Catholics do not worship idols, but have a long tradition of using statues in our churches, because thousands of years ago, people were not able to read and write. The average person could not read and understand the stories in the bible for themselves, until the early 1900’s. Priests and scribes were the only people in the church who were educated enough to read and understand the bible. Therefore, the church used statues, paintings and stained glass windows to visually portray the stories in the bible and show what people from that time period may have looked like. The stained glass windows in a church often depicted the stories from Jesus’ life visually, so that everyone, including little children, could understand who Jesus was.
It isn’t much different today. We have photographs of our grandparents to remember them by, and share stories about who they were, with our children. Music and You Tube videos on the internet tell a story in a couple of minutes, mostly by using pictures and a few words too. People do not have time to read very much and the message needs to get across to the viewer as quickly, and to the point as possible. The images and sound bites on the evening news is also another example of the need to quickly portray a story in just a few seconds.
Many of the buildings in our nation’s capital has statues of presidents, war heroes and other important public figures in order to honor them and preserve their memory. There are a lot of town squares throughout the world that have statues of a famous person who once lived in their town too, to honor them and remember what they looked like. Jesus, Mary and the saints are no different than any other important public figures in our world today. Catholics have statues of Jesus, Mary and the saints in our churches, to honor them and preserve their memory, just like our nation does with statues of presidents and war heroes.
Catholics often decorate statutes of Mary with roses and flowers to honor her memory. Sometimes we sing songs about Mary or carry a statue or picture of her in a procession. To a casual observer it may appear that Catholics are worshiping a statue of Mary, but this is simply a way that Catholics show her honor. God honored Mary too, by sending the angel Gabriel to tell her she was “full of grace” and ask her to bear his son. Jesus also honored Mary, was obedient to her as a child, and did what she asked when he turned the water into wine at the wedding at Cana. Jesus especially honored Mary from the cross when he gave his mother to us “Woman, behold your son” and to his disciple “behold your mother”. John 19: 26-27
Our statues of Jesus, Mary and the saints are ways that Catholics honor and preserve their memory, through visual means in our every day life. Remember the expression, “out of sight, out of mind?” As Catholics, we never want Jesus, and Mary, and the example of the saints to be out of sight or out of mind, but be forever enduring in our hearts, and in our every day lives.