Why do Catholics Worship Images and Statues?

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This is a fair question a friendly non-Catholic would probably ask. But many angry anti-Catholics, who were used to be Catholics but never studied the faith, would ask differently. They would condemn us with statements like: “Catholics are idolaters because they worship images and statues by touching and kissing them, lighting a candle for them, and kneeling before them!” Many of our brethren who will hear such claims would begin to doubt on their faith especially when they hear the prohibitions of such actions in the Book of Exodus.

"You shall not have other gods besides me. You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth." (20:3-4)

So, why do Catholics Worship Images and Statues? Actually, we don’t! Because in Catholicism there is only one form of worship-the Celebration of the Holy Eucharist. It’s when we worship the Triune God through the sacrament instituted by Jesus Christ the Word of God incarnate. In the worship, we participate and commemorate his life, passion, death, and resurrection. There is no other form of supernatural worship other than the Holy Eucharist.

The evangelist John wrote in his gospel that “true worshipers worship the Father in Spirit and truth; and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him.” (John 4:23) This is done in the Catholic worship when the priest invoke the Holy Trinity many times in the celebration of the Holy Mass especially during epiclesis.

Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray
by sending down your Spirit
upon them like the dewfall,
so that they may become for us
the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Look, we pray, upon the oblation of your Church
and, recognizing the sacrificial Victim
by whose death you willed to reconcile us to yourself,
grant that we, who are nourished
by the Body and Blood of your Son
and filled with his Holy Spirit,
may become one body, one spirit in Christ.
Pre-consecration and Post-consecration prayers

Also, what is prohibited is carving anything and then “bowing down before them or worship them” (verse 20:5). This is something unthinkable for Catholics because we know “there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and though whom we exist.” (1 Corinthians 8:6) We are not polytheists.

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So, when we encounter such attacks, we should not be troubled. We should simply insist, in a friendly way, this one form of worship in Catholicism. Whether they believe it or not, we have done our job letting them know of the truth. Unless we have a lot of time, knowledge, skills, and patience for a debate, which is most of the time not productive, we should avoid falling into their trap. They usually open the conversation with one topic, then if they feel they are losing, they would open new ones such as purgatory, papacy, priesthood, infant baptism, etc. The list is endless.

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