Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Dictionary

A modern dictionary of Catholic terms, both common and obscure. Find accurate definitions of words and phrases.

Search:

Or browse the dictionary by selecting a letter!
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

IDOLATRY

Literally "the worship of idols," it is giving divine honors to a creature. In the Decalogue it is part of the first commandment of God, in which Yahweh tells the people, "You shall have no gods except me. You shall not make yourself a carved image (Greek eid_lon, idol] or any likeness of anything in heaven or on earth or in the waters under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them" (Exodus 20:4-5).

The early Christians were martyred for refusing to worship idols, even externally, but practical idolatry is a perennial threat to the worship of the one true God. Modern secularism is a form of practical idolatry, which claims to give man "freedom to be an end unto himself, the sole artisan and creator of his own history." Such freedom, it is said, "cannot be reconciled with the affirmation of a Lord who is author and purpose of all things," or at least that this freedom "makes such an affirmation altogether superfluous" (Second Vatican Council, Constitution on the Church, 51).

Idolatry is always gravely sinful. Even under threat of death and without interiorly believing in the idol, a Christian may not give divine honors to a creature, thereby violating the duty of professing faith in God.

All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.

Subscribe for free
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Recent Catholic Commentary

As Catholic News Unfolds... 10 hours ago
An Iraqi archbishop's warning to the West 11 hours ago
The cause for beatification of Archbishop Romero: BBC botched the story 16 hours ago
Church Fathers: The Didache and the Epistle of Barnabas August 19
It is time to revoke the Catholic status of the LCWR August 18

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
‘Even Genghis Khan didn’t do this’: Mosul emptied of Christians CWN - July 21
‘A real via crucis’: Pope Francis, patriarch plead on behalf of Iraq’s Christians CWN - August 8
Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians in flight as Islamic State advances CWN - August 8