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Pinoy Defensor Fidei – Catholic Christian Brotherhood

To those who do not believe in veneration of statues, pictures, crucifixes and other images of Christianity

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To those who do not believe in veneration of statues, pictures, crucifixes and other images of Christianity

bullet We must first note here that it can readily be seen from the very beginning that Christians adorned their catacombs with paintings of Christ, of the Saints, and of scenes from the Bible, including parts of Our Lord’s Passion such as His crowning.
bullet Next we note many ancient writings which reference pictures and statues commonly used by Christians in the early centuries of the Church including St. Ambrose (d. 397) and St. Augustine (d. 430) each referring several times to pictures of our Lord and the saints in churches, St. Jerome (d. 420) also writes of pictures of the Apostles as well-known ornaments of churches, Gregory of Tours (d. 594) says that a Frankish woman, who built a church of St. Stephen, showed the artists who painted its walls how they should represent the Saints out of a book. St. Nilus in the fifth century blames a friend for wishing to decorate a church with profane ornaments, and exhorts him to replace these by scenes from Scripture. St. Cyril of Alexandria (d. 444) was also a great a defender of icons in the Church. These are just a few examples.
bullet The conclusion here is that the principle of adorning chapels and churches with pictures dates from the very earliest Christian times. Centuries before the Iconoclast troubles they were in use throughout Christendom. So also all the old Christian Churches in East and West used holy pictures constantly.
bullet Next we note the Council of Nicaea II (787) approved of veneration of images, and forbade adoration of them. The Catholic Church and Orthodox churches have always followed decisions of this Council since.
bullet As additional proof that Catholics do not “worship” or idolize such images, we can clearly see in the document “Veneration of Images” in the Catholic Encyclopedia (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07664a.htm) that the Catholic Church has always allowed ONLY veneration but never worship of pictures, statues and the like.
bullet Some non-Catholics may still somehow insist that veneration of a picture or statue is somehow idolatry or superstition regardless of the proof we provide above. To this we ask, do you have pictures of loved ones around your home as reminders of them? If so, do you love the actual pictures and frames they are in, or do you love who the pictures remind you of? And if you kneel to read a prayer from a prayer book, are you worshipping the prayer book or just using it as an aid? I think we all know the answers to these questions.
bullet Now let us consider the definition of prayer from “A Catholic Dictionary” (1958) which states that prayer is the “raising of our mind and heart to God”. Hence anything that raises our thoughts heavenward is prayerful.
bullet Let us now consider the average Christian home today. Many do not have a single symbol of Christianity in any room, but rather are filled with modern art that appeal to sensual rather than the spiritual side of our nature. The Catholic home (especially the devout Catholic home) will be filled with pictures and/or statues of Our Lord, or crucifixes instead of modern art. The result? Looking around a home such as this will constantly “raise the mind and heart to God” for everyone in the family, which is what prayer does. This is clearly not worship but rather an aid. While a family who owns a home filled with modern art will always be thinking on “earthly” levels and will scarcely give Our Lord a second thought throughout the day. Scripture tells us to pray often, so a prayerful home is much better than a non-prayerful home.
bullet In summary, statues, pictures and the like are a constant inspiration to pious thoughts. They are not ornaments or objects of idolatry or superstition, but prayer aids. Even a short look is an effective means of prayer! Not to have any pictures or statues is a denial that Jesus is master of our households.  We all know what Our Lord thought of those who refused to publicly acknowledge Him. No amount of prayer aids is too many, and makes the task of raising our children in the love of God that much easier




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