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Baltimore Catechism (1891)
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
1. The canonization or beatification of the person whose relic we receive must be certain. 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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
1. Because no one thinks it sinful to carve statues or make photographs or paintings of relatives or friends; 2. Because God Himself commanded the making of images for the temple after He had given the first commandment, and God never contradicts Himself.
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.
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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