How to Become a Saint
(from the book “How to Hold a Crocodile”)
To be canonized – that is, officially recognized as a saint – you have to be dead! But everything depends on the holy life you led. Since the 1200’s, the Roman Catholic Church has strictly controlled canonization, which is now the responsibility of a Vatican department called the Sacred Congregation of Rites. In the Eastern Orthodox Church the process is local: a bishop can proclaim canonization. The Roman Catholic process begins with BEATIFICATION, a declaration that the person concerned is blessed. A local court under a bishop first investigates the person’s life. He or she must have shown heroism in following the Christian faith, and the person must have been responsible for at least two miracles either during life or after death. A “promoter of the Faith,” commonly called the Devil’s Advocate, makes sure that the whole truth about the person is made known, however unfavorable. Then the person’s writings are examined, and if all is well the case is passed on to the Sacred Congregation for examination. If this body is satisfied the Pope orders a ceremony of beatification to be held in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. After beatification a similar process is carried on before canonization, and proof is needed of at least two more miracles, performed since beatification. The whole process may take many years. For example, Joan of Arc was canonized in 1920, 489 years after her death.
Another Route to Sainthood
This guy died and ended up at the Pearly Gates. St. Peter told him that heaven was getting crowded so he had to test people with the point system. The person would get a certain number of points for each good deed that he did. If he got to 100 points, then he could enter. The guy decided to go for it and told Peter that he gave to the poor. Peter told him that that was good for 3 points. The guy thought again and said that he always tithed. Peter replied that that was good for one point. The guy was getting frustrated and said that he never cussed. Peter told him it was good for 1/2 a point. The guy got very frustrated and said that at this rate he could only get in by the grace of God. Peter replied, “Come on in!”
The Lutheran Route to Sainthood
At that point in life when a youth’s energy is at its greatest level, we invite them to come and sit patiently while listening to the pastor talk about justification, sanctification and if you don’t sit still I’ll need to talk to your parents. We don’t canonize, we catechize. And if you survive the painful process of classes and lectures and sermon outlines, you are allowed to be confirmed and possibly never show up for church again. The martyrdom of early Christianity is nothing compared to this week’s movie on sitting still.
How does one really become a Saint?
It does involve a person dying. Not us, but Christ on the cross. It is not about points. Only through the grace of God in Christ are we made saints. It is not about sitting still. It is about faith active in love. We are God’s saints. It is not for the faint of heart, but a way of life for the faith-filled heart.