Putting saints on pedestals

Lately I attended a public lecture on faith and at one point an intervention from the audience questioned the importance given to saints, especially in the way Catholics seem to worship them.  The argument went around the 50th anniversary of the coronation of St. Joseph and about how can anyone coronate someone other than Jesus Christ, our God and Saviour.  For a second this made me think about the role saints have in our religion, and how at times, especially in feasts, we tend to adore a saint more than we ever adore God.  Why do we give any importance to mere humans like us?  Well I guess we see in saints something we admire, something we wish we possess, and something that is God-like.

Taking St. Joseph as an example, I thought of what God-like characteristic could this man have had; something that could make him worthy to be coronated!  Humility – that is the quality which first came to mind when I thought of St. Joseph.  So through this we are saying that God is humble, well how is this so? Well, from an All Mighty God he decided to come on earth, become human and live the lives of humans.  He decided to renounce the possibility of saving His people by the click of a finger, and become a weakling in the eyes of humans in order to take on him our sins. What a humiliating position!

Does St. Joseph replicate this?  A respected man, who is about to marry a good woman, is seemingly made a fool by her.  Instead of condemning her, he wanted to find a way to save her, risking humiliation.  A respected man who, unto being told, even if by an angel, that all this was part of a plan, instead of shaking off this seemingly nonsense dream he believed and humbly accepted something he could not understand.  He was ready to give up everything in order to protect his wife and apparently ‘special’ child.  A humble act indeed!

It is not the ‘if’ we should put saints on pedestals which is an issue, but rather the ‘how’!  Would we be celebrating one’s humility or would we be alienating this quality from what it was directed to?  How can we praise and supposedly learn from the lives of such saints when at times we only seem to be putting their lives and example in vain?   I guess here we have to question feasts and other such religious activities/pilgrims connected to saints.  Expression of one’s feelings is essential.  Expressing our humbleness in realising that we are not always the most knowledgeable and powerful beings would be a good way to show our admiration and high-esteem towards St. Joseph, and once understanding his humility, then yes, let us put him on a pedestal, because it is only then that we will ever understand why he is a saint and therefore why he is to be held in the highest regard.

14 thoughts on “Putting saints on pedestals

  • Reply Ros 19th June 2013 at 3:16 pm

    Umm only God is to be worshipped and adored.. no other entity or thing.. this was made clear during Moses’s times.. in fact it’s so important that it is the first commandment.. the angel in Revelations made that clear to St. John yet again..

    I wonder whether a person might make an object or another person or even himself and his needs an idol or a god with a small g.. only because he might have not tasted yet, have not experienced yet.. a personal daily relationship with the Lord.. have not tasted yet how good and loving and always there our God is..

    • Reply Bernard Micallef 19th June 2013 at 3:35 pm

      You are right Ros, only God is to be worshiped and adored. By doing feasts and celebrating a person, a saint’s life, is not adoring him or her. There is a risk in the the saint being adored as I mentioned in the article, but if we look at what feasts really are and how they started, one can understand that people looked at people who lived a good life in high-esteem, and so they put them as an example to follow in the light of God’s characteristics. Sometimes it is hard for people to get that intimate relationship with God, and so we use saints as models of how God wants us to live, towards reaching God.

      Yes, today’s reality sometimes seems much further than this, and what I saying seems too ideological, but we must strive to reach and help people reach again this understanding of feasts and celebration of saints

  • Reply Aldo Lombardi 21st June 2013 at 1:48 pm

    It is clear that we are taught that way by the Roman catholic church, I have been studying scripture for over 5 years now and its true Ros you are talking about the first commandment but nobody talks about the 2nd commandment which we are not taught by the Roman catholic church, mind you you will find such commandments in the Holy Scripture of the Bible in Exodus 20:3-17 and also in the books of Deuteronomy 5:6-21.

    Verse 3 is the First commandment
    “You shall have no other gods before Me.

    Verse 4-6 is the Second commandment
    4 “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; 5 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, 6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

    The second commandment has been left out by the Roman catholic church, why because it has filled the whole world with Idolatry, so if the 2nd command has been left out why the Commandments are still 10 in count?

    If you go to the last command in verse 17 it says:

    17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”

    This command was split into 2….

  • Reply Aldo Lombardi 21st June 2013 at 1:54 pm

    This command was split into 2, lets take a look at the verse again and in what we were taught these are 2 commands not just one, if you read the context of the command its enough to find out that it is one.

    17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”

    and we know it as 2 commandments

    No: 9 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house;
    No:10 you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”

    in the following post I am going to quote all ten commandments as are given to us in the Bible.

    Remember you can check them in your bibles too and also to remind you again look for them in the book of Deuteronomy 5:6-21.

  • Reply Aldo Lombardi 21st June 2013 at 2:02 pm

    3 “You shall have no other gods before Me.

    4 “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; 5 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, 6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

    7 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.

    8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.

    12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.

    13 You shall not murder.
    14 You shall not commit adultery.
    15 You shall not steal.
    16 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
    17 You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife,.

  • Reply Bernard Micallef 21st June 2013 at 3:04 pm

    Mr.Lombardi, the second commandment is incorporated into the first, as creating an image becomes wrong when that image that the place of God, thus having gods other than the one true God. In my article I have expressed the steps that one should take in order to come to a position to be able to see a person as having characteristics similar to those of God, and so putting a saint in the highest regard. God Himself has shown us His image through His coming on earth, in order to save us and create that bridge between man and God. The images of God and saints today help us understand better, since these are full of signs.

    According to the 2nd Council of Nicaea, images and statues are to be made in order to remind people of saints and their holy lives, just as photos remind us of our loved ones, but these should not lead to adoration of the saints, as this should only be towards the Divine. We must understand that during the time when Exodus was written, various cultures adored statues and false gods, so it had to be made clear that these statues are not really gods. We now understand this, and so use these images in a positive way, always with the aim of finally arriving to God. Anything other than this is seen as wrong by the Church.

  • Reply Aldo Lombardi 21st June 2013 at 3:26 pm

    I understand Mr. Micallef, but that is what the Roman Catholic church teaches and not what the bible teaches, by the looks of it you have not read what I have thoroughly explained, I have been studying scripture for over five years now by the help of the Holy Spirit

    “You shall have no other gods before Me. is the first commandment from Verse 4-6 is another commandment, its a different context in itself, first He is Commanding NOT to have other God’s before me, and in the next commandment is Commanding not to make any graven image of any sort, both of them are to different commands.

    Even so even if it was part of the 1st command it was Broken by the Roman catholic church which filled the whole world with idolatry of all kinds shapes and sizes.

    Then why is verse 17 which is one command has been split into 2 commands?

    This command was split into 2, lets take a look at the verse again and in what we were taught these are 2 commands not just one, if you read the context of the command its enough to find out that it is one.

    17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”

    No: 9 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house;
    No:10 you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”

    While verse 17 is just a 1 command and not 2

  • Reply Bernard Micallef 21st June 2013 at 4:19 pm

    I see your point, and yes I have read your answer. We read the same Bible, and so the Catholic Church has not really omitted this second sacrament, it is only that in her daily teachings, this commandment is seen in light of the first. I believe that the Holy Spirit still leads the Catholic Church today, and even though they were eras and groups in the Church which have not always taught or acted in the best way, because was we say we are all sinners, the official teaching of the Church was always as I have mentioned – such images shall be of a tool for the good of its believers as a reminder on the persons who have excelled in the life God wants us to live, and in His direction.

    Now your question is why has the Church decided to divide the last commandment in two. Well I believe that this was done in light of prayer and inspiration by the Holy Spirit, and that the Church understood that women and objects cannot be seen as the same (as opposed to the way they were seen then), and so it would be better to present them as two different commandments.

    • Reply Aldo Lombardi 21st June 2013 at 5:03 pm

      Mr.Micallef if the Roman catholic church does teach according to scripture believe me we will not be having this discussion, I was brought up like you faithful to the Roman catholic church but it does not mean that it is the truth, mark my words that if we were brought up under the Arabs still we would have been Muslims, so what am I saying here? we are Roman catholics by default, we chose a blind faith without testing according to scripture, there were times where people were burnt alive for owning a copy of the new testament this will bring to light the actual reason, the reason is the church was preaching what was contrary to the scripture for this very reason clergy from among the R.catholic church itself found out this by studying the scripture themselves, and many will argue that it is coming by self.interpretation and not by the Holy Spirit.

      If it was so, such clergy would have had a different meaning altogether, and so would we as Christians not catholics today. You see the Rcc. has ridiculed the authority of scripture and has put her authority above it. For this very reason catholic people don’t look at God’s word as their final authority and place their trust upon men and also lean on their own understanding which God told us not to Provers 3:5.

      What you said about the last commandment is a total blasphemy, why? because nobody has any authority to change scripture, add to it or take away.

      I will post in my next post God’s word where it makes such statements.

    • Reply Ros 21st June 2013 at 5:07 pm

      I too have always thought that the second commandment is incorporated within the first one.. however more recently I started to look at it more closely and it clearly commands that no images are to be done or adored.. true because of OT contexts but perhaps even in other eras such as ours. What preoccupies me is while us sharing in here reflect on matters such as these.. yet when one looks around during our traditional feasts both during religious celebrations in the Church itself as well as street celebrations.. are these commandments being honoured or otherwise? do persons even realize what they were traditional taught or what they do?

      Lately I also realized more that it doesn’t have to be objects that become idols, but also persons or even one’s ownself can become a idol, in the sense that the “I” becomes more important than anything else.. when the Lord is authentic selfless and selfgiving love. It’s amazing when there starts to be a personal relationship with God.. how one starts perceiving the commandments as loving guides towards our Creator and towards becoming more holy so as to live and enjoy Him eternally.. rather than viewing them as rules!

      • Reply Aldo Lombardi 21st June 2013 at 8:59 pm

        Amen Ros, it is clear so very clear that the 2nd commandment has nothing to do with the first,
        The first four commandments deal with our relationship with God. The last six commandments deal with our relationships with one another. The Ten Commandments are recorded in the Bible in Exodus 20:1-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21 and are as follows

  • Reply Aldo Lombardi 21st June 2013 at 5:05 pm

    Deuteronomy 4:2 “You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take anything from it”

    Deuteronomy 12:32 “Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.

    The reason God is so adamant on this is because “The entirety of Your word is truth” (Psalms 119: 160).

    Proverbs 30:6. “Add thou not unto His words, lest He reprove thee, and thou be found a liar”

    Revelation 22:19 “and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

  • Reply Bernard Micallef 21st June 2013 at 11:16 pm

    First of all thank you for your insights because yes they have made me think more about the subject. Ros I agree with you that at times people do not look at the meaning of things, losing all the meaning and teaching the Church has to offer, and miss out on this great religious and spiritual experience.

    Mr.Lombardi, I think we have to put everything into perspective and remember that the Bible was written within a context. The Jewish faith in God started long before any word was written as Holy Scripture, and so it was the experience of the people themselves which lead them to write scripture. Yes this was inspired by the Holy Spirit, and every since it was always seen as holding the Word of God. So I’m sure you understand the RCC’s stance which holds Tradition and Holy Scripture as the two pillars which give our faith is based on. Jesus did not ask the evangelists to write the Gospels, but it was their experience and will which lead them to such preservation. Yes, these writings were wanted by God, and are held to be the Word of God (though we believe not exhaustive as God still works through us today).

    My place in the Chuch today is not by default as I have grown and built a relationship with God. May I also add that statues are not idols, as they are not adored. The Church has not taken anything away from the Bible. You might always want to look at par.2129-2132 of the CCC, referring also to the cherubim, ark of covenant and serpent as images in the OT.

  • Reply Aldo Lombardi 22nd June 2013 at 9:54 pm

    Mr.Micallef,

    The Bible took 1600 years to be written by 40 different people all from different places and there is not one contradiction in it, and I challenge anyone to pick 10 Roman catholic people and give them a questioner about who is God and so on and I am 100% positive that we will get 10 different answers. The reason for this is because they are spiritually dead, yes there are those who are more religious than others but that does not mean they had a spiritual rebirth.

    You are saying that the Bible was written within a context, right, but that does not mean that what was written in the bible it is just a story and it does not apply for us now today, and neither we can take like what we like today and what we don’t like we say it does not apply to us today, Romans 15:4 speak about this “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”

    You said that Jesus did not ask the evangelist to write the Gospel and yet you say that God wanted such writings, I have no doubt that God wanted such writings at all, You might want to talk then about why the Roman catholic church has made the Bible the most forbidden books in the world for so many years? people think and so do you because that how they indoctrinate people that the Roman catholic church gave us the Bible, but we know she did not, because God gave us the Bible and if it wasn’t for true men of God that were martyrs people from within the Roman catholic church itself who actually left the church for biblical reasons we would not have the bible in our own native tongue today.

    God is truly working through those who are spiritually Born Again, but I can ensure you that there is nothing that we can add to God’s word today as in doctrine and this is another foul of the Roman catholic institution, that she took away and added to scripture while I have already shown you that God is clear the His word is shout and such revelation is sealed, and we aught not to add to it nor take away.

    Mr.Micallef if you were born in a Muslim country you would have been Muslim like I would have been too, that is why I said we are Born Roman catholics by default, you have studied what you were brought up to believe, if you truly search God and His truth you will no longer be, like many Roman catholics priests and nuns today and in the times of reformation, why not by choice but because they truly fear God, so they sought the truth and the truth has set them Free, and that is what I am encouraging you to do, because there is only one truth and that’s God’s word. The question is, How much more you love God and His truth more then your position in the church, your family, your colleges and your friends, More than their LIVES, hearing such testimonies from former Priests and nuns just shows how they love God more than their lives.

    You said “that statues are not idols, as they are not adored”

    God in His Commands says carved images which we call statues, and yes they are IDOLS Big Time and yes they are worshipped, and please don’t tell me that, that is the peoples choice and you have no control over it, they deck them with silver and gold and they are worshipped by the masses in the streets of our villages and some more then others pay thousands of Euro to carry them, and you don’t call that worship, leaning down in front of them, lighting up candles offering flowers etc? my mother gave her best expensive diamond ring a very long time ago as a promise to a statue of “Madonna tas-sahha” isn’t that worship? why would a statues need a diamond ring? and what can a statue do? and isn’t that false doctrine which is taken innocent people to HELL? Praise God my mother today is saved and God has opened her eyes to these things.

    I heard this a Million time honestly, always trying to justify sin, The cherubim for the ark of the covenant that God has asked for where not to be worshipped, The Ark of the Covenant was a different kind of religious symbol than the Israelites were used to. It was not a statue meant to represent the physical manifestation of a god. It was not a container for God—it was to be respected but not worshipped. Instead, it was a place where God and man could meet. Both literally, as God would hover over the Ark when the priests approached it, and figuratively through the law that was kept inside.

    When God told Moses to make a serpent on a pole it wasn’t to be worshipped! either and neither it was to remind them of anything or anyone, to say the least that was a prophecy that the son of man would be nailed to the tree and will be saved by Him, same as the Jews were saved by the fiery serpent on the pole from the bites. which is found in:

    Numbers 21:8

    Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.”

    One must read the whole chapter in context to find out what was the reason of its being.

    Then, If you go to 2 Kings 18:4 you will find that they started to worship the serpent which was on the pole and it was removed !!!

    He removed the high places and broke the sacred pillars, cut down the wooden image and broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made; for until those days the children of Israel burned incense to it, and called it Nehushtan.

    So you cannot cancelled hundreds of scriptures where GOD has commanded not to make any form of carved image by neither a cherubim nor a serpent on a stick. 🙂

    The church has not taken away nothing from the bible?
    did not teach the first commandment to start with, you go and look what Acts 8:37 says and then we will talk I will give you a list of missing scriptures from all Roman catholic published bibles. 🙂

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