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IMAGES AND STATUES, RELICS & HOLY WATER

  1. Images and Statues
  2. Relics
  3. Holy Water

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I. Images and Statues

Deut. 4:15 - from this verse, Protestants say that since we saw "no form" of the Lord, we should not make graven images of Him.

Deut. 4:16 - of course, in early history Israel was forbidden to make images of God because God didn't yet reveal himself visibly "in the form of any figure."

Deut. 4:17-19 - hence, had the Israelites depicted God not yet revealed, they might be tempted to worship Him in the form of a beast, bird, reptile or fish, which was a common error of the times.

Exodus 3:2-3; Dan 7:9; Matt. 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22; John 1:32; Acts 2:3- later on, however, we see that God did reveal himself in visible form (as a dove, fire, etc).

Deut. 5:8 - God's commandment "thou shall not make a graven image" is entirely connected to the worship of false gods. God does not prohibit images to be used in worship, but He prohibits the images themselves to be worshiped.

Exodus 25:18-22; 26:1,31 - for example, God commands the making of the image of a golden cherubim. This heavenly image, of course, is not worshiped by the Israelites. Instead, the image disposes their minds to the supernatural and draws them to God.

Num. 21:8-9 - God also commands the making of the bronze serpent. The image of the bronze serpent is not an idol to be worshiped, but an article that lifts the mind to the supernatural.

I Kings 6:23-36; 7:27-39; 8:6-67 - Solomon's temple contains statues of cherubim and images of cherubim, oxen and lions. God did not condemn these images that were used in worship.

2 Kings 18:4 - it was only when the people began to worship the statue did they incur God's wrath, and the king destroyed it. The command prohibiting the use of graven images deals exclusively with the false worship of those images.

1 Chron. 28:18-19 - David gives Solomon the plan for the altar made of refined gold with a golden cherubim images. These images were used in the Jews' most solemn place of worship.

2 Chron. 3:7-14 - the house was lined with gold with elaborate cherubim carved in wood and overlaid with gold.

Ezek. 41:15 - Ezekiel describes graven images in the temple consisting of carved likenesses of cherubim. These are similar to the images of the angels and saints in many Catholic churches.

Col. 1:15 - the only image of God that Catholics worship is Jesus Christ, who is the "image" (Greek "eikon") of the invisible God.

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II. Relics

Mark 15:43; John 19:38 - Joseph of Arimathea sought Christ's dead body instead of leaving it with the Romans. Joseph gave veneration to our Lord's body.

Mark 16:1; Luke 24:1 - the women came to further anoint Christ's body even though it had been sealed in the tomb.

John 19:39 - Nicodemus donated over one hundred pounds of spices to wrap in Jesus' grave clothes. This is also veneration of our Lord's body.

Matt. 9:21; Mark 5:28 - the woman with the hemorrhage just sought the hem of Christ's cloak and was cured. This shows that God uses physical things to effect the supernatural.

Acts 19:11-12 - Paul's handkerchiefs healed the sick and those with unclean spirits. This is another example of physical things effecting physical and spiritual cures.

Acts 5:15 - Peter's shadow healed the sick. This proves that relics of the saints have supernatural healing power, and this belief has been a part of Catholic tradition for 2,000 years.

Rev. 6:9 - the souls of the martyrs are seen beneath the heavenly altar. Their bones are often placed beneath altars in Catholic churches around the world.

2 Kings 13:21 - Elisha's bones bring a man back to life. The saints' bones are often kept beneath the altars of Catholic churches and have brought about supernatural cures throughout the Christian age.

Rom. 13:7; Phil. 2:25-29; Heb. 3:3; 1 Pet. 2:7 we are taught to honor the people of God and in 1 Cor. 4:16-17; 1 Cor. 11:1-2; Phil. 3:17; 1 Thess. 1:6; 2 Thess. 3:7; Heb. 6:12; Heb. 13:7; James 5:10-11 we are reminded to imitate them. Keeping relics of the saints serves both to honor and imitate their heroic faith in Christ (just as keeping articles of deceased loved ones helps us honor and imitate them).

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III. Holy Water

Ex. 29:4; Lev. 8:6 - Aaron and his sons were washed in holy water in their consecration to the priesthood. Thus, we see the use of holy water during the beginning of salvation history.

Ex. 30:18-19 - the Lord requires Aaron and his sons to wash their hands and feet in holy water before they offered sacrifices to Him. The Church uses holy water for various purposes, and holy water fonts are generally located at the entrance of Catholic churches to be used before the sacrifice of Christ is offered to the Father.

Num. 5:17 - here again, the priest uses holy water. God uses natural matter to convey the supernatural, just as God who is Spirit became flesh in Christ Jesus.

Num. 8:7 - the Lord says to "sprinkle them with the water of remission." The Lord uses water, a physical property, to convey His supernatural property of grace.

1 Kings 7:38-39 - in King Solomon's temple, there were ten large basins of holy water. Holy water has always been used in the context of worship.

John 9:6-7 Jesus uses clay and spittle to heal the blind mans eyes, and ordered him to wash in the pool of Siloam to effect the cure. Jesus did not need to use spittle, clay and water, but He does to demonstrate that God uses the material things He created to give graces and heal us.

John 13:4-10 - the Lord uses water to wash the apostles' feet to prepare them for their sacramental priesthood.

John 19:34 - water and blood flowed from Jesus' pierced side on the Cross. The Church uses holy water as a symbol of our Lord's life giving water that flowed from His sacred Heart, and as the property which brings about the power of Jesus Christ Himself, in baptism, the Eucharist, and other sacred rites of the Church.

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Copyright 2001 - 2007 by John Salza. All Rights Reserved.
johnsalza@scripturecatholic.com