More Questions on Divine Mercy (and graven images)


#1

I’ve made a similar post to this in the Spirituality section, but I wanted to also have some people approach this from an apologetics standpoint.

Earlier this morning, while at work, a co-worker (who’s Presbyterian) commented on my computer desktop background (which is now an image of the Divine Mercy :smiley: ). She liked the background, but she told me that she was raised in a household that did not allow such images, based on the infamous commandment (often lodged at Catholics), “Thou shalt make no graven images.” I felt her comment was a severely mild form of iconoclasm: not that she intended for me to remove my own images, but just that they weren’t worthy of veneration.

On a normal day, and if it had not been so early in the morning, I would’ve retorted that making an image is quite different from worshipping an image, perhaps even citing the pictures of her children as her own “trespass” against this commandment. However, I was thrown off guard because Jesus specifically asks for this image (of Divine Mercy) to be venerated. Plus, I recalled this website which I found a couple days ago.

I’ve been reading Michael H. Brown’s “Prayer of the Warrior,” which a friend loaned me a couple of weeks ago, and in it he talks about apparitions and visions received by mystics which are actually demons dressed in the disguise of Jesus or Mary. This has caused me to pause and wonder: how do we know the visions received by St. Faustina are not of a demon?

Explaining to a Protestant, such as my friend and co-worker, that Catholics do not worship images seems like a diluted argument in the presence of the faithful venerating images like Divine Mercy, or Sacred Heart, etc. Having come from a Protestant background myself, with brief experimentation with Islam, even though I know we Catholics do not worship images as gods, I find my own apologetic is quite weak. Even though it is the person signified, and not the image itself, I sometimes can’t help but wonder what it is we Catholics are doing.

In fact, an old Muslim friend of mine once stated that she didn’t even like images of her parents, or deceased grandparents, because she’s witnessed too many people becoming too dependent on such images. “People begin talking to the pictures, imagining that the picture is talking back to them, and treating the picture like a person.” Her statement reminds me of what Solomon says in Wisdom:

*For a father being afflicted with bitter grief, made to himself the image of his son who was quickly taken away: and him who then had died as a man, he began now to worship as a god, and appointed him rites and sacrifices among his servants. * (Wisdom 14:15)

Jesus asks us to venerate the image of Divine Mercy, or the Sacred Heart, or any number of images: but how do we know the Jesus of these visions isn’t some demon tempting us into breaking the commandment given at Sinai?


#2

“Thou shalt make no graven images.”

Is not the Commandment.

“Thou shalt make no graven images”," …"

Is how the Commandment begins, the comma means that there is an idea or ideas directly related which must be considered along with it.

Every child in the world who has ever held a pencil would be guilty otherwise.


#3

Two main reasons - firstly unlike the father of your quote from Solomon we aren’t taking an image of an ordinary man and worshipping either that man or the image itself as God. We are rightfully venerating Jesus Christ, the true God himself, and using images as aids to this end. There’s miles of difference between worshipping Christ through an image and literally worshipping the image itself.

We do the former on many occasions and with many different images of Christ when we *aren’t *specifically requested, as a spontaneous gesture of genuine love and respect - for example the Veneration of the Cross (which usually involves a crucifix) on Good Friday.

Besides which, paying respect to each of these images is a request but never at all a command. There are many churches that don’t possess images either of the Sacred Heart or the Divine Mercy, some don’t even have crucifixes though all are supposed to. And we’re never required to bow or genuflect to these images, pray to them or even acknowledge their presence!

Even those churches that do have images don’t particularly do anything with them on the feastdays. The feasts themselves aren’t about the images at all, rather about honouring Christ’s own superlative qualities of Divine Love (which the Sacred Heart represents) and Divine Mercy (obviously represented in that image).

The second, more important reason, however, involves an understanding of the fact that Jesus Christ, God-made-flesh has actually appeared live and in person to us on Earth! In this sense he was a living icon or image of God if you like. He was seen, touched, bowed to, kissed and honoured by many people. Since that time it is never inappropriate for us to have and honour images of him as we do of the saints or our other loved ones.

We do have him still with us in the form of the Eucharist, and to be sure we appropriately honour and venerate the Eucharist too, but having and venerating an image is a different way of paying the same respects to him, perhaps in situations where the Eucharist isn’t easily accessible to us to do so.


#4

First of all, the web-link you give is full of nonsense. The pyramid ‘hidden’ in the image of the Divine Mercy? Please! The red and white symbolise blood and water (John 19:34), if they flow outward from a central point (Christ’s heart, where else are they going to flow but downwards (to us sinners) and outwards (to the multitude of us).

Ask yourself this of St Faustina’s devotions. If the vision had not been from Christ, could a good Catholic not have come up with the same thing just by reading the Bible and applying reason and tradition? All the devotion to the Divine Mercy asks is that we pray for our own conversion and the conversion of the world. That is what Jesus also asks us to do (“Thy will be done on earth as in heaven… And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil”).

Veneration is not worship.

All the same, we don’t have to believe in any of the approved visions.

If you’re going to oppose the Divine Mercy devotion though, at least make it for a good reason, like how blatantly and unashamedly Polish it is, rather than based on some masonic conspiracy theory :smiley:


#5

Oh, I saw that website too. Even the music playing is distorted somewhat.


#6

The problem with this view of likenesses is that it means that Jesus turned us all into idolators.

“You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth”

By becoming Incarnate, Jesus has provided us with a likeness of God - a human man. Not only is that image widely reproduced among both Catholics and Protestants (look at any Protestant children’s bible), we as humans simply cannot think of Jesus without forming some kind of image of Him in our minds. The very act of thinking about Christ turns us into idolators, according to this wrong understanding of the commandment. And it turns the accuser into an idolator as much as it does the accused.


#7

I have a question for Non-Catholic Christians who have issues with the Divine Image of Jesus?

Is Jesus a graven image?

If you say yes, you are against him.

For Jesus is God and worthy of worship. We don’t worship the image itself. We venerate and keeps our minds set on Jesus Christ’s infinite mercy.

You don’t have a problem with the Catholic devotion of Jesus’ Divine Mercy, you have a problem with Jesus Christ.

What is more Christ center when you have this signature on the Image.

Jesus, I trust in you!


#8

Yes, here we have yet another charlaton who wants to get rich off the Catholic church, it’s absolelutely disgusting!


#9

Would the cross which some Protestant churches use also fit into the category of icons/images?


#10

Yes, it would be an instance of a likeness of anything in the earth.


#11

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.