What do we do with relics?
The Catholic veneration of relics is based not only on the natural respect for everything related to people held in great esteem and affection, but above all on the religious veneration due to martyrs and saints as heroes of the faith and models of Christian perfection. So, the Catholic veneration of the relics of saints PERTAINS TO GOD, that is, relics are honored only to honor the holiness of God. The body of the saint is the object of a special veneration because:
- he or she was the instrument of the Spirit to accomplish God's plan: holiness.
- he or she was the living temple of the Holy Spirit, as Saint Paul teaches us (1 Cor. 6:19);
- he or she will rise again one glorious day to receive the reward of eternal happiness in Paradise.
Therefore, at the heart of the veneration of the relics of the saints, we find the Catholic faith, in particular the dogma of the resurrection of the flesh and the confidence in the power of intercession of the saints. The relics are not given the worship of “latria” (supreme worship allowed to God alone) nor is a particular power of intercession of the Saint before God attributed to them. The relics are not worshipped, writes Saint Jerome but the relics of the martyrs are venerated to adore the One whose martyrs, that is to say witnesses, they are. The veneration of relics is all about FAITH-- we thank God for the faith of His saint, and as we reflect on and learn more about this saint's faith, we pray that God will renew and increase it in ourselves.