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May 26, 1961     The Observer
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May 26, 1961
 

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AGE I2 - THE OBSERVER FRIDAY, MAY 26, 1961 THEOLOGY FOR EVERY MAN Because many unnecessary anxieties have been expressedlfrom being idolatrous 'or superstitious, was closely connected concerning the recent instruction completely eliminating the l in its origin with worship of God and completely consistent with 'Feast el St. Philomena' :from the liturgical calendar of the the liturgical rites in which the religious life Of the Church Church, the following commentary was prepared at St. John'slfound support. Seminary Brighton, Mass It is reprinted 5ram the Boston Pilot.] Q. HOW DOES A PERSON COME TO BE CALLED A SAINT? Q. HOW DID THE CULT OF THE SAINTS DEVELOP? I A. The word saint is applied to a deceased person whom the ~ne worct veneration nas come into use as ctesignatmg the lC r 1 " hu ch al ows to receive the public veneration of the faithful. cult of the saints, as distinguished from the word worship, which At the present time the Church is very cautious in admitting refers to the cult due only to God as the Supreme Being. Ven-. any person to the ranks of the saints In former times, however, eration of the saints has always entered into the devotional[tbe procedure leading to authorization of public veneration was life of Caholics. Many non-Cathohcs on the other hand, regardI far less complicated. In the early Church the fact itself of the cult of the saints as idolatrous. In modern times, therefore, martyrdom was sufficient to entitle one to public Veneration. it is important to understand the reasons which justify our yen- The death and burial of the martyr were recorded in the official eration of the saints, and the limits within which the cult of the saints must be kept. HISTORICALLY, THE CONNECTION of the saints with the religious life of the Church began in the Second Century, as memo:ial services were held in honor of the martyrs. It was to be expected that those who had given their lives in testi- many of the faith would be highly revered. Martyrdom was re- garded as a great honor, and the bodies of those who had given their lives as martyrs became naturally associated with relig- ious rites. The cemeteries in which the bodies of the martyrs were buried became places of pilgrimage, and the anniversaries of the deaths of martyrs were observed with religious solemnity. FROM THIS POINT it was but a short step to the addressing of prayers to those who had died as martyrs. The walls of the catacombs carry hundreds of memorial inscriptions embodying petitions for prayers. Such a development is a natural conse- quence of the Christian doctrine of the immortality of the soul, and the relationship of the souls of all the faithful with one another through Christ our Lord as the Author of grace. IT WOULD BE NATURAL, therefore, for those who had already gained their victory to be concerned about those who would be still struggling here on earth. And since the reasons why the intercession of the saints was invoked, though historic- ally associated with martyrdom, were essentially independent of it, it was to be expected that, as time went on, the honor of sainthood would be bestowed on others who had served the Church with distinction during life. Many of those who risked their lives in defense of the faith did not actually die. Many more, who were not called on to risk their lives, dedicated them- selves so generously to the Church that there could have been no doubt of their willingness to accept martyrdom had the 0c- casion ever presented itself. The attention and admiration of the faithful originally directed to those who suffered torture as witnesses of the faith, became directed during later periods register, or canon, of the local church. Thus the word canoniza- tion can'.e to indicate that the martyr had received official recog- nition as a saint. AS TIME WENT ON, cases arose in which there was doubt as to the worthiness of the martyr for canonization, or of the propriety of according him official recognition. Such cases were usually referred for decision to the local bishops. The bishops found it'likewise necessary to intervene when a martyr's cult w~s being given to persons who had met their death in political upheavals. Thus the approval of the local bishop came to be regarded as a necessary condition for canonization. Unfortunate- ly, during the Middle Ages, the veneration of many local saints received official approval on questionable grounds. Many-saints thus found their way into the liturgy who would have been excluded by the more rigid processes of investigation which came into use in later times. AT FIRST THE HOLY SEE did not concern i'tself too much about the veneration of saints in particular localities. It was not until the end of the 10;h Century that there is any mention of a case of canonization being referred to Rome. From this time on it became more and more common to seek the approval of the Holy See in matters pertaining to the cult of the saints, not because it was obligatory to do so but becaUse of the added dignity that would thus attach to the veneration of local saints and to the enshrinement of their relics. Once the trend be- came established, however, the Holy See took the matter of :canonization more and more in hand. Pope Alexander III (1159-1181) decreed that in the future no saint could be canon- ized by local authorities, and that only the Church of Rome could approve public veneration of any person, no matter how certain his claim to this recognition might seem. IT TOOK ANOTHER FOUR CENTURIES for the Church's :legislation on canonization to become systematically formulated. It was Pope Urban VIII who in 1534 approved the norms !regarded as a condition for canonization. From this time on- wards any such expression of publTc approval was to be dis, i couraged, and, where necessary, suppressed. Pending approval of the Holy See, it is now forbidden to represent any deceased person in a public way as worthy of sainthood. All publications that might carry any suggestions in this direction must be ac- companied by a statement by the author that he has no inten-i lion of anticipating the decision of the Holy Se~ Q. WHAT IS THE PROCESS INDICATED FOR CANONIZA- TION AT THE PRESENT TIME? A. The existing legislation requires two stages in the process 'of canonization. The servant of God is first declared Beatus, or Blessed. This term is applied to any deceased person for whom limited veneration is allowed, whether in a particular lo. cality, or in the houses of a particular religious community The :one who Is thus venerated is not declared in- I fallibly to be in heaven; his veneration is authorized only pro- visionally, and is subject to revocation. Before a person is de- i clared Blessed, all the evidence pertaining to his case must be examined under the direction of the Sacred Congregation of Rites. A preliminary examination is made in the place in which the candidate lived. Later, at Rome, an investigation is made into the quality of his virtue or the circumstances of his mar- trydom, or the beatification of one who did not die as a martyr, at least two miracles are required, which must be authentically proved. BEATIFICATION IS COMPLETED and confirmed by can- onization. Only m this last process is the teaching authority of the Church involved. Theologians are generally agreed that the Pope speaks infalhbly when he issues a decree of canoniza- tion. For canonlzatmn two additional miracles are required i Q. ARE THERE OTHER SAINTS ABOUT WHOM QUES- TIONS MIGHT BE RAISED AS THEY HAVE BEEN RECENT- LY ABOUT ST. PHILOMENA? until the Tenth Century. THE RECENT DIRECTIVES of the Holy See encourage local bishops to deal. with the problem and to draw up their own local calendars in which the list of saints who are proposed for veneration will be in correspondence with the facts of his- tory as well as with prevailing trends. It is importa-:t, the in- struction says, to remove from diocesan calendars the feasts of those martyrs and bishops of ancient times about whom there is little or no historical knowledge outside of their names. Norms are set down according to which corrections are to be made in the liturgical texts which are not in conformity with historical facts. Q. HOW DO RECENT DIRECTIVES OF THE HOLY SEE APPLY TO DEVOTION TO ST. PHILOMENA? A. The recent instruction has ordered that the feast of St. PIMlomena be dropped from the liturgical calendar. This means that all public devotions in honor of St. Philomena must be discontinued, and that churches dedicated to St. Philomena must receive new titles. In this connection, however, it may be noted that there is record of another St. Philomena, whose body rests in the Church of San Severino, in the cathedral town of that name in central Italy. This St. Philomena is mentioned in the Roman Martyrology under the date of July 5 wher, there is no mention in the Martyrolog of the St. A. There are many saints about whom little is known and some about whom we seem to know nothing at all. Of St. George we know only that he was venerated in Syria. Of St. Christopher, venerated as the patron of motorists, we know only that a church bearing his name was built near Constan- tinople around the middle of the Fifth Century. St. Catherine of Alexandria, according to tradition, was martyred in the early Fourth Century. Her so-called Acts are regarded by historians as legendary. There was great devotion to her during the Middle Ages, but there is no mention of her in any authentic document ma n r mam fall of comparative peace and freedom from persecution to those ONE VERY IMPORTANT RESTRICTION was set up at I who had embraced the daily sacrifices of an extra-ordinary Christian life Thus it appears that devotion to the saints, far time. In the past the mere fact of spontaneous veneration was 'whose name must now be omitted from liturgical calendars. Q. WHAT ABOUT PRAYERS VfHICH HAVE BEEN SAID IN THE PAST TO THE ST. PHILOMENA WHOSE PUB- LIC VENERATION IS NOW FORBIDDEN? A. Prayers are directed ultimately to God. We may be cer- tain that the meriterious value of our prayers wilI be measured by God in accordance with our good dispositions rather than in accordance with the extent of our knowledge Those who have sought the intercession of St. Philomena in the past may be confident that their prayers have been heard. If they have not been answered, it is not because of the doubts which his- torical investigation have cast upon the figure of St. Philomena. If they have been answered, it is because God is the source of all blessings, regardless of whether or not we have sought his blessings through the intercession of the saints. We may pray privately to any person whom we think to be in heaven There is no reason, therefore, why we may not pray to the person whose bodily remains have been erroneously identified with the figure of St. Philomena, even though we may no longer take part in public veneration in honor of this saint. t ~:~:> ' ,:;~ii:::::i::~i:.:.~!~ ~iii~i~! :::;.".i :;~::::;ii!~i~ ~. ~ ~: i~:;?i:::~i~i;s:~;: i i:i;ii;~?~':iiii?i:i~)::?N!!:ii::i:: :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: ~::~:: i::::~; ;i::::::~[~i:;i:;i;i::~:: i::i~ ~!~; ~::;i:::"::;~i~i~:;:;i:;::~:;::::! ~ ~ ~': !::ii::i~::::}::~i::!iiiii!:;i~i :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: ~i~i!i~i::i::i!~: =~tora.e . % FIRST GRADE ORIENTATION--Future first graders at St. Mary school in Dixon are shown admiring some unidentified object during the recent "Fun Festival" held at the school to make 3~ ~ ~, the transition to a new environment less painful in the fall. 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