CHAPTER XIV. MARIOLATRY AND IMAGE WORSHIP.
How history repeats itself! How hard paganism is to kill! The ancient Egyptians worshipped the "Queen of Heaven." Jeremiah, as far back as 587 B.C., prophesied desolation to Judah for having "burned incense to the Queen of Heaven," and poured out "drink offerings" unto her, and "made cakes to worship her." - Jer. xliv. 17-19.
Of the wise men (Matthew ii.) we read: "And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary, His mother, and fell down and worshipped Him."
The South American version of Matthew 11:28, as may be seen carved on a stone of the Jesuit Church in Cuzco, is: "Come to MARY, all you who are laden with works, and weary beneath the weight of your sins, and she will alleviate you," A literal translation of one of the prayers offered to her reads: "Yes, beloved Mother! of thee I supplicate all that is necessary for the salvation of my soul. Of whom should I ask this grace but of Thee? To whom should a loving son go but to his beloved Mother? To whom the weak sheep cry but to its divine shepherdess? Whom seek the sick, but the celestial doctor? Whom invoke those in affliction but the mother of consolation? Hear me then, Holy Queen!"
The statues of the "Queen of Heaven" are often of great magnificence, the dress of one which I know having cost $2,000. In the poor Indian churches a bag of maize leaves, tied near the top to make a neck, and above that an Indian physiognomy, painted with some vegetable dye, serves the same purpose. The Bishop of La Serena, in Chili, has received as much as $40,000 a year for keeping up the revered image in that church, and these images are worshipped. Bequests are often left to them, and a popular one will receive many legacies annually.
To be just, I must mention that in the arms of this "Mother of God" there is, almost invariably, the child Jesus, but I must also state that to tens of thousands this baby never grew to manhood, but went up to heaven in His mother's arms. What a caricature of Christianity! Paul said: "If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain." "Make Jesus a perpetual child, and Mariolatry becomes lower than Chinese ancestral worship." If He, as a child, was translated to heaven, then He never died and rose again. Mary is, to them, the Saviour. The child Jesus happened to be her son, and, as she was the great divine one, He, through her, partook of divinity. La Cruz, a weekly paper, published in Tucuman, Argentina, in its issue of September 3rd, 1899, had the following article:
THE BIRTH OF MARY.
"Chroniclers say that such was the fury that possessed the devils in hell, at the moment of the birth of the Most Blessed Virgin, that they nearly broke loose.
"There was sounded in heaven the first cannon shot in salutation of such a happy event. Lucifer gave such a jump that he got his horns caught in the moon, and there, it is said, he remained hanging all the day, like the insignificant fellow he is, to the great amusement of the blessed ones above, who laughed to see such an uncommon sight.
"The other devils, who could not jump so high, remained below screaming and kicking!, and tearing their apology for beards, when not otherwise occupied in scratching and biting and burning the unfortunate condemned ones.
"And all this because... it had been foretold that... a woman, yes, a woman, should one day bruise their heads... and, according to all appearances, this was the woman... and that she was that bright and morning star that announces the appearance of the Sun.
"Why should we not therefore rejoice, as the angels in heaven rejoiced, over that moat happy event - the birth of Mary."
From this it is clear that in Tucuman, at any rate - and this, by the way, is an important city, of at least 75,000 inhabitants - they believe that Mary, not Christ, came to bruise the serpent's head. The Roman Catholic translation of Gen. 3:15 is: "She shall bruise the serpent's head." Thus, the reader sees, at the very commencement of God's Word, and in the very first promise of a Saviour for fallen men, the eyes of seeking souls are turned by Romanists from the Creator to the creature.
How these words are understood by Romanists is plainly seen by the pictures of Mary trampling on the serpent, which are found everywhere in Romish lands.
Under pictures of the Virgin, circulated everywhere, are the words: "We have seen the star and are come to adore her." The prayers of adoration run, "To the holiest birth of Mary, that in death it may bring about our birth to eternal glory. Ave Maria!" "To the anguish of Mary, that we may be made predestined children of her sorrows. Ave Maria!"
The veneration with which the Virgin Mary is regarded, and the power with which she is invested, are thus told by many a priest: "Once God was so angry with the world that He determined to destroy it, and was about to execute His design when Mary said to Him: 'Give me back first the milk with which I fed you, and then you can do so!' In this way she averted the impending destruction."