2020 was a struggle for so many people. Being an Evangelist was very difficult especially with social distancing and mask wearing. No one wanted to get into a conversation with me, let alone anyone. I was in a dry spot, and didn’t know what to do. It was the major reason I started this website, and the main reason I joined Got Questions Ministries as a Staff Writer. This was a website that I used frequently to get questions answered when I first became a new believer over 17 years ago. The ministry and website was small, but it has grown into an amazing resource for Christians and unbelievers wanting to know more about Christianity, cults, and other religions. As a Staff Writer, I answer personal questions; some difficult, and others easy. A ministry I was hoping my first blog, Honest Answers could have become, and I am ecstatic that I play a small part in it.
I received a question several months ago asking who Francis Xavier was. It was an easy question, but difficult on a personal level; bringing me once again to the memories of being a Roman Catholic, and one of the many reasons why I left. I knew who he was right away, and was somewhat knowledgeable to an extent about who he was and what he did over 400 years ago. But it wasn’t really his life that disturbed me, but those who “follow” him, and in many ways worship him.
Watch this short video from CBC Canada Public Broadcast and ask yourself: would this be considered worship, and would God be pleased with this form of veneration.
Roman Catholic idolatry and the worship of saints was one of the main reasons why I left Catholicism. I knew from the moment I understood my sin, that whatever veneration I showed other human beings, alive or deceased, was an abomination of God.
Some may argue that this is just veneration towards a person’s life or body. But according to the Merriam-Webster definition of venerate: to regard with reverential respect or with admiring deference. To honor (an icon, a relic, etc.) with a ritual act of devotion — how is this not idolatry? How is this not worship?
Surprisingly even according to the Roman Catholic Catechism, idolatry is condemned in paragraph 2113 and 2114:
“Idolatry not only refers to false pagan worship. It remains a constant temptation to faith. Idolatry consists in divinizing what is not God. Man commits idolatry whenever he honors and reveres a creature in place of God, whether this be gods or demons (for example, satanism), power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the state, money, etc. Jesus says, “You cannot serve God and mammon.” Many martyrs died for not adoring “the Beast” refusing even to simulate such worship. Idolatry rejects the unique Lordship of God; it is therefore incompatible with communion with God.” (CCC 2113)
“Human life finds its unity in the adoration of the one God. The commandment to worship the Lord alone integrates man and saves him from an endless disintegration. 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)
Paragraph 2112 concerns about venerating other gods and divinities, so it may not exclusively work in this context.
This is also backed up with the textbook, United Stated Catechism for Adults. On page 347 it reads:
“Based on our faith in the Incarnation of Christ, we venerate images of Christ, Mary, the angels, and the saints. We do not worship the images themselves, but in venerating the image, we venerate whoever is portrayed — Jesus Christ, Mary, a saint, or an angel. This in turn can lead us to a deeper contemplation of God himself.”United States Catechism For Adults, p 347
So, if I understand this right, here lies a dilemma for a Catholic. What if you venerate a body part, or the entire body of a saint himself? While Francis Xavier’s arm is touring Canada, the rest of his body is in Goa, India being venerated by Catholics there. This isn’t the image of the saint — this is the saint himself! Same for other saints that are incased in glass for the world to see: St. Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo in southern Italy; St. Robert Bellarmine in Campo Marzio, Rome; and St. Francesca Romana of Rome are just to name a few. A sample of disturbing images of cadaver worship can be seen in the following articles and blogs:
- Catholic Priests Worship Corpse of Saint Ubaldo.
- The Roman Catholic Church Reveres Skulls and Bones.
- Meet the Fantastically Bejeweled Skeletons of Catholicism’s Forgotten Martyrs.
What does the Bible say about worship of anything or anyone other than God?
“And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, ‘See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.'” (Revelation 19:10 NKJV)
‘Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. Then he said to me, “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”‘ (Revelation 22:8,9 NKJV)
Notice John fell at the angel’s feet to worship him. Worship in this sense in the original Greek is, Strong’s Concordance #4352: to kiss the hand to (towards) one, in token of reverence among the Orientals, esp. the Persians, To fall upon the knees and touch the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound reverence in the NT by kneeling or prostration to do homage (to one) or make obeisance, whether in order to express respect or to make supplication.
What does the angel say to John when worshipping him? He says, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant… worship God!” Wouldn’t Padre Pio, St. Francis Xavier, or even Mary the mother of Jesus also be fellow servants? Sure would. It doesn’t matter if the person is alive or dead…worshipping anyone or anything other than God is forbidden. This also goes for kissing the ring of the Pope, genuflecting before people and things, and so much more.
The Apostle Paul and Barnabas were horrified when they were worshipped as Zeus and Hermes and begged the people to stop and proclaimed the true and living God:
Now when the people saw what Paul had done, they raised their voices, saying in the Lycaonian [language], “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” And Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. (Acts 14:11, 12 NKJV)
Then the priest of Zeus, whose temple was in front of their city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, intending to sacrifice with the multitudes. (Acts 14:13 NKJV)
But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard this, they tore their clothes and ran in among the multitude, crying out and saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them… (Acts 14:14, 15 NKJV)
We don’t have to wonder what Mary, the saints, or anyone else would say about being worshipped or venerated. We have examples like this throughout God’s Word. They would tear their clothes and put a stop to it immediately. Spoken directly by God and written in His Ten Commandments:
And God spoke all these words, saying: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. “You shall have no other gods before Me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image–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 nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, (Exodus 20:1-5 NKJV)
Many Roman Catholics innocently worship many things other than God, and create images of Him either with their hands or with their minds. But I ask that you consider these things, repent, and turn to God and worship Him, and Him alone.
For more information, I suggest the reader look into the Got Questions article, “Is the worship of saints / Mary biblical?”