Answers from our SPSE Catholic Apologetics Facebook page:
I agree it does look like that especially when you see people waving hankies at a statue, it is something as a Catholic I struggle with, and yet what I believe is that they are a tool to remind us of what we are about, a creative way of praying.
I’m Catholic and I’ve never prayed to a statue! I prayed in front of a statue but my heart and soul was praying to The Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. I do often ask our Blessed Mother and the Saints to pray for me and others.
I’m Catholic and don’t pray to a an idol. People who pray to an idol believe it can actually hear you. When I pray (talk) to our Blessed Mother, I may sit or stand by a “representation” made of wood or ceramic, but that doesn’t mean I believe the wood or ceramic has any power.
The context of the prohibition on making statues in the Bible was at a time when statues were being made to be worshiped (idols).
In the book of Exodus, chapter 25, God commanded Moses to make a statue of a Cherub out of gold in order to lead people to God. The Catholic Church uses statues of saints for the same purpose, to lead others to God.
Have you a photo in your house to remind you of a person? The Statues are their to help us focus our minds on Almighty God.
I’d likely say something like ”Oh, I totally understand!” Then while pulling up a picture say… “not to change the subject but have you seen what’s happening in the news?” And show them images of a flag burning.
As soon as they find it upsetting, ask “Why should this bother us? It’s just a piece of fabric, right?”
The point is that any decent American will react to a burning US flag. And it makes it much easier for them to begin understanding that it’s not about the thing/image, it’s about what it represents/symbolizes.
For us, embracing an image of Jesus or His mother is just saying that we love Him and His mother. The love isn’t for the plastic, plaster or wooden object we hold. Much like the love we have for our country isn’t the same as love for a flag.
If I get on my knees and pray at my bed before going to sleep am I worshipping my pillow and linens?
Icons are not idols since icons follow the Apostolic tradition. Idols don’t.
Atheists have idols. We have Holy Icons from Apostolic tradition.