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  #1  
Old Jul 31, '09, 3:58 pm
PhiJ PhiJ is offline
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Default Saints - definition and reason

In short, "What is a saint, and why do you define saint as you do?"

Both what I've been taught and what seems to make sense biblically is that the saints are another word for the saved (with a different literal meaning, but all the saints are saved and all the saved are saints).

I've heard that the catholic definition is different, and I presume that when you say saint (meaning this select group of people you call saint) you mean saint (meaning whatever the writers of the bible meant when they wrote the words which we translate as saint).

So, as I don't get your definition of saint, what is it, and why? I'm sure I'm correct in thinking that the definition is not one sombody pulled out of a hat!
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  #2  
Old Jul 31, '09, 4:46 pm
Axion Axion is offline
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Default Re: Saints - definition and reason

I think you are confused because of the New Testament usage of the word Saint - which is all those who follow Jesus and are part of His kingdom.

At the time, since few Christians had died, this applied largely to the earthly members of the Church. In this way the word "Saint" was used honorifically of all earthly Church members (even though some of those physically present were probably not - or would not remain - Saints on the road to heaven.) The Catholic Church accepts this manner of referring to the Saints too - as including the righteous members of the Church on earth. However this is not the only meaning.

Saints are also - definitively - those members of the Church who HAVE OBTAINED THEIR REWARD IN HEAVEN. This usage is one that many protestants (though not all) later abandoned. However in the Catholic Church, and other Churches of Apostolic origin, such as the Orthodox, the people we know for certain are Saints, are those in the direct presence of God in heaven now.

So, How do we know which Saints are in heaven now? The church determines this by seeing which people were touched by holiness, have lived a good and holy Christian life AND, who by their heavenly intercession have obtained miracles from God. The process of canonisation seeks evidence of this, and declares whether certain persons are in the direct presence of God in heaven and therefore heavenly Saints - such as the figures described in Revelation, who offer prayer to God for humanity.
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  #3  
Old Jul 31, '09, 5:15 pm
fhansen fhansen is offline
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Default Re: Saints - definition and reason

Quote:
Originally Posted by PhiJ View Post
In short, "What is a saint, and why do you define saint as you do?"

Both what I've been taught and what seems to make sense biblically is that the saints are another word for the saved (with a different literal meaning, but all the saints are saved and all the saved are saints).

I've heard that the catholic definition is different, and I presume that when you say saint (meaning this select group of people you call saint) you mean saint (meaning whatever the writers of the bible meant when they wrote the words which we translate as saint).

So, as I don't get your definition of saint, what is it, and why? I'm sure I'm correct in thinking that the definition is not one sombody pulled out of a hat!
In some ways a saint is not defined so differently in Catholicism from how it is elsewhere in Christianity because in either case a saint is always considered to be someone who is saved. The difference is that we don't presume to know very often just who is numbered among that group since we don't believe one can have 100% assurance of their salvation. We leave these things up to God and, in relatively few cases, lift up certain exceptional believers who've passed on to serve as our heroines and heroes in the faith based on certain criteria.
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  #4  
Old Aug 1, '09, 3:37 am
PhiJ PhiJ is offline
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Default Re: Saints - definition and reason

Quote:
Originally Posted by Axion
Saints are also - definitively - those members of the Church who HAVE OBTAINED THEIR REWARD IN HEAVEN. This usage is one that many protestants (though not all) later abandoned. However in the Catholic Church, and other Churches of Apostolic origin, such as the Orthodox, the people we know for certain are Saints, are those in the direct presence of God in heaven now.
Why? Is there a biblical reason for excluding those on earth? It is for reasons of tradition? It just that lots of people mean that, and usage determines meaning? Or even something else?

@fhansen: That makes a lot of sense, but why name people who you are certain are saved? I'm tempted to answer myself with why not: you may be able to have people who are great examples anyway. People who you can point others to and say: he/she was godly, take his/her example. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't have a list.

There's got to be some reason though.
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Old Aug 1, '09, 7:14 am
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NHInsider NHInsider is offline
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Default Re: Saints - definition and reason

It isn't so much about excluding anyone - we are all called to be saints (Paul refers to "those who are being saved"). This is why we refer to the "Communion of Saints" by which we mean the fellowship among Christians which is not limited by time or space or even death (see the old favorite hymn "Blest be the ties that bind" for the Protestant expression of this belief).

Specifically naming certain saints is, in fact, more about honoring those who have completed the race and who are now cheering us on (Hebrews 11-12) and interceding for us before the throne (Rev. 5:8). They are our role models and our mentors, as it were.

For the first millenium or so of Christianity the "naming" of saints was a very informal process, essentially of acclamation. Later the formal process of canonization was put into place to give some assurance that those being held up as model Christians for the whole Church were in fact Christians, but this is by no means intended to suggest that others are not saints (in fact that's why we have the Feast of All Saints - because there are obviously many more saints in Heaven than there could possibly be on the calendar!
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  #6  
Old Aug 1, '09, 3:33 pm
PhiJ PhiJ is offline
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Default Re: Saints - definition and reason

Thanks people. That makes quite a bit of sense, and when I heard what 'All saints day' was about I was rather excited!
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