This month our archdiocese has been blessed with the presence of relics of St. John Vianney and St. John Bosco.
According to the Modern Catholic Dictionary, a relic is "an object connected with a saint, e.g. part of the body or clothing or something the person has used or touched."
"Relics are of three classes: the first is part of the saint's body and is the type placed in the altar stone; the second is part of the clothing or anything used during the saint's life; and the third is any other object, such as a piece of cloth, that has been touched to a first-class relic."
Means of connection
The veneration of relics helps us connect to the past, present, and future.
Relics connect us to the past. They remind us that the saints were real human beings with flesh and bones. The saints experienced human weaknesses, trials, and limitations, but by their co-operation with divine grace they became the heroes of their times, and they contributed marvellously to the glorious history of the Church.
Relics connect us to the present reality of the communion of saints. The souls of the saints are now in heaven. A relic represents a saint in heaven. When we pray before a relic, we pray to the saint it represents. Relics and sacred images remind us of the loving protection and intercession of the saints.
Relics also help us to feel connected with the holy places where tombs of the saints are located. Furthermore, relics help us to feel connected with the religious communities that the saints belonged to.
Relics inspire us to hope for the future. The veneration of relics increases our desire to meet the souls of the saints in heaven. Relics remind us of the resurrection of the dead. The bodies of the saints will rise in glory on the last day. We hope to share the same glory with the saints.
Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824) was a mystic who had the exceptional gift of recognizing relics. One time she saw relics and exclaimed: "They are shining: what treasures we possess, more valuable than a kingdom."
Regarding relics that had been buried and neglected, she said, "I saw that these neglected treasures confer blessings wherever they lie and ward off Satan's influence. I have seen certain places preserved from serious calamities by them whilst others of recent date suffered severely, because possessing nothing of the kind."
Blessed Catherine lived during a time when churches were being dismantled and convents being suppressed. Many relics were neglected or treated disrespectfully. This was a source of deep sorrow for her and she strove to revive veneration of these relics. People brought her relics, so that at the time of her death she possessed more than 300.
During her lifetime, Blessed Catherine venerated the relics of saints with deep devotion. With the help of these saints, she is now a blessed in the Church, and her own body has become a holy relic!
Blessed Catherine was intensely devoted to the Holy Eucharist. For years she ate practically nothing except Holy Communion. The bodies of the saints were made holy by the Eucharist. The same Eucharist will make our bodies holy too!
In Vancouver I am hosting three prayer groups in Cantonese and English. We pray the Rosary, learn about the teachings and lives of the saints, and honour the holy relics of different saints. If you are interested in joining, please visit my website for more information.
真福安納.嘉琳.庵慕烈Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824) 得到很多私人啟示。她具有分辨聖髑的神恩。有一次她看見聖髑，即興奮地說：「聖髑光芒萬象，我們擁有這些珍寶，比一個王國還要珍貴！」有關被埋下和遺忘的聖髑，真福庵慕烈說：「我看見那被忽視的珍寶為地區帶來祝福，並驅除了撒旦的影響力。我見到一些地方因聖髑而免於災難；其它地方則在近期受到蹂躪，因為那些地方欠缺聖髑。」
Published at Pax Sinica column (October 18) of The B.C . Catholic newspaper
Information of my 3 prayer groups:
Hearts of Jesus and Mary Prayer Group (around 30-40 people)
- In Cantonese
- Every 1st & 3 rd Sunday
- 7 PM to 9 PM
- Corpus Christi Parish, Vancouver
Our Lady of Fatima Prayer Group (around 20-30 people)
- In English
- Every 1st & 3rd Monday
- 7 PM to 9 PM
- St. Patrick’s Parish, Vancouver
Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Prayer Group (around 15 to 20 people)
- In Cantonese
- Every 2nd & 4th Monday
- 9:45 AM to 11 AM
- At a private home (SE Vancouver, close to Burnaby)
Rosary with guided meditations (Evening groups have Night Prayer & Benediction as well).
Talk on Summa Theologica (St. Thomas Aquinas) & Lives of the Saints.
Pray Litany of Loreto before holy relics. Blessing of Mary, Help of Christians. Individual blessing with holy relics.
Contact Father Anthony Ho: firstname.lastname@example.org or 604-874-7818 (St. Patrick’s Parish)