Monday, May 08, 2006

Saints and Sanctity

The Church's veneration of the saints is a necessary part of its life and work. Otherwise there would be a danger of looking upon sanctity as an abstraction. The saints help us to see how the Gospel can be incarnated and lived in many different ways and under many different social and historical circumstances. The basic mystery of Christianity after all, is not that God has created a world different from God, and in which God must be served and glorified, but rather that grace, which is identical with God has permeated the world with God's own presence. - Karl Rahner.

A few years ago the relics of Therese of Lisieux toured Brisbane. She's no rock icon and she hasn't made the cover of New Idea, but this girl just keeps popping up in Catholic Culture as regular as celibate clergy. Is it macabre to cart around the remains of our sister? I know families who hold onto the ashes of loved ones and keep them in the family home. This whole tour is a bit like taking the ashes of a loved family member around to the "rellies" for a good old family get together.

The relics are carried in a pretty cool looking chest which gives quite a bit of dignity to the reality of human remains.

Only Catholics could do this and get away with it!! It has all the hallmarks of a religious circus with expectations of miracles, guest appearances by famous and "wanna be" Catholics and great sponsorship deals with Funeral Companies!! All in all, it's a harmless bit of Catholic eccentricity that brings people together, reminds us that there is another realm to our lives and proves that everything that comes out of France doesn't have to be edible or sexy.

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