I was priviledged to attended the Vigil of the relics of St. Therese of Lisieux that was at The Cathedral of St. Barnabas in Nottingham, England. There were ten of us from Mount St. Bernard Abbey. It was a requirement of the Nuns of the Discalced Carmelite Monastery of Lisieux that members of contemplative Orders must be present overnight when ever the relic stayed some place overnight. We Cistercians and some Poor Clare Nuns stepped up in order to have the relics in Nottingham.
I say I was privileged to be there because around 6,000 (maybe more!) came to the Cathedral. These people prayed at the relics; they attended Masses, Vigils (at 3:30 AM), and Lauds; they received the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Some came out of curiosity. Some non-Catholics attended reverently. Some non-Christians attended reverently. This was all made possible because the cathedral staff and volunteers worked their tails off - all night long. The event lasted from 4PM on Monday until 12PM on Tuesday. The relics were in a beautifully carved "casket", and that casket was under a glass (or plexi-glass) cover. That being said people very tenderly venerated these relics.
The veneration of relics, especially bodily relics, is a hard thing to grasp. Many are afraid of idolatry: worship of the creature not the creator. Some are afraid of a belief in magic or charms. Even the supporters of the veneration of relics from the early church down to our own time warn us of this. St. Therese is probably the best saint to allay these fears. The life of St. Therese, the writings of St. Therese, the prayers of St. Therese are focused on Jesus: ON HIM ALONE. Relics, at there best, inspire love for and imitation of that saint.
Personally I believe the relics imparted a special grace from God to me. The Mass on the first evening was lovely. 3,000 (at least) were in attendance, and it was edifying to see all these people in prayer. The Mass at 6:30 in the moring was also very well attended, but I was focused on love for Christ. At a number of times, I was almost in tears. Not tears of remorse, but tears of joy: My God, My Saviour, My beloved friend was coming to me.... Of all people, me.
I began to see what St. Therese saw, and feel what she felt in respects to our Lord. I came away not reeling from some "fan" worship of a saint, but with a closer relationship with Jesus Christ.
Blessed be God: in His angels and in His saints.
Peace and Blessings to you.
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