Saint Worship


It bothers me that people on this forum say the we (Catholics) do not worship Mary, the saints, statues, relics…etc. Because we do! Worship means honor. In countries that British English is spoken, a judge is refered to as “your worship”. In Catholic theology, there is Absolute Worship and Relative Worship. Absolute Worship is given to the saint or God and Relative Worship is given to a statue or relic which represents God or the Saint. We give relative worship to an object NOT because the object has any power or diety, but so that we may give Absolute Worship to the person behind the object. Also, there are three different “levels” of worship. Dulia we give to the Saint and Hyperdulia we give to Mary, and Latria which we give to God. Dulia and Hyperdulia are of the same species, but Latria is is distinct because it is infinitely higher than hyperdulia and dulia. So, let us not be afraid of saying that we do worship Mary and the saints so that we might explain it.


You are mistaken about worship. Worship is only for God. Catholics are not to worship anyone or anything other than God. If your are guilty of this as a catholic then confession would be in order.


The meaning of “worship” has changed over the centuries, largely due to Protestant redefinition of the term. First say what you mean by “worship” and we’ll tell you if we apply it to any other than God.


I’d have to look this up, or perhaps our British friends could help us, but I believe the english word ‘worship’ comes from an ancient root meaning ‘worth-ship’, or someone who is worthy, like a king or queen.


You are mistaken about worship. Worship is only for God. Catholics are not to worship anyone or anything other than God. If your are guilty of this as a catholic then confession would be in order.

I would like to recommend you a book, it is called Saint Worship And The Worship Of Mary: Why Devotion to the Saints Makes Sense. It explains why Catholics worship the saints. It also explains that the worship that your thinking of is the protestant definition for worship, and the Catholic definition is quite broader. Here is a link:


it is, as in the case of so-called “inclusive language” a matter of ignorance, as in people who are ignorant of English grammar and do not understand the rules for collective nouns and pronouns, in that they comprise both genders, and do not understand the basic definition, usage and connotation of words. OED is recommended here.


I think it’s clear that in modern english dialects, the word “worship” has evolved into a stricter meaning than it once had. When a modern protestant accuses you of “worshipping” Mary, the meaning of the word “worship” that he is operating under is the more specific “Latria”, which indeed is reserved only for God. If we were to “worship” Mary by this definition, it certainly would be a sin. This is one way in which many protestants think they’ve got us cold. They look back at old papal documents which refer to “worshipping” Mary, and say “SEE!?!? You worship Mary!” I don’t think they are intentionally equivocating on the meaning of the word here, since they’re not actually aware of the shift in meaning that has taken place, however.


In Greek–and in the Gospels, Jesus is recorded as using this distinction–there’s a difference between the LATREIA that goes to God alone and the DOULIA or PROSKENYSIS that goes to those “to whom honor is due.”

If Jesus can make this distinction, we can, too.


We do not speak Medieval English. The word worship in modern usage is equivalent ot latria, which the Catholic Church expressly reserves for God alone.


It is I, John, who heard and saw these things, and when I heard and saw them I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me. But he said to me, “Don’t! I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brothers the prophets and of those who keep the message of this book. Worship God.”

Revelation 22:8-9.


Laudatur Iesus Christus.

The problem is more difficult than described. In fact, most uses of the word “worship” in Protestant contexts do not refer to latria, but to dulia. Unfortunately, most Protestant approaches do not allow for latria to be offered *even *to God.

Thus the problem is two-fold, the word “worship” encompasses both latria and dulia, but the Protestant usage does not recognize latria. Hence, they object to “worship” offered to anyone but God, and actually do object to dulia paid to the Saints or to persons on earth, such as the Pope and other Bishops.

The advice given above is good: “say what you mean by “worship” and we’ll tell you if we apply it to any other than God.”

Unfortunately, when this is done and we come to terms on the meaning of the word “worship,” most Protestant approaches will deny the existence of latria, limit the meaning of “worship” to dulia, and then insist on giving this only to God.

The issue centers on self-donation and the possibility of true sacrifice as the heart of the “adoration” due only to God. If a particular approach rejects sacrifice as the heart of latria, then the ground shifts under us, and the Saints are left dishonored.

It is an interesting problem in Apologetics.

Spiritus Sapientiae nobiscum.

John Hiner


Why even bother with this kind of talk?

There are clarifying articles in the CA online library.
The Intercession of the Saints (Fathers*)
Praying to the Saints
Saint Worship?

There’s no reason to use outdated terminology that doesn’t have the same definition now as it had centuries ago, (unless of course you just want something to say to freak out any n-Cs you are talking with, which does nothing at all towards helping them understand our most holy faith. :shrug:


Laudatur Iesus Christus.

He said unto them: Therefore every scribe instructed in the kingdom of heaven, is like to a man that is a householder, who bringeth forth out of his treasure new things and old. (Matthew 13:52)

One cannot declare something “outdated’ and adopt changed language in this case, because there are English writings which use the word “worship.” Unless we understand the history of this word and the relevant arguments, a person who is either seeking to understand the Church, or one who is seeking to attack her, may happen upon such a writing or old prayer and be confused or misled.

Further, if it is true that the usage of “worship” in many Protestant theories is limited to dulia, then it is necessary, if one is to help others understand the Faith, that the “modern” usage not be adopted, both because converts will need to understand the difference, and because young Catholics cannot be fooled into accepting the limited meaning. If the word “worship” is restricted to dulia, neither the First Commandment nor the Holy Mass will be understandable.

It is a bother that we need to take.

Pax Christi nobiscum.

John Hiner


There are modern books that use the word worship for dulia.


Im personally a Christian of Pentacostal practice. I mean no offense to anyone when I say this and I see all of you as my brothers and sisters in Christ, but I one verse comes to mind when I read some of the comments I see on this thread. Forgive me the exact refrence escapes me but in one of the Gospels jesus says “I am the way, the truth and the light, nobody comes to the father exept through me” I dont see the point in bringing any sort of worship to anyone but God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, because the worship of Jesus is the only way to get to God, the only way to truly know and love him because of our sinfull natures. Our flesh is adamently opposed to God by its very nature, because of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, we have a way through into the holy of holy’s, by the blood of jesus we are cleansed from our sins. It is not because of saints and because of Mary (face it, she dident die for our sins, even if she remained absolutly sinless, it was not her that shed her blood, she was not God and it was not her purpose to save us. Im not debating her virginity, her sinlessness or anything of that) that we are saved. I personally would rather put all my worship to the One true living God, his son Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

Having said that I do not disrespect the saints, or Mary or anyone else of the like. Infact I have much reverance for them. There are lessons to be learned from there life, there struggles and there works. They are examples of how someone should live and how someone should lead a life like Christs. They are just that though, Examples. Not Gods themselves.

This is just what I think, believe what you want. In the big scope of things this is insignificant. Christ died for our sins, thats what matters most, Devoting your life to his service and his name is what matters, not what saint you have the most respect for.

I love you all, my brothers and sisters in Christ,

Pastor Brendan Marchione

God required satisfaction for forgiveness - why don't we?

You’ve just about stated the Catholic position. We would only add that they’re not just examples, but also intercessors who desire to and who will pray for us.


I saw a video of Prince Charles taking an oath as Prince of Wales, where he swears to Elizabeth II as “I, Charles, Prince of Wales, do become your liege man of life and limb and of earthly worship and faith and truth I will bear unto you to live and die against all manner of folks.”

The Book of Common Prayer has the marriage vow as “With this ring I thee wed, with my body I thee worship, and with all my worldly goods I thee endow”

One can easily see that they aren’t talking **latria **here.

From the Online Etymology Dictionary:

O.E. worðscip, wurðscip (Anglian), weorðscipe (W.Saxon) “condition of being worthy, honor, renown,” from weorð “worthy” (see worth) + -scipe (see -ship). Sense of “reverence paid to a supernatural or divine being” is first recorded c.1300. The original sense is preserved in the title worshipful (c.1300). The verb is recorded from c.1200.


I think “worship” has the same effect as the word “pray:” to pray to God is not the same kind of “pray to” the saints (as in, “pray” means “ask for intercession”). It is confusing to our non-Catholic friends.


Laudatur Iesus Christus.

The passage quoted, “Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.” (John (RSV) 14:6) Seems problematic for the position proposed. That passage comes in the course of Jesus speaking to Saints. He has finished washing their feet. He calls them friends rather than servants, because they understand what He is about and know His business. He is about to lay down His life for them, but first He will command them (and us) thus: "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. (John (RSV) 15:12)

So, if one accepts that Jesus is the way, then at least the “worship” that entails love, “diligent care and attention,” and even washing of feet, ought be paid to the Saints – or at least to the 11 and more Saints who were the audience of the speech quoted. Further, if “no one comes to the Father” but through Jesus, then any Saint in heaven is there as Jesus’ accomplishment and should be “honored” or “worshiped” as such. (If they are examples, they are examples of Jesus’ efforts and success.)

Finally, one must ask “how can I know this Jesus that ascended from the earth 1900 and some years before I was born?” Some might say, from a collection of books, most of which written before His birth, but some of which are brief biographies of a short period of His life and others letters written by some who knew Him. But when considering this, one wonders, how close to knowing a person can one come by reading words written about him? People are infinitely deep. People are nuanced and flashing. Can a book capture a person and make him available to the reader? No: “But there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” (John (RSV) 21:25.)

So how did Jesus provide that those who come later may know Him? By training men to live His way and His life. These are the men who show us how to live as Christ taught. Their lives are the pages on which Christ’s ‘way” is written in more depth than any collection of books can manage, because, unlike the two-dimensions of paper, the message of a human life is infinite in its dimensions, as is Christ, flashing and brilliant in its moments, as is Christ, and subtle in its nuances, as is Christ. And more: “No one comes to the Father, but by me,” so each of these portraits of Christ is written by Him as well as by His friends, who know His business. (To paraphrase St. Jerome: Ignorance of the Saints is like ignorance of the Scriptures.)

Some say, but I have more than the books, I also have Jesus in my heart and in my life. But one must ask, if I want to know Jesus, what portrait should I take as more telling, the one He is struggling to draw in the poor material of my life and me, or those which He has already succeeded in drawing in the lives of those who He has succeeded in bringing to His Father’s house?

Finally, one cannot be indifferent to these truths, if one is focused on Jesus, who is truth.

Ideo precor beàtam Mariam semper Virginem, omnes Angelos et Sanctos et vos, fratres oràre pro me ad Dòminum Deum nostrum.

John Hiner


“I am the way, the truth and the light, nobody comes to the father exept through me” I dont see the point in bringing any sort of worship to anyone but God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, because the worship of Jesus is the only way to get to God, the only way to truly know and love him because of our sinfull natures.

First, I would like to thank you for your response. I also do not mean any offense by anything that I say. I would like to add that yes, no one goes to the Father except through Jesus. But, the saints, especially the Blessed Mother, bring us to Jesus. The shortest way to Jesus is through Mary because her sole desire for us is to be faithful to Him and His Church and spend eternity with Him in Heaven. Mary doesn’t take any of the glory for herself. She is the most humble creation of God. Through her God came to us, and through her we must go to Jesus. When you hear Catholics pray “Mary, be my salvation” we ask her to ask Jesus, who always obeys His mother, to give us graces and ultimately salvation. Protestants cannot give the Worship of Latria to God because protestants do not have the Sacrifice of the Mass, and sacrifice is essential to Latria. Catholics do not give sacrifice to anyone but God. Therefore, protestants can only give God dulia and therefore they have a faulty definition of worship. So, protestants should not judge Catholics of worshiping incorrectly when protestants are not even able to give proper worship to God. Again, I do not mean to offend you. May God help you and may you find the truth one day.

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