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Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

I have come to set the earth on fire" (Lk 12:49) - Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

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How to treat sacred objects and relics

By Fr. Joseph Edattu VC

Blessed and sacred objects, whatever they may be, can be only used for holy purposes. Objects blessed for use at Holy Eucharistic celebrations may only be used for that purpose. Similarly, holy objects kept aside for adoration and veneration should be handled with due respect, sanctity and veneration (Cf. Canon Law No.1171)

Is it correct to venerate the statues of Jesus and the saints?

Tabor Voice has already published an article to answer this question. Yet, there is one aspect that I would like to point out. God, who was invisible, came out in the open and in the physical form of Jesus Christ. Therefore, he is not and he will not be invisible anymore. He took the form of man in flesh and blood, and hence, it will be belittling His incarnation if we insist on his invisibility.

When Moses saw God in the bush, he did not see the shape of God. But he heard the voice of God and witnessed the wonderful miracle of a ‘burning bush’, which did not turn to ashes. Moses heard God’s voice and God’s name. The voice said, “It is I.” Later, in the New Testament, when the disciples’ boat was caught in a storm, Jesus came to them, walking on water. The disciples thought it was a ghost. Immediately, Jesus disclosed his identity, “It is I.” (Mt 14:27) He did not say, ‘I am Jesus’. He was before Moses saying “It is I” without showing His physical form, but only in voice and through a wonderful burning bush; the same “It is I” appeared before the disciples in typical human form and voice. We read in the Bible that when Jesus entered the boat, those who were in the boat worshipped him who is in human form saying, “Truly you are the son of God” (Mt 14:33) Therefore, it is not wrong to make the images of Jesus and venerate them.

Not only the images of Jesus; we may keep the images of other saints, but not for worshipping. God had ordered to make two cherubs in gold at the two ends of the Mercy Seat. People venerated God in the temples created by Solomon, with several cherubs, God said “There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the covenant, I will deliver to you all My commands for the Israelites” (Ex 25:22) Truly none of these Cherubs have incarnated as human beings. Men have only seen them in visions. Those images of cherubs were created from human imagination. The belief was that God was present in the midst of those cherubs. It is the same belief we should have when we stand before the images kept in our churches.

Can we keep the relics of saints? Can we venerate them?

When a group of people was going with a body for burial, they found the enemy coming from opposite side, and in fear they threw the body into the grave of Elisha. When the body touched the bone of Elisha, the body became alive and stood up (2 Kings 13:21) The power of God was present even in the bones of Elisha. In this context we may see Catholics preserving and venerating the bones and skulls of saints as relics. Prophet Elisha used the mantle fallen from Elijah to strike the water of Jordan; water parted to two sides to make way for him. Even the dress Elijah worn had the presence of God (2 kings 2:13) We may read along with this the miraculous cure of the woman suffering from hemorrhage for many years as soon as she touched the fringe of Jesus’ cloak and also the soldiers casting lots for the same cloak of Jesus.

We Catholics save sacred objects duly blessed by bishops or priests and inherited from our ancestors. Our belief is that these sacred objects have divine power. That is true as well.  Act 19:11-12 says, “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that when the handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were brought to the sick, their diseases left them, and the evil spirits came out of them.” It is from the experiences of our Christian ancestors that we inherited the practice of saving the sacred objects and relics of saints, and venerating them. It is enough to bring these objects near the diseased or afflicted person (not necessary to touch) for them to get cure and deliverance. This is not the power of these objects, but to show us believers “What is the immeasurable greatness of His power for us who believe, according to the working of His great power” (Eph 1:19)

Ancient Christians preserved the relics of the apostles with great reverence and people came from distant places to venerate these relics, as proved by researchers. Not only that, churches have been built over the graves of martyrs. There was a tradition in the ancient church to kiss the original cross on which Christ died during the Holy Week. There was also an interesting episode recorded, in which a believer bit off a portion of the cross while kissing it.

How to destroy the sacred objects, which are out of use?

In an article titled “Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship” published in 1800, it is said that old unusable chalice and paten should never be sold. Instead these should be melted into other objects used for sacraments, or they should be buried under good soil. Similarly objects used at Holy Mass, including clothes, and excess Holy water should be buried under good earth. Blessed palms leftover from the service, could be burned and the ash used during the Ash Wednesday for imposition of ashes. Broken rosaries and scapulars should be buried under good earth. They should not be thrown into wastebaskets or other open places where people may stamp on them. If these objects are burned the ashes should be used or thrown in good soil. The Body and Blood of Jesus, which were not consumed should be disposed and dissolved in water through the pipe usually provided by all churches, known as the Sacrarium.

Prayer

Almighty God, this whole universe is the external manifestation of Your love for us. Lord you said, if we do not give You praise, even the stones will begin to praise You. The stars shone brilliantly at your birth; the earth quaked at your death, the rocks split open. All these show that not only the humans, but also every living creatures of this world, actively participate in the salvific act of Jesus. At that moment, You proved that You are not only the Lord of mankind, but also of heaven and earth and all things in it. Therefore we pray that You give us the faith and the wisdom to use these blessed objects to proclaim Your word to the ends of the earth and to glorify Your name.

 
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MAGNIFICAT in Chennai

Divine comes to Chennai with the 'Magnificat on October 21,2017. Fr. Jacob Arimpur VC will lead the services. Music by Worship Culture. With special sessions for children.

Venue: Stella Maris College, Cathedral Road

MAGNIFICAT in Bangalore

Celebrate an evening with our Lord in Bangalore at the 'Magnificat' on October 14, 2017. Services to be led by Fr Jacob Arimpur VC. All are welcome.

Venue: St. Joseph's Boys' School Chapel, Museum Road, Bangalore

Retreats at the Divine Retreat Centre, Somersby, Sydney

Divine Retreat Centre, Somersby to hold retreats throughout 2017. For bookings, email Fr Roni George, Director - drcsydney@gmail.com. Hurry, as admission is limited.

Date: January 2017 - December, 2017

Retreats in Divine Retreat Centre, UK

Divine Retreat Centre, Ramsgate UK, has announced several English and Malayalam language retreats to be led by Fr. George Panackal VC and Fr. Joseph Edattu VC. All are welcome.

Dates: Jan - Dec, 2017

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