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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

To Saint or Not to Saint

Here's a little brain teaser for you all!  Yesterday, when I was writing about St. Catherine of Alexandria, I was trying to think of a modern equivalant, not of her martyrdom and sainthood, but of her life of knowledge and influence leading up to it.  I used Mother Teresa as an example, but only because she was the only woman I could think of who wouldn't raise a single eyebrow and a pillar of wisdom (except for Christopher Hitchens' eyebrows).

I still can't think of anyone.  Can you?

Meanwhile I caused even more confusion:
I didn't realize Catherine of Aragon is a saint. Who knew!? I'm kind of new at this saint stuff, so I have a lot to learn. 

You didn't realize it, because she isn't a saint, officially, although she may well be a saint.  I know that makes the whole mishmash even more confusing, since the cake named for her is called "St. Cattern's cake". I believe two things caused that.

First, Catherine of Aragon was a very nice lady, who didn't deserve what happened to her. As a result, she was admired the way a saint is admired, the same way someone might say, "My sainted mother", even though their mother has never been canonized.

If their mother is dead and in heaven, and if Catherine of Aragon is in Heaven, she is a saint.  That's the whole criteria for sainthood: dead+in Heaven.  Everyone who is in Heaven is a saint. By canonizing someone, the Church is declaring that the person is definitely in Heaven.  

Second, it became a tradition to make St. Cattern's cake on the feast day of St. Catherine of Alexandria.

Perhaps the fact that the official portrait of St. Catherine of Aragon so closely resembles an artist's imagination of St. Catherine of Alexandria just makes everything all the more confusing. 


Anonymous said...

Everyone in Heaven is a saint. Does that mean everyone who goes to purgatory stays there till judgement day, or that they are all saints by the time they make it to Heaven? We pray for people in purgatory to make it to Heaven a little quicker so I presume they're not all necessarily there until judgement day, or are they?

Judith said...

Therese of Lisieux.

If you want more modern still, Edith Stein comes to mind... but her influence is more posthumous, although it certainly began during her lifetime.

Anonymous said...

Some of them are in Purgatory for a very long time, perhaps until the end of the world...we don't know. But we do know that they will ultimately go to Heaven and so we can pray to them for both their early release from Purgatory and for their Holy Help for us to get to heaven when our turn comes! All of us "sin and fall short of the glory of God" so we have a pretty good chance of going to Purgatory for at least some time. I pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory so that they will pray for me when I am there.....I need all of the friends in high places that I can get!!

Mrs. H.

Sister Mary Martha said...

Judith, I was looking for someone who is alive now, really and settled on Mother Teresa. I was stunned that I couldn't think of one woman on this planet to look up to.

Michele Szek said...

I agree that Edith Stein is one that comes to mind... And Mother Teresa. By the way, here is a terrific site listing ALL the Saints and Blessed, it's in French, but I'm sure you can figure it out. Here is their list for the last 100 years:

Tracy said...

Except that truly holy people don't seek notoriety, so we don't know who they are...

e.d. said...

Sister, is there a patron saint for getting a boyfriend? (And as for Catherine equivalents...Dorothy Day?)

Lilian said...

Hey Sister, since I found your blog navigating the web I've been a loyal fan :P I'm from Peru, and I've come to know(and love) more about God and the Catholic church these last few months, not to say that I've finally taken interest, thanks to my spiritual guide, in knowing about saints and following their example to live a life worthy of God. The point is that there's some things that I've found pretty difficult to deal with, and hence the reason of my question: I know God doesn't like it when we gossip about people, so when do I know when I'm crossing the line between talking about someone and gossiping, or is it the same thing and I should just keep my mouth shut all the time??, and if that is the case, which saint should I pray for their intercession??.. Like I said, this is giving me a really hard time dealing with 'cause I tend to talk before thinking... Thank you so much

Anonymous said...

Dear Sister, thank you for your blog. I love it so much that I added it to my blogroll. I just started this little blog of my own and we'll see how long it lasts. Please forgive me if I should have asked for permission before adding your blog to my own.

I have a question. I am fat, and getting fatter. I've tried it all, but can't seem to get a handle on my gluttony, bottom line. There must be some stronghold here. Is there a saint for those among us who can't seem to stop eating??

God bless you, Sister.

Anonymous said...

I have a saint matching request. My husband and I are at odds about whether to have children... Before you ask, yes, we are Catholic and married in the church. I feel called to be a mother, but he says that being a parent would for him be a 20 year sacrifice of self (in a bad way). I don't want to make him hate the next 20 years. But one or both of us needs a change of heart, since mine is breaking at the prospect of never being a parent, and the idea makes him feel pressured and trapped. I've thought of Rachel and Hannah in the Old Testament, who both desperately wanted children, but their situations were a little different from ours...