Saturday, April 16, 2011

Veneration, Worship, and All That

I am a practicing Catholic.

That means that I need to take what the Catholic Church says seriously.

So I am strictly, sternly, and definitely not allowed to worship Mary, the tree outside my window, or Elvis.

It's in the rules:
"Jesus summed up man's duties toward God in this saying: 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.'1 This immediately echoes the solemn call: 'Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God is one LORD.'2

"God has loved us first. The love of the One God is recalled in the first of the 'ten words.' The commandments then make explicit the response of love that man is called to give to his God.


"I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them.3

"It is written: "'You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'4

"I. 'You Shall Worship the Lord Your God and Him Only Shall You Serve'

"God makes himself known by recalling his all-powerful, loving, and liberating action in the history of the one he addresses: 'I brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.' The first word contains the first commandment of the Law: 'You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve him. . . . You shall not go after other gods.'5 God's first call and just demand is that man accept him and worship him."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2083-2084)
That's clear enough.

Or, maybe not quite clear enough.

Mary, Jesus, and Getting a Grip

That prolific correspondent, Anonymous, left a comment yesterday:
"Anonymous said...

"Study the history of the Catholic Church and you will see why Protestants were/are so against Catholics. The Inquisition, Hitler, Lincolns Assassination, The Illuminati, The Ukashi. THe Catholic Church is the Whore of Revelation.

"Open Your Eyes, Jesus Christ is Lord. Not the Virgin Mary.
"April 15, 2011 5:11 PM"
(comment on "Catholics Not Allowed to Read Bible!! Catholic Church Banned Bible Ownership!!" (January 27, 2009))
I don't expect to change the views of anyone who is determined to believe that the Catholic Church killed Lincoln and worships Mary.

There's a fair amount of confusion, I think, about what the Catholic Church has to say about - well, about quite a few things. Including Mary.

Who, as I said, I am strictly instructed to not worship. Mary isn't God.

Why does this confusion exists? I don't know.

Maybe it's because Catholics don't, generally, go to churches with plain white walls. Maybe it's because we recognize that, over the course of the last couple thousand years, quite a few folks been have remarkably outstanding in the way they follow Jesus.

Again, I don't expect to convince anyone that the Catholic Church didn't kill Lincoln. Any more than I'd try to dissuade someone from their belief that shape-shifting, space-alien lizard people are secretly controlling Wall Street and the news media.

"Veneration" isn't "Worship"

I do, though, think it's time to review what two words mean: "veneration," and "worship."
"VENERATION (OF SAINTS): Showing devotion and respect to Mary, the Apostles, and the martyrs, who were viewed as faithful witnesses to faith in Jesus Christ. Later, veneration was given to those who led a life of prayer and self-denial in giving witness to Christ, whose virtues were recognized and publicly proclaimed in their canonization as saints (828). Such veneration is often extended to the relics or remains of those recognized as saints; indeed, to many sacred objects and images. Veneration must be clearly distinguished from adoration and worship, which are due to God alone (1154, 1674, 2132)."
(V, Glossary, Catechism of the Catholic Church)

"WORSHIP: Adoration and honor given to God, which is the first act of the virtue of religion (2096). Public worship is given to God in the Church by the celebration of the Paschal Mystery of Christ in the liturgy (1067)."
(W, Glossary, Catechism of the Catholic Church)
I quoted those definitions more than a year ago (December 13, 2009), and probably will again.

I've found the Catechism a pretty good resource, when it comes to explaining what the Catholic Church believes. It's not as interesting to read as the sports section might be - but I don't think that's the point. A few links to parts of the Catechism, about:
That's not an exhaustive list.

Finally, about worship, veneration, God, and everybody else:
  • We worship God
  • Our purpose is to
    • Know and love God
      • (Catechism, 1)
    • Do what Jesus told us to
      • (Catechism, 2)
    • Hand our faith on to the next generation
      • (Catechism, 3)
We venerate Mary. (Catechism, 972) Which is most emphatically not the same as worshiping her.

I don't expect to change the mind of anyone who's determined to believe otherwise: and I've mentioned that before, too. (November 1, 2010) By the way, I've got the teaching authority of "some guy with a blog" - which is why I cite my sources, and suggest that you follow the links and read what the Church has to say, yourself.

What actually got me started on this post was an article on CNS (Catholic News Service) about Beatification - which isn't Canonization. I'd write about that, too - but it's late, and tomorrow's another day.

Sunday, specifically: Palm Sunday; the start of Holy Week.

Which is another topic. Topics.

Somewhat-related posts:
Two of my favorite posts, about 'what folks know, that just ain't so:'
Finally, where the saying '..what folks know that just ain't so' came from - maybe:

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.