Saturday 23rd May 2015

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

Are Statues Idols? Why Statues And Idols Are Two Different Things

June 1, 2014 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM

Part 1

For quite some time I have been intrigued by the constant repetition common among non-Catholics that to have statues in church or at home smacks of idolatry. I remember the first time I was pushed against the wall by a Baptist man in a conversation: He simply said to me that it was a shame that such an evident Bible teaching was blatantly and systematically ignored by the Roman Catholic Church: God clearly forbade the carving of images, idols, and of honoring them. And yet Catholics fill up their churches and homes with images of saints and angels, which are abhorrent to God’s saints and His angels.
In those days I did not know how to answer this kind of objection, and as a consequence a profound doubt about the legitimacy of statues crept into my soul. It was shortly after my coming back to the practice of the sacraments, at the end of my teens, in a time when I was thoroughly immature in the faith, and totally ignored the biblical foundations of using statues and icons in liturgy and devotion.
Unfortunately, immaturity in the faith still remains among a great many Catholics today, and not only the young. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger pulled no punches at the sermon of the Mass of the Conclave that elected him Pope. He outlined the problem and proposed the solution when he said that Catholics cannot remain immature in the faith, in a state of inferiority, as they run the risk of being tossed about and carried here and there by any doctrinal wind. A clear faith, according to the creed of the Church, is needed.
I am pleased to contribute these articles on apologetics to The Wanderer in the hope that its readers will, in ever-growing numbers, take a greater interest in learning how to defend the faith and put their knowledge into practice.
But let us take a look at the main argument used by non-Catholics against the Church practice of having statues as aids to worship. Here is the key Bible teaching:
“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).
As is wont to happen among uncritical critics of Catholicism, they take a text out of its natural context to make a pretext against the Catholic Church. Idols and statues are as similar as, as we say in Australia, chalk and cheese. The similarity is just a little “ch” in the pronunciation. The meaning is quite different, as anyone can verify by trying to write on a blackboard with a piece of cheese or eating a chalk sandwich.
In the British world, you will find statues of Queen Victoria everywhere. In Australia and New Zealand, you can see statues of Captain Cook erected in public parks. In the United States, I am sure that no American fundamentalist believes that Lincoln Memorial in Washington is a pagan temple dedicated to the worship of a marble idol whose features bear resemblance to a dead president.
So, statues of Queen Victoria in public parks in Australia and the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., have a very specific purpose: They remind the people of the persons who are honored, their deeds performed for the good of the nation. If someone spray-paints or writes graffiti on the statues of Queen Victoria or Abraham Lincoln, he will not be simply disfiguring a piece of molten iron or white marble, but the memory of the person, and, by consequence, the nation’s values which, to a certain extent, are represented in the person’s statue.
That’s why statues are erected to honor great men and women. Mt. Rushmore is a typical example: It does not depict a four-headed monster; it is a great act of homage to four men who helped build the nation, albeit in different ways.
More: That’s why we keep photos of our loved ones in special places at home, and, at times, it is not uncommon for one to kiss a picture of a dead son or daughter, or of a spouse or fiancé who is away, as an expression of one’s longing to be in his or her presence.
When you see anti-American demonstrators burn Old Glory, you know perfectly well that they are not just destroying a piece of colored cloth — no, they indicate their desire to destroy the nation represented by that colored cloth.
Besides, aren’t a telephone directory, a dictionary, and a Bible just paper and ink? If you burn a Bible, don’t you think that any half-decent Christian would take offense? Of course! Burn a Koran and see the reaction!
Both logic and history prove that idols and statues are two different things, and Sacred Scripture shows the condemnation applied only to idol-making for the purpose of adoration, not against every form of artistic expression in sculpturing or painting for the purpose of aiding piety.
In the next article, we will analyze the text from Exodus and realize how a simple but attentive reading of the text will make it crystal clear precisely what God was forbidding, and what He was not.

+    +    +

(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:

Untitled 3

Pope FrancisAn Open Letter To His Holiness Pope Francis      Given the controversy and confusion surrounding the 2014 Synod on the Family, the staff of The Wanderer and its supporters thought it appropriate to address Pope Francis with an open letter . . .

Boy Scouts president: We need to allow open homosexual leaders

May 22, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Boy Scouts of America president Robert Gates says the youth organization must change with the times and allow open homosexual men to serve as Scout leaders. Gates, the former U.S. Secretary of Defense and CIA…Continue Reading

Federal Court Forces University of Notre Dame to Obey Pro-Abortion HHS Mandate

A federal appeals court has denied a request by the University of Notre Dame to get out of having to comply with the pro-abortion HHS mandate that is a part of Obamacare and requires businesses and church groups to pay…Continue Reading

The Reception of Holy Communion in the United States

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the close of the Second Vatican Council. Pope Francis has decided to mark the occasion with the “Year of Mercy.” Despite much happy-talk and positive papal press, it is a time of foreboding in…Continue Reading

‘Eleven Christians Killed Every Hour,’ Says Irish Bishop

According to Bishop John McAreavey, the Chair of the Council for Justice & Peace of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, statistics show that the situation of Christian persecution in the world is far more dire than most people understand. The…Continue Reading

Africa’s experience of family life must be heard at synod, Pope tells Togo’s bishops

Pope Francis received Togo’s bishops in audience on May 11 as part of their quinquennial ad limina visit to Rome. The West African nation of 6.8 million is 20% Muslim, 15% Protestant, and 14% Catholic, with approximately half of the…Continue Reading

The eco-encyclical won’t commit the Church to unsettled science

By the time the environment encyclical of Pope Francis is released, it will be anti-climactic. Not anti-climate change to be sure, as the Holy See is certainly enthusiastic about the issue. Actually, it is against climate change, but enthusiastic about…Continue Reading

“America’s Changing Religious Landscape.”

The Pew Research Center just released its latest study on “America’s Changing Religious Landscape.” The subtitle tells the story: “Christians Decline Sharply as Share of Population; Unaffiliated and Other Faiths Continue to Grow.” For our purposes, I want to focus…Continue Reading

Vatican cardinal sees no change in family teachings at synod

VATICAN CITY (AP) — A senior Vatican cardinal predicted Saturday that there will be no change in the Catholic Church‘s practice and teaching about marriage, divorce and the reception of Communion at an upcoming meeting of bishops on family issues. Cardinal…Continue Reading

Synod Leader: Don’t Expect Changes in Catholic Church Policy

Hungarian Cardinal Peter Erdo, who is playing a key role in the Catholic Church’s upcoming Synod of Bishops on the family, said there will be no changes in church policy coming as a result of the summit. There has been…Continue Reading

Germany’s bishops vote to allow Church employees to publicly defy Catholic teaching

WURZBURG, Germany, May 6, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) — On April 27 in Würzburg, the German bishops approved with more than a two-thirds majority a reform of the Catholic Church’s Labor Law in Germany, allowing some Church employees to publicly defy Church…Continue Reading

Archbishop Cupich Getting Comfortable With Pro-Aborts On Immigration Reform

True to his claim that immigration reform is “God’s agenda,” Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich has been cozying up to pro-abortion Democrats to get his social justice initiatives underway.  On Sunday, the Archbishop joined Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Il), a…Continue Reading

Pope’s doctrine chief under attack as he takes strong stand for marriage and family

muller

ROME, May 1, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Pope Francis’ top advisor on Catholic doctrine is coming under attack as he continues to defend the Church’s teaching on marriage, family, and sexuality amid a campaign by a “progressive” faction of prelates. On…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

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading

Today . . .

At the General Audience Francis asks that fathers and mothers take back their full role as educators

2015-05-21 L’Osservatore Romano “It is time for fathers and mothers to return from their exile – for they have exiled themselves from bringing up their children – and to fully resume their educational role”. This was the Pope’s declaration at the General Audience on Wednesday morning, 20 May. Continuing his series of catecheses on the family, he spoke to the crowds – many of them families – about the importance of parents as educators. The…Continue Reading

Pope’s appeal for World Day of Prayer for Church in China

(Vatican Radio) At his General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis made a special appeal for prayer for Catholics in China.   The Holy Father’s appeal comes ahead of Sunday’s feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians, celebrated throughout the world on May 24. Chinese Catholics have a special devotion to Mary, Help of Christians, whose feast day is marked with special devotions and pilgrimages, especially to the National Marian Shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai. In…Continue Reading

General Audience: Parents’ Vocation To Educate Children

pope784

(Vatican Radio) In his catechesis at the General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis focused on the role of parents in the education of their children, which he called “an essential characteristic” of the family. The Holy Father noted the many difficulties facing parents today, especially those who find themselves in difficult situations. He spoke especially about the difficulties of separated couples, calling on them to “never, never, never take the children hostage!” He spoke out…Continue Reading

Pope to Mideast nuns: pray for peace, persecuted

(Vatican Radio) Saying he was giving them a “mission,”  Pope Francis has asked religious sisters from Bethlehem and the Middle East to pray for peace in the region and for two new Palestinian saints. 19th century Sister Miriam of Jesus Crucified Baouardy and Sister Marie-Alphonsine Ghattas were canonized in a big outdoor Mass presided by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s square on Sunday. Many of the Carmelite and Rosary sisters who had attended the canonization had…Continue Reading

Open Letter To U.S. Bishops Attending The Synod… The Church’s Teachings On The Family Need No Updating

By MICHAEL HARTNETT (Editor’s Note: Michael Hartnett lives with his family in the Chicago area, where he works as a project manager and public policy analyst. He has authored or coauthored numerous published reports that address federal transportation, environmental, and pension and retirement policies. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “Aren’t Homosexuals Born That Way?”

By BRIAN CLOWES (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995.) + + + The most powerful weapon in the homosexual special rights arsenal is the victim status. A close second is the allegation that homosexuals are “born that way.” If scientists can show that homosexuality…Continue Reading

The Passing Of The Word “God”

By DONALD DeMARCO The Word of God will never pass away. But the word “God” continues to pass into oblivion. In some quarters the word is said to be discriminatory and offensive. Therefore, it must be removed. Atheists can be very touchy these days. Take the case of Alain Simoneau of Saguenay, Quebec. This nonbeliever…Continue Reading

Vietnam Today . . . Forty Years After The Fall Of Saigon

By LEE NGUYEN HO CHI MINH CITY (AsiaNews) — Forty years after the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, the Communist Party marked its anniversary by the largest ever military parade in the South. The parade commemorated the day when Communist troops from the North captured the city and ended the Vietnam War and…Continue Reading

Former Soviet Spy . . . We Created Liberation Theology

WASHINGTON, D.C. (CNA) — Espionage deep in the heart of Europe. Secrets in the KGB. Defection from a Communist nation. Ion Mihai Pacepa has seen his share of excitement, serving as general for Communist Romania’s secret police before defecting to the United States in the late 1970s. The highest-ranking defector from Communism in the 1970s,…Continue Reading

The Wanderer Interviews His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke . . .

burk10

By DON FIER Part 1 (Editor’s Note: Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, who previously served as Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome from June 2008 until November 2014, recently visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis. Prior to that he served as Archbishop…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: Writing in the Sunday bulletin of the Church of St. Michael in New York City, Fr. George W. Rutler talked of the “web of contradiction [that] becomes more entangled in our day when politics are complicated by moral inconsistencies.” He cited three examples: “First, the birth of Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana occasioned celebrations, as the birth of any…Continue Reading

Truths Beyond Comprehension

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER The Solemnity Of The Most Holy Trinity (YR B) Readings: Deut. 4:32-34, 39-40 Romans 8:14-17 Matt. 28:16-20 In the first reading today, we hear Moses addressing the people of Israel after their Exodus from Egypt and after they had spent much time in the desert. Moses marveled, and rightly so, that God had entered into human…Continue Reading

Pope To The Bishops Of Mozambique . . . “The Paschal Mystery Is The Beating Heart Of The Mission Of The Church”

VATICAN CITY (ZENIT) — Pope Francis on May 9 received the bishops of Mozambique who were in Rome for their ad limina visit. + + + Dear brothers in the episcopate! You are welcome ad limina Apostolorum, the purpose of the visit undertaken by you these days, so that with your dioceses in your heart, you also celebrate and strengthen…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Rules Without Relationships Foster Rebellion

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK I write this week’s column from Lourdes, France, where I have joined a pilgrimage of 200 wounded warriors, volunteers, family members, military veterans, and chaplains from the United States. Most of us are here through the gift of the Knights of Columbus which has underwritten this magnificent opportunity for prayer, evangelization, fellowship, and renewal of…Continue Reading

Apologetics Course… How Do We Get To Know The Truth?

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 2 In the previous article we saw that our minds can apprehend the truth by our own personal experience. Now let us see the three other ways: By simply reasoning. In our days of constant Internet communication, texting, and less personal contact among people, sometimes reasoning is an ability in short supply. But it…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Charles Lwanga And Companions

By CAROLE BRESLIN The Catholic Church in Africa has experienced unprecedented growth in the past century. In 1900, shortly after the martyrdom of Charles Lwanga and companions, there were two million Catholics in Africa. When Pope Benedict XVI visited Africa in 2009, the Catholic population was 158 million. Once again the Church has witnessed that the blood of martyrs is…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Philip Neri

By CAROLE BRESLIN Throughout the history of the Church when great persecutions and heresies have been promoted, there were also great saints who underwent persecution in their attempts to protect the Deposit of Faith. Such was the case in the early 16th century, when the Catholic Church was suffering her greatest crisis to date with the Protestant Revolt. During this…Continue Reading