Relevance and spiritual significance of the relics

As was announced last week, we have been blessed to have a First Class Relic of St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina in our church for nine (9) days. Immediately after each Mass this weekend (Oct.15-16), I will provide a blessing with the Relic after reciting the Novena Prayer to St. Pio. We will then provide all families the opportunity to come forward with a Padre Pio Holy Card that you will be gifted with, to reverence his relic and touch it only with the Holy Card, which will then become a special Third Class Relic for you to retain.

I have had several people ask about the relevance and spiritual significance of the relics of the holy people who have preceded us into eternal life. Are they the source of some mystical magical power? Many non-Catholics, in particular, have difficulty with the sacramental aspects of Catholicism-and not only with the seven sacraments.  They are troubled by the mixing of spirit with matter; the gift of something spiritual…grace…received by means of physical things…which…after all…is what the sacraments are. This stems from age-old heresies known as Dualism, Marcionism, and Manichaeanism.  Marcion, in particular, taught that the God of the Old Testament was evil in creating matter, but the God of the New Testament is a different and good God, who raises us to the level of spirit. The less one is entrapped by matter, the closer one is to God. Needless to say, this does not fit well with the Sacraments-or with the Incarnation (God becoming “man”)!

So, we need to refer to what the Church actually says about relics.  It has never inferred that there is some magical power in them. There is nothing in the relic itself, whether a bone of the apostle Peter or water from Lourdes, that has any curative ability. The Church just says that relics may be the occasion of God’s miracles, and in this regard, the Church follows Scripture. The use of the bones of Elisha brought a dead man to life: In the Book of 2 Kings, Chapter 13:20-21 we are told: “So Elisha died, and they buried him. Now bands of Moabites used to invade the land in the spring of the year. And as a man was being buried, lo, a marauding band was seen and the man was cast into the grave of Elisha; and as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood on his feet”. This is an unequivocal biblical example of a miracle being performed by God through contact with the relics of a saint! There are similar cases of the woman who was cured of a hemorrhage by touching the hem of Christ’s cloak (Matt. 9:20-22) and the sick who were healed when Peter’s shadow passed over them (Acts 5:14-16). “And God did extraordinary miracles  by the hands of  Paul, so that handkerchiefs  or aprons were carried away from his body to the sick, and diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them” (Acts 19:11-12).  In the New Testament cases, physical things (the cloak, the shadow, handkerchiefs and aprons) were used to affect cures. So there is a perfect congruity between present-day Catholic practice and ancient practice. I hope this helps bring some clarity and understanding with regards to the honor and reverence given to the relics of Saints.

And  now,  I  would  like  to  thank  the  large  number  of  our  parishioners  that  patronized  the  new  pro-life  movie, “Voiceless”.  Everyone I have spoken to, who attended this first week, has related that they enjoyed the quality of the film and the powerful pro-life message it conveyed. There were 100 theatres throughout  Florida that showed the movie this opening week,  and  40  of  them drew  large  enough  crowds  that  they  have  extended  the  showings  for  an  additional  week.  Our Jacksonville “Tinseltown” theater was one of them. If you saw it, please recommend it to others.  If you   haven’t seen it, please go this weekend (Sat or Sun), as the number of tickets sold on the weekend decide if the movie will be held over a third week.  If you are not able to go this weekend, please plan to enjoy it one day next week.  It will be here through Thursday, October 20th! Our Youth Group is planning to go on Monday night and parents are invited to accompany us.

Let  us  remember  that  the  primary  reason  for  this  movie  and  the  enthusiastic  moral  encouragement  given  us nationwide by Cardinals  and Bishops, is to heighten  the awareness  and moral responsibility  that accrues to all of us. We Catholics must do all we possibly can to protect the poorest of the poor, the defenseless American children in the womb, who are being “legally” murdered (now over 58 Million of them and growing). If Catholic Christian  voters alone (and certainly when combined with all others who claim to be Christian), would have done their “moral due-diligence” and adhered to the 6th Commandment of God…”You Shall Not Murder”…this evil law, would have been overturned  by 1974.  It was levied not by the Legislative Branch of our Government in accord with the consent of the people…but surreptitiously by power usurped from legislators by the Supreme Court. never-the-less, it has shamefully become the law of this Christian Union of States, which claims to be… “One Nation, under God…with liberty and justice for all.” Empirical scientific findings, not the Church, have determined, beyond any doubt, that at conception, the child is a person. You must in good conscience do all you can do to end this horrific American genocide. From a moral standpoint, and nothing weighs more important than morality, the voting decision for this year has never been clearer. Refer to Question Number 19, in the “Brief Catechism for Catholic Voters” you recently received, where it states:   “A Candidate who promotes abortion disqualifies him or her from receiving a Catholic vote”. I keep encountering Catholics, or those who claim to be Catholic, who do not understand what intrinsic evil means. “Intrinsic” means that the action is always, without any exception, evil! There are lot of actions that can be evil in some circumstance, and not evil in other instances. Abortion is not one of them! For a Catholic to vote for a pro-abortion candidate would be to become an accomplice in that moral evil, thereby mortally sinning and placing their immortal soul in eternal danger. Let us all take pride in finally being part of the solution…and not part of the 43 year old problem. And may God richly bless you for doing so.

Yours for the protection of all life,     fr denis