Built of Living Stones 136: Choice of Images

The choice of an image goes beyond a mere artistic choice, or even the surface of a devotion involved. Can an image bear the weight of mystery, that mystery that leads people to a “deeper reality” where we find the most profound experience of God?

§ 136 § In choosing images and devotional art, parishes should be respectful of traditional iconography when it comes to the way sacred images are recognized and venerated by the faithful. However, they also should be mindful that the tradition is not limited to literal images. While Mary is the mother of Jesus, she is also an icon of the Church, a disciple of the Lord, a liberated and liberating woman. She is the Immaculate Conception, patroness of the United States, and Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of all America. Other symbols such as the crucifix, icons, or images of patron saints depicted in various ways can also draw us into the deeper realities of faith and hope as they connect us to the stories behind the image.*

Cf. Book of Blessings, no. 1258, quoting the Second Council of Nicea, Act. 7, as cited in Mansi 13, 378 and Denzinger-Schoenmetzer, no. 601: “For the faithful such images recall our Lord and the saints whom they depict, but they also in some way lead the faithful back to the Lord and the saints themselves. ‘The more often we gaze on these images, the quicker we who behold them are led back to their prototypes in memory and in hope.'”

All texts from Built of Living Stones are copyright © 2000, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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