Thursday, October 15, 2009

Why the devotion?


Apart from our parish pilgrimage to Aylesford, some of my parishioners went up to Westminster Cathedral to see the relics. One waited for almost three hours. Why the devotion?
I can't imagine most people have read her autobiography, I am sure that most have but a rudimentary knowledge of her life and spirituality. Obviously one reason for the vast numbers is a reaction to the media coverage. Some might suggest that there is a blurring of faith and superstition, or others that in the presence of the relics there is a hope of miracles, the more pious that here was a meeting of heaven and earth.
But if that is so, why are the pilgrims failing to find it week by week in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament? The answer is that we allow the Eucharist to become ordinary, the visit of the relics is extraordinary. It is the same with the relics of St John Southworth which lie within the Cathedral.
Another reason is perhaps that veneration of the relics is about, "me and God", with a degree of chatter with other pilgrims, a chance for quiet reflection whilst one waits, a degree of being buoyed up by demonstrations of other peoples faith, a touch of asceticism in the wait, all topped off with a blessed rose. Unless you are there for something else too, there is no Liturgy of the Word, no sermon. There is no demand made on the individual except God speaking in their heart.

9 comments:

Et Expecto said...

I like your emphasis on the words ordinary and extraordinary.

Catholic Student said...

Reverend Father, I agree with you. We do allow the Blessed Sacrament to become the 'ordinary'.

Over the past month there have been magnificent scenes all over the country, people flocking to see the casket...

...I was one of the Altar Servers at the Metropolitan Cathedral Church of St David, Cardiff when the relics were 'held' in the Cathedral, 4,000 pilgrims are believed to have visited, truly a remarkable event!

On the flip side, the Cathedral has exposition every Friday for about five hours, the amount of people visiting Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament is remarkably less!

Let us hope and pray that the visit of St Therese to Britain will bring many Catholics back 'home,' foster many vocations and allow the Catholic Church in England and Wales to flourish!

Fr Ray Blake said...

Sorry, I published this post by mistake, I have just added the paragraph.

Steven said...

I see from yesterdays Times that even the Albanian Government have seen the importance of relics and there is a bit of a row going on between Albania and the Missionaries of Charity about whether Blessed Mother Teresa's reliocs can go to the place of her birth for the centenary of that event. Relics, from the past give hope to our future, they're the way forward.

Volpius Leonius said...

If more reverence is given to the relics than to God in the blessed sacrament would that not suggest that people have not been taught about the first and greatest commandment?

But the Lord is in His holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before Him. Habacuc 2:20

Norah said...

If religious ed teachers in so called Catholic schools gave catechesis on The Blessed Sacrament, if priests insisted on reverent behaviour before the tabernacle - no 'catching up or discussing the footy results, modest dress, genuflecting before the tabernacle - and explained why all of those external behaviours are asked for then we may have more people at Adoration. I can't remember the last time my parish priest gave a homily on the Real Presence.

Henry said...

I had not intention of going until I read all the mocking articles in the newspapers, which made up my mind for me.

I found the Aylesford event quietly moving despite the rather cheezey liturgy.

But in recent years the Blessed Sacrament has been treated as if it were ordinary and so it is only to be expected that it is thought of as ordinary, the way we queue up for it and it is given out for all the world as if it was nothing more than a Smartie.

But the remedy for that is simple.

John Kearney said...

When the relics arrived they were first shown in Portsmouth where over 4,000 people queued up in one day. it was the crowds that attracted the media. It is also a luxory to have Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in most parishes in my part of England. Children are taught little about the Realj Presence or Adoration when preparing for Holy Communion. And with the emphasis on community and little attention paid to saints and devotions the relics of St Therese and what they knew of her life brought a great hunber to people for a deep personal relationship with God in which the Church has largely failed to give them.

berenike said...

"Many people travel far to honor the relics of the saints, marveling at their wonderful deeds and at the building of magnificent shrines. They gaze upon and kiss the sacred relics encased in silk and gold; and behold, You are here present before me on the altar, my God, Saint of saints, Creator of men, and Lord of angels!

...

If this most holy Sacrament were celebrated in only one place and consecrated by only one priest in the whole world, with what great desire, do you think, would men be attracted to that place, to that priest of God, in order to witness the celebration of the divine Mysteries! But now there are many priests and Mass is offered in many places, that God’s grace and love for men may appear the more clearly as the Sacred Communion is spread more widely through the world."

Imitation, IV.1