Who would have thought relics were Biblical?

In its March 25, 2007 issue, Our Sunday Visitor has an article on relics. Relics fall into three categories:

First-class relics: the actual body or remains of a saint
Second-class relics: something that belonged to a saint
Third-class relics: something that has been touched to a first-class relic of a saint

Relics do have an important place in Catholic practice. For example, all altars in Catholic churches are supposed to contain a relic of a saint. (I keep forgetting to find out which saint St Ann’s has a relic of.) This was always something that struck me as a little superstitious. While I didn’t deny that God could work through anything, it struck me as kind of odd. Even recognizing the link between body and soul, and that a good soul, therefore, could purify the body, the concept of relics left me cold. This article, by Thomas J. Craughwell, though raised some excellent points on the Scriptural and historical basis of relics (no public link available to the whole article):

The veneration of saints’ relics is as old as the Church. In the Acts of the Apostles, we read that St. Paul sent his handkerchiefs and other pieces of cloth to Christians who were sick (19:12).

A letter from the year 156 gives us a detailed eyewitness account of the martyrdom of St. Polycarp, the 86-year-old bishop of Smyrna, and what became of his remains after the Romans had burned him at the stake. “We took up his bones,” the anonymous author of the letter said, “which are more valuable than precious stones and finer than refined gold, and laid them in a suitable place, where the Lord will permit us to gather .. to celebrate the birthday of his martyrdom.”

In that one sentence we learn that the early Christians venerated relics of the saints, enshrined their remains and kept an annual feast day on the anniversary of the martyrdom.

After reflecting on this a little, I remembered the story of Elisha’s entombed body bringing a man back to life (2 Kings 13:20-21):

Elisha died and was buried. At the time, bands of Moabites used to raid the land each year.

Once some people were burying a man, when suddenly they spied such a raiding band. So they cast the dead man into the grave of Elisha, and everyone went off. But when the man came in contact with the bones of Elisha, he came back to life and rose to his feet.

So, despite still being vaguely creepy, relics do have a Biblical basis. It’s a practice it may take me a while to break free of my heebie-jeebies towards them, but it definitely seems to match with the Biblical beliefs and practices as well as those of the early Christians.

Thomas Sowell: Random Thoughts on the Passing Scene

Thomas Sowell on the Passing Scene on National Review Online I always enjoy these.

You can fall in love with an individual but you marry into a whole family.

It is fascinating to hear subprime lenders being accused of “exploitation” while they are losing millions of dollars and some of them are going bankrupt.

Will those who are dismantling this society from within or those who seek to destroy us from without be the first to achieve their goal? It is too close to call.

According to a report from a news agency in Kuwait, deaths of American troops are down since the recent “surge” in U.S. troop strength. But the mainstream American media apparently do not consider that news, since it goes against their political grain.

“Women’s Liberation” and the “sexual revolution” have not liberated women. They have liberated the sort of man who is a “love and leave ’em” kind of guy, who lets the woman deal with the consequences, including pregnancy.

Amid all the media hysteria over the price of gasoline and the profits of “Big Oil,” one simple fact has been repeatedly overlooked: The oil companies’ earnings are just under 10 percent of the price of a gallon of gas, while taxes take 17 percent. Yet who ever accuses the government of “greed”?

After President Bush fired a handful of U.S. attorneys, it has become a big scandal in the media. But when President Clinton fired all the U.S. attorneys in the country — including those who were investigating him for corruption in Arkansas — it was no big deal. Yet many in the media still claim that there is no bias.

Where are all the beautiful movie actresses? There are some better looking women on television news programs.

Why did special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald put a reporter in jail and ruin a government official’s life in an “investigation” of things he already knew, including the fact that it was Richard Armitage who revealed that Joe Wilson’s wife worked for the CIA? Perhaps it was the corrupting influence of unbridled power.

Despite political spin about “tax cuts for the rich,” cuts in tax rates have led to increases in tax revenues — not only in this administration, but in the Reagan administration before that, and the Kennedy administration before that, not to mention in India and Iceland as well.

When the Constitution’s protection of private property was disregarded, so that politicians could rob from the rich to give to the poor, that also gave politicians the power to rob from the poor and give to the rich — such as seizing homes in low-income neighborhoods and turning that property over to developers.

Whenever I see the kinds of expressions on the faces of people in high-fashion ads, I feel lucky that I never met them.

When the University of California system and the California State University system raised their tuitions, the headline in the San Francisco Chronicle read: “UC, CSU Reach Again for Students’ Wallets.” Apparently you are only supposed to reach for the taxpayers’ wallets.

A reader says that he had a T-shirt made that said: “Stop Continental Drift!” It made as much sense as “Stop Global Warming.”

When Democrats are criticized, they counterattack. When Republicans are criticized, they apparently believe in “the soft answer which turneth away wrath.” In politics, however, a soft answer is like blood in the water that provokes piranhas to more vicious attacks.

At a recent debate over global warming sponsored by National Public Radio, the audience was polled beforehand and was solidly on the side of the hysterical predictions. Afterwards, they switched to a slight majority against those predictions. Don’t look for the global-warming crusaders to risk doing any more debates.