“Don’t ever let me catch you complimenting my children or my wife; I will be horribly offended”. Could you ever imagine someone saying something like that? My family is my pride and joy; my children never cease to amaze me with their personalities, and their growth in skills and talents; and I am so blessed to have a wife like Colleen. Now, people pay compliments to my kids all the time, for everything from piano playing to their learning achievements – you name it. I have never once been overwhelmed with jealousy, but I’ve nearly burst some vest-buttons from pride (I’ll be honest, I don’t have a vest, but you get the point). Some might say it’s an indirect compliment to me (while I would argue that they get the good stuff from their Mom).
To suggest that venerating (paying homage to; giving honor to) Christ’s Mother and the saints because it is giving to the creature what is due to the Creator, is a little like suggesting I might be offended by you giving any honors to my family. I say it’s ‘a little like’ this because there’s something even more inconsistent with this accusation than the minor paradigm shift being suggested. With the example of my family and I, it is indeed the child being complimented and not me – although there might be, as said, an indirect approval of a parent’s training. However, in the saint, we are honoring Christ in them. While we may be charmed by the personality of a saint, it is their virtue, their holiness (the presence of Christ’s Spirit in them) that we honor, praise, and emulate. For this reason St. Paul can say, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ”. Likewise, when referring to the veneration of saints through sacred images, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says: “the sacred image, the liturgical icon, principally represents Christ… they truly signify Christ, who is glorified in them” (CCC 1159-61, italics added).
Recently, I saw a picture of Mt. Rushmore – a monument to heroes of America. I thought, if we had a Catholic Mt. Rushmore, who would be on there? Immediately, I thought, well… obviously Jesus. But then I realized, Jesus is glorified in any image of the saints. So, without the obvious Jesus vote, who do you think should be on a Catholic Mt. Rushmore? Now, I know there’s only four, but in keeping with my pattern I’ll suggest five that I think:
2. St. Joseph
3. St. Peter
4. Bl. Teresa of Calcutta
5. Bl. John Paul the Great
I’ll admit, it’s a difficult task to narrow it down to five, let alone four. That’s the glory of our Heavenly family – God accomplishes what he sets out to do, and he does it abundantly through His Son! We could have St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Augustine, the Four Evangelists, etc. It’s your turn, who do you think would be on there?
by Scott Roy