Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Road to Sainthood

Today's services at ECOOS included a departure from the assigned texts as we were instead treated to readings in honor of MLK Jr. day (which is tomorrow, and is not exactly on the church calendar). It is not uncommon for us to shift the celebration of the feast day of one particular Saint or another to the nearest Sunday, but I was unaware that MLK Jr. had been promoted (I am not sure of the Episcopal term) to sainthood.

Until today.

After hearing several references to his sainthood in the course of today's service, I was left wondering who authorized this election and whether or not to dare to raise the question for fear of sounding totally PIC (politically incorrect).

I am aware that the Catholic Church has a mechanism through which the Church examines the life of and miracles attributed to a deceased person when considering whether or not we should consider that person a Saint.
Here is a brief summary from the CatholicPages.
In official Church procedures there are three steps to sainthood: one becomes Venerable, Blessed and then a Saint. Venerable is the title given to a deceased person recognized as having lived heroic virtues. To be recognized as a blessed, and therefore beatified, in addition to personal attributes of charity and heroic virtue, one miracle, acquired through the individual's intercession, is required. Canonization requires two, though a Pope may waive these requirements. Martyrdom does not usually require a miracle.

When beatification and canonization procedures were not yet consigned to the authority of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints (instituted in 1588 by Pope Sixtus V) and to the Holy Father himself, it was the "vox populi" or "spontaneous local attribution" which led to the proclaiming of saints. This was the case, for example, of St. Anthony of Padua.
In the Episcopal church, the road to sainthood goes "vox populi" and political, meaning it goes through the General Convention, that motley assemblage of scripturally conflicted and ungrounded clergy and laity that meets every three years to waste millions of dollars digging the church's grave.

In any case, the nearest Episcopal saint day to today should be Antony (or Anthony in the Catholic calendar). Antony was famous for preaching against Arianism (a heresy which arose in the fourth century, and denied the Divinity of Jesus Christ).

We could use a little dose of Antony today.

The Episcopal list of saints, commemorations, and proposed saints and or "commendees" includes some interesting characters to include:

AMELIA JENKS BLOOMER (remember Barbara Eden's harem pants?)
SØREN KIERKEGAARD, one of the fathers of existentialism.
HARRIET BEECHER STOWE, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin.
GEOFFREY ANKETELL STUDDERT KENNEDY who wrote Democracy and the Dog-Collar (1921) (featuring such chapters as "The Church Is Not a Movement but a Mob," "Capitalism is Nothing But Greed, Grab, and Profit-Mongering".)

It seems that there is no real process of beatification, canonization, etc to the Episcopal path to sainthood. You just have to have been a social activist for causes that are considered by today's liberal elite to have been "good."

Today's canonization at ECOOS must have been an act of "spontaneous local attribution."

I hope they save some open dates for the next wave of Episcopal saints.


  1. Sorry I missed it.

    Instead, we had a mundane sermon about Psalms 19 wherein David acknowledges God's magnificent being as exemplified in the Universe, ponders the perfection of His Law, confesses his sin and prays for salvation from his Redeemer.

    Our pastor is obviously not up to speed.


  2. Anonymous7:02 PM

    Sanctifying a man who plagiarized his doctoral dissertation and was a serial philanderer offers hope to all the rest of us.

    However, I had to draw a line when today's preacher equated MLK to Jesus Christ. That borders on blasphemy and was more than I could swallow.

  3. Randall,

    You heard a sermon based on the Bible!?!

    Do you mean people still do that?

    Well, I'll be...

  4. Anon,

    Yep, should have stuck to to scriptures.

  5. Anonymous10:52 PM

    Boy, do I feel good about what we did today.

  6. Anonymous12:58 AM

    During my priest's sermon, I also heard a little more about MLKjr than I felt I needed to in a religious setting, although I would have to disagree with the other Anonymous that he was only a philanderer and a plaigarist, bad as those things are....

    However I was sorry today that the our priest did not deign to touch on the actual Scripture in which Christ tells us to turn the other cheek, etc.....that's always been a disturbing one for me, and I have never heard an adult sermon on it. Unfortunately in our church we tend to avoid any scripture in which Christ says something that we really have to think and pray about.

  7. The Episcopal feast day for Martin Luther King Jr. was Saturday the 15th. The following is taken from the BCP rubrics (p.15-16)All Sundays of the year are feasts of our Lord Jesus Christ. Only the Principle Feasts take precedence over a Sunday.
    Didn't KTF get in trouble over his substitutions?

  8. KTF's liturgical abominations were sufficient to prevent him from obtaining the needed consents for his election to bishop. I don't recall him getting in any trouble with his bishop at the time.

    Similarly, I would be (pleasantly) surprised if Bishop Waldo deigns to correct this episode.

    Leadership issues will come back to haunt those who let things slide.

  9. Aggh, that final picture! If I didn't know who it was, I might have assumed it to be from an illuminated text of that Iberian classing, El Cantar de Mio Pewster.

  10. Anonymous12:47 PM

    I hope you also remebered Robert Edward Lee of Old Virginia. Every brother of the cross knows the date January 19th.

  11. Anonymous8:46 PM

    I found this after my 7-year-old came home from "Vacation Church School" at his father's church and informed me they had learned about St. Martin Luther King. I was sure he had it wrong, but I checked with his father, and sure enough, that was the lesson for the day. I was shocked! I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one who finds this new way of creating Saints to be be a bit strange.

  12. Egads Anon,

    What denomination was that?