Our readers are talking and saving me a lot of time! Asked:
While you on old testament people, how come they aren't referred to as Saints? I've never heard of St. Moses or Abraham but surely they're in heaven therefore Saints?
Is it just a convention that Saints come from Jesus lifetime forwards?
Regarding Old Testament Saints, just as an example, 12/16 historically was the feast of Saints Ananias, Azarius and Mishael (Daniel's companions.) 12/24 was historically the feast of Saints Adam and Eve. 12/29 was historically the feast of St. David the King. Why don't they have days anymore?
I'm going to throw in my two cents. It is exactly two cents and it is entirely my own thought on the subject.
We know that the Church used to refer to some Old Testament folks as 'saints'. To be clear, everyone who is dead and in Heaven is a saint. That would include your Uncle Bert, if he's made it past Purgatory and into the Pearly Gates.
But we discourage you asking for the intercession of Uncle Bert, because we don't know for a fact that he did make it to Heaven. If a person has been canonized, however, we know for a fact that person is in Heaven. That's all we mean when we call someone a saint in the Catholic Church. The Church has proven that the soul is in Heaven, through heroic virtue and miracles.
Early on in the Church we did not have the canonization process. Sainthood was more like the People's Choice Awards. After a while we just had too many people who....well, some them didn't even exist. There was a person who, upon close inspection, turned out to be a dog.
Not a saint.
The Church is very old now. New saints are marching into Heaven every hour and we have many, many people on the canonization waiting list. First they are deemed worthy of veneration, then they have one miracle attributed to them and are called "Blessed" and then many of them wait for decades, even centuries, to be canonized. It doesn't mean they are not in Heaven. It just means we don't know for a fact they are in Heaven.
And as we add saints to the calender, some other people get bumped off or rotated out. Not out of Heaven. Just off the calendar to make room so we get to meet everybody.
As for why we don't call Moses a saint, I do believe that is just the way our Tradition has developed. In particular because of the canonization process, we tend to think of people who are saints specifically as people who first and foremost were followers of Christ. It doesn't mean Moses is not a saint. It just means we think of the people who carried the banner for Jesus as saints.
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And their two cents.