Location: Quincy, Massachusetts, United States

It is, isn't it? All about me, that is.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


Today, I received the following e-mail from someone very close to me:

In the URL of your blogspot, which do you mean:

Main Entry: idle


2 : not occupied or employed : INACTIVE
3 : LAZY

Main Entry: idol

1 : an image worshiped as a god; also : a false god
2 : an object of passionate devotion

Just curious! Have a great day!

Here is my response. Enjoy!

First, and this is just a kitschy little thing, Catholics are sometimes accused of worshiping idols. Other Christian brothers sometimes see statues of the blessed virgin Mary or Francis of Assisi and a person praying in front of it and think, "the poor Catholic is praying to that idol", so to speak. In truth, the statue is supposed function in the same way a photograph does. It simply reminds a Catholic of the person's life -- the ultimate purpose of which is to focus an individual's prayer on the glorious things Jesus did in that particular person's life which in turn leads to giving the Lord praise and thanksgiving. Sort of the same thing that happens when one reads about a missionary or a martyr and it inspires us in our faith. In my years as a Catholic I cannot think of one other Catholic I have ever met who did not understand this (though, there are probably some out there, particularly where Marian devotion is concerned). There is also the Catholic theology of intercessory prayer whereby we believe that the saints in heaven can and do intercede for us before Christ just like any believer down here might. But I digress, I am really just gently poking fun at a common misconception.

Second, I am a pessimist so I tend to relate well to Augustinian theology. So, there is a sense in which I know on my own I am "worthless", my worship is not "grounded" and is therefore "useless" -- or idle. When my worship of God is not the Spirit and truth, I am truly an "idle-worshiper".

The second meaning of the word is true as well -- not occupied or employed: inactive. As a disciple, I am called to always pray and worship... always. I don't always pray and worship; therefore, I am an "idle-worshiper" much of the time. It is something that I desire and strive for, yet I acknowledge that it is part and parcel with the process of sanctification. This is why my blog is titled "Grace Builds on Nature". Aquinas coined that. I understand it to mean that the Spirit works with me exactly where I am and builds from there.

Finally, the last meaning of the word, lazy. Well, I think I have said enough about that. ; )


Blogger Jaduong Metty said...

Praying "through" saints is not Biblical, and that's where other Christians have an issue with Catholics. The basis for a christian faith is the Bible and not on church doctrines. Jesus, specifically, ordered to pray through Him.

If you can give me a Biblical verse as opposed to tradition, then my argument doen't hold water. Otherwise, I would only pray that the Holy Spirit reveals the Biblical truth..from which you can draw a meaningful relationship with God as opposed to following some empty religious rituals...

12:56 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Hi, Jadoung! Thank you for your comments. Catholic's do not pray "through" saints, we ask them to pray for us. As a disciple, we are encouraged to pray for one another by St. Paul:

"First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way. This is good, and pleasing to God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:1–4).

So her is a bible verse telling us to pray for all men on earth. Catholics take this one step further. When we acknowledge that the saints in heaven can see us and what we are doing here on earth. St. Paul says, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us" Heb 12:1. Chapter 11 of this epistle is a lenghty study of all the holy people in the old testament. Who do you think the "witnesses" are Paul is referring to?

Finally, we look to the book of Revelation 5:8 and see the 24 elders offering the "prayers of the saints as incence". If the saints in heaven are offering our prayers to God, then they must be aware of our prayers. They are aware of our petitions and present them to God by interceding for us. Prayers are not physical things and cannot be physically offered to God. Thus the saints in heaven are offering our prayers to God mentally. In other words, they are interceding.

In conclusion, I would invite you to reconsider your assertion that "basis for a christian faith is the bible". In fact, the basis for a chistian faith is Jesus Christ. Surely, you are aware that bible as we have it now was not even written until at least 20 to 30 years after our Lord's death and resurrection. The first generation of christians did not have the benefit of the written New Testament as we know it today, yet we hold them up as a model of christian faith. Just something to think about.

Finally, to address your concerns with "tradition". The Catholic understanding of how the Bible and tradition work together is in the Bible. St. Paul writes, "So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter." Tradition is taught two ways, by word of mouth and by letter. So as a Catholic, I have no trouble whatsoever holding that the Gospel is proclaimed both orally and in writing.

3:24 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Oops, I forgot to state that the last verse I quoted was 2 Thessolonians 2:15. :)

3:27 PM  

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