Did you know that Catholics often kneel down in front of stone and wooden statues of Mary and the saints? Sure sounds a lot like idol worship to me!
Interesting logic; how many non-Catholics are therefore guilty of worshiping the Bible? I don’t know how many people I know who have knelt in front of the Bible in earnest prayer. I’ve never thought they worshipped the Bible itself; that would be, well, silly.
Statues, relics, icons, and the like are used by Catholics for many purposes. In one sense they’re like a family album for us. In the early days of the Church (well, over half the existence of the Church, now that I think of it) the majority of people couldn’t read, so visible icons, statues, and stained glass were the only “books” people had to see the story of the Gospels.
More to the point of this post, Catholics kneel before statues, hold rosaries, put crucifixes on their walls, and use objects so freely because humans are physical people. We have physical bodies. Physical reminders of God help us focus on God.
You can tell me about the scourging of Jesus, or I can watch The Passion of the Christ and in one five-minute, gut-wrenching scene, I’ll have a much clearer idea of what it was like.
Have you ever had a loved one go away? Have you ever taken a picture of them, or something of theirs that has their scent, to help you remember them? Why? It helps our memories focus on who they are, and what they mean to us.
Thoughts can be slippery, it can be hard to concentrate, a million things can distract us. Having a physical icon to focus on helps us to keep our minds in the right place and on track; whether we’re focusing on our God or on our loved one.
We don’t worship statues or icons; the thought that a carved chunk of wood is Mary (whom we don’t worship anyway) or is Jesus is absurd. We kneel in prayer to our lord, Jesus Christ, but the presence of a statue, or other icon, helps us stay connected.