By JUDY A. TOTTS
â€œPraying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.â€ (Ephesians 6:18)
While most people associate Halloween as a day of kids decked out in costumes begging for candy, on the church calendar it is better known as All Hallows Eve, a vigil day to set the stage for All Saints Day. Celebrated Nov. 1 as a Holy Day of Obligation by the Roman Catholic church, All Saints, formerly known as All Hallows or Hallowmas, honors those men and women â€” known and unknown â€” recognized for their holiness and/or martyrdom. (The Orthodox Church celebrates All Saints the first Sunday after Pentecost.)
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More than 10,000 saints and beatified people hold the honor, beginning with those named through what amounted to popular vote during the first few centuries of the churchâ€™s existence. Until the Vatican took the authority for designating who reached sainthood, the selection of saints resembled an election.
Although Pope John Paul II updated the process in 1983, the process still takes years. Even those Catholics considered holy and prime candidates usually donâ€™t get a foot in the sainthood door until many years after their deaths. Like the old commercial about products being inspected thoroughly, theyâ€™re not saints until the church says so.
The tradition of recognizing saints has its roots in the Jewish practice of honoring holy people and prophets with shrines.
o The process begins with an evaluation of the personâ€™s life by a local bishop, with the action moving to the Vaticanâ€™s panel of theologians for further investigation. Many of the first saints were martyrs who died for their beliefs.
o The cardinals of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints also must put their stamp of approval on the candidate before the pope gives a thumbs up and declares the person â€œvenerable.â€
o Beatification, the next rung of the ladder, requires a miracle that occurs after the candidateâ€™s death as proof of their ability to intercede when petitioned for help through prayer.
o It takes an additional miracle to boost the candidate into sainted limelight, better known as canonization, by the pope.
The Catholic Online Web site explains that â€œCanonization does not â€˜makeâ€™ a person a saint; it recognizes what God has already done.â€
Visit www.catholic.org/saints/ and www.church
year.net/allsaints.html for more information, including feast days, fun facts and links to biographies of the saints.
Totts may be reached at 330-721-4063 or firstname.lastname@example.org.