Over the last 12+ months, on more than a few occasions, I have been told something along the lines of the following statement:
“I just don’t see how you can believe all that weird stuff about praying to dead people and relics and Mary and the Pope. Where do you find all of that in the Bible? “
“That’s some awfully deep water over there. It’s just more Faith than I have.”
And that last one is the core of the misconception. On the Protestant side of the Tiber, there is a belief that Catholics believe in things that there is absolutely no historical, Biblical or logical reasoning for, when in fact, there is really only one thing that requires Faith and all of the rest of it is built upon the scriptures, the historical record, and good rock solid logic and reasoning.
So I thought I’d start a series of blog posts and just go through these contentious items. Today we’ll start with what we agree upon and then we’ll start with an easy topic: Relics.
We’ll hit a new topic everyday and as the days go the topics will get more contentious.
For every single one of these topics I will present Biblical references, historical writings and logical reasoning built on both.
With that said, let’s get going.
We have to start with some things that we all believe are true.
1. You affirm the truthfulness and completeness of The Apostles Creed, which you can read here.
2. You affirm that the collection of historical books, gospels, prophecies and epistles we collectively call “the Bible” are inerrant and God breathed scripture.
3. You affirm that God the Father, God the Son and the Holy Spirit make up the triune God-head or “Trinity”.
If you don’t agree with the three assumptions above you cannot call yourself “Christian” and there’s really no need for you to read any further. Come back when you can affirm #1, #2 & #3.
With those assumptions in hand, let’s start with an easy subject: Relics.
I found the Protestant objection to Relics to be summed up very well by this article at catholic.com and I’ve supplied the objection below:
“Many non-Catholics particularly shy away from the sacramental aspects of Catholicism—and not from the seven sacraments only. What they dislike is the mixing of spirit and matter, the gift of something spiritual—grace—by means of physical things.“
Catholics believe that actual grace, healing grace even, can be transmitted through the power of Holy objects (Relics). Furthermore, Catholics venerate Relics because the actual grace that indwelled the saints continues to indwell these objects.
But why do we believe this? Because the early Church believed it and because the Bible says so.
What did the early Church have to say about Relics?
St. Ignatius of Antioch wrote the following most likely before John ever put his gospel to papyrus:
“For only the harder portions of his holy remains were left, which were conveyed to Antioch and wrapped in linen, as an inestimable treasure left to the holy Church by the grace which was in the martyr”
Athanasius, writing on the life of St. Anthony in the 4th century, said:
“But each of those who received the sheepskin of the blessed Anthony and the garment worn by him guards it as a precious treasure. For even to look on them is as it were to behold Anthony; and he who is clothed in them seems with joy to bear his admonitions.”
Where do we find this in the Bible?
In plain black and white in Acts 19:11-12, which I’ve copied for you below:
“God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.”
So, with the above evidence, including direct Biblical reference, we can form a conclusion:
There are Holy Relics of the Saints that contain Grace, given by God, bestowed upon the original bearer, and these Relics have the power to heal.
To disagree with the conclusion is to disagree with the book of Acts, which you have already affirmed to be Inspired and Inerrant above. Furthermore, this writing of Acts was affirmed to still be believed hundreds of years after the texts of the Bible were completed, by the writings of the Church Fathers.
Tune in tomorrow for another topic.
Peace Be With You!