Life in Christ
The Christian veneration of images is not contrary to the
first commandment which proscribes idols. Indeed, “the honor
rendered to an image passes to its prototype,” and “whoever
venerates an image venerates the person portrayed in it.”
honor paid to sacred images is a “respectful veneration,” not the
adoration due to God alone:
Religious worship is not directed to images in themselves,
considered as mere things, but under their distinctive aspect
as images leading us on to God incarnate. The movement
toward the image does not terminate in it as image, but tends
toward that whose image it is.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
and with all your soul and with all your strength”
The first commandment summons man to believe in
God, to hope in him, and to love him above all else.
“You shall worship the Lord your God” (
Adoring God, praying to him, offering him the wor
ship that belongs to him, fulfilling the promises and
vows made to him are acts of the virtue of religion
which fall under obedience to the first
The duty to offer God authentic worship concerns
man both as an individual and as a social being.
“Men of the present day want to profess their religion
freely in private and in public” (
Superstition is a departure from the worship that we
give to the true God. It is manifested in idolatry, as
well as in various forms of divination and magic.
Tempting God in words or deeds, sacrilege, and sim
ony are sins of irreligion forbidden by the first
Since it rejects or denies the existence of God, atheism
is a sin against the first commandment.
70 St. Basil,
De Spiritu Sancto
18, 45: PG 32, 149C; Council of Nicaea II: DS
601; cf. Council of Trent: DS 1821-1825; Vatican Council II:
71 St. Thomas Aquinas,
II-II, 81, 3