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Letter: Brian Jones and the holy relic

The right forearm and hand of St. Francis Xavier will be at The Basilica in St. John’s on Friday, Jan. 5, 2018.
The right forearm and hand of St. Francis Xavier was recently displayed in St. John’s. — Submitted photo

I can understand, I think, Brian Jones’s not seeing the point of a Catholic’s wanting to be in the presence of even the severed arm of a great hero of his Church (“Unholy behaviour of big business exposed,” Jan. 11). I do not quite see, though, why Jones deemed it fitting to assume in his column that the religious devotion he does not understand and the modern commercial business greed I believe he understands quite well are equally “medieval.”

Perhaps Jones shares what seem to be two common modern conceptions regarding the Middle Ages: that the medieval methods of production were woefully inadequate, especially when compared to modern technological techniques, and that “feudal lords” were inordinately rich while keeping in abject poverty their serfs who presumably produced the lords’ massively inordinate wealth.

No one who today holds both these notions seems to realize that one of them must contradict the other. Since at least one of them must be false, and those who hold them have no idea know which of them it is, it might be worthwhile to look into the possibility that neither is true, might it not?

As for the veneration of relics, those who cannot explain it might still be quite confident, if they are familiar with the ability of the Catholic Church generally to explain her doctrines and practices, that some Catholic somewhere can indeed explain it. Even so, though, even hearing the best of explanations does not guarantee that the hearer will understand. I myself, for instance, know nothing of hockey or hockey fanciers, but if one of the latter were inclined to go somewhere to look at the retired jersey of a hockey “great,” I think I might have some notion of how he felt.


Colin Burke
Port au Port

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