Images-Statues


#1

In the Quick Question section I read that Catholics do not worship statues because only God is deserving of adoration. When a Catholic bows to a statue, he is not worshiping it any more than King Solomon worshiped Bathsheba when he bowed to her in 1Kings 2:19.
First, to me there is a difference between bowing to a living being and bowing to something that has been made with human hands. I believe the act of bowing and kneeling are forms of worship.
Psalms 95:6 “O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.”


#2

[quote=Lina]In the Quick Question section I read that Catholics do not worship statues because only God is deserving of adoration. When a Catholic bows to a statue, he is not worshiping it any more than King Solomon worshiped Bathsheba when he bowed to her in 1Kings 2:19.
First, to me there is a difference between bowing to a living being and bowing to something that has been made with human hands. I believe the act of bowing and kneeling are forms of worship.
Psalms 95:6 “O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.”
[/quote]

So when a Englishman kneels before the Queen in respect and honor during the knighthood process, do you think he mistakes the Queen for God?

When Japanese bow toward others as a sign of respect and honor, do you think that they mistake each other for God?


#3

[quote=DeFide]So when a Englishman kneels before the Queen in respect and honor during the knighthood process, do you think he mistakes the Queen for God?

When Japanese bow toward others as a sign of respect and honor, do you think that they mistake each other for God?
[/quote]

As I said, living person vs. inanimate object.


#4

When we bow down, we bow down before the Lord, because He is before us no matter where we are. When Catholics kneel before statues, we are still worshipping God alone. However, being physical beings as well as spiritual, we can use material objects to help us concentrate on our prayer. Statues remind us of the Saints they portray, whose lives we attempt to imitate in our path toward Heaven. When we kneel in front of a statue of a Saint, we are really placing ourselves in a state of mind as if we were kneeling with the Saint before our God to plead for His mercy and kindness.

Also, think about it. If we were really worshipping statues, would we put them in gardens and other places where they could be so easily damaged? If someone were to destroy a statue of the Virgin Mary, we may not like it, but we’re not going to defend such a statue to the death or any such nonsense.


#5

[quote=Dr. Colossus]When we bow down, we bow down before the Lord, because He is before us no matter where we are. When Catholics kneel before statues, we are still worshipping God alone. However, being physical beings as well as spiritual, we can use material objects to help us concentrate on our prayer. Statues remind us of the Saints they portray, whose lives we attempt to imitate in our path toward Heaven. When we kneel in front of a statue of a Saint, we are really placing ourselves in a state of mind as if we were kneeling with the Saint before our God to plead for His mercy and kindness.

Also, think about it. If we were really worshipping statues, would we put them in gardens and other places where they could be so easily damaged? If someone were to destroy a statue of the Virgin Mary, we may not like it, but we’re not going to defend such a statue to the death or any such nonsense.
[/quote]

Isn’t that why there is no written physical description of the LORD. God is spirit and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth. I don’t understand how a statue fits into this. The spiritual is always emphasized over the physical/literal.


#6

[quote=Lina]As I said, living person vs. inanimate object.
[/quote]

You said, “I believe the act of bowing and kneeling are forms of worship.”

So you now admit that this general statement isn’t true? Good.

You should also realize that Catholics’ signs of respect and honor toward memorial objects are directed toward the real person, not the object itself. For example, if you kiss a statue of Jesus, it doesn’t mean you have affection for the object, but rather you are directing that affection toward the real person. It seems obvious.


#7

[quote=Lina]Isn’t that why there is no written physical description of the LORD. God is spirit and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth. I don’t understand how a statue fits into this. The spiritual is always emphasized over the physical/literal.
[/quote]

I don’t necessarily agree with you that the spiritual is emphasized over the physical. With the advent of the Incarnation, Christ sanctified the material by becoming one with it. In doing so He opened for us what the Church calls a “new economy of images”. In other words, we now posess at some level the ability to physically portray God through His Son. As material and spiritual beings the use of material aids to depict spiritual realities helps us draw closer to God.


#8

[quote=Lina]Isn’t that why there is no written physical description of the LORD. God is spirit and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth. I don’t understand how a statue fits into this. The spiritual is always emphasized over the physical/literal.
[/quote]

When God became incarnate, the un-image-able acquired a human face. When God became incarnate, the whole physical world achieved a new sanctity.

This is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say about images and idolatry:

**

2129 The divine injunction included the prohibition of every representation of God by the hand of man. *Deuteronomy *explains: "Since you saw no form on the day that the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, beware lest you act corruptly by making a graven image for yourselves, in the form of any figure. . . . "66 It is the absolutely transcendent God who revealed himself to Israel. “He is the all,” but at the same time "he is greater than all his works."67 He is "the author of beauty."68

2130 Nevertheless, already in the Old Testament, God ordained or permitted the making of images that pointed symbolically toward salvation by the incarnate Word: so it was with the bronze serpent, the ark of the covenant, and the cherubim.69

2131 Basing itself on the mystery of the incarnate Word, the seventh ecumenical council at Nicaea (787) justified against the iconoclasts the veneration of icons - of Christ, but also of the Mother of God, the angels, and all the saints. By becoming incarnate, the Son of God introduced a new “economy” of images.

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."70 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. **


#9

[quote=Lina]Isn’t that why there is no written physical description of the LORD. God is spirit and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth. I don’t understand how a statue fits into this. The spiritual is always emphasized over the physical/literal.
[/quote]

That is called the Manichean heresy where the physical is denied. The Manicheans claimed that “spiritual is good and physical/literal is bad”. That is a dangerous path to re-live. :frowning: Remember, the Word was made flesh.


#10

[quote=Lina]In the Quick Question section I read that Catholics do not worship statues because only God is deserving of adoration. When a Catholic bows to a statue, he is not worshiping it any more than King Solomon worshiped Bathsheba when he bowed to her in 1Kings 2:19.
First, to me there is a difference between bowing to a living being and bowing to something that has been made with human hands. I believe the act of bowing and kneeling are forms of worship.
Psalms 95:6 “O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.”
[/quote]

For me…it is simply reverence, respect that I show for who the person was in life, and if Mary were alive in my time, I would surely bow to her out of respect. Take me at my word that I am not worshipping a statue, cause I’m not…that would be silly.

To a Catholic the Church is the body of christ, and think of it like a huge iceberg…what you see above the water is the tip of it…but if you were to look below the water you would see the enormity of the iceberg…The tip of the iceberg, what you see, are the living, and below that are the members IN Christ. Because they are not living does not mean that they are no longer the body…as a matter of fact they are more alive than we are.

It is a different concept…and I’m sure foreign to you…but it is certainly truth


#11

[quote=Dr. Colossus]When we bow down, we bow down before the Lord, because He is before us no matter where we are. When Catholics kneel before statues, we are still worshipping God alone. However, being physical beings as well as spiritual, we can use material objects to help us concentrate on our prayer. Statues remind us of the Saints they portray, whose lives we attempt to imitate in our path toward Heaven. When we kneel in front of a statue of a Saint, we are really placing ourselves in a state of mind as if we were kneeling with the Saint before our God to plead for His mercy and kindness.

Also, think about it. If we were really worshipping statues, would we put them in gardens and other places where they could be so easily damaged? If someone were to destroy a statue of the Virgin Mary, we may not like it, but we’re not going to defend such a statue to the death or any such nonsense.
[/quote]

Yes, and the same goes for icons. When Catholics/Orthodox pray/bow before an icon, we are acknowledging the holy and pious lives of those saints who point us to the Holy Trinity. These icons are perceived as windows into the Heavenly Kingdom. :slight_smile:


#12

These are all beautiful responses to her question. I would like to know if she has actually seen someone bowing to a statue. I haven’t. She may see genuflection and not realize it is to the tabernacle not the statues around it.

Sometimes people kneel in prayer with statues around of course, the images are reminders of these saints to us as has already been pointed out. No informed Catholic is praying to a statue as she seems to think.


#13

[quote=Lina]As I said, living person vs. inanimate object.
[/quote]

So the ark of the covenant was animate?

Josh 7
6]
Then Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the LORD until the evening, he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust upon their heads.

By the way above you indicated that you think that bowing before animates is not worship. If we were to bow down before a cow or a mountain it may or may not be. Also in case of humans it can be as Cornelius in Acts 10 bowed before Peter and Peter said “get up, I am only a man”. Evidently he knew that culturally the centurian was worshipping him, for them bowing down was always worship. Worship is not just external but also from the heart. God is the judge of that. Would you once again have been agast at the Elders and Joshua bowing down before the Ark of the Covenant.

God bles


#14

[quote=PJR]Sometimes people kneel in prayer with statues around of course, the images are reminders of these saints to us as has already been pointed out. No informed Catholic is praying to a statue as she seems to think.
[/quote]

Is there a prescribed Protestant radius around any given statue that I must be outside of in order to not be accused of idolatry? If I’m within 5 feet of a bust of Bach when I say my evening prayers on my knees, am I worshiping Bach?


#15

There are four types of honor in Catholic doctrine, and they are not to be confused with each other.

  1. Latria: the highest form of praise/worship/honor, given only to God.
  2. Hyperdulia: A special, high veneration given to Mary as Mother of God, without original sin, highly blessed by God.
  3. Dulia: Veneration to angels and saints
  4. Simple honor: given to people of authority, high office, elders, parents, grandparents, etc.

Bowing in and of itself is a mere sign of deep respect and can be given to anyone. The intention, however, of giving praise or woship has different degrees and the differences cannot be explained through outward physical motion; the difference between a bow od Dulia and a bow of simple honor is not in the bow itself, it is in the heart.


#16

[quote=Lina]Isn’t that why there is no written physical description of the LORD. God is spirit and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth. I don’t understand how a statue fits into this. The spiritual is always emphasized over the physical/literal.
[/quote]

This brings up a few questions:

If the spiritual is so much more important than the physical, why IS there a “physical” in the first place?

And, why did God need to become man?

And why the physical sacrifices of the Jews before Christ?

And why a physical baptism?

And why a physical Eucharist?

Fact is, spirit and matter are bound up together here on Earth and, after the Ressurection, in Heaven as well.

Physical existence is God’s way of making freedom possible.


#17

:rotfl:

[quote=RyanL]Is there a prescribed Protestant radius around any given statue that I must be outside of in order to not be accused of idolatry? If I’m within 5 feet of a bust of Bach when I say my evening prayers on my knees, am I worshiping Bach?
[/quote]

:rotfl:


#18

[quote=Lina]In the Quick Question section I read that Catholics do not worship statues because only God is deserving of adoration. When a Catholic bows to a statue, he is not worshiping it any more than King Solomon worshiped Bathsheba when he bowed to her in 1Kings 2:19.
First, to me there is a difference between bowing to a living being and bowing to something that has been made with human hands. I believe the act of bowing and kneeling are forms of worship.
Psalms 95:6 “O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.”
[/quote]

Dear Lina,

I totally see where you are coming from. From the outside it looks bizarre and like idol worship but, it’s not. Before I bow to a statue, I first try to put myself in the presence of the person it represents. Like when I pray to Jesus, I might look at a picture of Him to help me focus all my soul, mind and strength toward Him. Even though I know I can’t see His actual being, I’m trying to place myself in His presence. It’s a visual stimuli or sorts, to focus ones energy from self to God. It helps some, others don’t need it and are able to focus without.

Have you ever kissed a picture of a loved one, who wasn’t near, or held it to remember them in mind, heart or prayer? It’s like that.

Hope this helps.

Elizabeth


#19

:rotfl:
[/quote]

Had the plumber in a few months ago. You’ll never guess what he was worshipping. The great porcelin g*d.


#20

smileys.smileycentral.com/cat/4/4_1_72.gif

[quote=thessalonian]Had the plumber in a few months ago. You’ll never guess what he was worshipping. The great porcelin g*d.
[/quote]


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.