Dear parish family and friends of St. Julia,
At the end of a funeral for a priest or deacon the bishop intones the Salve Regina (Hail, Holy Queen). He then turns to a statue of our Blessed Mother, as the other priests and deacons join in singing. Throughout the pandemic, and more recently as we pray for peace in Ukraine, we have turned to our Blessed Mother in prayer seeking her intercession. I have been reading through the notes from our synod listening sessions for my benefit so that I too can listen to the needs of our community and help lead our parish, and one of the questions asked was “why do we turn to porcelain statue when we pray the Hail Mary?” Rather than wait for Pope Francis to answer this question, I thought it would be of great benefit for all. So, why do we turn to a statue of Mary? Why do we fix our eyes upon the crucifix? Why do we have stained glass in our churches?
The crucifix is the very sign of our faith. Throughout history, the Church has used stained glass windows, icons, paintings, and statues to teach the early Christians, many who could neither read or write. Today, these forms of art beautify our churches and homes. They inspire us and enrich our sacred spaces. Our statue of the Blessed Mother, for example, is far more than just decorative. It provides us with a focal point during prayer as we seek her intercession. All of these focal points encourage deeper devotion and lift our hearts to heaven.
Statues have been a source of argument in the early centuries of the Church. They are not idols for worship. The Church formally confirmed the use of statues and other art as means of veneration at the Second Council of Nicaea in 787 A.D. They clarified, approved, and encouraged the use of statues.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church 2132 teaches us:
The Christian veneration of images is not contrary to the first commandment which proscribes idols. Indeed, "the honour rendered to an image passes to its prototype," and "whoever venerates an image venerates the person portrayed in it." The honour paid to sacred images is a "respectful veneration," not the adoration due to God alone:
Religious worship is not directed to images in themselves, considered as mere things, but under their distinctive aspect as images leading us on to God incarnate. The movement toward the image does not terminate in it as image, but tends toward that whose image it is.
Thus, we do not worship the statue, but rather we venerate the person portrayed.
As we continue our journey through the month of May, may our eyes be drawn to our Blessed Mother Mary as we seek her intercession for peace in Ukraine and in our hearts.
May God bless each of you and those that you love.
From Our Pastor