Do Catholics Worship Saints? *
The first of the Ten Commandments makes it clear that worship is due to God alone. In Deuteronomy, the Lord tells his people through Moses: “You shall not have other gods besides me… You shall not bow down before them or worship them” (5:7, 9)
Catholics affirm this truth. Only the all-mighty Creator of the universe, the one in whom “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28), is worthy of our worship—of the adoration that involves giving ourselves completely to him. No saint or even angel should ever be adored in that sense.
At the same time, however, we obey the biblical instruction to “pay to all their dues, …honor to whom honor is due” (Rom 13:7). Though we don’t worship the saints and angels in heaven, we do in fact honor (or venerate) them, because they are worthy of great honor. This is a biblical distinction.
Why do they deserve such honor? Because they now stand before him in heaven face-to-face, and they have become like him (see 1 Jn 3:2). They have become, by God’s grace, his glorious image (see 2 Cor 3:18), partakers in his divine nature (see 2 Pt 1:4). They share in his holiness (see Heb 12:10), his glory (see Rom 8:17; 1 Pt 5:1), his knowledge (see Cor 13:12), and his authority to judge and rule (see 1 Cor 6:2-3 2 Tm 2:12; Rv 3:21).
Are we somehow denying God the honor due him when we honor his saints? By no means! They are his perfected handiwork (see Eph 2:10)—and when we praise the craftsmanship, all the accolades go to the Craftsman. If even “the heavens declare the glory of God; the sky proclaims its builder’s craft” (Ps 19:2), how much more so do human beings who have been perfected in wisdom and justice, who “shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament, And…shall be like the stars forever” (Dn 12:3)?
Finally, we should note that, as the old saying goes, “Imitation is the sincerest form of praise.” Of all the ways we can honor God’s saints, the best way is to imitate their faith in him (see Heb 6:11-12; 13:7).
Other related scriptures: 1 Cor 4:16; Phil 3:17; 2 Thes 33:7-9; Heb 11:1-40; 12:22-23;
Catechism of the Catholic Church: 828; 956-957; 2132; 2683
*Quoted from The New Catholic Answer Bible. Wichita, Kansas, Fireside Catholic Publishing, 2005. www.firesidecatholic.com
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