Written by: Denise Serafini on Wednesday, February 17, 2016Good morning. My name is Patrick LeBlanc. I’m a relatively new parishioner here and the good Monsignor asked me to share some thoughts on the marvelous event we had in this proto-cathedral yesterday morning. I have never been exceptionally gifted at public speaking, so I will keep this mercifully short.
Yesterday, Saints Peter and Paul hosted an exhibition displaying several relics associated with the Passion of Our Lord. This exhibition was sponsored by a traveling Apostolate for Holy Relics and proved to be a powerful, grace-filled event. I was honored when the Monsignor asked me to bear one of the relics in the procession, but I must admit that I was initially skeptical of their authenticity. I am a convert from Protestantism with a degree in Philosophy, so I fear that a healthy skepticism is part of my nature. Although I follow the official teachings of the Church joyfully, some of the devotional aspects of our beautiful and complex Faith leave me scratching my head. Until yesterday morning, the veneration of relics was one of these head-scratchers. I wrestled with doubts throughout the entire program, but as the Monsignor tells us: “The first thing we should do as Catholic Christians is pray when something happens.” So, I offered these doubts of mine up to the Lord. He answered in a tremendous fashion.
Once we finished the meditations associated with the relics, the handlers were once again called up to assist with the veneration. I picked up the relic I was assigned and the pilgrims began to come forth. The devotion of the people who were here yesterday was palpable. I soon believed in the relics I had arrogantly dismissed, but it wasn’t through my own intellect or my own will – it was through the pilgrims’ unshakeable faith made tangible in their veneration of these relics. These relics taught me something: God is not a lofty, egg-headed concept that we acknowledge once a week or perhaps, occasionally when we want something really bad. Nor is he a method of therapy that we invoke when we want to feel good about ourselves. God is Love, and if His Passion and Death are any indication, Love hurts. Love is tangible. Love redeems. And Love is not found in isolation. Love, Christian Love, caritas, is a process of conversion initiated and ultimately consummated by God, but it is a process that is continually upheld and substantiated in our interactions with others. We are not Christians in a vacuum. We are Christians because we Love – not in an erotic, self-interested way, but in a way that hurts. A way that is tangible. And in a way that redeems. We are Christians because God chose us and in His great love He died for us. We are Christians because we are not satisfied with our fallen human state. We have fallen and need a redeemer and because we have one in Christ Jesus, we have the unfathomable privilege of calling ourselves Christians. This is what I learned yesterday from the pilgrims who, with tears in their eyes and the fire of the Holy Spirit in their breast, kneeled down to acknowledge all that God has done, does still, and will continue to do for us, his beloved children in whom He is well-pleased. May God’s blessing come down upon us and remain with us always. I ask this in Jesus’ name.