St. Paul's use of "Saints" & Canonized Saints

Hi all… Many times in Christian chatrooms I come across Protestants who argue that the Catholic church has no authority to canonize saints because to them believers in Christ are already “Saints”…so, to them Saints=Believers in Christ.

They point out how Paul repeatedly used the word “Saints” for Christians as the ultimate in proof.

What counter-argument can one use in this case?

I of course know that I am FAR from being a saint, but, that it is something that I should never give up in striving for since " We are all called to be saints"… as my grammar school teacher Sister Rose would always say to me.

***Just in case, I did do a search before posting this question, so if this is an oft-repeated question I apologize.

God bless all :smiley:

Christians may be called “saints” or “holy ones” but not all believers have achieved perfect holiness or sanctity yet; not all Christians live saintly or holy lives. That is why Christians are told, “Strive for…the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14) Likewise, Peter told Christians, “[size=2]As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’” (1 Peter 1:13-15)

P[/size]aul said,[size=2] “[/size]Brethren, join in imitating me, and mark those who so live as you have an example in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, live as enemies of the cross of Christ.” (Philippians 3:17:18)

In Hebrews, Christians are told, “[size=2]Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God; consider the outcome of their life, and imitate their faith.” (Hebrews 13:7)[/size]

[size=2]Canonization is how Catholics officially “mark” and “remember” those believer’s whose holy lives are worthy of imitation. It should also be remembered that a canonization is made only after a careful investigation of the life of the candidate and after heavenly confirmation of the candidate’s sanctity in the form of true miracles that God has worked through him or her. (See John 9:30-33)[/size]
[size=2]The Catholic Church’s authority to make solemn declarations, such as the canonization of saints, is based on Jesus’ own words, "[size=2]Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. " (Matthew 18:17 and 16:19)[/size][/size]

Thanks Todd for the scripture passages and comments concerning the Canonization of Saints.


In searches for an answer on Google, I found a statement which gives me alittle more perspective as to “saints”.

***I am paraphrasing it, because I can’t find the link again… sigh… so, here goes.

It basically stated that you have those who are “striving for sainthood” in the church here on Earth (The Church Militant), those who are striving for sainthood in purgatory (The Suffering Church) and those who are victorious in heaven achieving “Sainthood” (The Church Triumphant).

Would this assessment be in keeping with the Catholic Faith? I know there are ALOT of Catholic websites out there, but, not all are loyal to the Magisterium. I just want to weed out the truth from the fiction.

God bless all :smiley:


i think it is also important to understand why we canonize saints. in the early days of the church (as well as now), there were many who actually did miraculous things (or rather, God through them). in the early days, however, the re-telling of their deeds was sometimes exaggerated. as a result, it was unclear exactly who did exactly what, and some reported greater things than actually done in a misguided effort to honor them even more.

as we do now, they then looked to these miraculous people as rolemodels. in an effort to ensure these rolemodels were non-fiction (so to speak), the church set about certain processes to verify/validify the stories of the saints. because it is so rigerous and stringent, we can believe the church when she pronounces a saint “canonized”. truth is always paramount, and our loving mother church would not have us believe “tall tales”. some earthly saints are simpy not as holy as we would like to believe, and some more holy than we would otherwise think. to ensure these people were holy ones (i.e., saints proper), we are obliged to wait until after their death - this prevents a death-bed apostacy of a canonized saint. we are also obliged to perform an investigation to see if there were “closet” sins that people just didn’t speak of until after the proposed saint’s death. again, because of the rigerous processes and bureaucracy of the church, we can trust in her words when a saint is finally canonized. (and yes, i just professed thankfulness for the bureaucracy of the church!)

so yes, we are all saints (holy ones) by virtue of the grace of God, through our faith working in love. when st. paul calls us saints, he is speaking as he would have us be, not as we truly are. by that measure, we can certainly agree with our protestant brothers that we are saints. that we will remain saints until our dying breath is known only to God. finally, our sainthood is merely a shadow of what it will be when we look on God’s face in heaven - when we are perfected and restored to Him. as that is also questionable until we die, we should use the term sparingly in reference to ourselves.

if i was unclear or if you would have me ramble on even more, you have but to ask,


Hey RyanL… thanks for your comments and I didn’t see a speck of “rambling” at all in your words. :smiley: So, keep on the “ramble”

I think Protestants take the Bible too literally (and I am guilty of letting myself sometimes be racked with doubts from listening to the “literal camp”) and that is why the Catholic faith is so rich… We take the teachings of the Bible together with tradition and the writings of the Church Fathers to better help us in our full understanding of the Catholic faith.

This can be confusing, because Protestants don’t have the “history” of tradition as we do in the Catholic Church and many Protestant denominations think interpretation of scripture is “each persons individual interpretation” of Biblical truth. Kind of reminds me of Babylon… How can you have millions of interpretations for scripture passages?

I am guilty of letting this kind of thinking get into my head every once in a while.

Thank God I have enough sense to come post my doubts and questions here in CA.

God bless all :smiley: :smiley:

**Finished with MY ramble lol :wink:

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