Friday, September 15, 2006

We are called to be saints

Adoration, tonight (9/15), 7 pm, SAA Church. All are invited! Please join us, even if for just a few minutes.
"How does the church determine who is a saint? I heard it takes a long time after a saint's passing. Also I hear people say we should strive to be saints. Does that mean try to be perfect? Or what else-what kinds of things help a person to strive to be like saints. know the obvious.....sacraments, service and prayer." This blogger's question about how the Church determines someone to be a saint refers to the canonization of a saint.

The general tag here is that whenever the Church canonizes someone a saint, it means that the Church is (morally) certain that the person is in Heaven. So, the canonization process, which is extremely thorough and detailed, involves collecting evidence and testimony that would show beyond a reasonable doubt that he/she has entered the Kingdom of Heaven.

It's usually not until after fifty years since the person has died that their cause for canonization opens, if it is opened (there are exceptions- like Mother Teresa whose cause was begun shortly after she died - if it's obvious that the person lived a saintly life and/or died a martyr's death). For a cause to be opened, it has to be presented to the Church by others (religious community, family members, etc.) who pay for the (high) costs involved. The Church then begins the cause, collecting tons of information about the person from the ones who knew him/her best.

The main thing for which the Church is looking in investigating the life of the person is evidence of heroic virtue. This would be consistent, extraordinary examples of faith, hope, charity, humility, chastity, patience, etc. in which the person was truly Christ-like. It doesn't mean that the person was perfect, but that they strove for perfection in the virtuous life, availing themselves to God's Grace regularly.

The Church also requires evidence of miracles that are attributed to the intercession of the person. One miracle is required for beatification (the first declaration of the Church that the person is to be highly honored), and one is required for canonization. These normally come in the form of healings or cures of physical diseases or ailments in which there is no natural or medical explanation possible. It becomes clear that a supernatural event has taken place: God has worked a miracle through the intercession of a brother or sister of ours who is with Him in Heaven. It becomes a message from Heaven that the person is there with God and all the saints and angels, sharing in the Resurrection of Christ.

Finally, we should all strive to be saints. This doesn't mean that our goal is canonization. It means that our goal is to get to Heaven. The way we get to Heaven is to live and die in a state of Grace (if we die in a state of Grace, we will be a saint in Heaven). There are many practices, devotions, and disciplines that help us to live a life of Grace, but there are two that stand out in the life of every saint: devotion to 1) the Eucharist, and 2) to the Blessed Mother. While all of the saints have different stories, personalities, and backgrounds, they all have had a great love for Jesus in the Eucharist and for His Mother.
For more info about canonizations, please check out this site:

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