The Christian radio station that I listen to was raffling off a trip to the Holy Land recently. There were sooooo many people who called in to get entered into that drawing. It was a really big deal. I mean, what Christian doesn’t want to touch the tomb were Jesus laid, sit in the garden where He suffered, walk the Via Dolorosa that He walked?
Even just to look at pictures of these places is special. Not because of the place itself, but because of the Person. The Holy Land is holy because the Holy One made it so when He lived there. His divine presence sanctified it and elevated it above all other places on earth. Ask anyone who has been there. It is hallowed ground, still permeated with His Spirit, and will remain so until the end of time.
The same is true for artifacts like the Shroud of Turin or a relic of the Cross. People will pay big money for a tiny sliver from the Cross where Jesus hung. Not because that piece of material is, in itself, worth anything at all (it’s just a piece of wood from a tree trunk), but because it touched the God of the universe who is above all things, and so therefore has increased its value infinitely.
Likewise, the Virgin Mary was infinitely sanctified when She became pregnant with Jesus. She was the first “Holy Land” in which He dwelt. Before He ever touched a foot to the dirt, He lived and moved and had being in Her. Around Her neck was the first place His body ever hung. Her mantle was the first “shroud” He was ever wrapped in.
Yes, on Her own, She is a mere creature (She is ordinary, like a piece of wood from a tree trunk) but God Almighty sanctified Her by associating Himself with Her. He elevated Her above all other creatures. HE did it. Mary didn’t do it. And neither did Catholics. Saying Catholics elevated Mary is like saying the Israelis or Palestinians elevated the Holy Land.
No. Catholics recognize the supreme holiness of God to such a degree that we honor all things associated with Him, including (and especially) His Mother.
** Pic below is of the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed the night He was arrested.