In continuation of last week’s sharing, why we have the image of Jesus and the Cross in the Catholic Church, which is wrongly understood as against the first commandment, I would like to share and clarify another misunderstood concept: why the Catholics have the statues of the Saints and pray in front of them.
In the late 7th and early 8th century, St. John Damascene, a theologian, and monk rose up to answer any objection against Catholic use of statues. He explained that Saints are holy, “just as the red-hot iron is called fire, not by its nature, but by contingency and its participation in the fire”. He cited for evidence from the Book of the Leviticus in the Bible: “And the Lord said to Moses, “Say to all the congregation of the people of Israel, You shall
be holy; for I the Lord your God am holy” (Leviticus 19:1-2).
We must also remember what Jesus has declared to Martha in the context of raising the dead Lazarus to life: “… he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die…” (John 11:25-26). Based on this declaration by Jesus Himself, we can certainly believe that those who are in heaven are certainly alive and remain in union with God. In another context, when the Sadducees came to Jesus to test him about the resurrection of the dead Jesus declares: “… they are
equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection… Now he (God) is not God of the dead, but of the living; for all live to him” (Luke 20:36-38).
The Catholic Church pronounces a person Saint after having affirmed that he/she has performed at least two miracles, proved scientifically. If one is declared a Saint, then he/she is in communion with God and alive. Hence, all Saints, including Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God who was taken into heaven with body and soul are all alive. If they are all alive in communion with God, then they can intercede for us bringing favors from God.
So, when a Catholic spends time in prayer before the statue of a Saint, he/she understands that the Saint is in heaven with God and the same Saint can be a channel of grace to the one who prays. God has given us angels and saints to be our spiritual support. Let us, therefore, seek for their intercession in all our needs.
God bless you,
Fr. Arul Joseph V.