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The Catholic Church and images

19 Feb 2016, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Doctrines

One cannot help but admire how St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City is adorned with beautifully made images of ‘adorable’ Son and daughters of the Church. These images of men and women who lived exemplary life; the images of Jesus and Mary are boldly and proudly displayed to tell the world that the Church is not afraid or ashame to be associated with the use of images. We are not fools; we are not pagans; we know what we are doing.Image of Mary

The onlookers may not really understand, so they take it for idolatry, but one has to go beyond flesh and blood to meet with the spirit. We look beyond that that meets the eyes to see which only the eyes of faith can see. He who remains at the physical realm will judge and condemn the Catholic Church, but he who has the legs and eyes to walk in the spirit will bow in amazement to how close God is to us in created things.

St. Paul wrote: Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse. Rom. 1:20.

You need to rise above these created things to see God in them with the eyes of faith. Paul insists that the Romans have no excuse to believe God because his invisible nature is visible to them; they only need to activate their eyes of faith.

This is not a call to worship created things because they reflect the glory of God does not qualify them to be worshiped; God alone is to be worshiped. But he has given man the skills to devise artistic work for his glory; that is what he said to Moses when he commanded him to build an altar for him. The Lord said to Moses: See, I have called by name Bezalel son of Uri son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: and have filled him with the divine spirit, with ability, intelligence, and knowledge in every kind of craft, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, in every kind of craft. Moreover, I have appointed with him Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan; and have given skills to all the skillful, so that they may make all that I have commanded you. Ex. 31:1-6. These are for the glory of God and not to be worshiped.

MosesSome people ask, why do you Catholics make images against the commandment of God? But I ask, is God forbidding us to make images, or is he forbidding the worship of images? They are two different things; to make images and to worship images. Did God not command Moses to make images of angels with gold? (Ex. 25:18). Why are people ignorantly attacking the Catholic Church?

The Catholic Church is the Church of Christ, a Church founded on a rock, a Church with the ‘keys.’ We cannot worship images; it is not possible in the Catholic Church because it is a Church of the living God. The images you see in the Catholic Church are not to be worship. I will show you the difference between the making of images and the worship of images in the bible.

In Ex.32, Aaron made an image of a Calf, and the bible also tells us that in the book of Numbers 21:8f, Moses made an image. They were both images, but God was pleased with one and was angry about the other. Why? Because one was worshiped, and the other was not worshiped. The problem, therefore, is not the making of images but the worship of images. If the making of images is bad, God wouldn’t have asked Moses to make an image. They said it is against God’s law to make any image, yet the same God asked Moses to make an image of a serpent, and that image became a medium through which God’s healing power reached his people. It wasn’t the image that healed the people but God’s healing power. So, the Blessed Virgin Mary’s images in the Catholic Church and other images of Saints and angels are like the bronze serpent that was not worshiped but became a medium through which God’s power reaches his people.  Any Catholic who worships any image is going against the teachings of the Catholic Church and the Bible’s teachings. When you see me bow before the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary or that of Jesus, it does not mean that I worship those images; far from it, my faith goes beyond those images; it rises over and above those images to unite with the reality; the one and true God.

Some may accuse us of keeping images, yet they have the images of their loved ones hanging in their homes. Do they worship them? Whenever you kiss your Mother’s picture, what are you doing? Are you just kissing a piece of paper? No, not at all; you express your love for the reality the picture stands for; YOUR MOTHER.

We are proud of our Catholic faith; the gates of hell will not prevail against it.

  • Anvel Matilda Zoommen Reply

    Good work keep it up there are some things that one is not aware of, but with this we come to know more about our Catholic doctrine, may God continue to give you more wisdom to carry on this task ahead

  • Spirit Reply

    What a teaching, wow, well-done padre, may you remain strengthened by the merciful father amen.

  • Thomas Chigozie Reply

    Nice one indeed….
    We keep pictures of our departed loved ones for so many reasons, remind us esp d newly born of how they looked, 2. To show we love them, 3. As a mark of respect for them. These are still d reasons images are found in the church.

  • Njideofor Ogoo Reply

    The Catholic Church is richly blessed.

  • Urhiephro Alexander Reply

    I want to thank you for the good work you are doing. This knowledge is very important at this time when most youth do not know the faith of the Catholic Church. I want you to enlighten me on the question from the Penny Catechism book Catholic Christian Doctrine: Who made you?