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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Why Do Catholic's Worship Statues and pray to the Saints?

A post from Faith Explorer Online inspired me to add to their post. I am asked this question many times and it then leads to more questions. One question..it leads many to ask, " They were all human and only God is omnipresent..He is everywhere. Humans do not have that ability. So..how can Mary pray for you and hear you, she is not omnipresent like God?"   I will share with you my thoughts today as I blog from my heart.  

Faith Explorer Online (Touching and Connecting lives) posted this on facebook:

Protestants and Other Anti-Catholics say That Catholics Worship Statues and The Saints. Are Catholics Worship Images The Saints And Mary?

When you have a picture of your Girl Friend in your wallet and when you miss her you take it out and look at it and even talk to it and kiss it is that idol worship ?

Catholics do NOT worship statues or worship saints! A statue is merely a representation of someone who was once living, or in secular terms it can also be a sign of something, such as independence. What about that picture of your family that you have on your desk at work. Your picture helps you to remember and it brings back memories. Are you worshiping your picture every day? Of course not!

Nowhere in the catholic books, Library archives, Catechism, and ancient writings that says we must worship to Mary, Saints, and Idols

Praying to Saints is really asking the saints to intercede for us since they are closer to God but we do not worship them. The same way when you ask a friend to pray for you to God because you have a final test coming up. This is called intercessary prayer or asking someone to pray for you to God.

To show that we are only asking to pray for us, lets take a look of the Hail Mary Prayer

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of god, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen

If you notice we are only asking Mary to pray for us exactly the same when asking friend or a relative to pray for us when you are sick or has a test.

We ask the Saints or Mary to pray for us because they are closer to God.

In Fact Martin Luther was devoted to our Lady.

You can also pray to God directly if you want. Praying to Saints is only optional like if you need extra help so your prayer will be heard by God.

Veneration is showing respect or honor, not worship.
Veneration of Saints is asking them for intercession.

The only one worthy of worship is God, and God alone! If a Catholic did worship a statue or saint, they would be excommunicated from the church. You must remember that the Catholic Church is traced back to the apostles. They could not take a picture of Jesus and carry it around in their pocket--cameras did not exist. But in the early Church, one way of remembering was by erecting statues of those of importance, such as Jesus, Mary, etc. Why do you think that it is so odd that Catholics have statues in their churches and no other denomination does? Because Catholics carried the tradition from the early Church!

If statues were so taboo by God, then why did God command Moses, while in the desert, to put a serpent on a pole?

Num. 21:8 And the Lord said unto Moses, make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten when he look upon it, shall live.

Then what about the construction of the Ark of the Covenant?

Ex. 25:18 God said to Moses - And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat (vs. 20) And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look at one to another…

1Kings 7:23 He made also a molten sea of ten cubits from brim to brim, round all about; the height of it was five cubits, and a line of thirty cubits compassed it round about.

1Kings 7:24 And a graven work under the brim of it compassed it, for ten cubits going about the sea: there were two rows cast of chamfered sculptures.

1Kings 7:25 And it stood upon twelve oxen, of which three looked towards the north, and three towards the west, and three towards the south, and three towards the east, and the sea was above upon them, and their hinder parts were all hid within.

1Kings 7:26 And the laver was a handbreadth thick: and the brim thereof was like the brim of a cup, or the leaf of a crisped lily: it contained two thousand bates.

Now, there is an instance when God forbids statues, and that is the well known incident in

Exodus 32-8 when the people created a molten calf. This calf was not a reminder but it was created to be a God so that it could be worshiped.

As you see, a statue is harmless if it is being used as a representation of someone or something, but when the statues becomes a God that is worshiped, then there is much harm and those who worship as such are wide open to the wrath of God.

Idol Worship... This is another argument aimed against the Catholic Church since it has statues of Jesus and Mary, and other saints.

Aren't all those statues in the Catholic Church the same as worshiping graven images?

EXODUS 20:2-6

Ex. 20: 4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness [of any thing] that [is] in heaven above, or that [is] in the earth beneath, or that [is] in the water under the earth:

5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God [am] a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth [generation] of them that hate me;

6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

First, one must understand what a graven image is in the context of the Old Testament. To make a graven image is to create an image out of some medium, such as clay or wood, and worship it as a God. The statues or pictures of Mary are not worshiped as a God. If a Catholic worships a statue of Mary as a God, they are guilty of idolatry.
The Lord did not forbid the making of images. In fact, God commanded Moses to shape a brazen serpent. This serpent was able to cure the people of the serpent bite, if they looked upon it Numbers 21:8

Later, when the people turned to idolatry of the serpent, Hezekiah had it destroyed (II Kings 18:4).

Here you see the balance. Images are good, if they are helpful, but not if they encourage idolatry.

Moreover, the Lord commanded that the image of two Cherubim be constructed on the top of the Ark of the Covenant on either side of the Mercy seat. Was this the sin of idolatry? I think not.

Mary is the mother of God and the saints are the friends of God. If keeping their pictures or statues helps to inspire us to a more holy life, then it is a good thing. Don't you have pictures of your family in your home? Is this idolatry?
Or when someone dies, should you destroy all images or pictures of them, lest you be guilty of worshiping them?

My thoughts: I really like the way this is all explained concerning this subject and this is the way I share my thoughts with folks when asked this question.  It always inspires another question by Protestants after you answer them.  How can Mary and all those who are in heaven hear us? They were all human and only God is omnipresent..He is everywhere. Humans do not have that ability.                                                                                                                                                                
My thoughts; We are all connected…we are One… we are all a part of His Body..through the power of the Holy Trinity. Scripture time and time again explains the mystery of Our Heavenly Father’s plan to connect us “As earth as it is in heaven.”  The Apostles’ Creed dates back to the Apostles, an ancient liturgical reading from the early church that proclaimed the faith, was before the New Testament was canonized:  It states very clearly….We believe in the Communion of Saints. Many mainstream Protestant churches say the Apostles’ Creed every Sunday during their service. Christ taught his disciples, that He is One with the Father and the Holy Spirit and if we believe in Him we become “one” in Him. If we become “one” in Him through our faith this unites us to the Holy Trinity. Eph. 5:31-32:  
Because we are members of His body. 
For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh. 
This mystery is great: but I speak in regard of Christ and of the church.  Notice this scripture is about how a man and wife become “One with Christ”.. but it ends with explaining the great mystery..but I speak in regard of Christ and of His Church.
John 14: 5-11 Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; how know we the way? 
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me. 
If ye had known me, ye would have known my Father also: from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. 
Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. 
Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and dost thou not know me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; how sayest thou, Show us the Father? 
Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I say unto you I speak not from myself: but the Father abiding in me doeth his works. 
Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.
John 14: 18-20: I will not leave you desolate: I come unto you. 
Yet a little while, and the world beholdeth me no more; but ye behold me: because I live, ye shall live also. 
In that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. 
He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself unto him. 
1 Cor. 6: 15-16: Know ye not that your bodies are members of Christ? shall I then take away the members of Christ, and make them members of a harlot? God forbid. 
Or know ye not that he that is joined to a harlot is one body? for, The twain, saith he, shall become one flesh.
Luke 3: 21-22: Now it came to pass, when all the people were baptized, that, Jesus also having been baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, 
and the Holy Spirit descended in a bodily form, as a dove, upon him, and a voice came out of heaven, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.
The Holy Trinity is unity and no doubt a mystery and we are a part of the mystery in the unity. I think this is beautiful to see how our Heavenly Father orchestrated His Kingdom to be connected. It is through the Holy Trinity. We are not alone. Those that are in His presence are pouring out prayers for us all on earth.   
                                                                                                                                                              Rev. 5: 6-8 And I saw in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, having seven horns, and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent forth into all the earth.
And he came, and he taketh it out of the right hand of him that sat on the throne.
And when he had taken the book, the four living creatures and the four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having each one a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
We are “one” in His Kingdom, connected together within the loving arms of the Holy Trinity. One of my favorite scripture stories where I can visualize this communion is in Rev. Not only does this story teach the unity of the Holy Trinity, it is a vision of Heaven and Earth coming together and partaking of the Holy Eucharist.                                                                                                                                                            
 Rev. 19: 6-10: And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunders, saying, Hallelujah: for the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigneth.
Let us rejoice and be exceeding glad, and let us give the glory unto him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.
And it was given unto her that she should array herself in fine linen, bright and pure: for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.
And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they that are bidden to the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are true words of God.
And I fell down before his feet to worship him. And he saith unto me, See thou do it not: I am a fellow-servant with thee and with thy brethren that hold the testimony of Jesus: worship God; for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
The Lord’s Prayer is answered in our lives when we pray: Matt. 6: 7-14,  Your Kingdom come..Your Will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Being an ex-Protestant, I know the Protestants view of the Lord’s Supper and it is only a memory to remember. They do not understand that a miracle takes place, and our Lord is present in the Eucharist and we are at the wedding feast every time we attend Mass. They look at this passage as a promise to be a part of the wedding feast when He returns. Not understanding His Kingdom was ushered in with the resurrection. Jesus speaks more about this wonderful gift He will be giving His church to be united in the Kingdom (heaven and earth) in the Gospel of John. The Eucharist unites us as “one” when we partake. John 6 26-27:  Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw signs, but because ye ate of the loaves, and were filled. 
Work not for the food which perisheth, but for the food which abideth unto eternal life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him the Father, even God, hath sealed. 
John 6: 54-58: He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life: and I will raise him up at the last day. 
For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 
He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood abideth in me, and I in him. 
As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father; so he that eateth me, he also shall live because of me. 
This is the bread which came down out of heaven: not as the fathers ate, and died; he that eateth this bread shall live forever. 6:60-67: Many therefore of his disciples, when the heard this, said, This is a hard saying; who can hear it? 
But Jesus knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at this, said unto them, Doth this cause you to stumble? 
What then if ye should behold the Son of man ascending where he was before? 
It is the spirit that giveth life; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I have spoken unto you are spirit, are are life. 
But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who it was that should betray him. 
And he said, For this cause have I said unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it be given unto him of the Father.
Upon this many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. 
Jesus said therefore unto the twelve, Would ye also go away?
To all my church family all around the world and to my family in heaven..Mother Mary and all the angels and saints..pray for us and we look forward every time we go to Mass seeing all of you in the  Eucharist, the Wedding Feast of the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world. Thank-you Jesus!