Saturday, December 31, 2011

The title "Saint"

I received e-mails regarding a calendar where Blessed Pedro Calungsod, whose feast is on April 2, was already declared a "Saint." That is why when you buy this calendar they already made him a Saint. Well, for me, he is, but due to some comments let us do this little catechesis.

After a miracle had been attributed to a Blessed, the Postulator and Vice Postulators will prepare the official report and documents to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. After some time, by the grace of God, the Prefect of the Congregation will present the "alleged" miracle. The pope is the only person who can removed the word "allege" miracle attributed to the Blessed.  At the end of the presentation (audience of the prefect to the pope), the pope needs to approve the miracle. The approval of the miracle means that the Blessed is in heaven and the proof is the miracle attributed through his intercession, and he is now nominated for Canonization.

The pope will now call for a Consistory of Cardinals wherein they will need to vote if the Blessed is worthy to be canonized. Each candidate will be presented to the Venerable Cardinals by the Cardinal-Prefect of the Causes for Saints, who reads to them the life and miracle of the Blessed. At the end, each candidate for Canonization must acquire a majority of votes from the Cardinals.

If the candidate for Canonization won the votes of the Cardinals, the pope, together with the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, will announce (or notify) the Universal Church on the date of the Canonization of the Blessed Servants of God. (In the case of Blessed Pedro, his canonization will be on October 2012.)

At the Canonization ceremony, which is made (normally) during a Eucharistic Celebration, the pope will read after the presentation of the Cardinal-Prefect and Litany of the Saints the formula of Canonization:

(For example, let's use Blessed Josemaria Escriva, in singular case)
“For the honor of the Blessed Trinity, the exaltation of the Catholic faith and the fostering of Christian life, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and our own, after due deliberation and frequent prayers for divine assistance, and having sought the counsel of many of our brethren in the Episcopate, we declare and define that Blessed Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer is a Saint and we enroll him among the Saints, decreeing that he is to be venerated in the whole Church as one of the Saints.”
Let's do a commentary on the formula:

“For the honor of the Blessed Trinity, the exaltation of the Catholic faith and the fostering of Christian life, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and our own, after due deliberation and frequent prayers for divine assistance, and having sought the counsel of many of our brethren in the Episcopate (remember the Cause for Canonization and the Consistory of Cardinals? Yup, this formula tells the truth!), we declare and define (meaning the Church through its pastors) that Blessed Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer is a Saint (for the first time, the pope will use the title to the person) and we enroll him among the Saints (it means that he is now counted among them and is given the rights and privileges of being one), decreeing that he is to be venerated in the whole Church as one of the Saints (one of the the rights and privileges of a Saint is the Universal Veneration of the faithful). ”

At the end, the pope will put the decree in to permanency by making the Sign of the Cross, a very meaningful act that the Canonization of the Saints is not only made by the Church for her good but for the glory of the Holy Trinity. Canonization is a way of glorifying God, glorifying God in his angels and his saints.

The relics are now being brought into procession and enshrine in the sanctuary. The placing of the relics and the tapestry in the Saint Peter's balcony, where the image of the newly Canonized saint/s (though already unveiled), are "signals" for Universal Veneration.

Benedict XIV enumerates seven acts as constituting this official cultus. 
(1). All Christians are commanded to regard them as, and call them, saints. 
(2). They are invoked in the public prayers of the Church, and it is forbidden any longer to pray them. 
(3). Churches and altars may be dedicated to God in their honour. 
(4). Mass is offered and Divine Office recited in their honour, and though this Mass may not be prescribed for the universal Church, but only for one or more dioceses, yet it may be said, as a votive Mass, anywhere throughout the Church. 
(5). Feast days are assigned to them. 
(6). Their images are depicted with the aureole or other attributes of sanctity. 
(7). Their relics are publicly honoured.

Canonization is the final and irreformable judgment of the Church, and therefore we are bound, as her dutiful children, to believe that saints duly canonized are in heaven. Beatification, on the contrary, is not a decree for the whole Church, but rather of the nature of a local tolerance, and therefore we are not bound to believe that the beatified are in heaven, although we should be extremely rash not to do so, especially where they have been formally beatified by the Church, and not merely allowed to retain an immemorial cultus.