Monday, April 30, 2007
We're still having questions about honoring the saints and, I'm sorry to say, praying to the saints, which we never do even though no one believes us. For the zillioneth time, we are asking the saints to pray for us, just like we would ask we ask one another to remember each other in prayer. I guess the saints are supposed to just sit around in heaven enjoying their hobbies and forget about us until we get to heaven and get to sit around with them. Someone brought up dulia and hyperdulia as if this would be helpful. Although these Latin terms sound like something you might hear about on a drug commercial, they help explain how we honor the saints. I have serious doubts that someone who can't understand that we don't pray to the saints or that the saints might be interested in praying for us, the most simple straight forward explanation possible, is going to get dulia and hyperdulia through their thick skull. I really do. But here goes:
Let's pretend for a moment that there is no afterlife. No saints, no heaven. Like the John Lennon song. Only let's not pretend to be John Lennon. Because when we stop pretending you could seriously go to hell for doing things John Lennon did while you were pretending.
So who do we honor the most? I'll let you decide who that is for yourself. Mom, grandma, you lovely Aunt Clara who raised you. It's that person that you can't hear anyone say a bad word about, the one that is set apart from everyone else you know because they are so special to you. The Bestest of the best. We can say that, because we're in this pretend world and we don't have to worry about bad grammar or what should be capitalized either.
(It's not really.....remember we're pretending. It's a good thing, too, or we'd be married to Yoko Ono.)
All the other people that we honor, the brave soldiers, the wise teachers (I would say priests, but there aren't any...no need for them with no heaven or afterlife), helpful relatives...you get the picture. These are all people we honor because they are deserving of our honor.
Not really...just in this pretend world, the one in which atheists and people who think they are witches and vampires live. The one where we would actually like hearing Yoko Ono sing.
So here in the real world, where we can't get to the 'off' button fast enough should we so much as see Yoko Ono, we have these two types of veneration.
Hyperdulia is only for the Blessed Mother Mary, no one else.
Dulia is for the Church Triumphant, the angels and saints as friends of God. The heavenly host.
Don't get your knickers in a knot. There is no worship involved. Worhip is for God alone.
For God we have Latria. A class by itself.
Regular honor is for the Church Militant, those of us alive here on earth.
Since I'm on this honesty kick, let's come clean and admit that many of us have given good reason for some people to remain thick headed about Catholics and the saints. I have entered more than one home that had Mary practically dripping from the ceiling. Every surface, every space on the wall had a statue of the Immaculate Conception or a picture of Mary and St Ann, Guadalupe standing alongside Fatima, the Mater Dolorosa, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, The Queen of Heaven, Stella Maris, rosaries hanging from every frame and mirror. Besides the crucifix over the bed and the fact that Mary is holding the Baby Jesus in some of the statues, Jesus doesn't seem to be very important.
Oh well. There's a reason it's called HYPER dulia. It's still not latria. Even if it looks like it. No wonder people get confused.
Dulia is also what we call the type of veneration we have for relics, which include items a saint has used while he or she was alive (that's a second class relic). This veneration also drives the separated brethren round the bend. We'll talk about that the day the separated brethren toss Uncle Joe's Purple Heart in the trash along with their old copies of Teen Beat and yesterday's soup cans. The day that John Lennon's autograph has no monetary value.