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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Monday, October 03, 2011

St. Conundrum

Dear Sister,

I am also a Protestant that thinks your reasoning regarding the saints make sense. But today you discouraged people to ask for the prayers of someone that has not been canonised.

If I have understood correctly there has to be two miracles connected to the intervention of a certain (dead) person for that person to be canonised.

How do the intervention take place, and how do you know that this "saint to be" is in it, if you are not asking for that persons prayers before they are canonised?

You got us. We're crazy and we make up the rules as we go along. Sometimes, we just run around with our hair on fire.

No, we don't.  But I can certainly understand your confusion.   You make an excellent point and I'll try to explain it to you as best I can.

Deep breath.

We didn't always canonize saints.  It went like this: You lived a holy life, honored and noticed while you were alive for your wonderful holiness and service to God and man.   When you died, we wept and wailed and hung around your tomb. We think you're the bees knees and we just know you had to have gone right to Heaven, you holy thing you, and we prayed for your intercession.  After all, you just got there, and everyone will be welcoming you. What better time to ask you to ask for a favor. Or a thousand.

For hundreds of years, that's how saints were made.  By popular demand.  By a cult growing up around the saint.  Put your hair out.  All cults aren't bad.  The Boy Scouts of America spring to mind.

But a few folks slipped in there that, well, let's just say we realized that everything that a group of people thinks is wonderful isn't actually wonderful.  A lot of people watch "The Real Housewives of Where Ever".  That doesn't make it wonderful, or even a good idea.

The Catholic Church is not a democracy, after all.

It's not just the miracles that make a saint.  How do you become a saint?

1. Die.  Although we do talk about people being saints while they are alive, technically a saint resides in Heaven. Period.  Everyone who is dead and in Heaven is a saint.

2.  You will have had to have lived an exemplary life.  You will have had to have demonstrated heroic virtue.  That's why, even if you weren't so hot most of your life, if you die a martyr, you are automatically a saint.  The Church will have to decide if that actually happened, though.

3. You will be studied and dissected.  You actually will be dissected a bit.  We have to make sure you existed, so we will dig you up and take a few bones for relics. Then we'll put you back, often in someplace nicer.

4. Someone will have to ask the Church to consider doing all of this.  Someone will have to petition the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to open a case for you.

5. After they do that, we can ask for intercessory miracles.  That's just to prove you made it to Heaven. First you have to be declared "Venerable",  meaning, worthy of veneration.  After you have one miracle, you will declared "Blessed" and after two, you're in.

Obviously, you were in anyhow, but we're not going let people run around praying for the intercession of dogs and empty coffins.  You may notice over there on the sidebar, there's a book called "My Cousin the Saint".  It's written by a guy whose cousin is a saint.  The cousin was recently canonized.  It's a great read and explains the entire process in a very personal way.


Danielle said...

I love your blog, Sister Mary Martha. You're so funny. Gotta love someone who can be a nun and a comedian. God bless.

Shannon B. said...

Great post Sister! I have a question in regards to your older post called "Every Waiter Has a Screenplay, But God Doesn't" when you talked about free will in regards to God's will. I really do believe that God gives us options on how to complete His ultimate Will for us, but is one option better than the others? What if all the options seem equally as good, how does one decide? Thanks for your input!:)

'LUSH' said...

Wow. I love reading your explanations! To the point!

Anonymous said...

The way I understand it is that you can pray to anyone you want, but it has to be privately. You can't go printing up holy cards or anything. Once a person has been declared "Servant of God" you can print holy cards with a prayer for their beatification or canonization that says, "For private use only." Once they are beatified, you can print cards with the prayer for their canonization, and this can be public. We already have cards for Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa, but they are not canonized yet. They are well into the process, though!

Janet said...

Good Day, Sister!
I was wondering who would be considered the patron Saint of protesters?