When does veneration go too far?

Posted by Desmond Samith

The sacred relics of St John Bosco left Sri Lanka last week, after visiting several places in the country. Thousands of Catholics and even non-Christians queued up for hours to have a glimpse and pay homage to the relics. Some kissed the casket, bowed down or genuflected before it.

There were also some old folks who didn’t realize it was a wax reproduction, and mistakenly believed the whole body of the saint was among them.

To my mind, the veneration of saints sometimes gets complicated. I think the stories of their lives and the veneration they are accorded in the Catholic Church ought to direct the faithful to the Master they served in their lifetime. But when people fail to see the workings of God in the lives of those saints, then the veneration loses its purpose.

There’s a difference between veneration and worship, but some people get so obsessed with the saints, they lose sight of it. They start to think that going to a particular novena or keeping a prayer book of a certain saint is enough. They might even start to see little point in going to Sunday Mass, receiving Holy Communion or praying before the Blessed Sacrament. This is dangerous.

I think it’s equally dangerous that today in our country, some Catholics are preoccupied with healing services, usually conducted by priests.

Perhaps it’s time to re-align our sense of religious priorities; it’s about the worship of God, veneration and inspiration from the saints. Christianity is not a deal between man and God but a growing relationship between a loving Father and His sons and daughters.

Do you agree with this? Let us know your thoughts.


Filed under Asia, Sri Lanka

  • Miguel

    Very soundly and sensitively explained. Catholicism is rightly criticized for promoting animism when Catholics ignore the wrnings in this blog post. Any veneration, including of Mary, leads to her Son and the Father or it is magic and not worthy of our faith which is in God.

  • asanka prasad

    yaa it is a nice explanation. in reality all most all the Christians first put the name of saints & second place goes to Jesus, it resulted with lots of umbrella sects.. ya we have to rethink on this matter

  • Bob

    “This is dangerous.”

    And also, I suspect, extremely uncommon. The Council of Trent highlighted the danger of superstition, but in the present day the far greater threat to Catholics’ spiritual lives lies in their insufficient, rather than excessive, interest in venerating God’s saints.

  • leo

    i partly agree. Already catholics have crossed the limit what is genuine respect for holy men and women to worshipping them. When the relic came to chennai, India, the way the salesians promote the event and how people reacted was disturbing. Most catholics think that veneration of saints is short cut to blessings and probably salvation. The long list of never ending saints and different avatars/apparitions of Mother Mary have definitely confused the catholics of their faith. Veneration of saints is grossly against the biblical faith no matter how much the church tries to justify it.

  • Sumudusagarika

    pry for us