The Blessed Virgin

Question: An evangelical Christian in my office saw a holy card on my desk of the Blessed Mother. He was rather dismissive of it and my Catholic faith. Sadly, I got angry. But I did not really know how best to answer him. He understands we don’t worship her, but still says we ought to focus only on Jesus. Any thoughts?

Name withheld, Rochester, N.Y. 

Answer: In discussing such a matter with evangelical Protestants, it’s best to stick with Scripture. While there are many passages we could quote, it seems the most fundamental passage to set the stage for the discussion is from the Gospel of Luke. There, Mary, under the influence of the Holy Spirit and rejoicing with her cousin Elizabeth, says, “... for behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name” (Lk 1:48-49, KJV).

Now, if the Word of God is inspired — and it is — then we should be asking a few questions of our evangelical brothers and sisters. Since Scripture says that all generations would call her blessed, aren’t we Catholics fulfilling what Scripture says? And if we are fulfilling Scripture, how are you? And why do you criticize us for doing so?

It is not a detriment to God to call Mary blessed, any more than it is a slight against an artist to praise a masterpiece by him. Mary is God’s masterpiece, and, as the text says, she is blessed because God has done great things for her. In calling her blessed, we bless the artist, who is the Lord himself.

At some point, we need to start answering questions by asking a few of our own in a kind of Socratic method. And thus, a simple and humble question to ask our critical evangelical brethren is “How do you fulfill what Scripture says of Mary, ‘all nations will call me blessed?’” We should ask this with humility, but insist upon an answer.

Can we sell body parts?

Question: I have read that in some countries it is legal to sell blood and organs. What is the Catholic view of this practice?

Bernie Askew, Sacramento, Calif. 

Answer: No Christian can seriously propose such a thing. It violates Scripture, which says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body” (1 Cor 6:19-20). Hence, we are not owners of our bodies, merely stewards, and should not sell what does not belong to us.

To be a steward means to use what belongs to another in a way that accords with the will of the owner. Hence, we are permitted in charity to donate blood and to donate certain organs while we live and other organs upon our death. These acts of charity conform to the will of the true owner of our body, God, who is love. Thus, Scripture encourages, “Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give” (Mt 10:8).

The second reason not to sell blood and organs is the harm that it does to the poor. If they can be sold, the number of those who simply donate them will decline. And the price of purchasing them will surely be high. This gives the poor less access to healing remedies.

Hence, the buying and selling of organs and blood is an offense against Catholic teaching. 

Msgr. Charles Pope is the pastor of Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian in Washington, D.C., and writes for the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., blog at blog.adw.org. Send questions to Pastoral Answers, Our Sunday Visitor, 200 Noll Plaza, Huntington, IN 46750 or to msgrpope@osv.com. Letters must be signed, but anonymity may be requested.