The Church teaches that relics are instruments of divine grace, and thus sources of healings and conversions. While devotion to relics may seem strange to non-Catholics, it is in fact a thoroughly biblical practice.
The Church reveres the bodies of saints as members of Christ’s Body and temples of the Holy Spirit (စိန့်ပေါလုရဲ့ကြည့်ရှု ကောရိန်သုပထမပေးစာ အခနျး 6:15 နှင့် 19), and it views relics as proof that God does not forsake our physical nature, but redeems it “from its bondage to decay” (see his ရောမအက္ခရာ, 8:21).
The veneration of relics, ထိုမှတပါး, points to the bodily resurrection promised to the followers of Christ (ကြည့်ရှု, နောက်တဖန်အ, the Letter to the Romans, 8:21).
This is especially true of the Incorruptibles: those rare instances, inexplicable to science, in which the body of a Saint has resisted decay.1
The Church also teaches that God’s grace may be received through the body of a holy man or woman because it has been consecrated to God, and there is a strong biblical precedent for this. ဥပမာအားဖြင့်, the Israelites carry the bones of Joseph with them through the wilderness (ကြည့်ရှု ထှကျမွောကျရာ 13:19), and his bones were later buried in sacred ground at Shechem (ကြည့်ရှု ယောရှုသည် 24:32). ထဲမှာ ဓမ္မရာဇဝင်ဒုတိယစာအုပ်, a dead man is resurrected when his body comes into contact with the bones of the Prophet Elisha (13:21), and in the New Testament, the followers of Saint John the Baptist come for his body after he is put to death by Herod (ကြည့်ရှု မဿဲ 14:12).
People are healed by touching the fringe of Jesus’ garment (မဿဲ 9:20-22, et al ။), by Saint Peter’s shadow (ကို တမန်တော်၏တမန်တော် 5:15), and cloths that have been pressed to the body of Saint Paul (တမန်တော်ဝတ္ထု, နောက်တဖန်အ, 19:11-12).
From the historical record, we learn that around the year 156 the Christians in Smyrna gathered up the charred bones of their martyred Bishop, Polycarp, who had been a disciple of the Apostle John. They wrote that they considered the Saint’s bones to be “more valuable than precious stones and finer than refined gold;” and reserved them in a special place for veneration (The Martyrdom of Saint Polycarp 18:2-3). This practice has been maintained by the faithful of all generations.
Others often have difficulty with the veneration of relics because of their own view of Creation. From their perspective, the thought of God using material things to convey His grace is utterly appalling. Catholicism, သော်လည်း, in the likeness of the Lord Jesus, its Founder, is an incarnational religion, i.e, God as man: fully-god, fully-human in every way but sin.
Acknowledging man was created with a body as well as a soul, the Church does not denigrate the physical world, but raises it up to God for renewal (ပေါလုရဲ့ကြည့်ရှု ကောရိန်သုပထမပေးစာ, 6:19-20).
This is especially true of the Sacraments, which are visible signs that convey grace.
Other instances of material things used in Scripture as channels of grace include:
- water: ကြည့်ရှု ထှကျမွောကျရာ 30:17, ကို Book of Numbers 8:6; ယောဟန်သည် 3:5, et al ။;
- flesh: ကြည့်ရှု ကမ္ဘာဦးကျမ်း 4:4; ထှကျမွောကျရာ 12:8; ယောဟန်သည် 6:51-58;
- blood: ကြည့်ရှု ထှကျမွောကျရာ 12:22 & 24:6; ကို Book of Leviticus 14:4; မဿဲ 26:28; ယောဟန်သည် 6:53-56, et al ။;
- bread and wine: see Genesis 14:18; ထှကျမွောကျရာ 12:15 & 20; မဿဲ 26:26, et al ။;
- oil: ကြည့်ရှု မာကု 6:13;
- ရွှံ့: ကြည့်ရှု ယောဟန်သည် 9:6.
- Jesus taught that God “is not God of the dead, but of the living” (လုကာ 23:43). ဒါကြောင့်, the souls of those who have died in friendship with God are not “asleep” in the grave, but rule with Him in heaven. The common biblical reference to the dead being “asleep” (ကြည့်ရှု မဿဲ 9:24) is simply a way of expressing the transience of death and has to do specifically with the body of the deceased, not the soul (ကြည့်ရှု မဿဲ 27:52). The body remains on earth for a time while the soul enters into eternity. Catholics believe that at the Last Judgment, the body will be resurrected and reunited with the soul. ↩