Who is a saint?

Jamaica Gleaner - - THE CATHOLIC OPINION -

WHO IS a saint? Saints, broadly speak­ing, al­ways re­ferred, not sim­ply to those who had faith in Christ but more specif­i­cally to those who lived lives of vir­tu­ous ac­tion in­spired by that faith. They re­mind us that the Church is holy, can never stop be­ing holy, and is called to show the ho­li­ness of God by liv­ing the life of Christ.

A saint is al­ways some­one through whom we catch a glimpse of what God is like – and of what we are called to be. They are as dif­fer­ent and unique as only God could cre­ate them, and each has his or her own dis­tinct story.

Catholics also use the term more nar­rowly to re­fer to es­pe­cially holy men and women who, by per­se­ver­ing in the Chris­tian faith and liv­ing ex­tra­or­di­nary lives of virtue, have al­ready en­tered Heaven.

In Catholic the­ol­ogy, saints are a spe­cial class of believ­ers who have been canon­ised. Canon­i­sa­tion is the process by which the Catholic Church con­fers saint­hood upon a per­son based on that per­son’s spe­cial deeds. It is an hon­our be­stowed posthu­mously for which such ven­er­a­ble peo­ple could be recog­nised as saints by all Chris­tians ev­ery­where.

The saints whom we re­fer to by that ti­tle (for in­stance, Pope Saint John Paul II or Saint Teresa of Cal­cutta (Mother Teresa) have gone through this process of canon­i­sa­tion. Oth­ers, such as Saint Paul and Saint Peter and the other apos­tles, re­ceived the ti­tle through ac­cla­ma­tion – the uni­ver­sal recog­ni­tion of their ho­li­ness.

Catholics be­lieve that both types of saints (canon­ised and ac­claimed) are al­ready in heaven.


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