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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Holy Moses!

Sister- Are there any known-for-sure saints from before the time of Christ?

Yes. Everybody.

Well, not everybody. But certainly Abraham and Isaac, Elijah and Noah, Ruth and that guy who married her and his mom.

Before Jesus died on the cross for our sins, the gates of Heaven were closed.  So all the good people that died before Calvary went to what we call "the Limbo of the Fathers".  That must have been a pretty cheery and interesting place. Moses and Aaron, David and Solomon! What a crew!

Then, when Jesus was dead for three days...a day and a half, really...where was He? Opening the Gates of Heaven and the Gates of the Limbo of the Fathers. I figure He had to have opened the Gates of Heaven first or there would have been a bottleneck. Maybe St. Michael the Archangel did it for Him. Since Michael is an angel and not a person, he would have already been living in Heaven with Gabriel, whenever Gabriel was there and not here delivering news and messages.

We mention this incident when we say the "Apostle's Creed".  That's what we mean in that part where we say, "He descended into Hell."  Technically, we should say, "He descended into the Limbo of the Fathers."  I guess they thought that was too wordy.

Everyone who is dead and in Heaven is a saint, and certainly people like Moses and Abraham and David and Noah and his wife are there.  

St. Joseph died before Jesus died on the Cross, too. And so did St. John the Baptist. They had a short stay in the Limbo of the Fathers. I guess they aren't really 'before the time of Christ', but they died before the Gates of Heaven were open.

I suppose what you actually want to know is, why aren't these people called "saints" and why aren't they canonized?  That's because we didn't start canonizing people until much later in the history of the Church. St. Peter and the Apostles were never canonized. We've only been doing that since the tenth century. Before that saints were named saints by popular demand, and while this seems lovely, too many cookamonga stories were circulating about too many people, some of whom never even existed. So the Church tightened the rules about sainthood and demanded proof. That's why the first thing we do with anyone who is considered for sainthood is dig them up. 

I'm not sure why we don't bother to call them saints. Habit, I think. Like Mary. Once in a while we call her St. Mary, but not so much, really.  She's just Mary. Like Moses.


Anonymous said...

Thank you! I was the person who asked the question, and you also answered all the other questions that were popping up as I started to read.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this Sister - can you please explain why we say St Gabriel and St Michael? Are all angels saints because they're in Heaven? Sorry if you've explained this before.


Ray Ward said...

I can report at least one instance where Mary, Jesus’ mother, was called “St. Mary.” The college seminary I attended in Perryville, MO, was named for St. Mary of the Barrens. Sadly, the seminary ain’t there no more (although the Congregation of the Mission still has a mother house there).

Anonymous said...

Lisa - yes, all angels in Heaven are saints; we just don't know their names except for Michael, Gabriel & Raphael.

Joe in Canada said...

Saint Macrina, and 3? this site (http://www.breviary.net/martyrology/mart07/mart0719.htm) has St Vincent de Paul, but is in metric.
If it's a habit it is an English habit because the old martyrology referred to eg Elijah as 'sanctus' (July 20). The Orthodox church has churches dedicated to Elijah and other prophets all over the place and they are called Saint.

Theresa said...

The 2004 edition of the Roman Martyrology has added to its list of saints SEVERAL Old Testament people:

Saint Elijah ~ July 20
Saint Ezekiel ~ July 23
Saint Melchizedek ~ August 26
Saint Joshua ~ September 1
Saint Abraham ~ October 9
Saint Haggai ~ Dec. 2

... and many, many more!