Regarding Images/Statues


#1

I formerly was a Presbyterian, and am currently Lutheran, but I struggle with the idea of kissing, bowing towards, reverencing, or praying before images and statues. In my mind, Christianity is/was/always has been a Word based faith, and that our words may speak truth, while images, of necessity, fall short of it, but attempt to capture what a word says without saying more than it says.

I tried to put a couple of images in my room (attached), but, as soon as I did, whether by my feeling of superstition, wrongness, or merely pure imagination, I felt like the images were possessed of demons, and allowed them something to latch on to. I just felt such an evil presence in the images, despite the fact they were portraying Jesus, and I don’t feel the same way regarding reading Holy Scripture.

All that said, I think many Catholics and Eastern Orthodox can pray to Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Ghost before an image without thinking they are praying to the image, but I personally cannot.

Further, when I attempt to begin to consider adding an invocation to a Saint, Angel, or Mary, I feel like doing so is evil, and allows the demonic to attack me directly because I had the gall to view these as more capable of fulfilling the prayer than praying to Him through all blessings flow.

Ultimately, I feel like a convicted and guilty sinner either praying to Saints, Mary, Angels, before an image or statue, but also feel like the Eastern Orthodox Church or Roman Catholic Church has the historic faith, and that many do these things without it being sin to them, but I do feel like to do these things is sin to me.

Is it possible to have personal problems with Catholic Dogma and still be a Catholic? I don’t mean disagreeing with the Church’s teaching, but being weak enough to equate a Statue/Image in my mind with prayer to the image/statue, but knowing by reason better than this, and the same with prayers to the Angelic hierarchy and Saints of yesteryear.

I really love the Catholic Faith, but I cannot bring myself to do these things from personal weakness. Should I just stay away from Catholicism and be content with Protestantism?


Jesus


#2

Sorry that you are experiencing this crisis if faith. Let us suppose for a mement that the veneration of images - their use to draw us closer to God - is a good and holy thing. Having crossed that bridge, who is it that would seek to make that a stumbling block in your path?

EDIT: You are making the mistake of jumping into the deep end of the pool while still learning to swim! Fret not, as this is very human. By way of crude analogy, suppose you are a freshman at college, intending to major in science. On your own, you ponder a few things. One is that a super-collider is deep into the field of scientific study. So, you head on over to the local super-collider and try to grasp all that is occurring there. You are But your mind begins to reel as you attempt to take it all in - you are shocked by what you encounter there. It is incomprehensible, leaving you with conflicting feelings about science. You are so uncomfortable that you feel like retreating to your former life.

Baby steps. Baby steps. Baby steps.


#3

I guess Satan, but is it possible that what is good for many, may for few be sin? If someone is convinced that drinking alcohol, because they used to be an alcoholic, is sin, is it not sin for that person? If someone used to struggle with the occult (as I did), and images, Saints, and Angels seem, to my mind, just reintroducing ‘spirit guides’ again, how do I get my mind and heart to connect with the reasonable/rational explanation that this is different?


#4

Blessed John Henry Newman wrote, “Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt.” He adds that a difficulty is not a doubt. The person with a difficulty says, “How can that be so?” whereas a person who doubts says, “That can’t be so!”

Owning Images and statues are not a requirement of being Catholic, they are what they are because they bring many closer to Christ. Especially, back at a time when the majority of people could not read.

It appears to be the opposite for you. However, this “personal weakness” of yours is a difficulty it does not appear to be a doubt.

Your post comes across as a person who is getting a glimpse of the truth. I can’t imagine from this point forward you would be able to be content.

Come Home, Christ is waiting for you in the Eucharist.

God Bless


#5

Please excuse this edit. I misread that you are not yet Catholic.


#6

Since you associate images with evil, the malevolent one is tempting you beyond your depth to keep you from a right relationship with God. Do not allow holy images to keep you from the faith! They are intended to draw you closer to God. Who stole the idea and perverted it for evil purposes? That is the one you should reject and avoid.

Here are the five precepts of the Catholic Church incumbent upon the faithful:

  1. “You shall attend Mass on Sundays and on holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor.” The faithful are required to attend the celebration of the Eucharist every Lord’s Day (Saturday vigil or Sunday Mass) and the holy days of obligation as established in the liturgical calendar, unless excused for a serious reason [i.e. illness or the care of infants]. CCC 1388-9, 2042, 2043, 2177, 2180, 2185; 2187-8; 2192-3.
  2. “You shall confess your sins at least once a year.” CCC 1457; 2042
  3. “You shall receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season.” CCC 1389; 2042
  4. “You shall observe the prescribed days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church.” CCC 2043; 2177
  5. “You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church, each according to his own ability.” CCC 1351; 1387; 1438; 2043

Do you see statues or images in there anywhere? No! Work on the foundation of your faith before diving into the depths. Do not overload yourself - God never does that, but the evil one certainly tries, as he senses that he is losing his grasp upon you.

Have you spoken with your local parish priest? Good time to do that.


#7

St. John of Damascus (676 - 749 A.D.) showed that the Iconoclast position de-Incarnationalizes religion, turning it into a form of Manichaeism – that is, the flesh is evil and the individual’s immaterial contemplation of a God replaces the corporate body of the Church. That is because it ignores that the Son of God is “the Word made Flesh.”

Iconoclasm becomes Docetism when it is extreme, such that where God merely appears to use a flesh body. Many modern Christian heresies include Docetism.

Modern Catholic Dictionary

Docetism, A heretical system of thought dating from apostolic times, which held that Christ only seemed to be a man, to be born, have lived, suffered, and risen from the dead. All the evidence indicates that Docetism was combined with some form of Gnosticism and, later on, Manichaeism. In the strict sense it was less a heresy denying a Christian doctrine than a false philosophy, claiming that there was an irreconcilable antagonism between matter and spirit, and for this reason it was thought impossible that God, who is pure spirit, would become incarnate in a material body.

Manichaeism, A dualistic heresy initiated in the third century by a Persian named Mani, Manes, or Manichaeus (215-75). He was considered divinely inspired, and he gained a large following. In the Manichaean system there are two ultimate sources of creation, the one good and the other evil. God is the creator of all that is good, and Satan of all that is evil. Man’s spirit is from God, his body is from the devil. There is a constant struggle between the forces of good and those of evil. Good triumphs over evil only insofar as spirit rises superior to the body. In practice Manichaeism denies human responsibility for the evil that one does, on the premise that this is not due to one’s own free will but to the dominance of Satan’s power in one’s life.


#8

I think you are assuming the Lutheran church is iconoclastic, but it is not. They have crucifixes as do Catholic Churches, but the Presbyterian church was iconoclast.


#9

True, some Lutheran churches have more statues than many modern Catholic churches. example.


#10

No, I am going on your words: “In my mind, Christianity is/was/always has been a Word based faith, and that our words may speak truth, while images, of necessity, fall short of it, but attempt to capture what a word says without saying more than it says.” Note that antagonism between matter and spirit in the sense of physical representations. The images are not given adoration which is proper to which is proper to divine nature alone.

Seventh Ecumenical Council (Nicea II 787 A.D.) Against the Iconoclasts:

(I. Definition) . . . We, continuing in the regal path, and following the divinely inspired teaching of our Holy Fathers, and the tradition of the Catholic Church, for we know that this is of the Holy Spirit who certainly dwells in it, define in all certitude and diligence that as the figure of the honored and life-giving Cross, so the venerable and holy images, the ones from tinted materials and from marble as those from other material, must be suitably placed in the holy churches of God, both on sacred vessels and vestments, and on the walls and on the altars, at home and on the streets, namely such images of our Lord Jesus Christ, God and Savior, and of our undefiled lady, or holy Mother of God, and of the honorable angels, and, at the same time, of all the saints and of holy men. For, how much more frequently through the imaginal formation they are seen, so much more quickly are those who contemplate these, raised to the memory and desire of the originals of these, to kiss and to render honorable adoration to them, not however, to grant true Iatria according to our faith, which is proper to divine nature alone; but just as to the figure of the revered and life-giving Cross and to the holy gospels, and to the other sacred monuments, let an oblation of incense and lights be made to give honor to these as was the pious custom with the ancients. “For the honor of the image passes to the original”; and he who shows reverence to the image, shows reverence to the substance of Him depicted in it.


#11

First: kissing or venerating the statues isn’t an expression of faith, it’s an expression of love.

Question: Have you ever kissed a photograph of a loved one? Because to the Catholic well formed in his/her faith, that is exactly what we are doing.

NOW: sometimes where Catholics go wrong is when they are kissing a statue and they have no idea why they are doing it. Or they are doing it out of obligation - though sometimes we make kids kiss their grandparents, aunts and uncles out of obligation. :man_shrugging:

Anyway, I hope this helps.


#12

Does this mean that images are means by which we communicate with departed spirits? I struggle primarily because of my occult past: I guess because I’ve never seen any good come out of communicating with any spirit outside of God. All that I though was good and holy spirits were demons disguised as angles of light. I understand, rationally, that this helps many people: for me, it reminds me of myself doing the same thing in a profane way.


#13

Regarding the Word-based faith: that was the way my mind perceived Christianity as different from ‘spiritist’ faiths: not that this was an absolute truth. I merely misunderstood, and am willing to change whatever is not contrary to Church doctrine.


#14

The reason we’re able to use images is because of the Incarnation. The Invisible was made Visible, and we use imagery to remind us of that Reality. Or we use that imagery to help mentally project ourselves into something that happened in history, the same way that we use book illustrations to help visualize a scene. Or we use the imagery to remind us of someone who had a great relationship with God, and is a worthy model to emulate— much like a photo of a friend.

You mention that you had a difficulty in the past with art reminding you of the occult. That’s one of the things the early Christians struggled with as well. Much of the art that survives from that period is two-dimensional flat art, because three-dimensional sculpture was associated with pagan worship. (Which isn’t to say the Christians never did sculpture, and the pagans never did two-dimensional art, but you know what I’m saying.) Figure out what elements or styles are intrusive on your memories, and see if you can gravitate towards a different sort of art, which might not have those associations. Or, you can avoid religious art in general if it’s more of a stumbling block than you care to address at this point in your path… just like different sacramentals appeal to different people, there are plenty of Christians who make it through life without immersing themselves in imagery.

I wish you the best!


#15

Thank you midori and po18guy: if difficulty (not disagreement) with images isn’t a problem with being Catholic, then, by all means, I have no problem doing so. I felt led by God to in a dream anyway (maybe go into that some other time, but don’t feel like it right now), but I felt like Catholicism might be unwilling to help those that struggle with certain concepts, like images, and that that may be enough to earn an anathema.

In Protestant circles, it’s portrayed as if the RCC practically anathematized anyone that truly followed God, but I see the problem may have been, not so much that these people weren’t genuine, as they literally departed from orthodoxy, which the Church stands for.

Thank you for giving me the comforting touch of the Holy Ghost, and being willing to be a vessel for God’s overwhelming love :slight_smile:

In Jesus, Our Lord and Savior
GloriaDei


#16

They are for teaching and to aid the faithful in prayer and meditation on that person depicted or on the salvific significance of the event depicted.

The Catholic teaching is that we each have our own guardian angel and that God makes our prayers know to the saints that we ask to pray for us, and for others, and the saints and angels do pray for us.

Saint Paul, 1 Cor 8

4 So about the eating of meat sacrificed to idols: we know that “there is no idol in the world,” and that “there is no God but one.” 5 Indeed, even though there are so-called gods in heaven and on earth (there are, to be sure, many “gods” and many “lords”), 6 yet for us there is

one God, the Father,
from whom all things are and for whom we exist,
and one Lord, Jesus Christ,
through whom all things are and through whom we exist.:

7 But not all have this knowledge. There are some who have been so used to idolatry up until now that, when they eat meat sacrificed to idols, their conscience, which is weak, is defiled.

Saint John, Revelation 8

3 Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a gold censer. He was given a great quantity of incense to offer, along with the prayers of all the holy ones, on the gold altar that was before the throne. 4 The smoke of the incense along with the prayers of the holy ones went up before God from the hand of the angel.


#17

Yes. And also things like this link

Actualy, I was amazed to learn about these things when reasearching the ‘authentic’ Protestant Church. I’ve found that most falsehoods about Protestantism are memes, lore, and propoganda that stem mostly from the ‘American Pseudo-christian Establishment’.

The core issue is the OP believes in a human-like god; a ‘jealous god’ that is insecure of himself and unfulfilled. That god seeks and covets the 'magic-statue-praise-juice’ of men on earth to fulfill him and make him more secure in himself (maybe it also makes him grow stronger?). But statues and icons are his competition and he must compete against them in his own church but no longer belongs to him because now he has other statue-gods that have prevailed over it. Understand that it’s upsetting for that god to always be competing against all the pretty artwork and statues because he wants all that precious 'magic-statue-praise-juice’ to go to him instead. Since that god doesn’t like such steep competition, he orders that icons and statues be a banished and destroyed! His own book says it! And if we can’t do that, then we will start a new church and go back to basics because Christianity has ‘gone astray’ (as the Muslims say daily in prayer).

On that note, the OP’s second issue is he erroneously believes that Christianity/Protestantism/Church etc etc comes from a book. If that was true, Luther (and others) would not have re-edited that book. Luther obviously had little concern for that book which is why he (and many others) edited it.

Editing a thing changes it. A changed thing is not necessarily a different thing. A changed thing comes out either better, worse, or unimportant/irrelevant. Satan’s kingdom is always at work; indirectly influencing our human thought processes into ‘logical reasoning patterns’ which produce inversions ie: better things are seen as worse. Unimportant/irrelevant things, are seen as important. And vise-versa.

Certain Traditions like the act of confessing creeds is unchanged (this predates scripture - even St. Paul would have confessed the ‘legal’ creed of faith at that time before his baptism). Yes the creeds themselves change, but the act of reading them is unchanged. What deems a creed legally binding in heaven is unchanged. So of course if you focus on anything text related it sets you up for failure because you’re missing the bigger picture that makes everything work. Other things unchanged are Ordinations, Person of Christ and Apostolic Succession. etc.


#18

All I’m getting from your post, OP, is that you’re from a faith background where people don’t use images in worship, and because of that you’re uncomfortable with having images as a part of your worship lifestyle.

So, don’t have them. The Catholic Church has no requirement that you keep images in your home. The only requirements for images that I am aware of generally pertain to Catholic churches, not homes (example, when celebrating Mass there needs to be a cross with a figure of Christ crucified placed on or near the altar).

Having said that, you also need to realize that your discomfort with images is coming from your own background of being trained not to use images. There is nothing demonic or evil actually coming from a reverent image of Jesus, Mary, saints, etc. It’s just a reminder to adore Jesus and pray to him, or to venerate Mary/ a saint and ask for their intercession. The images aren’t conveying something demonic or evil to you yourself. You just don’t like them as a matter of your personal taste, the same way that perhaps a Catholic wouldn’t like a particular style of sacred art (for example, very realistic crucifixes or very gory scenes of Christ’s Passion give some people the creeps). So, like I said, don’t have them in your home.


#19

When my dad had died the parish priest gave my mum some advice .

There was a photo of my parents taken on their Golden Wedding anniversary in a prominent place in the living room . The priest told my mum to look at it and just talk to my dad as if he were present .

Whenever my mum was going out she would kiss my dad’s image on the photo .

As she got older my mum developed dementia . I noticed that she had stopped saying her daily Rosary . And silly me started to think she had lost her faith . Then one night when my mum was preparing for bed I passed her bedroom and saw her pick up a picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes . She simply kissed them both . I thought " What a beautiful prayer ! "


#20

OP You come from a background where the ears and therefor hearing is the most important sense to experience the faith. In the Catholic and Orthodox Churches there are more senses used and none is more important than the other. Seeing, smelling, toughing and tasting all help in loving God and neighbour as well as hearing. Standing, sitting, kneeling and walking also help.

2-3 decades ago I went to a course and talking with the pastor after the church service (in a baptist chapel) she asked what I had seen on the front wall in the church. I replied that normally I remember what the “decorations, art, statues etc” are and that there should have been a cross on the wall as the baptist usually have, but I can’t remember what it looked like and even if there had been one. She replied that there was nothing on the white wall. I am glad that she didn’t ask me anything about what was said as I couldn’t remember anything when I walked out of the church.

“I do not understand or do X, Y, Z yet but I will learn more about it and I might do it in the future.” is a good way to learn more about the Catholic faith.

Edit: I should say that I wasn’t Catholic when I talked with the pastor but part of the reformed church and had “discovered” the Catholic Church.


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