Monday, July 24, 2006
July 25th St. Christopher Please get over it.
Busy week for important feast days! Today is the Feast Day of St. Christopher, the patron saint of travelers. This is a fabulous opportunity to discuss how a person becomes a saint and what it means to be a saint, since in fact, St. Christopher never existed. At all, ever. At yet he remains one of the world's most popular saints, hanging from every key ring and luggage tag and clipped onto visors everywhere.
How does a man who never existed become one of the most famous saints ever?
You did it.
Let's take a moment and look at the story of St. Christopher so you can understand why he was booted off the calendar of saints back in the 60's. You can find the story of St. Christopher (written by your's truly) here by clicking on our shop icon to your left and look at St. Christopher. He's at the top of the shop today, of course. Go ahead and read that.
So you see, the story of St. Christopher is a little like the three pigs or the three bears. It has that fairy tale "3" thing at the beginning and then the Christ child story, which seems charming and then on further examination makes no sense. Why wouldn't He have been heavy the whole time?
Let me explain how this happened. In the first place a saint is someone who is dead and in heaven. Period. Everyone who ever lived and is now in heaven is a saint. But since we don't know who made it and who didn't for a fact, in order to call a specific person a saint we need proof the person is in heaven. So we look for miracles performed by the person. The devil is up to no good. He doesn't do good things. Something miraculous happening after praying for the intercession of a person you think was good enough to make heaven proves that person is really there. See? Easy peasy, lemon squeezy!
But not so fast. It has to be a miracle. Not "wow, my mother didn't say anything nasty when see called today!" Not a dimestore miracle. Not even "all those people died in the bus crash on the bus I just stepped off of." That's great for you (AND bad grammar) buit it's not a miracle. It has to be instant and unexplainable.
A saint needs three of these to be canonized, which means the person is worthy of veneration and is in heaven.
And how does this happen? That's where YOU come in. You get to pick who you think is worthy, pray for their intercession and report those miracles. For example, you could look up the list of people who have been beatified (almost a saint but waiting for the third miracle) and jump on the band wagon. Your miracle could seal the deal. AND you'd have a miracle. It's a win-win situation.
So how did Christopher get in? The church didn't used to go through so much trouble. If the faithful were into the person, and the church had no objections to the person and miracles were reported and more and more people jumped on the bandwagon...saint. The same way reality TV became so popular, I imagine. It's really not very good, is it? But you watch because everyone else does and you won't be able to keep up your end of the conversation tomorrow at work if you're left out.
You made reality TV popular and you made St. Christopher so popular we can't get rid of him anymore than they're going to cancel "Survivor."
I don't mind. It's good story. I especially like the part where the hermit tells Christopher he has to serve others. He didn't mean wait tables.