and His Mother intercedes for those Christians who do not know her; and she intercedes according to His will, and, when He wills to save a particular soul, she at once prays for it. I say, He wills indeed according to her prayer, but then she prays according to His will.

Though then it is natural and prudent for those to have recourse to her, who from the Church’s teaching know her power, yet it cannot be said that devotion to her is a sine-quá-non of salvation.

Some indeed of the authors, whom you quote, go further; they do speak of devotion; but even then, they do not enunciate the general proposition which I have been disallowing. For instance, they say, “It is morally impossible for those to be saved who neglect the devotion to the Blessed Virgin;” but a simple omission is one thing, and neglect another. “It is impossible for any to be saved who turns away from her,” yes; but to “turn away” is to offer some positive disrespect or insult towards her, and that with sufficient knowledge; and I certainly think it would be a very grave act, if in a Catholic country (and of such the writers were speaking, for they knew of no other), with Ave-Marias sounding in the air, and images of the Madonna in every street and road, a Catholic broke off or gave up a practice that was universal, and in which he was brought up, and deliberately put her name out of his thoughts.

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