Tuesday, September 3, 2013

6. DO CATHOLICS WORSHIP IMAGES AND STATUES?


"WHEN YOU PRAY, PRAY IN THE SILENCE OF YOUR HEART 
WHERE NO ONE CAN HEAR AND SEE YOU BUT GOD."  Silent Crusader

What God forbids is not the use of images but their worship. Such is the age old doctrine of the Catholic Church

This topic has always been one favorite means or tool used by anti-Catholic churches to attack the Catholic Church as idolaters and somehow uses them too to convert not so active, non-bible reader and not so religious Catholics into their own church. 

There are many catholics who do not spend time to know more about Jesus and His teachings by reading the bible or attending Parish Catechism or bible reading. So when non-Catholics meet them and ask them questions, they easily give-in for they are not prepared for it. I for one did bible reading years back and when I meet Protestant Pastors I was amazed how they are able to have the verses imbedded in their memory. They were able to tell me the verses with the bible text as well. That was about three years ago. I resolved then to go back to my bible so I could defend my faith. 

Many Catholics are not ready to defend their faith and they are the ones who are vulnerable to charismatic evangelist that knocks on our doors or we meet through friends or through blogs and forum. Non-Catholics are well trained in bible reading.  

Graven Image

So what are these man-made things or Graven idols the anti-Catholics have always been using to attack the Catholic Church. Let's find out the meaning of the word graven is and if it fits the attack?

Graven image or graven images may refer to:
GRAVEN IMAGE
“You shall not make for yourself an idol” is an abbreviated form of one of the Ten Commandments which, according to the book of Deuteronomy, were spoken by God to Israel and then written on stone tablets by God himself." Deuteronomy 4:13

"Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;" Exodus 20:4-6 (KJV) ('heaven' meant sky or up in the air and do not pertains to Heaven where God is per se)

Though no single biblical passage contains a complete definition of idolatry, the subject is addressed in numerous passages, so that idolatry may be summarized:

  • as the worship of idols (or images); 
  • the worship of polytheistic gods by use of idols (or images); 
  • the worship of created things (trees, rocks, animals, astronomical bodies, or another human being); 
  • and the use of idols in the worship of God (YHWH Elohim), the god of Israel, 
  • Also covetousness (greed), is defined as idolatry 
Colossians 3:1-5  [1] Therefore, if you be risen with Christ, seek the things that are above; where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God: [2] Mind the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth. [3]For you are dead; and your life is hid with Christ in God. [4] When Christ shall appear, who is your life, then you also shall appear with him in glory. [5] Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, lust, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is the service of idols.

Jesus is telling us to mind things that are in heavens and not upon the earth. God, the Blessed Mary, the angels, the saints are in heaven. Upon earth are those literal man-made idols of that are in the sky, in the sea and in land who are not God or the heavenly creatures who are holy in the eyes of God. 

Ephesians 5:3-5 [3] But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not so much as be named among you, as becometh saints: [4] Or obscenity, or foolish talking, or scurrility, which is to no purpose; but rather giving of thanks. [5] For know you this and understand, that no fornicator, or unclean, or covetous person (which is a serving of idols), hath inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
To God, the man-made idols and gods are the graven images not of God but of the underworld, and all that represents them such as fornications, uncleanness, evil concupiscence, covetousness, obscenity, foolish talking, lust, sodomy, or scurrility which has no purpose for God are the idolatry that Jesus wants us to understand. Anything that is not of God is of the devil. 
So let no man deceive you with their vain words for the anger of God is upon them and their rewards are already earned. If you become a children of them, children of unbelief you will not inherit heaven. 
Ephesians 5:6-7 [6] Let no man deceive you with vain words. For because of these things cometh the anger of God upon the children of unbelief[7] Be ye not therefore partakers with them.
When the commandment was given, opportunities to participate in the honor or worship of idols abounded, and the religions of Canaanite tribes neighboring the Israelites often centered around a carefully constructed and maintained cult idol.

Non-Catholic religions of today considered Catholics' practice of giving homage, respect, honor or reverence to God, to the Blessed Virgin Mary or to Saints through the use of Images or statue resembling God and His heavenly creatures as a literal worshiping of these pictures, images, statue or icons itself per se. It is similar to putting words into the mouth of the Catholics. 

Every country have statues and pictures or bust of iconic persons like ex presidents, national heroes and many more but their paying homage to whom it represents is not is not considered worshiping nor idolizing. To everyone this is normal to remember special people who ones lived. 

Soldiers who are fighting in Afghanistan today have pictures of their loves ones in their wallet or on their side table with frames. At times they would kiss the pictures of their love ones or place them nearest to their hearts. Some people would carry some smaller pictures imbedded inside a small necklace locket and glance at them once-in-a-while. On the same token their families back home also have pictures of their love ones who are fighting in Afghanistan. They don't call this practice worshipping but remembering their loves one who are not around. 

Yet they call Catholics' practice of the same as worshiping and idolatry 

However, according to the Book of Deuteronomy the Israelites were strictly warned to neither adopt nor adapt any of the religious practices of the peoples around them Deuteronomy 12:4, 31 [4] You shall not do so to the Lord your God: [31] Thou shalt not do in like manner to the Lord thy God. For they have done to their gods all the abominations which the Lord abhorreth, offering their sons and daughters, and burning them with fire.

Nevertheless, the story of the people of Israel until the Babylonian Captivity includes the violation of this commandment as well as the one before it, “You shall have no other gods before me.”

Much of biblical preaching from the time of Moses to the exile is predicated on the either-or choice between exclusive worship of God and idols.

The Babylonian exile seems to have been a turning point after which the Jewish people as a whole were strongly monotheistic and willing to fight battles (such as the Maccabean Revolt) and face martyrdom before paying homage to any other god.

According to the psalmist and the prophet Isaiah, those who worship inanimate idols will be like them, that is, unseeing, unfeeling, unable to hear the truth that God would communicate to them.

We Become What We Worship - Paul the Apostle identifies the worship of created things rather than the Creator as the cause of the disintegration of sexual and social morality in his letter to the Romans.

Romans 1:21-29 "[21] Because that, when they knew God, they have not glorified him as God, or given thanks; but became vain in their thoughts, and their foolish heart was darkened. When they knew Jesus, they have not glorified or give Him thanks as God but became vain in their minds and their foolish heart darkened. [22] For professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. [23] And they changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of the image of a corruptible man, and of birds, and of four footed beasts, and of creeping things. They would rather believe the words of men than Jesus himself. [24] Wherefore God gave them up to the desires of their heart, unto uncleanness, to dishonour their own bodies among themselves. [25] Who changed the truth of God into a lie; and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. And these men have changed the truth about God into their own lies to befit their own purpose, worshipped and served Jesus only as the first creature rather than as God who is blessed for ever. 

[26] For this cause God delivered them up to shameful affections. For their women have changed the natural use into that use which is against nature. God delivered them up not by being author of their sins, but by withdrawing his grace, and so permitting them, in punishment of their pride, to fall into those shameful sins. [27] And, in like manner, the men also, leaving the natural use of the women, have burned in their lusts one towards another, men with men working that which is filthy, and receiving in themselves the recompense which was due to their error. [28]And as they liked not to have God in their knowledge, God delivered them up to a reprobate sense, to do those things which are not convenient; [29] Being filled with all iniquity, malice, fornication, avarice, wickedness, full of envy, murder, contention, deceit, malignity, whisperers, [30]Detractors, hateful to God, contumelious, proud, haughty, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
Though the commandment implies that the worship of God is not compatible with the worship of idols, the status of an individual as an idol worshiper or a God worshiper is not portrayed as predetermined and unchangeable in the Bible. 

IDOLATRY - MAN MADE IDOL
When the covenant is renewed under Joshua, the Israelites are encouraged to throw away their foreign gods and “choose this day whom you will serve.”Joshua 24:14-15 [14] Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him with a perfect and most sincere heart: and put away the gods which your fathers served in Mesopotamia and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. [15] But if it seem evil to you to serve the Lord, you have your choice: choose this day that which pleaseth you, whom you would rather serve, whether the gods which your fathers served in Mesopotamia, or the gods of the Amorrhites, in whose land you dwell: but as for me and my house we will serve the Lord. 

King Josiah, when he becomes aware of the terms of God's covenant, zealously works to rid his kingdom of idols. 2 Kings 22:23 "For all his judgments are in my sight: and his precepts I have not removed from me." 

In 2 Chronicles 34 Josiah literally destroyed idolatry, repaired the temple, and renewed the covenant between God and the people.  In the eighth year of his reign, when he was yet a boy, he began to seek the God of his father David: 
  • and in the twelfth year after he began to reign, 
  • he cleansed Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the idols, and the graven things.
  • And they broke down the altars of Baalim, and demolished the idols that had been set upon them: 
  • and cut down the groves and the graven things, 
  • and broke them in pieces: and strewed the fragments upon the graves of those that was sacrificed to them. 
  • And he burnt the bones of the priests on the altars of the idols, 
  • and he cleansed Judah and Jerusalem. 
  • And in the cities of Manassas, and of Ephraim, and of Simeon, even to Nephtali he demolished all. 
  • And when he had destroyed the altars, and the groves, and had broken the idols in pieces, and had demolished all profane temples throughout all the land of Israel, he returned to Jerusalem.
According to the book of Acts, Paul tells the Athenians that though their city is full of idols, the true God is represented by none of them and requires them to turn away from idolsActs 17:16 "Now whilst Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred within him, seeing the city wholly given to idolatry." 

A psalm attributed to David describes the help someone may expect from pure devotion to God:Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. He will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God his Savior. — Psalm 24:3-5 [3] Neither let my enemies laugh at me: for none of them that wait on thee shall be confounded. [4] Let all them be confounded that act unjust things without cause. shew, O Lord, thy ways to me, and teach me thy paths. [5] Direct me in thy truth, and teach me; for thou art God my Saviour; and on thee have I waited all the day long.

And here is what the Catholics are having in the church or in their homes. 


IMAGE OF JESUS
ICON - An image or representation, but in the Eastern Church it refers to an image of Christ, the Blessed Virgin, or a saint.

IMAGES - Representations of Christ, likenesses of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Saints, or others which may be sculptured, painted, or formed in any other way. Images are never adored. The honor and veneration given them is referred to the person they represent. Thus in praying before a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our prayers actually are directed to Our Lady in Heaven, and not to the inanimate likeness.

This is what God is telling us:

Isaiah 55:8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts: nor your ways my ways, saith the Lord." Man wants to see in order to believe instead of believing first in order for the Holy Spirits to make wonders in his heart. Man thinks literally while God does it spiritually. 

And this is what God is really telling us:

Ezeckiel 36:31,30,32  
[31]"And you shall remember your wicked ways, and your doings that were not good: and your iniquities, and your wicked deeds shall displease you." 
[30] "Therefore will I judge every man according to his ways, O house of Israel, saith the Lord God. Be converted, and do penance for all your iniquities: and iniquity shall not be your ruin." 
[32] "It is not for your sakes that I will do this, saith the Lord God, be it known to you: be confounded, and ashamed at your own ways, O house of Israel."

YOU CAN'T SHOW GOD YOU LOVE HIM WITH MONEY
This is what God really wants us to do away with in our lives and to get rid of: 


LOVE AND LUST FOR MONEY, POWER, SEX, VANITY,
SODOMY, ETC. ARE WHAT OFFEND GOD
- THESE ARE ALL MAN-MADE IDOLS 
MAN-MADE IDOLS: our love of money, love of power, love for pervert sex out of marriage, love of pride and vanity, love of sodomy, love of same sex partners (Jesus -"the most I abhor is man to a man and woman to a woman" - this is not procreation rather an abomination - remember Sodom an Gomorrah) , love of sinful life, lust, fornications, lies, idols that are and don't represent God and many more which offend God... 

In the ancient times, man has to be literally told what is man-made idols that are not of God and do not represent God in any way which at that time is termed as pagan worshipping. Whenever someone loves any of these, he idolizes not God but themselves and their worldly wants and this is idolatry in the eyes of God. This is an abomination that offends God.

Why do we honor and pay homage to Mary, the Blessed Mother of Jesus? 


"MOTHER OF GOD"




Angel Gabriel
Announced to Mary






Luke 1:28 And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
Luke 1:42 And she cried out with a loud voice, and said: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb
Luke 1:41And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: 


Now where does it say that Catholics is worshipping Mary as God when we pray the 'Hail Mary'? 


When we pray to her, we honor and venerate her and ask her to pray for us and help us especially at the hour when we are about to die. At death bed if we pray sincerely to our Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of all the sins we have committed in our whole life from the deepest recesses of our heart, with the intercession of our Blessed Mother, our ever loving and merciful God will always listen and grant mercy and forgiveness.

Only God has the absolute power to forgive sins. Jesus commanded His Apostles to forgive on His behalf.


Luke 23:42 "And he said to Jesus: Lord, remember me when thou shalt come into thy kingdom." Heaven is God's kingdom. Being God Himself, heaven is also Jesus' kingdom. 
Luke 23:43 "And Jesus said to him: Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with me in paradise. " 

Do Catholics worship Mary? Does Catholics idolized her?

As the Mother of God, the Virgin Mary has a unique position among the saints, indeed, among all creatures. She is exalted, yet still one of us. Mary is the greatest intercessor of all next to her son Jesus Christ who is our mediator between God and us.  Jesus, the mediator is the bridge between Heaven and Earth, between God and Man and Mary is next to her Son and showing us the way through the bridge who is Jesus the mediator.
John 6:44 "No man can come to me, except the Father, who hath sent me, draw him; and I will raise him up in the last day. "
John 14:6 "Jesus saith to him: I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father, but by me."

1 Timothy 2:5 "For there is one God, and one mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus:"
 Luke 8:21 "Who answering, said to them: My mother and my brethren are they who hear the word of God, and do it."
 Ecclesiasticus 3:18 "Of what an evil fame is he that forsaketh his father: and he is cursed of God that angereth his mother."


Mary is venerated, honored and respected but never worship as non-Catholics say otherwise. As humans we do not condone anyone who disrespects our own biological mother. Would you allow? We respect in return those who give respect to our own mother.




Now that her son is now backed in heaven sitting in the right hand side of the Father, all prayers that Mary will intercede for all of us will be heard and granted by her son, the Son of God. This is so for accepting to be the Mother of Jesus Christ our God.

But in spite of all these, anti-Catholics are still insisting on their heresies and unbelief always accusing Catholics of worshiping Mary like God and brazen man-made idols.   

The only logical reason is simply because they have to show to the world that their Protestantism (the state of being against the Catholic Church of God) and hard-line anti-Catholicism stand is the only way to heaven. Not only have they added several false and un-biblical gospels and teachings, they have removed the 7 books from the original 73 books of the Old which is in disobedience and defiance of the commandments of God in book of the Apocalypse - Revelation 22:18-19 [18] "For I testify to every one that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book: If any man shall add to these things, God shall add unto him the plagues written in this book." [19] "And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from these things that are written in this book."

Arrogance to the truth is of the devil. 
And yet it is quick for anyone to accuse and judge but very hard for them to see their own blatant and brazen errors.
 
Proverbs 30:10 Accuse not a servant to his master, lest he curse thee, and thou fall.
Luke 11:54 Lying in wait for him, and seeking to catch something from his mouth, that they might accuse him.
Acts Of Apostles 24:13 Neither can they prove unto thee the things whereof they now accuse me.
Ecclesiasticus 20:31 Presents and gifts blind the eyes of judges, and make them dumb in the mouth, so that they cannot correct.
Proverbs 30:12 A generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet are not washed from their filthiness.
Job 21:20 His eyes shall see his own destruction, and he shall drink of the wrath of the Almighty.
John 8:6 And this they said tempting him, that they might accuse him. But Jesus bowing himself down, wrote with his finger on the ground.
John 8:7 When therefore they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said to them: He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
 

Is praying to Mary and the Saints is really a form of idolatry? 


Find out more and click this Praying to Mary and the Saints.

In conclusion, anyone who keep insisting that the Blessed Mary is being worship as God like graven idols are anti-Christ and shall take away themselves from the book of life and they will be judged as they judged others and according to their works. And whose name is not found in the book of life will be cast into the eternal fire. But blessed are those who believe and yet do not see for they shall be clothed in white garments for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  
Apocalypse (Revelation) 3:5 He that shall overcome, shall thus be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, and I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
Apocalypse (Revelation) 20:12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing in the presence of the throne, and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged by those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
Apocalypse (Revelation) 20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life, was cast into the pool of fire.
Silent Crusader
 
How is the use of images restricted by the first commandment? Cite instances in which God Himself commanded the use of images in Old Testament times. How do we know that the first Christians made pictures and statues of Christ and the saints?

The first commandment of God says:
“You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them” (Exodus 20:4-5). This would seem to forbid any representations of men or other creatures, but a proper understanding of the commandment shows that the real force of the prohibition is in the words: “you shall not bow down to them or serve them.” 


What God forbids is not the use of images, but their worship. Such is the age old doctrine of the Catholic Church.

This interpretation of the first commandment must be correct, for God Himself ordered Moses to place two cherubim of beaten gold upon the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:18) and to set up a brazen image of the fiery serpent in the desert (Numbers 21:8-9). Many Jews were nevertheless, bitterly opposed to images, and some early Christians too feared that images might lead to idol worship. But the Roman catacombs contain many sacred pictures and statues, and archeologists have proved that in the East also images were frequently used by the first Christians. 
Who were the Iconoclasts? What was their Aim? How long did the Iconoclast disorders continue? Give an example of “image-breaker” tactics used in the time of the Protestant Revolt. 

By the eighth century, images called “icons” in the East were universally used, and some abuses had crept in. There were images everywhere. “they hung in a place of honor in every room, over every shop; they covered cups, garments, furniture, rings; wherever possible space was found, it was filled with a picture of Christ, our Lady, or a Saint”.(1) The Church officially fought abuses of image-worship, but certain fanatics in the East began a violent reaction against all effigies. In the middle of the eighth century, the Iconoclasts, or “image-breakers,” began a drive to wipe out all images.
 

Is this according to God's will or works of the devil? Are murders condoned by God? Or is this the evil of being literal in interpretation?

In a violent persecution of those who followed the traditional doctrine, monasteries and churches were destroyed, sacred statues smashed, relics of the saints desecrated, priests and monks brutally murdered. The Church’s doctrine had always been clear, and the Second Council of Nicea in 787 made explicit once and for all the principles governing the use of images. The practice of veneration of images, however, awaited the Summa of St Thomas Aquinas to find its place within the total synthesis of Catholic doctrine and, consequently, to find its own fullest explanation. St. Thomas treats two kinds of worship: latria, the homage due to God alone, and dulia, the honor or homage due to distinguished persons.
 
Iconoclast disorders continued up until the ninth century. Some violent followers of the Protestant Revolt of the sixteenth century repeated the excesses of the Iconoclast age. An English royal decree of 1548 ordered that all crucifixes and sacred statues be taken down and that the royal arms of the Lion and Unicorn be put up in their place.
         
What was the teaching of the Second Council of +icea on the proper use of images? In what council was this teaching affirmed? What purposes are images intended to serve, as shown by the blessing? 

The Council of Nicea declared: We decree with full precision and care that, like the figure of the honored and life-giving cross, the revered and holy images, whether painted or made of mosaic or other suitable material, are to be exposed in the holy churches of God, on sacred instruments and vestments, on walls and panels, in houses and by public ways; these are the images of our Lord, God and savior, Jesus Christ, and of our Lady without blemish, the holy God-bearer, and of the revered angels and of any of the saintly holy men. The more frequently they are seen in representational art, the more are those who see them drawn to remember and long for those who serve as models, and to pay these images the tribute of salutation and respectful veneration. Certainly this is not the full adoration in accordance with our faith, which is properly paid to the divine nature, but it also resembles that given to the figure of the honored and life-giving cross, and also to the holy books of the gospels and to other sacred cult objects. Further, people are drawn to honor these images with the offering of incense and lights, as was piously established by ancient custom. Indeed, the honor paid to an image traverses it, reaching the model; (2) and he who venerates the image, venerates the person represented in the image.”(3)
 
The blessing of images clearly shows the purposes they are to serve. The blessing says: “Almighty , everlasting God, you do not forbid us to represent your saints in stone or paint, so that, as often as we look upon their likeness with the eyes of the body, we may with the eyes of the mind meditate upon their holiness and be led to imitate their deeds. In your kindness, we beg you to bless and sanctify this picture (statue), meant to honor and call to mind your only-begotten Son, (or the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, or Blessed N., your apostle, or martyr, or bishop, or confessor, or virgin). May all who in its presence humbly strive to serve and honor your only-begotten Son, (or the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, or Blessed N., your apostle, or martyr, or bishop, or confessor, or virgin). By his (her) merits and intercession gain from you grace in the present life and eternal glory in the life to come. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
 
How has the Catholic Church been “the mother of the arts”? What are some examples of great religious art? What is the history of religious art since the Protestant revolt?
 
The Catholic Church has always been the mother of the arts, and her use of sacred images has inspired artists of every type to do their best work. The finest mosaics of the early Christian era, the best metal work in the Middle Ages, the greatest productions of the
Renaissance painters and sculptors, the most magnificent stained-glass windows of all time—all these are the products inspired by sons of the Church. Religious art reached its highest development in works like the Last Supper, painted by Leonardo da Vinci on the refectory wall of a Dominican convent in Milan; the Madonna by Raphael, and Michelangelo’s sculpture, such as the Pieta in St. Peter’s in Rome. Copies of many famous religious art works can be found in museums and in books available to everyone.
 
Reformation fanaticism almost stifled religious art, and no age since Protestantism’s rise has produced anything to rival the work of Catholic geniuses in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. After an era of near stagnation, there is now a revival of craftsmanship and artistry that marked the Age of Faith. Artists world-wide are making crucifixes and images worthy of the sacred subjects they represent.
 
Every Christian home should have its sacred images, pictures and statues to increase the devotion of the family and to create an atmosphere that will better the lives of all who dwell within its walls. In every home there should be at least a crucifix and pictures or statues of Christ and His Mother. If possible, every bedroom should have a crucifix, if only a small one. The presence of sacred images tends to make those who live in the home think of those virtues of Christ and the Saints which everyone should imitate. There is no better protection against temptation than contemplation of the crucifix, which recalls the sufferings of Christ for the sins of mankind. In some homes, devout Christians set up small shrines of the Sacred Heart, our Lady, or some favorite saint. Before them flowers are placed, candles sometimes burn, and family devotions are held. Especially in May, many families honor Mary by erecting shrines for daily prayer. These customs bring rich blessings to those who practice them. Not the images or the shrines, but the holy thoughts they inspire, the prayers they provoke, and the transformation they effect are the things that merit bountiful spiritual rewards.

 

Why Do Catholics Worship Statues?
Created 05/03/2009 - 21:50
Author: Chuck White
By Chuck White, Catholic Evidence Guild of Guam

When chatting with a beautiful lady recently at our Catholic Evidence Guild table at Night Market at ChamorroVillage, she identified herself as being "born again" and said that she had left the Catholic Church many years ago. I asked her, "Do you have any questions about particular Catholic beliefs?"

She said, "As a matter of fact, I have a big problem with the Catholic Church: I don't think Catholics should worship statues." 

I replied, "Well, I don't personally know any Catholics that worship statues, and if you do, then please tell them to stop immediately! That's idolatry!"

I continued, "You know that God forbids the worship of idols Exodus 20:4-5, but God commanded His people several times to make images and statues for use in their worship of Him. For example He once commanded the Israelites to 'make two cherubim (angels) out of hammered gold' and put them over the Ark of the Covenant in the Tabernacle Exodus 25:17-22."

I went on, "and in the book of Numbers, we see God commanding the Israelites to make a bronze snake and put it up on a pole so that anyone who had been bitten by a poisonous snake looked at it would be healed. Numbers 21:4-9. And God certainly commanded His people to create engraved images of angels, trees, flowers, oxen, lions and even pomegranates for His temple in Jerusalem 1 Kings 6:23-29, 7:25-45. God certainly hates idolatry, but He doesn't seem to have a problem with the use of religious art in worship."

"You see, for us Catholics, statues and religious images are just like photographs - they help us remember our holy brothers and sisters, the saints. When you gaze lovingly upon a photograph of someone you love or admire, nobody accuses you of worshipping the photograph, so please don't accuse us of the same thing."

My friend, replied, "I have to admit that sometimes I look at my mom's picture, and say, 'Mom, if you can hear me '"

I replied, "Exactly! And furthermore if your mom was a member of the Body of Christ when she died, she can hear you and even pray for you." But that's a subject I'll leave for another day.

Graven Images: Altering the Commandments?
Phillip B. Liescheski 

And the LORD said to Moses, "Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and every one who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live." So Moses made a bronze serpent... "Numbers 21:8-9
 
Recently we received an 80-page booklet entitled "What's Behind The New World Order?" It can be traced back to the writings of Ellen G. White, foundress of the Seventh Day Adventist Church. According to this booklet, the Catholic Church is behind the New World Order. The booklet claims that this is true, since the Church is the beast of Revelation (Rev. 17)'. It attempts to prove this claim by exposing the "marks of the beast." Due to limited space, only one charge will be considered. This is a common charge used against the Catholic Church.
 
According to this booklet, one "mark of the beast" is the alteration of God's Commandments. The booklet claims that the Catholic Church dropped the "Second Commandment" which forbids "graven images", i.e. statues. Allegedly the Catholic Church condones statue worship.  


[Do you notice how the words are well placed to confuse readers 'condones statue worship'? This is a simple false accusation which is not at all true. If you ask the Vatican directly yourself they will exactly tell you what Catholics do and don't do. Who is then is the author of all these lies? 


Those who are still insisting on these words to be true are simply promoting the same false accusation and lies endlessly. Does it make them any better person than the Catholics? Will it save their soul? It is up to God to judge their works. Only God can see the heart and soul of every person. No one can judge, no one can say he is saved and no one can say that he is in the right church but only God can. 

If Jesus says this is my church then it is His church. If someone says this is Jesus' church when it is not the church that Jesus founded 2000 years ago with his Apostle Peter, then this someone is lying. If he juggles the verses and chooses the bible he uses to prove his belief then he is only believing and following himself.]

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
 Now one version of the Ten Commandments can be found in the fifth chapter of the Book of Deuteronomy (also Exodus 20). Comparing Deut. 5:6-21 in a Catholic Bible with that found in a Protestant Bible reveals no essential differences. A few words may differ but that is due to differing translations. The major difference is not content but how Catholics and Protestants traditionally divide up and number these Commandments. Unfortunately the Bible lumps the Ten Commandments all together without division or numbering. (The verse numbers are no help since they were added by Bible scholars many centuries after Christ.)
 
Traditionally Catholics consider Deut. 5:6-10 as the First Commandment, verse 11 as the Second Commandment, verses 12-15 as the Third Commandment and so on. Verse 21 is split up into the Ninth and Tenth Commandments - distinguishing the desire (lust) to commit adultery from the desire (greed) to steal. This division scheme was advocated by St. Augustine in his writings on Exodus. Traditionally Protestants consider Deut. 5:6-7 as the First Commandment, verses 8-10 as the Second Commandment, verse 11 as the Third Commandment and so on. Verse 21 is kept together as the Tenth Commandment.
 
According to the RSV Bible and Catholic Tradition, the First Commandment is:
 
(6)1 am the LORD your God,... (7)You shall have no other gods before me. (8)You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; (9)you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, (10) but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. [Deut. 5:6-10; RSV]


MOSES CONDEMNS THE THE GRAVEN 
IDOL MADE BY THE ISRAELITES
Verse 7 forbids the worship of other gods, while verses 8-9 forbid the making of graven (carved) images that would be worshipped as gods, i.e. idols. Now worshipping statues with divine honor is one way of worshipping other gods. Verse 7 is a general statement of the First Commandment, while verses 8-9 give a specific case of this Commandment. Verses 9-10 present the punishments and rewards that are associated with these Commandments.
 
By combining together Deut. 5:6-10 into one Commandment, the Catholic Church is accused of altering the Commandments and covering up God's command forbidding graven images. Suspicions are further fueled when Catholic books only present the general form of the Commandment, Deut. 5:7, in order to expedite memorization. Now one must ask the question: "Does God forbid the making of statues, or does He condemn the worship of statues?" If God condemns the divine worship of statues, then the Catholic division scheme is justified since these images would be "other gods before" Him. A separate Commandment based on Deut. 5:8-10 would be redundant.
 
Now if God simply forbids the making of graven images, then there are problems elsewhere in the Bible. First, in Exodus 25:18-21, God commands Moses to make two statues of angels (cherubim) for the top of the Ark of the Covenant. Later in Numbers 21:8- 9, God commands Moses to make a bronze serpent, so that the people who were bitten by snakes could look upon it and be healed. Now it is true that centuries later King Hezekiah destroyed it; however, this action was done because the people worshipped it as a god (2 Kings 18:4).
 

In the Gospel, Jesus compared Himself to the bronze serpent (John 3:14). Continuing in the Old Testament, the inner sanctuary of the Temple contained two large statues of angels according to 1 Kings 6:23- 28. In the following verses, Solomon also had the walls of the Temple decorated with carved images of angels, palm trees and flowers (1 Kings 6:29ff) . During the Babylonian Captivity, Ezekiel had a vision from God about the design of the new Temple. According to Ezekiel 41:17-25, this new Temple contained graven images of angels and palm trees. These passages in the Bible indicate that God does not forbid the making of statues. If God truly condemned the making of graven images in the "Second Commandment", then He must have changed His mind later in the Old Testament.
 
The Catholic Church during the Council of Trent (1545-1563) issued a clear statement concerning images and statues. According to the 25th Session of this General Council: The images of Christ and of the Virgin Mother of God, and of the saints are to be had and retained particularly in churches, and due honor and veneration are to be given them; not that any divinity or virtue is believed to be in them on account of which they are to be worshipped, or that anything is to be asked of them, or that trust is to be reposed in images, as was of old by the Gentiles, who placed their hopes in idols; but because the honor which is shown them is referred to the prototypes which these images represent; so that we through the images which we kiss...or bend the knee, adore Christ and venerate the saints, whom they represent. [The Canons & Decrees of the Council of Trent (TA" Books, 1978) p. 215-6].
 
The Church does NOT compel her members to kneel or pray before images. No one is allowed by the Church to pray to images since they have no ears to hear or power to help us. The Church allows for the veneration of images as long as the honor is directed towards Christ and His saints.


WHEN YOU PRAY TO GOD HE HEARS YOU 
On a related issue, some Christians may object to the veneration of images of the saints since they believe that honor should be directed towards God alone and not towards Mary or the saints (1 Tim. 1:17). This objection arises from a confusion between divine honor (adoration - supreme honor proper only for God) and respectful honor proper for men. According to the Bible, the people of God bowed down before King David to show him honor (2 Sam. 24:20; 1 Chron. 29:20; 21:21). Obadiah in 1 Kings 18:7 fell prostrate before Elijah showing him reverence for being a prophet of God. In the Ten Commandments, we are told to honor our mother and father (Deut. 5:16). Even Jesus defended and obeyed this Commandment (Mark 7:9-13; Luke 2:51). At least for Mary, our honor to her is in imitation of Jesus, her Son (1 Cor. 11:1). The Church allows for the veneration of the saints and their images as long as it remains honor proper for men. It is good to honor the saints for their love and trust in God (Matt. 22:31-32; Heb. 11:1-12:1).

 
The Catholic Church has not altered the Ten Commandments of God. The Church has not dropped the "Second Commandment" as the booklet alleges. The Catholic numbering scheme may differ with the Protestant numbering scheme, but this is due to a difference in tradition and not an alteration of God's Commandments. Unfortunately the Bible is not clear on how to divide or number the Ten Commandments. If his difference is scandalous, it would be interesting to know what the author of the booklet thought of Jesus Christ when He reduced God's Commandments to the Two Great Commandments in Matt. 22:36-40.
 
Finally the Church strictly condemns the adoration (divine worship) of statues, images or even the saints, since this is idolatry and in direct violation of the First Commandment. For Christians a crucifix should not be considered merely as a statue of Jesus hanging on a cross, but as a reminder of the high cost of our salvation as well as His words to us: "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." [Mark 8:34]

NIHIL OBSTAT. 
Reverend M. James Divis, S.T.L. Censor Librorum 
IMPRIMATUR: 
Most Reverend Fabian W. Bruskewitz, D.D., S.T.D. 
Bishop of Lincoln July 11, 1995 
A Catholic Response, Inc. 
 P.O. Box 84272 Lincoln, NE 68501-4272 
Used with permission 
Pope John Paul II Society of Evangelists 
P.O. Box 5584, Bakersfield, CA 93388 
e-mail: info@pjpiisoe.org Phone: 661 393-3239



Dear Rev. Know-It-All,

The Bible is clear. NO GRAVEN IMAGES. (Exodus 20:2-17)
"You shall not make for yourself an idol.... You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God." And Deuteronomy 5:6-21 says exactly the same thing.
The Catholic have neatly tucked this second commandment into the first so people won't notice it. What do you have to say about that ?
May T. Fortress
------------------------

Dear May,


Let me answer the second question first.



Catholics follow the division of the commandments established by St. Augustine around the year 400, which was the same as the Jewish division at that time.  Martin Luther and his followers still use the same Augustinian division as the Catholics.  Maimonides, the Jewish sage in the 1100's, divided them differently. In his division which today's Jews use the commandment against idol worship is a completely separate commandment. We have divided the commandment in St. Augustine's way for at least 1,600 years.



Now for the next question.


The commandments in both Deuteronomy and Exodus forbids bowing down (lo tishtak'we) and the serving (lo ta'abdem) of images. In my whole life I have never bowed down to nor served an idol or an image. I have knelt at shrines where there are images, because the Lord says that wherever two or three are gathered in His name, He is present. (Matt: 18-20) When I join in prayer with the saints, whether those on earth or those in glory, I often kneel, because the Lord is present as He promised, but I have never prostrated myself before an image, and that is exactly what the word for worship means in both Hebrew and Greek (proskynein).



I am not just playing at words here. I mean it. Worship is to lie flat out before God, sometimes in body, always in soul. It is to confess that He alone is God. To ask for the prayers of the saints is quite another thing.



Even in the Mosaic covenant, the prohibition against images was not absolute. In the tent and in the temple there were representations of the Cherubim as well as of plants and animals. There was even the graven image of the bronze serpent that Moses had made in the dessert (Num. 21:6) which was eventually removed from the temple when people began to burn incense to it (2 Kings 18:4) and to worship it.



The first Christians relaxed the prohibition on images because God Himself had given us a visible image of Himself. (Col:1-15). Against the images of saints there has never been a prohibition. It is clear from the practice of the Israelites that only images of gods are prohibited, and no true Catholic would ever mistake an image of a saint for God.



Images of the saints and especially of the characters of the Bible Story became common on the Middle Ages when many could not read. Statues, pictures and stained glass windows taught the stories of the faith to the illiterate. The great cathedrals of the Middle Ages were the schools of the poor. Art had always been used this way by Christians and it still is.



When did you first hear the Gospel story?



I remember when I was a very little boy, that my parents told me what the Christmas crib meant and who the characters were. Pictures in my children's Bible made me want to hear the story and the beauty of the Church, with its paintings and images helped me know the power and the peace of God.



If you are opposed to religious images, have you thrown out your picture Bibles, your art and your Christmas crib?



In the temple there was no danger of the worship of the cherubs or any other image, because the presence of the Lord filled the temple. And in the same way there is no real danger for a real Catholic in the use of religious images because we enjoy the real presence of God present in the Tabernacle that holds the Eucharist, the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus of Nazareth, who is the visible image of the invisible God.



I have pictures of my parents which are very dear to me, especially now that they have left this world. I have never once mistaken a picture for my mother or father. It would be all the more ridiculous if my parents were still here, to reverence the picture and not the parents. So it is with Catholics. The saints are in glory and their images remind us of their constant prayer for their brethren who still struggle here, but they are not gods. Even images of the Lord Jesus are only reminders of His nearness.



I would never mistake the image for the Lord, because whenever I want, I can go into a church and spend an hour with Him who is really present in the tabernacle even more truly than the God of Israel dwelt in the temple in Jerusalem. If I go into any church where the Lord is present in the sacrament, I am not alone. Why would I cling to an image when the Lord is so near?


Rev. Know-It-All

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Someone posted the following on a forum which I decided to copy and post here because this is real Catholic practice which the anti-Catholic otherwise insist - they are not listening they are just insisting on their accusation to show their church is the rightful church of God:

1. Dulia = the honor we give to the saints. We ask them for their intercession through their prayers and we honor them for being holy men and women who lived for Christ. An example of dulia would be "Oh holy saint Anthony, pray for me so that I may be as faithful to Christ as you were Amen."

2. Hyperdulia = the honor that we may give to the Virgin Mary alone. She is recognized as the greatest of all the saints in terms of her intercessory power and rank. Saying a Hail Mary is an example of hyperdulia.

3. Latria = the honor and adoration that is due to God alone. We recognize him as the creator of all things seen and unseen, as the savior of the world, and as the governor of the universe. An example of latria might be "Glory to God in the highest, Lord God heavenly king almighty God and father. We worship you, we give you thanks we praise you for your glory."

So if we were to give "Latria" to Mary or the saints, we would then be committing idolatry.

Another forum posting:
I've been reading your posts for the last couple weeks and I think all of you are missing the point. First of all, worship is due to God and God alone. Mary is not God and thus we do not worship her. 
"Pray for us, sinners...now and at the hour of our death."
Why do you have a problem with that? Why is that worship? Catholics actually pray to Blessed Mary to intercede for us sinners....
Don't you realize that in John 2, the servants don't go to Jesus? They go to Mary for help and she points them to Jesus. Don't you think she'd do the same for us? 
Also, in John 2 in the wedding feast, Mary is the CENTRAL FOCUS of the story. She was the one who was invited to the feast (John 2:1) and Jesus also was there. Why would John write it that way?
Shouldn't you have a problem with the way it was written? John is putting Mary ahead of Jesus!!!! Doesn't John know that Jesus is God?
In addition to Christ, we need to invite Mary in our lives. As we are servants, we must serve all people and if we need help, we can go to Mary who will then direct us to Christ. 
And most importantly, we must follow her command to us from John 2:5.
Silent Crusader