Definition: The process whereby a deceased individual is recognized as a saint (an inhabitant of heaven) in the Catholic Church. The process to sainthood begins with a local bishop investigating the life of the individual for evidence of heroic virtue. After review by a special committee, the person is declared Venerable – worthy of veneration by the Catholic faithful. At this point, local Catholics are encouraged to pray to the deceased for intercession. When at least one miracle can be verified by the Vatican as attributable to the intercession of the venerable, their status is upgraded to Blessed – they are beatified. When by further investigation a second posthumous miracle is discovered, the beatified person is declared a Saint. The universal church is encouraged to pray for intercession, and a special day is chosen to celebrate the life of the saint. The saints are patrons (special helpers or guardians) of particular people groups. Pope Benedict XVI is currently deciding which saint will be chosen to be the patron saint of internet users.
Discussion: It is Jesus who will separate the sheep from the goats on judgment day (Mt. 25:32), not the investigators of the Catholic Church. It is Jesus who intercedes from heaven for us (Heb. 8:1), and it is the Holy Spirit who responds as our helper (Jn. 16:7). There is no provision in the Bible to pray to anyone other than God through Jesus – to pray to saints or Mary diminishes the mediation of Jesus and the administration of the Holy Spirit. It is idolatry to pray to and rely on saints (Ex. 20:3, 1 Jn. 5:21).
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