Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Crossroads Initiative

catechetical resourses for the Catholic ChurchMarcellino D'Ambrosio, Crossroads Initiative RCIA in

the Catholic ChurchMarcellino D'Ambrosio, Crossroads Initiative adult

education in the Catholic ChurchMarcellino D'Ambrosio, Crossroads Initiative

Exploring the Catholic ChurchMarcellino D'Ambrosio, Crossroads Initiative Early

Church Fathers
Crossroads Initiatitve, a ministry of Dr. Marcellino

   D'Ambrosio        
 
 
 

Venerate, do not Worship, the Martyrs -- St. Augustine

We Venerate but Do Not Worship

the Martyrs

 

by St Augustine of Hippo, bishop

 

Early Church Father & Doctor of the Church

 

Saint Augustine

St. Augustine here clearly disguishes between devotion to and veration of the martyrs and saints, and the worship (Latreia) due to God alone.  This distinction was clear to the early Christians, but abuses and misunderstandings certainly existed, as noted by this bishop of the late fourth century.  Clearly, liturgical or ritual celebration of the memory of the saints through a eucharist celebrated at their tomb on the anniversary of their death, was already a long standing tradition by the time of St. Augustine (ca 400 AD).  This reading is an excerpt from St. Augustine's treatise against Faustus an is used in the Roman Catholic Office of Readings.

 

We, the Christian community, assemble to celebrate the memory of the martyrs with ritual solemnity because we want to be inspired to follow their example, share in their merits, and be helped by their prayers. Yet we erect no altars to any of the martyrs, even in the martyrs’ burial chapels themselves.


No bishop, when celebrating at an altar where these holy bodies rest, has ever said, “Peter, we make this offering to you”, or “Paul, to you”, or “Cyprian, to you”. No, what is offered is offered always to God, who crowned the martyrs. We offer in the chapels where the bodies of those he crowned rest, so the memories that cling to those places will stir our emotions and encourage us to greater love both for the martyrs whom we can imitate and for God whose grace enables us to do so.

Martyr
So we venerate the martyrs with the same veneration of love and fellowship that we give to the holy men of God still with us. We sense that the hearts of these latter are just as ready to suffer death for the sake of the Gospel, and yet we feel more devotion toward those who have already emerged victorious from the struggle. We honour those who are fighting on the battlefield of this life here below, but we honour more confidently those who have already achieved the victor’s crown and live in heaven.


But the veneration strictly called “worship”, or latria, that is, the special homage belonging only to the divinity, is something we give and teach others to give to God alone. The offering of a sacrifice belongs to worship in this sense (that is why those who sacrifice to idols are called idol-worshippers), and we neither make nor tell others to make any such offering to any martyr, any holy soul, or any angel. If anyone among us falls into this error, he is corrected with words of sound doctrine and must then either mend his ways or else be shunned.


The saints themselves forbid anyone to offer them the worship they know is reserved for God, as is clear from the case of Paul and Barnabas. When the Lycaonians were so amazed by their miracles that they wanted to sacrifice to them as gods, the apostles tore their garments, declared that they were not gods, urged the people to believe them, and forbade them to worship them.


Yet the truths we teach are one thing, the abuses thrust upon us are another. There are commandments that we are bound to give; there are breaches of them that we are commanded to correct, but until we correct them we must of necessity put up with them.


For an article by Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio on Advent and the two comings of Christ, click here.

 

For more information on the Early Church Fathers, Click Here, or to visit the Library with other writings of the Early Church Father, Click Here.

 

Early Church Fathers - Dr. Marcellino D'AmbrosioThe Early Church Fathers

A society characterized by the loss of respect for life, violence, exotic religious cults, sexual promiscuity, homosexuality, and even pedophilia. Sound familiar?

The Early Church Fathers succeeded in bringing a Pagan society to Christ. If we pay attention to what they taught, we will succeed in doing the same for our own de-Christianized society!

Album 1: The Apostolic Fathers and Irenaeus

Album 2: The Apologists, Ambrose, and Augustine

Early Church Father VHS Set—$40.00    

Early Church Father 2 DVD Set—$44.00

Early Church Fathers 2 CD Set—$18.00 

Early Church Fathers 2 Audio Set—$16.00 


Home | Site Map | Links | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Free Newsletter | Win a CD | Calender | Donate Now!
A ministry of Crossroads Productions, Inc. + PO Box 271227 + Flower Mound, TX 75027 + 1.800.803.0118 + a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.