A non-catholic friend is constantly telling me that catholics are committing idolotry by worshiping our statues and relics. How do I respond to this?
Take a look at this link, it explains it very well.
So I guess he doesn’t carry a single picture of his mom or his kids.
The Catholic Churches use of images is part of Sacred Tradition. God told Moses To make a serpent of bronze.
**Numbers 21:4-9 **"And speaking against God and Moses, they said: Why didst thou bring us out of Egypt, to die in the wilderness? There is no bread, nor have we any waters: our soul now loatheth this very light food. 6 Wherefore the Lord sent among the people fiery serpents, which bit them and killed many of them. 7 Upon which they came to Moses, and said; We have sinned, because we have spoken against the Lord and thee: pray that he may take away these serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. 8 And the Lord said to him: Make a brazen serpent, and set it up for a sign: whosoever being struck shall look on it, shall live. 9 Moses therefore made a brazen serpent, and set it up for a sign: which when they that were bitten looked upon, they were healed.
God also tells Moses to make statues of golden cheribum! Exodus 25:18 Thou shalt make also two cherubims of beaten gold, on the two sides of the oracle.
All images are related to Christ and his Salvation! Looking upon the bronze serphent saved the sinners, Looking at the Ark of the Covenant with its golden cheribum reminded people of the salvation of Gods Holy Covenant. The same is true when we look at images of Mary. We are reminded of her total obedience and devotion to Christ our Savior!
Catholics Worship God Alone! (no brainer here, but some people need to hear this) I’ll say it again **CATHOLICS WORSHIP GOD ALONE! **
Catholics believe in the intercessory power of prayer by the Church which includes The Church Triumphant, The Angels and departed Saints and Mary, and the Church Militant here on Earth. The asking for prayer on behalf of the Church Militant or the Church Suffering is not an act of worship. One of the gifts to the the Church is the ability to get 10,000 Angels and all of the saints in Heaven and Mary to pray for you! In fact we do this at every Mass! The songs and the music and the images and the meditation on the Word bring us into harmony so that we may be more receptive to the gifts of grace by the Holy Spirit.
Preach the Gospel everyday… Use words if you have to! — St Francis of Assisi
In the Incarnation of God as the Man Jesus, the Living Image of God became visible. Representations of Him and His deeds (including His Mother and all who are His handiwork of Grace) and His Mysteries, therefore, are not only allowed but desirable. The Church is only imitating what God Himself has done. It is the Incarnation of God that is the key factor in determining if sacred images may be used.
This, written a few years ago on another Catholic forum, is very insightful:
The Old Testament prohibitions (which are quite strict) against the creation of images, are similar to Israelitic rules pertaining to “kashrut” (kosher; meaning, “that which is fit”) in general; they are pedagogical.
The Israelites were a people mired with pagan influences, dwelling in a carnal and darkened world. According to the Great Prophet of the Old Covenant, Moses the God-seer, the Israelites were an extremely stubborn people, and even in his own lifetime they rebelled against him and God (Deuteronomy 31:27). Thus the Law they received, was harsh, to ensure they’d stay on the right path (and very often even this was not enough.)
They were given dietary laws which were strictly enforced, so that they couldn’t even sit at the table of a pagan, let alone fraternize with him. They were absolutely forbidden to marry foreign wives (a great sin which King Solomon was punished for) for this reason (save those women would convert, as did happen a few times in the Old Testament; one of our Lord’s ancestors, Ruth, was in fact a covert to the Old Covenant). These laws were needed in their regard, to keep them from the abominations of the pagans.
This included the fetishistic idolatry of pagans, and their carnal notions about spiritual things. The pagans envisioned divinity as being something degraded and human; their “gods” subject to the worst forms of human pettiness, and moral debauchery. The common belief of the people, envisioned “gods” who copulated, had spats, ate, drank, killed each other, etc.
This is very foreign to any true idea about the Divinity. Thus, there were strict prohibitions (enforced with varying degrees of severity in Jewish history) against making images, or showing them veneration, to avoid the danger of making a mockery of God, and the fetishism of the pagans.
Given that the Israelites were a people who, despite the theophanic fire burning atop Mt.Sinai, and the great miracles they’d witnessed, still worshipped the idol of the golden calf, shows such severity was needed. (Exodus chapter 32) So outrageous was their conduct, that God was prepared (according to Exodus 32) to annihilate the Israelites, and let Moses start over again somewhere else (but Moses supplicated on their behalf, so a lesser punishment was allowed.)
Despite all of this, we do see that in the Old Testament, even under the Old Covenant, there were sacred images (greek “icon”). The Ark of the Covenant which God gave specific instructions on how to construct, was itself a “type”, and the statues of the Cherubim on the top were certainly representations (indeed, representations of something which is in fact spiritual, and by it’s nature incorporeal). The vestments worn by the Aaronic Priests had illustrations of vegation on them, and we know that the Temple of Solomon (which God consecrated to Himself) had representations of Cherubim all over the place, a representation of Paradise in the inner area, and two gigantic gold leafed statues of Cherubim in the inner sactuary, between which the Ark of the Covenant was placed.
It can be said, and very correctly, that the entire ritual and Temple worship mandated by the Old Covenant was “iconographic”, both in it’s representations of Angels, and of spiritual ideals like God’s Throne, Heaven, the Heavenly Altar, etc. This is not only not condemned by God in the Old Testament, but was constructed according to His will.
For believers in God, who are rightly initiated into the New Covenant (made not upon Mt.Sinai, but Mt.Zion, where the house was located that the Last Supper occured in…surrounded not by twelve stone pillars as Moses was, but the twelve Apostles), this iconographical principle (representing in type heavenly things, and mysteries of the Kingdom) is still in force.
Are not the promises and gifts given to the Church greater than that seen in Israel of old? Were they not pointing to the reality of redemption, where as we are familiars with it? While they could only live in hope of the Christ, has He not already come to us? Where as the Israelites could only point to Heavenly things, are we not partakers in them?
Speaking of the righteous men and women who lived before the coming of Christ, St.Paul states, “All these died according to faith, not having received the promises but beholding them afar off and saluting them and confessing that they are pilgrims and strangers on the earth.” (Hebrews 11:13)
And making a contrast between these persons and the Church, St.Paul adds,
“And all these, being approved by the testimony of faith, received not the promise:
God providing some better thing for us, that they should not be perfected without us.”
According to Hebrews 12:1, these Saints of the Old Testament (who now, being rescued in death by the power of the Ressurection, have inherited the promise), and for us (by default) all of those who have successfully run the course before us in the New Covenant, exist as a “cloud of witnesses” that “surrounds us”.
This Holy Mystery, lies at the heart of the true Church, and is the reality it participates in, this reality being most clearly shown where and when She gathers to celebrate the Eucharist (which was established on Mt.Zion)
18 For you are not come to a mountain that might be touched and a burning fire and a whirlwind and darkness and storm,
19 And the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, which they that had excused themselves, that the word might not be spoken to them.
20 For they did not endure that which was said: and if so much as a beast shall touch the mount, it shall be stoned.
21 And so terrible was that which was seen, Moses said: I am frighted, and tremble.
22 But you are come to mount Sion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to the company of many thousands of angels,
23 And to the church of the firstborn who are written in the heavens, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of the just made perfect, 24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new testament, and to the sprinkling of blood which speaketh better than that of Abel.(Hebrews 12:18-24)
The above shows the direct communion which the Church Militant (the Church in this world) has with the Church Triumphant (the Heavenly Church); a union which is made manifest when the Mass is celebrated (the Priest acting in the person of Christ the Offerer, the Bread and Wine seperately consecrated as His Body and Blood, the sacrifice for our sins).
The above also shows, just how superior the life of the Church is, over the Synagogue; how more fruitful the New Covenant is, over the Old (which it in fact came to fulfill and bring to completion; the Old by it’s very symbols and nature, points to the New). Where as the Old Covenant was characterized by severity, and fear, the New Covenant is characterized by fellowship with God as His very sons, being baptized into the eternally begotten Son.
Therefore, just as God hallowed Solomon’s Temple, is it not right to believe that God hallows the Temples which the Church has erected, for the purpose of giving them a place to gather and celebrate the Holy Mass? And just as this Temple had rightful Icons, reprenting Heavenly beings and mysteries, would it not make sense that the Angels and Saints are also represented in our Houses of Prayer? Indeed, are not such representations only giving symbolic form, to that which is in fact VERY REAL and very much present?
As the Apostle teaches, after speaking of our communion with Heaven…“We have an altar whereof they have no power to eat who serve the tabernacle.”