Wednesday, November 2, 2011

All Saints Day celebrated at St. Bernard

Students at St. Bernard Preparatory School joined the monks at St. Bernard Abbey in celebrating All Saints’ Day on November 1st in the Abbey Church. On All Hallows Eve, relics of martyrs and saints from the reliquary were brought to the altar and displayed during Solemn Vespers and remained there through vesper prayer sung on Tuesday.

During the Eucharistic celebration, Abbot Cletus Meagher, OSB, delivered the homily and spoke of the lives of the saints being remembered. “As Christian people, the image of Christ should be recognized in all of us. Life is a very precious gift, and we must treat it with care. As followers of Christ, it is our hope that we may be transformed into the image of Christ.”

Students were reminded that this “holy day of obligation” presents to all believers that we are members of the Communion of Saints. “Respect life and be grateful for the people in your own lives whom you see living the life of Christ,” said Abbot Cletus.

As recorded in history, the first Christians were often forced to gather in the catacombs beneath Rome, hiding their worship services from an increasingly hostile government. They would use the coffins of the martyrs as a table, an altar on which to set the elements of their celebration.

All Saints’ Day is a day to remember the roots and the people of faith who have gone before the community of believers. The relics or “remains” of saints have been regarded as objects of devotion from early in Christian history. This can be traced back to devotion to the tombs and the remains of the earliest martyrs.

St. Bernard Abbey’s altar was surrounded by small relics of saints such as St. Lawrence, Martyr; St. Bernard, Abbot; St. Elizabeth Ann Seton; St. John Bosco; St. Benedict, Abbot; St. Piux X, Pope; just to name a few. Abbot Cletus said, “These relics are symbols of their presence with us, in the Church with the Communion of Saints.”

How the relics got to St. Bernard is still somewhat of a mystery to most in the community. According to Abbot Cletus the relics at St. Bernard have been kept in the monastery since it was founded in 1891. “I’m not sure of the story behind each relic, but it would be a good guess to say most were brought back to the United States from Rome when the monks came to north Alabama.”

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