Every Catholic church has a sacrificial altar and a sacrificing priest. The Bible says sacrifice for sin ended with Christ’s death on the cross but Catholics offer up sacrifice for sins at their masses hundreds of thousands of times each day throughout the world.
“Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.” – Hebrews 10:11-12
But do Catholics know that every Catholic church altar contains the relic of a “saint”? So what’s a relic? The Baltimore Catechism says a relic is “the body, or part of the body, of a saint which the Church venerates because of the sanctity of the person while on earth.” Like all “sacramentals” relics are suppose to prepare the faithful to receive sacramental grace and then dispose them to cooperate with that grace so they can merit their way to Heaven.
There are actually three official classes of Catholic relics:
First class – the body or a portion of the body of a saint (bone, flesh, or hair). You’ll only find these in Catholic churches. (See accompanying photo: The hair of “Saint” Claire)
Second class – an item or piece of an item used by a saint (clothing, vestments, personal item). These also can only be found exclusively in the hands of the church.
Third class – an item that touched a first or second class relic or the “shrine” of a saint. The church has done BIG business over the centuries selling these items to the faithful (rosaries, cloths, medals, etc.).
Do Catholics ever stop and wonder whether God approves of their veneration of physical objects? Many Catholics view their third class relics as good luck charms that bring blessings and ward off evil and the church does little to discourage this kind of pagan, anti-Scriptural superstition.
“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” – John 4:23-24