I guess this question is directed to "believers" out there relating to Christianity, but I invite non-believers to chime in as well on their opinion vis-a-vis "if there was a God....". I also invite everyone to be objective; hopefully this won't turn into one of our "you ignorant atheist slut/bible thumping old hypocrite prude" exchanges.......
I was told by a woman who identifies herself as "BORN born-again" (I hadn't known there WAS such a thing) that the Hail Mary is not a valid prayer, i.e. it cannot be heard or answered. Her stance is that each one of us who believes is as much a saint as the Virgin Mary, but we are not empowered by the higher power to hear prayers, nor is she. Nor, for that matter, are ANY of the saints.
This sort of makes a travesty of my learning as a Catholic (I know, we're the worst) and maybe my learning is short-sighted. Man, I've been saying the rosary for years! However, I do not know off the top of my head the origin of the prayer itself. Not such a good catholic, I guess!
What the lady said to me rang true and troubled me. But I suppose that if we believe in the power of prayer (and please let's not argue about the power of prayer being valid), do we not believe in the power of the higher being to make our prayers to the saints heard by them through the higher being?
"Hail, Mary ..." is the English translation of the Latin translation of the original Greek writings found in the first chapter of Luke's gospel in which Luke despescribes the visit of the angel Gabriel to inform Mary that she would give birth to Jesus. Luke certainly wasn't there, and the angel Gabriel isn't saying much these days, so the story either comes from Mary or was invented. The mere fact that it might have been invented is not reason to disregard it, because Luke's writing can (and should) be understood on an allegorical level as well. Virgin births were very common in Greek mythology. To say that one was born of a virgin is to claim that the person is a god.
As Christianity spread through the Roman empire after the conversion of Constantine, certain peoples who had historically worshipped female deities resisted Christianity. The rise in the veneration of Mary helped to fill that vacuum.
The Reformation, with its emphasis on the Bible and its rebellion against non-biblical practices adopted by the Roman church, resulted in a rejection of Mary's supposed immaculate conception. Nowhere does the bible claim that Mary was conceived without sin. That idea seemed to originate with St. Augustine, who had been a horny sex addict prior to his conversion, and who equated sex with original sin. Augustine reasoned that "sinless" Mary could not have been born as the result of a sexual union -- fertilizing egg, and lots of sticky stuff.
The whole concept of Mary being sinless apparently ignores the repeated times that Jesus rebukes her (starting with Jesus' boyhood trip to the temple in Jerusalem). It also ignores that Jesus had flesh and blood brothers, including James (not the disciple) who led the Jerusalem faction of the early church. Mary had sex.
The repetition of the Rosary and saying the Hail Mary is partly as a didactic technique, where the gospel story is learned through rote repetition, and partly as a cha...
Carl.....now I may be an "ignorant atheist slut", but I was raised Catholic (best way to become atheist ;-) so I know a little about this because I used to study Saints as a young teen. I was actually obsessed with female Saints in particular. IMO they were strong, heroic women to be admired. But, even then, I didn't believe any of them to be Godly Saints with any Holy power.
IMO, most were ordinary women that did extraordinary things for others to their own detriment. They were martyrs who achieved Sainthood by dying in the name of their 'cause', no matter whether it was good or bad. Some people committing wicked crimes in the name of God were canonized Saints! Even today there are many people who die for their 'cause', but are not canonized Saints. For example, cult leaders & serial killers die for their causes in the name of God, but we don't bestow Sainthood on them. What about someone great, like Martin Luther King....Saint?? Absolutely should be, he deserves it.
The definition in the dictionary of a Saint is: 1. a holy person 2. a person who is exceptionally meek, charitable, patient, etc. 3. those who have died and are believed to be with God 4. In the New Testament, any Christian 5. a member of any certain religious groups calling themselves Saints.
CONT. FROM ABOVE
Now, I have known people of exceptional meekness and who are extremely charitable and patient. I, myself, am an extremely patient person....does that make me a Saint?? Absolutely not to people of religious faith, but it does in the eyes of my children. :-) It also says according to the New Testament "any Christian", however, I know tons of Christians, yet I don't consider nor refer to them as Saints.
So, to answer your question, I believe that your friend would be correct in that Mary is not a Saint, and in no way did she die for her holy 'cause'. On the other hand, maybe she was exceptionally meek. It IS portrayed that when it came to Jesus being tortured/hung on the cross, that she did not speak up on his behalf. Therefore I would have to agree that praying to her through the 'Holy Mary' rosary is pointless. (although as an atheist, I believe ANY praying is pointless) Otherwise people would be praying to anyone that fits the above definitions of the word Saint. I don't think praying to my patient and meek CAT is going to land me that windfall of cash that I would LOVE to fall into my lap!! Oh hail Saint Tanzy??Meooooowwww!! ;-)