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SAINTHOOD OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
Victor M. Eskew
1. She was born on August 26, 1910.
2. She was an Albanian Indian.
3. She was born in Skopje, the capital of the Republic of Macedonia.
4. Her name was Anjeze Gonxhe Bojaxhiu.
5. We very seldom see pictures of her as a young lady. The two below show her at the age of 18 and when she was in her mid 20s.
6. At the age of 18, he became a nun in an Irish convent.
7. Ultimately, her workd would be done among the poor and suffering in India.
8. In 1950, she founded the Missionaries of Charity which in 2012 consisted of 4,500 sisters in 133 countries.
9. She received the Nobel Peac Prize in 1970
10. She died on September 5, 1997.
11. Her name is most commonly known at Mother Teresa.
B. “Mother Teresa” was recently canonized as a saint in the Catholic Church. It happened on September 4, 2016 in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican City.
C. In this lesson, we want to talk about the concept of Sainthood in the Catholic Church.
1. We will look at the background of Sainthood.
2. We will examine the process of Sainthood.
3. We will see how this practice corresponds to the Scriptures.
I. THE BACKGROUND OF SAINTHOOD
A. We are told that sainthood began as early as the first century with those who were martryed for the cause of Christ by the Roman government.
B. Around the 4th Century, “confessors” were declared saints. These were individuals who had died, but confessed their faith while they were living by word and life and were publically venerated.
C. The first official canonized saint was St. Swibert in 804.
D. Around 1200, Pope Alexander III decreed that only popes have the power to determine who could be a saint.
1. Up to this time, many unworthy immoral individuals had been declared to be saints.
2. Too, some animals were listed as saints (Ex., St. Guinefort was a dog).
E. In 1588, Pope Sixtus V integrated the sainthood process into the papal bureaucracy.
F. Procedural norms were established by Urban VII (1623-1644).
G. The substance of these norms was incorporated into the Code of Canon Law in 1917.
H. In 1969, Pope Paul VI established the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints to oversee the canonization process.
I. Pope John Paul II (1978-2005) streamlined the process and did away with the “Devil’s Advocate” position, a position that challenged the validity of the one being examined to be a saint.
II. THE PROCESS OF CATHOLIC SAINTHOOD
A. First, an individual who was a servant of God had to be dead for at least 5 years before he/she could be submitted for the canonization process.
B. There are three main steps in the process.
1. Servant of God to Venerable: must be of a “heroic” character
a. This person is said to be in heaven.
b. If Venerable, then the Catholics on earth can use this individual as an intercessor.
2. Venerable to Blessed: person had to perform one miracle
a. The miracle has to be verifiable.
b. The healing or event can only be explained by divine intervention.
c. Most of the time, the miracle has occurred after the death of the individual.
3. Blessed to Saint: person had to perfom a second miracle
a. A ceremony is carried out at the Vatican to declare this person a saint.
b. A Feast Day is set aside for this person if Catholics desire to celebrate this person.
C. Other considerations:
1. The Catholic Church does not make saints. Jesus, according to them, make the saints. The Church only recognizes them.
2. This process is not the dogma of the Church. It can be changed at the decree of the pope.
a. The process can begin early than 5 years after a person’s death.
b. One or both miracles can be omitted from the process.
c. The position of Devil’s Advocate was take away from the process.
3. The Catholic Church also has something that is called Equipollent Canonization that enable the pope to declare a person a saint without going through the process at all.
4. It is believed that there are over 10,000 canonized saints. The number is not firm because there was a time when the names of saints was not recorded.
III. THE REFUTATION OF SAINTHOOD
A. There is not one passage of Scripture that authorizes the practice of sainthood as practiced by the Catholic Church.
1. Without Bible authority, the practice should not be done (Col. 3:17).
And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
2. This does not bother the Catholic Church because they believe in th doctrine of continuous revelation.
a. They do not believe that revelation came to an end with the New Testament.
b. God, they say, continues to inspire the pople with the “word” of God.
1) New revelation is received from time to time.
2) The revelation of the past is changed and updated as time progresses.
c. NOTE: Jude tells us that “the faith,” the body or system of faith was “once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3).
1) Once for all time. Once never to be delivered again.
2) Did you notice that last word? The faith was delivered to the saints.
B. The term “saints” does not refer to dead men and women who were canonized. It refers to all Christians.
1. In six epistles, the apostle Paul addressed the saints (Rom. 1:7; I Cor. 1:2, II Cor. 1:1; Eph. 1:1; Phil. 1:1; Col. 1:2).
To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you, and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
2. Let’s turn to Acts 9 for a moment.
a. In Acts 9:13, Ananias reminded the Lord of the evil Paul had brought to Jerusalem.
Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem.
b. Now, let’s read Acts 9:1.
And Saul, yet breathing our threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of theLord, went unto the high priest.
c. The word “saints” in verse 13 refers to the “disciples” in verse 1.
3. The saints were living beings, not dead beings.
a. Romans 15:25
But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints.
b. II Corinthians 13:13
All the saints salute thee.
c. I Timothy 5:10
Well reported of for good works, if she have brought up children, if she have lodged children, if she have washed the saints feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she had diligently followed very good work.
C. At death, men and women do not go directly to Heaven or hell. They go into the Hadean realm, a holding place for the dead.
1. In Luke 16:22-23, we read of what happened to two men at death.
And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; and in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham after off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
a. The word “hell” is “hades” in the Greek language.
b. Hades is the unseen realm of the dead.
c. It has two compartments: Abraham’s bosom (a place of comfort) and torments.
2. Jesus told the thief on the cross: “To day thou shalt be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43).
a. According to Acts 2:27, Jesus entered into hades at death. It is translated “hell” in the KJV. This was Abraham’s bosom.
b. NOTE: In John 20:17, Jesus said to Mary that He had not yet ascended to His Father in heaven.
3. Important Point: The Catholic Church seems to have passed final judgment on the saints. They are assured that they are in heaven even though they have not stood before God to be judged. Can they be that sure. Do they know the hearts of these men? Is it in their power to know that they did not have “secret sins”?
D. The miracles of the “saints” of the Catholic Church are suspect to say the least and fraudulent at worst.
1. Most were performed after the person is dead.
2. The usually involve some type of medical issue.
3. They really cannot be verified.
4. Example: Mother Teresa’s first miracle.
a. It was supposed to have involved a Bengali tribeswoman Monica Besra. She was said to have been cured of an abdominal tumor due to Mother Teresa’s intervention from heaven.
b. Interesting points:
1) It was a cyst and not a tumor.
2) Doctors had been medicating her for 9 to 12 months before the supposed miracle transpired.
3) Her doctor and her husband say that no miracle was performed. They believe it was cured from the medication.
A. The doctrine sainthood is man-made.
B. The doctrine of sainthood is an addition to the Word of God (Prov. 30:6; Rev. 22:18).
C. All Christians are saints.
1. The word “saint” is from the Greek word “hagios” and means holy, set apart, sanctified, and consecrated.
2. These things happen to an individual when he/she is converted to Christ.
a. Sins are forgiven (Acts 2:38; 22:16).
b. A person becomes a servant of righteousness (Rom. 6:17-18).