By Kenneth J. Souza
NEW BEDFORD, Mass. — St. Anthony of Padua Parish, 1359 Acushnet Avenue in New Bedford, will kickoff the Lenten season with a special presentation of the Relics of the Passion on March 3 beginning at 6:45 p.m.
All are invited to join them for a unique opportunity to engage with the meaning of God’s love as given to us by the Father via His Son’s Passion. This special program entitled, “Call from the Crucified Heart,” is being sponsored as part of a new nationwide tour by the Apostolate for Holy Relics that highlights a collection of rare relics from the Passion of Our Lord, with prayer, music, reflection and an opportunity for personal veneration.
According to the AHR prayer program, the presentation “is intended to help you walk beside Jesus throughout His Passion, using excerpts and materials from the Gospels of SS. John and Luke, meditations on the Passion by the Passionist Missionaries and the writings of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich in her book, ‘The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ.’
“As a tribute to Our Lady of Sorrows, and in honor of the 100th anniversary of Our Lady’s apparitions at Fatima, the program also highlights a perspective on Mary as she accompanied Jesus on the path to Calvary.”
According to Father Octavio Cortez, I.V.E., pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Parish, meditation on and veneration of the relics of the Lord’s Passion is the perfect way to prepare for the Lenten season.
“The relics can connect us through time and space with Our Lord Jesus in His suffering and death,” Father Cortez said. “Aided by these relics, our senses can better help us imagine the kind of suffering Our Lord Jesus endured for our Salvation.”
Although Father Cortez has yet to see the collection for himself, he said he is sure it will be a very special moment in his life and for all those who attend.
“As Catholics, we venerate and respect all those things that are connected with the great mysteries of our faith — be it the remains of saints, ancient churches, Eucharistic miracles, even mountains and rivers — so how much more should we venerate the things that touched Our Lord Jesus Christ? The faithful can therefore expect to be touched very deeply by the contemplation of these relics,” Father Cortez said.
The Relics of the Passion presentation is organized into a one-hour meditative program with supporting musical pieces that serve as a guide to help the faithful accompany Jesus through His suffering during the Passion. The program ends with an opportunity for personal veneration of the relics.
The collection includes eight Holy relics that would only be seen in displays generally found in Rome or the Holy Land. Among them:
— A relic of the True Cross;
— A piece of stone from the table or room where the Last Supper was held;
— A piece of the Column of Flagellation;
— A piece of the Crown of Thorns;
— The effigy of the Veil of Veronica (touched to the original veil);
— A replica of the Holy nail which contains filings taken from the true nails that were imbedded in copies to make relics of a lower class;
— A piece of bone from St. Longinus, the centurion who pierced the side of Jesus; and
— A thread from the cloth used as the wrapping for Christ’s Burial Shroud.
The new 2017 program, “Call from the Crucified Heart,” is designed to highlight a facet of what is believed Christ’s message is to us from various scenes during His Passion. There will also be an exposition of the Holy Eucharist — a required part of the meditative portion of the presentation — to underscore that time-transcending gift that connects us from Jesus’ Passion to His presence with us today.
The Relics of the Passion is presented by the Apostolate for Holy Relics, an organization founded 10 years ago in Los Angeles. The AHR is guardian for more than 1,200 relics organized into special collections, such as the eight rare relics that make up the relics of the Passion.
For more information about the group or collection, visit www.relictour.com, or contact the St. Anthony of Padua Parish rectory at 508-993-1691.