If the word of the saints isn't considered indisputably 'true', why do Catholics have saints?

Why read something you can’t trust?

I love Thomas of Aquinas’s description of beatification, but if that is a disputable idea (being as the idea is not backed up by Biblical evidence) I sadly must ask, why bother read these things? Why should opinion matter?

Most of the writings of the saints can be relied upon to be correct. However, some saints never wrote a thing, such as one of my favorite saints - St. Kateri Tekakwitha. It’s their example of living the Catholic Fatih, and their example of holiness that we primarily look to. Catholicism teaches that we don’t automatically go to Heaven when we die. We have to be judged. We are called upon to grow in holiness in order to merit Heaven when we die. The saints give an example that we can follow. They can also intercede for us on our behalf with God, because they are in Heaven, and close to God.

The writings of the saints can be trusted. The Church has carefully gone over the writings of those who have been canonized (the “saints” we most often refer to with this name, although they are but a very small subset of the Communion of Saints the Church believes.) This is why these books will often carry such wordings as “Nihil Obstat” and “Imprimatur”. Anything the Church has approved and found free of doctrinal and moral error is not just to be trusted, it is to be trusted with the trust that a child has with his mother.

Why bother? Because ever since the apostles started writing letters, it became evident that more than just Scripture was to be read in order to gain a greater understanding of the faith. It so happens that some of those letters entered into the definitive Canon of Sacred Scripture as sealed by the Church around the IV century. Ever since, the children of the Church have trusted their Mother on the validity of the Canon, and are greatly saddened when others have removed Biblical books or consider pseudo-biblical works such as the so-called gospel of Thomas or of Judas as true apostolic books. In this, we are preserved from error.

Furthermore - theologians such as Thomas Aquinas have provided a corpus of knowledge that is not just found free of doctrinal error, but is even studied in seminaries and religious communities, as they provide unprecedented insight into deep theological matters. Of course, most (if not all) of these authors have subjected their writings to the teaching authority or magisterium of the Church, acknowledging its unfailing wisdom on matters of faith and morals.

I would argue that if you think Aquinas’ description of beatification is not backed up by biblical evidence, the issue is not with the man who was gifted with eidetic memory and could recall the entirely of Sacred Scripture by heart, but with the man who cannot see the Biblical backing of his argument.

I can only answer for myself. The writings of the saints (especially when they lay bare their hearts, minds and souls because they do not know it will be widely read) and descriptions of their lives have helped inspire me on my journey of faith. I try to read critically because their writings will be based on Scripture, so I see the teachings of Jesus working and moving in the lives of people throughout the centuries. I am learning from people who succeeded in fully living the faith filled life that I want to achieve. For me, they are like big brothers or sisters setting a good example for younger siblings to follow.

[quote=Denise1957;11606232. We are called upon to grow in holiness in order to merit Heaven when we die…

sorry but that is gravely erroneous.
It is impossible for a new human to do anything sufficient to merit entry to Heaven. That is a place where nothing can enter that is not 100% Holly and pure.

Our hope is to die in a state of sufficient friendship with God that we are not incapable of accepting his living judgment and gratuitous offer of unconditional love and forgivness purchased for us by the sacrifice of His Son on Calvary.

To die in a state of enmity with Him would make it impossible to accept that gift.

For most of us the acceptance of that gift, in the full and supernatural knowledge of all the hurt and harm we have done to those around us and the times we have rejected Him will cause us great pain.
The burning away of all our attachments to things off this world and anything that is not the spiritual equivalent of pure gold" is gained in the scriptures as being like a refiners fire. … The hottest heat known to man at the time of writing.

Some people go through this process in this life. Most of us will endure a purging refinement at the time of our judgment. This is Purgatory.

The"Saints" are some of those who already enjoy the Beatific Vision, and as described in Revelation offer to God the centers from which rise the incense of the prayers of those faithful here on earth. That passage tells us there are Saints in heaven interceding for us and offering our prayers to God.
The Cannonised saints are people who led truly exemplary lives such that the Magisterial tells us they are worthy of looking to for example in how to follow Christ. God had chosen to ratify that identification by permitting provable miracles to be performed by the identifiable intercession of that person on several occasions. (Now a minimum of 1 before beatification and 1 after beatification and before Cannonisation

Aren’t you the guy who wants there to be Cybermen in heaven?

All human writing is a form of imagination. You delight in imagination when it comes in sci-fi form, obviously. Why can’t you delight in it similarly when it comes in the form of solemn works of theology and philosophy?


Examples of the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church:

Universal teaching of the Church such as other papal encyclicals (when not written in “ex cathedra” form), universal references such as the Summa Theologica, and writings of Saints that are continually utilized by the Church and passed from Pope to Pope without objection.


So I must ask. Do you take this same approach when you walk in a Christian bookstore with modern authors works?

Marc Driscoll, John MacArthur, Chuck Swindoll, rick Warren , Joel Olsteen, and the rest of the American Protestant Saints?

I mean…why read that garbage right?

We gain merit as far as we are willing to cooperate with the graces offered to us. For that we need free will - to accept and cooperate with the graces - or not. It is up to us, and we can look to the saints as examples of Catholics who gave their cooperation and thus gained Heaven. Not of their own accord, of course.

I hope you are correct about Aquinas (I love his idea of beatification) however, I have spent many months frustratingly searching for Biblical evidence backing up each claim he made about man’s happiness before God. It is evident that there is joy in Heaven (the Bible says so) but to say it is to that degree, or that we will have nothing left to desire- though wonderful- seems unBiblical (That doesn’t make it incorrect but makes me worry as to how it might still be correct despite this).

It is how the angels are now. God is their everything. Those that wanted to pursue other desires become demons.

I do. I’m afraid (it’s a bit of a curse) I look for evidence in everything. That’s why I read so little of modern authors on the subject- unless they draw heavily from the Scriptures. I’ve never even heard of that lot haha!

Oh, I do!:eek: I just painfully want it to be correct!

sorry but that is gravely erroneous.
It is impossible for a new human to do anything sufficient to merit entry to Heaven. That is a place where nothing can enter that is not 100% Holly and pure.


I know we are not on topic but it would be beneficial for our Protestant friend OP to have the clear view of this aspect since it is raised. I welcome correction, but I think that Denise is not really in grave error by that comment.

We are all in ageement that none of our works or faith earns passage into heaven… but by the grace we are called to grow holy, thereby meriting eternal life. Grace calls us into action to co operate with it. If we are not moved to good works and repentence, we have not co operated with the freely given and unmerited grace of God.

As Paul said to the Romans (2:6-11) “God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism.”

And to be clear, Matthew 7:21 says " “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."

So perhaps you could say that like a child who through no effort of his own, is invited into a family by his birth… to merit the rich happiness of family life, he must grow in selflessness and generosity (and other virtues). That is a reality of human freedom. We are free to cooperate with with the gift of our family but we are also free to turn our backs on that rich gift.

edit: Oh I see Denise has responded already.

Thank you, LongingSoul, for explaining it so well! :slight_smile:

Truth of the matter is, you are quite right, imagination is beautiful. But (in factual subjects) sometimes misleading. I love the works of Thomas of Aquinas and read much in the way of both theology and philosophy…I enjoy it like, as you say, dr Who!..But none of these have any value (except, perhaps, a nice stories) if they do not, to some degree, reflect fact as they are surely meant to be of real use.
While we’re on the topic of cybermen (you started it haha!) if I was Catholic and a Catholic bishop said there was or was not cybermen there, would that then be an undebatable fact or are bishops opinions, again, merely opinions? (A Protestant friend of mine said, in the Catholic faith, bishops were seen as unfallible)

By the way, all this is meant to be serious, solemn research for good purpose. If it ever comes across as flippant towards respected theologians, I apologise, I’m not always great at tactful wording. But I came, from atheism, to Christianity through much research and reading (CS Lewis in particular) so I do not wish to make a mockery; it has been, for some time, my life goal.

Bishops speaking as a whole, in union with the Pope. Not individual bishops.

I would suggest that imagination is the most powerful means we have of ascertaining truth. In fact that’s one of my biggest problems with Aquinas, ironically (given that I think the ST is a great work of imagination). I think that Aquinas’s thought indeed contacts reality on many points. But your OP seemed to suggest that if you can’t be absolutely certain that everything you read is 100% accurate, then it’s not worth reading. That’s what I was challenging.

By the way, all this is meant to be serious, solemn research for good purpose. If it ever comes across as flippant towards respected theologians, I apologise, I’m not always great at tactful wording. But I came, from atheism, to Christianity through much research and reading (CS Lewis in particular) so I do not wish to make a mockery; it has been, for some time, my life goal.

You don’t come across as flippant to me at all. Quirky, but not flippant. And quirky is good–I have been on this forum for a very long time, and I get terribly tired of the endless posts asking the same questions over and over again!


1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written:

“What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him,” 10 this God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit scrutinizes everything, even the depths of God. 11 Among human beings, who knows what pertains to a person except the spirit of the person that is within? Similarly, no one knows what pertains to God except the Spirit of God. 12 We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we speak about them not with words taught by human wisdom, but with words taught by the Spirit, describing spiritual realities in spiritual terms.14 Now the natural person does not accept what pertains to the Spirit of God, for to him it is foolishness, and he cannot understand it, because it is judged spiritually.


Matthew 25:23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.


It’s important to point out Aquinas is a Doctor of the church. That means a tremendous amount of weight is given to his writings. This is because his writings reflect and build up the pre established dogmas of the faith. ( not the other way around). So we trust what he writes as it is in line with dogma and the numerous church documents that cite him. Of course their is room for debate among some of his writing but most is pretty foundational in our modern understanding of Christianity.

The Bishops are infallible but only in faith and morals. They are subject to both God and the divine revelation given by God. Their statements must be in line with that. It’s not as if they can infallibly declare Jesus is not God. That is an impossibility for the Christian Faith.

A bishops infallibility also only affects his flock his diocese. For widespread declaration the Pope and Magesterium are required.

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