Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Relics of two saints in metro Detroit this weekend: Saint Sharbel and St. Maria Goretti

Saint Sharbel (Charbel) and St. Maria Goretti

This is proving to be a very busy weekend coming up. I already mentioned the prayer vigil for life being led by Archbishop Vigneron on Saturday for the Helper's of God's Precious Infants.

We also have the relics of two saints in town: St. Sharbel (sometimes seen as, "Charbel"); and St. Maria Goretti.

Catholics don't worship saints; we venerate them, reflect on their virtues, and ask them to intercede for us, since they are with God.  Saints have been venerated through their relics since the early Christians did so with the bodies and body parts of martyrs.  There is some excellent background and information on why Catholics venerate relics at the Catholic Education Resource Center (CERC) site.

I don't have time to go into much detail on both saints, but I will provide some resources here.

Saint Maria Goretti

At the Saint Maria Goretti - Pilgrimage of Mercy website for the USA tour, you will find all kinds of information about her, and the tour.   Click the calendar to see if she is coming to your area.  For metro Detroit, I know there are stops at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Plymouth, Ss Cyril & Methodius in Sterling Heights, St. Scholastica in Detroit, and an unnamed prison (a very touching gesture, given the story of profound conversion in the man responsible for the death of little Maria Goretti).  Click the link and scroll to that calendar for details. It's this weekend.

One of the things I try to do when it comes to the saints, is not to compare myself to them, lest it seem an impossible mountain to climb.  Look to the saints for their virtues - not just the most obvious.  It's important to look at Maria's purity (and I recommend people struggling with any kind of sins of impurity to ask for her intercession in helping), but look deeper and you will find one of the greatest stories of mercy, forgiveness, and earthly redemption to learn from.  You have to understand the transformation that took place in her attacker - Alessandro Serenelli to fully grasp it, and how Maria's mother came to embrace him on his road to redemption long after Maria's death.  That earthly redemption likely ended with him being in heaven with her, which was her dying prayer. What can we learn from that? What can we learn from her mother's embrace of Alessandro, years later, as she embraced him like a son? How did that affect this wounded soul's path back to God?  I discuss some of this in a post I made some years ago. If the links are bad, just google a title I might have given with regards to books or DVD's.

Saint Sharbel (Charbel)

I became familiar with this Maronite monastic when I stumbled upon a video with english subtitles of his life.  It was a movie, which I discussed in this post about Saint Sharbel.  I have embedded the YouTube video at the bottom of that post.  I heartily recommend it and as I say in that post, if you like, "Into Great Silence" you will like this movie (if you don't mind subtitles and watching it on a tablet, smartphone, laptop or other streaming device.)  I've developed quite an affection for him and have picked up a book or two on his life.

Anyway, St. Sharbel's relics are here in metro Detroit.  I should have posted earlier because they are already here, on the west side at St. Rafka Maronite Church in Livonia.  Follow this link to the parish website and you will see a flyer on the left.  Click that and it takes you to a PDF.  There is a full day tomorrow, Wednesday yet.  So, if you live on that side of town, try to make it over there.

St. Sharbel's relics are coming to the east side this weekend and the events will be held at St. Matthias on 19 Mile Rd.  It is the St. Sharbel parish community that was in Warren until they sold the property last year.  As they await their new church to be built they are using facilities out in the general area of St. Matthias.  The schedule for that is here.  If that doesn't work, you can get it through the Saint Sharbel parish website.

I saw that Archbishop Vigneron will be the celebrant for Mass at 7:00 PM Friday (the current flyer says Divine Liturgy on one page and Mass on the other, so I'm not sure which it will be at that time - watch for updates).

Where Maria Goretti's life story compels me to learn about forgiveness and mercy, and to love those who cause me injury, St. Sharbel compels me to love being in the company of God throughout my day, doing whatever it is I must do.  His asceticism, coupled with charity, inspire me to practice mortification for the love of God (Col 1:24) - even in very small ways.  The children of Fatima learned this during their most young and tender years.  I fail miserably at it so if I make it to St. Matthias, I'll be asking for the intercession of St. Sharbel on those kinds of things.

Look to the saints as your brothers and sisters.  Talk to them as you would others here on earth.  If I can ask you to join me in praying for some petition to God, why can't I ask them since they already see the Face of God.  

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