“Whenever you feel guilty, even if it is because you have consciously committed a sin, a serious sin, something you have kept doing many, many times, never let the devil deceive you by allowing him to discourage you. Whenever you feel guilty, offer all your guilt to the Immaculate, without analyzing it or examining it, as something that belongs to her…
My beloved, may every fall, even if it is serious and habitual sin, always become for us a small step toward a higher degree of perfection.
In fact, the only reason why the Immaculate permits us to fall is to cure us from our self-conceit, from our pride, to make us humble and thus make us docile to the divine graces.
The devil, instead, tries to inject in us discouragement and internal depression in those circumstances, which is, in fact, nothing else than our pride surfacing again.
If we knew the depth of our poverty, we would not be at all surprised by our falls, but rather astonished, and we would thank God, after sinning, for not allowing us to fall even deeper and still more frequently.”
Protestants make the absurd accusation that we as Catholic’s worship statues and images. In my previous post, I have made it clear that we as Catholics worship the Trinity alone and that the Catholic Church condemned idol worship. (Nicea 2).
With that being said, Protestants cite Exodus 20 which states the following:
“You shall not make for yourself a graven image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: you shall not bow down to them or serve them”
As Catholics, we complete agree with this verse. That’s because we as Catholics agree with the bible 100% being that we are bible Christians. That’s right. Protestants would say we don’t accept this, thus God’s condemnation on the construction of statues. However, what is this scripture really addressing? If you were not aware, Protestants suffer with a bad case of personal interpretation of scripture, something coming from the heretic and schismatic Martin Luther.
When examining this scripture in context, the scripture in itself is condemning the pagan use of statues, that being the construction of them in order to put them in the place of God out of pride and disobedience. Being that God is almighty and cannot be replaced, the pagans have committed the sin of idolatry. However, does God condemn the religious use of images? No, for God doesn’t contradict Himself.
Five chapters away from Exodus 20, God instructs the construction of the ark of the covenant. The ark of the covenant was a container in which held the very word of God within it, that being the tablets of the Ten Commandments.
“And you shall make two cherubim of gold [i.e., two gold statues of angels]; of hammered work shall you make them, on the two ends of the mercy seat. Make one cherub on the one end, and one cherub on the other end; of one piece of the mercy seat shall you make the cherubim on its two ends. The cherubim shall spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, their faces one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubim be” (Ex. 25:18–20).
Also, in the book of 1 chronicles, David has commanded Solomon to make statuary. “for the altar of incense made of refined gold, and its weight; also his plan for the golden chariot of the cherubim that spread their wings and covered the ark of the covenant of the Lord. All this he made clear by the writing of the hand of the Lord concerning it all, all the work to be done according to the plan” (1 Chr. 28:18–19).
Note something, “made clear by the writing of the hand of the Lord concerning it all, al the work to be done according to the plan.” If the construction of images were idolatry in themselves, why would David make it known that this is according to God’s plan? This plan included statues of angels, something found within Catholic Churches which co exists with images of saints.
Within the book of Ezekiel, the author describes the interior of the Jewish temples of the time. It is described as having images of the cherubim. On the walls round about in the inner room and [on] the nave were carved likenesses of cherubim.” (Ezekiel 41:17–18)
During a plague of serpents sent to punish the Israelites during the exodus, God told Moses to “make [a statue of] a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and every one who is bitten, when he sees it shall live. So Moses made a bronze serpent, and set it on a pole; and if a serpent bit any man, he would look at the bronze serpent and live” (Num. 21:8–9).
It is commonly argued by Protestants that the Catholic Church teaches to worship saints and images of them. Even though this is commonly claimed, what does the Catholic Church really teach in this regard?
1. The Church teaches that the Trinity (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) alone is God.
The first ecumenical council of the Catholic Church, the council of Nicea (325 A.D.) in regards to the belief in God, the Trinity: I believe in one God, the Father almighty,maker of heaven and earth,of all things visible and invisible. I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages.God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made.For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary”
• Catechism of the Catholic Church (234) :
The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in himself. It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them. It is the most fundamental and essential teaching in the “hierarchy of the truths of faith”.56 The whole history of salvation is identical with the history of the way and the means by which the one true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, reveals himself to men “and reconciles and unites with himself those who turn away from sin”.
• St. Ignatius of Antioch: “The prophets, who were men of God, lived according to Jesus Christ. For that reason they were persecuted, inspired as they were by his grace to convince the disobedient that there is one God, who manifested himself through his Son, Jesus Christ, who is his Word proceeding from silence, and who was in all respects pleasing to him that sent him” (Letter to the Magnesians 8:1 [A.D. 110]).
• The ancient Creed of St Athanasius:
“Whoever wishes to be saved must, above all, keep the Catholic faith.For unless a person keeps this faith whole and entire, he will undoubtedly be lost forever. This is what the Catholic faith teaches: we worship one God in the Trinity and the Trinity in unity.”
• Irenaeus “For the Church, although dispersed throughout the whole world even to the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and from their disciples the faith in one God, Father Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth and sea and all that is in them; and in one Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Against Heresies 1:10:1 [A.D. 189]).
What does the Catholic Church teach in regards to images of God, the Theotokos, and Mary?
The Catholic Church infallibly teaches that the worship of saints and images is blasphemy and heresy, for the Trinity alone is God.
• The Second Council of Nicaea (787) addressed the heresy of iconoclasm. This was the heresy that taught images of God and the saints must be smashed since they were allegedly worshiped by Catholics. (Which is false and would be blasphemy and heresy.)
“[T]he one who redeemed us from the darkness of idolatrous insanity, Christ our God, when he took for his bride his holy Catholic Church . . . promised he would guard her and assured his holy disciples saying, ‘I am with you every day until the consummation of this age.’ . . . To this gracious offer some people paid no attention; being hoodwinked by the treacherous foe they abandoned the true line of reasoning . . . and they failed to distinguish the holy from the profane, asserting that the icons of our Lord and of his saints were no different from the wooden images of satanic idols.”
• The Catechism of the Council of Trent, page 227, teaches that idolatry is of the devil. In objection to the accusation that Catholics worship images, it states that this is committed when:
“As far as this Commandment is concerned, it is clear that there are two chief ways in which God’s majesty can be seriously outraged. The first way is by worshipping idols and images as God, or believing that they possess any divinity or virtue entitling them to our worship, by praying to, or reposing confidence in them, as the Gentiles did, who placed their hopes in idols, and whose idolatry the Scriptures frequently condemn.”
• The Catechism of the Catholic Church states the following in regards to idolatry: “Idolatry is a perversion of man’s innate religious sense. An idolater is someone who ‘transfers his indestructible notion of God to anything other than God’” (CCC 2114).
While it is true that we are the bridge between the Catholic Church and the many divided churches of the East in whom sadly happen to be in schism with Rome; and while it is also true that we are Orthodox (because of our profession of the Catholic Faith); it must be brought to our attention that there is a Catholic identity problem within the East just as there is within the West.
This is because there is a misconception of who we as Eastern Catholics are; whether we be Byzantine, Maronite, Coptic, Syro Malabar etc.
Among many beloved Eastern Catholics of good will, there happens to be an emotional attachment to the Eastern Orthodox Church because of its similarities in regards to theology and liturgical rites.
Having encountered many Eastern Catholics, it is not uncommon to hear that the Eastern Orthodox and the Oriental Orthodox Churches are equivalent to the Catholic Church because of the validity of the 7 sacraments, the veneration of saints etc.
Even though these separated churches have valid sacraments and many similarities with the Church, it must be remembered that they are separated for a reason – that is – because of their bitter rejection of the deposit of faith in regards to submission to Peter, the Pope.
“You cannot deny that you are aware that in the city of Rome the episcopal chair was given first to Peter; the chair in which Peter sat, the same who was head—that is why he is also called Cephas [‘Rock’]—of all the apostles; the one chair in which unity is maintained by all” (Optatus, The Schism of the Donatists 2:2 [A.D. 367]).
With that in mind, we here at HolySynergy must note that many Eastern Catholics have died at the hands of schismatics and communists because of this very key doctrine. Being that they are our ancestors as martyrs and saints of the church; insisting that the Orthodox are the same Church as the Catholic Church, or at least equivalent, is a slap in the face to these very saints.
Not only is it a slap in the face to these saints, it is also a heresy to insist that the true Church of Christ can be found in any other communion besides the Catholic Church.Let’s take a look at these very brave, pious, reverent, and holy martyrs of the Catholic East.
1. The Pratulin Martyrs.
“The Pratulin Martyrs were a group of 13 Greek Catholic believers killed by the Imperial Russian Army on January 24, 1874, in the village of Pratulin, near Biała Podlaska. Following the secularization and de-legalization of the Eparchy of Chełm, the Russian authorities forcibly subdued all Belorussian Catholics and their churches to the Russian Orthodox Church.
In a protest against the Russification and confiscation of the church, the Greek Catholic community gathered in front of the church, but were fired upon by the Russian forces, killing 13 of the protesters. The Ruthenian Catholic Church has erected a shrine to their memory there.” (Wikipedia, The Pratulin Martyrs.)
These very soldiers of Christ were recognized by Pope John Paul II and beatified on October 6, 1996.
2. Bishop Hopko
Bishop Hopko was an eparch of the Greek Catholic Church. Since Czechoslovakia was taken over by the Communists, the Greek Catholic Church was persecuted and abolished.
As a result, the Russian Orthodox Church was granted permission to remain in existence within Czechoslovakia because of its previous affiliation with the Communist state.
Bishop Hopko was arrested on 28 April 1950 and kept on starvation rations and tortured for weeks. Eventually he was tried and sentenced to 15 years for the “subversive activity” of staying loyal to Rome.
He was repeatedly transferred from prison to prison. His health, both physical and emotional later failed.
In 1964, he was transferred to an old age home. Unfortunately, he never recovered his health. Hopko died in Presov at age 72 on 23 July 1976. On 14 September 2003 Pope John Paul II beatified him at a ceremony in Bratislava, Slovakia.
3. Blessed Nicholas Charnetsky
Born in the year 1884 of Western Ukraine, Blessed Nicholas was the eldest of 9 children. Ever since he was very young, he had a desire to be ordained to the priesthood. At 18, he was sent to study by his bishop to study at the Ukrainian college of Rome. Four years after ordination, he had a desire to live as a monastic after the Latin Rite Redemptorists established a mission in Ukraine . Being attracted to the life of the Redemptorists, he entered the religious order in 1919.
In 1934 the Soviet army began to invade western Ukraine, causing the Redemptorists to flee to Lviv. In 1944, the Soviets invaded a second time. The following year all the Ukrainian Greek Catholic bishops were placed under arrest as part of the Soviet plan to suppress the Church and transfer its property to the state-sanctioned Orthodox Church.
During his time in prison Bishop Mykolay endured frequent violent interrogations. He was charged with collaborating with being an agent of a foreign power i.e. the Vatican; as a result he was sentenced to hard labour.
Even though he was released in 1956, his health was very poor. The prison authorities released him in order that he die elsewhere. While he later recovered, he has entered heaven in 1959. On his pastoral visit to Ukraine, Pope John Paul II beatified him on October 27, 2001.
4. Bishop Nykyta Budka
Bishop Budka was appointed appointed bishop for Ukrainian Catholics in Canada and titular bishop of Patara on July 15, 1912 by Pope Pius XI, and was consecrated (ordained a bishop) on October 14 of that year.
Bishop Budka was the first Eastern Catholic bishop with full jurisdiction within the New World, considering that he was born in Ukraine. After returning to the now Polish controlled Galicia (which was then Soviet territory), he bravely opposed the communist government because of its requirement that the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church must separate from communion with the Pope.
On April 11 1945, he was sentenced to prison with many other bishops of the Church. He was charged with teaching in an underground seminary, conducting a memorial service for the victims of the Soviet occupation of Galicia in 1939, and campaigning for the secession of Ukraine for the Soviet Union.
Sentenced to 8 years imprisonment, he was sent to Kazakhstan to serve his sentence. He died in the Gulag on September 28, 1949 form what Soviet officials said was a heart attack. martyr on June 27, 2001, in a Byzatine rite ceremony by Pope John Paul II in Lviv.
5. Eparch Theodore Romzha
Bishop Romzha was a bishop of the Ruthentian Greek Catholic Church. Because of his opposition to convert to the Orthodox Church and refuse schism with the Pope of Rome, the Soviet Red Army has martyred him after beating him, which later caused him to be hospitalized, and poisoning him after hiring a nurse to inject him with curare because of his quick recovery. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on July 27, 2001.
6. His Eminent Beatitude Josyf Slipyj
Patriarch Slipyj was the Patriarch of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and a cardinal. Even though he was not a martyr, he along with the UGCC rejected to loose communion with the Pope regardless of what the communist party of Ukraine insisted. As a result, he was imprisoned with hard labour for eight years. The Soviets have later taken control of the UGCC within Lviv and later revoked the union breast with Rome and was forcibly “rejoined” to the schismatic Russian Orthodox Church.
7. Leonid Feodorov
Leonid Feodorov, a Catholic convert, was a Exarch (Patriarch) of the Russian Greek Catholic Church.
Although Leonid had originally promised to adopt the Latin Rite, while studying in the Jesuit seminary at Anagni, Leonid came to believe that it was his duty to remain faithful to the liturgy and customs of the Christian East. With the full permission and encouragement of Pope St. Pius X, Leonid transferred to the Russian Catholic Church.
Because of his pious submit to the Pope, the communist government has imprisoned him. On March 7, 1935, he died due to the rigorous of his imprisonment.
8. Pavel Peter Gojdič
Blessed Gohdič was a Basilian Monk and Bishop of the Greek Catholic Eparchy of Prešov, Slovakia. Because of his rejection to submit Greek Catholics to the Russian Orthodox Church, as insisted by the Communist party, he was tortured. Later, the Communists have given him the infamous offer that if he were to leave the church, they would appoint him the patriarch of the a Orthodox Church of Slovakia.
He piously rejected to loose communion with the Pope and to convert to the schismatic church, causing him to suffer even more persecution. He died of terminal cancer in the prison hospital of Leopoldov Prison in 1960, on his 72nd birthday. He was beatified on 4 November 2001 by Pope John Paul II.
Let us close this post with a few quotes from the Popes.
“…for the union of Christians can only be promoted by promoting the return to the one true Church of Christ of those who are separated from it, for in the past they have unhappily left it.”
-Pope Pius XI, Encyclical “Mortalium Animos”