Question of the Day for Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Is It Idolatry?
Q. The Second Commandment forbids us to bow down before any graven image, any likeness of anything on earth. The Catholic Church has many icons and statues, often with kneelers in front of them. This seems to be inconsistent with the Second Commandment. We pray before these icons and statues, and to them. We venerate them and ask for intercession (Mary, the saints, etc.). To me this seems like “worship.”
Bill Sharp, via email
A. Here’s a reply from TCA columnist Father Ray Ryland, Ph.D., J.D
In Catholic Bibles, what you refer to as “the Second Commandment” is part of the First Commandment, not separate from it. Properly to understand the Church’s veneration of the saints, one must keep in mind the distinctions the Church makes in this regard. The cultus latria, worship, is directed to God alone, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. To the Blessed Virgin we offer hyperdulia. “Hyper” means “greatly exceeding the norm” and “dulia” means service. To the angels and the saints we offer cultus dulia. We commonly speak of “praying to the saints,” but this can be misleading. We pray only “to” God, because only God can answer prayer. Strictly speaking, we do not pray “to” the saints. We ask the saints to help us pray, to intercede for us, to add their prayers to ours.
Courtesy of Our Sunday Visitor: http://www.osv.com/TCANav/TCAQuestionoftheDay/Feb25March12013/tabid/8693/Default.aspx