Thursday, March 4, 2010

Day 145: Saints and Saints

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are often called - by themselves and others - "LDS," "Latter-day Saints," or just "Saints."

I always knew this appellation was distinctive and very different from other Christian "saints," but Tuesday night at a lovely graduate dinner I learned just how different the two are.

Saints in my church are ordinary, flawed people who are trying their best to follow the commandments and the example of Christ, in the way early Christians called each other saints (see Colossians, Ephesians, Acts & Romans).

However, saints in the Catholic Church become saints if they perform a miracle either during or after life (such as people praying to the saint and/or being healed at their grave). The pope must canonize, or declare, someone an official saint (the last pope apparently had a saint fetish, and canonized so many that the present pope has had to de-canonize many unwitting souls). These saints then have churches named after them, and statuary or other memorial art created in their honor (I've seen many of St. Sebastian, perhaps because he provides an interesting, arrow-littered topic for artists).

My Oxford academic "diary" (calendar) has sometimes up to three "saints" days identified per week. The colleges with more traditional chapels and pastors will do something special, such as include a memorial to the saint, in that day's services. Apparently, however, the Anglican Church has chosen to accept some, but not all of those canonized as saints by the Catholic Church since the break in the 1530s, but it doesn't sound like the monarch as head of the English Church canonizes saints.

In the sense that changes of hearts are miracles, that endurance to the end is a miracle (especially when you follow hard and fast commandments which include restrictive commandments (no premarital sex) and prescriptive commandments (be charitable)), and that miracles of the traditional sort occur when great faith and prayer is applied, perhaps Latter-day Saints, who experience rather than perform miracles through faith on Jesus Christ (the real miracle-maker), could be considered saints of the Catholic canonized sort, without the statuary or intercessory prayers.

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