I call these religious items sacramentals. They’re scattered all over my home in every room. Thankfully being a “solitary”, single for want of an alternative word, I’ve no one living with me to be bothered by them. The crucifix I’ve had most of my life. The icon of our Lord to the right is a genuine one painted by the monks on the Island of Patmos.
The theology of icons is a subject for much study and I can recommend “The Theology of the Icon” by Leonid Ouspensky. ( Part one and two)
However it isn’t the theology that is the main issue, but the effects of having them around. Statues, icons, rosaries, crucifixes and relics become friends almost to the point of actually making present the image represented. As a believer I know that the image depicted is real and substantial within God’s economy. But we need to be reminded constantly that here we have no abiding city and are seeking the World to Come.
We are not just physical being but spiritual. We are living souls, as the King James Bible put it in Genesis 2:“And the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life: and man became a living soul.”
That God in his threefold “hypostasis” of the Blessed Trinity has himself become Man in Christ means hat we can therefore represent “Our Lord” in art and sculpture. It isn’t that we worship the image, but that we worship Him who the image portrays. In a sense all icons and statues are images of the Word made flesh, of Jesus, whose image we all bear within the depths of our souls through Baptism.
Sacramentals, as I call these religious items, are aids on our journey to the kingdom. “All the Way to Heaven is heaven,” as St Teresa of Avila reminds us.
Mosaic of St John above the main doorway to the Monastery on the Island of Patmos.
Indeed, Malcolm, I find that sacramentals are a wonderful way to lift our eyes to the the Lord during the busy ordinariness day . . . even if just for a moment. It does help us to keep our eyes on the goal and remind us that there is something more to life than the physical realities.
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Bosco the Immaculate said:
Good brother Scoop…how do physical objects help to to remind you that there is more to life than physical reality?
Anyway, good brother Malcolm knows my stand on images. I don’t stand blameless. On Christmas my folks put out the nativities figurines and other trinkets, and I enjoyed them. I still do. Like good brother Malcolm says, they remind us of the bible story. But god is clear….he doesn’t want images of things to be used for worship. Oh, worship of him, that is. The CC has told its flock that images inspire worship. But the images aren’t really images of who they are supposed to be. So they are false images. Call me crazy but falsehoods aren’t the way god wants you to worship him. That’s why he forbids them. Cathols tell me that the alabaster helps direct their prayer. Or the cement or wood, these direct their prayers. yes, they direct them to the false image demon that is behind every graven image. Sorry, but this is what scripture says.