Tuesday 28th June 2016

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

Are Statues Idols? The Meaning Of “False Idols”

June 8, 2014 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM

Part 2

“I, the Lord, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. You shall not have other gods besides me. You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; you shall not bow down before them or worship them. For I the Lord, your God, am a jealous God” (Exodus 20:2-5).
In this classical text, God our Lord begins by reminding the Hebrews who were gathered around Mount Sinai that He, God, had brought them out of the land of Egypt. And He adds a specific trait of that land: It was a place of slavery. But please note: not only physical, social slavery, but also spiritual, because the Hebrews had paganized themselves in Egypt. They were practicing ecumenism with the pagan idolatry of the Egyptians.
When we study the whole context in Scripture, we’ll see that God our Lord wanted Moses to take the Hebrews into the desert for three days, in order to offer proper sacrifices to Him. Yes, three days. Initially, it was not God’s plan to take them away into the Promised Land right away. They were going into the desert to offer sacrifices, to purify themselves, and eventually to go back to Egypt — to purify themselves from paganism and idolatry and eventually to convert the Egyptians. It was not a mere socio-political liberation; it was, first and foremost, a spiritual liberation.
Pharaoh asked Moses why the Hebrews could not offer sacrifice to their God in Egypt, instead of going into the desert. Why the need to go into the desert for three days? Moses replied that the Egyptians would not take it nicely if they saw the Hebrews killing the animals they adored . . . so Moses was going to kill calves (the god Apis of the Egyptians) and as sure as death and taxes, they would object to seeing their petty gods killed by a bunch of slaves. So, for the sake of public safety, it would be more prudent to make the sacrifices far way into the desert, away from the vigilant eyes of the Egyptians (Exodus 8:21-23).
But Pharaoh changed his mind several times, which led him into trouble. Then he suffered the plagues and witnessed the eventual flight of the Hebrews into Sinai. But idolatry was so ingrained among the Hebrews, after centuries of rubbing shoulders with the Egyptians, that they just could not do without a little idol to worship here and there: to be like everybody else in the land was a temptation difficult to resist.
It was comparatively easy for God to take Israel out of Egypt, but it was tough to take Egypt out of Israel. That stiff-necked people simply could not do without idolatry!
So God, after reminding them of their social and spiritual slavery in Egypt, laid down the law: “I, the Lord, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. You shall not have other gods besides me.”
Let us note that God states that He is their God, and they should not have other gods besides Him. Which other “gods” existed then? Idols. All pagan gods were idols. The Hebrews were forbidden to have other gods — idols — besides the true, spiritual God of Israel.
The King James Version of the Bible reads, “For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the Lord made the heavens.” But the Catholic Douay-Rheims is more precise: “For all the gods of the Gentiles are devils: but the Lord made the heavens” (Psalm 96:5). Therefore, to worship idols meant to worship devils, and very naturally God made an explicit prohibition of it.
And, to make it even clearer and to avoid any shade of confusion, God explicitly mentions the “gods” they were forbidden to have:
“You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; you shall not bow down before them or worship them.”
Here is the clear prohibition: no carved “gods,” in the shape of anything: animals, birds, trees, nothing. They were forbidden both to carve them and to worship them.
It is interesting to remember that it was precisely the Egyptian “god” Apis, the golden calf that the Hebrews had carved to worship. And they paid dearly for it.
So, what did God Our Lord forbid? Idol-making for the purpose of adoration. He did not forbid artistic imagery!
Here are some parallel texts in Scripture, relating to the idolatry of the surrounding cultures — all of them explicitly forbid idol-making for the purpose of adoration, not image-making for the purpose of art or pious reminders of sacred realities:
“Do not make anything to rank with me; neither gods of silver or gold shall you make for yourselves” (Exodus 20:23). No Catholic statue was ever made to rank with God.
“You shall not make for yourselves molten gods” (34:17). No Catholic has ever believed that a statue of the Virgin Mary or St. Jude is a “god.”
“Do not turn aside to idols, do not make molten gods for yourselves. I, the Lord, am your God” (Lev. 19:4). Catholics know perfectly well that a statue is not a molten god.
“Take heed, therefore, lest forgetting the covenant which the Lord, your god, has made with you, you fashion for yourselves against his command an idol in any form whatsoever. For the Lord, your god, is a consuming fire, a jealous God” (Deut. 4:23-24). Notice how God forbids idols of any form whatsoever. This is of utmost importance, as we shall see later.
In Deuteronomy 27 Moses issued 12 curses, to which the people responded, Amen! Here is the first one: “Cursed be the man who makes a carved or molten idol — an abomination to the Lord, the product of a craftsman’s hands — and set it up in secret!” and all the people shall answer, “Amen!” (Deut. 27:15).
Therefore, if statue and idol were one and the same thing, anyone who carved one would be cursed, regardless of what was being depicted.
In the next article, the big surprise: The most sacred place in the world in the Old Testament, the Temple of Solomon, was crowded with statues, all commanded to be made by God Himself!

+    +    +

(Raymond de Souza is director of the Evangelization and Apologetics Office of the Winona Diocese, Minn.; EWTN program host; regional coordinator for Portuguese-speaking countries for Human Life International [HLI], president of the Sacred Heart Institute and a member of the Sovereign, Military, and Hospitaller Order of the Knights of Malta. His web site is: www.RaymonddeSouza.com.)

Share Button

2016 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher: Men for our season

The Church of the Little Flower is blessed today to receive relics of two great English saints: one, St. Thomas More, was a statesman, an intellectual, a Catholic layman who took his baptism seriously; the other was a bishop who…Continue Reading

Catholic Bishops Blast Obama Admin for Forcing Churches to Pay for Abortions

The leading pro-life spokesmen for the Catholic bishops are blasting an Obama administration decision revoking federal protection for chruches in California forced to pay for abortions. As LifeNews reported, churches in California are officially subject to an onerous state regulation…Continue Reading

Church Leaders React to Supreme Tie on DAPA/DACA

Catholic leaders from around the country were expressing disappointment today in response to a Supreme Court tie vote that effectively terminates Obama administration initiatives on immigration that shielded millions from deportation. Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, described…Continue Reading

Catholic universities must insure abortion, Obama administration rules

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 22, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The Obama administration has ruled against two Catholic universities, upholding a rule issued by the state of California requiring all employers to cover elective abortions in their insurance plans – even if the…Continue Reading

Progressive Catholic groups publish “Pope Francis” voter guide

While the IRS revoked the non-profit status of the George Soros-subsidized Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good (CACG) in October 2013 for failing to file a form 990 for three consecutive years, the organization recently re-emerged with a progressive…Continue Reading

Pope Francis: Most Catholic marriages are null, some ‘cohabitations’ are ‘real marriage’

June 17, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Francis spoke yesterday at a pastoral congress on the family for the Diocese of Rome, and his remarks are causing consternation among faithful Catholics. In off-the-cuff remarks, the pope made the dual claim that…Continue Reading

From Fox News . . .Enough is enough, Pope Francis should resign

By Adam Shaw ·Published June 17, 2016 · FoxNews.com Pope Francis’s three-year-old papacy, marred by controversy from the beginning, has hit a new low. After Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected to succeed Pope Benedict XVI in 2013, he quickly justified his…Continue Reading

Florida Bishop Blames Orlando Massacre on Catholic ‘Contempt’ for Homosexuality

The Catholic Bishop of St. Petersburg, Fla, has blamed Catholic disapproval of homosexual acts for the brutal slaughter of 49 people in the Pulse nightclub on Sunday. In a blogpost Monday, Bishop Robert Lynch said that Catholicism “targets” and “often…Continue Reading

WATCH: Congresswoman Blasts Sales of Aborted Baby Parts in Explosive Speech Filled With Evidence

Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler gave a recent speech on the flood of the House of Representatives blasting the sales of aborted baby parts. The member of the special panel investigating Planned Parenthood and the sales of aborted baby parts provided shocking…Continue Reading

Transgender bathroom debate: Lawmakers in Massachusetts pass bill allowing use of restrooms based on gender identity

The Massachusetts’ House of Representatives has passed a bathroom bill on Wednesday that will allow transgenders to use restrooms according to their gender identity. Voting 116-36, lawmakers passed the bill despite protests from people who went to the House to…Continue Reading

Bishop Schneider: Pope’s exhortation will lead to practice that ‘trivializes and profanes … three sacraments’

June 7, 2016 (Voice of the Family) — Bishop Athanasius Schneider has made his strongest comments yet on the “real spiritual danger” posed by the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia. The bishop said that the document contains expressions that are “objectively…Continue Reading

Kasich admin gives Planned Parenthood waiver to continue abortions in defiance of state law

COLUMBUS, Ohio, June 2, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – A Planned Parenthood abortion facility in Cincinnati can continue performing abortions, despite the fact that it is breaking state law, because Gov. John Kasich’s administration issued a waiver. On Friday, Ohio Department of…Continue Reading

Newsmax

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “An Introduction To The Problem Of Euthanasia”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, a 150-page treatise on all of the aspects of euthanasia, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + We have covered the definitions of the varieties of…Continue Reading

Enter Comments Below

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .

Today . . .

Supreme Court overturns landmark Texas pro-life law 5-3

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 27, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The Supreme Court has reversed a landmark Texas pro-life law requiring abortionists to have admitting privileges and abortion facilities to meet more stringent health standards. An eight-justice Supreme Court has reversed the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt (formerly Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole), 5-3. The case was brought by the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of independent abortion facilities…Continue Reading

Papal press conference touches a host of issues

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis spoke on the Armenian genocide, the relation of the Church to homosexuals, and Britain’s vote last week to leave the European Union, as well as a host of other topics in a wide-ranging press conference on his flight back to Rome following his Apostolic Voyage to Armenia. Sunday’s in-flight press conference began with questions about the Apostolic Voyage to Armenia that Pope Francis had just concluded. Asked about his message for…Continue Reading

Pope Francis arrives in Armenia

popef99

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis arrived in Armenia’s capital Yerevan at 12.55 pm Rome time on Friday 24th June to begin his 14th apostolic journey abroad. Armenia is a landlocked mountainous nation which borders with to the west Turkey, to the East Azerbaijan, to the north Georgia and to the South Iran. He was warmly welcomed by the President of the nation’s Republic Serzh Sargsyn and the Catholicos of All Armenia Karekin II. Also present were…Continue Reading

Thomas Aquinas and the Art of Making a Public Argument

taqun

Zenit.org June 22, 2016•Bishop Robert Barron I would like to revisit a time when people knew how to have a public argument about the most hotly-contested matters … There is, in many quarters, increasing concern about the hyper-charged political correctness that has gripped our campuses and other forums of public conversation. Even great works of literature and philosophy – from Huckleberry Finn and Heart of Darkness to, believe it or not, Kant’s Critique of Pure…Continue Reading

Pope: All of Amoris Laetitia is ‘sound doctrine’; ban the death penalty

Francis doubles down on Amoris Laetitia In the wake of substantial criticisms of his Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis has stated that “everything” written in the document is “sound doctrine.” The remarks are especially pertinent in light of the first critical observations on the exhortation issued by Raymond Cardinal Burke which stressed that parts of the document were the Pope’s personal opinion and not to be taken as magisterial. Speaking at the opening of…Continue Reading

The Canizares Case In Spain Is A Litmus Test For Pope Francis

By MAIKE HICKSON (Editor’s Note: This article below reprinted from the June 17 OnePeterFive.com; all rights reserved. (On June 20, the Catholic Herald also reported: (“Prosecutors in Spain have said they are investigating a Spanish cardinal for possible criminal hate speech because of remarks he made recently about the gay community. (“Valencia’s provincial prosecutor’s office…Continue Reading

The First Canonized Saint . . . A Milestone In The Saintly Process

By RAY CAVANAUGH When asked to name a few saints, chances are that “Ulrich” will be overlooked. St. Ulrich (also known as Udalric) of Augsburg is an obscure figure, and, as far as saints go, there isn’t anything especially compelling at this point about his life as a 10th-century Bavarian bishop. Ulrich — whose feast…Continue Reading

The Fine Art Of Gibberish

By DONALD DeMARCO Gibberish is not restricted to merely speaking unintelligibly. It can be fine-honed into the art of saying something that seems to make sense, but makes no sense whatsoever. The success of gibberish depends on how the mere sound of words can have a mesmerizing effect on the listener, even though they do…Continue Reading

“No Fly, No Buy” Means No Freedom

By JUDGE ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO The people in the government who want to control our personal choices are the enemies of freedom. And the enemies of freedom can be very clever and seductive. This past week, these folks, manifesting their lust to keep us dependent upon the government by rejecting the natural right to self-defense,…Continue Reading

Islam & The West: Irreconcilable Conflict?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN On Saturday night, June 11, Omar Mateen was a loner and a loser. Sunday, he was immortal, by his standards, a hero. Mateen had ended his life in a blaze of gunfire and glory. Now everybody knew his name. He had been embraced by ISIS. His face was on every TV…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Leaven In The World… Christ Preaches Ideals And So Must His Church

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK (Editor’s Note: Because of its timeliness, Fr. Cusick’s column appears on the front page this week, instead of its usual place on p. 2B. In that spot we are reprinting an article by Fr. John Flynn, LC, on “Parenthood in an Age of Surrogacy.”) + + + “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes…Continue Reading

The Marvel Of The Catholic Church… The Heroes Of Jesus Christ — The Martyrs!

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 6 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13). No other people have proved their love for Jesus Christ more than the Catholic martyrs. From the Colosseum during the first three centuries of pagan persecution to today’s Islamic persecution in many countries, from…Continue Reading

Liturgical Seasons And Cycles

By DON FIER As we continued our consideration of “how the liturgy is celebrated” last week, we saw that sacred art (along with sacred music) plays a prominent role in our worship of God. In his 1999 Letter to Artists, Pope St. John Paul II highlighted its importance by saying: “In order to communicate the message entrusted to her by…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. I just want to ask what James J. Drummey’s qualifications are for answering the questions that subscribers ask. Does he have a title or does he consult with an authority on these issues? — K.C., via e-mail. A. My qualifications for writing the Catholic Replies column for the past 25 years include reading, studying, pondering, praying, writing, speaking, and teaching…Continue Reading

Take Up Your Cross

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Fourteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: Isaiah 66:10c-14 Gal. 6:14-18 Luke 10:1-12, 17-20 In the Gospel reading today we hear about the seventy-two men the Lord had sent out ahead of Him. He had given them authority to heal people and to expel demons. That sounds great, but when one actually sees it happen…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Junipero Serra

By CAROLE BRESLIN With the supremacy of the Spanish navy, the discovery of the New World, and the founding of the Jesuit order, the distances that Catholic missionaries traveled increased dramatically. St. Francis Xavier, after arriving in India, spent many years sailing all over Southeast Asia. However, either by land or by sea, few saints have traveled more than St.…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . Mother Maria Guadalupe Garcia Zavala

By CAROLE BRESLIN Which basilica in the country of Mexico has been visited by both Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Francis? The Basilica of Our Lady of Zapopan. Like Our Lady of Guadalupe, the story of Our Lady of Zapopan begins in the year 1531. Beginning in 1531, the same year that Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to…Continue Reading

COMPLETE 3 PART Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Insights On The State Of The Church In The Aftermath Of The Ordinary Synod On The Family

Cburke3

By DON FIER Part 1 (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, recently traveled from Rome to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., a magnificent place of worship which he founded and dedicated. (His Eminence graciously granted an extensive interview to The Wanderer during which he…Continue Reading