2

The Catholic Mass

Mass

The Mass is the most important and sacred act of worship in the Catholic Church.

The Mass incorporates the Bible (Sacred Scripture), prayer, sacrifice, hymns, symbols, gestures, sacred food for the soul, and directions on how to live a Catholic life — all in one ceremony. Through time and space, we connect with the original Last Supper.

The Church teaches that the Mass is the re-presentation of the sacrifice of Calvary. This is misunderstood by many who claim that the Mass is a re-crucifixion of Christ.

It is not.

Jesus Christ celebrated the first Mass with His disciples at the Last Supper, the night before He died. He commanded His disciples, “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). The celebration of the Mass then became the main form of worship in the early Church, (2000 years ago) as a reenactment of the Last Supper, as Christ had commanded.

Each and every Mass since commemorates Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross through the Holy Eucharist. Because the Mass “re-presents” (makes present) the sacrifice on Calvary, Catholics all around the world join together to be made present in Christ’s timeless sacrifice for our sins. There is something fascinating about continuing to celebrate the same Mass—instituted by Christ and practiced by the early Church.

Study Church history and see how the early Christians celebrated Mass, and you will see it is the same as how Catholics celebrate it today.

Attending Mass is not just an obligation, it’s a privilege.
God knows we need it, and it is His gift to us. Mass should be the highlight of our week. We should look forward to going, and when we don’t, it’s a reminder that we need to work harder to more fully understand the reality of what happens at Mass. If you are a Catholic, you are supposed to go to Mass every week, and on Holy Days of Obligation. If you don’t understand the Mass, or are bored, and are looking for better “entertainment” – then pray for understanding.

We don’t go to Mass to be entertained, or demand that the priest’s homily be exciting, or if it isn’t we aren’t going back. Some priests are more gifted with amazing homilies. Some are not. Pray for them all and go to Mass regardless. If you’re looking for great entertainment every week, your priorities are all wrong. Go whether you feel like going or not. Love is much more than feelings. (You feed your children every day out of love for them, whether you feel like it or not.) Going to Mass is good for your eternal soul.

It’s human and natural to forget, want to sleep in, take it for granted, or become numb to it, but we have to continually work to overcome that trap. The devil is real and loves it when you stay home. At Mass we are being offered the greatest gift God has to offer – the source and summit of our Faith, Jesus Christ Himself in the Eucharist.

Learn your faith. Ask questions, study, read the Catholic Bible, and learn what it means to be a Catholic Christian. So many Catholics stopped learning about their faith after their Confirmation. Some of the most passionate Catholics today are those who converted to Catholicism as an adult, and understand the meaning of the Mass and the Eucharist. So many of us did not understand the beautiful truth of our faith when we were young, but are now re-discovering the truth and beauty of it as adults. Learn your faith and learn why we do what we do. Don’t be tempted to leave the church, founded by Jesus Christ, for better entertainment, and if you have, please come back.

At Mass we get down on our knees to humble ourselves before our King. It’s not about “us” remember. We go for Him. We understand the importance of the sacred and the holy, and how truth and beauty draw us closer to God, so that we can bring His love to others. We need God, though so many in our world today tell you not to worry about what God thinks of you, but only how you treat and love each other. Of course Jesus wants us to love one another – we love and serve the lonely, the sick, the poor, the disabled, those in prison, the immigrants, men, women and children around the world, but we also love and care what our loving God thinks of us, and we worship Him as Jesus instructed us to do 2000 years ago.

When we receive the Eucharist, we truly, physically receive the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ, of God Himself – at every Mass. If you’re looking for a personal relationships with Jesus Christ, you can’t get any more personal than when you receive Him in the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the source and summit of our Catholic faith. Christ is truly present in the Eucharist with or without a dynamic homily.

Notice how it is the altar that is front and center at a Mass, not the pulpit or a personality. Notice how when the priest and deacon enter and leave Mass, they bow down and kiss the altar. They aren’t kissing a pulpit.
The Mass is a sacrifice.

We go to Mass to worship God, hear His holy word in the Liturgy of the Word, and receive Christ’s body, blood, soul and divinity in the Eucharist. An inspiring homily and beautiful music absolutely add to the beauty of the Mass, but even without these things, Christ is truly present in the Eucharist. That alone should make you want to never skip Mass, be there on time, not leave early without a good reason, and thank God for this wonderful gift.

Read, study, seek more understanding, and most of all, pray that you will come to a better appreciation and love for this most beautiful gift that Jesus Christ instituted at the Last supper 2000 years ago.

God loves you. If you haven’t been in a while. Please go. And keep going back.

Wishing you all a beautiful Sunday!

In Christ,

Liz

Advertisements
0

The Catholic Bible

30424959_1641888422527375_8706541755552671205_o

The Catholic Church strongly encourages everyone to read the Bible every day for private devotion, to memorize it, love it, and to study it diligently. At every Sunday Mass the Holy Word of God is proclaimed, with readings from the Old Testament, New Testament and Holy Gospel.

But remember, just because you can quote scripture, it doesn’t mean you are interpreting it correctly. Even the devil quoted scripture and used it to promote evil. Anyone can take words from scripture and justify just about anything today. Misinterpretation of Scripture can result in selective acceptance of the truths contained there. Without an authority (the Magisterium) to help us interpret scripture, scripture could be interpreted with having opposite meanings. God is a God of order, not disorder. Truth (God) does not contradict Himself.

Where did the Bible come from? It didn’t just fall out of the sky. And how do we know what books belong in the Bible?

It was the authority of the Catholic Church, in the fourth century, that determined which books were inspired and belonged in the Bible. Think about it. The Bible does not have an inspired table of contents. This list of inspired books is an essential religious truth not contained in the Bible. Therefore, at least one essential religious truth – the contents of the Bible – is found “outside” the Bible.

Jesus left us the Church, which came before the Bible. How did people learn about Jesus after he was crucified, but before the Bible was put together by Catholics in the fourth century? Oral tradition. We trust the Church, established by Jesus Christ, to tell us what books belong in the Bible, and assure us that everything in it is inspired.

Many people, including many protestant pastors, have converted to Catholicism on the issue of authority. Today there is one Catholic Church, yet over 30,000 different protestant denominations, which started breaking away from the church during the Reformation – hundreds of years after the Bible was compiled.

Among all the Christian churches, only the Catholic Church has existed since the time of Jesus. Every other Christian church is an offshoot of the Catholic Church. The Eastern Orthodox churches broke away from unity with the pope in 1054. The Protestant churches were established during the Reformation, which began in 1517. Most of today’s Protestant churches are actually offshoots of the original Protestant offshoots, each with their own man made traditions.

Only the Catholic Church existed in the tenth century, in the fifth century, and in the first century, faithfully teaching the doctrines given by Christ to the apostles, omitting nothing. The line of popes can be traced back, in unbroken succession, to Peter himself. This is unequaled by any institution in history.

Even the oldest government is new compared to the papacy, and the churches to which door-to-door missionaries belong are young compared to the Catholic Church. Many of these churches began as recently as the nineteenth or twentieth centuries. None of them can claim to be the Church Jesus established.

In Matthew 16:18, Jesus creates and builds His Church (not “churches”) on Peter, the Rock. Even hell can’t stop the everlasting existence of His Church. “And I say to you, that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. ”

Jesus left us a Church, giving our first Pope, Saint Peter, the “keys to His kingdom” to be the leader of His Church. In the following verse 19, Jesus gives Peter the keys to the kingdom:

“And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound, even in heaven. And whatever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed, even in heaven.”

Despite humans messing things up at times, the Catholic Church was founded by Christ, and will FOREVER be guided by the Holy Spirit until the end of time, as quoted in scripture:

“I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. John 16:12-13

Jesus would not have left His church without an authority to guide us in Truth. The Catholic Church existed long before the Bible. The Bible is the product of the Catholic Church. Catholic popes and bishops decided what books belonged in the Bible in the 4th century. This means that the Bible is not the sole rule of faith for Christians, but rather “the Church is the pillar and foundation of the truth” as it says in I Timothy 3:15.

The deposit of faith given the Church by Jesus Christ includes both Holy Tradition and Holy Scripture. The Gospel is both God’s unwritten and written word, not, rather, simply the written word only. As Pope Benedict observed, “Ultimately, it is the living Tradition of the Church which makes us adequately understand sacred Scripture as the word of God” (Verbum Domini, 17-18).

To trust the Bible is to trust the authority of the Catholic Church.

And why does the Catholic Bible have 73 books, while Protestant Bibles only have 66 – and why does it even matter which Bible you use?

Some protestants believe that the Catholic Church added seven books, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The Catholic Bible contains 46 Old Testament books while Protestant Bibles include 39. (Protestants and Catholics accept the same 27 books of the New Testament as inspired an…d canonical.) The Old Testament books found in Catholic Bibles, but omitted from Protestant Bibles, are the Books of Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach (or Ecclesiasticus), First and Second Maccabees, Baruch, and parts of Daniel and Esther. Catholics call these books deuterocanonical works; Protestants call them the Apocrypha.

But why the difference?

First of all, as stated above, the official canon of the Bible was authoritatively determined by the Catholic Church in the fourth century by Catholic councils and Catholic popes. It is from the Catholic Church that the Protestants have a Bible at all. (Even Martin Luther agrees with this.) To trust the Bible is to trust the authority of the Church which guarantees the Bible.

Prior to the 16th century, no Christian community in the world disputed these seven, so-called “disputed” i.e. “Apocrypha”) books, and the Christian Old Testament was a matter of uncontested faith. Each of the seven rejected books is quoted by early Church Fathers as “Scripture” or as “inspired right along with the undisputed books.

Then in the 16th century, Martin Luther, a former Catholic priest and the father of Protestantism, decided to remove 7 books from the Bible. (By what authority you should ask?) As a result they truncated the Old Testament down to 39 books, and deleted entire chapters from the Old Testament books of Daniel and Esther. These books were removed, even though these books had been regarded as canonical since the beginning of Church history.

Martin Luther also deleted four books from the New Testament (Hebrews, James, Jude and Revelation), but his followers placed those books back in after his death. In 1534, he translated the Bible into German and grouped the seven deuterocanonical books of the Old Testament under the title “Apocrypha,” declaring. “These are books which are not held equal to the Sacred Scriptures and yet are useful and good for reading”. Some speculate he wanted to remove anything which he disagreed with, such as praying for the dead. (2 Maccabees 12:42-45)

Martin Luther said that he wanted to “throw Jimmy into the fire”, and that the book of James was “an epistle of straw. He added the word “alone” to Sacred Scripture in his German translation of Romans 3:28, implying that Christians are saved by faith alone. He took it upon himself to change the understanding of the Bible around to fit his own particular theology. The only time you actually do see the words faith and alone together in a sentence is in James 2:24, where James says, “See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone”. (James 2:24)

A question to ask is this: By what authority did Martin Luther have to remove seven books from the Bible, – books that had been a part of the Bible since the beginning of Church history, and what would prevent someone else from doing the exact same thing today?

It’s interesting to note that when Jesus addressed the Diaspora Jews (who spoke Greek) he quoted from the Septuagint version of the scriptures, which includes these seven books that are not found in the Protestant Bible. Which Old Testament would you rather use – the Old Testament used by Jesus, the New Testament writers and the early Church, or the Old Testament used by later Jews who had rejected Christ and persecuted Christianity?

How do we know what books belong in the Bible? We trust the infallible Church established by Jesus Christ Himself. Remember, the Church came before the Bible. The Church tells us what belongs in the Bible and assures us that everything in it is inspired. So please be sure the Bibles in your homes are Catholic Bibles, and contain all of the 73 books.

Read your Bibles every day, take Bible classes, learn and love your Catholic faith – then share it with others. One of the greatest gifts we’ve been blessed with is our Catholic faith. Treasure it, be humble and grateful for this beautiful gift.

 

0

Why do Catholic kneel during Mass?

27540727_1574496649266553_6234836325019067605_n

Why do Catholics kneel during Mass? We kneel because we are in the presence of God. Kneeling is a very meaningful and intimate gesture, and it expresses adoration and shows our reverence towards Him.

We live in a society today that in many ways has lost reverence for things which are holy and sacred. We approach God in a way that is casual, almost as if He is on the same level as us. This lack of reverence can reflect a lack of humility. When we kneel we remind ourselves that we are not God and we are not in charge; rather, we are only creatures before our Lord.

Kneeling in God’s presence during Mass emphasizes the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and how much we love and adore our King. St. Paul says, “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (Philippians 2:10). Like St. Paul, we get down on our knees during Mass and humbly adore Him.

 

4

Why does it matter if you leave the Catholic Church?

catholic sign

Why does it matter if you leave the Catholic Church?
 
It matters because as Catholics we think it is important to belong to the Church that Christ founded 2000 years ago. It matters because when you leave the Catholic Church, you leave the Eucharist – and all the sacraments that Christ Himself instituted. It matters because as Catholics we believe the Church contains the fullness of the truth because it was founded by Christ Himself.
 
What is the “pillar and foundation of truth”? According to the Bible, it is the Church:
 
1 Timothy 3: 14-15 “I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these instructions to you so that, if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth.” Jesus left us a Church to guide us in Truth. He chose Peter as the first Pope when He said, “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). And then, this Church – the Catholic Church, decided what books belonged in the Bible in the 4th century. It was the authority of the Catholic Church that decided what books were inspired and belonged in the Bible. (Think about this – something “outside” the Bible determined what books belonged in the Bible.) The Catholic Church came before the Bible.
 
This does not mean that we think other religions and Christian denominations do not contain any truth, for they do. But the Catholic Church, since it was founded by Jesus, contains the fullness of truth, so we think it is very important to belong to the church that Christ founded, and share our faith with our children, grandchildren, and others.
 
There are many things christians have in common that we should celebrate – mainly our belief in Jesus Christ. Many say as long as we agree on the essentials it’s all good, and that it doesn’t matter what church you go to.
 
But who decides what is “essential”?
 
To a Catholic, the Eucharist is essential. Catholics believe that the Eucharist is truly the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ. To many non-Catholics, it is merely a symbol.
 
To a Catholic, baptizing our children is essential. To many others, it doesn’t matter if you wait until the teenage years.
 
To a Catholic, our love and devotion to our Blessed Mother is essential. To many non-Catholics, our Blessed Mother is only thought about (if at all), during Christmas.
 
To a Catholic, the belief that all life is to be protected from conception to natural death is essential. To many others faiths, abortion and euthanasia are justified.
 
To a Catholic the belief that marriage is a sacrament, and is between one man and one woman is essential. To many others, marriage can easily be re-defined, and living together before marriage is no big deal because everybody is doing it.
 
To a Catholic, being required to go to Mass every Sunday is essential. To many others, its no big deal to miss Mass if you’re on vacation, want to sleep in, or think you can just watch it on TV.
 
To a Catholic, praying for the souls in purgatory is essential. To other christian faiths, they think purgatory doesn’t exist and is something they think Catholics made up. (Even though purgatory has been part of the church history for 2000 years. – Actually, the Jews prayed for the dead before Christ was born so there is both scripture and tradition to support it centuries before this.)
 
All of these “essentials” matter to a Catholic.
 
Does this mean that Catholics are holier than non-Catholics? Absolutely not. Some of the holiest people I know are Catholic, and some of the most unholiest people I know are Catholic. We’ve been given this beautiful gift of our Catholic faith, and yet too many of us have taken it for granted, pick and choose what we want to believe, or have not appreciated what we have.
 
The Catholic Church is both human and divine. Because it is divine, it will last forever. Because it is human, it will have scandals, and sinful people in it, just like what you will find in all denominations and religions. Scandals do not prove that the Catholic Church is false. They only prove what is obvious: that the Church contains sinners as well as saints.
 
Despite humans messing things up at times, the Catholic Church was founded by Christ, and will FOREVER be guided by the Holy Spirit until the end of time, as quoted in scripture:
 
“I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. John 16:12-13
 
“I am with you always, to the close of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20
 
Among all the Christian churches, only the Catholic Church has existed since the time of Jesus. Every other Christian church is an offshoot of the Catholic Church. The Eastern Orthodox churches broke away from unity with the pope in 1054. The Protestant churches were established during the Reformation, which began in 1517. Most of today’s Protestant churches are actually offshoots of the original Protestant offshoots, each with their own man made traditions.
 
Only the Catholic Church existed in the tenth century, in the fifth century, and in the first century, faithfully teaching the doctrines given by Christ to the apostles, omitting nothing. The line of popes can be traced back, in unbroken succession, to Peter himself. This is unequaled by any institution in history.
 
Even the oldest government is new compared to the papacy, and the churches to which door-to-door missionaries belong are young compared to the Catholic Church. Many of these churches began as recently as the nineteenth or twentieth centuries. None of them can claim to be the Church Jesus established.
 
The Catholic Church has existed for 2,000 years, despite constant opposition from the world. This is testimony to the Church’s divine origin. It must be more than a merely human organization, especially considering that its human members—even some of its leaders—have been unwise, corrupt, or prone to heresy. Any merely human organization with such members would have collapsed early on. The fact that the Catholic Church is today the most vigorous church (and the largest, with about a billion members) is testimony not to the cleverness of the Church’s leaders, but to the protection of the Holy Spirit.
 
If you have never studied Church history, study it now and see what the early Church was really like, what Catholics believed, and what they practiced. If you study it you will see that the early Church was totally Catholic. The early Church believed in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist; Early Christians did pray for their dead; Christ did give the apostles the power to forgive sins; Peter was clearly chosen by Christ as the leader of His Church; Mary was loved and honored by the early Christians; Whole households (including babies) were baptized. Think about it – if you are looking for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you can’t get more personal than when you receive His body, blood, soul, and divinity in the holy Eucharist, and are a part of the actual Church that Christ founded.
 
It’s important to know history, know why we are Catholic, and embrace the beauty and truth of our faith. So many people, including many protestant pastors, converted to the Catholic Church after studying Church history, particularly regarding the issue of authority. Two great books to read on church history are: “Four Witnesses”, by Rod Bennett, and “Where we got the Bible: Our debt to the Catholic Church” by Henry Graham. Two great sites that have helped many people on their journey to the Catholic faith are Catholics Come Home –www.catholicscomehome.org. and The Coming Home Network – http://www.chnetwork.org.
 
The Catholic Church, founded by Christ, contains the fullness of Truth. Be humble and grateful as you embrace the beautiful gift of our Catholic faith. Never stop seeking truth. Be thankful for all seven of our sacraments. Pray every day and develop a personal relationship with Jesus and our dear blessed mother, and pass on your faith and traditions to your children and grandchildren. Let us all spread the joy and beauty of our Catholic faith!
 
If we don’t, who will? ❤
0

It’s Friday – No Meat Today

No Meat

Remember, it’s Friday – No Meat Today! 

Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of abstinence. Abstinence refers to the avoidance of certain foods. The most common form of abstinence is the avoidance of meat, a spiritual practice that goes back to the earliest days of the Church.

Catholics over the age of 14 are required to abstain from meat and from foods made with meat in honor of the Passion of Jesus on Good Friday.

According to the USCCB, “abstinence laws consider that meat comes only from animals such as chicken, cows, sheep or pigs – all of which live on land. Birds are also considered meat. Abstinence does not include meat juices and liquid foods made from meat. Thus, such foods as chicken broth, consomme, soups cooked or flavored with meat, meat gravies or sauces, as well as seasonings or condiments made from animal fat are technically not forbidden. However, moral theologians have traditionally taught that we should abstain from all animal-derived products (except foods such as gelatin, butter, cheese and eggs, which do not have any meat taste). Fish are a different category of animal. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles (cold-blooded animals) and shellfish are permitted.”

Many Catholics do not realize that the Church still recommends abstinence on all Fridays of the year, not just during Lent. In fact, if we don’t abstain from meat on non-Lenten Fridays, we’re required to substitute some other form of penance.

Wishing you all a very holy Lent!

3

Are you saved?

25299031_1525176590865226_4384174085006437553_n

Are you saved?

Have you ever been asked this question? Has anyone ever told you that Catholics think they can work their way into Heaven, or that we are not saved unless we say out loud that we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior? That, if we do this, our salvation is absolutely assured and we can know with certainty that we are going straight to Heaven, regardless of anything we may do ornot do in the future?

The Catholic Church does not now, nor has it ever, taught a doctrine of salvation by works – that we can “work” our way into Heaven. And, the Bible does not teach that we are saved by “faith alone.” The only place in all of Scripture where the phrase “Faith Alone” appears, is in James 2:24, where it says that we are not justified (or saved) by faith alone.

If works have nothing to do with our salvation, then how come every passage in the New Testament that talks about judgment says we will be judged by our works, not by whether or not we have faith alone? (See Rom 2, Matthew 15 and 16, 1 Ptr 1, Rev 20 and 22, 2 Cor 5, and many, many more verses). Scripture is crystal-clear that once saved does not mean always saved.

If we are saved by faith alone, why does 1 Cor 13:13 say that love is greater than faith? Should it not be the other way around?

As Catholics we believe that we are saved by God’s grace alone. We can do nothing, apart from God’s grace, to receive the free gift of salvation. We also believe, however, that we have to respond to God’s grace. Protestants believe that, too. However, many Protestants believe that the only response necessary is an act of faith; whereas, Catholics believe a response of “faith and works” is necessary, or, as the Bible puts it in Galatians 5:6, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love.” (Just as the Church teaches.)

St. Paul said he needed to work out his salvation with “fear and trembling.” If anyone professed their faith in Jesus it was Paul. If he felt so assured of his salvation because of his faith alone in Jesus, why then would he be trembling, and have to “work out” his salvation?

If you think about it, even the devil believes in God. Belief is not enough. St. James tells us, “So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead” (James 2:17)

So, the next time someone asks you if you are saved, the Catholic should reply:

As the Bible says, I am already saved (Rom. 8:24, Eph. 2:5–8), but I’m also being saved (1 Cor. 1:8, 2 Cor. 2:15, Phil. 2:12), and I have the hope that I will be saved (Rom. 5:9–10, 1 Cor. 3:12–15). Like the apostle Paul I am working out my salvation in fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12), with hopeful confidence in the promises of Christ (Rom. 5:2, 2 Tim. 2:11–13).”

11

Catholics do not worship statues . . .

14910302_1146935965355959_2373718046047632366_n

Do Catholics worship statues or images?

No.

Catholics use statues, paintings, and other artistic devices to recall the person or thing depicted. Just as it helps to remember one’s mother by looking at her photograph, so it helps to recall the example of the saints by looking at pictures or statues of them.

Catholics also use statues as teaching tools. In the early Church they were especially useful for the instruction of the illiterate. Many Protestants have pictures of Jesus and other Bible pictures in Sunday school for teaching certain people and have three-dimensional nativity scenes at Christmas.

God forbids the worship of images as gods, but he doesn’t ban the making of images. If he had, religious movies, videos, photographs, paintings, and all similar things would be banned. It is when people begin to adore a statue as a god that the Lord becomes angry. Thus when people did start to worship the bronze serpent as a snake-god (whom they named “Nehushtan”), the righteous king Hezekiah had it destroyed (2 Kgs. 18:4).

Think about Mt. Rushmore, the Lincoln Memorial, the 911 Memorial in New York, and all the statues in Washington D.C. and around the world. People go to see these statues and stand in front of them, sometimes bow their heads in prayer, or stand their staring at the statue or piece of marble in awe. Does this mean these people are worshiping these statues? Absolutely not.

Since many Catholics sometimes bow or kneel in front of statues of Jesus and the saints, many non-Catholics confuse the legitimate veneration of a sacred image with the sin of idolatry. Catholics do not believe their statues, made of plaster, are God. A statue, or any other piece of religious art, is intended to draw the soul deeper into prayer by helping the senses to recall the mystery that it represents. Crucifixes, a statue of Mary or stain glass windows help for a soul to meditate and contemplate the great mysteries of God.

Though bowing can be used as a posture in worship, not all bowing is worship. In Japan, people show respect by bowing in greeting (the equivalent of the Western handshake). Similarly, a person can kneel before a king without worshiping him as a god. In the same way, a Catholic who may kneel in front of a statue while praying isn’t worshiping the statue or even praying to it, any more than the Protestant who kneels with a Bible in his hands when praying is worshiping the Bible or praying to it.

The bottom line is, when God made the New Covenant with us, he did reveal himself under a visible form in Jesus Christ. For that reason, we can make representations of God in Christ. Even Protestants use all sorts of religious images: Pictures of Jesus and other biblical persons appear on a myriad of Bibles, picture books, T-shirts, jewelry, bumper stickers, greeting cards, compact discs, and manger scenes. Christ is even symbolically represented through the Icthus or “fish emblem.”

Common sense tells us that, since God has revealed himself in various images, most especially in the incarnate Jesus Christ, it’s not wrong for us to use images of these forms to deepen our knowledge and love of God. That’s why God revealed himself in these visible forms, and that’s why statues and pictures are made of them.

The Church absolutely recognizes and condemns the sin of idolatry. What non-Catholics fail to recognize is the distinction between thinking a piece of stone or plaster is a god and desiring to visually remember Christ and the saints(who are alive in heaven, not dead) by making statues in their honor.

The making and use of religious statues is a thoroughly biblical practice, and a beautiful way to deepen your faith and grow closer to Christ.