1 Imagine someone who is about to set sail and cross the raging sea. He calls upon a piece of wood far more fragile than the boat that carries him.
2 In fact, this boat has been built with gain in mind and proceeds from the wisdom of the shipwright. 3 But it is your providence, Father, that guides it, for you are the one who prepares a path through the sea and a safe way over the waves. 4 By this we understand that you are able to save us from any danger, and even the unskilled are able to sail.
5 People are the work of your wisdom and you do not want them to remain idle. So they trust their lives to a small plank of wood and cross the sea safe and sound on a raft.
6 At the beginning of time when proud giants perished, the hope of the world took refuge on a raft and, led by your hand, left to the world the seed of a new race. 7 Blessed be the wood by which salvation was carried out!
8 But cursed be the idol and its maker, the idol made by human hands, this corruptible thing that is called a god, and the craftsman for having fashioned it.
9 They are hateful to God, both the godless and the fruit of his god lessness; 10 the maker will be punished together with his work.
11 Therefore the idols of the nations will also be judged. They have come to be the most abominable among the creatures of God. They are a stumbling block to the spirit of man, and the feet of the foolish are caught in the snare.
12 The invention of idols was the origin of licentiousness; when they were invented, life became cor rupt. 13 For in the beginning they did not exist and they will not exist forever. 14 Human vanity introduced them into the world, and God has set a term for them.
15 Suppose a father, overwhelmed by grief for a child so swiftly taken from him, has an image made of him. From that time on a dead creature will be honored as a god, because the father handed on to his dependents secret rites and celebra tions. 16 Time will consolidate this unholy practice and eventually it will be ob served by law.
16 It has also happened that sculptured images were venerated by or der of sovereigns. 17 Those who lived far away and were unable to honor them personally had copies made, that they might honor them as if present by means of their image.
18 The ambition of the artist helped the veneration grow among those who did not even know the sovereign. 19 As he wished to please his master, he made the portrait more attractive than reality, 20 and the people, seduced by the perfection of art work, began to worship someone previously honored as a man.
21 In this way the image became a pitfall for the living, for people bent down, either by misfortune or tyranny, gave to stones and wood the incommunicable Name.
22 But it was not enough for them to err in their knowledge of God; in the great trouble to which ignorance condemned them, they have called such an evil situation peace.
23 With the sacrificial murder of children in their initiations, with secret mysteries and wild ceremonial orgies, 24 they no longer keep their lives and marriages pure; they treacherously murder one another or wound others through adultery.
25 Everywhere it is a welter of blood, murder, fraud and theft, corruption, treachery, riots, per jury; 26 on all sides harassment of good people, forgetfulness of favors, the pollution of souls and sins against nature, widespread disorder in marriage, adultery, debauchery.
27 Indeed the worship of gods which do not even deserve a name, is the beginning, cause and effect of every evil.
28 Others delight in raving or uttering false prophecies; they live wickedly and casually perjure them selves. 29 As they deal with lifeless images, they do not fear any punishment for their false oaths, 30 but a double punishment awaits them: as idolators for their base concept of God, as frauds for taking false oaths in defiance of all that is holy.
31 Though the idols by which they swore are powerless, justice that pursues sinners always overtakes the sin of the wicked.