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Harold Eiland wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • I was curious why the Catholic Church ascribes sainthood only to deceased individuals?

The Scriptures teach that we are saints in Christ, and mentions numerous times:

the saints at [a certain location] salute you, etc. and in Ephesians that Christ gave apostles, etc., for the perfecting of the saints. (Ephesians 4:10-13)

  • Could you share your thoughts on this?


  { Why does the Catholic Church ascribe sainthood only to deceased individuals? }

John replied:

Hi, Harold —

Thanks for your question.

It is true that the Bible uses the word Hagios (literally 'separate ones' in the Greek) to refer to the Saints, be they living or dead. The Church Herself acknowledges that the Communion of Saints includes all the member of the Church, both living and dead.

Nevertheless, the Church also recognizes that within this Communion, beautifully described in Hebrews Chapter 12, we have those who are among the living as well as the spirits of just men mad perfect. (Hebrews 12:23) So the Church reserves the use of the word Saint as a title, to those whom she has canonized as already having been completely perfected by grace. That is not to say that only those souls canonized by the Church are Saints but it is to say that the Church has definitively discerned that certain individuals have indeed been perfected or purified.

So we don't deny that all Christians are objectively Saints (separated and made Holy by Christ for His purpose). We just reserve the title Saint to those whom we know have made it.


Mary Ann replied:

John is right.

We Christians are all saints, set apart by and for God in Baptism, but we are not all Saints with a capital S, the title of one who has been determined to have lived a life worthy of emulation, at least from conversion to death, or has been martyred.

Mary Ann

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