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Cistercian Sisters invite the public to view and venerate the relics Print E-mail
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Written by By Sr. Mary Bede berg, O.Cist. Valley of Our Lady Monastery   
Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019 -- 12:00 AM
cistercian relic
A Cistercian Sister is pictured above with one of the reliquaries holding relics of many saints  at Valley of Our Lady Monastery in Prairie du Sac. (Contributed photo)

In the communion of saints,“a perennial link of charity exists between the faithful who have already reached their heavenly home, those who are expiating their sins in purgatory, and those who are still pilgrims on earth. Between them there is, too, an abundant exchange of all good things.” In this wonderful exchange, the holiness of one profits others, well beyond the harm that the sin of one could cause others. Thus recourse to the communion of saints lets the contrite sinner be more promptly and efficaciously purified of the punishments for sin.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1475; quotation from Pope Paul VI’s Indulgentiarum Doctrina, 5

PRAIRIE DU SAC -- Our communion with the saints is a reality we too often forget. Throughout the history of the Church, the intercession and example of the saints have strengthened and inspired all the faithful, while their relics have been both objects of veneration and sources of miraculous graces.

Relics, from the Latin reliquiae, “remains, remnants,” are of three classes. First class relics are the material remains, in whole or in part, of a saint; second class relics are objects or fragments of objects that a saint owned or used; and third class relics are objects that have been touched to the remains or belongings of a saint.

Venerating relics

The practice of venerating the remains and possessions of holy men and women is an ancient tradition. Certain Old Testament stories provide glimpses of this custom already in the history of Israel.

These include: in the removal of Joseph’s bones from Egypt (Ex 13:19); in the power attributed to Elijah’s cloak after his ascension into heaven (2 Kg 2:13-14); and in the return to life of a dead man through contact with Elisha’s bones (2 Kg 13:21).

Likewise in the New Testament, the power and value of material objects associated with Christ and His followers is clear: healing power comes forth not only from Jesus Himself but also from the tassels of His cloak (see Lk 8:44); it emanates even from the handkerchiefs and clothes of St. Paul (Acts 19:12). As early as the second century A.D., Christians held in honor the material remains of St. Polycarp, an early martyr.

The Church continues to encourage respect and love for such sacred objects, for she knows how fruitful such veneration is for those of us still on earth. Relics are not the object of worship, which is reserved to God alone. They are, however, powerful aids by which we can remain close to the saints, who are alive in God and continue to help us by their example and intercession.

Relics also remind us of the respect due to the human body and all things physical, inspiring a true appreciation for God’s creation and redemption of man, both body and soul. The body will join the soul in the resurrection at the end of time; keeping the saints and their relics before our eyes along the way can help us remember our ultimate destiny with them, in heaven.

Furthermore, as in the examples cited above, the relics of saints frequently also act as conduits of God’s miraculous healing power.

Relics at Valley of Our Lady

For all these reasons, it is important that we ourselves foster reverence for these precious gifts. Until recently, a collection of more than a hundred relics at Valley of Our Lady lacked a proper home. About a year ago, however, a monk who was visiting the monastery crafted two beautiful reliquaries in which he carefully hung the relics for display and veneration.

The Sisters of Valley of Our Lady would now like to invite all the faithful to join them in appreciating this wonderful collection. Beginning on Saturday, Jan. 26, which the Sisters celebrate as the solemnity of the founders of their Cistercian Order, their reliquaries will be on display at the entrance to their chapel from after 8 a.m. Mass in the morning through Vespers at 4:45 p.m. in the evening.

They chose this day because of its significance for their community and because their collection includes a relic of one of the founders of their order, St. Robert of Solesmes.

In each successive month, on the third Sunday of the month, the reliquaries at Valley of Our Lady will again be available for veneration. Information about the various saints will also be provided.

Those represented in the collection include apostles such as Sts. Peter and James; martyrs such as Sts. Sebastian and Clement; doctors of the Church such as Sts. Athanasius, Ambrose, Anselm, and Catherine of Siena; founders of Religious Orders such as Sts. Benedict, Francis of Assisi, and Dominic; and many others, such as Sts. John Vianney, Francis Xavier, Bernadette, and Anne.

Valley of Our Lady Monastery is located at E11096 Yanke Dr., Prairie du Sac, WI 53578-9737.

Source for some information used in the above article: https://www.catholiceducation.org/en/culture/catholic-contributions/church-teaching-on-relics.html

 
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