Saints in Heaven?


#1

I brought up this question last Sunday in my RCIA class, but was not completely satisfied with the answers. I hope you can help clarify.

My question is on the Church’s stance on saints. Does the Church proclaim to “know”, without a shadow of a doubt, that people they proclaim as saints are undoubtedly in heaven? Or does the Church say that through the research of there lives (i.e. miracles, etc.) they found that “more than likely”, or “we believe” that these prople could and/or should be in heaven???

The problem I have is that, even though the church is guided by the Holy Spirit, it is still comprised of men. How can we as humans determine that a soul has entered Heaven? And if the church believes that we as humans determine who is in heaven by researching their lives by some set of guidelines, couldn’t it go the other way as well?? Couldnt the Church determine if someone is in Hell???

If so, wouldnt that mean that we are judging souls?? Implying that we have the power to say who is in Heaven and who is in Hell by how someone lived their life on Earth!?!?

I guess the truth is that I have always belived we should never judge another eternal soul, and how arrogant it would be to play God and say who is in Heavan.

Please help explain this to me so that I might understand it more clearly.

Thanks.
Life4Christ


#2

The key to understanding how the Church can proclaim someone a Saint, and thus having attained eternal salvation, is the Doctrine of Infallibility. When the Church canonizes one of Her members, She makes an infallible proclamation. Christ promised that the gates of Hell would not prevail upon His Church, and thus She is protected from error in this matter.

This is not to say that the Church simply elevates Saints arbitrarily. There is a waiting period, a very long process involving witnesses and the requirement of 3 miracles attributed to the Blessed’s intercession. The process is fairly rigid and procedural.

You ask how men can make the decision whether or not a soul is in heaven. The answer is that they cannot. As you rightly assert, we have no power to judge souls. However, we do have the power to understand information which God provides to us. Through the process of canonization, the Church looks for evidence that the departed is in fact with God in heaven. To come to this understanding and acknowledge it before the whole Body of Christ is not judgement but faith.


#3

Was honoring “saints” something that took place during early Christianity? I understand that the term, or doctrine of canonization did not occur until later on in Church history, but it most cases like that, the practice or tradition was present within the Church since the earliest times after Christ. Is this the case with Catholic saints?


#4

“This is not to say that the Church simply elevates Saints arbitrarily. There is a waiting period, a very long process involving witnesses and the requirement of 3 miracles attributed to the Blessed’s intercession. The process is fairly rigid and procedural”

Dr. Collosus,
My question on this is, is this the guideline God will use during our judgement?


#5

Saints were honored by Christians from the first century. Writings, specifically regarding the early martyrs, show that the early Church venerated them as examples for other Christians. The Martyrdom of Polycarp written in 156 details the following:

“We took up his bones, which are more valuable than precious stones and finer than refined gold, and laid them in a suitable place, where the Lord will permit us to gather ourselves together, as we are able, in gladness and joy and to celebrate the birthday of his martyrdom.”

The formal process of canonization did not come about until much later. Most early saints were recognized by public devotion. I believe many of these saints were later formally acknowledge by the Church, but I don’t know off the top of my head where to find that recognition.


#6

[quote=Life4Christ]Dr. Collosus,
My question on this is, is this the guideline God will use during our judgement?
[/quote]

The Church certainly doesn’t teach that. Christ Jesus, being Lord of Creation, will see our souls for what they are. He will judge our intentions, actions, repentance, faith and love. The Saints are simply those who have run the race and been made known to us by the Lord.


#7

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