Defending the Glory of God
To Pray: A definition. Does it mean to worship ?
We worship God and God alone – The Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. This teaching is reinforced in *every* basic Catholic catechism. Biblical passages from both the Old and the New Testament which teach this fundamental truth to worship God and only God are proclaimed at various times throughout the year at Mass. And every Catholic reinforces this belief every Sunday when they pray the Gloria at Mass. We proclaim that we worship God the Father and Jesus Christ who “alone is the Most High” with the Holy Spirit.
When we speak of “praying” to the Saints it is important to understand the meaning of that word. The word “pray” does not mean to worship. It means to ask. This can be seen in King James Bible as well as more modern literature such as Shakespeare. The context shows that it just means to ask or beseech.
Genesis 13:8 “And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren.” KJV
Acts 8:34 “And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man ?” KJV
"I pray thee" was one of Shakespeare's favorite phrases. e.g.
Likewise, when Catholics speak about praying to the Saints in Heaven they mean they are asking for the Saint's help by praying with them to Jesus. They are no way intending to put the Saint, a creature who was saved by Jesus Christ, on equal par with God Almighty who Created the Universe from nothing.
Worship – A definition
There are different types of honor that we can give someone. The greatest form of honor is adoration and it goes to God and to God alone. The Bible also tells us to honor others, Matthew 10:41 and 19:19. This is a fundamentally different type of honor or respect that we give to those who have lived and died in God’s friendship, the saints. As Greek terminology developed to explain Christian theology two different words were used to explain these different types of honor that we give. The type of honor that we only give to God, adoration, is called Latria. The type of honor we give to finite creators is called dulia. The type of honor given to Mary is only the second type. It is called hyperdulia [hyper [beyond]+ dulia = "beyond dulia"] because of all of God’s creatures we believe that He honored her the most on account that she was most open and co-operative with His grace.
It is also worth mentioning how the definitions of some words have changed over time. As the English language came to be developed the word “worship” included both types of honor. It included adoration and simple honor, latria and dulia.
For example, even up until 1972 in England the judges were called “Your Worship.” You sometimes will see this in old movies. This is because in older English the word “worship” just meant “to honor, or the person to whom honor is given” it did not mean “to adore.” Good dictionaries will list this obsolete definition of “honor.” God allows and even commands us to honor others, for example the command to honor your father and mother in Matthew 19:19. However, the highest form of honor, Adoration, goes to God alone. Catholics have always taught that.
We can see an example of how this word “worship” had been used in the past to meant only “to honor” rather than to “adore” in 1 Chronicles 29:20-21
"And David said to all the congregation, Now bless the LORD your God. And all the congregation blessed the LORD God of their fathers, and bowed down their heads, and worshipped the LORD, and the king. And they sacrificed sacrifices unto the LORD, and offered burnt offerings unto the LORD ... " KJV
They worshipped the Lord and also the King, meaning they honored them both, but as we read on we see that only God is offered sacrifice. Only God is adored.
So, in the past the word worship included the different types of honoring someone. Today however, it is synonymous with that highest type of honoring or adoration. And the Catholic Church has always taught that this is to be given to God and to God alone.
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