By Rev. Lori Ethridge
Minister to Senior Adults
Last Sunday Pope Francis officially canonized Mother Teresa as “Saint Teresa.” In my opinion, this ethnic Albanian nun, who gave her life to the poor and destitute in Calcutta, India through the Missionaries of Charity, the order which she founded, has been a saint all along! However, according to the Catholic Church, humanitarian work alone is not enough to earn the title of “saint”; there are specific criteria to be met if one is to be elevated to sainthood within the Catholic faith. First of all, he or she must be deceased; Mother Teresa died in 1997. Secondly, it must be “proved” that he or she is in heaven. How do you “prove” someone is in heaven? Again, according to the Catholic Church, it is understood that if an individual is healed, after praying to someone like Mother Teresa, then it is assumed that the “would be saint” is in heaven and in a position to grant the healing. In order for someone to be canonized as a saint, one must be associated with at least two miracles. In most cases, these miracles involve healing. In other words, in a minimum of two distinct occasions, the Vatican doctors must verify that there is no medical reason for an individual, who has prayed to the “would be saint,” to have been healed. It has been determined that a man in Brazil, who awoke from a coma following a brain abscess, and a woman in India with a stomach tumor, have both been completely healed after prayers on their behalf were offered up to Mother Teresa.
Outside of the Catholic faith, the term “saint” is used much more loosely. To be sure, I have met a few “saints” around Marietta FUMC. According to the Apostle Paul, the term “saint” is synonymous with a believer in Jesus Christ. Who are the saints in your life? How do you categorize them as such? What criteria do you use? No matter the characteristics we use in defining the term, “saint,” let us all strive to conform to the image of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Grace and peace!