Newsletter of the District
The kings of the earth stood up, and the princes met together, against
the Lord, and against his Christ. “ - Psalm II, 2
we read Sacred Scripture, the Old Testament in particular, the sin
for which the Chosen People was the most frequently chastised, the
temptation which was the greatest - against which God gave all the
mosaic laws and rituals, (St Thomas) – were the sins against the
very First Commandment, the worship of idols.
Genesis (the Golden Calf), the book of Kings (the fall of Salomon,
cf. III Kg 11), the Prophets (Elias: “Lord, I am alone against
450 priests of Baal!” III Kings 18), the whole history of the
Kings of Israel (the bad kings allowed false worship, the good ones
destroyed the idols, see III & IV Kings), the story of the Macchabees
(the beautiful reaction of Mathathias and his sons, “a priestly
family!”), always is the First Commandment at stake in the critical
moments. And among the sins against the First Commandment - which
are the most grievous sins - the most grievous is idolatry.
Thomas Aquinas, the Common Doctor of the Church, teaches the following
in his Summa, II-II, 94, 3:
gravity of a sin may be considered in two ways. First, on the
part of the sin itself, and thus idolatry is the most grievous sin.
For just as the most heinous crime in an earthly commonwealth would
seem to be for a man to give royal honor to another than the true
king, since, so far as he is concerned, he disturbs the whole order
of the commonwealth, so, in sins that are committed against God,
which indeed are the greater sins, the greatest of all seems to
be for a man to give God's honor to a creature, since, so far as
he is concerned, he sets up another God in the world, and lessens
the divine sovereignty. Secondly, the gravity of a sin may be considered
on the part of the sinner. Thus the sin of one that sins knowingly
is said to be graver than the sin of one that sins through ignorance:
and in this way nothing hinders heretics, if they knowingly corrupt
the faith which they have received, from sinning more grievously
than idolaters who sin through ignorance. Furthermore other sins
may be more grievous on account of greater contempt on the part
of the sinner.
1. It would seem that idolatry is not the gravest of sins. The
worst is opposed to the best (Ethic. viii, 10). But interior worship,
which consists of faith, hope and charity, is better than external
worship. Therefore unbelief, despair and hatred of God, which are
opposed to internal worship, are graver sins than idolatry, which
is opposed to external worship.
to Objection 1. Idolatry presupposes internal unbelief,
and to this it adds undue worship. But in a case of external idolatry
without internal unbelief, there is an additional sin of falsehood
as it was stated above in art. 2. (Art. 2: Since outward worship
is a sign of the inward worship, just as it is a wicked lie to affirm
the contrary of what one holds inwardly of the true faith so too
is it a wicked falsehood to pay outward worship to anything counter
to the sentiments of one's heart.)
2. Further, the more a sin is against God the more grievous
it is. Now, seemingly, a man acts more directly against God by blaspheming,
or denying the faith, than by giving God's worship to another, which
pertains to idolatry. Therefore blasphemy and denial of the faith
are more grievous sins than idolatry.
to Objection 2. Idolatry includes a grievous blasphemy, inasmuch
as it deprives God of the singleness of His dominion and denies
the faith by deeds."
the abominations (idolatry purely and simply encouraged)
of the meeting of religions which took place in Assisi in 1986 having
been repeated in Assisi and in Rome this last October 24-28, one
wonders if the authorities of the Church have forgotten the following
texts, which are all well known passages of the Divine Writ.
I pray that all our readers will not forget them and will be strengthened
at the sight of some of the heroes of the Old Testament who had
so much less than we do and who held on to the faith in the most
May God bless you all during the coming Advent and Christmas seasons,
during the new millennium but especially during all eternity.