Tuesday 21st October 2014

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

Comment on this Article:

Cardinal Burke: The “Relatio Synodi” Is “A Significant Improvement Over The Text Of The ‘Relatio Post Disceptationem'”

In a third short interview with CWR, conducted by e-mail late yesterday, Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, the Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, offers his impression of the Relatio Synodi, comments on reports that the Synod has…Continue Reading

Synod Final Document Reaffirms Church Teaching

The final document of the Extraordinary Synod was released Saturday as the Synod Fathers voted to approve all 62 paragraphs, but with three paragraphs not receiving the normally required two-thirds majority vote. The three paragraphs, which in the past would…Continue Reading

Catholic Synod: Gay Rights Groups ‘Disappointed’

Catholic gay rights groups say they are disappointed after bishops rejected proposals for wider acceptance of gay people, which had the Pope’s backing. The call to “accept and value” homosexuals was in a draft report, but failed to win the…Continue Reading

">

Cardinal Burke Confirms: Yes, Pope Has Demoted Me.

“Pope has done a lot of harm by not saying openly what his position is” Synod “designed to change Church’s teaching“ We post here for the record of current events all the quotes published by BuzzFeed from their interview with…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke’s Major Interview to Il Foglio on the Synod

The world likes Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke very little or not at all.  And , if it is possible, the Church likes him even less than does the world.  On the other hand, this 66-year-old American from Richland Center, Wisconsin,…Continue Reading

Pope Paul VI to be beatified Oct. 19, 2014

popep6

Pope Francis will officially declare Pope Paul VI Blessed on Sunday, Oct. 19, during the closing ‎Mass of the 3rd Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family.  Pope Paul VI was cleared for ‎beatification when Pope Francis on May 9…Continue Reading

Church Militant . . . Synod On The Family

Houston, we have a problem

Angry over voter lawsuit, city demands to pick through sermons, other communications from pastors who aren’t involved Monday, October 13, 2014 HOUSTON – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys have filed a motion in a Texas court to stop an attempt by…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke: Synod’s mid-term report “lacks a solid foundation in the Sacred Scriptures and the Magisterium”

Yesterday’s presentation of the mid-term report (Relatio post disceptationem) of the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family was met with a remarkable level of interest among both Catholic and non-Catholic media outlets. The Vatican Radio site, in its introduction to…Continue Reading

Having Patience for the Sausage-Making Synod

The midterm report on the deliberations of the Synod on the Family has appeared and there is a fair amount of hysteria all around. John Thavis, a veteran Vatican reporter who should know better, has declared this statement “an earthquake,…Continue Reading

Advice for the Pope in Light of the Synod

The Holy Father has been very good in lecturing priests and telling us what to do. We are to go out into the world and “make a mess.” We are to “smell like the sheep.” We are to welcome all…Continue Reading

Catholic Church in Minnesota Settles Sex-Abuse Claim

MINNEAPOLIS—The Catholic Church in Minnesota and a lawyer for victims of sexual abuse on Monday announced the settlement in the first-of-its-kind lawsuit claiming that clergy abuse and subsequent inaction by church leadership constituted a “public nuisance.” The settlement also laid…Continue Reading

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 subscribe 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

'From our friends at The Foundry'


Today . . .

Pope To Consistory: We Are Witnessing A Phenomenon Of Terrorism

In Briefing, Fr. Lombardi Says Interventions Reaffirmed That You Cannot Kill in the Name of God Vatican City, October 20, 2014 (Zenit.org) Deborah Castellano Lubov Dedicating this morning’s Consistory of Cardinals to the Middle East, and particularly the region’s Christians, Pope Francis has called on the international community to do their part as well as his fellow prelates to protect…Continue Reading

Pope Francis: Middle East Without Christians Unthinkable

pope562

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis convened a Consistory of Cardinals on Monday morning in the Vatican. Originally scheduled in order to proceed with the causes of candidates for beatification, the Holy Father expanded the agenda of the meeting to include discussion of the ongoing crisis in the Middle East. In remarks to the gathered Cardinals at the morning session of the…Continue Reading

At Closing Mass For The Synod Pope Francis Beatifies Paul VI

pope561

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday celebrated the Closing Mass for the Extraordinary Synod on the Family. During the Mass in Saint Peter’s Square, the Holy Father beatified his predecessor, Pope Paul VI, whom he described as a “great Pope,” a “courageous Christian” and a “tireless apostle.” Below, please find the complete English text of Pope Francis’s homily for the…Continue Reading

Pope At Santa Marta: Heaven In Our Hands

pope560

(Vatican Radio) The Holy Spirit is the “seal” of light with which God has placed Heaven in Christians’ hands. Often, however, Christians avoid this light in preference of a life spent in the shadows, or worse still, in a false light, that sparkles with hypocrisy. Pope Francis’ homily at Mass Friday morning, followed the First Reading from St. Paul who…Continue Reading

Neither Left Nor Right, But Catholic . . . Is The Church In The U.S. Unwittingly Helping To Promote The Secularist-Leftist Agenda?

By STEPHEN M. KRASON (Editor’s Note: Stephen M. Krason’s Neither Left nor Right, but Catholic column appears monthly [sometimes bimonthly]. He is professor of political science and legal studies and associate director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is also co-founder and president of the Society…Continue Reading

Our Judicial Dictatorship

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN Do the states have the right to outlaw same-sex marriage? Not long ago the question would have been seen as absurd. For every state regarded homosexual acts as crimes. Moreover, the laws prohibiting same-sex marriage had all been enacted democratically, by statewide referenda, like Proposition 8 in California, or by Congress…Continue Reading

The Government And Freedom

By ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO This past week, FBI Director James Comey gave an interview to 60 Minutes during which he revealed a flawed understanding of personal freedom. He rightly distinguished what FBI agents do in their investigations of federal crimes from what the NSA does in its intelligence gathering, when the two federal agencies are…Continue Reading

Religious Freedom In Belarus . . . Strict Controls, “An Invisible Ghetto,” Continue

By FR. JOHN FLYNN, LC (Editor’s Note: Fr. John Flynn, LC, wrote this commentary for ZENIT News Agency. Fr. Flynn, a regular ZENIT contributor, holds degrees from the University of New South Wales and from the Pontifical Gregorian University.) + + + Current events in the Middle East have drawn attention to the plight of…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “The Crisis Pregnancy Center Movement”

By BRIAN CLOWES (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995.) + + + “Speak, yourself, on behalf of the dumb, on behalf of all the unwanted; speak, yourself, pronounce a just verdict, uphold the rights of the poor, of the needy” (Prov. 31:8-9). + +…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Leaven In The World . . . Being Exposed To Synod’s Deliberations Is Not For The Fainthearted

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK “But the one who peers into the perfect law of liberty and fixes his attention there, and does not become a forgetful listener but one who lives it out — he will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:25). “Peering into freedom’s ideal law,” as St. James’ letter exhorts and as the fathers of…Continue Reading

Debunking The Myth… Sola Scriptura Is Unscriptural

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 3 Evidently, Jesus did not stay with the apostles and disciples for long after the Resurrection. He founded a Church, His Church. Now, did He found it as a visible Church, with authority to guide, teach, and sanctify the people? Or didn’t He? Either He did or He didn’t. It is one or the…Continue Reading

Divine Revelation: Gradual And Progressive

By DON FIER We left off last week reflecting on God’s motive for revealing Himself to us in a supernatural manner. In a word, His sole motive was that of boundless love for mankind. God gratuitously and unconditionally chose to “communicate His own divine life to the men He freely created, in order to adopt them as His sons in…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: R.H.T. of Florida writes to say that “this week’s question [The Wanderer dated October 16, 2014] about Doctors Without Borders caught my attention. If R.B. from Michigan is interested in supporting an organization like Doctors Without Borders, but one that is absolutely committed to strict adherence to the Catholic Church’s rules on things like abortion, contraception, etc., I…Continue Reading

Union With The Afflicted

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Thirtieth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR A) Readings: Exodus 22:20-26 1 Thess. 1:5c-10 Matt. 22:34-40 In the second reading today St. Paul commends the Thessalonians for the way they received the Gospel and for the manner in which they lived it out. First he says that they received the Word in great affliction, then he reminds…Continue Reading

Cast A Gauntlet – Sola Scriptura: Part 1

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Anthony Mary Claret

By CAROLE BRESLIN St. Anthony Mary Claret has something in common with at least three other saints. Like St. Peter Claver, he was born in northeastern Spain — over 200 years later. Like St. Pio of Pietrelcina, when he heard Confessions, he frequently could read the souls of the penitents, asking them about a sin that they had not confessed.…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Ignatius Of Antioch

By CAROLE BRESLIN Who are the fathers of the Church? They were holy men of God; most were bishops, although some were priests and one man, St. Justin the Martyr, was a layman. They lived primarily in the first three centuries of Christianity, but one of the fathers died in 750, generally considered the end of the Church fathers’ era.…Continue Reading

What to Do If Your Boyfriend Wants You to Get an Abortion?

by Krisi Burton Brown | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 2/20/14 4:00 PM Washington, DC (LiveActionNews) — Note: This article is for any girl or woman who is feeling pressured into having an abortion. If you are a guy who is trying to find out how to stop an abortion, please see this article written for dads. 1.  Stand your…Continue Reading

It’s Time to Build Schools, from the Ground Up

February 13, 2014 by Anthony Esolen   It might have been worth repairing, if it had once been noble and beautiful, or at least conceived in an orderly way, for ordinary human purposes. But it wasn’t. It was constructed upon false principles. Its walls looked like those of a bad factory. It smelled like a warehouse. It could be terribly…Continue Reading

Why I am Pro-Life

February 4, 2014   Pro-Lifers   By Therese Recinella   Editor’s note. This tribute was posted on Therese Recinella’s Facebook account. She is graciously allowing us to reprint it in NRL News Today.   There are many things that I could say about my Dad, but what I want people to know is this: My parents faithfully raised 8 children…Continue Reading

Fathers . . . The Essential Role of the Father

Posted on February 10, 2014 by The Catholic Gentleman 13 Comments   Divorce rates skyrocketing; adultery rampant; non-married cohabitating couples; children abandoned by their fathers or mothers; “same-sex unions” adopting children and calling this the “modern family”; pornography invading homes, leading to powerful addictions and total alienation from other members of the family: all of this is a bird’s eye view…Continue Reading

How Much is One Billion Dollars?

This article appeared in the March 20, 1941 issue of The Wanderer. (Well, 70 years later we can add 15 trillion into the example.) Here’s a simple and homely illustration of what one billion dollars amounts to: Suppose we take an imaginary boy, aged 15 years, and assign to him the task of counting one billion dollars in one-dollar bills.…Continue Reading

Planned Parenthood

This article appeared in The Wanderer, April 3, 1941.  (WOW, Look what we have 70 years later.) A group which calls itself the National Committee for Planned Parenthood has begun a nationwide campaign to have the promotion of birth control included in State and national health programs. The committee—which, according to propaganda sheets reaching our desk has a branch in…Continue Reading

Questions of Non-Catholics . . . Answered by Father Richard Felix, O.S.B.

Reprinted from The Wanderer April 10, 1941 Why Does God allow us to be tempted? God allows us to be tempted so that we may prove our attachment to him and merit a higher place in heaven. Temptations are the lot of all men; they are the battle ground upon which heaven is won or lost. “The kingdom of heaven…Continue Reading