Relics... weird!?

Hey there,

I’m having a real problem with the practice of having relics.

Disgusting!
Disrespectful to the deceased!
Sorcery? (At least somewhat superstitious)

What am I to do with these feelings?

  • CB

Study more.

Why do you believe this is “disgusting”?

I think you have made a good start by coming here and asking :slight_smile:

Peace,
+N

Disgusting, why? Do you not keep a memento of a dress that your mother wore, a photograph, even cremated remains in an urn, for example, in love and memorium? Why not a relic of a beloved saint?

Disrespectful? Why? The person’s soul is in heaven. Whatever relic one has, it isn’t as though one is keeping it from the saint, or impeding them in any way.

Sorcery? Huh? Nobody ‘conjures’ with relics. They aren’t ‘good luck charms’ and if some choose to think that, that is THEIR problem.

In a society where we have to be told ‘Caution, coffee may be hot", or "electric appliance, do not use while standing in water’. . .do we stop drinking coffee or using appliances because some may use them incorrectly? I think not.

This is not permitted by the Church. See this link.

Peace,
Dante

Up until the turn of the 20th century it was not just common, but extremely so, in Europe at least and presumably America and such colonies as Australia too, for people to have and wear lockets or other jewellery containing locks of the hair of their deceased loved ones.

Disgusting? Disrespectful to the deceased (who themselves were very often the ones who in fact made provisions for that jewellery to be made - either some time prior to their death or in their will)? Superstitious? Sorcerous? None of the above. Simply a loving and touching memento, a way of keeping the loved one’s presence with you.

And not just the dead - I don’t see my dear little godson nearly as often as I’d like to, so my sister, as well as the usual photos and letters and phonecalls, gave me once a lock of his hair, which I treasure. Isn’t this something boyfriends and girlfriends still do sometimes, or at least used to?

The OP isn’t Catholic, so they may possibly do something like this.

Give them to Jesus. And read the following:

The Use of Relics Proved from the Bible

Keep in mind what the Church says about relics. It doesn’t say 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 the Church follows Scripture.

The use of the bones of Elisha brought a dead man to life:

“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” (2 Kgs. 13:20-21).

This is an unequivocal biblical example of a miracle being performed by God through contact with the relics of a saint!

Similar are the cases of the woman 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). Even more interesting is the evidense of “second-class” relics of Paul:

“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).

If these aren’t examples of the use of relics, what are?

In the case of Elisha, a Lazarus-like return from the dead was brought about through the prophet’s bones. In the New Testament cases, physical things (the cloak, the shadow, handkerchiefs and aprons) were used to effect cures. There is a perfect congruity between present-day Catholic practice and ancient practice. If you reject all Catholic relics today as frauds, you should also reject these biblical accounts as frauds.

The Martyrdom of Polycarp

Finally, let’s consider a passage from an ancient document known as “The Martyrdom of Polycarp” which illustrates the reverence that the earliest Christians had for the relics of their fallen comrades.


CHAPTER 18 – The Christians take the ashes.


1 When therefore the centurion saw the contentiousness caused by the Jews, he put the body in the midst, as was their custom, and burnt it. 2 Thus we, at last, took up his bones, more precious than precious stones, and finer than gold, and put them where it was meet. 3 There the Lord will permit us to come together according to our power in gladness and joy, and celebrate the birthday of his martyrdom, both in memory of those who have already contested,1 and for the practice and training of those whose fate it shall be.

1 This is almost a technical term for martyrdom, cf. Ignatius’s epistle to Polycarp 1:3.

Polycarp was martyred ca. 155 AD. Since some anti-Catholics claim that the Catholic Church did not exist before the conversion of the Emperor Constantine in the fourth century, this account of Polycarp’s death includes an early example of the veneration of the bones of the Christian Church in accordance with the scriptures long before the Catholic Church “allegedly” even existed!

Hope this helps! :tiphat:

Hmmm … I understand your point.

I have no problem with the practice of relics when, as the previous posters have alluded, it involves articles owned or worn by the saint in question, i.e., a rosary, a prayerbook, a habit etc… I don’t even have a problem with a lock of hair or whatever.

BUT …

I am really, really not into the “bits and pieces of saints’ bodies” type of relics. Things like the tongue of St. Francis Xavier, the forefinger of St. John of the Cross, the heart of St. Vincent DePaul etc. Uuugggh …

Much of this, I will admit, is due to my modern sensibilities. I just find such things a bit creepy and gross, but if it inspires devotion in another person, well … okay.

On the other hand, the modern rejection of relics as “superstitious” or as somehow invalidating the Catholic Faith is dumb. Particularly when every year there are people who spend fortunes in auctions at places like Christie’s in London to acquire bits and pieces of memorabilia once possessed by celebrities such as John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, Madonna etc. In the 21st century celebrities have supplanted saints in the popular imagination, but at the back of it all it’s the same human urge to be close or to "touch " the person admired in some way.

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