Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Veneration

In Protestant circles, we understand this word to mean “worship”. Indeed, according to many dictionaries, it means just that. However, it can also mean to treat with respect or reverence. One who is “venerable” is worthy of respect or reverence. To worship something or someone is more like adoration with the intent to deify or to put that person or object on the same level as God in one's life...

If I venerate Mary & the saints, writings or relics, am I worshiping them? Am I putting them on the same level as God? No. In my own heart, I understand that I'm showing respect because they are part of my sacred heritage. It would be no different than showing respect for your grandparents, pulling out family photos & reminiscing, even creating shadow boxes of memories or accomplishments & displaying them for all to see. There is no denying that veneration is very close to worship, but it isn't (or doesn't have to be) worship (in my opinion). Can one actually regard something as sacred & holy & yet avoid worshiping it? I think it can be done. Some folks go overboard with their devotion, indeed crossing a fine line into idolatry, but those who grasp the difference will take great care not to confuse the act of venerating the created with the act of worshiping the Creator.

I've been scrawling notes through the catechism- highlighting topics & underlining things I find strange or interesting... I'm still on Part One, but here are some references to veneration I picked up thus far: CCC 103 “...the Church has always venerated the scriptures as she venerates the Lord's body...” CCC 138 “The Church accepts & venerates as inspired the 46 books of the Old Testament & the 27 books of the new.” CCC 149 “...And so the Church venerates in Mary the purest realization of faith.” CCC 352 “The Church venerates the angels who help her on her earthly pilgrimage & protect every human being.”

Scripture is venerated as the Lord's body is venerated... Are they saying they worship scripture like they worship the Lord's body? Or perhaps do they mean they respect/remember the scriptures like they respect/remember the Lord's body? The church venerates IN Mary the purest realization of faith. I don't believe that has anything to do with worshiping Mary- but rather reverencing the fact that she had extraordinary faith to be able to say “Yes” to God. I also don't think they're saying the purest realization of the Catholic faith is found in Mary, but I could be wrong. To me, it means in Mary, we have a powerful example of what faith looks like. The church venerates the angels... again, does the church worship angels, or does it give them respect in light of their office? They're holy as God is holy. Even we are called to be Holy for the very same reason! But we don't worship each other as God, neither do we worship the angels who are allowed to stand in His presence. We understand they are not God & are therefore not worthy of the worship due God alone.

Perhaps the true meaning of veneration has gone the way of the dinosaurs like so many other words of previous centuries. Overall, I think it's more of a heart issue than anything... God knows our intentions.

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