Friday, April 26, 2002

Saintly Laymen As Role Models

The Federalist Party offered this on some recent posts here. It was too good and important not to share with you right away:

"Does the elevation of laymen into Saints in some unfortunate way remove them from our daily lives, though? Is canonization--especially the miracles requirement--a process that disconnects, rather than connects, ordinary people from holiness. The priest in the Power and the Glory is not to my mind a saint, but is a better model of the sort of thing I might hope to achieve with a lot of support from above. But people who after life achieve miracles on Earth seem to me beyond what I can hope for. Yes, I know God can help even the weakest creature achieve anything. But a recognition of my own inadequacy tends to discourage rather than encourage saintly aspirations."
I have to agree with The Federalist Party's sentiment. As I said before, I take issue with the Church's general approach to the saints at times. The issue of miracles is an unfortunate one. The Church will readily tell you that the lack of an authentic miracle credited to a person doesn't mean they aren't a saint and in heaven. Instead, miracles are a tool the Church uses to verify causes for sainthood. It doesn't want to declare someone a saint who isn't. Unfortunately, though, the miracles emphasize that other-worldly character of saints and has led, in my opinion, to some really bad hagiography where the saints don't come off as human, but as perfect angels. Maybe its true for some, but I suspect most of the saints weren't escaping their cribs to crawl over to an adoration chapel. That's why I think many of us turn to our own "personal saints" -- as one of the priests at my parish calls them: people who live near us and are good Christians and examples for us. I have many of those in my life, too. I may not be able to imagine God working miracles through me, but it wouldn't shock me that some day there might be some miracles recognized by the Church and attributed to them. And I will bet God performs many miracles at their petition even if we never learn of their intercession.


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