We’ve been visiting about the saints lately, and I think at this point I should put in a comment about an all-important aspect about devotion to saints. CATHOLICS DO NOT WORSHIP SAINTS!! We love them, we admire them, we struggle to imitate them and we thank God for their presence among us. BUT, WE DO NOT WORSHIP THEM.
Only GOD can be worshipped. God is the author of all existence, all creation, and it is right for us to fall on our knees and adore Him. Saints were and are simply human beings who dwelt among us and led extraordinary lives of commitment to Jesus Christ and His Heavenly Father.
We all need encouragement. We all need examples of success. This is true in sports, government leaders, the world of science, and every other major area of human endeavor. It therefore is certainly necessary for we, the baptized brothers and sisters of Jesus, to keep examples before our eyes of men and women gone before us and who left concrete examples of heroic virtue and holiness.
So, when you go into a Catholic Church, and you see St. Ignatius of Loyola in an alcove of one side of the church, or St. Theresa, they are not items of idolatry, but tools in a normal need to be reminded of their example. Another example of symbolic reminders is our Statue of Liberty in the New York Harbor. Whether people are leaving or entering the country, people are profoundly moved by the sight. It is not just an enormous hunk of metal, but a symbolic reminder of what the United States stands for. My mother’s picture beside my desk provides the same type of service.
This is the role of all Christian art, saint statues included!