Kissing Statues

by Steve Ray on May 11, 2015

We are in Jerusalem today ready to pick up our group of 50 people at the airport in a few hours. When I woke up this morning to the Muslim “call to prayer”, church bells ringing and horns honking I read this email that came from the United Kingdom…

It read, “Hi Steve! I know you are a busy man. Please answer the above issue when the time permits you. I am a Catholic but I cannot accept the kissing of statues. It goes against my conscience.  I feel also it is against the bible teachings. Thanking you and awaiting your reply.”

I responded: Greetings from Jerusalem! I understand your sentiments and I don’t make a practice of going around kissing statues either though I have at times and certainly understand the reasoning and sentiment behind the action.

Notice the picture to the left. He is kneeling in front of a Bible. Is the man worshiping the Bible – he is kissing it after all. No, he loves the Word of God and is showing his love for God and his word. It is the same if a man kneels in front of a Bible while reading it.

 Imagine your wife, if you’re married, is in a different country for a while and you miss her. Every once in a while you take an old picture of your wedding out of your pocket and look at it and think of her and it makes you miss her and love her. Once in a while you might close your eyes and kiss the picture as a means of demonstrating your love and devotion to her and your union together.

 It’s no different with the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a saint or Jesus. It’s simply a way that people acknowledge and express their love and respect for the person behind the statue.

 Just like you don’t fall in love with a picture and begin to worship the picture of your wife, so Catholics don’t love the statue or worship it; they are simply expressing their love and respect for the person behind the statue or that the statute represents. 

 There’s no need to read anything more nefarious into the action than that. It is simply an act of devotion and love for Mary, for Jesus, or for our brothers and sisters the saints who are alive in heaven.

Paragraph 1192 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “Through sacred images of the holy Mother of God, of the angels and of the saints, we venerate the persons represented.” In other words, I as said above, we do not worship the image we love and honor the people they represent.

 If you understand it this way you will be understanding it properly and you will do well. 

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Walter Caancan July 26, 2015 at 11:52 PM

Hi, Steve,
I am a Discussion Group Leader in an ongoing Christian Life Program. Please help me answer the question asked by one of the participants: Is God Cruel? This was asked in the context of Noah’s Ark, Sodom and Gomorrah, some verses in Malachi, and the killing by the Levites of everyone who did not cross the line as believers. Thanks.

STEVE RAY HERE:
Walter: sorry I don’t have time to answer you in detail since I am leading a pilgrim group through Portugal Spain and France.

However, the answer is that God is not cruel but he is just and he punishes sin. In fact, he is so good and loving that he sent his own son to pay the penalty for our sins.

I would suggest you look up in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and study the section about God and his character and the retribution for sinfulness.

Also you can post your question on my discussion forum at http://forums.catholicconvert.com. There are many good folks there who can help you with your questions.

De Maria July 29, 2015 at 10:58 PM

Walter Caancan July 26, 2015 at 11:52 PM

Wow! That is a hard question, Walter. It reminds me of the reason why I’m on the internet. A long time ago, a child in my catechism class asked me, “Why doesn’t the Bible say anything about dinosaurs?” And the quest was on.

Hi, Steve,
I am a Discussion Group Leader in an ongoing Christian Life Program. Please help me answer the question asked by one of the participants: Is God Cruel? This was asked in the context of Noah’s Ark, Sodom and Gomorrah, some verses in Malachi, and the killing by the Levites of everyone who did not cross the line as believers. Thanks.

This is indeed a difficult question. And, before you answer it, you should discern whether it is asked:

A. In good faith by a faithful person struggling to understand Salvation history.

Or, B. By a skeptic seeking to justify his lack of faith or to disrupt your class.

I think, before you begin to respond, you should also define what “cruel” means.

cru·el
?kro?o(?)l/
adjective
willfully causing pain or suffering to others, or feeling no concern about it.

In the first case, for a faithful person, I think Steve’s response would suffice. He said, “However, the answer is that God is not cruel but he is just and he punishes sin. In fact, he is so good and loving that he sent his own son to pay the penalty for our sins.”

For the second case, the skeptic, I would begin with the definition of “cruelty” and try something like this:

Do you think that God willfully causes pain and suffering without concern for them? Assuming the answer is, “Yes. He seems very cruel in the OT when He sends the flood on all people including the infants and when He sends the Israelites to destroy all inhabitants of the “Promised Land”.

Oh, well, it does seem cruel when we look at it from man’s point of view. But do you know the circumstances as to why God willed that those people receive the death penalty?

Death penalty?

Yes.

Well, the flood was sent because they committed sins. But the people in the Promised Land just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

No. They were guilty of killing infants sacrificing them to their gods.

They were?

Yes.

Well, God killed infants, too!

Yes, but the infants that died in that period were saved from winding up in hell as they had not yet committed any willful sins.

And I would try to guide the conversation to the conclusion that God is good and can be trusted to do the best for all people’s eternal good. Some however, have piled so many sins up against them, that like Pharaoh, God simply uses them as an example for us, to warn us not to do as they have done.

Heb 3:7 Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice,
8 Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:
9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years.
10 Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways.
11 So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)
12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.

I hope that helps.

Sincerely,

De Maria

Leave a Comment

 

Previous post:

Next post: