Transylvanian Church of the Bizarre

According to Roman Catholicism, Sacred Relics are:

"Bodies of the saints, parts of the bodies, something used by the saints, or objects touched to the bodies of the saints that have enjoyed for centures the reverence offered by the Church. There are three kinds: first-class (part of a saint's body); second-class, (something used by the saint); third-class (an object touched to a first-class relic); First-class relics of martyrs are placed in an altar when it is consecrated."--Peter M. J. Stravinskas, ed., Catholic Dictionary, (c) 1993, Our Sunday Visitor, Inc, p.419

Notice that RCC doctrine has provided for an infinite supply of relics by providing that more can be made just by touching things to a body part of a dead person the RCC reveres. That is forward-looking strategy, for certain. The whole concept seems somewhat ludicrous. Think about it. "Saint" Ambrose of Milan died in 397, thereby providing innumerable body parts for veneration and wear by the faithful of the Roman church. Though the historical record informs that some "sacred relics," such as those of the "true cross," are infinitismally small, the supply eventually must run out. Not to worry. Take a trip to Milan, find a way to convince the caretakers of the Basilica to permit you brief access to the remnants of Ambrose or, failing that, of Gervasius or Protasius who also are interred there. Then, just touch the tip of your ballpoint pen to the relic and, Voila! You have a brand new third-class relic manufactured by BIC. Something to conjure with, certainly.

Let's take the concept one step further into the realm of the truly absurd. A second-class relic, according to the above Catholic dictionary, is something a "saint" used in his lifetime. Can you imagine the possibilities? San Carlo's toothpick. Saint Brigit's shoe (a beautiful thing of jewels and brass kept in a church near Lisbon). Saint Urban IV's handerkerchief. At some point, one begins to wander off into the truly bizarre. Can you visualize praying before the undershorts of St. Peter Gonzalez in the hope that this relic will help your prayers reach the spirit of the dead "saint" so that he will facilitate their delivery into the presence of the Lord? It get's worse, of course. Time to move to some other line of thought.

Carlo Borromeo was born into a wealthy and powerful family, but his inclination was to enter service in the Roman church. When he was but 12 years old, he became a tonsured monk and began to wear the cassock, or long robe so favored by these folks. Young Carlo had connections and was assigned to a wealthy abbey and then to the University of Pavia. By the time he was 22, his parents had died and he had earned his doctorate. When his mother's younger brother was elected pope and took the name Pius IV, Carlo was called to Rome, where he came to have great authority and responsibilities. Before his death in 1586, Carlo instituted several reforms in his diocese of Milan, took over management of the stalled Council of Trent, and instituted many programs of religious education, some of which exist even to this day. Only 24 years after his death, Carlo Borromeo was canonized. It ain't what you know, it's who you know, I reckon.

Anyway, "Saint" Carlo (Charles) Borromeo is the patron of Catholic clergy, seminaries, catechists, catechumens, spiritual directors and, interestingly, starch makers. There is a church in Rome that was restored to the Lombards in 1471 by Pope Sixtus IV. They immediately dedicated it to Saint Ambrose of Milan, who died in 397. After Cardinal Carlo Borromeo was canonized, the church was rebuilt and dedicated to him. How fickle!!

Within this church, Santi Ambrogio e Carlo al Corso, there is a chapel in which resides one of those body parts the ghoulish Roman church treats with veneration and worship (dulia). To view this heart, which resides in an exquisite reliquary, one must walk an aisle that leads behind the altar. His heart! Good grief! Think about it for a moment. A man dies, what does it matter whether he was a man of the cloth or a coal miner, and people rip out his heart and place it in an ornate container in order that they might pray through it to the ghost of the deceased. Think about it. Is that CHRISTIAN worship? Or is it some ghoulish pagan rite dressed up in Christian clothes?

History records the body of Cardinal Carlo Borromeo was buried in Milan's cathedral. Don't you just have to wonder how much of him was buried there and how many pieces were carved off and scattered around the world under the altars of Roman Catholic churches and in reliquaries carried by Catholic faithful?

When the Romish priests, in their ghoulish custom, enclose bits and pieces taken from the bodies of dead men and women in their altars and in costly and wonderfully beautiful reliquaries, are they not fashioning idols, upon which they offer their ritualistic bloodless blood sacrifice and before which the Catholic faithful offer their fervent prayers. And does not God's Decalogue specifically prohibit such acts?

"I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;"--Exodus 20:2-5

Oh!, dear people. Do not offer your prayers before pagan altars or ghoulish idols. Instead, pray directly to God and plead His mercy while yet there is time.

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