I have seen some debates between Catholics and Protestants about Mary, and usually, the conversation ends up becoming if Catholics worship Mary. I have seen people object to that notion but the Protestant usually comes back and says that when we bow down to Mary it is idolatry and sin. Is it? If not why?
Do Catholics Worship Statues?
" What About Bowing?
Sometimes anti-Catholics cite Deuteronomy 5:9, where God said concerning idols, “You shall not bow down to them.” Since many Catholics sometimes bow or kneel in front of statues of Jesus and the saints, anti-Catholics confuse the legitimate veneration of a sacred image with the sin of idolatry.
Though bowing can be used as a posture in worship, not all bowing is worship. In Japan, people show respect by bowing in greeting (the equivalent of the Western handshake). Similarly, a person can kneel before a king without worshipping him as a god. In the same way, a Catholic who may kneel in front of a statue while praying isn’t worshipping the statue or even praying to it , any more than the Protestant who kneels with a Bible in his hands when praying is worshipping the Bible or praying to it ."
They must also judge the Japanese to worship pretty much everything that moves!
Bowing is a gesture of respect and veneration.
If somebody badly enough wants to believe that Catholics worship Mary as a deity, I’m not sure if you can stop them.
Is kissing a photo of your mother and father idolatry? Or, actually, is kissing your mother idolatry? Catholics can consider Mary their spiritual mother.
Actually, I never bowed to a statue of Mary. I don’t think that a common practice (though I wouldn’t consider it idolatry if it happened).
If someone said that to you, you might ask them if they ever saw a Catholic bow to a statue of Mary. It might be interesting to hear what they say --though you might then hear some spin with no meaning.
Lol. I bowed before my boss many times before. I hope I was not committing sin of idol worship. Service industry here encourages the staff to bow down before the customers. When we are inside the elevator we keep bowing down until the elevator’s door closes completely so the customers on the floor no longer are visible. I often feel finally relieved from this servitude style then. Not good for my back and hip.
I bow to statues of Mary and of the saints. I usually also cross myself. It’s an act of respect
When you are in the presence of royalty, you venerate them as a sign of respect you have for them. Jesus (being the God-Emperor) is with us spiritually and thus we can venerate icons and statutes of our LORD as it gives reverence to Him.
His mother, the Empress (or Queen as she is known most commonly), like all Christians, is in the mystical body of our LORD Jesus Christ. Thus when we venerate His mother we venerate Him as well. Her soul doth magnify the LORD after all.
It’s like if you were visiting a friend’s house. If his/her mother is there you are going to show the mother the same respect you show your friend. To not do so you run the risk of offending your friend.
I think the distinctions are worth considering. Something to be mindful of.
Obviously, it isn’t how others interpret your posture, it is the thoughts of the one engaged that count here.
There is one God. For a Catholic, it is the Trinity. However we behave, distinction must always be in ones mind when praying to God.
I guess it depends on your state of mind when you bow down to someone, only you know weather or not you are doing it out respect, greeting or worship.
If you dont know the difference then that’s something you need to think about.
Always ask yourself why youre bowing?
I am a Japanese Catholic. I daily bow down before my boss and the customers as I wrote before. It is a sign of respect. When I go to this church, I stand before the statue of Virgin Mary , watch her eyes and bow down. It is also a sign of respect. Many Protestant in Japan bash Japanese Catholics over what they perceive as idol worshipping, but I’ve never heard of them using bowing down as an evidence.
I also like to think that, actually or metaphorically, in my not so long life I have bowed to many people far less worthy than Theotokos and respected the rules of institutions far less important for my soul than those of Holy Mother Church.
This argument has been going on since the 8th century (search history of Iconoclasm).
Also, check an english dictionary. Devotion is one of meanings of worship.
How many people actually bow down to statues in the Catholic Church? I’ve seen plenty of kneeling, but never actual bowing.
[Is bowing down to a Mary statue idolatry?]
IF one believes a statue has a soul… then it is.
If one is bowing worshipping Mary as God then not only is it idolatry but it’s also blasphemy. If one is bowing to show respect for the Queen Mother who resides with her son in Heaven then it’s veneration.
It would only be idolatry if you believed Mary’s spirit actually inhabited the ceramic statue, or some such nonsense.
Assuming you don’t believe that, then I would see a bow as simply a gesture of respect. I personally do not bow to statues of Mary because in my culture, a bow is reserved for Jesus the King, especially if one is female. A man might bow to a lady in the old timey etiquette of 100+ years ago; a lady didn’t bow to people, she would curtsy or perhaps nod. I would certainly kneel before a statue of Mary, with the understanding that I am kneeling in reverence to Mary herself and not to the statue and that I don’t believe Mary is inhabiting the statue itself.
There are other cultures where people of both genders bow as a greeting, just as a sign of good manners and respect. I have been in a whole church full of people who expressed the sign of peace by all bowing to each other. I would imagine they bow before the statue of Mary as well as a way of showing respect to Mary, again not because they think her spirit is in the statue.
Some people might bow as worship, that would be a sin for them!
Bowing is an almost universal show of respect.
So just to make sure I am understanding you and everyone else, bowing to a statue of Mary can be idolatry but it just depends on what the person is thinking. If they are just remembering Mary and bowing to pray to her that’s fine, but if they are bowing to a statue because they believe Mary’s spirit is in the statue that would be idolatry.
St. Basil the Great is quoted by St. John of Damascus as saying “… the honor given the image is transferred to the prototype.”