Statues & Veneration of Mary

On the identity of Jews who have found Yeshua. Dialog between Messianic Jews and Catholic Jews. What unites us and what divides us? How can we work towards unity?

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What is the major stumbling block for Messianic Jews to convert to Catholicism?

Poll ended at Wed Apr 08, 2009 3:47 am

Eucharist as true Body & Blood?
1
17%
Statues in Church?
1
17%
Veneration & prayers to Mary?
2
33%
Hiearachy system - Pope as "head" of the Church?
0
No votes
Treatment of Jews by Catholics in the past (ie. Inquisition/Crusades etc..)
0
No votes
Other
2
33%
 
Total votes: 6

Fidesetratio
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Statues & Veneration of Mary

Post by Fidesetratio » Thu Jan 08, 2009 3:47 am

Hello All,

On the subtopic of what divides Catholics and Messianic-Jews, my experience is that when they see veneration of Mary, especially in processions in Europe on feast days - this is seen as highly idolatory, probably a major stumbling block especially if she is viewed as "Queen of Heaven" from the Old Testament.

Anyone elses thoughts?

Peace,
Rob

Hadassah
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Post by Hadassah » Thu Jan 08, 2009 12:13 pm

Hi Rob,

Welcome to the forum... I am a Catholic myself and have minimal direct exposure to Messianic congregations as a whole so I cannot offer a truly comprehensive opinion. Perhaps Ariel will have time to give some input...

It would seem on a "doctrinal" level that some of the issues that separate Catholics and Messianic Jews are similar to those that separate Catholics and Protestants: the understanding of the Church, the Eucharist, papal authority, Mary and the saints, all being part of that. A Marian procession using a statue can certainly seem idolotrous to an outsider viewer who believes that we worship the statue itself or to those who mistake veneration of the Mother of God to be worship. But I can't imagine that that's a prevalent image for most in this day and age and so wonder whether that is a primary sticking point. Am I wrong? I would be interested to see results of your survey.

God bless,
Hadassah

Cherie
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Messianic Jews + Statues

Post by Cherie » Fri Jan 09, 2009 10:34 pm

Hi there guys! My Messianic Jewish friend is very anti Catholic. She believes that statues, pictures, and even the cross is idolatrous. She says that the only 'item' approved by Yahweh is the menorah (I apologize if my spelling is incorrect!) I become very heartsore at times, because there is such beauty within the Catholic Church + a depth that cannot be seen or understood by non Catholics. It is sad but true! There are many Catholics as well who don't really understand their faith.

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Post by Ariel » Sat Jan 10, 2009 3:18 pm

the poll is a good one; the only problem is, it needs a 'all of the above' answer, or at least the possibility of selecting multiple options!
Yes, Marian veneration is a biggie (that was my vote), though statues, the pope, and the history of Jewish/Christian relations are also major stumbling blocks. I would say the Real Presence is much less of an issue.

Personally it drives me nuts when they have a procession here in Jerusalem following Christmas Mass where all the faithful line up to come and kiss the doll of baby Jesus. This is like saying "let's try to do the most offensive things possible to our Jewish guests (for there are hundreds who come to Christmas Mass) and have them leave with the firm conviction that Catholics do, in fact, worship statues."

A little inculturation and sensitivity anyone? Please pray for our priests in the Holy Land that they would get the hint that we are to draw people to the Messiah, not push them away from him.
“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world” C.S. Lewis

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Post by Hadassah » Sat Jan 10, 2009 5:01 pm

Hi Rob, Cherie, Ariel:
Ariel wrote: where all the faithful line up to come and kiss the doll of baby Jesus.
This is so interesting. I have never seen this particular thing. Here in the U.S. (at least where I am) we just don't do much of this. I have been a Catholic all my life and have actually never participated in a procession where a statue or image of Mary, another saint, or even of Our Lord was carried about or venerated. And I have always belonged to fairly traditional Catholic parishes. We have Eucharistic processions throughout the year ~ but of course, that is worship and adoration of our Lord Himself. Perhaps this phenomenon differs here in the US.

We should recall that God commanded the use of statues in certain instances related to worship and as a means to show forth his presence. Cherie mentioned that her friend says that the only "item" approved by the Lord is the menorah. Presumably she means the 7-branch not the 9-branch, based on Exodus 25. But if we recall the rest of Exodus 25, we see, of course, that God commands that two cherubim be fashioned for either side of the ark (Exodus 25:18-20). It is between the two cherubim that God's presence dwells. In the Catholic church where I worship, we have the two cherubim on either side of the tabernacle, where God's presence dwells.

Then there is the seraph on the rod, of course (Numbers 21:1-9). This, I find interesting, for this statue of a serpant is preserved and it isn't until Hezekiah that this serpant is smashed because the Israelites are burning incense to it (2 Kings 18:4). It reminds us that it isn't the statue itself that violates the command of the Lord. In fact the statue was the command of the Lord. It is our misguided approach to that thing that violates the command.

It perhaps does us well in the face of individual Catholics who appear to worship statues to recall the actual teaching of the Church. "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’" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2114). This can mean a statue, but can also mean money, sex, power, etc.

I have recently taken to reading on the Chabad website. I was directed there by a friend of mine who is a close friend of the local Chabad rabbi's wife. I find it comforting because I find such similarities in thinking there, a similar worldview in many respects.This is a nice simple article which I think comes very close capturing the essence of Catholic teaching on the subject.

If only we could all find absolutely nothing else to seek after but the Lord himself!

In Christ,
Hadassah
Last edited by Hadassah on Sat Jan 10, 2009 6:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Ariel » Sat Jan 10, 2009 6:08 pm

yes, the idea is not to push iconoclasm of course, but in my humble opinion (or not so humble?) some non-essential customs and devotions are best kept away from places where they will be a certain stumbling block to the local people.

The habad site is great, I often consult it for Rashi's commentaries on the Bible.
“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world” C.S. Lewis

Cherie
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Statues, Pictures etc.

Post by Cherie » Sat Jan 10, 2009 9:22 pm

Hi once again! I must admit, I never thought of mentioning the Covenant of the Ark to my Messianic Jewish friend. I have read about it as a pro Catholic argument when idolatry is brought up. Thanks Hadassah for reminding me! I have to admit though that people do get the impression that Catholics 'worship' statues of Mary, when they visit our church, perhaps for a baptism or funeral. You will always find a very devout Catholic lady light a candle, kneel down + gaze upon the face of the Mary in absolute adoration. Non Catholics ofcourse are going to get the wrong idea! 'Actions speak louder than words.' Catholics need to be careful, so as not to give the wrong impression!

Cherie
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Rectifing an Error!

Post by Cherie » Sat Jan 10, 2009 9:25 pm

Sorry! Ark of the Covenant.

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Re: Statues, Pictures etc.

Post by Hadassah » Sun Jan 11, 2009 12:55 am

Cherie wrote:I have to admit though that people do get the impression that Catholics 'worship' statues of Mary, when they visit our church, perhaps for a baptism or funeral. You will always find a very devout Catholic lady light a candle, kneel down + gaze upon the face of the Mary in absolute adoration. Non Catholics ofcourse are going to get the wrong idea! 'Actions speak louder than words.' Catholics need to be careful, so as not to give the wrong impression!
Yes, sometimes people are affected by their own prejudices, presumptions, unhealthy iconoclasm, etc :-). The woman you describe, of course, does nothing wrong presuming that, when she looks adoringly at the statue, she gives her love and admiration not to the statue (for that would be ridiculous; the statue serves only as a reminder) but rightly to the Mother of Our Lord.

There is an unhealthy view of statues and images which goes in the other direction ~ the direction which caused them all to be smashed to bits during the Reformation. It seems to me that anyone who denies the fact that visual images and statues help us to remember who someone is and what they represent to us is denying the obvious. For example, what if we could be in that woman's home with her at night where a picture of her late husband sat by her bed? What if she got into bed and gazed at the picture adoringly for a time before falling asleep? What if she kissed her fingers and touched them to the picture before turning off the light? What if she even kissed the picture itself? How many of us would go away saying, "Did you see how she worshipped that picture!" No one. We'd speculate that her mind was recalling all that he had meant to her. We'd say that she loved her darling husband with all her heart and that she truly missed his presence. Why does the woman's gaze at the Blessed Mother indicate anything different?

It was at the Second Council of Nicea in the late 8th century, in response to the iconoclast controversy, that the Church spoke officially about the use of images (most especially icons) and statues of Our Lord, the Blessed Mother, angels and saints. The Council said:

"The more frequently they are seen in representational art, the more are those who see them drawn to remember and long for those who serve as their models, and to pay these images the tribute of salutation and respectful veneration. Certainly this is not the full adoration (latria) which, in accordance with our faith, is properly paid only to the divine nature, but it resembles that given to the figure of the honoured and life-giving cross, and also to the holy books of the gospels and to other sacred cult objects. [...] Indeed, the honour paid to an image traverses it, reaching the model, and he who venerates the image, venerates the person represented in that image.”

Just some thoughts...

Hadassah

Cherie
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Veneration of Statues

Post by Cherie » Sun Jan 11, 2009 8:54 am

Hi Hadassah! I fully understand the motive behind a Catholic kissing a picture of Our Saviour, or His mother. Many non Catholics do gaze at photos of loved ones + even kiss the images. The veneration of the Cross on Good Friday, especially kissing the feet of the crucified Christ is a very emotional experience for me. My gripe is this, some Catholics, when they know there are a lot of visitors in church will go out of their way to 'perform' a 'very Catholic devotion', which gives the incorrect impression. Don't get me wrong! I once visited a Pentecostal church + a very zealous member of that particular denomination got very carried away. I was totally shocked, because at the time I had no idea of the Pentecostal doctrines, or style of worship. I misunderstood the whole 'episode' + vowed to steer clear for life! God bless, Cherie.

Fidesetratio
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Post by Fidesetratio » Mon Jan 12, 2009 12:18 am

Hello Ariel,
Ariel wrote:the poll is a good one; the only problem is, it needs a 'all of the above' answer, or at least the possibility of selecting multiple options!
Thanks - this is my first poll I have ever posted - so I probably didnt think it through thoroughly enough - but yes your right - I will put in an "all of above". :wink:
Ariel wrote: Personally it drives me nuts when they have a procession here in Jerusalem following Christmas Mass where all the faithful line up to come and kiss the doll of baby Jesus. This is like saying "let's try to do the most offensive things possible to our Jewish guests (for there are hundreds who come to Christmas Mass) and have them leave with the firm conviction that Catholics do, in fact, worship statues."
I personally still struggle with Marian devotion to the point where I feel at times in some places it borderlines idolatory. I pray to Mary, pray the Rosary (fully understanding that the prayers to the communion of saints are so they intercede on our behalf before God) but i still struggle actually kneeling in front of a statue of her in Mass. I see others touching the statue as they pray and that may be there thing, but if an outsider was to see (ie. Jew) they would find it offensive. Especially the crowning of Mary as queen of heaven and physically placing the crown on her head - i can just see every other Christian - Jew would see this as highly idolatorous.

Ariel wrote:A little inculturation and sensitivity anyone? Please pray for our priests in the Holy Land that they would get the hint that we are to draw people to the Messiah, not push them away from him.
Our Church is right next to a Synagogue and though when we have mass its probably not in use, but i talked to our Parish priest about the word Yahweh in songs & readings and how Jews find it offensive saying the name of God. He kind of agreed with me to a point. I agree we should try to draw people to Christ and not push them away.
I beleive the Church is already in process of revising the missal to remove Yahweh from readings & songs though I cant remember where i read this.

Rob

Fidesetratio
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Post by Fidesetratio » Mon Jan 12, 2009 12:27 am

Hello All,

Tried to edit the poll to include "all of the above" but cant seem to find an edit option on the poll itself. Is that "locked" in now so i can't edit it?
Maybe the moderators can do it for me :)

Peace,
Rob

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Post by Athol » Mon Jan 12, 2009 8:54 am

I think the biggest obstacle is their Gentile evangelical converters who indoctrinate them with their anti-Catholic ideas. Many Jews who became Messianic don't seem to be as anti-Catholic as their evangelical converters. I have always found most Jewish people quite positive towards Mother Mary even when they are hostile to Jesus.

cheers Athol
Adore Wisdom

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Post by Hadassah » Mon Jan 12, 2009 1:02 pm

Rob and All,

I certainly want to be sensitive. In fact I thank God for Ariel and Athol and others who have helped me to become more so in areas regarding the Jewish people just over the last months. And Lord knows that I want nothing more than to draw people to Christ and to His Church. I guess I would like to hear more about what you are thinking. How would you have the Church or general practice change?

You mentioned the change regarding the divine tetragrammaton (YHWH). If you are interested in the letter, you can find it here. As far as I know, this does not affect the English translations of the Roman Missal nor the translation of the New American Bible which does not use the word in the main text. And the music publisher we use has only one song which would be at issue. So I don't think that the prevalence of speaking the Lord's name was all that great (at least here) to begin with.

As an aside, I was in a lovely Jewish bookstore the other day and had a wonderful discussion with the proprietor (a rabbi also and father of nine) about the Names of God. And the names of Moses, actually. Interestingly, he assumed throughout our conversation that I was Jewish. It is a family owned business and the elderly father and his sons also restore Torah scrolls from all over the world and place them in local Jewish synagogues. It was a wonderful and interesting visit.

Hadassah

Fidesetratio
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Post by Fidesetratio » Tue Jan 13, 2009 2:43 am

Hadassah wrote:Rob and All,

.... I guess I would like to hear more about what you are thinking. How would you have the Church or general practice change?
Hi Hadassah,

I have been brought up Catholic, but once i started to read the Bible on my own, nearly found myself a Baptist, then after stumbling upon Catholic forums, i found my way back to being Catholic. I have been studying Catholic Apologetics and am quite confident in defending most of the typical anti-Catholic attacks. Believe me - i have seen just about all of them.

However, there are some areas I personally struggle with, and not that I can't defend it from a Catholic perspective, but sometimes I feel like im still searching for the "truth" - if you know what i mean.
Like alot of people :D we all have our own opinion of how we think we can change the Church for the better. I think its best to keep my opinions to myself as i dont want to cause any animosity here, as I am a guest.
I will make one exception and say - the doctrine of Assumption - I really feel the argument from Scripture is weak at best, and to dogmatize it I really feel was unnecessary & counter-productive to try & unite Christians.
But thats my personal feelings - and I know i still have to submit to the Church!
Hadassah wrote: You mentioned the change regarding the divine tetragrammaton (YHWH). If you are interested in the letter, you can find it here. As far as I know, this does not affect the English translations of the Roman Missal nor the translation of the New American Bible which does not use the word in the main text. And the music publisher we use has only one song which would be at issue. So I don't think that the prevalence of speaking the Lord's name was all that great (at least here) to begin with.
Thanks for the letter...I knew i read it somewhere! Just couldnt remember.

Hadassah wrote: As an aside, I was in a lovely Jewish bookstore the other day and had a wonderful discussion with the proprietor (a rabbi also and father of nine) about the Names of God. And the names of Moses, actually. Interestingly, he assumed throughout our conversation that I was Jewish. It is a family owned business and the elderly father and his sons also restore Torah scrolls from all over the world and place them in local Jewish synagogues. It was a wonderful and interesting visit.

Hadassah
So I take there are some "liberal" (for lack of a better word) Jews that dont have a problem mentioning the name of God, ie YHWH in general discussion etc...?

Peace to all,
Rob

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