My husband and I were both raised Catholic, but as adults sought and found the Lord and have been born again and enjoy a personal and growing relationship with Jesus. Much of both our families remain Catholic, and both of our mothers are very devoted to Mary. We know Mary must have been a wonderful woman, so our stance “against” her was troubling to us. We realized the need to separate our feelings against her with feelings against the Catholic teaching about her! It is almost impossible to talk to our mothers about Mary. My mom contends Mary visited St. Bernadette, and in her mind, that gives Mary a reason to be elevated to a special status. Over and above anything the Bible does or doesn’t teach the “fact” that Mary appeared to this peasant girl and “spoke words of prophecy” gives my mother a fixed mind about this. She also prays the rosary almost daily and feels she gets real answer to prayer in doing so. Things happen that reinforce this belief. Stuff like finding something that was lost or having a situation work out well for her. My basic question is, “What information is there to speak against Mary’s appearance to St. Bernadette?” I’m not sure there is anything to really support this appearance either, but seems it is taught as fact to Catholics.
We praise God that you have developed a right relationship with Jesus Christ! I agree with you that Mary must have been a wonderful woman. She, like the Apostles, is worthy of our respect and admiration. However, the devotion to Mary as espoused by the Roman Catholic Church is unbiblical and, I believe, dangerous.
There have been many so-called Marian apparitions throughout the centuries. The “appearance” of Mary to Bernadette in Lourdes is one of the more popular. It is strange that even though many witnesses attended some of the sightings, only Bernadette was able to see or hear Mary. The other witnesses only saw a 14-year-old peasant girl going into a trance and acting odd. Another oddity is that Bernadette said that she and Mary would pray the rosary together. The rosary includes the “Hail Mary”, so why would Mary pray to herself?
The sense of sight is one of our most important senses for intake of information. It’s also the most easily deceived. Magicians make a lot of money by fooling our sense of sight through misdirection. They say that “seeing is believing”, but sight is so easily tricked and fooled. 2 Corinthians 11:13-14 says, “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” Satan doesn’t appear as a grotesque monster with horns and fangs. Nor do his demons. If they did, they’d only succeed in scaring people. What they want to do is deceive people. That is most easily done using a beautiful and endearing disquise. That’s why we must “test the spirits” (1 John 4:1). If visions of angels, Apostles, or Mary were to be considered truthful, then Muhammad would be right in trusting his vision of the angel Gabriel, and Joseph Smith would have been correct in his sightings of angels, Jesus, God the Father, etc. The marian apparitions have the same capacity to deceive. They have distracted people from devotion to Jesus Christ, and caused the deceased mother of Jesus to be considered a source of redemption and protection. Satan is definitely scoring a victory through these.
Regarding Marian apparitions, there is a video called “Messages from Heaven” that you can preview online here: http://christiananswers.net/catalog/messages-vs.html. I haven’t seen this video yet, but have been told it’s a very revealing look at Marian apparitions and the heresy inherent in them. I also recommend purchasing the book, “Heresies of Catholicism…The Apostate Church”, by John Schroeder. John was a lifelong Catholic until he was saved in his early 50’s. He’s written some of our articles on Catholicism. There’s a chapter in his book that deals with Marian apparitions.