How is kissing a doll representing the Baby Jesus not idolatry?

Hi,

I recently attended a young adults group around Christmas time last year at a Catholic Church in the Los Angeles area, and during the course of events after some fellowship, prayers, and a speech by a seminarian, they were starting to pass around a baby doll representing the Baby Jesus which we were supposed to all kiss, but after they turned the lights out, I quickly and silently left because I thought it might be some type of idolatry and was not comfortable kissing the baby doll. I do not see how this activity could not be considered Idolatry, although I do admit I have kissed the feet of Jesus at his Crucifix at Church a few times, but that to me is a little different because that crucifix was at the altar, and was probably blessed by the Priest/Bishop/Cardinal ect.

Its not idolatry because by kissing the doll you are venerating the image of baby Jesus. You are not worshiping the doll by doing this but instead you are worshiping Christ whom the doll represents.

You venerate what it represents, not what it is. Idolatry would be saying that the doll is Jesus and, therefore, the doll is God. A doll, however, that represents Jesus is not idolatry. Is a painting of a tree a real tree or a representation of a tree?

Many people have been known to kiss photographs of their absent or deceased loved ones. In the olden days before photography was invented, they would do the same with painted pictures of those loved ones.

If such a practice is not idolatry - and it isn’t, since for starters it is a gesture of affection and loving respect that is not reserved for God alone, and so does not constitute worship - then even less is kissing an image of Jesus, to whom more than affection and respect are due.

That would be I-doll-atry. Huge difference, as I see it. :rolleyes:

I kiss a rosary before I pray, and the Bible before I read it, but I do not worship those items.

However, the idea of someone passing around the baby Jesus doll in the church and asking people to kiss it bothers me for a different reason. We are not “supposed to” kiss a baby doll or statue. We might be moved to do so however.

I knew a little girl who kissed statues and talked with them. It was sweet and it indicated a very close relationship developing with her and God in prayer. She might have seen her mom or grandma do the same but she was never instructed to this manner of devotion. It was her own sweet and private way and she must never teach a workshop on this when she grows up.

My mother, a teacher, loved to pass a Baby Jesus doll around her classroom during Advent. She would talk to the children about the smallness of a baby and the power of God. She never told them what to do except to hold the doll like a baby and think about the newborn Christ.

But your experience sounds strange and I don’t blame you for slipping away. It feels like a false effort to create deep intimacy with the Lord. It’s kind of like forcing someone to feel affection.

I do abhor some of the non-traditional, ritual-making practices that go on in certain parishes. We already have such beautiful traditions. It is better to bring people to prayer, and Eucharist, and to Exposition of the Sacrament. Teach us about the sacramentals, Stations of the Cross, walk us up to the nativity scene and teach us some beautiful novena prayers, but don’t ram personal expressions into a one-size-fits-all group. Something about it just feels so “Let’s close our eyes and drink the Kool-aid.”

I’m sorry, I just have a gut reaction against what you observed and I would have left, too.

One of the saddest days of my life was my grandfather’s funeral. My grandmother (a devout Methodist) leaned over the open coffin and kissed him. I say “him” - but, of course, she (and I, and everyone else) knew that my grandfather was not there - at least he was not in that casket.

My grandmother kissed a likeness of my grandfather. She kissed a memory of their 60 happy years of marriage. And, from some place that we cannot yet comprehend, my grandfather kissed her back. But it was not from that casket.

What lay in that casket was as lifeless as any doll or statue.

But that does not mean her kiss was wasted.

I understand the funny feeling when it seems like everybody ‘has’ to act in a particular way, but although everyone can show ttheir love and respect individually in their own way, when it comes to a more formal gathering, a particular display of affection or veneration may be the most appropriate.
At my uncle’s funeral service, we all walked to the coffin, bowed our heads and went away. It was apublic sign of respect. Were I to try to show my respect for my uncle, I would probably have chosen a different thing to do, and I must admit, I felt weird bowing to a dead man in a coffin. The aim however is to show love and respect for the person who is represented, or who owns whatever article we may be venerating. If I saw a biro JP II used, without any hesitation, I would kiss it!
For the members of that youth gathering, they were officially showing their love and respect for the Lord in His incarnation, and this is to be commended, just as all who present themselves before a king would curtsy, or kiss his ring or do whatever is officially appropriate.

I understand the funny feeling when it seems like everybody ‘has’ to act in a particular way, but although everyone can show their love and respect individually in their own way, when it comes to a more formal gathering, a particular display of affection or veneration may be the most appropriate.
At my uncle’s funeral service, we all walked to the coffin, bowed our heads and went away. It was a public sign of respect. Were I to try to show my respect for my uncle, I would probably have chosen a different thing to do, and I must admit, I felt weird bowing to a dead man in a coffin. The aim however is to show love and respect for the person who is represented, or who owns whatever article we may be venerating. If I saw a pen JP II used, without any hesitation, I would kiss it!
For the members of that youth gathering, they were officially showing their love and respect for the Lord in His incarnation, and this is to be commended, just as all who present themselves before a king would curtsy, or kiss his ring or do whatever is officially appropriate.

I think our cultures come into it.

I feel a bit like the OP, in that I’d feel uncomforable kissing a doll which represented the infant Christ. However I also have to recognise that I came from a family which was not very demonstrative (plenty of arguments though); I live in a culture that contains a fair amount of Anglo Saxon reserve; and I spent a number of years as a Protestant, with of course their suspicion of Catholic statues and the like. I even have a bit of a problem with kissing the cross at the Easter ceremony.

Mind you Protestants can take it to the other ridiculous extreme - there is supposed to be a protestant church in Germany somewhere where everything is painted only with whitewash, the alter is an ordinary table, and the only music instrument allowed was a tuning fork.

As my old pastor commented, they’d gotten art mixed up with idolatory.

To me, this falls more into the meat eaters argument than one of idolatory - if it makes you uncomfortable, then don’t do it. On the other hand, even if you have no problem with it, don’t force others to do it.

I wonder how sanitary that would be.

Just a thought.

May I ask a question strictly in connection with the topic: Does that mean that pagan who worshipped their gods worshipped the statue or whatever it was literally? Did they think the god was the statue? Or did they think it was an image of the god? Because there were surely more than one statue of a god.

Thank you

I would like to comment on this because I often hear people say this about someone kissing the body of a loved one who has passed.

Especially with the spouse, child or parent, we also loved the body of that person. Yes, we love their spirit, but with a spouse, who’s body was as dear to us (maybe MORE dear to us) than our own, we will miss the body, we LOVE the body to, and it is proper to do so.

When you have tenderly cared for, or been cared for both body and soul by another, it is appropriate to mourn that aspect as well, and certainly to want to kiss it, and that aspect of them is still there, for that short bit of time before the burial.

Unlike a doll, or a photo, the body is an actual and real aspect of a human, the Church recognizes this in calling for respect of the body even after one is deceased.

I am glad you brought this up, because I find it to be a hollow argument as well. I cannot know the hearts and minds of others, but having studied various religions, no, most pagans did not and DO not think a piece of stone or wood is a deity or divine.

They venerate them the same way Catholics venerate statues, paintings etc (I won’t even go into the first degree relic thing cause my brain cannot wrap around that)

If there is idolatry going on, it’s because they are believed to worship false gods, the deities the statues represent.

When I hear Catholics say that pagans worship statues, I feel it is the same as Protestants leveling that against Catholics. Most people are clearly able to delineate between an inanimate object and what it represents.

However I do understand the reasoning behind various faiths teaching that it is improper to write or speak the name of the divine, create an image of the Divine, etc. It is because part of human nature can easily get attached to a material object or image and it does lead to spiritual/moral issues for some.

Sometimes one can get confused when interacting in a sort of physical sense with something, it often happens gradually and unintentionally, but I have seen people (not only in religious situations) have that confusion. I’ve witnessed that tendency in myself.

In our minds we can “know” that the statue is just a statue, but sometimes in years of relationship our behavior and emotional attachment can become confusingly intense.

Ok I understand your point and you know what? I think you answered my question:

It has then two levels : woshipping 1) false gods, a) represented or b) not
And worshipping 2) the true god.

In the first case, the pagans can worship the statue, it is the same since those gods are false.

In Christianity however, with the true God, worship goes to him Only, therefore we venerate (as you say) statues, but we do not worship them. If our minds know these differences, we may kiss whatever we want, since 1) we do not have false gods, 2) we do only venerate what/who is not God, thus worship goes to God alone.
If our minds know the Statue is the object of veneration, but we intend to worship the Christ, it is permitted and right.

Thank you for your indirect enlightment :thumbsup:
:smiley:

God bless

Kissing is a sign of affection and love, not worship. Idolatry is worship, not affection.

The deacon kisses the book of the Gospels after proclaiming the word at Mass. Nobody is going to claim that he is worshiping the Book of the Gospels.

I kiss a Crucifix today. I kiss the Bible after I read it every morning. No one is going to claim that I worship the Bible or the Crucifix.

Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss. That was the real, living Lord, and Judas wasn’t worshiping him but betraying him.

-Tim-

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