«The means, not the goal»: why do people stand in long queues to the relics

© RIA Novosti / Sergey Pathiterator in photobacteria believers the Holy relics of St. Nicholas in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior«The means, not the goal»: why do people stand in long queues to the relics© RIA Novosti / Sergey Pathiterator in fotosentregatro wondered about why believers stand in a long queue to the relics when the relics of the same Saint in other churches, and they can similarly be applied with prayer, and do not have somewhere to go. What I heard in response — about the importance of hard work during the pilgrimage, I somehow was not convinced… (Andrew, student)


This is one of those «simple» questions that open the door to a very deep truths and serious insights. So my task at the moment — not to present a formal thesis, and to stimulate the thoughts of readers to active work, to independent research. Let’s start with an analogy.

Let’s say you are invited for dinner your old and very good friend. The path was a long one. And you answer him: «Why should I go to you through the city, when the same potato and tea with bagels I can eat and drink, not leaving the house? The importance here, is how the subway and buses for the sake of old friendship I somehow not convinced…»

Wait to laugh, and think, what a joke. Prompt. Potatoes, tea and bagels is a material element of a much broader and more important, the intangible reality of personal communication, friendship, attention, memory, love… If this persists and it is material the treat, while at home you have it no worse. At a friend’s house, it occupies a significant, but subsidiary place, is a means and not an end.

Now translate these same considerations to our veneration of saints and their associated material objects, including Holy relics, and you will become much clearer why believers stand in long queue for hours. (Note, the veneration, not worship. In everyday speech people talk about «worship of relics», but this is inaccurate: we worship one God, reminds us of the dogma of the seventh Ecumenical Council).