A couple of weeks ago, I was browsing a fellow Catholic Blog-ger, Esther, well-known among many of us Catholic writers here @ http://hicatholicmom.blogspot.com/. In her sidebar, there is a link to another Blog where the writer discusses the updates to Bl. Damien of Molokai's cause for canonization, which it seems will take place on 11 October, 2009 *God be praised, in His Angels and in His Saints!*. The right heel of Bl. Damien is going to be presented to Bishop Silva of Honolulu.
On this woman's site, she posed the question to her readers: are you for or against relics of the Saints being venerated? Is this a repulsive practice or not?
I posted a reply in the comments section, after two others had written their "say"...one of whom professed to be a former Catholic, presently non-practicing, who states that he believes the Catholic "adoration" of relics is meant to inspire non-believers. The other, who says that she is non-Catholic, says she "likes her Saints whole." The Blog author states that there have been only two comments posted to her question.
This is not true.
I posted a reply myself, but since she did not see fit to post my comments, I will post them here myself:
I am a cradle, practicing Catholic and I am proud to profess it. I would just like to say here that there is a very valid and important reason why we, as Catholics, venerate the relics of the Saints.
First of all, we do NOT worship or adore the Saints, their body parts or anything to do with them. This is, for the umpteenth time, reserved for God alone...and someone who was raised in the Church *Marc* really should know better than to suggest otherwise. This is the reason why so many non-Catholics have this issue so confused. Those who have been taught the right ways are not instructing them properly...hence, the erroneous conclusion that we adore someone other than the Trinity. We do NOT.
Second, the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and the vessel through which the Saints (and all holy people) work with Christ our Lord in practicing the virtues, the works of mercy, acts of charity and penance. There is nothing "eww-wy" about parts of their bodies, whether incorrupt or even as mere bones or locks of hair. To suggest otherwise is to insult those whom the Lord would call His friends...and therefore, it is insulting to Him.
Now, as someone who has venerated the Saints all her life, I think I know a thing or two about the practice of venerating their remains. I own a couple of 3rd class Relics myself, as do many of my readers, I'm sure. I have been "this close" to the 1st class Relics of one or two as well...but I don't have them in my possession. This practice is such an old tradition in the Church; remains of the Saints have been honored by us Catholics for nearly 2,000 years!
In my parish, we have in our vault, a 1st class Relic of St. Faustina, which is brought out every year @ the Holy Masses of Divine Mercy Sunday. And a few years ago, I, with two of my daughters, Theresa & Laura, went to the Shrine of the Little Flower, which is about a 30 minute drive from our home, when her remains were brought over from France for the occasion of the 100th Anniversary of her death.
And perhaps most importantly of all, at a nearby parish, they have a 1st class Relic of the True Cross Itself! Every year, It is brought out and venerated by the faithful @ the Good Friday services. To have such a Relic in their possession is indeed a great blessing for the people of this parish!!
As we all know, many of the Saints have also been found to be incorrupt. Talk about a 1st class Relic! St. Bernadette, St. Catherine Laboure, St. Vincent de Paul, the tongue of St. Anthony, many others. Through the relics of these holy persons, many miracles have been performed. Many non-believers have been converted to the True Faith.
To say with disdain or disrespect that one does not like "body parts of the Saints ~ they are gross" is to show the utmost dislike of God Himself ~ and the means through which He chooses to bless us in our present day.