+Most Holy Trinity Sunday+

Many readers grieve over the multiplication of blasphemies and insults against the Blessed Mother by those professing to be “Christians,” both on social media sites and Protestant websites.  The intensity of these attacks appears to be increasing, and Catholics are hard-pressed at times to answer these false accusations themselves, dissecting the grounds for the attack and cutting to the core of the issue. What follows is the summary of a little book printed in the 1800s that explains the history, motives, misrepresentations and illogical basis for these allegations. This work proves, from the writings of notable Protestant preachers themselves, that the idol worship Catholics are accused of today is neither worship nor idolatry. It then exposes the true source of the hatred Protestants so vehemently spew against our beloved Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Rev. Henry G. Ganss, the rector of St. Patrick’s Church in Carlisle, Penn., wrote Mariolatry, New Phases of an Old Fallacy in 1897 (Notre Dame Press, Indiana). It first appeared as a series printed in the periodical Ave Maria. His work is based on a scathing address entitled Mariolatry, delivered by a Protestant minister in Pennsylvania and widely distributed to the public.  In his work, Rev. Ganss refutes this minister’s sermon and notes the following important points.

Ignorance, name-calling, credulity and insinuations

Regarding the methods used to belittle and castigate Catholics at every possible turn he writes: “Such wholesale and extreme pugnacity may be very convenient as it calls for no discrimination; it requires neither learning nor thought but can be played off under all circumstances by almost any polemic with about the same effect. Its strength consists mainly in calling nicknames; in repeating outrageous charges without regard to any contradiction from the other side; in thrumming over threadbare commonplaces received by tradition from the easy credulity of times past; in huge exaggerations, vast distortions and bold, insulting insinuations thrown out at random in any and every direction. But however convenient all this may be, requiring little learning and less thought and no politeness or charity whatever, it is high time to see that it is a system of tactics which needs in truth only a slight change of circumstance at any time to work just the opposite way from that it is meant to work.

“There is an absence of a cool, dispassionate, judicial temperament; glittering generalities and unsupported assertions are uttered with a melancholy disregard for historic accuracy, conscientious scholarship, logical sequence, and, I regret to say, Christian truth. The covert design seems to be to cast discredit and odium on everything bearing a semblance to Catholicity even if charity the only badge of a true follower of a common Redeemer, and truth, the only criterion that regulates social and spiritual life, must be sacrificed. And when this is done with a mock-heroic air of theological erudition and with the avowed intention of bringing man near to his God, we hardly know whether to be convulsed at the picturesque drollery of the first attitude or filled with burning indignation at the seeming impiety of the second.”

T. Benns comment: What strikes me immediately here is the similarity of these Protestant attacks to those of the LibTrads against Catholics  praying at home.

The Incarnation denied

Ganss continues, quoting Luther: “To be the mother of God is a prerogative so lofty, so tremendous, as to surpass all understanding. There is no honor no beatitude capable of approaching an elevation which consists in being of the whole human race the sole person superior to all others unequaled in the prerogative of having one common son with the heavenly Father. Calvin fully endorses this view. The imputation of sinfulness to the Blessed Virgin is confronted with the evidence of the ancient Church. St. Ambrose calls her ‘a Virgin free from every stain of sin;’ Saint Andrew of Crete says that she was ‘not at leavened with the universal leaven of sin.’ Saint Augustine, who is quoted later in the sermon, claims that she had ‘an immunity from all sin concerning whom when there is a question of sin. I wish no question would ever to be raised on account of the Lord, for thence we know that more grace to vanquish sin altogether was conferred on her who merited to conceive and bring forth Him in whom sin has no part.’ Disbelief was so strongly grafted on the ancient Church that at the ecumenical council of Ephesus it was made a standard of orthodoxy, so that all who denied that Mary was the Mother of God were excommunicated as heretics.”

T. Benns comment: And of course the Church later infallibly decreed Our Lady was conceived without original sin.

“The idea that the son of God assumed humanity in a sinful mother or in a woman ‘just as human as any other daughter of Eve,’ cannot be reconciled with a proper conception of the Incarnation. it is repugnant to reason, antagonistic to the consensus of the primitive Church and reprobated by modern orthodoxy. All agree ‘that she must not have stood in the same relation to sin,’ to use the words of the Lutheran divine Dietlien, ‘as other children of Eve, who from the beginning of her existence was to be the vehicle of grace in so preeminent a manner.’ The issue the sermon wishes to raise here is brushed away with theological skill and orthodox vigor by a learned Episcopalian churchman when he says: ‘We cannot doubt that He [Jesus] loved Mary to the fullness of His nature, which was divine. It would be a very idle refinement to say that He loved her as man only, for in Him the human and divine nature were united. That nature human and divine he bore with Him to heaven.’

And Ganss says: “It is hard to believe that she, who once covered with kisses the lips which shall pronounce the doom of men, did not have her maternal tenderness repaid and that she, like any other sinful woman, could possibly expect those divine lips to pronounce her doom.”

Countering false worship charges

Ganss then comments on the charges made in the sermon he is refuting that “devotion to Mary is a superstitious credulity; a sensual worship an idealized paganism.” He quotes the eulogist and historian Lecky a champion of rationalism as stating: “’There is, I think, little doubt that the Catholic reverence of the Virgin has done much to elevate and purify the ideal woman and to soften the manners of men. It has had an influence which the worship of the pagan goddesses could never possess, for these had been almost destitute of moral beauty and especially of that kind of moral beauty which is peculiarly feminine. It supplied in a great measure the redeeming and ennobling element in a strange amalgamation of licentious and military feeling which was formed around women in the age of chivalry and which no succeeding change of habit or belief has wholly destroyed.’

“Shlegel, the great German poet and critic, a staunch Lutheran, coincides with Lecky when he claims that ‘with the virtue of chivalry was associated a new and pure spirit of love and inspired homage for genuine female worth, which was now reared as the pinnacle of humanity and enjoined by religion itself under the image of the Virgin Mother, infused into all hearts a sentiment of alloyed goodness.’” Again we hear from a Protestant: “Ruskin, who as far as Catholicity is concerned has little in common with the above authors and displays an almost frenetic hatred of the Church is compelled all the same to confess: ‘I am persuaded that the worship of the Madonna has been one of the noblest and most vital graces of Catholicism and has never been otherwise than productive of true holiness of life and purity of character. There is probably not an innocent cottage house throughout the length and breadth of Europe in which the imagined presence of the Madonna has not given sanctity to the humblest duties and comfort to the sorest trials of the lives of women.” And he goes on to quote several more.

Countering charges of idolatry, he quotes one Protestant who visited Italy and confessed that, “He could discern no indications of idolatry but testifies that ‘in the six months that I have been in Dr. Schaff protests against the propagation of the calamity that ‘papists are idolaters is the colossal slander on the oldest and largest church in Christendom’ and stigmatize such methods as untrue, unjust, uncharitable and unchristian… Or when Dr. Arnold, while at Bourges, sees a mother in the crypt of the cathedral lift her little girl to kiss the pierced feet of a statue of our crucified Lord, touched by the pathetic spectacle ask himself the question: ‘Is this idolatry? Nay, barely it may be so but it need not be. Assuredly in itself it is right and natural. I confess I rather envied that child.”

Answering the ridiculous charge that the Bible teaches God forbids all “worship” of pictures, when such worship is directed only to what they represent, Ganss writes: “Albrecht Drurer, the greatest German painter of his age… put in a rational plea ‘that a Christian is as little led astray by a picture as a peace-abiding man is tempted to murder because he carries a sword by his side. That indeed must be a stupid man who would pray to pictures, wood or stone.’ And he denounces it as a calumny ‘that the art of painting leads to idolatry.’”

Meaning of the word worship

Rev. Ganss also proves that the meaning of worship is falsely understood, as Protestant preachers and teachers themselves have explained. After demonstrating that certain Protestants actually falsified the teaching of the catechisms to read that we worship Mary as equal to God, he then quotes several highly respected Protestants, Leibnitz, Voss, and others, who acknowledge that ‘the highest latria is to God alone, as the adoration of the Host in Mass, the lowest, dulia,is paid to the saints and angels, while the transcendent virtues of the Blessed Virgin are honored by hyperdulia.’” Protestants likewise testify as follows to the true meaning of worship: “A reference to any standard dictionary will elicit the proof that generically the word worship always means to pay honor or show deference and only specifically does it convey the sense ‘obtained divine honors.’ In Holy Scripture it is used in interchangeably, but following the precedent established we will let Protestant theologians and philologists vindicate the Catholic practice.

“The word worship,’ says Doctor Hodge, ‘means properly to respect or honor. It is used both to express the inward sentiment and its outward manifestation. The old sense of the word is still retained in courts of law in which the judge is addressed as your worship or as Worshipful. We are then to collect the intention of the act of worship for their designed as a token of profound civil respect or of real prostration from the circumstances of the instances on record. Such acts of prostration as are called worship were chiefly paid to civil governors.’” And another Protestant, Trench, “one of the greatest English philologists, from an etymological point, reasons it out as follows: ‘Worship, or worthship, meant honor; this meaning of worship still very harmlessly surviving in ‘Worshipful’ and in the title addressed to the magistrate on the bench. So little was it restrained of old to the honor which man is bound to pay to God that it is employed by Wycliffe to express the honor which God will render to his faithful servants and friends. Thus our Lord’s declaration, ‘If any man serve me him will my Father honor.’ And in Wycliffe’s translation reads thus: ‘If any man serve me, my father shall worship him.’”

T. Benns comment: So if it can be applied even to a civil servant without practicing idolatry, why not to Our Blessed Mother??!!

True origins of idolatry

From whence, then, did all this idolatry nonsense really originate and when and why?? Rev. Ganss tells us: “But may it not be urged that the charge of superstition and idolatry is not a new one, that the concurrent opinion of Protestantism during the last 400 years voices it? Only too true, because this opinion, like the Ptolemaic system was traditionally accepted but never critically examined; because from the nursery jingle to the pulpit thunder it was incessantly dinned into the ears as gospel truth; because from the monosyllabic school primer to the ponderous theological tome, it was taught as an accepted fact; because the majority then, as now, are guided by the convenient maxim: ‘To follow foolish precedent and wink, with both our eyes is easier than to think.’ and because every student knows that, ‘Fanatic faith once wedded fast, through some clear falsehood hugs it to the last.” Length of time may give a prescriptive claim to the possession of property but no number of years or centuries can give error and falsehood countenance much less a justifiable claim to existence.

“The charge of idolatry is not a new one but this ‘miserable pageant of untruth, feeble with three poor centuries of age’ in every case emanated from the most implacable enemies of holy Church. Celsius, the Epicurean, the literary protagonist of rationalism, and Julian the Apostate, the theological precursor of infidelity, fastened this charge on the infant Church. “Deadly superstition,” as Tacitus reports, “a new and magical superstition,” were some of the choice epithets by which the primitive Church was designated. Does not the cynical epigram of Julian the Apostate, ‘You do not cease to call Mary the Mother of God,’ most significantly recall the scornful sneer of modern heresy?”

T. Benns comment: Might we not date this charge back even further? Was it not the Jewish rabbis who set the stage for these horrific insults to Our Lady, teaching in their Talmud that she “committed adultery,” “played the harlot with carpenters” and “was known to be an adulteress… who bore Jesus illegitimately”? (Taken from the Jewish Encyclopedia and the books of the Sanhedrin).

And to continue with Rev. Ganss: “As for the concurrent opinion of Protestantism unprejudiced and impartial historians are gradually disclosing the methods by which it was fed and nourished. In the first place, by a system of ruthless and ruinous Iconoclasm; by the destruction of every image —carved or painted, engraved or embroidered — on which fiendish fanaticism could lay its sacrilegious hands. The accumulated art treasures of centuries, the masterpieces of carved statuary, the exquisitely jeweled windows, the glowingly beautiful canvases, the inimitably gorgeous tapestries, the priceless marvels of illuminated manuscripts — all gathered with princely munificence, guarded with loving care, treasured with tender devotion — were hacked to pieces by infuriated, devastating vandals pillaged by the savage horde of robber barons or laid in ashes by the firebrand of the evangelical incendiary.

“With an open Bible in one hand and a blazing torch in the other, a volley of blistering imprecations gushing from its frothing mouth, Carlostadt, in spite of Luther’s pleas, remonstrances and threats, swept over parts of Germany like a veritable satanic incarnation of destructive malignancy. Reason, justice, law were alike powerless to stay his blighting course. ‘It would be 1,000 times better,’ he shrieks, ‘if the pictures were in hell or in a fiery furnace than in the House of God! No matter if one does say ‘I do not worship the images, I pay no honor to them but to the Saints they represent,’ God answered summarily and in clear terms ‘Thou shalt not adore them, thou shalt not honor them.’ If one should come and say pictures instruct and edify the laity as much as books do the learned answer them: ‘God has forbidden pictures.”

“John Knox at the head of a pillaging mob, ‘who swept from Scotland in a flame of zeal shrine, altar, image and massy piles that harbored them,’ and who saw ‘in fire and sword and desolation a godly thorough Reformation,’ eclipsed the havoc wrought by Leo the Isaurian outside the very devastation of Attila, ‘the scourge of God.’ Wesley groaned over the manner in which the Reformation had been affected in Scotland and when he stood amid the ruins of Aberbrothock exclaimed: ‘God deliver us from reforming mobs! Nor, in his burning indignation, did he mince his words when he dismissed the Scottish reformation with the merciless excoriation that ‘the work of God does not, cannot need the work of the devil to forward it.’

“In England the empty niches, the leveled altars, the rifled sanctuaries, the desecrated tombs, give evidence that the name Rottengeist — to use a word of Luther’s coining — was not idle. Even the invaluable literary treasures of antiquity, the accumulated wisdom of centuries the vast collections of books and still more costly collections of manuscripts stored in the monastic libraries were ruthlessly mutilated, irretrievably ruined or wantonly burned in order that not a vestige of idolatry might survive.” (End of Rev. Ganss quotes). And here we must also add what Rev. Ganss later reports, that in place of those “idols” removed from the churches they stole from us, they placed pictures of their reigning monarchs to be reverenced instead! But that of course was not idolatry. Hypocrites!  And so we bow our heads and weep.

History only repeats itself

What does this remind us of? We see the word Iconoclasm mentioned above, but what is an Iconoclast? An Iconoclast is: “A person who attacks settled beliefs or institutions.” We have seen what incendiaries who rile up the mobs can do; witness the destruction wrought by such groups as Black Lives Matter and Antifa, also white nationalist groups. This was the same destruction spurred on during the French Revolution and later by the Bolshevists and the Nazis. Whether they attack ancient culture, religion, or both, they are all the same. And they emanate from the same source, as the free book available on this site, Liberalism’s Shameful Legacy, explains. They feed on the anger and dissatisfaction, the prejudices of the mob; they breed class warfare, a favorite tool of Communism, and then they destroy all in their path.

Christian conservatives claim to be their enemies. And yet Christian conservatives also fan these same flames any time they defame our Blessed Mother. They do this because they are ignorant of their own history and the true history of Christianity. They simply repeat what they have been taught for centuries without examining the facts and searching for the truth. They believe the lies of those who hated Catholics in the past and those who today brand all Catholics as accessories to pedophilia and the “Jesuit conspiracy” to control the world. They mimic the Jews and the pagans in their hatred and do not even know the true meaning of the terms idolatry and worship, far less what the Bible really teaches regarding such things. But then of course they interpret the Bible for themselves, so what can one expect. In short, they are children of the world, and in reality, are little different than those tearing down what is left of our culture today.

The real problem here is that no one any longer understands or values Christ’s divinity. They have made him their friend and “brother,” in the human sense. They picture him laughing and smiling and make hideous caricatures of him for children’s books. They cannot handle the FACT that he was not like other men, He did not smile often but was often known to weep; He did not “mingle” easily but kept Himself apart from others except when teaching. He was like us yet not like us: in this world but not of it, as we are told to be. He was all-holy, and could anyone believe that God the Father would entrust his only begotten Son to anything or anyone less than holy? This is only common sense, that is, if we truly believe Christ was both God and man. Would you pour expensive aged liquor into a glass without thoroughly cleaning it, in order to truly enjoy its taste? And God in His wisdom, would He do any less with something infinitely more precious?

Tell the Protestants on the Internet the following: “If you accuse me of worshipping idols, then know this. I accuse you of denying Christ’s divinity. For if God the Father was truly Divine, and Christ was truly His Son, only the most precious vessel could have borne Him, and if we honor her, it is because God Himself perfected her as that vessel and she yet holds the vestiges of that sacred little Body that once dwelt in her womb.” And then, send them this prayer:


(To be recited on the First Saturdays)

MOST HOLY VIRGIN and our beloved Mother/ we listen with grief/ to the complaints of thy Immaculate Heart/ surrounded with the thorns/ which ungrateful men place therein/ at every moment/ by their blasphemies and ingratitude./ Moved by the ardent desire/ of loving thee as our Mother/ and of promoting a true devotion/ to thy Immaculate Heart/ we prostrate ourselves at thy feet/ to prove the sorrow we feel/ for the grief that men cause thee/ and to atone by means of/ our prayers and sacrifices/ for the offenses which men/ return thy tender love.

Obtain for them/ and for us/ the pardon of so many sins./ A word from thee/ will obtain grace and forgiveness/ for us all./ Hasten, O Lady/ the conversion of sin-ners/ that they may love Jesus/ and cease to offend God/ already so much offended and thus avoid eternal punishment./

Turn thine eyes of mercy/ towards us/ so that henceforth/ we may love God with all our heart/ while on earth/ and enjoy Him forever in heaven./ Amen./

Imprimatur # Joseph E. Ritter, D.D., Archbishop of Indianapolis


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