Recent Posts

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Follow Up on Earlier Post Today on Saints

Look here for the first part of some thoughts today, All Saints' Day.

I want to add a few thoughts to this distinction between the Church Militant and the Church Triumphant.

First, a review of teaching on the three branches of the Church:

EWTN has a great, short reference from Father William Most, from which I use a selection here.

The Church, the Mystical Body, exists on this earth, and is called the Church militant, because its members struggle against the world, the flesh and the devil. The Church suffering means the souls in Purgatory. The Church triumphant is the Church in heaven. The unity and cooperation of the members of the Church on earth, in Purgatory, in Heaven is also called the Communion of Saints. When St. Paul uses the word "Saints" in opening an Epistle, he does not mean they are morally perfect. He has in mind Hebrew qadosh, which means set aside for God, or coming under the covenant. Being such means of course they are called to moral perfection. But of course, not all have reached it in this world.

Taken from The Basic Catholic Catechism
PART FIVE: The Apostles' Creed IX-XII
Ninth Article: "The Holy Catholic Church; the Communion of Saints"

By William G. Most. (c) Copyright 1990 by William G. Most

Now, I want to highlight that we are the Church Militant, as I noted in the last posting, not the Church Triumphant. Fr. Most refers to St. Paul's use of the word "qadosh", which is incorrectly translated as saint in the sense of one who is canonized. Qadosh is explained further here by Jeff A. Brenner.

When we use the word holy, as in a holy person, we usually associate this with a righteous or pious person. If we use this concept when interpreting the word holy in the Hebrew Bible then we are misreading the text as this is not the meaning of the Hebrew word qadosh. Qadosh literally means "to be set apart for a special purpose"....Israel was qadosh because they were separated from the other nations as servants of God. The furnishings in the tabernacle were qadosh as they were not to be used for anything except for the work in the tabernacle. While we may not think of ourselves as "holy" we are in fact set apart from the world to be God's servants and representatives.

 Here we see that the word "consecrated" would be a better application to the Church Militant.

We are, or should be seen, as set apart for God's work in the world. We have a purpose in the world to be signs of contradiction to evil, to worldliness.

Second, although we are called to perfection, and some in the Church are in union with God while on earth, and those usually become recognized after death as canonized saints, the road to perfection takes time and processes, explained in the long series on Garrigou-Lagrange.

No one can claim to be a saint. God allows the Church to declare someone in the Church Triumphant and that declaration is part of the infallibility of the Pope.

Third, one must not forget the Church Suffering, those souls in purgatory for whom we should pray daily and, this year, especially on Sunday or Monday, depending on which Mass you attend, in which diocese.