Hi there everyone! I was a bit confused on something that I hope someone knows the answer to.
When the church in the present day confirms someone to be a Saint, there need to be miracles to prove that the person is in heaven, right? However, there were many saints canonized before this process was implimented.
So, did the traditional cultus of a saint confirm that the person was in heaven?
My big question being–can we be assured that all the “Saints” of the calendar are in fact Saints?
Canonization is infallible. Nor, I think, should we have any difficulty in venerating saints who were declared saints before the canonization process was formalized. This, incidentally, would include the Apostles, the Blessed Virgin, and the holy patriarchs and prophets of the Old Testament.
But suppose someone is venerated as a saint who had all the semblance of holiness but was in fact the slave of some secret vice, and therefore was not what he appears to be. (I think it’s a safe bet that the Church will not hold up for veneration somebody whose bad moral example was obvious.) St. Thomas More discusses that very question in his Dialogue Concerning Heresies. He reminds us that it is for God’s sake that the saints are venerated, and the honor that we pay them ultimately goes to Him, because it is He Who made them what they are. So the veneration of a person in the mistaken belief that he is a saint is neither wasted nor harmful to us, because God is pleased by our intention to honor His friends because they are His friends.
Incidentally, St. Thomas More was raised to the altar in 1935 without any miracles. This is because he was a martyr for the Faith, and the requirement of miracles is waived in the case of martyrs for the Faith.
We cannot be absolutely assured that all the “known” saints even existed, such as we have come to know them. Through scholarship, it has been discovered that some “saints” were actually a hybrid of several persons whom the mists of history managed to lump into one figure. For some, no evidence of their lives can be produced at all.
Our Lady of Fatima, for example, is on the calendar. We know that Mary, the Mother of God exists, of course, but there is no absolute proof that she appeared in Fatima.
What to think of all that? Not sure, to be honest.
There is tremendous proof that Our Lady appeared at Fatima! One could argue against it, but you could also argue Our Lord never really existed, or Julius Caesar never existed … so maybe the proof isn’t “absolute” … but it’s more reasonable to believe it than not believe it.
I understand the belief in apparitions is not dogma, we are free not to believe it … but what does the Church say she she celebrates Mass on those feast days?
True, many popular conceptions of certain saints have been fraught with problems … but that’s not what we are talking about (is it?). Those saints who have been known in the Church’s martyrology and liturgy can be worthily considered saints even without canonization.
Hildegard of Bingen, Augustine, all the great mystics, martyrs and Fathers/Doctors, St Anthony, the founders of the great religious orders like St Benedict … I have no doubt they are true saints, and neither does the Church … if she did, we would not be able to celebrate Mass in their honor.
I was wondering where to say what I am going to say, and up came this thread. As I write it is 3pm 1 November NZ Daylight time, so it is 2am 1 November in England and either 9pm or 10pm 31 October in New York, according as to when Daylight time ceased in the USA…
So it is All Saints!
I’ve been to Mass (no longer a holiday of obligation here) and I have just finished watching a movie, which I first saw in 1944, when I was 11 years old.Title: “The Song of Bernadette”. This movie stirred me into .eventually becoming a Catholic 11 years later. Now I am 77 and say Oui Lady of Lourdes and St Bernardette of Lourdes pray for us.