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The Communion Of Saints


jamesAMDG
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(mystic, I will get back into the Karen Armstrong thread and the Islam stuff soon enough, please be patient)

 

I was curious about what role the Communion of Saints plays in the life and worship of those who post here. For me as a Catholic the Saints play an important role in my prayer life and my models of behaviour. I particularly love the BLessed Virgin, Saint Pio, Saint Jean-Marie Vianney and Saint Benedict.

 

Do any of you ever invoke the Saints or see them as examples of Christian life?

 

(this might be one of my first ever Dialogue posts, well maybe the Freedom thread counts too)

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I'm probably not the sort of reply you're looking for, being Eastern Orthodox, but I too am grateful to various saints for their intercession. Obviously I share a devotion to the Theotokos, and for me the saints I love include the Holy Royal Russian Martyrs and John the Damascene.

 

Their impact on my life goes far beyond just contemplating their writing or spiritual lives to include, as I mentioned, intercessions and prayers said by them on my behalf. This is the communion I yearned for before embracing Orthodoxy: I had fellowship with the Church Millitant, but not with the Church Triumphant.

 

In Christ, Theo

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I was curious about what role the Communion of Saints plays in the life and worship of those who post here. For me as a Catholic the Saints play an important role in my prayer life and my models of behaviour. I particularly love the BLessed Virgin, Saint Pio, Saint Jean-Marie Vianney and Saint Benedict.

 

Do any of you ever invoke the Saints or see them as examples of Christian life?

 

Yes, I see them as great examples of Christian life because the ego knows nothing beyond the opposites of good and bad, therefore it knows nothing of the pure consciousness that unites them. The Christ consciousness is the totality of the whole psyche, which is different from the ego in that the ego constitutes only a small portion of the total psyche. If the pure consciousness emerges slightly or if it develops completely during one's lifetime, depends on whether or not the ego is willing to listen to the messages from it. God's pure consciousness covers a complicated situation that is so far beyond the grasp of languages that it cannot be expressed at all in an un-paradoxical manner, which is why it uses intuition. Throughout the different ages men and women have been intuitively aware of the existence of such a state, and among the saints and mystics of all times in all religions there is a common experience of unity. Ordinary men and women cannot see or feel this experience because they have not gone pass the ego. It is natural that this would happen because some people have developed themselves more than others and are use to feeling and seeing in a dimension distinct from what others know. We have read about many extraordinary things that have happened in our times and in other ages, but the ordinary people deny it because they just don't understand the experience. The saints are great examples of Christian spirituality and the bliss that it encompasses.

Christian spirituality

Edited by soma
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James, this is a really good question. I think it tends to be a bit of a Catholism vs (I don't

mean vs here in a argumentative sense) Protestantism. Because I don't think Protestants

are as involved in this. We do sing hymns for "All you saints" and that sort of thing. I can't

really remember a sermon about it though.

 

I notice some of your replies are from people with a more "

Catholic" background than myself.

 

I think we may have lost something in the Protestant tradition. There is also some of

the ritual and so forth that is not so present in Protestantism.

 

If I wanted anyone as a model, maybe St. Francis of Assisi.

At least I am surrounded by my beasts. :-)

 

 

--des

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As des said, I think many of the posters here ,if they are affiliated with any church, tend to be Protestant. Protestant churches do not pray to saints as far as I know. I'm not sure what you mean by" invoking" the saints ,but the closest that is done in these churches would be All Saints Day. On All Saints Day (1st Sunday in November) the dead are remembered and honored, particularly those who died the previous year. Some churches light candles for each one remembered . I think in most Protestant chuches all dead believers are regarded as saints.

 

In some predominantly African-American churches ,the practice of pouring libation to the ancestors has been introduced to honor the dead , particularly during Kwanzaa and other celebrations. Again this is not so much praying to them, as it is honoring and remembering.

 

I think in general the relationship to the dead is a paradox. On the one hand we want to keep them close to us, but at the same time we must let them go.

 

MOW

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When Luther coined the term "the priesthood of all believers," I believe he expressed the Biblical teaching that we are called to be holy or saints. Some epistles are addressed to the saints, meaning the whole congregation. Another Protestant slogan is "Sola scriptura" and therefore the power of the church to canonize certain people is questioned. The authority of the ecclesiastical hierarchy is dramatically reduced in Protestantism but not yet eliminated by any means.

 

As much as I love the Catholic tradition, I also like the historical and evolutionary trend toward non-hierarchy. Elevating certain people to sainthood is often a political act and tends to continue a hierarchical emphasis which I would like to see eliminated eventually as we evolve.

 

Some great ideas about how we can interact in a spiritual community in a non-hierarchical way are offered by James Redfield in THE CELESTINE PROPHECY and THE CELESTINE INSIGHTS.

 

You can check out the Celestine Insights at > http://www.celestinevision.com/ (click on Celestine Insights on Sidebar)

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Of course, there is the question of who gets to decide who is and isn't a saint. The Catholic church has its own list. I might have my list that is different. Another might have still a third list. And so on. I am not so worried about some church's "official" list. The criteria might also be different, depending on who you talk to. The previous pope named several hundred saints, as far as I know an unprecedented number, and some might argue that he lowered his standards a bit. Among the people he named to sainthood was the last Austro-Hungarian emperor, Karl I, who is said to have authorized the use of mustard gas during World War I. In my mind, that makes that guy not a saint, but a war criminal. But hey, everyone has to figure their own criteria.

 

As I understand it, the Catholic church also has to come up with two "miracles" that a saint allegedly performed before they can become a saint. Personally, I'd rather consider a saint someone who fed the poor, righted injustice, or worked for peace, instead of worrying about whether someone performed a magic trick or two Sainthood in my eyes isn't about magic, but about carrying out a prophetic mission of creating a more just society and working towards building the Kingdom of God in the here and now. Personally, I would be more inclined to name Abbie Hoffman and Gandhi as saints before I'd name someone who committed war crimes during World War I.

 

I think we are all called to do the best we can. I admire those people who have done far more than I have in living the prophetic life. Those people are inspirations to all of us. But I prefer to think of sainthood as a relative term. Some of us may seem to be more "saintly" than others, and at the same time all the "saints" we can think of were probably complicated human beings with their own warts and flaws. But the ability to do great things lies within all of us. If we separate the "saints" from the rest of us by putting them on a pedestal, do we run the risk of making excuses for the rest of us who don't occupy that pedestal? We are all human beings, and we all have the ability to do that which God calls us to do. Maybe we should not divide humans into saints and non-saints, and instead focus on appreciating that divine spark that can inhabit any of us and inspire us to carry out God's will

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Oh yes, well there is the separation out of some people away from others, which Protestanism doesn't do.

OTOH, you have to admit some people would be more devout, more special, etc. but it is a tension.

Also who is considered a saint. In fact, some people recognized as saints may have been more torturers (esp in the Americas). And some who the churches would never recognize as saints should have been.

I like the idea of *ALL* Saints day. We don't really celebrate it-- but I think it is

worthy of celebration or remembrance. We follow the Christian calendar but sometimes there is just a mention of it as in the 44th Sunday after Pentacost (or so it seems :-)).

 

It is worth remembering that it was not just in the past that people lived and died for Christianity, it is still happening now in places like Palestine where Christians stand against/ between warring groups of Isrealis and Arabs.

 

For all the saints....

 

 

--des

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Among the people he named to sainthood was the last Austro-Hungarian emperor, Karl I, who is said to have authorized the use of mustard gas during World War I. In my mind, that makes that guy not a saint, but a war criminal. But hey, everyone has to figure their own criteria.

 

God points made here about those who have been named saints who are anything but saints.

 

I think we should remember exemplary people but I don't think a legalist canonization process is useful. Maybe it was useful in the past. Not now.

 

But what would you expect a Protestant to say?!

 

I think a lot of the piety associated with Saint Mary is powerful and helpful for many people. I would humanize her more but I would humanize Jesus more too.

 

The controversial DA VINCI CODE promotes the elevation of the feminine dimension of God particularly associating Saint Mary Magdalene with that project including the affirmation of feminine sexuality. Yes!

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Hello all.

 

I think a couple of main points have been raised in this discussion: the "exclusivity" of canonizing saints, and the "legalistic" methods for deciding who is a saint. I will answer from my own perspective, which is traditional but divergent slightly from Catholic belief in some ways.

 

First of all, canonizing saints is not exclusive in my opinion because it doesn't exclude anyone at all. Naming a Christian a saint does not automatically exclude others from salvation, nor a place in Heaven. By declaring a Saint as being such, we are stating as "proof-positive" that they are in Heaven with Christ and His angels awaiting Judgement day. Canonization does not declare anyone to be outside of Heaven, only that some who lived faithful earthly lives very definitely are. It is a great message of hope to know that there are men and women who have gained salvation and our enjoying the fruits of an earthly life given entirely to Christ.

 

This leads onto how any of this is decided, and what constitutes "proof" that anyone who has passed away is currrently in Heaven.

 

I found that there is much misunderstanding amongst Protestants (I'm not speaking specifically of this board) of how the Church declares who is a Saint. It is true to say that, all by the grace of God, there are some men and women who are more "holy" than others. Their lives are full of persecution and submission that moulded them into Christ's image, showing fruits of the Spirit throughout heir life. Their lives touch others, the laity of the Church, through charity, healing, sacrafice, correct teaching, or all of these in combination. Therefore in the East (Orthodox), and in the West (Catholic) until quite recently, it was the laity who began the canonization of saints, not Bishops.

Once a particularly holy man died, or was matyred, the laity will begin to venerate him through grief, and also pray in hope that he is in Heaven. These prayers will be responded to in any number of ways. Perhaps healing will be associated with the mortal remains of the man, or perhaps intercessions will be given when asked for. In Eastern Europe, remains are dug up after a year or so and transferred to an ossary to conserve space. When this is done, perhaps the holy man's remains are uncorrupted, or give off a sweet fragrance. After all, why shouldn't the Spirit of God remain with mortal remains also? He doesn't just love our spirits, but our entire selves, which is why He will ressurect our bodies on the day of Judgement.

 

Any or all of the above examples will nurture the man's name within the hearts of the faithful. Local veneration may spread to other communities and eventually priests will tell Bishops, and Bishops will tell the Patriarch. Then the announcement is made.

The announcement is not that the man should be venerated as a Saint, or even that he can be venerated by a Saint. The announcement is that he is venerated as a Saint. The bishop or patriarch's role is one of unity, and to declare what the faithful believe. This is, at least in the East, how the heirarchy of the Church functions.

 

Sorry for the length.

 

May God bless you

Edited by Theophilus
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I really like the comment that each person should make their own list of saints and not be affected by an official list. We can think for ourselves. The greatness of the individuals we classify as saints can't be described because they are free from the dark misery of the materialistic mind which is responsible for the cruelty in the system of things we are experiencing today. The saints on my list are free because they are unattached and have never hardened their minds to the physical world.

 

In India the Brahman caste was meant to be a high state of consciousness, but the caste system has been exploited so you are born into a caste and it has nothing to do with ones level of spiritual consciousness.

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Just to lighten things up a bit , several of my piano students have been working on arrangements of "When the Saints Go Marching In "

 

The line "How I want to be in that number, when the saints go marching in " takes on new meaning in light of these posts.

 

MOW

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This timely article on Reformation Day touches on the current topic:

 

http://www.blurty.com/talkread.bml?journal...p;itemid=141835

 

Reformation Day = Hallowe'en

 

Today is the 31st of October. That means it's Reformation Day, which commemorates Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg – an event which can conveniently be taken to signal the beginning of the Reformation. But today is also All Hallows Eve – the day before All Saints' Day – better known as "Hallowe'en".

 

So, why did Luther choose this particular day? Was it just because they had a holiday and class was in recess? If we proceed on the assumption that Luther chose the day intentionally, what connection can we find between Reformation Day and All Saints' Day? I can think of three things.

 

Firstly, Luther sought to return to apostolic doctrine. Just as on All Saints' Day we remember those who have gone before, so Luther saw his teaching as being in continuity with what the Church has always believed – the emphasis on indulgences was comparatively a recent thing.

 

Secondly, Luther is concerned for the well-being of the church. Several of the theses being with the words "Christians are to be taught..." – though I'm not sure that Luther actually believed what he wrote in thesis #50:

 

Christians are to be taught that if the pope knew the exactions of the pardon-preachers, he would rather that St. Peter's church should go to ashes, than that it should be built up with the skin, flesh and bones of his sheep.

 

These were, of course, theses for disputation – an "emerging conversation" if you will. In any case, it demonstrates Luther's pastoral concern.

 

Thirdly, we see here the beginnings of the Protestant idea of sainthood – Luther elevates the status of the "ordinary" Christian:

 

Every true Christian, whether living or dead, has part in all the blessings of Christ and the Church (#37)

 

In conclusion, a significant aspect of the Reformation was the recovery of the Biblical view of sainthood – as Paul indicates in Ephesians 1:1, every true Christian is a saint. And this is why every Christian should be able to read the Bible for himself. So it is very appropriate that Reformation Day falls on the Eve of All Saints Day. Reformation Day is, in fact, Hallowe'en.

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Hi,

 

If I can "reply" to the article rather than the poster:

 

So, why did Luther choose this particular day? Was it just because they had a holiday and class was in recess? If we proceed on the assumption <snip>

 

But why continue with the assumption? (except the fact that there wouldn't be an article otherwise :D ). Luther was a Catholic priest, so his pastoral duties were inexorably linked with the Church's calendar. So were the lives of the laity. Just wanted to emphasize that from the very start of the article assumptions, big assumptions, are being made.

 

Firstly, Luther sought to return to apostolic doctrine. Just as on All Saints' Day we remember those who have gone before, so Luther saw his teaching as being in continuity with what the Church has always believed – the emphasis on indulgences was comparatively a recent thing.

 

I disagree with this.

Looking at some reformed churches now, and comparing with the Catholic Church, we may think that Luther's vision was much more than simply the current scandals of the day, but why is this assumption made? Lutheran churches exist to this day, using Luther's writings as their basis for doctorine and statements of faith. Look at those churches, their doctorines, their liturgy, their beliefs. Many are more Catholic than most would be comfotable with, right down to the belief in intercessory prayers and the perpetual virginity of Mary.

 

 

though I'm not sure that Luther actually believed what he wrote in thesis #50:

 

Christians are to be taught that if the pope knew the exactions of the pardon-preachers, he would rather that St. Peter's church should go to ashes, than that it should be built up with the skin, flesh and bones of his sheep.

 

If I were making the same assumptions as the writer of this article, I'd also find it difficult to interpret thesis #50. However, if we shift the emphasis back onto indugences ("the exactions of the pardon-preachers") and church mis-management then we can be sure Luther was primarily concerned with these issues.

 

 

Thirdly, we see here the beginnings of the Protestant idea of sainthood – Luther elevates the status of the "ordinary" Christian:

 

Every true Christian, whether living or dead, has part in all the blessings of Christ and the Church (#37)

 

I defy you to find any Catholic, lay or clerical, that would dispute the above. I'd say that even in the 15th century, most people versed in theology would have agreed.

 

 

As an aside, the date of All Saints Day and All Souls Day were moved from the Sunday after Pentecost and the Saturday before Pentecost respectively, to their current date by the Catholic Church. The Eastern Church still retain the old dates.

 

As an extra aside, all souls day doesn't celebrate all Christians but is infact for prayers for, literally, all souls. In addition, special prayers are said for those Christians who died in far off lands without the sacrament of burial (although that's another topic)

 

God bless

Edited by Theophilus
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