Cleansing Fire

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Quorum Reliquae Hic Sunt

July 26th, 2010, Promulgated by Gen

I have been given a little story for you all, with the stipulation that I not name the parish.

In the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, the priest repeatedly acknowledges the relics of the martyrs which are “entombed” in the altar stone, placed in the mensa, or actual surface portion of the altar. He kisses them, places his hands on them to steady himself, and offers the Mass on the resting place of the martyrs just like our earliest brothers and sisters in the Faith did in the catacombs. There is a great deal of respect given to the relics, for without the sacrifices of those whose bones they are, the Church would not have endured for long.

But, alas, respect is a foreign and dirty word in Rochester. When a local parish was renovated, the old altar was, of course, dismantled and modified to suit the new needs of the parish. The old mensa was removed and incorporated into one of the new side-altars, namely, the one upon which the tabernacle rests. However, the old altar’s mensa (with relics still therein) was not used as the new side-altar’s mensa. No, it was used as the first step to go up to the tabernacle.

Only in Rochester do we go from having the priest praying, “We beseech You, Lord, by the merits of Your saints whose relics are here, and of all the saints, to deign to forgive me all my sins,” to treading on the relics with complete disregard for their presence. Bravo, Satan. You win another round.

(So, just to be clear – it’s a bad thing to go from using relics as veneration to using them as a footstool.)

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2 Responses to “Quorum Reliquae Hic Sunt”

  1. avatar Bender says:

    It is not something that I would have done. But at the same time, it bears noting that in not a few cathedrals and other significant Catholic churches in Europe, the tombs of various people are placed in the floor of the church. For example, the churches in Florence have all sorts of people buried in the floor. Of course, you need to be careful not to step on them, but they are respectfully there nonetheless.

    Again, I wouldn’t convert an altar to a step, and have the relics a part thereof myself, but I don’t know that it necessarily means that Satan was the architect here. If so, then he has worked quite a few ancient churches in Europe.

    It would be better, though, if they could remove the relics, place them in a reliquary and have a special chapel for them.

  2. avatar Vox Clara says:

    I am scandalized by this! It’s probably for the better that you didn’t name this parish, Gen, lest I should have paid them an unfortunate visit.

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