“If you want to know the wrong definition of a word, look it up in the dictionary.” This was maxim given to us in the seminary. Often words that the Church uses to describe something has been co-opted by popular culture and given a new meaning so that when the Church uses it the way it had for a very long time, all of a sudden she appears not to be saying what she intends. A parallel example would be the word “gay.” 150 years ago describing someone with this word let you know that the person was happy. To describe a guy with the same word today intending to imply that he had a positive disposition might lead one to assume something about him that could lead to an awkward situation.
That being said, the next section of Lumen Gentium is called, “The Cult of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Church.” The word “cult” has fallen on hard times within the Church as of late. It has been reinterpreted as meaning something controlling and the phrase, “Drink the coolaid” comes to mind. But that is not at all what is meant in this context.
In Church speak, “cult” means a devotion or honor afforded to a particular person. Of course there are healthy and unhealthy cults. Somebody who bases their faith on a particular priest, for example, would be unhealthy. The cult of Mary, for example, as far as it leads a person more deeply into the faith and into the arms of her Son would be healthy.
Another unhealthy cult, written about here before, would be a type of cultish dependency on a saint that says something like, “Sure fire novena! Say these prayers for nine days in a church and leave nine copies of this prayer for others to find and you will get your prayer.” That delves into superstition and the idea that we can control God. This is very unhealthy.
The next couple of paragraphs of Lumen Gentium will describe the proper cult of Mary and how she is to lead us more deeply into the heart of Christ.