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Pope Benedict explains veneration of images before heading to Holy Land (CATHOLIC/ORTHODOX CAUCUS)
CNA ^ | 5/6/2009

Posted on 05/06/2009 9:12:47 AM PDT by markomalley

Vatican City, May 6, 2009 / 10:24 am (CNA).- Days before he heads to the Holy Land, Pope Benedict taught the crowd of 20,000 at his weekly General Audience about the reason that Christians venerate images. Drawing from St. John Damascene, he explained the theology behind the use of material objects and the difference between adoration and veneration.

In recalling the figure of seventh century St. John Damascene, who is of “primary importance” in the history of the church, the Pope focused on his “three discourses on sacred images against those who sought to slander them.”

The Holy Father explained that in these three works, the “first attempts to legitimize the veneration of sacred images” can be found. St. John Damascene accomplished this by associating images with the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God in the bosom of the Virgin Mary.

Another contribution of St. John was his distinction, in both private and public Christian devotions,  between adoration and veneration. “The former being highly spiritual can only be directed towards God, the latter can employ images to seek intercession with the images’ subject,” said Benedict.

As he prepares to head to a predominantly Muslim country on Friday and later to Israel, the Pope reflected on the difference between Christian teaching on images and that of the other two monotheistic faiths.

"It immediately became clear that this distinction was important in order to provide a Christian response to people who insisted that the severe Old Testament ban against the liturgical use of images was universal and perennial. This was a also a subject of great discussion in the Muslim world, which accepts this Hebrew tradition of the complete exclusion of all images from worship. In this context Christians, for their part, discussed the problem and found the justification for the veneration of images."

John Damascene, he noted, gave us the theology of the material, which is a prominent feature in Eastern Christianity.

Elaborating on this idea, Pope Benedict explained, “God has made himself material for me; I venerate the material through which His salvation came to me.”

“Is the wood of the cross not material and the ink with which the Book of Salvation was written, and before all other things, the blood and flesh of my Lord?” he continued. “I do not venerate material, he would say, but the creator of the material.”

“We must allow ourselves to be filled with wonder before the works of Providence, overcoming the temptation to see aspects which seem unjust,” Pope Benedict added. “Christian optimism is not naive, it is aware of the wounds inflicted by human freedom and all the consequent disorder derived from it.”

“The path to the sea of God’s love needed to be concretely indicated to mankind,” the Holy Father concluded. “Thus the Son came down to his servants; he lowered the heavens in coming among us, fulfilling the newest of all things, the only truly new thing.”

The Pontiff told English-speaking visitors: “I am pleased to welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors here today, including a group of Felician Sisters serving in health care administration. Upon all of you, and upon your families and loved ones, I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace.”



TOPICS: Catholic; History; Orthodox Christian; Prayer; Theology
KEYWORDS: benedictxvi; catholic; icons; pope; stjohndamascene
Vatican Information Service version of story:

ST. JOHN DAMASCENE, A LEADING FIGURE OF BYZANTINE THEOLOGY

VATICAN CITY, 6 MAY 2009 (VIS) - In his general audience held this morning in St. Peter's Square, the Pope focused his remarks on St. John Damascene (675- 749), "a leading figure in the history of Byzantine theology".

Above all, said Benedict XVI, this saint was "an eye witness to the move from the Greek and Syriac culture shared by the eastern part of the Byzantine Empire, to the novelty of Islam whose military conquests opened a space in the territory today known as the Middle or Near East".

St. John Damascene "was born to a rich Christian family and as a young man held the office ... of economic administrator of the caliphate. Soon, however, dissatisfied with life at court, ... he entered the Monastery of San Saba near Jerusalem around the year 700. ... There he dedicated all his energies to asceticism and writing, not disdaining some pastoral work, of which testimony is to be found in his numerous Homilies. ... Leo XIII proclaimed him a Doctor of the Universal Church in 1890".

The Pope explained how St. John Damascene's fame rests, above all, "on his three 'Discourses against the Iconoclasts' which, following his death, were condemned by the iconoclast Council of Hieria (754)". These Discourses, he went on, represent "the first attempt to legitimise the veneration of sacred images, associating them with the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God in the bosom of the Virgin Mary.

"St. John Damascene", the Holy Father added, "was among the first to make the distinction, in the public and private devotions of Christians, between adoration ('latreia') and veneration ('proskynesis'): the former may only be addressed to God, Who is supremely spiritual, while the latter may use an image to address the person represented in that image".

"It immediately became clear that this distinction was important in order to provide a Christian response to people who insisted that the severe Old Testament ban against the liturgical use of images was universal and perennial. This was a also a subject of great discussion in the Muslim world, which accepts this Hebrew tradition of the complete exclusion of all images from worship. In this context Christians, for their part, discussed the problem and found the justification for the veneration of images".

Benedict XVI went on to highlight how St. John Damascene "remains an important witness of the veneration of icons, which would become one of the most distinctive aspects of Eastern theology and spirituality, even until today. His teaching is part of the tradition of the Universal Church whose sacramental doctrine allows elements taken from nature to become channels of grace, by virtue of the invocation ('epiclesis') of the Holy Spirit, accompanied by the confession of the true faith".

This Syrian saint also admitted "the veneration of the relics of saints, on the basis of the conviction that Christian saints, having been made participants in the resurrection of Christ, may not be simply considered a 'dead'".

Finally, the Pope referred to "the optimism" of St. John Damascene's contemplation of the natural world: the fact that "he saw the good, the beautiful and the true in the visible creation. Such Christian optimism is not ingenuous optimism. It makes allowance for the wound inflicted on human nature by the freedom of choice decreed by God and improperly used by man, with all the consequences of widespread disharmony this has led to. From here arose the need, which the theologian of Damascus saw clearly, for 'nature to be reinforced and renewed' by the descent of the Son of God into the flesh".
AG/ST. JOHN DAMASCENE/...VIS 090506 (610)


1 posted on 05/06/2009 9:12:47 AM PDT by markomalley
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To: markomalley
Pope Benedict explains veneration of images before heading to Holy Land (CATHOLIC/ORTHODOX CAUCUS)
Liturgical Vestments (and prayers the priest says while vesting for Mass)

Jubilee Medal of St. Benedict [Catholic/Orthodox Caucus}
Being Catholic: Sacred Things, Scapulars [Ecumenical]
Being Catholic: Sacred Things, The Miraculous Medal [Ecumenical]
'Holy Things To The Holy': Sacred Things, Places, and Times [Ecumenical]
Purification of Sacred Vessels in U.S. (and more on the Purification of our Lord)

Being Catholic: Sacred Things, Relics and the Incorruptibles
Being Catholic: Sacred Things, Ashes
Being Catholic: Sacred Things, Palm Branches
Being Catholic: Sacred Things, Incense
Why We Need Sacred Art

Being Catholic: Sacred Things, Sacred Images: Statues and Other Icons
Being Catholic: Sacred Things, Crucifixes and Crosses
Being Catholic: Sacred Things, [New] Fire, Paschal Candle
Being Catholic: Sacred Things, Holy Oils
Being Catholic: Sacred Things, [Holy] Water

2 posted on 05/06/2009 9:40:07 AM PDT by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: markomalley; Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; nickcarraway; Romulus; ...

THE TRINITY
Written by Andrei Rublev (1360)

An icon is not a painting in the sense we normally regard pieces of art, although it is an image that is painted. An icon is a window out of the obvious realities of everyday life into the realm of God. Every paint-stroke has a meaning hallowed by centuries of prayer. Icons are religious images that hover between two worlds, putting into colours and shapes what cannot be grasped by the intellect. Rendering the invisible visible. Icons are the visual equivalents of the Divine Scriptures. Not every religious painting can be considered an icon. Icons are religious pictures that convey inner spiritual meaning of their subject matter. The Son of God came to restore the divine image in human form. Iconography is the graphic witness to this restoration.

Explanation of the meaning on the Trinity Icon.

This icon takes as its subject the mysterious story where Abraham receives three visitors as he camps by the oak of Mamre. He serves them a meal. As the conversation progresses he seems to be talking straight to God, as if these 'angels' were in some way a metaphor for the three persons of the Trinity. In Rublev's representation of the scene, the three gold-winged figures are seated around a white table on which a golden, chalice-like bowl contains a roasted lamb. In the background of the picture, a house can be seen at the top left and a tree in the centre. Less distinctly, a rocky hill lies in the upper right corner. The composition is a great circle around the table, focussing the attention on the chalice-bowl at the centre, which reminds the viewer inescapably of an altar at Communion.

On one level this picture shows three angels seated under Abraham's tree, but on another it is a visual expression of what the Trinity means, what is the nature of God, and how we approach him. Reading the picture from left to right, we see the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The Colours

Rublev gives each person of the Trinity different clothing. On the right, the Holy Spirit has a garment of the clear blue of the sky, wrapped over with a robe of a fragile green. So the Spirit of creation moves in sky and water, breathes in heaven and earth. All living things owe their freshness to his touch.

The Son has the deepest colours; a thick heavy garment of the reddish-brown of earth and a cloak of the blue of heaven. In his person he unites heaven and earth, the two natures are present in him, and over his right shoulder (the Government shall be upon his shoulder) there is a band of gold shot through the earthly garment, as his divinity suffuses and transfigures his earthly being.

The Father seems to wear all the colours in a kind of fabric that changes with the light, that seems transparent, that cannot be described or confined in words. And this is how it should be. No one has seen the Father, but the vision of him fills the universe.

The wings of the angels or persons are gold. Their seats are gold. The chalice in the centre is gold, and the roof of the house. Whether they sit, whether they fly, all is perfect, precious, and worthy. In stasis, when there is no activity apparent on the part of God, his way is golden. When he flies, blazes with power and unstoppable strength, his way is golden. And in the Sacrifice at the centre of all things, his way is golden.

The light that shines around their heads is white, pure light. Gold is not enough to express the glory of God. Only light will do, and that same white becomes the holy table, the place of offering. God is revealed and disclosed here, at the heart, in the whiteness of untouchable light.

The Father looks forward, raising his hand in blessing to the Son. It is impossible to tell whether he looks up at the Son or down to the chalice on the table, but his gesture expresses a movement towards the Son. This is my Son, listen to him… The hand of the Son points on, around the circle, to the Spirit. In this simple array we see the movement of life towards us, The Father sends the Son, the Son sends the Spirit. The life flows clockwise around the circle. And we complete the circle. As the Father sends the Son, as the Son sends the Holy Spirit, so we are invited and sent to complete the circle of the Godhead with our response. And we respond to the movement of the Spirit who points us to Jesus. And he shows us the Father in whom all things come to fruition. This is the counter-clockwise movement of our lives, in response to the movement of God. And along the way are the three signs at the top of the picture, the hill, the tree, and the house.

The Spirit touches us, even though we do not know who it is that is touching us. He leads us by ways we may not be aware of, up the hill of prayer. It may be steep and rocky, but the journeying God goes before us along the path. It leads to Jesus, the Son of God, and it leads to a tree. A great tree in the heat of the day spreads its shade. It is a place of security, a place of peace, a place where we begin to find out the possibilities of who we can be. It is no ordinary tree. It stands above the Son in the picture, and stands above the altar-table where the lamb lies within the chalice. Because of the sacrifice this tree grows. The tree of death has been transformed into a tree of life for us.

The tree is on the way to the house. Over the head of the Father is the house of the Father. It is the goal of our journey. It is the beginning and end of our lives. Its roof is golden. Its door is always open for the traveller. It has a tower, and its window is always open so that the Father can incessantly scan the roads for a glimpse of a returning prodigal.

The tree is on the way to the house. Over the head of the Father is the house of the Father. It is the goal of our journey. It is the beginning and end of our lives. Its roof is golden. Its door is always open for the traveller. It has a tower, and its window is always open so that the Father can incessantly scan the roads for a glimpse of a returning prodigal.

Staffs for the journey

Each person holds a staff, which is so long it, cuts the picture into sections. Why should beings with wings, that can fly like the light, have need of a staff for their journey? Because we are on a journey and these three persons enter into our journey, our slow movement across the face of the earth. Their feet are tired from travelling. God is with us in the weariness of our human road. The traveller God sits down at our ordinary tables and spreads them with a hint of heaven

The Table

The table or altar lies at the centre of the picture. It is at once the place of Abraham's hospitality to the angels, and God's place of hospitality to us. That ambiguity lies at the heart of communion, at the heart of worship. As soon as we open a sacred place for God to enter, for God to be welcomed and adored, it becomes his place. It is we who are welcomed, it is we who must 'take off our shoes' because of the holiness of the ground.

Contained in the centre of the circle, a sign of death. The lamb, killed. The holy meal brought to the table. All points to this space, this mystery: within it, everything about God is summed up and expressed, his power, his glory, and above all his love. And it is expressed in such a way that we can reach it. For the space at this table is on our side. We are invited to join the group at the table and receive the heart of their being for ourselves.

We are invited to complete the circle, to join the dance, to complete the movements of God in the world by our own response. Below the altar a rectangle marks the holy place where the relics of the martyrs were kept in a church. It lies before us. It invites us to come into the depth and intimacy of all that is represented here. Come follow the Spirit up the hill of prayer. Come, live in the shadow of the Son of God, rest yourself beneath his tree of life. Come, journey to the home, prepared for you in the house of your Father.

The table is spread, the door is open. Come.
Source


3 posted on 05/06/2009 9:54:59 AM PDT by NYer ("Run from places of sin as from a plague." - St. John Climacus)
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To: markomalley

4 posted on 05/06/2009 10:00:02 AM PDT by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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Comment #5 Removed by Moderator

To: wombtotomb

When I became Catholic, I put crucifixes in every room of my house but a particularly nice one on a high wall that you see immediately when you enter my house. Then one day I was feeling crafty and I made a footlong, mosaic, Celtic cross and put it up there and then one day I saw and bought a beautiful risen Christ that was just the perfect size so now I have a perfect tableau.


6 posted on 05/06/2009 10:21:30 AM PDT by tiki (True Christians will not deliberately slander or misrepresent others or their beliefs)
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Comment #7 Removed by Moderator

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Comment #9 Removed by Moderator

To: wombtotomb

My husband has that kind of faith, it is just natural. He wasn’t raised in any faith and, by the Grace of God, we became Catholic together. I’m always studying and learning because my faith doesn’t come easily and I always have to conciously re-inforce, he just believes. He just has a sweet soul.

I’m not trying to make him out to be a perfect saint or anything, he’s mostly just a normal person and would be embarrassed if he read this, it is just that his holiness is noticable.


10 posted on 05/06/2009 10:46:13 AM PDT by tiki (True Christians will not deliberately slander or misrepresent others or their beliefs)
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To: tiki

My hubby too! He was baptist and converted through RCIA after I reverted. He always thought communion was the body and blood. When his baptist pastor told him it was symbolic, he felt the catholic teaching was more true to what he believed. We go to Mass together every week. I cherish it!


13 posted on 05/06/2009 11:05:06 AM PDT by wombtotomb ( ITS NOT ABOUT RIGHT VERSUS LEFT, ITS ABOUT RIGHT VERSES WRONG!)
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Comment #15 Removed by Moderator

To: meandog
This Religion Forum thread is labeled "Catholic/Orthodox Caucus." Only those who are Catholic or Orthodox are to post on this thread.

Click on my profile page for more guidelines pertaining to the Religion Forum

16 posted on 05/06/2009 11:35:43 AM PDT by Religion Moderator
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To: Religion Moderator
This Religion Forum thread is labeled "Catholic/Orthodox Caucus." Only those who are Catholic or Orthodox are to post on this thread. Click on my profile page for more guidelines pertaining to the Religion Forum -------------------------------- Well, if you're reading the comments then you see that I am getting responses... what am I to do, ignore them?
17 posted on 05/06/2009 12:06:12 PM PDT by meandog (There are bad no dogs, only bad owners--the only good bad owner is one mauled by a good bad dog!)
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To: meandog

You can ignore them. I will remove all of it.


18 posted on 05/06/2009 12:09:28 PM PDT by Religion Moderator
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To: wombtotomb

I also removed several of your posts because it is important not to represent any beliefs outside the caucus otherwise the non-members would have an interest in speaking for themselves and the caucus would be broken.


19 posted on 05/06/2009 12:15:19 PM PDT by Religion Moderator
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To: Religion Moderator

apologies. I don’t usually caucus. Was just responding to others.


20 posted on 05/06/2009 12:17:40 PM PDT by wombtotomb ( ITS NOT ABOUT RIGHT VERSUS LEFT, ITS ABOUT RIGHT VERSES WRONG!)
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Comment #21 Removed by Moderator

To: Invincibly Ignorant
Pope Benedict explains veneration of images before heading to Holy Land (CATHOLIC/ORTHODOX CAUCUS)
CNA ^ | 5/6/2009

Posted on Wednesday, May 06, 2009 12:12:47 PM by markomalley

This is a caucus thread. Please do not comment on this thread unless explicitly invited. Thank you.

22 posted on 05/06/2009 2:13:50 PM PDT by markomalley (Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus)
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To: markomalley

My thanks for this.

I have been better catechized on FR than in my post Vatican II religious education!!!!


23 posted on 05/06/2009 4:50:38 PM PDT by MarkBsnr ( I would not believe in the Gospel if the authority of the Catholic Church did not move me to do so.)
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To: markomalley

Boy, it looks like I missed some fun...

A co-worker who of Greek heritage is bringing me back a Christ Pantocrator ikon from Fr Pefkis in Kalambaka this week!


24 posted on 05/06/2009 6:44:54 PM PDT by Huber (And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. - John 1:5)
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To: markomalley; All
On St. John Damascene (transcript of Benedict XVI's catechesis at today's general audience)
25 posted on 05/06/2009 7:11:59 PM PDT by ELS (Vivat Benedictus XVI!)
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