Images, idols, veneration, adoration
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Belo horizonte - MG,

translation from the original in Portuguese. Bible excerpts were extracted from the NIV protestant version of the Bible)

Dear Orlando Fedeli, the peace of Our Lord Jesus Christ be always with you.

I have read the page READER"S CORNER from this site, where you answered the reader Sandro, to an email sent by him on: Saturday, November 27, 1999 5:08pm, if I had his email, I would send this one with carbon copy to him, but, since I don"t, in case you are unable to publish my letter, I would appreciate if, for professional or particular reasons, you could answer directly to me.

Let us go straight to the point: In the book from Apostle Matthew, in the fourth chapter, verse 10, we read: “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, AND HIM ONLY SHALT THOU SERVE.” Words like adoration, veneration, idols and images can mess up the head of anyone, isn"t it?

From my point of view, idolatry, for example, confuses people who begin to identify statues with living creatures.

Deceived by this mistake, they repeat: “I don"t adore idols. Idol is another thing. These images are Saints", I don"t adore them, I just v e n e r a t e...” Let us go through a little grammar. By comparing the exact meaning of the expressions adoration and veneration, we will see that both are equivalent. Open up your dictionary Aurélio and see that Adore – (from LATIN: adorare) – means to revere, to love extremely, to VENERATE, idolize.

Well then, close your Aurélio. If there was no adoration, then there would not be prayers to that idol, image or whatever you wish to call it, neither would there be offerings (people paying for promises) and even less there would be prostrations before it (Revering).

If everything I said happens, by synonymy, there is adoration. It is urgent that everyone gets to know the Word of God, for it condemns, in many verses, idolatry, adoration (or veneration) to images of saints.

“Their idols are silver and gold, made by the hands of men. They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but they cannot see; they have ears, but cannot hear, noses, but they cannot smell; they have HANDS, but cannot feel, FEET, but they cannot walk; nor can they utter a sound with their throats. Those who make them will be LIKE them, and so will all who TRUST in them.” The psalmist (Ps 115. 4-8), when speaking of HANDS and FEET, for sure is not making reference SERPENTS, OXEN, LIONS nor RATS.

And moreover, when we wish to see all kinds of animals, we go to the Zoo and not to the Catholic Church (that is believed by some to be the only and true one ... in another visit I will question this subject, in the {Word of God), even because, in the sides and in the altars of the church, what we see are not figures of animals, but, instead, IMAGES OF MEN AND WOMEN, many times in natural size, which have hands, feet, eyes, throat, nose ears, etc…) In the scriptures, we also read [...] so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol, an image of any shape, whether formed like a man or a woman [the underline is mine], or like any animal on earth or any bird that flies in the air, or like any creature that moves along the ground or any fish in the waters below. And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars-all the heavenly array-do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshiping things the LORD your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven. But as for you, the LORD took you […] to be the people of his inheritance, as you now are.” (Dt 4:16-20) In order for you, dear Orlando Fedeli, always remember, before typing the following phrase: THERE IS NO CONTRADICTION IN OUR GOD, wishing thereby to think that the evangelicals (protestants, as you wrongly named) isolate some texts, as for example the famous (Deut. XVI, 21 or Dt 16:21) from other texts, I tell you that the evangelicals do not isolate texts, for, if you have the curiosity, that you initially does not appear to have, of opening, it may be your own Bible, in the Second book of the Kings, chapter 18, verses 3 and 4: “He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father David had done. He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the BRONZE SNAKE Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it. (It was called Nehushtan)”. Ezechias made what was straight before God because he loved Him and wanted to serve Him with the fullness of his heart.

I go on...

Jesus Christ said to us: "I am the way and the truth and the life. NO ONE comes to the Father except through me” (Jo 14:6) “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it” (Jo 14:13) The Apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Ghost wrote: "For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus”: (1Tm 2.5) I believe, correct me (through the Word), that in order for us to reach God, we do not depend on Twelve Saint Apostles, nor Friar Damian, nor Mother Tereza of Calcuta, nor sister Dulce or sister Benigna, nor Father Cicero or Eustaquio, for Christ is very clear and it is not even necessary to be very intelligent, to know that is only through Jesus Christ, without intermediates, that we can reach God.

Jesus Christ told us as well:” I would like to challenge you to publish it entirely, and answer it, in the section READER"S CORNER, once I am, not assiduous, but I read the Home Page of Montfort Cultural Association.

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (Jo 8:32) In time, I am not protestant, for I was born in Brazil. Respect is good and we like it.

Protesting and contradictory Saul,

“Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee” (Lk I, 28)

“Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb” (Lk I, 42)

Mr. Saul, you begin your letter wishing me peace and finished it defying me and insinuating that I do not respect the others. As a proof of your “evangelical” respect, you say to me: “when we wish to see all kinds of animals, we go to the Zoo and not to the Catholic Church” etc. And afterwards you say at the end of your letter – leaving out what you previously wrote about the Zoo: “Respect is good and we like it” I also like respect. But I would not consider respectful, who, by fake respect to me, left me in error. I would thank whoever showed me some error, to correct me and to save me, because the respect to the next demands us not to respect their faults. This is what the teacher does when correcting the exams from his dear students.

I accept your challenge and I will publish your letter, with pleasure. It is pretty funny, and it will entertain our readers a great deal.

Do not complain about the approximations I will make – in retribution of yours – and that will be funny as well.

After wishing me in peace, you come armed against me, to challenge me to a combat, as if I was Goliath.

There comes Saul, such as a new and heroic David, armed with the “father of the dummies” (as we commonly call the dictionary in Brazil) and with badly chosen excerpts from the Sacred Scriptures.

This is the first time that Saul imitates David. But if Saul, who was anything but good, has prophesied among other prophets (1 Kings XIX, 24), why could not you – who is also Saul – heroically challenge me, such as a new David?

There comes then Saul, today, among the “warriors” ... of the Internet. Intending to play the wise prophet, theologian and dictionary expert. With protestant Bible and dictionary included.

Learn then, my dear Saul, first of all, that no dictionary is a treaty on epistemology, hermeneutic nor exegesis. And learn also that any serious study on synonymy will tell you that no synonym is absolutely equal.

Learn still, my dear opposer, that if there are two different words to designate something or an action, it is because each one of them gives a different nuance of the same thing or action. If two words are absolutely identical, the language tends to eliminate one of them.

Thus, to adore is not the same as to venerate, and even less, to idolize. Each one of these words has a different sense.

If your “father of the dummies” does not make this distinction, it is because it is not a very wise “father of the dummies”. And although the most famous “father of the dummies” in Brazil is called Aurélio, if you compare it to any foreign “father of the dummies”, you will promptly see a difference... a difference which is, let me say ... gigantic (I hesitated in the selection of the adjective, and I have used a very vulgar one, just to keep the respect).

“To adore” stands for recognizing something or someone as God, the Creator of all things.

Although your friend Aurélio – that does not reside here in my house – does not explain it, “to idolize” stands for the opposite, in a certain sense, for it assigns the action of adoring a creature instead of adoring the Creator.

Materially, the action of adoring and that of idolizing are identical. Formally they are opposite.

For sure you understand the difference between matter and form, in regard of an action. But, in order to help your reminding and comprehension, I will give you a didactical example, for an expert in dictionary and in distorted reading of the Bible is often so busy in memorizing and quoting the Scriptures in “centimeters” and “millimeters”, that one can easily have forgotten such an elementary thing. Moreover, the Brazilian “fathers of the dummies”, and even the foreign ones, do not deal with it.

Well then, Mr. Saul, there goes the didactical example I have promised you: A physician who makes a surgery in the heart of a patient and a murderer, materially speaking, act in the same way: they open the chest of a human being with a cutting and piercing instrument (scalpel or a dagger). However, formally, their actions are opposite, for one has by end the healing of the man from whom he opened the chest – (This is the doctor, did you get it Mr. Saul?) – while the other aims to kill the one he opened the chest with the dagger (This is the murderer, clear, Mr. Saul?).

Thereby, that who adores God and that who adores an idol do things that materially are equivalent, but formally are opposite. That is why there are the verbs to adore and to idolize.

Poor Dictionary Aurélio states that to adore, to revere, to idolize, and to love extremely are synonyms. It is you who ensures me that. And whoever followed you and your distorted way of reading, Mr. Saul, would conclude that when someone says: “I love chocolate very much” would be considering chocolate as the Creator of heaven and earth. And when yourself say: “I love my kids extremely”, you would be – according Aurélio"s opinion – performing an act of idolatry, since for the dictionary, and for you, to love extremely is the same as to adore.

What a foolish reasoning, don"t you think so, Mr. Saul?

Can you realize the dead-end road the “father of the dummies” has taken you?

Mr. Saul, Mr. Saul... Put your “father of the dummies” away. Let it go. Do you want a piece of advice? Be an “orphan”. At least when you argue about religion or philosophy, do not base yourself on popular dictionaries; be an “orphan”, I repeat.

But you probably will not accept my advice. How is it possible that a Saul, who wants to imitate David, would accept an advice from someone who he considers to be Goliath, although I am just 5"3""?

Patience!... The advice has been generously given.

You tell me you are evangelic and not protestant.

This is false, Mr. Saul. You are protestant indeed. There is no “evangelic” religion. This adjective is falsely used by you and many others in our days.

What is the denomination of your sect, Mr. Saul?

Do not hide what you really are, behind the adjective “evangelic”, which is way too vague. Behind it there are Lutherans, who believe that Christ is God. But it also hides Jehovah"s Witnesses who do not believe in Christ"s divinity.

What is your sect, Mr. Saul? There are thousands of sects calling themselves “evangelic”, each one of them intending to be the only truthful Church. What is your sect Mr. Saul? You do not say, and you hide yourself behind the term “evangelic”.

In reality, you are a son of Luther. And one does not need to be German in order to be protestant, that is to say, to be son of Luther. There are, unfortunately, Brazilians sons of his (and also of the dictionary). And do not complain about this “approximation”, for it was you who approximated the Catholic Church to the Zoo.

Do you know Camões, the famous Portuguese poet? Do you? Do you remember what he wrote?

"For even among the Portuguese traitors there were sometimes".

For I reminded this verse, when I read your last phrase: “In time, I am not protestant, for I was born in Brazil.” For even among the Brazilian, Protestants there were many times, Mr. Saul.

Who is born in Brazil is Brazilian, but not necessarily is Catholic, Protestant or a tailor.

You"re not doing well with logics, Mr. Saul. The dictionary and the distorted reading of the Bible is causing you “rheumatism” in your imaginative faculties, Mr. Saul.

Do you want an evidence?

You have quoted me an excerpt from the second Book of the Kings (XVIII, 3-4) in order to prove that King Ezequias had destroyed the brazen serpent made by Moses.

Thanks for the evidence that I am right.

For what does this excerpt that you quote prove?

It proves: 1. That Moses indeed made a serpent made of bronze; 2. that this serpent was kept by the Jews for a long period of time; 3. that they ended up adoring it or saying inappropriate cult to it 4. and due to that, Ezequias broke it up.

Was Moses wrong when he made the brazen serpent? Of course not, because it was God Himself who ordered it to be set up and to be looked at in order to heal the Jews. Were the Jews wrong in keeping it? Of course not, because they showed gratitude and obedience to God by doing so. And among those who conserved it were Moses, Joshua, the Judges, David, Solomon. Would it be possible that they were all wrong? Would it be possible that none of them had an “Aurélio” nor any other pocket dictionary to learn that adoring, venerating, revering, and loving extremely are all the same thing?

And none of the above could count on a clever Saul to advice them? Why, for so many centuries, God and His messengers allowed the brazen serpent to be kept?

It is obvious that it was allowed because it was not adored. When they abusively transformed it into an idol, Ezequias immediately destroyed it. But bear in mind, Mr. Saul, that “abusus non tolit usum”. And do not you think that this is a Church"s commandment: it is a juridical principle from Roman Right: Misuse does not expunge use. If one abuses on the cult of dulia due to a saint and to his image, and shifts it from veneration to idolatry, this is a condemned abuse that does not turn forbidden nor invalid the cult of dulia – and not of latria – due to a saint and his image.

Were then the Jews wrong in transforming it into an idol? Obviously so, and Ezequias did very well in destroying it.

Therefore, as long as one does not adore an image as if it was God, it is licit to have it and even “to look at it to be healed”, as God commanded.

And no true Catholic look at an image of Our Lady or of the saints thinking that they are God and adoring these images. We venerate it, in the same manner you venerate your mother"s photograph.

And when we pray to Our Lady, we just repeat the text from Saint Luke which I quoted to you in the very beginning of this letter. And which you most certainly refuse to repeat.

In Saint Luke"s you also find: “all generations shall call me blessed” (Lk I, 48) Every generation shall call the Virgin Mary blessed. Every generation but yours, Mr. Saul.

Which is then your generation, Mr. Saul?

Can you see how distorted is your reading of the Bible?

You ask me to correct you (through the Word) that in order to reach God, one can only make it through Christ. So I will correct you.

First of all, let me ask you a question: How did you know that Christ is our only mediator?

By chance, did Christ appear to you?

I don"t believe so.

Christ does not appear to any Saul.

You will tell me that you knew Christ by reading the Gospels. By means of the Gospels.

Therefore, there was a mean established by Christ himself for knowing Him. Our Lord Jesus Christ chose twelve apostles to teach everyone who was Him, and whoever does not listen to these mediators of Christ, does not listen to Christ Himself: “He that heareth you heareth me” (Lk X, 16). Christ has demanded us to listen to His apostles and evangelists as “secondary mediators” between God and us.

And to Peter He Said: “and thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren” (Lk XXII, 32).

He did not give this mission to anyone else.

And you, Mr. Saul, refuse – like every protestant – to be confirmed by Peter.

Christ could have decided to come to this world as an adult. He wanted to come by means of the Holy Blessed Mary. Mr. Saul does not accept what God has established, because Mr. Saul, dictionary expert, thinks that he understands the Bible and only accepts from it what he, Saul, thinks to be correct, and it is only correct what Saul thinks.

Mr. Saul – like every Protestant – declares to believe in the Bible, but chooses what he wants to believe in the Bible. The protestant declares to believe in the Bible, but he does not believe in what it says. The protestant transforms the Bible into an idol.

Do you want another proof that you do not accept everything which is in the Bible?

Our Lord Jesus Christ, at the time of His death in the Calvary, gave us the Holy Blessed Mary to be our Mother, by saying to her and to Saint John: “Woman, behold thy son. (…) Behold thy mother” (Jo XIX, 26-27).

Is this text on your Bible, Mr. Saul?

Of course it is!

But it happens that you do not accept it, because you do not want to accept Holy Blessed Mary as your mother.

But, bear in mind, my dear Saul, that only those who have Mary as Mother can have God as Father. You will only become David, if you accept she who God has chosen as a mean to come to us. If you accept that Christ established her as mediator between Him and us. That is why it is said that to the shepherds and to the kings it was pointed that they should find the Redeemer with his mother. And you think, quite erroneously, that you can find Christ disregarding His holy blessed Mother.

And you think that there can be a Church of Christ outside the foundation, which Christ Himself established: “That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church” (Mt XVI, 18).

What is your church? Who has founded it? How old is it?

If it was not built upon Peter, it is not the only Church of Christ. That"s why the Roman Catholic Church is the unique Church of God, the only true Church, outside which there is no salvation.

Yes, “the truth shall set you free”, said Jesus. And Mr. Saul, poor Saul, keeps attached to his biases, which are the glasses that distort everything he reads. The truth sets us free. And the truth is only possessed wholly and perfectly by the Roman Apostolic Catholic Church, outside which there is no salvation.

Hoping to have pleased you, and wishing you the light of true Faith, I subscribe myself.

In Corde Jesu et Mariae, semper.
Orlando Fedeli.