AREN’T STATUES A FORM OF IDOLATRY?

In a similarly controversial sense to the issue of Catholics worshipping saints, another issue is whether Catholics practice idolatry by worshipping statues and images.
Idolatry literally means the worship of an "idol", also known as a cult image, in the form of a physical image, such as a statue or icon.
In Deuteronomy, God warns the Israelites against “fashioning an idol to represent any figure, whether it be the form of a man or of a woman” or of other creatures (Deut 4:15-18). Joining Biblical passages such as these with the divine commandment against idols (Exo 20:4; “graven images in the King James version), many Christians insist that all statues of religious subjects are forbidden.
We must note, however, that as the rest of the commandment makes clear, God has forbidden only the making of such images with the intention of worshipping them, as the pagans did. He has by no means banned the creation of all religious images.
On the contrary, the Lord actually instructed the Israelites to store those very commandments, carved in stone, within a sacred container (ark) to be decorated with golden images of angelic beings called cherubim (Exo 25:10-22). He also commanded the people to decorate the places where they worshipped with gold, bronze, and wooden images of animals and plants (Exo 25:33-36; 26:1; 1Kings 6:23-7:51; 2Chron 3:10-4:22).
Why do Catholic churches, schools and homes display religious statues and other images? Such images are an aid to remembering and honouring our Lord, His mother, the saints, and the angels.
No Catholic who knows anything about the Catholic faith has ever worshipped a religious image. Even when Catholics kneel to pray before a statue, or burn candles or place flowers before it, they aren’t worshipping the image. They simply expressing love and honour for the person represented by the statue.
Think of how most people display photos of their loved ones in their homes and workplaces or carry them on their person. They may occasionally even kiss a picture. When they do, are they worshipping these images? Of course not! The affection they show to the photos is actually directed toward those the photos portray.
Does venerating saints and angels in this way somehow “steal” honour from God? No. They are His “handiwork” (Eph 2:10). Our praise of the masterpieces redounds to the glory of the Artist who created them.
Finally, consider this: If we cherish the memory of statesmen, war heroes, and even sports celebrities may making statues of them, then what can be our objection to honouring the heroes of the faith? (Sir 44:1-15)

Evelyn Abutan
SOURCE: The New Catholic Answer Bible

DO CATHOLICS WORSHIP SAINTS?

This is one of the controversial issues of other Christian denominations with Catholics. Do we, Catholics, really worship Saints?
The first of the Ten Commandments makes it clear that worship is due to God alone. In Deuteronomy, the Lord tells the people through Moses: “You shall not have other gods beside me, ..You shall not bow down before them or serve them(Deut 5:7, 9)
Catholics affirm this truth.“Only the Almighty Creator of the universe, the one in whom we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28),is worthy of our worship - of the adoration that involves giving ourselves completely to Him. No saint or even angel should ever be adored in that sense.
At the same time, however, we obey the Biblical instruction to “pay to all their dues, .. honor to whom honor is due” (Rom 13:7). Though we don’t worship the saints and angels in heaven, we do in fact honor (or venerate) them, because they are worthy of great honor. This is a biblical distinction.
Why do they deserve such honor? Because they now stand before Him in heaven face-to-face, and they have become like Him (1 John 3:2). They have become, by God’s grace, His glorious image (2 Cor 3:18), partakers in His divine nature (2 Pet 1:4). They share his holiness (Heb 12:10), His glory (Rom 8:17; 1Pet 5:1), His knowledge (1 Cor 13:12), and His authority to judge and rule (1 Cor 6:2-3; 2 Tim 2:12; Rev 3:21).
The next question is Is praying to the saints Biblical? Like the “Hail Mary” prayer, is it Biblical? Yes, Catholics say prayers to Mary like the Hail Mary." Where does it say that in the Bible? Yes, this is true; Catholics pray the “Hail Mary” prayer. But remember again "WE DO NOT WORSHIP MARY and other Saints)". An interesting fact about the Hail Mary prayer though, is that, it is from Scripture, and the first half is almost word for word from the Bible.
HAIL MARY FULL OF GRACE THE LORD IS WITH THEE (Luke 1:28) BLESSED ART THOU AMONG WOWEN AND BLESSED IS THE FRUIT OF THY WOMB JESUS (Luke 1:42 partial) . 
HOLY MARY (you have found favor with God Luke 1:30 partial MOTHER OF GOD ("mother of my Lord" - Luke 1:43 partial) PRAY FOR US SINNERS (just as we pray for one another) NOW AND AT THE HOUR OF OUR DEATH. AMEN.
Are we somehow denying God the honor due Him when we honor His Saints? By no means! They are His perfected handiwork (Eph 2:10) - and we praise the craftsmanship, all the accolades go to the Craftsman. If even “the heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament proclaims the works of His hands” (Ps. 19:2), how much more so do human beings, who have been perfected in wisdom and justice, who ‘shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament; And .. shall be like the stars forever (Dan12:3).
Finally, we should note that, as the old saying goes, “Imitation is the sincerest form of praise.” Of all the ways we can honor God’s saints, the best way is to imitate their faith in Him (Heb 6:11-12; 13:7).

Evelyn Abutan

SOURCE: The New Catholic Answer Bible

LENTEN REFLECTION

Forgiveness - an 11-letter word that looks simple but made complicated by man.
I have had the opportunity of listening to the song written and sung by Matthew West entitled "Forgiveness", which was based on a story sent to him by a mother who lost her daughter to drunk driving. The forgiving part happened when the mother went to see the drunk driver in jail and forgave him and helped him appeal to cut his jail sentence in half!
Scriptures says in Matthew 6:14, "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you..."
Being a mother myself, I can never imagine myself being in her position - but she did what God would have done - she forgave the young man who killed her daughter.