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#347496 05/02/10 07:48 PM
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OK, I think that most people know that in the Catholic Church nowadays there are steps to Canonization. First, a person is declared "Servant of God" once the process begins. Then, a person is "Venerable" once the process is complete. A person is "Blessed" usually after the declaration of one miracle performed by the person's intercession or with local veneration declared by the bishop. Then, finally Sainthood is declared when one or two more miracles are confirmed and the Pope declares someone a Saint.

Now in Orthodoxy, as I read about Ven. Justin Popovic it appears that he has been Canonized by the Serbian Orthodox Church. How does this process proceed? How is it different than the process in the Catholic Church?

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The old fashioned organic process: The cult of a saint spreads outward from its point of origin by word of mouth and reception by pilgrims.

Local cult-->regional cult-->Church cult-->universal cult.

Of course, as with the Catholic forensic process, politics can grease the skids a bit.

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This may help a bit Dr. Eric:

http://www.oca.org/FS.NA-Document.asp?SID=4&ID=82

Canonization

This article originally appeared in the commemorative book titled
Canonization of Saint Herman of Alaska (August 9, 1970 - Kodiak, AK).

The word canonization means that a Christian has been found worthy to have his name placed in the canon [list] of saints of the Church. This canon is read during the services of the Church. Every day in the calendar year is dedicated to a group of saints whose names are remembered by the people of God.

At the same time, when a Christian's name has been included in the canon of saints, it is a sign that the Church encourages the faithful to ask that saint for his prayers before God. Services may be specially composed in the saint's honor and celebrated in the churches by the Church -- the people of God.

The Church decides to include names in its canon for many reasons. Basically, underlying all possible reasons for canonizing this or that Christian is the idea that the person in question has preserved in himself the image and likeness of God in which he was originally created. When God created man, He created him in His own image. The words used for "image" is simply the familiar Greek word, ikon. In other words, God made the first ikon, and man is created to be an ikon of God, a faithful copy of the original.

The people of God see God's image in His saints. For this reason our church buildings contain many ikons of saints in order to remind us that we are meant to see the image of God in ourselves and in each other. The living people of God gather together in temples in the presence of the ikons of men and women who have shown in an especially notable way what it means to live life fully in Christ.

For the first thousand years of the history of the Church saints were recognized without any formal rite of canonization. Local congregations of the faithful simply began to remember certain well-known Christians in their liturgical gatherings, to ask them for help in prayer, to visit their relics, which frequently remained vehicles of the Holy Spirit, curing the sick in soul and body, as they had during earthly life.

In the 10th century, in the west, the then-Orthodox Church of Rome began to insist that saints be formally and officially "registered" as such with the Roman authorities. The first recorded canonization of this type was that of Ulrich of Augsburg, canonized in 993 by John XV. For the next 600 years -- during which time the Roman Catholic Church split off from the Orthodox community -- the west developed a very legalistic and precise method of determining who were saints.

The Holy Orthodox Church never developed any comparable methods for canonizing her saints. The situation remained very much determined by local practices, local cults, and local traditions. Holy men and women continued to be recognized as such during their own lifetime; they continued to be venerated (honored) after their death; Christian people continued to ask for their prayers and to visit their shrines.

In time, especially in the Slavic Churches, a more disciplined method of canonization became the rule, due to the influence of the example of the western Christians. But no Orthodox Church has developed a system as detailed and as legalistic as that of the western groups. Such a development would in fact be highly undesirable from the point of view of the Orthodox tradition.

The word saint means holy, thus "Saint John" means, in fact, "Holy John." This is not to say that he was always perfect; that he was a genius; that he was a great man according to the understanding of this world; that his views on politics, social life, or economics were desirable or correct. It means only that, within the context of his age, he manifested the image of God in himself in some way -- that he was an ikon, an original creation, a new creature in Christ.

Canonization does not make anybody a saint. Canonization recognizes that someone already was, in his own lifetime, a saint. Having recognized that the Church encourages its members to follow the example, the model, provided by the life of the holy person, to pray to him, to keep his memory alive. Praying to a saint does not mean that Orthodox confuse saints with God. Praying to a saint means something very easily understood: we ask the holy person to pray for us. We can, of course, ask for the prayers of those who are not officially saints. In fact, we often ask our friends and families to pray for us. We may ask a person who has died -- a mother or father or grandparent -- to pray for us. But we are especially interested in seeking out the prayers of those whose lives have been wholly devoted to prayer, who are in fact, "experts" in the matter of prayer and of praying. Thus the Orthodox Christian prays to a saint by asking the saint to pray for him. The Orthodox Christian venerates ikons -- he bows and kisses the ikon and in doing that he bows before and kisses the image of God which he sees in the saint. He bows to honor the image of God; he kisses to show his love for that image, and to express his hope that the image of God will also become evident and manifest in himself. In a similar way the priest censes the ikons and bow to them -- again, seeing the image of God, censing it, bowing to it; and then the priest turns and censes the people gathered in the Church and bows to them, just as he did to the ikons. He also sees the image of God in the people of God who are the Church of Christ on earth. In turn, the people bow to the priest, seeing also in him that same image, that same call to be an ikon.

Canonization does not make a man a saint. Rather, it establishes the fact, publically and for all to see, that the man is already a saint -- that is, that the holy man and God have so cooperated together at every level of the man's existence that the man has become, by grace, a god, just as God Himself is God by nature. The old saying in the Church is that "God became a man (in the incarnation of Christ) in order that man might become a god."


Alexandr

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When a Catholic is canonized as a saint, it is a declaration that the person is in fact in heaven.

Is that the same with Orthodox glorifications?

The reason I ask is that the belief among Eastern Orthodox Christians is that the soul after death does not go to heaven or hell, but to "paradise" or hades" where the soul receives a foretaste of salvation or condemnation until Our Lord returns in glory.

Any clarification on this will be greatly appreciated.

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How "safe" are these canonizations? Can the Orthodox Church err in declaring somebody a saint and giving him liturgical worship?

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Thanks for that Alexandr. My question was more to the effect of what constitutes a Saint, a Blessed, a Venerable, etc. in Orthodoxy?

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What is "safe"? Can the Catholic Church err though its forensic process? I mean, really--just why is Joan of Arc a saint? Was it because she anticipated the English Reformation by a century or so, and thus was acclaimed for butchering prospective heretics? Or did it have something to do with the Papacy needing to keep France on its side at the beginning of the 20th century?

I will put my trust in the traditional manner of affirming the saints--it may be no better than the Catholic method, but it's not as unseemly.

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Thanks for that Alexandr. My question was more to the effect of what constitutes a Saint, a Blessed, a Venerable, etc. in Orthodoxy?


It's bipolar: either you're a saint or you ain't; there is no "in between" or cursus honorum of sanctity.

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Originally Posted by StuartK
What is "safe"? Can the Catholic Church err though its forensic process? I mean, really--just why is Joan of Arc a saint? Was it because she anticipated the English Reformation by a century or so, and thus was acclaimed for butchering prospective heretics? Or did it have something to do with the Papacy needing to keep France on its side at the beginning of the 20th century?

I will put my trust in the traditional manner of affirming the saints--it may be no better than the Catholic method, but it's not as unseemly.


I was thinking about Roman Emperors in particular. St. Constantine the Great, man who killed many people from the Emperor's entourage, who forced people into suicide and was baptized on his deathbed. Or Tzar Nicholas, who was murdered probably because he was a tzar, not because he was a Christian. If canonizations are fallible, people will pray TO them instead of praying FOR them, which I think will be no good for their souls. But this is just my Latin mindset biggrin

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Originally Posted by PeterPeter
Can the Orthodox Church err in declaring somebody a saint and giving him liturgical worship?


Well, there is the example of ROCOR canonizing two servants to the Romanov family. It was only after they were canonized was it discovered that one was actually Roman Catholic (Alexei Trupp) and the other Lutheran (Ekaterina Schneider).

ROC and ROCOR are currently working on a common liturgical calendar of saints which will more than likely include the removal of these two from the list of saints.

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Hmmm. This question, or set of questions, mingles considerable material.

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Can the Catholic Church err though its forensic process? I mean, really--just why is Joan of Arc a saint?


I really don't know what might have been the specific reason(s) for the canonization of Saint John of Arc; I haven't spent any appreciable amount of time studying her life, nor do I know what particular miracles are ascribed to her since her death, or whether she is techically considered a martyr. But I rather like her, have lit candles and venerated images of her, and see nothing to object to about her.

Saint Constantine the Great was baptized on his deathbed. Since the Church has always taught and still teaches that sins committed before Baptism are completely absolved and forgiven by Baptism, there is no problem.

Tsar Nicholas II of Russia - not my favorite person, necessarily, but in view of the Bolsheviks strong distaste for Christianity, it seems hard to dispute that he was martyred, ultimately, for religious reasons.

Emperor Charles of Austria was beatified largely in view of his strenuous attempts to bring a end to World War I under the leadership of Pope Benedict XV - which is why Blessed Charles is known as the "Peace Emperor". One might add that Blessed Charles deliberately chose not to allow Lenin to go from Switzerland to Russia via Austria, despite the strong urging of the Austrian Cabinet - the Cabinet argued that if Lenin got into Russia the Bolsheviks would take power and pull Russia out of the war, which Austria would then win. Blessed Charles replied that in the long run it would be better to lose the war than for Austria to be responsible for the Bolsheviks coming to power in Russia.

If memory serves me correctly, Austria is the only country in Europe from which the USSR voluntarily withdrew after the occupation which followed World War II. Blessed Charles was dead for thirty years at the time, but this seems to me like a convincing moral miracle.

Fr. Serge

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I was thinking about Roman Emperors in particular. St. Constantine the Great, man who killed many people from the Emperor's entourage, who forced people into suicide and was baptized on his deathbed.


Constantine is a Catholic saint, too. It isn't easy being emperor, and lots of people were baptized on their deathbeds back then. As for Tsar Nicholas, he's a particular type of Eastern Christian saint called a "passion bearer".

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?If canonizations are fallible, people will pray TO them instead of praying FOR them, which I think will be no good for their souls. But this is just my Latin mindset.


We all saints. When you're dead, people can pray for you to intercede for them. Thereafter, it depends on how much pull you have with the Big Guy. Besides, there are lots of saints whose actual historical existence is dubious. I don't think that they should be pulled from the calendar, or that people should cease asking for their intercessions, because they have been known to be efficacious.

However the mystery is affected, it is effective regardless.

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If memory serves me correctly, Austria is the only country in Europe from which the USSR voluntarily withdrew after the occupation which followed World War II.


It wasn't all that voluntary, Father. We made it known that the USSR would have to abide by this part of the Yalta Agreement--or else.

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Does anyone have an answer regarding the Eastern belief that a person does not go immediately to heaven or the other place but waits for Jesus to come again...then will be the resurrection. My question: if they are in an intermediate place, how can they hear prayer, or pray for others?

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Originally Posted by Dr. Eric
My question was more to the effect of what constitutes a Saint, a Blessed, a Venerable, etc. in Orthodoxy?


Generally speaking, saint and blessed are used interchangeably when refering to an Orthodox saint. It appears though that there are Orthodox Churches that use blessed for a candidate not yet glorified by the Church. Venerable is used to describe Orthodox saints who were monks.

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