Idolatry in the 21st century
Throughout history, humans have constantly fallen into idolatry. Even nowadays, we see statues with half-human and half-animal forms, and people praying to their supernatural power. They have them in their home, the same as amulets and lucky charms. Idolatry has been re-invented, just as it was in the first century. For example, scientific knowledge and space exploration have debunked astrology, practised by Saint Augustine in his erroneous youth (year 400); yet, today, blaming sins to alignments of planets and relating general predictions to personal lives is the comfort of many.
Book: Confessions (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) by Augustine of Hippo
Modern cults based on UFOs and crop circles, which are always unexplained and revered, are effective at luring people away from Christianity. Saint Thomas Aquinas (1250) said:
Demons when summoned through certain constellations, come ... in order to lead man into the error of believing that there is some Divine power in the stars.
In the Old Testament, God struggled to get rid of this idol sickness by making Jewish people sacrifice the same animals they were worshipping in Egypt to reach an idol-free nation. At Jesus' time, Roman and Greek gods were represented in plays, where actors and poets would coerce people into a life of self-indulgence, irrational behaviour, and self-mutilation. A god or demon for every aspect of human life, mocking and leading souls away from the one true God, as explained by Saint Augustine (420ac), Books 1-4,
Book: City of God by Augustine of Hippo
Christians of other denominations, non-believers in Mary and saints, would consider their statues idolatry. However, we, as Catholics, look at these statues just like photographs. If I want to remember my grandmother, I watch her old photographs and sentiments of love pour out, even knowing she had passed away, but seeing her photos brings memories. When I pray in church in front of a statue, painting, or photograph, I pray to that saint because I read about that saint and I have a certain knowledge of his or her connection to God. As a loving conversation, asking for his help as an intercession for us, to that soul in heaven. We pray to a sainted soul for his prayers to the Father. His or her human form is represented by a photo, painting, or statue. We keep these reminders to keep that holy person present in our hearts as much as possible by glancing at his human image. They are real souls that existed on Earth in human history, now in heaven. Mary of Agreda's books best describe Mary's intercession for the Church in the first century and our inability to understand her role because of rampant idolatry at the time. Saints have appeared, miraculously healing people even after their deaths (saint Gemma's intercessions), and I am sure Saint Gemma would be very upset if we treated her image as an idol over God the Father or the Trinity. Saints are our brothers and sisters in heaven, holier than we are. So, when I pray to Saint Gemma, I pray with love as her brother, a sinner in need of her help and prayers to the Father.
Book: Seeking Jesus in the Old Testament Silvano O.C.V., Dr. Renu Rita
If you comprehend the statement I am about to quote below, you are on the right path to heaven,
"If we may rely on the disclosures of the Saints, it is an immense increase of devotion to our Blessed Lady; but, remember, nothing short of an immense one [to obtain an answer to our prayers]. In England, Mary is not half enough preached. Devotion to her is low and thin and poor. It is frightened out of its wits by the sneers of heresy. It is always invoking human respect and carnal prudence, wishing to make Mary so little of a Mary that Protestants may feel at ease about her. Its ignorance of theology makes it unsubstantial and unworthy. It is not the prominent characteristic of our religion which it ought to be. It has no faith in itself. Hence it is that Jesus is not loved, that heretics are not converted, that the Church is not exalted; that souls, which might be saints, wither and dwindle; that the Sacraments are not rightly frequented, or souls enthusiastically evangelised. Jesus is obscured because Mary is kept in the background. Thousands of souls perish because Mary is withheld from them. It is the miserable unworthy shadow which we call our devotion to the Blessed Virgin that is the cause of all these wants and blights, these evils and omissions and declines." (Father Frederick Faber, 1863)
For Christians that hide Mary in their churches, I only have one picture for them, of Pamplona's Cathedral, one of the sweetest cities as Zaragoza's Lady of the Pillar,
Saint Bridget of Sweden's (1303–1373) was canonised in 1391 by Pope Boniface IX, which was confirmed by the Council of Constance in 1415. Because of new discussions about her works, the Council of Basel confirmed the orthodoxy of her revelations in 1436. These revelations are a restatement of this whole website. And all this happened before protestantism! Saint Bridget wrote:
John the Baptist appeared to her and said: "The crown signifies that she is the Queen and Lady and Mother of the King of angels; the hair hanging down signifies that she is an unstained and pure virgin; the sky colored mantle signifies that all worldly things were as dead in her heart and will; the golden tunic signifies that she was fervent and burning in the love of God, both inwardly and outwardly. Her Son, Jesus Christ, placed seven lilies in her crown, and between the lilies he placed seven gems. The first lily is her humility; the second lily is her fear; the third, her obedience; the fourth, her patience; the fifth, her steadfastness; the sixth, her kindness, for she is kind and gives to all who beg of her with love and a will to amend; the seventh, her mercy in difficulties, for in whatever difficulty a man may be in, if he calls on her with all his heart, he will receive mercy and help from her because she is full of compassion and mercy. Between these shining lilies her Son placed seven precious gem stones. The first gem is her incomparable virtue, for there is no virtue in any other spirit or in any other body, which she does not have in a higher fashion. The second gem is her perfect purity, for the Queen of the kingdom of Heaven was so pure that from her first entrance into the world up to the final day of her death, not a single stain of sin was ever to be found in her; and none of all the devils could ever find enough impurity in her to fit on the head of a needle point. She was truly the most pure, for it was not fitting for the King of glory to lie in any vessel but the purest, chosen before all angels and men and more pure than they. The third gem was her beauty, for God is praised constantly by his saints for his Mother's beauty, and all the holy angels and holy souls are filled with joy over her beauty. The fourth precious gem in the crown is the Virgin Mother's wisdom, for she is filled with all divine wisdom in God and all wisdom is fulfilled and perfected through her. The fifth gem is her power and might, for she is so powerful and strong with God in her that she can subdue anything that has been created. The sixth gem is her clarity, for she shines so clear that she even illuminates the angels, whose eyes are clearer than light, and the devils do not dare to look upon her clarity. The seventh gem is the fullness of every delight and joy and all spiritual sweetness, for her fullness is such that there is no joy that she does not increase, no delight that is not made fuller and more perfect by her and through the blessed vision of her, for she is filled with grace and mercy above all the holy saints. She is the most pure vessel in which the Bread of angels laid and in which all sweetness and all beauty is found. Between the seven lilies in her crown, her Son placed these seven gemstones. Therefore may you, her Son's bride, honor and praise her with all your heart, for she is in truth worthy of all praise and all honor with her Son!"
Book: The Prophecies and Revelations of Saint Bridget (Birgitta) of Sweden: Volume 1, Volume2, Volume3, Volume 4 by Saint Bridget (Author)
When we love God with all our hearts, love for our neighbour is the concomitant result. Enslaving people, limiting resources to increase prices, money made by underpaying employees; when love for money overrides human welfare, it is a sure sign we don't love God with all our hearts. Money is first, our neighbour is second, and thus God is third. Money may become our idol. This also applies to other obsessions. When we place God second to anything in this world, like relationships, accolades, concupiscence, even family, they become idols, and it is a sure sign of dependence and a false sense of security. Saint Catherine of Genoa wrote in 1500,
When I see man fix his affections on creatures, even, as he sometimes does, on a dog or a cat, or any other created thing, delighting greatly in it, doing all that he can to serve it, unable to admit into his heart any other love, and as it were, breathing by it, I long to exterminate these things which hold him thus employed and cause him to lose the great reward of the love of God which alone can satisfy and make him happy.
Book: Life and Doctrine of Saint Catherine of Genoa by St. Catherine of Genoa
The prophet Jeremiah 51:17 (Douay-Rheims Bible, 600 BC), said,
Every man is become foolish by his knowledge: every founder is confounded by his idol, for what he hath cast is a lie, and there is no breath in them. They are vain works, and worthy to be laughed at, in the time of their visitation they shall perish.
Trust in God's providence at all times; He has our best interests at heart; impossible things are done by God when things are down-and-out, and we have already done our personal best, without over-relying on God for trivial things, as Saint Thomas Aquinas in 1250 warned us,
Hence presumption whereby a man relies on God inordinately, is a more grievous sin than the presumption of trusting in one's own power, since to rely on the Divine power for obtaining what is unbecoming to God, is to depreciate the Divine power, and it is evident that it is a graver sin to detract from the Divine power than to exaggerate one's own.