Post by Elizabeth on Nov 4, 2019 2:53:11 GMT
Feast of the Holy Relics
By relics of the Saints we mean all that remains of them after their death — their bones, their ashes, their clothing and other objects used by them. Enemies of the Church have condemned the cult of the relics of the Saints as being borrowed from pagan customs and without apostolic origin. The decision of the Council of Trent suffices to show the falsehood and bad faith of their reasoning. That Council, in effect, decreed quite otherwise, that the bodies of the martyrs and other Saints, who were the living members of Jesus Christ and the temples of the Holy Spirit, must be honored by the faithful, and that through them God grants a great many benefits to the living. Its decision was based on the usage already established in the first century and which has remained constant in the Church, as well as on the teaching of the Fathers and Councils.
The cult of holy relics is therefore not only permitted, but commanded; it is not only a right, but a duty. Let us note well that the cult of holy relics diverges from pagan practices in that it is supernatural. We do not honor what remains of the Saints for any motive derived from nature, but from motives based on the Faith. If one honors the memory and remains of great men worthy of that appellation, it is regarded as justice; but when one honors the memory and remains of the Saints, it is more than justice, it is the virtue of religion. The final object of the cult of the holy relics is God who sanctifies the Saints; it is Jesus Christ, whose members the Saints are. This cult is so legitimate that God Himself sometimes glorifies the relics of His Saints by heavenly perfumes, by other marvelous privileges, by countless miracles. Let us add that the cult of holy relics also has its foundation in the glorious resurrection which is awaiting the bodies of the Saints. God Himself will reassemble these remains at the end of the world and will give them all the brilliance and beauty of which they are capable.
Let us then venerate, with respect, devotion and confidence, these precious relics which once were animated by such great souls, were the instruments of beautiful and holy works and of astonishing virtues, and which will some day be honored by a brilliant and immortal glory. Let us value pilgrimages made to the tombs of the Saints, and celebrate religiously the feast of the holy relics, which appropriately follows closely upon All Saints Day, the feast day of the splendid holy souls who are in heaven.
Saint Bertilla was born during the seventh century, of one of the most illustrious Christian families in the region of Soissons. As she grew up she learned to despise the world and earnestly desired to renounce it. Before telling her parents of her aspirations, she first consulted Saint Owen, by whom she was encouraged in her resolution. The Saint's parents were then made acquainted by her counselor with her desire, which God inclined them not to oppose. They conducted her to Jouarre, a large monastery four leagues distant from Meaux, where she was received with great joy and formed in the strictest practices of monastic perfection.
She was named to receive visitors, then assigned to the care of the sick; in all her duties gentleness was joined with firmness, mercy with justice, humility with courage, and prudence with simplicity. She seemed to be the servant of each of her Sisters, and acquitted herself with such great charity and edification that she was chosen to be Prioress by the Abbess, to assist her in her administrative duties.
When the Queen of France, Saint Bathilda, wished to build the abbey of Chelles and retire there herself, she asked the Abbess of Jouarre to give her several religious and an Abbess to begin the new foundation. Saint Bertilla was placed in charge of the little group. The Archbishop of Lyons conducted the nuns to Chelles for the benediction of the monastery, which the Abbess then governed for forty-six years with both vigor and discretion. Saint Bathilda became one of her subjects, as did also a Queen of England, Heresvida, who came to seek at Chelles the peace which the world cannot give. Saint Bertilla's humility only increased when she saw these and other royal ladies, attracted by her reputation of sanctity, obedient to her commandments.
The holy Abbess died in November, 692, after a life which God did not see fit to close by martyrdom, as she ardently desired. She was, however, her own executioner by the rigors to which she subjected her flesh, wishing all her life long to appease the justice of God, irritated by the offenses which never cease to cause suffering to His divine Son. Saint Bertilla was buried beside Saint Bathilda, in the abbatial church.