Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Fr. Blake has a beautiful, concise explanation of the Church's veneration of relics. As Father says:

The use of relics has some, although limited, basis in sacred Scripture. In 2 Kings 2:9-14, the prophet Elisha picked up the mantle of Elijah after Elijah had been taken up to heaven in a whirlwind. With this Elisha struck the water of the Jordan, which then parted so that he could cross. In another passage (13:20-21), some people hurriedly bury a dead man in the grave of Elisha, "but when the man came in contact with the bones of Elisha, he came back to life and rose to his feet." In the Acts of the Apostles we read, "Meanwhile, God worked extraordinary miracles at the hands of Paul. When handkerchiefs or cloths which had touched his skin were applied to the sick, their diseases were cured and evil spirits departed from them" (19:11-12). In these three passages, a reverence was given to the actual body or clothing of these very holy people who were indeed God's chosen instruments—Elijah, Elisha and St. Paul. Indeed, miracles were connected with these "relics"—not that some magical power existed in them, but just as God's work was done through the lives of these holy men, so did His work continue after their deaths. Likewise, just as people were drawn closer to God through the lives of these holy men, so did they (even if through their remains) inspire others to draw closer even after their deaths. This perspective provides the Church's understanding of relics. Share

1 comment:

Vara said...

This reminds me of two incidents in my life. One, was in Jerusalem before the partially-incorrupt relics of Ss Yelizaveta and Varvara the New Martyrs in the Russian Convent on the Mount of Olives. Upon entry, there was an odour a tad out of the ordinary and a "feeling" of a place "set apart" (I am sorry. Words are failing me, forgive me.). The only thing I found that I could do was prostrate myself in veneration before the shrines (I also wept, and was unable to speak in their presence, I am afraid). I pressed my chotki to the cover of the shrines, and I treasure it to this day.

The second was in an a rather ordinary-looking parish church in one of the working-class suburbs of Moscow. This parish was exceptionally alive, and I remarked on that to my host. She took me by the hand, and said, "Come and see the source of all this". She stopped at the shrine of one of the New Martyrs (I confess I forgot which one, it was a minor figure (that is, if one can ever call a martyr "minor"!)). These people have the privlege of attending liturgy in a church which contatins the relics of one who gave their blood for Christ. It DOES make a difference.

I apologise for my lack of detail, but I find that I cannot describe the feeing of being in the presence of the relics of the holy martyrs adequately or well. One has the experience, and it is St Paul's "words cannot express what I saw and felt there".

Pray for this sinner.