Thursday, 24 March 2016

The Catholic Church Alone. The One True Church of Christ. Part 28.

REV. F. LEWIS, of Granada

The St.George Reliquary Casket, England, 14th century. V Museum no. 634-1870

Q. What grounds have you for paying a veneration to the relics of saints ?

A. Besides the ancient tradition and practice of the first and purest ages, attested by the best monuments of antiquity; we are warranted so to do by many illustrious miracles done at the tombs, and by the relics of the saints, which God, who is truth and sanctity itself, would never have effected, if this honor paid to the precious remains of his servants was not agreeable to him. (See St. Aug. L. 22 de Civ. Dei. Cap. viii. et St. Ambr. Epist 85, et Senn. 95.)

Q. I own there is no harm in preserving relics, but we are not to use them superstitiously, ascribe miracles to them, and impose upon the world false relics ?

A. The Church is free from superstition, in the use of relics : they are preserved in memory of the saints, and to proclaim God's glory. And miracles being wrought in all ages by them, makes the practice more authentic. As for false miracles and false relics, all the care imaginable is taken to discountenance such abuses.

Q. You believe, then, that great miracles have been done by relics ?

A. A man must have a good share of confidence that can deny it; it is what the devil could never do. And I think, at present, no learned Protestant doubts of it: I refer you particularly to Dr. Cave, and to the translators of Monsieur du Pin, (Cent. S. page 120) whose words are these: " It pleased God for the testimony of his doctrine and truth, to work great miracles by the dead bodies of his saints, in witness that they had been his messengers, and instruments of his will."

Q. Have you any instances in Scripture, of miracles done by relics ?

A. Yes, we read of a dead man raised to life by the bones of the prophet Elisha; 2 Kings xiii. 21. And that the handkerchiefs and aprons, which had but touched the body of St. Paul, cast out devils, and cured all diseases. Acts xix. 12.

Q. Then as to praying to saints, God only is the author of all spiritual blessings, and by consequence the only object of prayer. Christ is our only mediator. The saints neither know our necessities, nor can hear our prayers. God commands us to apply ourselves immediately to him. We have no precept or example in Scripture, to apply ourselves to saints.

A. These difficulties are easily removed, when the following points are considered. First, that God, by his divine providence, has appointed certain means whereby men are to obtain their ends, both temporal and spiritual. Marriage, to propagate their species; ploughing and sowing, to procure bread and preserve life. For spiritual ends, he has prescribed instruction in religion, prayer, fasting, alms, frequenting the sacraments, and all moral duties, in order to practice virtue, and become happy hereafter. Among other spiritual practices, he prescribes that of praying for one another; and if this be useful while living, why is it not after death, when saints are more capable of being serviceable by their prayers?

Q. Before we proceed any further, pray tell me what you mean by praying to saints ?

A. We mean no more, than desiring them to pray to God for us. So that we do not pray or address ourselves to them, as the authors and givers of grace and glory; because, in this sense, we hold it our duty to pray to God alone.

Q. Why are not these prayers to saints an usurpation of God's authority, who is the author of all spiritual blessings ?

A. For several reasons. First, because we desire no more of the saints, than that they would pray for us, and with us, to our common Lord, by the merits of him, who is both our and their mediator, that is, Jesus Christ our Saviour; and surely no one will say that prayer for one another, is derogatory to God's authority, while we are upon earth. Secondly, we acknowledge God, at the same time, to be the origin of all blessings. Thirdly, saints are applied to, only as court favorites, whose interest is prevailing with a prince, and does not lessen his authority. Fourthly, prayers to saints illustrate and extend God's authority, because they are an instance of his esteem for virtuous persons^ whose petitions he grants on their account.