We are all sinners and saints

If someone stood up today and stated that everyone in this church was a sinner, you probably would not have much of a problem with the truth in the statement. We know that temptation follows us through all our days, we are aware of Satan’s eternal mission to lure us over to his side. We are also aware that the flesh is weak and we struggle with the good that is in us and our base, more primitive instincts. Our kids struggle all the time with this, when we have to pursued them that hitting the person who is aggravating them at school is not the correct answer and not the “Christian” thing to do.

So without much debate, we can agree that we are all sinners. It is a part of us.

What if someone stood in this place today and told you that ALL of you in this Parish today are saints?

Would you be stunned? Would you deny it? Would you feel strange that someone used the word Saint in connection with your name?

The word "saint" literally means "holy," and, in the New Testament, "saint" referred to all who believed in Jesus Christ and followed his teachings. St. Paul often addressed his epistles to "the saints" of a particular city (see, for instance, Ephesians 1:1 and 2 Corinthians 1:1), and the Acts of the Apostles talks about St. Peter going to visit the saints in Lydda (Acts 9:2). The assumption was that those who followed Christ had been so transformed that they were now different from other men and women and, thus, should be considered holy.

Early on in Christianity, no one knows exactly when, the meaning of the word began to change. As Christianity spread, it became clear that some Christians lived lives of extraordinary, or heroic, virtue.

The word "saint" thus became more narrowly applied to such people, who were venerated after their deaths as saints, usually by the members of their local church or the Christians in the region where they lived, because they were familiar with their good deeds. Eventually, the Catholic Church created a process, called "canonization," through which such venerable people could be recognized as saints by all Christians everywhere.

Most of the saints whom we refer to by that title have gone through this process of canonization. Others, such as St. Peter and St. Paul, received the title through acclamation, or the universal recognition of their holiness.

Catholics believe that both types of saints (canonized and acclaimed) are already in Heaven, which is why one of the requirements for the canonization process is proof of miracles performed by the possible saint after his death. Canonized saints can be venerated anywhere and prayed to publicly, and their lives are held up to Christians still struggling here on earth as examples to be imitated.

The Communion of Saints

Like all Christians, Catholics believe in life after death. Those who have lived good lives and died in the faith of Christ will, as the Bible tells us, share in his resurrection.
While we live together on earth as Christians, we are in communion, or unity, with one another. But that communion doesn’t end when one of us dies. We believe that Christians in heaven, the saints, remain in communion with those of us on earth.

So, just as we might ask a friend or family member to pray for us, we can approach a saint with our prayers too.

So as we approach ALL Saints Day and All Souls Day, lets remember that when we pray to or with the Saints, we are praying for help from a friend. We do not worship them. True worship belongs to the true God and the Trinity alone. We can petition help on behalf of those departed, to help them attain the perfection of the soul that will allow their ascension into Heaven or for needs we may have in our own lives.

Just like we would do in this community of Christ followers. Or should I say “in this community of Saints?”