Saturday, March 01, 2008

Relics of St. Thérèse of Lisieux to visit England

Update: inevitably news of this visit has prompted attacks on the cult of relics. One example is the letter in this week's Catholic Herald: showing equal ignorance of Catholic teaching and the character of St Therese, it suggests that the saint who devoted herself to convert sinners by prayer, not outward deeds, and who promised a 'shower of roses' to those who would pray to her after her death, would prefer it if we did not venerate her relics but 'spread the gospel' instead. 

The cult of relics is affirmed by Scripture (Acts 19.12), constantly taught by the Church, and integral to the liturgy (every priest venerates the relics in the Altar at the start of Mass). It behooves us to honour God through His saints; God loves to grant favours through them. Faithful Catholics should  support the Cardinal's initiative. (More on the teaching of the Church here.)

Briefing (22/2/08). A big 'Thank you' to Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor for requesting this. The visit will take place from 16 September to 7 October 2009.

From CFNews: The relics of St. Thérèse of Lisieux are to visit England and Wales for the first time from 16 September to 7 October 2009. Over the last 15 years the casket containing the earthly remains of has much loved saint visited 40 countries in all five continents, and is a frequent presence at significant events in Rome and elsewhere. St. Thérèse was born in Alençon, Normandy in 1873 and at an early age entered the Carmelite convent of Lisieux. She became assistant novice-mistress in 1893 and took special responsibility for the junior sisters. She died of tuberculosis on 30 September 1897. Canonisation (the declaration that she is a saint) followed in 1925; she is most famed for the spirituality that she lived by, which is called the 'Little Way'. St. Thérèse is 'Patroness of the Missions' of the Catholic Church and a 'Doctor of the Church'. Immediately after her burial, miracles of healing began to take place at St. Thérèse's tomb, fulfilling her prophecy that she would 'let fall a shower of roses on the earth' after her death. In her notebooks she wrote: 'I would like to be a missionary, not just for a few years, but till the end of time.' Wherever her relics have gone, millions of people have prayed beside them and experienced many graces of healing, conversion and vocation. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor said: 'I am delighted that the relics of St. Thérèse are to visit England and Wales next year. I have always been deeply moved by St. Thérèse Little Way'. It is in fidelity to the small things of everyday life, animated by the love of Christ, that we achieve true holiness. I am sure that the intercession of St. Thérèse will be of great spiritual benefit to the people of our country.'

The visit was requested by His Eminence, on behalf of the bishops of England and Wales, and its purpose is to show in a concrete way that God is alive and visits his people. All will be welcome to venerate St. Thérèse's relics; however, there will be a special invitation to the sick, young people and those seeking their way in life, from any faith or none. Preceding the visit will be a nationwide programme of catechesis among Catholics on the life and spirituality of the Saint, focussing especially on prayer, the call to holiness, family life, vocation and evangelisation. The programme has yet to be finalised, but it is likely to include visits to several large venues around the country, giving as many people as possible the opportunity to come. It will be financed entirely by donations.

The initiative is under the direction of Bishop Arthur Roche of Leeds and Bishop Malcolm MacMahon of Nottingham, and is being organised by a group set up by the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, including some Carmelites. Bishop Arthur Roche said: 'St. Thérèse is a much-loved saint all over the world, but nowhere more than in Britain. There will be widespread joy among Catholics that her relics are to visit our country, along with an expectation of many graces to be received. But this visit is for all Christians; and indeed people of any faith or none will be most welcome to come in pilgrimage to pray at Thérèse's side. I pray that this Visit will help many people to find their way to God, and help our society to find the way to true peace through justice and compassion for all.'

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Pope Leo XIII's Prayer to St Michael

Holy Michael, Archangel, defend us in the day of battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust down to Hell Satan, and all wicked spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen