Cause for Beatification and Canonization of the Servant of God

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John Paul II Relics: Not for Sale, interview with Postulator of Cause
News that relics of Pope John Paul II are for sale through the Internet is entirely false, says Monsignor Slawomir Oder, the postulator of the Pontiff's cause of beatification.

The relics have been made available to the public for free, but the selling of religious objects is a sacrilegious act, the priest told ZENIT in this interview.

Monsignor Oder began by saying: I would like to clarify that the distribution of objects or elements from objects belonging to candidates of the altar, to saints or blessed, is an ancient practice in the Church, and is something that accompanies every process of beatification together with the spreading of the knowledge of the spirituality and the life of the candidate to the altar.

Holy cards are distributed, explaining how to pray for an intention and to ask for their intercession. And the same holds true for the process of the Servant of God John Paul II. These holy cards contain prayers. And pieces of his clerical clothing are distributed by the office of postulation; but we are speaking of an entirely free distribution.

Q: Why is the sale of relics considered sacrilegious?

Monsignor Oder: It is absolutely a sacrilege; it is something which goes against the tradition of the Church, and against logic, recalling what Jesus said: “What you have freely received, you must also freely give." The sale of relics therefore would be offensive to God, to the saint or blessed, to the candidate to the altar.

Q: What is a relic?

Monsignor Oder: Relics are part of the logic of the Incarnation, of concrete history. They are a sign of the presence of a saint in history.

I like the expression used by Monsignor Marco Frisina, director of the Liturgical Office of the Vicariate of Rome, in an article we published in our bulletin Totus Tuus, which follows the process of beatification, and in which we have clarified the meaning of relics: When we touch the body of a saint we touch the temple of the Holy Spirit, when we touch an object that belonged to a saint we touch a monument of the presence of grace and God’s mercy in the life of that person.

This is how we must view objects called relics, the memories, the things that remain of the life of the saint. They are the realities that hearken back to the work of grace in the life of the saint.

Q: [So you can give] a clear denial of the report on the sale of objects or fragments of objects that belonged to John Paul II?

Monsignor Oder: I am troubled by this and do not understand the reason for this report. A false report. I repeat: The sale of relics would be a sacrilege.

We have been distributing holy cards containing pieces of the vestments of the Holy Father John Paul II for some time now. People from all over the world have asked for hundreds of these holy cards.

It is an activity that accompanies the process [of beatification] and expresses the great worldwide devotion to John Paul II -- a great renown for holiness that accompanies this process.

Mons. Sławomir Oder
The Sale of Relics, a Sacrilege
Bones, more precious than jewels and more expensive than gold.

The early Christians affirmed that the devotion to the holy martyrs and their relics is a demonstration of veneration towards Jesus. The veneration of relics goes back to the times of the first Christians and the cross of Jesus is one of the first relics. Through the intercession of our saints, we turn to our God, and to be nearer to them we visit the places where they lived. We search for their memories and their imprints.

While the process of Beatification and Canonization of John Paul II continues, we desire to have at least one memento of him to feel closer to him. Every memento of him we can revere in a private way, for now, in the silence of our hearts, until the day the Church proclaims him a saint. Mons. Marco Frisina, head of the Liturgical Office for the Vicariate of Rome, explains to us some things necessary to be able to better understand the mystery of relics.

What is a relic and what does it represent in the Catholic Church?

The word “relic” has its origin in the Latin word “reliquiae,” “remnants”. It is a physical memory, the living testimony of a saint or of a blessed. In the Church, a relic has always had great value because, as a remnant, a presence of the historical passage of this saint, it puts us in touch with the historical concreteness of his or her life. A relic has another value for the physical relationship that the saint had with the Eucharist, with the Lord, a relationship that is also sacred. The significance of the body of a person baptized, through the union of grace, is that it is a body-temple of the Holy Spirit, but the body of a saint is even more so because he has lived in his flesh this holiness, a communion of grace with God, and his body has been inhabited by that same grace in a solemn way. A relic allows us to almost be in contact with that body. In history, relics have also had an important role in the fight against the spirit of evil because relics are not loved by the devil since they are a physical reality that has special relationship with grace.

There are two classes of relics…

A first-class relic is made up of parts of the body; a second-class relic, instead, is from the garments or objects that have been in contact with the body of a saint, alive or dead. The objects that have been in contact with the tomb instead have a symbolic value, an affective one, and are called “mementos.” The gesture of touching an object that we use every day, a rosary for instance, to the tomb of a saint has only a devotional value.

When can we start to revere a blessed or a saint?

The veneration begins during the rite of beatification. The relics are brought solemnly to the altar, and from that moment on, the Church allows the veneration of the relics of that saint in a public way. During the process of Beatification and Canonization it is not permitted to revere the Servant of God in that way. In the case of John Paul II, whom we all have revered during his lifetime for the affection that we had for him and for the holiness of his life, we can, for now, use in a private way the prayer card with ex indumentis - bits of his clothing - as a memory of a dear person. One needs to be always prudent and have a lot of patience obeying the Church, waiting for the Church to proclaim him a saint, and this will bring a lot of human and spiritual joy.

Who can have relics?

A first class relic can clearly only be given for public veneration, in which case to a church, an oratory, or a seminary. They have always been put under the altar so that the altar where the Eucharist is celebrated may have as its base a living memory of those persons that have been united with the sacrifice of Christ by means of their lives. You absolutely cannot buy or sell relics (of any kind) because they are something sacred, they do not have a price. The problem of the sale of relics is very diffused on the Internet, and allow me to say that this is a sacrilege. Obviously relics are authentic when the bishop countersigns them.

What are the most ancient relics in the history of the Church?

The relics brought from the Holy Land by Saint Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine I: the nails of the Cross, the stairs of the building of Pilate or the relics of the Cross of Jesus, which you can find in Rome in the Basilica of Holy Cross in Jerusalem. These are relics that tradition has revered for 1700 years, and obviously they have a lot of value for us and for our prayer because they bring us directly to the time of the Lord. The Shroud of Turin also is a famous relic, impressive for its value. In Manoppello, the veil of Veronica instead is one of the relics that have great probability of truth on which however we cannot express us with certainty.

Often people are moved by curiosity or popular devotion and visit a sanctuary only to see the head of Saint Catherine or the tongue of Saint Anthony. Doesn't the devotion to relics distract from the living presence of Christ in the Tabernacle?

We always have to maintain the hierarchy: the first place is occupied by the Eucharist; then there is the Word of God and then the relics, including sacred images, keeping in mind that images are useful to prayer. It is important to have the proper devotion for a relic because it is easy to fall into superstition. A relic is not an amulet. So then, when I go to church, first I kneel in front of the Eucharist, and then I go to revere the saint because I sense his protection. The Saint prays for us and we can pray to the saint, who in turn intercedes with the Lord, the ultimate addressee of our prayer. When I kiss the relic of a saint, it is as if I am kissing the Mercy of God that is realized in this saint. When I pray in front of the body of a saint, I thank God who sustained this person on the way to holiness. We always have to remember that through the saint we adore God, as John Paul II taught us.

Aleksandra Zapotoczny

そうそう、前回言ってた寄付はやっぱりクレジットカードでできるんだあ~。「Free-Will Offering for the Cause」と書かれてるでしょ、ここをクリックすると出てくる。


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