By Diane Clay
The Sooner Catholic
A first-class relic of Blessed Stanley Rother was presented Oct. 15 to his home parish of Holy Trinity in Okarche during a Mass of celebration. The relic was presented to Archbishop Coakley by Blessed Stanley’s brother, Tom Rother.
The relic is a piece of rib taken during the required exhumation of Father Rother before his beatification. Father John Peter Swaminathan, pastor of Holy Trinity, told the packed church that the relic, which is contained in a cross-shaped reliquary, would be made available in the sanctuary for veneration.
The Catholic Church has a long history with veneration of sacred relics. Traditionally, a piece of the body of a saint, especially that of a martyr, may be (with the permission of the local ecclesiastical authority) used in solemn processions recalling the specific holy person.
There are three classes of sacred relics. The first-class is a part of the saint’s body. The second-class relic is a piece of the saints clothing or something used by the saint, and a third-class relic is an object that has been touched to a first-class relic.
These relics summon the faithful to appreciate more profoundly the heroic men and women, boys and girls who have served so selflessly and generously.
When venerating a relic, it is most appropriate to show honor and respect to the saint by performing a simple exterior gesture, including kissing or touching images, relics and sacred objects.
In general, the Church recommends an exterior gesture that fits the occasion and corresponds to a person’s interior disposition. Someone venerating a saint’s relic can kiss or touch the glass case that houses the relic or simply stand near the relic in prayer, raising one’s heart and mind to God and invoking the intercession of the saint.
Other acceptable gestures include signing oneself with the sign of the cross or kneeling in front of the relic in prayer. However, a person should not genuflect before the relic in a way similar to genuflecting before the Blessed Sacrament. Jesus Christ alone is reserved that type of veneration.
Whatever gesture a person chooses to use to venerate a relic, it must not be done out of superstition, but out of love for the saint and for God. It is similar to someone who takes out a photograph of a beloved family member and kisses it every time he or she puts it back. The gesture is a sign of love for that person.
The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City is in the process of designing and building a permanent shrine for Blessed Stanley Rother where he will be buried.
Until the shrine is complete, Blessed Stanley will remain interred at Resurrection Cemetery in Oklahoma City.
Diane Clay is editor of the Sooner Catholic.