Idolatrous Antiphon in this morning's Liturgy of the Hours?

Perhaps this question belongs in a different forum, but here goes:

I use the Christian Prayer version of the Liturgy of the Hours, to my understanding it has everything that the 4 book office has, just a lot more page flipping. In any event, this morning’s Antiphon for accompaning the Canticle of Zechariah is as follows:

 "We worship your cross, O Lord, and we praise and glorify your holy resurrection, for the wood of the cross has brought joy to the world."

Now today is The Exaltation of The Holy Cross, but to worship it? What am I missing here, because I know that my Catholic Faith, a Faith whose martyrs’ blood was shed defending against heresy and idolatry, would not be asking me to worship a cross, or even the Cross, or an altar or anything/anyone besides the Triune God?


(for those who have the 1600 pg volume, it is on pg 1255)

Worship as in venerate. There are different types of worship: one is relegated only to God, another to Our Lady, another to the saints, another to relics, sacramentals, your spouse, your children, your parents… They vary in degrees.

The type of honor or veneration we give to the Holy Cross is more a deep profundity, that through it came our salvation. So we bless it, kiss it, genuflect before it, all with the realization that it in itself is not God, but certainly worthy of an elevated honor.

That is the type of “worship” and “adoration” that is spoken of in that antiphon.

Believe me, I want to accept your answer, but I see nothing in the Catechism that mentions degrees of worship. All references to worship/adoration are reserved for God alone. Can you tell me where you have learned about the degrees of worship?


Well, the Douay-Rheims Bible has a few notes on this subject. :slight_smile: For one, when Jacob was returning from Mesopotamia to be met by his brother Esau, he fell down and “worshiped” Esau. This is not meant to say that he made an idol out of him, but that he showed due respect and reverence to a human being whom he had wronged. You even ‘worship’, in the old sense of the word, human beings - for we are divine beings with an origin and future entirely in God’s divinisation. I admit that it is a very broad subject, but there must be degrees of worship if the Bible uses the word in different tenses and contexts.


–verb (used with object)
to render religious reverence and homage to.
to feel an adoring reverence or regard for (any person or thing).

Two points:
*]Consider the Veneration of the Cross from the Liturgy of the Passion on Good Friday:
V. This is the wood of the cross, on which hung the savior of the world.
R. Come, let us worship

Catechism 2132

2132 The Christian veneration of images is not contrary to the first commandment which proscribes idols. Indeed, “the honor rendered to an image passes to its prototype,” and “whoever venerates an image venerates the person portrayed in it.” The honor paid to sacred images is a “respectful veneration,” not the adoration due to God alone:
Religious worship is not directed to images in themselves, considered as mere things, but under their distinctive aspect as images leading us on to God incarnate. the movement toward the image does not terminate in it as image, but tends toward that whose image it is.



I understand where you are coming from!

This is one of those things that, as a practicing Catholic, I get it. It’s so obvious to me. But to try to explain it to someone else? Holy-Mack-a-noly!:eek:

Just like the word ‘pray’. We pray to God, but then, there are prayers to Mary and to the Saints… which, in my mind, are just like the prayers to one another - we people here on earth.:slight_smile:

I didn’t grow up using the Catechism. I have no idea where I could try to point you, but there is no ‘worship’ for any one/thing that is not God that is like the worship of God, because God alone is God.:thumbsup:

Now, let’s see how people explain that in 50 words or less. :blush:

Interesting question. It’s best to judge Catholic prayers like that from the intention. If the intention was to worship a piece of wood, then that would be made known and clear. In other words, there’s not a “secret” meaning in the words telling Catholics to believe that a piece of wood is the same as God. But it’s easy to have suspicions if you’re not as familiar with the prayers.

We worship your cross …

As already stated, this permits several meanings. Which is the right one? Well, the right one is the one that the Church intends, not the one that people (I’m not talking about you) impose on it to embarass the Church or “prove” that Catholicism is idolatrous.

As already said – worship means “venerate” here. So, we honor the Cross as our symbol of salvation. We honor the flag of our nation. “He laid down his life for the flag”. What??? :slight_smile:

Also, “we worship your Cross” … “we worship your sacrifice”. Is that idolatry? It’s hard to say, of course, depending. Catholic theology will state that Christ is not separable from His sacrifice. He cannot be divided.

“we worship Your Wounds …” “we worship your Sacred Heart …”

The wounds and heart are not separable from Christ.

“we worship the Eucharist …”

wounds, heart, Cross, sacrifice, Eucharist = Christ

St. John of Damascus, when writing on the veneration that we give to the Holy Icons (and by extension the saints, the Theotokos [Mother of God], the Holy Cross, etc.) calls this veneration “worship”. It is, however, a “relative” worship insofar as the person or thing participates in the holiness of God (thus in a very real way making God present before us). Also the etimology of the word “worship” must be understood. For the ancient peoples “worship” meant “to fall down before”. So throughout the Old Testament we see people “worshiping” the angels in the sense that they literally fall on their face before the angels. When we say “We bow in worship before your Cross, O Master” (this is the Byzantine version), we are not affirming that we worship the Cross as equal to God, but we are venerating it insofar as it has been a key part of God’s saving plan for mankind and insofar as it participates in that saving plan, it makes God present to us. (Just for clarity, I am not speaking of the same presence as is found in the Blessed Sacrament).

well, if you look at the whole antiphon

We worship your cross, O Lord, and we praise and glorify your holy resurrection, for the wood of the cross has brought joy to the world

in conjunction with the reading from St Andrew of Crete, bishop (Oratio 10 in Extaltatione sanctae crucis:PG 97, 1018-1019. 1022-23) where St Andrew gives a discourse on this very topic, you will understand what is meant by “We worship your cross, O Lord”.

But thats just the way I read it I suppose…


Along with my reply above, I noticed this Protestant hymn:

“We Worship Your Holy Name …”

Some prayers have more theological “depth” than others.

For instance in the Eucharistic response to the proclamation of the mystery of faith. “Lord, by your cross and resurrection you have set free. You are the savior of the world.”

By use of the word cross the whole of Christ’s suffering and death is implied, it is not just a reference to the piece of wood.

The same thing is implied in this antiphon and any time that the cross of Christ is mentioned in Catholic prayer.

sdrasvitsia Comrade,

Look up “latria” and also “dulia and hyperdulia”. These will probably be most helpful.

Gospa Mir!

Thank you all for your responses, they have been quite helpful.

Being Australian it’s easier for me to understand - even without a Catechism explanation. We call some of our judges by the honorary title of ‘Your Worship’.

Have you ever heard a version of the wedding vows (older, not often used today) that goes ‘with my body I thee worship, with all my worldly goods I thee endow’? Maybe in a wedding scene in an old movie or something?

Neither in the case of the judge nor in the case of the spouse is the speaker in any way confusing the respect due to the person they are addressing with the respect due to God.

The Latin:

“Crucem tuam adoramus, Domine, et sanctam resurrectionem tuam laudamus et glorificamus: ecce enim propter lignum venit gaudium in universo mundo.”

The French:

“Nous vénérons ta croix, Seigneur, nous chantons ta resurrection: l’arbre de la croix, donne joie au monde.”

The Latin uses “adoramus” which in French would translate to “nous adorons” (we worship). Yet the French uses “nous vénérons” (we venerate). It would appear in fact that Christian Prayer is closer to the Latin original than the French Liturgy of the Hours.

The antiphon (in Latin) is in my Graduale Romanum for Good Friday as well, after the procession of the Cross through the church and just before the improperia. It is also in the Liber Usualis, for those who may think it a post-Vatican II theological innovation. So this antiphon is not a recent thing.

Translation, it would appear, is not an exact science!

You will also find in the psalms that David worships God’s commandments.

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