‘Lord, Smash Our Idols’

by | Aug 25, 2023

Do you have idols in your life?  Are you prepared to let the Lord smash them so you can follow Him wholeheartedly? 

To emphasize how important it is to give up our idols so we can follow the Lord with undivided hearts, I’d like to share my experience of literal idol smashing. It happened during my visit to the parish of my brother, Fr. Bill Ryan, in Togo, West Africa. 

During my visit, a prominent family in Fr. Bill’s parish made the grace-filled decision to give up the physical idols they had placed on their property. They wanted to follow Jesus unreservedly. They asked my brother to go to their property and destroy their idols—and he entrusted much of that task to me! 

We knew it would be foolish to carry out this mission without a great deal of prayer support, so we recruited intercessors. And the family, partly because they understandably feared retaliation from demons, prayed intently every evening for a week before the idol-smashing event. 

We began with a well-attended Saturday morning Mass, followed by a procession in which hundreds of parishioners walked from the church to the family’s home—and to the homes of other parishioners who decided to follow that family’s good example. The excitement was palpable! We sang about Jesus being the victor, and the enthusiastic musical accompaniment, especially the insistent beating of the drums, left no doubt that we believed Jesus really does win the victory! 

When we arrived, we held a powerful prayer service, and we blessed barrels of holy water and a great quantity of salt. Next, we dug up the idols, which were buried around the property, smashed them with sledgehammers, and sprinkled holy water and blessed salt very liberally. Then we threw the idols into a great bonfire, much to the delight of the people, whose faith was greatly strengthened that day! And we planted a huge cross where the idols had been.

Partaking in that event, it was impossible not to realize that we, too, have our idols. They include not just things that are obviously sinful, like internet pornography, which is truly a scourge from the pit of hell. They also include things that may be fine in moderation but that can distract us from what Jesus would have us do. Thankfully, Jesus is the true smasher of idols! We must beg Him to unearth and smash our idols so the Holy Spirit can find ever more room in our hearts.


About the Author

<a href="https://www.renewalministries.net/author/fr-peter-ryan-sj/" target="_self">Fr. Peter Ryan</a>

Fr. Peter Ryan

Fr. Peter Ryan, SJ, is a professor of theology and a spiritual director at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Michigan.


  1. Anthony Bombich

    I saw this article, but I have a question. What idols were smashed?

    • Renewal Ministries Staff

      Thank you for reaching out! This is Fr. Peter’s reply:

      The idols we smashed were various items that were nondescript and insignificant in themselves, so much so that it’s hard for me even to remember what they looked like. Some were man made, but apparently not all of them were originally made for the purpose of being an idol or fetish. I do remember that one idol, which seemed to be the main one, looked like and may have been an old coconut. The significance of each of these idols for the people is that they were taken to be associated with, or were used to put people in touch with, an evil spirit. The idol I described was associated with a demon they called “Voodoohead.”

      I hope this response is helpful to the person who asked about this. The inquirer might also be interested in the longer article on this topic written by my brother and published in Catholic World Report, available here. In that article, my brother offers further reflection on idols. In one of the pictures included with the article, I’m walking with my brother and carrying the “Voodoohead” idol, which I then tossed into a bonfire that was prepared for that purpose. In another picture, you can see idols burning in the bonfire.

      In Christ before whom all idols fall,

      Father Peter


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