Postage for Pakistan and other parts of the planet

Thursday, September 20, 2012

What is a saint?

On my Facebook "Like" page today, I got a great question from a new ... what would you call such a person? Liker? Well, you get the drift.

She asked, "What is considered a saint?"

Here is my answer:
Based on their reading of certain phrases of St. Paul the Apostle, most Protestants consider any Christian -- themselves included -- to be a "saint."
Indeed, we can all hope to be thought of in that way, and, really, as disciples of Our Lord Jesus Christ, we should settle for nothing less. To be a saint should be our constant goal, no? 
However, to properly understand what it means to be a "saint," we need to look at what the word actually means.  
Saint comes from the Latin "sanctos," and it wouldn't surprise me if that was a corruption of the Greek "agios." Regardless, all three words mean the same thing: Holy. From this we get "hallowed," "holiday" (literally, "holy day"), etc.  
The connection is much clearer in the Romance languages such as Spanish or Italian. In Italian, for instance, Saint Paul is "San Paolo." You can see the root "san" in "sanctus."  
Therefore, the basic answer for a Catholic Christian (or Orthodox/Assyrian/Coptic/Ethiopian/Byzantine/Syro-Mallobar/Syro-Malankar/Melkite/Maronite/Chaldean, etc. Christians, that is, those belonging to all the ancient churches) is that a saint is someone who is definitively, without a doubt, proof positive in heaven before the Beatific Vision (i.e., the triune God). At least their soul is, since until the Second Coming, souls and bodies are separate, obviously.  
So while I appreciate our Protestant brothers and sisters' perspective, I would hesitate to call myself a saint (i.e., holy). I see evidence of my sinfullness too many times per day to do so.  
However, by perserverance in God's grace, I pray, hope, and fully expect to become a saint. The world may never know it, but who cares? After all, the 10,000+ canonized saints and blesseds are only those we know about. There are many, many, many more, obviously. 
Does that help? If not (or you simply want to learn more, want scriptural proof texts for the above, etc.), please let me know, and I'll do my best to help. I can also recommend some good websites and other resources.
Same goes for you. Let me know. Have a great day!

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