FEAST of the HOLY RELICS

 (Above Picture: left--Adoration of the Holy Cross
by the Saints in Heaven; right-- Reliquary of St. Stephen)

By relics of the Saints we mean all that remains of them after their death — their bones, their ashes, their clothing and other objects used by them. Enemies of the Church have condemned the cult of the relics of the Saints as being borrowed from pagan customs and without apostolic origin. The decision of the Council of Trent suffices to show the falsehood and bad faith of their reasoning. That Council, in effect, decreed quite otherwise, that the bodies of the martyrs and other Saints, who were the living members of Jesus Christ and the temples of the Holy Spirit, must be honored by the faithful, and that through them God grants a great many benefits to the living. Its decision was based on the usage already established in the first century and which has remained constant in the Church, as well as on the teaching of the Fathers and Councils.

The cult of holy relics is therefore not only permitted, but commanded; it is not only a right, but a duty. Let us note well that the cult of holy relics diverges from pagan practices in that it is supernatural. We do not honor what remains of the Saints for any motive derived from nature, but from motives based on the Faith. If one honors the memory and remains of great men worthy of that appellation, it is regarded as justice; but when one honors the memory and remains of the Saints, it is more than justice, it is the virtue of religion. The final object of the cult of the holy relics is God who sanctifies the Saints; it is Jesus Christ, whose members the Saints are. This cult is so legitimate that God Himself sometimes glorifies the relics of His Saints by heavenly perfumes, by other marvelous privileges, by countless miracles. Let us add that the cult of holy relics also has its foundation in the glorious resurrection which is awaiting the bodies of the Saints. God Himself will reassemble these remains at the end of the world and will give them all the brilliance and beauty of which they are capable.

Let us then venerate, with respect, devotion and confidence, these precious relics which once were animated by such great souls, were the instruments of beautiful and holy works and of astonishing virtues, and which will some day be honored by a brilliant and immortal glory. Let us value pilgrimages made to the tombs of the Saints, and celebrate religiously the feast of the holy relics, which appropriately follows closely upon All Saints Day, the feast day of the splendid holy souls who are in heaven.


 Prayer:

Amen, Amen, I say to you, he that believeth in Me, the works that I do he also shall do, and greater than these shall he do (St. John xiv. 12)! Our Lord was speaking of His Saints and disciples, who would believe in Him so fully as to place their earthly happiness in poverty, hunger, mourning, and persecution. His word was to be accomplished in them during life; but frequently it was to be still more manifested after death, in the power retained by their relics of driving away demons, healing all diseases, and obtaining every grace. It is not only from the narrow province of Judaea, but from the coasts of the entire world, that multitudes now flock to hear the saints in the silent eloquence of their tombs, and to experience the virtue that goes out from them.


St. Paulinus of Nola thus speaks in his poems: "God, in His goodness, has willed that the Saints should be distributed among the nations, so that their aid might never be wanting to us weak mortals. If He has given the principal cities to the greatest Saints for their residence, the grace with which they are endowed for our sake is not confined to the places where their entire bodies rest; where there are but small portions, there is the same power, and God thus gives testimony to their credit in heaven. From the holy deposit the sacred ashes are scattered abroad, and become the seeds of life; let but the least drop be taken from the spring, and it is itself a source producing rivers of grace and of love (Paulin. Poem. xix, xxvii)." 
 
 
Prayer to All the Saints.

Anth: All ye saints of God, vouchsafe to make intercession for the salvation of us, and of us all.

V. Ye just, rejoice in our Lord, and be exceeding glad.
R. And glory, all ye right in heart.

Let us pray:

Protect, O Lord, Thy peopie, and let the confidence we have in the intercession of Thy bleased apostles Peter and Paul, and of Thy other apostles, prevail with thee, to preserve and defend us forever.

May all Thy saints, O Lord, we beseech thee, every where assist us, that whilst we celebrate their merits, we may be sensible of their protection; grant us Thy peace in our times, and repel all wickedness from Thy Church: prosperously guide the steps, actions, and desires of us, and of all Thy servants, in the way of salvation: give eternal blessings to those who have done good to us, and everlasting rest to the faithful departed. Through our Lord Jesus Christ thy Son, &c.


R. Amen.
V. Lord hear my prayer.

R. And let my cry come to thee.
V. Bless we our Lord.

R. Thanks be to God.
V. May the souls of the faithful, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

R. Amen. 
 
 
          Hymn for the Veneration of Holy Relics

Now, while before your relics
Our prayers and incense rise,
Look down, ye Saints of heaven!
And help us from the skies.

What though in dismal ruin
Your bones so long have lain?
Yet still sublimest virtues
E'en in their dust remain.

Still in these holy temples
The Spirit makes His home,
Reserving them for glory
In other days to come.

Whence from beneath the altar
They yet exert their might,
Subduing death and sickness,
And putting Hell to flight.

O Christ, our Judge immortal,
Through all the worlds, to Thee
All glory with the Father
And Holy Spirit be.



________________________


Hymn: Sanctorum Meritis

Let us together celebrate the glorious delights merited by the Saints, and their heroic deeds: for the mind exults to proclaim in song these the noblest of conquerors.

These are they whom the world in its folly abhorred; while they, the faithful followers of Thy name, O Jesus merciful King of the heavenly citizens, despised the world as barren and devoid of fruits and flowers.

For Thy sake they scorned the range of men, their savage threats and cruel stripes: the fiercely rending hook, vanquished by their courage, left the brave heart untouched.

Like sheep, they are slaughtered by the sword: not a murmur, not a complaint escapes them; but with unqualing heart, the soul, conscious of right, preserves its patience.

What voice, what tongue could relate the rewards Thou preparest for the Martyrs? For, adorned with the purple of their own blood, they bind their brows with victory's glittering laurels.

We beseech thee, O supreme and only God, that Thou wouldst cleanse away our sins, remove all evils, and grant peace to Thy servants, that they may sing glory to Thee for all ages to come. Amen.

V. The Saints shall rejoice in glory;
R. They shall be joyful in their beds.
 


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