What if I were to say, “Joan of Arc saved my life! I was at the gates of Hell when she pulled me to safety!”
If I were at a party with Protestants (I say this with good-natured intent; many of my friends are either mainstream Protestant or Evangelical), the room would clear quickly. If the party were on their property, they likely would call security.
Once I was safely restrained, they would tell me that “only Jesus can save us.”
The thing is – yes, I know that. Every Catholic knows that, even as they cry out to their favorite saints for help.
What gives? Why “worship?” a saint when you are supposed to worship God alone? I would like to ask them the same thing every time they, rightfully, honor a veteran for sacrificing everything, even their lives on too many occasions, for our country. I would like to ask them the same thing every time they honor their neighbor in Church, or honor their pastor.
“But we don’t ‘worship’ them for crying out loud!”
Well, actually you do. Just check with Webster.
If you look up the definition of “worship,” you will see something strange. Not only does worship refer to the adoration of God, but it refers to the high esteem and honor we give to others, anybody. The reason for this confusion is that English has integrated into one word that for which Latin uses two: dulia and latria. Both words in Latin refer to “worship.” Dulia respresents the high esteem and honor we give others, such as veterans, our neighbor in Church, or our Pastor. Latria refers to the adoration reserved for God alone, that of the worship we give to our Creator and to Him alone as the Commandment instructs us. Thomas Aqunias points out that dulia and latria are different in substance, meaning, no matter how much dulia you give someone, it never turns into latria. It makes sense, actually. No matter how much you honor (worship with dulia) your mother and father (another commandment by the way), it never turns into the latria owed to God. How freeing! We do not have to hold back in our love and honor for others for fear of worshiping them in violation of the first commandment (provided we understand and do not lose sight of the distinction)!
The issue at hand, then, for my Protestant brethren, is that I may rightfully call on Joan of Arc with honor and love, just as the Protestant may call on their neighbor or Pastor with honor and love. We call this the belief in the “communion of saints” in our ancient Apostles Creed. The saints are more alive than we are. The notion of a dead saint is an oxymoron of the highest order. I hope that if I get to Heaven by the grace of God, I am not dead. The point of Heaven is to be truly alive in a supernatural way.
If the Protestant were to exclaim to his friend who helped out in a time of crisis, “John, I owe you my life! You saved my life with the help you gave me!” no one would bat an eye. In fact, it would be strange for the person in need completely to ignore the person through whom God worked this miracle. It even would seem hardly pleasing to God to show no gratitude to this person simply because of the bigger truth that it was actually God who did the saving. God uses others so that we might love others. It is no different with the saints.
So, Joan of Arc saved me. She brought me back from the gates of Hell. However, if you insist otherwise, then fine. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ saved me through His infinite merits won on the Cross of Calvary. However, he worked His grace through Joan of Arc who is more alive than we are (because of the grace of Jesus Christ). My gratitude and “dulia” worship of Joan of Arc (the same substance through which we “worship” our veterans, our neighbor in Church, our Pastor, our mother and our father) is most appropriate and flourishes through my “latria” adoration of Jesus Christ.
This brings me to Royalty.
In the Divine Order where Jesus Christ is King of Kings (and not the President for four years after which He seeks re-election) in the Father’s Kingdom, our earthly Kings and Queens are to represent (however imperfectly) the Father’s Kingdom “on earth as it is in Heaven.” They are the Lord’s stewards and lieutenants (re: Joan of Arc’s message to Charles VII proclaiming Christ as the true King of France with Charles as His Lieutenant) for His dominion through the Social Kingship of Christ. They may not be saints; however, we owe them the dulia they deserve due to their position and responsibility in the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in Heaven.
We need good Monarchs in order to establish the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in Heaven. They need good subjects. It is their duty to be good, pious, saintly Monarchs. It is our duty to be good, pious, saintly subjects. Do we all, Monarchs and subjects, fall short in our duty? Rhetorical question.
Through the infinite merits of Jesus Christ, and only Jesus Christ, (whew, maybe my restraints can be removed now), we have the great privilege to honor (dulia) the saints through whom God grants us great graces. We have the great privilege to honor (dulia) our Monarchs. Furthermore, as the saints, who love and care for us in the Divine Order, demand that we live upright and just lives in the fear and love of our Savior Jesus Christ, we demand that our Monarchs live and rule as upright and just Monarchs in the fear and love of our Savior Jesus Christ. Conversely, our Monarchs demand that we live as upright and just subjects.
When we follow the Divine Order as such, we are truly bringing our Father’s Kingdom “on earth as it is in Heaven” by rightfully worshiping (dulia) the saints, our veterans, our neighbor in Church, our Pastor, our mother and father…etc. and rightfully worshiping (latria) our Lord Jesus Christ as King of all Kings.