Catechism of the Catholic Church

Life in Christ 517 2132 The Christian veneration of images is not contrary to the first commandment which proscribes idols. Indeed, “the honor rendered to an image passes to its prototype,” and “whoever venerates an image venerates the person portrayed in it.” 70 The honor paid to sacred images is a “respectful veneration,” not the adoration due to God alone: Religious worship is not directed to images in themselves, considered as mere things, but under their distinctive aspect as images leading us on to God incarnate. The movement toward the image does not terminate in it as image, but tends toward that whose image it is. 71 IN BRIEF 2133 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your strength” ( Deut 6:5). 2134 The first commandment summons man to believe in God, to hope in him, and to love him above all else. 2135 “You shall worship the Lord your God” ( Mt 4:10). Adoring God, praying to him, offering him the wor­ ship that belongs to him, fulfilling the promises and vows made to him are acts of the virtue of religion which fall under obedience to the first commandment. 2136 The duty to offer God authentic worship concerns man both as an individual and as a social being. 2137 “Men of the present day want to profess their religion freely in private and in public” ( DH 15). 2138 Superstition is a departure from the worship that we give to the true God. It is manifested in idolatry, as well as in various forms of divination and magic. 2139 Tempting God in words or deeds, sacrilege, and sim­ ony are sins of irreligion forbidden by the first commandment. 2140 Since it rejects or denies the existence of God, atheism is a sin against the first commandment. 70 St. Basil, De Spiritu Sancto 18, 45: PG 32, 149C; Council of Nicaea II: DS 601; cf. Council of Trent: DS 1821-1825; Vatican Council II: SC 126; LG 67. 71 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh II-II, 81, 3 ad 3.