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.
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!
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
In Jesus, Our Lord and Savior
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.
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.
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.
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 ! "
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.
I have to agree! I was non-denominational and thought I was doing what Jesus Christ predicted by “worshipping in truth and spirit” from anywhere! However, I have recently decided to make Catholicism apart of my born again conversion!
I like the simplicity of Catholicism which is disarming and the focus on sin! Yet, to the point, the second commandment says “You shall not make for yourself any idol, nor bow down to it or worship it!”
I know God is merciful but I will see if I can try to avoid sitting where any of these images are!
Please be aware that Catholics, when bowing or whatever, are NOT bowing to the image or worshipping any image.
We worship God and God only.
We venerate images to worship God if God is depicted in the image, or if it’s an image of a saint instead (not God), to pay respect to/ ask for the prayers of the saint depicted in the image.
The image is just a reminder/ something nice to look at while we pray. I could say all the same prayers looking at a blank wall.
When I was very early on in my conversion to Catholicism, I had a background and history that had become entirely mistrusting of men in general. I had a very hard time with the concept of a “male” God (I also had been introduced to some very feminist/New Age concepts growing up and that probably had something to do with it, as well). Anyway, long story short, appropriate veneration of Mary was my way into the Church. Because she always points to her son, I was able to mature in my faith and come to love Him and adore Him as my Lord and Savior and to put things into their proper place.
My point is that He wants you to love Him. If your pre-occupation with images is preventing you from seeking Him in peace, put those things aside. In time, you may come to be able to put them in their proper place. Or you may never be truly comfortable with them. Statues and images are incidental, not obligations of the faith such as Holy Days, going to Mass, receiving the sacraments, etc.
I can understand your dedication! God is always aware of the I intentions of the heart! For me personally, when I was younger I just thought it not convenient to try to visualize God after watching the Ten Commandments Charlton Heston!
I just feel to myself though as remarkable the craftsmanship maybe that this living law encompasses this! I feel that if I give into what I naturally believe what they Bible says about matters such as this as stated in the Ten Commandments, that I will have my faith weakened in other areas where I have not realized yet!
As you read the bible , wont you think that your mind creates images ? Words dont mean anything unless you understand them , they act like signposts. Alphabets manifest as images too .
Heehee. Don’t forget that a few chapters later, after saying “don’t make yourself graven images and worship them”, God goes off and tells them to make statues of cherubim for the Ark, and to decorate the High Priest’s robes with pomegranates, and build a bronze serpent to look at to cure them of snakebite…
So the point isn’t “imagery is bad”, but the point is “direct worship to the proper source”. So if someone likes images, they can use an icon or a statue as an object to meditate on, but not the stopping-point for their prayers. But at the same time, if someone isn’t comfortable with imagery, for whatever reason— that’s okay, too.
Honestly, who gave Luther and/or other Protestant leaders their power?
I know who gave St. Peter his powers…
Absolutely not! We don’t need a picture of a saint to talk to them.
I look at using an image of a saint during prayer the same way as I view talking to my parents via Skype or Apple Facetime instead of via the phone.
I can easily talk to them just on the phone, but seeing their faces as I communicate with them simply makes it a fuller experience.
It’s literally no different talking to a saint with an image or statue. Think of the image or statue as the pre 21st century version of Skype or Facetime.
As St. John of Damascus pointed out long ago, there is no difference between a pictorial image of God, and a written image of God’s words, with shapes representing the sounds of speech. If it is not wicked to write down the Bible, it is not wicked to draw Bible people.
Jesus is God’s Word and God’s image.
OP, others may have already covered this, but I don’t believe there is any requirement in the RCC that you need to venerate or pray to images/statues.
I’ve attended Masses where no image or statue was even present, so it’s not as though they are inseparable from the Catholic faith.
As for praying for intercession from saints and angels, Catholics are free to pray for a helping hand from whomever they wish, but you can still go straight to God if that is your preference.
You don’t need to try to “force the issue” by placing them in your home if you are not comfortable with it, this is just a matter of personal preference.
You should be fine, provided you do not try to convince other Catholics that they are doing something wrong.
Don’t allow these minor differences to keep you from enjoying the full beauty and truth of Catholicism.
Actually, the Church teaches that it is a sin to venerate or pray to statues. We venerate and pray to saints for their intercession. We look at pictures or statues to help us visualize the person we’re praying to.
Statues and pictures of saints are the same as family pictures, we have both (statues of saints and pictures of family members) scattered liberally through our house.
@MikeinVA - My apologies, I didn’t mean to imply that we as Catholics venerate statues/images, I was merely pointing out that this idea is nowhere in RCC teaching.
I know that this is an area that many non-Catholics struggle with, and I prefer Patrick Madrid’s take on the subject:
Also, more on the veneration of Mary and Saints: