|Photo Credits : Mars Hill Church|
Being a Catholic by birth and by choice, I hear about this word and am accused of this sin far too often than I am comfortable to admit. :( Honestly this accusation still hurts me every now and then (especially when the accusers are vile and rabid!) :( but since I know where I stand before the Lord, I just forgive them and allow myself to search my heart each and every time, if I am indeed guilty of this particular sin.
To some die-hard Fundamentalists and 'Christians', this is their "favorite sin" to condemn us Catholics with. The accusations are: that Catholics are idolators because we make use of graven images, 'bow down' to graven images, 'worship' statues, 'worship' Mother Mary, 'worship' saints, 'worship' angels, etc. etc. :( I can actually see where the judgment (or misjudgment) is stemming from, but it still hurts nonetheless, when one's own faith (which no human can "see") is being questioned and harshly judged by human standards. :(
I can only speak for myself, being a Catholic Christian, and this is what I have to say for myself on the issue of 'graven images':
|At my cousin A and Bubs' Wedding - 2008|
Jesus, Whom I consider my Lord and Savior, is in heaven and in my heart. Even without any statue, even with my eyes closed, even while sitting down or lying down, or just simply thinking of Him, I feel that I already am right there before Him, in His Presence. I do not NEED a statue or a graven image to pray to God. But sometimes it helps to have something to direct my attention towards, or something to focus on, other than a blank wall. But even without those, I do not really mind. In fact, our own home barely has any graven image. (We do have a crucifix on our wall.) Most Catholic homes have a whole room full of them.
|My grandparents and parents -- now all gone. :(|
I liken this to looking at the framed pictures of my dead parents and loved ones. When I see those pictures, it reminds me of them, but they, being not here anymore on this planet, I am well aware that the pictures are NOT really them, but of them.
And as for "bowing down to statues", it is a Catholic gesture of respect to God. God is in my heart and mind when I "see" or "bow" my head to it. The gesture is symbolic of my respect for the real God, not the graven image. I usually bow down my head when I am praying whether before meals, after meals, in the car, or while reflecting on God's Word... without any statue.
God is not in that graven image and my God definitely is not that graven image of Him, as I have explained. God is Spirit.
The Bible gives two versions of the Ten Commandments, in essential content identical, one in Exodus and another in Deuteronomy. The enumeration of the commandants (which is number one, which is two etc.) are traditional and neither contained in the texts nor obvious. The Catholic Church has traditionally used the Deuteronomy account and followed the division of the text given in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Scriptures made by second century BC Jews in Egypt and used by the early Church as its Old Testament. The Anglican Church and the Lutheran Church also use this account. The other Reformation churches use the Exodus listing, and adopted the Jewish enumeration of the Hebrew text.
The Commandants are probably best known from the traditional formulas used in catechesis.
Comparison of the Full Text
I am a Filipino and a Catholic Christian, and I have questioned the use of us Catholics of these graven images and some other practices that seem to me, unnecessary and sometimes, even confusing. Just to share a fact.. In the Philippines, out of the 96.8 million Filipinos, 76.18 million are Catholics. I am a cradle and cultural Catholic, and also a Catholic by choice. At this point in my life however, I don't just take in everything the Church says without much thought. I do not believe in everything that the Church tells me to do, hook, line and sinker just because it says so. I study it, find its source and meaning, and ponder over it. I am constantly in search for the Truth. Our Faith is rich in both oral and written tradition, and the Bible stems from those Sacred Traditions...
( Long Note: I find that defending my faith to people who are not open to what I have to share is senseless, i.e. people who are just looking for an opportunity to put me down for being 'Catholic'. I even had one instance when somebody from an independent 'Christian' sect said to me as a birthday "wish": "My "prayer" for you is that you see the light.", implying that he was "enlightened", and I was, well... "in the dark" because I was a Catholic. (Well, it was true that I was "in the dark" but not because I did not belong to their religion. It was because I was so full of myself and had myself as "idol.") Some have seemingly made it their "main goal" to 'open up the eyes' of us "Catholic pagans" (to their mind) by constantly posting offensive anti-Catholic posts on their Facebook pages -- one of the major reasons too why I had deactivated my personal account from that social network for good. I have always felt that debating and challenging each other and
| IDOLATRY AND BLASPHEMY! :(|
The Satanists' proposed monument at the Oklahoma state capitol depicts Baphomet,
a goat-headed pagan idol sitting on a 7-foot-tall throne inscribed with
an inverted pentagram. In an artist's rendering provided by the Satanic Temple,
smiling children look adoringly at the devilish figure.
26 "If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless."
|The Feast of the Black Nazarene every January 9 is a super well-attended event with millions joining the procession and some even getting hurt or dying because of the hugeness of the crowd, the heat of the sun and from mere exhaustion of accompanying the statue of Jesus as a Black Nazarene around the streets of Manila. :( Miracles supposedly abound in this yearly devotion.|
Here is the answer of Thomas, the Reflective Revert, a licensed marriage and family therapist, who left the Catholic Church for over 20 years only to go back again. He said it took a while but his relationship with Christ eventually led him back to Catholicism.
I will post here a copy of our exchange over this issue on "idolatry". The conversational exchange could be seen on his blog dated December 23, 2013:
"But I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve."
28 "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."
|Mr. and Mrs. Dong Alejar - Catholic Christians|
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
(Note: To those still interested in the issue of "ARE CATHOLICS GUILTY OF IDOLATRY?", please read this, -- a blog post by a fellow Filipino. I think he explained the issue far better than I ever could!)
With this particular issue of IDOLATRY out in the open, (Whoooo! That was haaaard!) allow me to explain further what is IDOLATRY, the type of idolatry which any Christian may commit whether he/she uses 'graven images' or not. (Note: ALL Catholics are Christians but not all Christians are Catholics.) But, before that...
First, let us define WORSHIP.
"Worship is responding to God for who He is, what He has done, and what He is doing. For an image bearer to worship, it means mirroring back to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit who they are in gratitude for What All Three have done. When we reflect God’s Thinking, love what God Loves, grieve over the Things that grieve God, and mirror the Mercy and Comfort God has shown us, this is WORSHIP."
Now, let us define IDOLATRY (the definition of 'worshiping graven images' explained above and put aside).
|April sets a loving example of what it is to be a |
I was guilty of idolatry! Not because of the graven images but because my heart was an idol factory!
(Note: April's a Southern Baptist Christian and my sister in Christ. Together with all the other "peaceful wives" around the world,we live by and spread God's Word, not by focusing on our differences,but by celebrating our common love for God and His Word. There's much room in Heaven for ALL of Christ's followers!:)
Idols can’t fulfill us. In fact – they will ultimately destroy us."
I highlighted in red all the important points. Everything April pointed out via Wes Church was so important though, I should just have reddened the whole text! :)
I also had 'addictions':
|I was addicted to compliments on my beauty.|
I 'worshiped' weight and beauty spending most of my waking hours dieting or exercising, so that I would not be called "fat" and I endlessly worried over not being fair-skinned enough, pretty enough, tall enough, sexy enough. In my mind, I was never "enough", so I developed an eating disorder and resorted to dressing in sexy clothes to be given attention, so I would be validated of my "attractiveness".
I 'worshiped' career believing that "if I put my heart and my mind to it, I can achieve success!". "Believe in myself!"; "Eyes towards the finish line!"; "The world is my oyster!"... These were some mantras that I chanted to myself daily, thinking that if only I were 'famous', I would be happy. I also was obsessed on becoming a 'successful' broadcaster, thinking that being such would validate me as a human being and that would mean that I mattered.
I 'worshiped' my father when he was alive and more so in his death. I craved for his attention, validation, approval and high opinion of me. I was in bondage for so many years over my abnormal fixation with Papa, which seeped through most areas in my life. I wrote about it in length here, here, and here.
|Isabelle Veronica, our 4th child :)|
After I gave birth to our fourth child on our ninth wedding anniversary, the Lord had instilled in me a desire so strong for Him to search my heart. He did. Then He convicted me of my many sins -- of pride, of envy, of self-righteousness, of being judgmental... for many days. When He 'showed' my numerous sins to me, I did not 'blink', but I cried for days and I could hardly speak.
When I found my voice after the Lord had removed every single filthy thing from my heart, I went to my husband. After submitting to God, it was time to submit to Dong. I told him that I no longer wanted to lead, that I just wanted to follow his leadership.
It was in this simple and humble gesture of submitting to my God-ordained authority over me, my husband, that He found the tiny opening He needed for Him to work His Miracles in my life. Little by little, my bondages were loosened and then broken, by His Able Hands. I was freed from the devil's strongholds that had me enchained for almost all of my 37 years on earth!!! By the time I turned 38, I was already a new me. The old Nikka was gone and the new Nikka has come. :)
2 Corinthians 5:16-18
16 "From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.[a] The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation"
True worship of the One True God brings glory to Him and satisfaction to me. My obedience to and worship of Jesus brings me peace, joy, fulfillment and contentment like nothing else can!
We Catholics are always being told that we 'worship' too many
"To God, when we put something in His rightful place of worship in our lives, when we live to glorify something other than God and we sacrifice in order to serve that idol – it is as detestable to Him as it would be to a husband to walk in on his wife with another man. God is a jealous God – and rightfully so. He alone deserves our worship. He alone deserves our praise. He will not share His glory with another. "
|Therese is named after St. Therese.|
|My favorite Saint, whose "way to heaven|
was being childlike in her faith in God." - St. Therese
There are Catholics who "pray" more to their patron saints than to Jesus.
There are Catholics who are more devoted to Our Holy Mother than to Our Heavenly Father.
There are Catholics who are more concerned with fiestas and processions over having a real, living relationship with Christ.
There are Catholics who attend mass every Sunday, but have no good works to show for their "faith" for the rest of the week. :(
Though I do not chastise people who pray the rosary, novenas and the like (God will judge us. I do not claim to know what is in people's hearts when they pray. I myself still do pray the rosary and I still love Mama Mary, the saints in heaven and our dearly departed....), I challenge you fellow Catholics to SIMPLIFY your prayers and strengthen your faith in Jesus Christ and in Him alone.
6 "Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
I look forward to reuniting with God, along with my brothers and sisters in Christ who loved Him and served Him while here on earth -- in spite of and regardless of denomination and religion. :)
May the Holy Triune God live in our hearts and in the hearts of all people.
May we all be richly blessed!!! :)