30/8-20/9: Relics of St Thérèse of Lisieux Tour Scotland – To What Purpose?

Editor writes…

I’ve been persuaded to visit one of the destinations listed here to honour the great Saint Thérèse of Lisieux while her relics are in Scotland.  It didn’t take too much arm-twisting; she was my favourite saint, during my childhood and I took her name at my Confirmation. 

I wasn’t sure about posting a thread on the topic, however, given a previous discussion where a Catholic journalist pronounced herself protestantised because she lacks attraction to lots of Catholic practices, such as indulgences.  I don’t think she mentions relics but it’s really a given that she would rank the veneration of relics alongside the rather “superstitious” practice of seeking indulgences click here

Indeed, in a previous discussion, we had a very outspoken critic of the practice of venerating relics – one of those critics, long gone,  who only paid us a visit now and then, for the apparent purpose of pulling us all to bits.  Anyway, she strongly objected to the veneration of relics.  I’ve tried, briefly, to locate that thread but without success.  Maybe she’ll come on again to repeat her objections.  Our luck can’t hold out forever 😀

In any event, faced with having to explain the purpose of such a tour, where the faithful essentially make a pilgrimage (long or short journey),  in order to venerate the relics of a saint, what would you say – what IS the purpose of the veneration of relics – check here for some interesting facts about this practice, including examples from Sacred Scripture.

Finally, are you pleased that the relics of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux are here in Scotland… right now?  Will you travel to one of the destinations – see the itinerary here.   If not, why not? 

31 responses

  1. I didn’t vote in the poll because it’s hard to choose between the options.

    I have thought about visiting the Relics of St Therese of Lisieux. I agree she’s a wonderful Saint. I also have faith in the power of Relics, having had prayers answered through the veneration of them.

  2. I voted for #3 – “it allows us to show our faith in the intercessory power of the saints” – because I think that includes the other two options as well.

    I would love to go to one of the churches where the relics are to be taken, so I will study the itinerary and see if I can make it.

    I have to say that I don’t like the official icon https://www.littleflowerinscotland.co.uk/icon

    It seems odd, IMHO, to produce an icon of the saint, when we have actual photographs of her – she was very beautiful. Icons never appeal to me, anyway, but this one looks nothing like St Therese.

    It is a great honour for Scotland to have the tour – I hope we hear stories of miracles, as a result.

    • MM,

      I NEVER like icons, so I agree with you on this. I just never think of them as Catholic images. It’s a pity they didn’t opt for one of the lovely photos available – some of which they have used on the website.

        • Western Catholics will never do icons as well as Eastern Catholics and the Orthodox. Icon making is an ancient technique and method of prayer and these pastiche icons that modern Western Catholics make on an industrial scale are not real icons, they are facsimiles. Modern Catholics like icons, but I suspect this betrays their dislike for their own indigenous Western spiritual patrimony, which is sacred statuary and painting. The East have never produced statuary as venerable as ours, such as Michaelangelo’s Pieta, or Bernini’s Ecstasy of Saint Teresa. Let the Easterns be Eastern, and the Westerns be Western. There are great icons such as Our Lady of Czestochowa and Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, and Latin Catholics should hold these in high esteem, but these have been part of the Western patrimony for centuries. These modern Western icons are a bit rubbish and many Eastern Christians do not regard then as authentic icons, because they are divorced from the tradition of true icon making.

          Modernist Catholics like icons because they hold other Traditions in higher regard than their own. This is why icons are such a big part of the Taizé community. When I went to Taizé not once did I see someone praying with Rosary beads. Neo-Catholics love icons because they falsely believe them to be more ‘spiritual’, but to me it’s a fetishisation of the exotic. You see the same tendency among post-concilliar theologians… They love to use fancy Greek words for their theological concepts, e.g. koinonia. Anything but Latin (which had been the theological language of the West for millennia).

          These modern icons are lacking taste. I much prefer beautiful statuary. But the authentic icons of the Eastern Tradition are something different. I do not understand them, but I respect them greatly.

            • Dear Patricia,

              Thank you for your apology (I did see it on CT). Obviously, everyone has different tastes in art. It just struck a nerve when I saw Margaret Mary’s post and your reply to her.

              To most Roman Catholics, we’re not “Catholic” enough and to the Orthodox we’re not “Orthodox” enough.

              As I posted in my reply to Margaret Mary, one of my Russian Orthodox cousins is an iconographer. She has to pray AND fast for 40 days before she even begins work on an icon. Plus, she and all her materials must be blessed by an Orthodox priest. Then she can begin her work. (That’s probably the main reason why iconographers take so long to make an icon.)

              If you look at the Greek word “iconographer” it literally means “image-writer”. Anyone can paint, but iconography – “image-writing” – is a spiritual discipline. Iconography is Scripture and Tradition in color. Just as we have the approved version of Scripture (the Douay-Rheims/Vulgate Bible) and we quote it faithfully, so do iconographers have rules to follow.

              My cousin must follow the Orthodox canons in making an icon. Example: She can’t make a cute Infant Jesus with rosy cheeks. If she did that she’d probably be disciplined and/or excommunicated for a time for not following the canons in re to iconography.

              Excerpt from Byzantine Book of Prayer:

              “The icon is not a picture. The icon is not a painted representation meant to teach. The icon is a grace and a life. It is a life that penetrates and purifies and elevates. From the icon emanates a virtue that inspires the faithful with hope and gives him consolation. St. John of Damascus calls it “a channel of divine grace”… The icon, then, is not only an aesthetical entity. It is the result of the faith and of the prayer of the church. It is the life of the Church lived in Christ… Because God loved us, He turned to us a visible face, a human face : He turned to us the face of the absolute beauty which is not different from the fullness of God and and the fullness of being. The icon carries with it the love of this beauty, and the beauty of this love.

              Source: Raya, Archbishop Joseph and de Vinck, Baron Jose. Byzantine Book of Prayer, 2nd ed. 1995, Byzantine Seminary Press, Pittsburgh, PA, pp. xxvii, xxviii, xxix.

              Sorry for the big quotation, but I tried to condense it without making it incomprehensible.

              And you’re forgiven.

              Yours in Christ,

              Margaret 🇺🇸

              • Margaret USA,

                Thank you for that information – all very interesting, indeed. And for your forgiveness. Much appreciated.

                However, I really must point out that, while you clearly took offence at my expression of personal (dis)taste for icons, you repeatedly use the Protestant name for the Church, despite my pointing out over and over again that the name of the Church is “The Catholic Church” – not “Roman Catholic”. I give the link below, yet again, explaining, in brief, the history of the name of the Church, which, from the beginning, has been called “Catholic” – without any adjective. YOU are a member of the Catholic Church; the only difference being that you attend a different rite of Mass. There are different rites in the Church, but only one Church.

                I would ask you, therefore, with respect, to read this article again (presuming you have read it in the past when I’ve posted the link) and to refer to the Church by its correct name. In return, I will suppress the temptation to give voice to my artistic preferences in the matter of icons!
                http://www.catholictruthscotland.com/How%20Did%20the%20Catholic%20Church%20Get%20Her%20Name%20Kenneth%20Whitehead.pdf

                The name of the Church is really NOT a matter of taste or personal preference. It’s a fact that the name of the Church is “Catholic” not RC or Byzantine Catholic – just Catholic.

                • For this reason I never use the word ‘Roman’ except when referring to the ‘Roman Rite’. I think Western Catholics should always be described as ‘Latin Catholics’. Interestingly, there are a few other Latin rites other than the Roman, for example the Ambrosian and Mozarabic rites.

                  My grandmother was Anglican and didn’t like Catholics much. She always said “ROMAN Catholic” to refer to us. It’s an anti-Catholic term and I know this because I have heard it used by anti-Catholics.

          • Miles,

            I agree with you except for one point. Those “fancy Greek words for their theological concepts, e.g. koinonia.” have been around for centuries. Some (e.g. hypostasis) were fought over bit by bit at Ecumenical Councils and defended or fought against by the Fathers and Doctors of the Church.

            Sometimes Greek is better than Latin, and sometimes Latin is better than Greek.

            Now, to test your Greek IQ:

            Which Greek term is Catholic and which one is heretical – homoousios or homoiousios?

            Post your guess and I’ll post which one is right.

            Margaret 🇺🇸

  3. Margaret Mary,

    Your post saddened me. That icon is lovely. I am Ukrainian Greek Catholic, and in the Byzantine Tradition we use icons. My Russian Orthodox cousin is an iconographer, and this is just as good as her work. This is Christ Our Pascha, the official Ukrainian Greek Catholic catechism:

    http://catechism.royaldoors.net/catechism/

    There’s an entire section on icons (paragraphs 589-620) plus another paragraph on using icons in prayer.

    Click “Read the Catechism” and you can look at the abovementioned paragraphs.

    Signing off now.

    Margaret 🇺🇸

    • I have nothing against authentic Eastern icons, which are sublime. It’s these pastiche Western icons I dislike. I first became suspicious of Latin icon enthusiasts because they would snobbishly disparage the authentic western traditions, such as sacred statuary. (They were simply being pretentious, they knew nothing about art.)

      • Miles,

        I agree with you. Most westernized icons are made with no regard for following the traditional rules for iconography. Please see my reply to Madame Editor. Thank you.

        Margaret 🇺🇸

    • Margaret USA,

      I didn’t mean any offence – it’s probably really a matter of personal taste in my case. I just don’t like, and have never liked, icons.

      There are also pictures and statues that I don’t like; I have one of Our Lady – a modern plaque sort of statue – which I once placed on the wall in my hall and when I occasionally come across it in a cupboard, I almost feel I ought to make an act of contrition for having given it, literally house room!

      So, please don’t feel sad. I’m sure most people will love the St Therese (and all other) icons. I just don’t feel attracted to them. Please forgive me!

  4. I had the same problem a Petrus regarding the poll. I think a 4th response would be my choice: “All of the above.”

    The Catholic Encyclopedia has a long entry on relics: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12734a.htm

    “The teaching of the Catholic Church with regard to the veneration of relics is summed up in a decree of the Council of Trent (Sess. XXV), which enjoins on bishops and other pastors to instruct their flocks that “the holy bodies of holy martyrs and of others now living with Christ—which bodies were the living members of Christ and ‘the temple of the Holy Ghost’ (1 Corinthians 6:19) and which are by Him to be raised to eternal life and to be glorified are to be venerated by the faithful, for through these [bodies] many benefits are bestowed by God on men…”

    And much more.

    I remember that [quite irritating] “outspoken critic” of relics from years ago. In fact, she (her blogger name began with “E”) not only disputed that, but just about every other consensus we reached on the various threads. I also remember her admitting to being kicked off her parish council. What a shocker.

    • RCA Victor,

      I pointedly rejected putting “all of the above”. I do, often put that in polls but A.N. Other once remarked that it could be seen as an excuse not to think the issues through. He added that any adult should be able to make a life-changing decision within the space of two weeks, so if they can’t choose an option in a non-scientific voluntary voting poll, they need help 😀

      Yes, you remember our “outspoken critic” name beginning “E” correctly.

      I don’t remember that about the parish council. Well…Well…Well… Wonders will never cease…

  5. I remember when the relics of St Therese came to England. I don’t think I have EVER seen Westminster Cathedral and the surrounding area so packed and it was like this everywhere that the relics went. People queued for hours and hours to venerate the relics. The saints are the Church Triumphant, and they will help the Church Militant. This little penance (and it is a penance queueing for hours) in order to venerate them can surely bring us their help. I also went to venerate the relics of St Anthony when they came to England. I think it is especially good for those who cannot visit the shrines of the saints abroad due to disability or lack of money (ever seen the price of pilgrimages these days?).

    ‘O St Therese of the Child Jesus, remember thy promise to do good upon earth. Shower down thy roses upon those who invoke thee. Obtain for us from God the graces we hope for, from His infinite goodness. Amen’

  6. WF,

    I was just wondering if the relics would go to England next – might have known you lot had them first 😀

    Seriously, thank you for that lovely prayer to St Therese.

    For those who have not yet read her autobiography, The Story of a Soul, it’s available to read online here http://www.storyofasoul.com/

  7. I went to boarding school in Alencon, Normandy, birth place of St. Theresa and I’ve always had a devotion to her. We often visited her parents place where we could view the wonderful lace pieces made by Teresa, and all the Martin family. We also made trips to Lisieux where she was a Carmelite sister.

    About the vote above: I agree with Petrus that I would vote for all three options. Also, yes, I would travel to one of the locations mentioned.

  8. Carfin Grotto have an incredible collection of relics at their relic centre adjacent to St Francis Xavier’s church. If you live in the West of Scotland then make you visit soon in case the diocese decide to close it.

  9. Well, I paid a visit today to venerate the relics at St Theresa’s church in Possilpark, Glasgow, where I made my First Holy Communion quite a few years ago now. I was immediately saddened at seeing no altar rails. The Vandalism of Vatican II had been and gone…

    One of my nieces, with two of her children (6 and 14 years respectively) accompanied me and we arrived in time for the short relics service conducted by the Archbishop of Glasgow, Philip Tartaglia. We were early enough to secure a front row pew. The Archbishop’s homily on the saint was good – he did mention the saint’s Little Way of self-sacrifice as an expression of her love of God. The various prayer cards handed out were disappointing in that they merely noted that the saint was known for her “acts of kindness” and we should pray to her so that we are always kind as well. That’s the gist of it. Always, the supernatural is ripped out of the lives and teachings of the saints, where at all possible. So, the Archbishop’s homily went some way to filling that vacuum.

    The procession included a “girl altar boy” – which my 6 year old Great Niece singled out for comment later (screwed up nose! Didn’t seem right even to her young mind). My fourteen year old Great Nephew who has been serving the traditional Latin Mass since he was 8, was horrified.

    The choir were on the other side of the aisle from us – beautiful singers, with a very active lady doing the conducting. I’ve always found it distracting when there are musicians at the front of the church – much better, in my humble view, to sing from the choir loft. However, the singing was beautiful, especially the spectacular Ecce Panis Angelorum (Behold the Bread of Angels). There are various renditions of it on YouTube, but I selected the video below…

    My over-riding emotion throughout the entire event was one of sadness – for what we’ve lost and for the ensuing, ongoing confusion: altar rails gone, but beautiful tribute to the Real Presence sung beautifully, without anyone, apparently, joining up the dots. No altar rails, a church packed with chatterboxes, people, including clergy, going to and fro with barely a nod in the direction of the Tabernacle; applause for the Rector of the St Therese shrine in Lisieux, introduced by the Archbishop with an exhortation for us to show our gratitude. I didn’t applaud, nor did my family but those who shared our pew, who attend the traditional Mass in Balornock, whom I recognised on arrival, pleased to see them, like us, with heads covered, they DID join in the applause. This is an example of what we mean when we speak of the differences between the diocesan-permitted traditional Latin Masses and the SSPX Masses. It’s the whole picture; yes, it’s great to be able to find a traditional Mass in a parish church, but it’s not possible, it seems, to find a parish church, however “traditional”, that has managed to shed the novus ordo culture.

    We were given little petition cards, so that we could write our personal petitions and place them in the basket in front of the reliquary when we approached to venerate the relics.

    Anyway, here, in conclusion, is the beautiful hymn of adoration to the Blessed Sacrament, words by St Thomas Aquinas, sung beautifully by the choir in St Theresa’s, Possilpark today. Not sure if that was the parish choir or diocesan, or whatever, but their singing was glorious. And Ecce Panis Angelorum was my absolute favourite… Enjoy!

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