Every time I do it makes me laugh
How did our eyes get so red?
And what the hell is on Joey's head?
And this is where I grew up
I think the present owner fixed it up
I never knew we'd ever went without
The second floor is hard for sneaking out
And this is where I went to school
Most of the time had better things to do
Criminal record says I've broke in twice
I must have done it half a dozen times
I wonder if it's too late
Should I go back and try to graduate?
Life's better now than it was back then
If I was them I wouldn't let me in
Those lyrics from Nickelback's popular song of a few years ago remind me, too, of growing up and the power that looking at those old photos can have for our memories. These are important - it's good to keep photos around, to remind us of loved ones and special times. Sometimes, I'll look at a picture of my grandfather and actually talk to it. But, I am not talking to "it"; I am talking to him. The picture just brings him to mind.
In the eighth century, there was a movement in the Church by some to remove sacred images from churches and homes. These folks believed that it was sinful to depict holy people - especially Christ and Mary - in common "drawings." They destroyed many icons in a movement known as "iconoclasm." Leaders of the Church met in the city of Nicaea in 787 to discuss the issue. They came to the conclusion that because God became man in Jesus Christ it was perfectly acceptable, as a result of the Incarnation, to depict Him in icons. Furthermore, these icons themselves were holy, not as "objects of worship" but insofar as looking at them brought to mind the reality that they depict. Therefore, one can look at an image of Jesus, Mary or the saints and in venerating it they call to mind those realities.
It is common to hear of Catholics and Orthodox Christians being called "idol worshipers." People point to the statues and pictures in and around our churches and see in it some sort of cult that takes away from true worship of God. Of course, this is not the case. Certainly, these images and statues depicting our holy ones are important, but only because they help us remember that we are not alone in our pilgrimage to heaven. They lead us deeper into devotion and worship of God, not farther from Him. The Church Fathers at Nicaea made a distinction that can be helpful. They called the attitude of devotion to icons and images "veneration" (the Greek is prokynesis). This can be directed to God, as well as to holy things and holy ones. It is veneration. However, the attitude toward God alone is what we can call "worship." He alone we worship, not statues, not pictures. God. This worship is rendered in Greek as latreia (it is found in the word idolatry).
So, the accusation of a Catholic or and Orthodox being an "idol worshiper" is a mistaken one. Ina world where almost every teenager's room is plastered with images of Edward Cullen or the Jonas Brothers or Beyonce or Megan Fox, this should not be too difficult to understand. Perhaps the next time we hear this we can use it as an opportunity to help ourselves (and our accusers) to focus on the true Object of our worship.