Asking the “Mother of Mercy” to Have Mercy

I was a little surprised to read Roman Catholic John Thayer Jensen suggesting that Roman Catholics don’t ask Mary for Mercy, they only ask her to pray for them. He wrote:

It is worth noting the many Catholic litanies which begin with things like ‘Lamb of God, have mercy on us’ and ‘Holy Spirit have mercy on us’ – but never proceed to ‘Holy Mary, Mother of God, have mercy on us.’ Rather, when they get to her and to the saints the response is ‘pray for us.’

Many RC litanies do follow the pattern that JTJ described. Still, it didn’t take long to find an example of one that explicitly asks Mary for Mercy:

God the Father of heaven Have mercy on us
God the Son, redeemer of the world Have mercy on us
God the Holy Spirit Have mercy on us
Holy Trinity, one God Have mercy on us
Holy Mary Have mercy on us
Holy mother of God Have mercy on us
Holy Virgin of virgins Have mercy on us
Mother of Christ Have mercy on us
Mother of the Church Have mercy on us
Mother of divine grace Have mercy on us
Mother most pure Have mercy on us
Mother most chaste Have mercy on us
Mother inviolate Have mercy on us
Mother undefiled Have mercy on us
Mother immaculate Have mercy on us
Mother most amiable Have mercy on us
Mother most admirable Have mercy on us
Mother of good counsel Have mercy on us
Mother of our Creator Have mercy on us
Mother of our Savior Have mercy on us

(Litany of the Blessed Virgin) There are numerous additional titles of Mary provided in that particular litany.

Furthermore, this is not an isolated case. The current edition of the Salve Maria Regina Bulletin provides an article on “Titles of Our Lady from the Litany of Loreto,” including this account:

In the old apocryphal book of “The Passing of Mary,” which goes back to the fifth century, there is this passage: “Often here in Rome, She appears to the people who confess Her in prayer, for She has appeared here on the sea when it was troubled and raised itself and was going to destroy the ship in which they were sailing.” And the sailors called out, “O Lady Mercy, Mother of God, have mercy on us, and straightway She rose upon them like the sun and delivered the ships, 92 of them, and rescued them from destruction, and none of them perished.” And in like manner Mary has saved the Bark of Peter many times when it seemed threatened with destruction. Many of Her Feasts have been instituted, many of Her devotions established, or approved, and indulgenced in commemoration of the manifestation of the power of Her arm.

(link to article)

The Catechism of the Catholic Church endorses prayer to Mary explicitly at 2675-79, for example: “Mary is the perfect Orans … When we pray to her, we are adhering with her to the plan of the Father, who sends his Son to save all men. … We can pray with and to her.” (CCC 2679) The title “Mother of Mercy” is endorsed at CCC 2677.

Finally, while the wording is not exactly what was proposed by JTJ, perhaps he should listen to the Alma Redemptoris Mater:

O loving Mother of our Redeemer, gate of heaven, star of the sea,
Hasten to aid thy fallen people who strive to rise once more.
Thou who brought forth thy holy Creator, all creation wond’ring,
Yet remainest ever Virgin, taking from Gabriel’s lips
that joyful “Hail!”: be merciful to us sinners.

(source)

Perhaps JTJ was just unaware of this, and will now rebuff the mariolatry present in Roman Catholicism. One would hope that such would be the case. It is not right to pray to Mary for Mercy, even if one also prayers to the Holy Trinity for mercy. Such prayer ought only to be offered to God through the intercession of the Son, who is to be our only mediator.