Wednesday, June 15, 2011

St. Anthony is Missing

According to his reputation, St. Anthony of Padua can assist the faithful in recovering lost objects. Ironically, California worshipers are now trying to recover a relic of St. Anthony himself, which has been taken from a glass case at a church named for him.

The Times has a report here. Briefly, the parish pastor put the relic on display recently, assuring people that
... St. Anthony could do more than help them find their lost car keys and wallet. “He can restore your faith in God, your trust in the system, in yourself,” he said to them.
Well, okay. We have mixed feelings about relics and reliquaries. Make no mistake: we've stared at hundreds over the years, often while muttering a prayer or two. Knuckles, hands, vials of blood, undisclosed body parts interred below an altar. Honestly, we've stared and prayed on four continents, and no doubt earned a few indulgences while doing so.

Or rather, we would have earned those indulgences, were not intention one of the critical factors. Because, as the bishop said after he kissed the chorus girl, we didn't mean anything by it. If you visit a lot of churches, and say a lot of prayers, you will eventually find yourself praying around relics. That doesn't necessarily mean that you are placing your hope in the knuckles of the saints when it might better be placed Elsewhere.

Still, we have to say for the record that stealing relics from a church is an exceptionally stupid crime. A few pieces of bone or scraps of cloth have precious little value except to the community to which they are actually precious. So if one's motive is monetary, it is unlikely that the stolen goods will turn much profit. And if one has another motive -- say, the desire to own the relic for devotional purposes -- one surely comes a-cropper over the fact that ownership entails the violation of numerous among the Ten Commandments. Not to mention the California Criminal Code.

We are touched by Fr. Magana's ability to find, or anyway imagine, a silver lining. Speaking to the reporter, he said:
“I think this is divine providence asking us, ‘Where is your faith?’ Is it on the relic or is on God alone?”
Good sentiment. Of course, he could have started there, but never mind our cavilling. We're Lutheran.

3 comments:

Nixon is Lord said...

How about posting on YouTube a video showing you burning the relic or flushing them down the toilet? Showing people that venerating human leftovers is something for ignorant and superstitious peasants?

Father Anonymous said...

The Puritans tried that. It led England into generations of brutal warfare. I think I'll just stick with live and let live.

unkmonk1 said...

There are few things I like more than seeing fundie morons get their shorts in a know when they see a wafer in the trash or a "holy" book thrown away or some "sacred" garment treated like garbage.
The whole thing is so petty and obviously serves some weird and pitifully obvious need for affirmation and "meaning". Plus it's expensive and irrational.