August 08, 2004

Charles Paris - “The Role of Saints in the Catholic Church”

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Charles Paris gave us a hurried history of the church, a theology of the saints as we understand it today, and an invitation to visit his church to visually “see” saints. Catholic churches have any number of altars and windows of saints and church people as remembrances, aids to memory and veneration. Charles says it is human to remember those who preceded us, just like we have pictures in our homes of the ones we loved, or our ancestors. Remembrances populate scripture - the last twenty chapters of Isaiah are a remembrance. Yet saints were not made by Rome, but by the people who said “He/she is a saint.” It is only with the Catholic church’s tremendous emphasis on legalism that a process for sanctification has come to the fore in the last couple of centuries. From the council of Nicaea it was given :”Only God is to be worshipped; the saints are to be venerated, not worshipped,” But it has been difficult for the church to divorce itself from traffic in relics, auguries and miracles, which has been popular since well before Christ. Ethics and piety had become divorced in the 15 th century church, and Reformers such as Luther, Zwingli, Simons and others who attempted to recover that linkage by breaking with traditions, also lost the tradition of the saints. The Catholic church has changed its ways - through the Council of Trent and later Vatican II, the church is once again in a position to share its knowledge and benefit from the experience of others. Reformers however have remained largely immune to rapprochement, so despite Luther’s famous quote: “Mary is the foremost example of the unmerited grace of God”, there is still no tradition of saintly veneration in Protestant churches. With their emphasis on evangelism, reformers could learn from the tradition of Mary - who, as told in the Luke 2, heard the Word, accepted the Word and then went out and told her cousin - thus becoming the first disciple of Jesus. Charles spoke of saints as intercessors, grateful for the diversity of people God has raised up to help us in our times of need. In Charles’ church (Our Lady of Perpetual Help), you will find a window of Elizabeth Seaton who is not yet a saint, but the founder of an order of nuns in the 1840s that made possible the school, the convent and many projects in this area of Point Grey; John XXIII; Mother Teresa; John Newman; Jean Vanier; and more throughout the sanctuary with candles lit in front of them. They are icons, but they are part and parcel of our lives. To end, “Let the faithful be taught that the authentic cult of the saints consist not so much in the multiplying of external acts, but rather in the intensity of our active love.”


Passage: Lk 1:39-56
Communion: No
Ecumenical or Event:
Potluck Lunch: No
Congregational Meeting: No


Speaker: Charles Paris
Worship Leader: Marcie Good
Song Leader: Ann Marie Neudorf
Pianist: Susie Funk
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