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Lesson 31: The First Commandment -- On the Honor and Invocation of the Saints
Q. 1189. Does the first Commandment forbid the honoring of the saints?
A. The first Commandment does not forbid the honoring of the saints, but rather approves of it; because by honoring the saints, who are the chosen friends of God, we honor God Himself.
     
Q. 1190. What does "invocation" mean?
A. Invocation means calling upon another for help or protection, particularly when we are in need or danger. It is used specially with regard to calling upon God or the saints, and hence it means prayer.
     
Q. 1191. How do we show that by honoring the Saints we honor God Himself?
A. We honor the Saints because they honor God. Therefore, it is for His sake that we honor them, and hence by honoring them we honor Him.
     
Q. 1192. Give another reason why we honor God by honoring the Saints.
A. Another reason why we honor God by honoring the Saints is this: As we honor our country by honoring its heroes, so do we honor our religion by honoring its Saints. By honoring our religion we honor God, who taught it. Therefore, by honoring the Saints we honor God, for love of whom they became religious heroes in their faith.
     
Q. 1193. Does the first Commandment forbid us to pray to the saints?
A. The first Commandment does not forbid us to pray to the saints.
     
Q. 1194. Why does the first commandment not forbid us to pray to the Saints?
A. The first commandment does not forbid us to pray to the Saints, because if we are allowed to ask the prayers of our fellow-creatures upon earth we should be allowed also to ask the prayers of our fellow-creatures in heaven. Moreover, the Saints must have an interest in our welfare, because whatever tends to make us good, tends also to the glory of God.
     
Q. 1195. What do we mean by praying to the saints?
A. By praying to the saints we mean the asking of their help and prayers.
     
Q. 1196. Do we not slight God Himself by addressing our prayers to saints?
A. We do not slight God Himself by addressing our prayers to saints, but, on the contrary, show a greater respect for His majesty and sanctity, acknowledging, by our prayers to the saints, that we are unworthy to address Him for ourselves, and that we, therefore, ask His holy friends to obtain for us what we ourselves are not worthy to ask.
     
Q. 1197. How do we know that the saints hear us?
A. We know that the saints hear us, because they are with God, who makes our prayers known to them.
     
Q. 1198. Why do we believe that the saints will help us?
A. We believe that the saints will help us because both they and we are members of the same Church, and they love us as their brethren.
     
Q. 1199. How are the saints and we members of the same Church?
A. The saints and we are members of the same Church, because the Church in heaven and the Church on earth are one and the same Church, and all its members are in communion with one another.
     
Q. 1200. What is the communion of the members of the Church called?
A. The Communion of the members of the Church is called the Communion of Saints.
     
Q. 1201. What does the communion of saints mean?
A. The communion of saints means the union which exists between the members of the Church on earth with one another, and with the blessed in Heaven, and with the suffering souls in Purgatory.
     
Q. 1202. What benefits are derived from the communion of saints?
A. The following benefits are derived from the communion of saints: the faithful on earth assist one another by their prayers and good works, and they are aided by the intercession of the saints in Heaven, while both the saints in Heaven and the faithful on earth help the souls in Purgatory.
     
Q. 1203. How can we best honor the Saints, and where shall we learn their virtues?
A. We can best honor the saints by imitating their virtues, and we shall learn their virtues from the written accounts of their lives. Among the Saints we shall find models for every age, condition or state of life.
     
Q. 1204. Does the first Commandment forbid us to honor relics?
A. The first Commandment does not forbid us to honor relics, because relics are the bodies of the saints or objects directly connected with them or with our Lord.
     
Q. 1205. How many kinds or classes of relics are there?
A. There are three kinds or classes of relics:
1.(1) The body or part of the body of a saint; 2.(2) Articles, such as clothing or books, used by the saint; 3.(3) Articles that have touched a relic of the body or other relic.
     
Q. 1206. What is there special about a relic of the true cross on which Our Lord Died, and also about the instruments of His Passion?
A. The relics of the true Cross and relics of the thorns, nails, etc., used in the Passion are entitled to a very special veneration, and they have certain privileges with regard to their use and the manner of keeping them that other relics have not. A relic of the true Cross is never kept or carried with other relics.
     
Q. 1207. What veneration does the Church permit us to give to relics?
A. The Church permits us to give relics a veneration similar to that we give images. We do not venerate the relics for their own sake, but for the sake of the persons they represent. The souls of canonized saints are certainly in heaven, and we are certain that their bodies also will be there. Therefore, we may honor their bodies because they are to be glorified in heaven and were sanctified upon earth.
     
Q. 1208. What care does the Church take in the examination and distribution of relics?
A. The Church takes the greatest care in the examination and distribution of relics.
1.(1) The canonization or beatification of the person whose relic we receive must be certain. 2.(2) The relics are sent in sealed packets, that must be opened only by the bishop of the diocese to which the relics are sent, and each relic or packet must be accompanied by a document or written paper proving its genuineness. 3.(3) The relics cannot be exposed for public veneration until the bishop examines them and pronounces them authentic; that is, that they are what they are claimed to be.
     
Q. 1209. What should we be certain of before using any relic or giving it to another?
A. Before using any relic or giving it to another we should be certain that all the requirements of the Church concerning it have been fulfilled, and that the relic really is, as far as it is possible for any one to know, what we believe it to be.
     
Q. 1210. Has God Himself honored relics?
A. God Himself has frequently honored relics by permitting miracles to be wrought through them. There is an example given in the Bible, in the IV Book of Kings, where it is related that a dead man was restored to life when his body touched the bones, that is, the relics of the holy prophet Eliseus.
     
Q. 1211. Does the first Commandment forbid the making of images?
A. The first Commandment does forbid the making of images if they are made to be adored as gods, but it does not forbid the making of them to put us in mind of Jesus Christ, His Blessed Mother, and the saints.
     
Q. 1212 How do we show that it is only the worship and not the making of images that is forbidden by the first commandment?
A. We show that it is only the worship and not the making of images that is forbidden by the first commandment:
1.(1) Because no one thinks it sinful to carve statues or make photographs or paintings of relatives or friends; 2.(2) Because God Himself commanded the making of images for the temple after He had given the first commandment, and God never contradicts Himself.
     
Q. 1213. Is it right to show respect to the pictures and images of Christ and His saints?
A. It is right to show respect to the pictures and images of Christ and His saints, because they are the representations and memorials of them.
     
Q. 1214. Have we in this country any civil custom similar to that of honoring the pictures and images of saints?
A. We have, in this country, a civil custom similar to that of honoring pictures and images of saints, for, on Decoration or Memorial Day, patriotic citizens place flowers, flags, or emblems about the statues of our deceased civil heroes, to honor the persons these statues represent; for just as we can dishonor a man by abusing his image, so we can honor him by treating it with respect and reverence.
     
Q. 1215. Is it allowed to pray to the crucifix or to the images and relics of the saints?
A. It is not allowed to pray to the crucifix or images and relics of the saints, for they have no life, nor power to help us, nor sense to hear us.
     
Q. 1216. Why do we pray before the crucifix and the images and relics of the saints?
A. We pray before the crucifix and the images and relics of the saints because they enliven our devotion by exciting pious affections and desires, and by reminding us of Christ and of the saints, that we may imitate their virtues.
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Nov
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November 27, 2014

Thursday of the Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

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