October 28, 2009

What or Who are Saints Anyway?

Every year I struggle with All Saints' Day. Actually, truth be told, most Wednesday's I struggle with it too. In my tradition we celebrate Saints like Jude, Simon, Paul, etc. We also remember saints like The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and John Crysostom (who the Roman Church honors as St. John Crysostom). And except for some changes in the stuff that doesn't really matter; altar hangings, stoles, etc., we don't make a difference between the two.

So what's the difference between Saint and a saint and let's say me? Is there a difference in the Episcopal Church between a Major Feast Saint and a lesser feast saint and one who has died in the faith and one who still lives the faith on earth?

And if there is, who do we remember on All Saint's Day anyway? Do all the Saints need another day when they each have one of their own (or they might share it with another Saint)? Do all the saints need another when they have a lesser feast of their own (which they too might share)? Do those who have gone to paradise already need a day? Do we who still engage the great ordeal every morning need a day?

I'm leading the conversation at five15 this week, and I hope that people will help me answer these questions. What is a Saint? Who is a saint? And what's the deal with All Saints' anyway?

Do we remember those who have done great things or those who perished as though they had never been born? Do we honor those who have lived the beatitudes to a "T" or those who struggled every day in the great ordeal? These are the things I struggle with.

The Rt. Rev. Keith Whitmore, assisting Bishop of Atlanta (is there such a thing as an assisting Bishop aren't they all bishops (and does that make +Neil an Assisted Bishop?)?) has a good piece over at Day1 that is worth perusing on this topic - check it out.

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