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Venerating the Saints: Relics and Real Life (a photo essay)

Venerating the Saints: Relics and Real Life (a photo essay)

As the month of all saints and all souls continues, I thought I’d share some cool photos of relics from some of my travels in recent months.

Relics, honored in the Catholic Church, are the bodies of the saints or objects connected with them or with Our Lord. God has often shown His approval of relics as sacramentals by working miracles through them. Relics deserve to be venerated. The bodies of saints were temples of the Holy Spirit and instruments through which God worked. However, no Catholic is required to believe in miracles [related to relics] any more than one is obliged to believe in private revelations such as those of Lourdes and Fatima. We honor relics by preserving them with reverence, visiting the places were they are enshrined, and praying before them.

The word relic comes from the Latin reliquirae, or “remains.” Relics are classified in three categories. First-class relics are parts of the bodies of saints, or instruments of the Passion (like fragments of the True Cross). Second class relics are objects that have been in close contact with the saints, such as articles of clothing or personal items. In the case of a martyr, the instruments of martyrdom are also considered in this category. Third-class relics are objects like Rosaries or cloths that have been touched to the body of the saint, or to either first or second class relics.

Most prized of all relics are the relics of Christ’s passion, particularly of the cross on which He died.

-Ann Ball, The How-to Book of Sacramentals_

In September, I was a guest at the Chiara Center retreat house, attached to St Francis of Assisi Church, the motherhouse of the Hospital Sisters of St Francis. (Here’s a cool PDF about all the highlights in the St Francis church.) St Francis of Assisi church is loaded with relics. Its sanctuary is pictured in the banner photo above. Besides praying before the Blessed Sacrament every day, I was privileged to view and pray before their collection of relics. Yes, I experienced Catholic geek overload. And it was wonderful.

I’m gonna supersize these photos so you can see the details… or as many details as my cameral phone can allow. (Note: if you are viewing on a phone, you might want to check back later on a larger screen to appreciate the larger frames. Some photos might be cut severely on a phone-sized screen. You can also click on the photos to view them.)

Reliquary of the True Cross

Reliquary of the True Cross

 

Close up of the splinter fragment of the True Cross.  (Here in Boston, our cathedral of the Holy Cross has a miniature fragment compared to this one.)

Close up of the splinter fragment of the True Cross.
(Here in Boston, our cathedral of the Holy Cross has a miniature fragment compared to this one.)

Documentation of the relic

Documentation of the relic coming from Pope Pius IX.

Reliquary for St Francis of Assisi, the church patron and patron of the Hospital Sisters' religious order.

Reliquary for St Francis of Assisi, the church patron and patron of the Hospital Sisters’ religious order.

St Francis of Assisi

St Francis of Assisi, relic.

Here’s a major relic of St Felicitas ( Oh yes, you know here — Felicity  — the martyr mentioned in the Roman Canon, Eucharistic Prayer I?)

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“For ourselves, too, we ask some share in the fellowship of your apostles and martyrs, with John the Baptist, Stephen, Matthias, Barnabas, (Ignatius, Alexander, Marcellinus, Peter, Felicity, Perpetua, Agatha, Lucy, Agnes, Cecilia, Anastasia) and all the saints.” (Roman Canon)

Documentation of how this first class relic got to Springfield, IL… (a virgin and martyr for the faith)

Documentation of how this first class relic got to Springfield, IL… (a virgin and martyr for the faith)

More here about the how the Mother Superior made this request to have this relic for the motherhouse.

More here about the how the Mother Superior made this request to have this relic for the motherhouse.

The hallway in the Church basement where the relics are exposed in marble and glass displays.

The hallway in the Church basement where the relics are exposed in marble and glass displays.

Can you see all those little discs in the displays. Many many relics to be venerated.

Can you see all those little discs in the displays?  Many many relics to be venerated.

Here’s a few of my favorites…

The 12 Apostles plus the great apostle to the Gentiles, St Paul.

Relics of the 12 Apostles plus the great apostle to the Gentiles, St Paul.

St John of the Cross, relic

St John of the Cross, relic

St Gemma Galgani, relic

St Gemma Galgani, relic

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St Rose of Lima, relic

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Top to Bottom: St Alphonse Liquori, St Bernard, St Louis de Montfort, relics

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St Philomena, relic

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St Teresa of Jesus (St Teresa of Avila), relic.

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St Camillus, relic (ex ossibus = “from the bones”)

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St Kateri Tekakwitha, relic

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Top to Bottom: St Anthony of Padua, St Francis of Assisi, St Clare of Assisi, St Ludov, St Elizabeth of Hungary, relics.

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St Maria Goretti, relic (V.M. = virgin, martyr)

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St Anthony of Padua, relic

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St Pius X, relic

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St Catherine of Siena, relic

Finally, while I was away at spiritual direction school in June, I found a few more relics at Our Lady of Divine Providence, House of Prayer. Took a few photos of my favs.

Our Lady of Divine Providence, House of Prayer, Clearwater, FL

Our Lady of Divine Providence, House of Prayer, Clearwater, FL

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St Padre Pio, relic

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Close – up, St Pio, first class relic

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St Catherine of Siena, relic

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St Teresa of Avila, relic

 

Kind of just makes you want to break out into a Litany of Saints don’t it?

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God, the Father of heaven,
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
God the Holy Spirit,
Holy Trinity, one God,
have mercy on us.
have mercy on us.
have mercy on us.
have mercy on us.
Holy Mary,
Holy Mother of God,
Holy Virgin of virgins,
St. Michael,
St. Gabriel,
St. Raphael,
All you Holy Angels and Archangels,
St. John the Baptist,
St. Joseph,
All you Holy Patriarchs and Prophets,
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
St. Peter,
St. Paul,
St. Andrew,
St. James,
St. John,
St. Thomas,
St. James,
St. Philip,
St. Bartholomew,
St. Matthew,
St. Simon,
St. Jude,
St. Matthias,
St. Barnabas,
St. Luke,
St. Mark,
All you holy Apostles and Evangelists,
All you holy Disciples of the Lord,
All you holy Innocents,
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
St. Stephen,
St. Lawrence,
St. Vincent,
Sts. Fabian and Sebastian,
Sts. John and Paul,
Sts. Cosmas and Damian,
All you holy Martyrs,
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
St. Sylvester,
St. Gregory,
St. Ambrose,
St. Augustine,
St. Jerome,
St. Martin,
St. Nicholas,
All you holy Bishops and Confessors,
All you holy Doctors,
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
St. Anthony,
St. Benedict,
St. Bernard,
St. Dominic,
St. Francis,
All you holy Priests and Levites,
All you holy Monks and Hermits,
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
St. Mary Magdalene,
St. Agatha,
St. Lucy,
St. Agnes,
St. Cecilia,
St. Anastasia,
St. Catherine,
St. Clare,
All you holy Virgins and Widows,
All you holy Saints of God,
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
Lord, be merciful,
From all evil,
From all sin,
From your wrath,
From a sudden and unprovided death,
From the snares of the devil,
From anger, hatred, and all ill-will,
From the spirit of uncleanness,
From lightning and tempest,
From the scourge of earthquake,
From plague, famine, and war,
From everlasting death, 
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
By the mystery of your holy Incarnation,
By your Coming,
By your Birth,
By your Baptism and holy fasting,
By your Cross and Passion,
By your Death and Burial,
By your holy Resurrection,
By your wonderful Ascension,
By the coming of the Holy Spirit,
On the day of judgment,
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Be merciful to us sinners,Lord, hear our prayer.
That you will spare us,
That you will pardon us,
That it may please you to bring us to true
penance,
Guide and protect your holy Church,
Preserve in holy religion the Pope, and all
those in holy Orders,
Humble the enemies of holy Church,
Give peace and unity to the whole Christian
people,
Bring back to the unity of the Church all
those who are straying, and bring all
unbelievers to the light of the Gospel,
Strengthen and preserve us in your holy
service,
Raise our minds to desire the things of
heaven,
Reward all our benefactors with eternal
blessings,
Deliver our souls from eternal damnation,
and the souls of our brethren, relatives,
and benefactors,
Give and preserve the fruits of the earth,
Grant eternal rest to all the faithful departed,
That it may please You to hear and heed
us, Jesus, Son of the Living God,
Lord, hear our prayer.
Lord, hear our prayer.
Lord, hear our prayer.

Lord, hear our prayer.
Lord, hear our prayer.
Lord, hear our prayer.
Lord, hear our prayer.

Lord, hear our prayer.
Lord, hear our prayer.

Lord, hear our prayer.

Lord, hear our prayer.

Lord, hear our prayer.

Lord, hear our prayer.
Lord, hear our prayer.
Lord, hear our prayer.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of
the world,
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of
the world,
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of
the world,
Spare us, O Lord!Graciously hear us, O Lord!

Have mercy on us.

 

Christ, hear us,
Lord Jesus, hear our prayer.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, graciously hear us
Lord Jesus, hear our prayer.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.

 

 

“Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12 (a journal entry plus photos)

“Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12 (a journal entry plus photos)

“So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.”
– Ps 90:12-

That’s what I want. A heart of wisdom.

I’ve desired that since giving my heart to Jesus Christ as a young teen. That was probably the first wise thing I’ve ever done. I’m a middle aged woman now and over 14K days have passed since.  I’m still seeking wisdom, and catch glimpses of it now and then. It’s, mostly, a holy struggle.

Lately, I am numbering my days. I am taking stock before the Lord. There are two ways to do that, just as there are ultimately two ways for just about all things. We can count up the woes, and the waste, and the worries. Some of us do that temperamentally. The second and more profitable way is by counting our blessings and, more importantly, making good use of the time God gives us. Not just in the “make every day count” kind of way, but in living our days in light of eternity. When we do that, course corrections become a regularity, not something to eschew.

The midlife years tend to be where most people bump into the reality of their mortality. That happened somewhat prematurely for me, in my thirties. Eighteen  years ago this week, as the joy of a new spring was upon me, I found a lump in my breast. It was unmistakable. Time stood still; that moment a mental snapshot forever. From the first I knew it was cancer, and the first words that came to my heart were Lord have mercy. That challenging time imbued a ‘numbering of days’ like no other. Thankfully, I don’t think about cancer every day anymore. Yet, the last few days I’ve been dealing with what I call background noise… the buzzing of that long ago memory found its way again into my consciousness. It’s like the soul alerts the psychic part of the body with a disquieting anniversary alarm… Oh yes, I remember now. The specter of death lurks despite the new life you see.  And that fear grows silently. Sure, you look fine on the outside, but…

But, that was then. That’s when I learned that Someone else was in charge of the actual numbering of my days.

My very self you know…
When I was being made in secret…
Your eyes saw me unformed;
in your book all are written down;
my days were shaped, before one came to be.

-Ps 139: 14b-16-

The biggest course correction for me in those days was the mortality reality check to deepen my faith: to embrace grace radically. Embrace Christ fully. Thereby you can embrace the ones you love with abandon. Kiss all the boo boos. Laugh at every opportunity. Pack as much life as you can into a day. Number every day without regret. Embrace life.

Fast forward to today. As spring finally breaks on New England, I find myself dealing with after effects of a hard winter… both seasonally and interiorly. It’s another time of course correction for me.

Spring is seven weeks old, and I’m examining things, inside and out. Outside, there’s been a lot of damage.

Foraging deer this winter ate all of our euonymus hedge along the front of the house.

Foraging deer this winter ate our euonymus hedge.

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The mountain laurel, and we have much of that, has what I call freezer burn.

On the inside, since Advent, I have felt a little like that frozen bush. The harsh winter has brought sadness, death, extreme illness, and want and need, to those I love. The prayer needs have been mounting. Those closest to me know what’s going on, and for the sake of other’s privacy I cannot spill it all here. (I can tell you that I am healthy and well.) Yet the profound numbering of days in the lives of those I love has jolted my own heart. Praying and keeping close to the sacraments — for their sake and mine — helps a lot. But I am wearying. The demands of love are beginning to pinch.

Bob researched the mountain laurels’ leaf situation. In almost twenty years here we’ve never seen such leaf damage: it comes from the plant thirsting in the cold. Yes, there can even be a drought under the earth in winter, even when its covered in snow.

Thirsting.

That describes me.

Thirsting to pray more. I need to re-set the morning pace. My fatigue from recent travels for ministry and family obligations has been cumulative. It’s been too easy to ignore the alarm in what must be the most heroic moment of the day. I must renew the luxury necessity of getting up with the dawn, like I did not so long ago. Very soon, I will also be on a bit of a retreat, and bit of intense learning as I travel to take a few courses in spiritual direction. These will be full days with Jesus. And I am both happy and appropriately nervous to be going.

Thirsting to return to the page. My writing time has suffered a lot in the last few months. I tend to focus on one thing at a time. I know this about myself. If I’m with you, I’m fully with you. If I’m working, I’m fully engaged. Writing in snippets, well, shoot me, please. Maybe its the menopause. My writing only flourishes when I have watered it well with solitude. And a lot of my recent time of has not been my own, it has been shared. Oh, its all holy distractions. I’d gladly trade my hours at the page for the time needed for family and friends and ministry. Yet I hear it calling. The writing, that is. I sometimes think I need a cave — but then I’m afraid I’d likely imitate a cranky Jerome. But maybe I already am. *sigh* Being cranky, I mean.

Thirsting to be outdoors. Here in Massachusetts we are just starting to get the real bloom. I’m taking the allergy meds to prove it. We’ve already let the MGB out of hibernation in search of nesting Great Blue Herons. Marvelous!

I will be walking more. Bob and I discussed that we both need more of this.

The first buds to open were the magnolia trees. So today I decided to walk around and take some photos on our property with my iPhone 4S. It was a rejuvenating few minutes with God in the middle of my day.

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(I like playing with the zoom/macro setting on the iPhone.) The way the zoom carried this off in the sunlight makes this look like a painting.

(I like playing with the zoom/macro setting on the iPhone.) The way the zoom carried this off in the sunlight makes this look like a painting.

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This is one of our weeping cherry trees.

I love those delicate buds.

I love those delicate buds.

The forsythia is out too.

The forsythia is out too.

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And the azaleas…

again with the macro

again with the macro

Look who flew into my shot

Look who flew into my shot

And he stayed around to pose...

And he stayed around to pose…

His wings beating too fast for the camera.

His wings beating too fast for the camera.

This shot lets you see his wing, but a bit out of focus

This shot lets you see his wings, but a bit out of focus.

I think God was trying to put a new kind of buzzing in my brain. The kind that reminds me to see Him in all things. The natural and the supernatural. The good and the bad. The busy and the solitude. He knows and he sees all of it.

All of me.

Always.

Here's some of my favorite… flowering pear blooms.

Here’s one of my favorites… flowering pear blooms.

Again…

Again…

And the flowering pear at a distance...

And the flowering pear at a distance…

As I was walking the property I felt like God was showing me something of the measure of my days, and of the wisdom in my own heart, and He used that pear tree in particular.

That pear tree is probably one of the finest specimens we have — there are several flowering trees, and I bless the previous homeowner who planted them when they were tiny when she owned the home over twenty years ago.

If you look at the trunk of that pear tree, a closer inspection reveals that it is a casualty of our weather. There is a gash in the trunk and about 25% of the tree’s foliage was lost. A major branch broke off in that freak October snow storm in ’12.

ouch!

ouch!

That large branch that came down with such force it took out our Japanese Maple with it.

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All that is left of the Japanese Maple’s demise.

I have lamented the loss of that part of the wounded pear tree ever since it happened. But God gave me such joy is seeing the grandeur of its blossoms today, I’d almost forgot its deforming injury.

I love how its branches keep reaching to the heavens.

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Pear blossoms in the sun

I walked across the yard to get another full picture of the pear…

Beautious!

Beautious!

And then I heard Father God say in my heart: That’s how I see you, kid.

Reach for heaven. 

Don’t worry about the scars.

Don’t lament what’s been lost from the past season. 

You’re planted right where I need you now… and you’re beautiful.

That’s enough wisdom for this day and for many other days to come.

:::

As a theology geek I read a lot of books. One that made a great impact on my soul was St Louis de Montfort’s Love of Eternal Wisdom. His description of the gentleness of Jesus in revealing the Father’s love to us reminds me of my experience out in the yard today. God’s providence offered me a gentle way of seeing myself, and the gouged-out pear tree, with new eyes.

 If we consider him in his origin he is everything that is good and gentle. He is a gift sent by the love of the eternal Father and a product of the love of the Holy Spirit. He was given out of love and fashioned by love (Jn. 3:16). He is therefore all love, or rather the very love of the Father and the Holy Spirit. He was born of the sweetest, tenderest and the most beautiful of all mothers, Mary, the divinely favoured Virgin. To appreciate the gentleness of Jesus we must first consider the gentleness of Mary, his Mother, whom he resembles by his pleasing nature. Jesus is Mary’s child; consequently there is no haughtiness, or harshness, or unpleasantness in him and even less, infinitely less, in him than in his Mother, since he is the eternal Wisdom and therefore pure gentleness and beauty. 

-St Louis de Montfort-
Love of Eternal Wisdom, Chapter 10

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This shot captures almost all of it… the magnolia, the cherry, the azalea, the pear tree, even the bumble bee!

 

All photos by Pat Gohn.

Among Women 169: A Saintly Sisterhood

Among Women 169: A Saintly Sisterhood

In this week’s episode of Among Women, I discuss one of my favorite topics from the French spiritual master, St Louis de Montfort:  how Mary is the molder of saints. In addition, I share the wisdom of Edith Stein (St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) who echoes how we ought to entrust our lives to Mary. After all, Mary desires nothing more than to make saints out of us, fashioned in the image of her son, Jesus.

Screen Shot 2013-11-06 at 11.41.24 PMAll of this leads to a discussion of saints with author Melanie Rigney who recently penned a new volume of women saints stories, Sisterhood of the Saints.  Listen for how you can win a copy of this keepsake-style book for yourself or someone you love.

I also chronicle my recent visit to EWTN to record TV shows with Johnette Benkovic of Women of Grace. (There’s also a radio interview that you can hear.)

Plus I announce a book sale her at my website for Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious through December 15.

Listen to the Among Women podcast today!

This makes me think… about Jesus as my all, and how devotion to Mary helps me get there

Jesus Christ our Savior, true God and true Man, ought to be the last end of all our devotions, else they are false and delusive. Jesus Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, of all things. We labor not, as the Apostle says, except to render every man perfect in Jesus Christ; because it is in Him alone that the whole plenitude of the Divinity dwells together with all the other plenitudes of graces, virtues, and perfections.

It is in Him alone that we have been blessed with all spiritual benediction; and He is our only Master, Who has to teach us; our only Lord on Whom we ought to depend; our only Head to Whom we must be united; our only Model to Whom we should conform ourselves; our only Physician Who can heal us; our only Shepherd Who can feed us; our only Way Who can lead us; our only Truth Whom we must believe; our only Life Who can animate us; and our only All in all things Who can satisfy us. There has been no other name given under heaven, except the name of Jesus, by which we can be saved. God has laid no other foundation of our salvation, our perfection, or our glory, than Jesus Christ. Every building which is not built on that firm rock is founded upon the moving sand, and sooner or later infallibly will fall.

By Jesus Christ, with Jesus Christ, in Jesus Christ, we can do all things; we can render all honor and glory to the Father in the unity of the Holy [Spirit]; we can become perfect ourselves, and be to our neighbor a good [fragrance] of eternal life.

If, then, we establish solid devotion to our Blessed Lady, it is only to establish more perfectly devotion to Jesus Christ, and to provide an easy and secure means for finding Jesus Christ. Devotion to Our Lady is necessary for us… as a means of finding Jesus perfectly, of loving Him tenderly, of serving Him faithfully.

-St Louis de Montfort-

True Devotion to Mary, (no. 61, 62.)