Every now and then we Catholics get asked about statues and images. Sometimes we get accused of “worshiping” them. Well actually that would be pretty strange and stupid since plaster and marble and paint on canvas can’t hear us or respond. Not much of a god if you ask me. Of course we don’t worship these things, we aren’t stupid.
But what is with these statues and pictures? Why do we have them? Well the question is kind of odd since most people who ask us this really already have the answer. When I get asked this question I ask another question in return: “Do you have pictures of your family in your home, in your wallet or at your office?” Most answer “yes.””Why?” I ask. The usual answer amounts to the fact that these things “remind me of my loved ones.” Exactly. And so to statues and images of saints. They remind us of family members (the saints) who have lived heroic lives. While it is not common for us to have statues of loved ones in our homes, it is common to see such things in State Houses and museums. Just a little more formal than a painting or photo but its the same idea.
So really, folks ought to lighten up on us a bit. We are neither stupid nor idolaters here. We’re just venerating the memory of heroes who have gone before us. We are reminded to ask their prayers and imitate their example.
Here is another video from that Catholic Show that speaks on this topic further. I have one quibble with the video. It seems to imply that statues and pictures only came into use in the Church after the Renaissance. In fact they have been with us almost from the start. All the way back in the 8th Century the Church struggled with the Iconoclasts (image smashers) who went through churches smashing statues and images. They claimed it broke the commandment against idolatry. But the Church ruled that there was no violation of the commandment in the use of images for the reasons stated above. But the point here is that images and statues were in use far back before the Renaissance.