Throughout February, March and April this year, the relics of St Thérèse of Lisieux, the "Little Flower", who died in obscurity in the Carmelite monastery at Lisieux at the age of 24 in 1897, will be displayed in churches and cathedrals throughout Australia.
St Thérèse is now known and loved worldwide for her passionate devotion to her Saviour, and her love for every human person whom God wishes to live with Him forever in Heaven. She wished to be a missionary, and offered "to shed my blood for You, even to the very last drop". Although unable to accomplish this personally, at least through her writings Thérèse communicated most powerfully that souls are saved through love and self-sacrifice.
Canonised only 30 years after her death, she was subsequently made Patroness of the Missions and a Doctor of the Church.
In the words of Vatican II, the Church teaches that the saints in Heaven "unceasingly intercede for us with the Father", and urges us to pray to them for both our temporal and spiritual needs.
In both the Old and New Testaments, we have accounts of God's power being manifest through relics. In the Book of Kings, we read that when a dead man's body "touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood on his feet" (2 Kgs 13:20-21). In the New Testament, we have accounts of a woman being cured of haemorrhage by touching the cloak of Jesus Christ, and later, that clothing which had touched the Apostle Paul healed the sick (Acts 19:11-12).
During the early persecution of the Church, we have further accounts of the veneration of relics by Christians.
The presence of St. Thérèse's relics in Australia is therefore an occasion of grace, in which we can meditate with St Thérèse on the great gifts which God has given us, and pray to her for the graces needed to emulate her love of God and neighbour.
Peter Westmore: Publisher (E-mail - email@example.com)