During the month of November the Church calls us to reflect on the lives of the saints. Recently, choristers from the Cathedral Choir Academy of Detroit had the rare and blessed opportunity to sing and pray with many of the relics housed at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament. They include the twelve apostles and many other well known saints.
What are relics and why do we reverence them? Relics are the physical remains of a saint or their personal effects preserved for the purpose of veneration. A third class relic is one that has come in contact with a first or second class relic. This ancient practice of praying with relics and placing them inside altars dates back to the beginning of Christianity.
John Henry Neumann explains that this ancient practice of venerating the relics of the saints is reminiscent of, and in some ways a continuation, of the Incarnation, the founding principle of Christianity. Jesus Christ became man. He took on a human nature, which included a body, legs, arms and a skull. Thus, just as water is the materiality of the sacrament of Baptism, relics are part of the materiality of the Incarnation.
What a blessed opportunity we have here at the cathedral, to venerate and pray with these treasures of the Church!
From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
singing to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; alleluia, alleluia!
Susan Lindquist – Cathedral Choir Academy Director