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November 03, 2006



This sounds like one of those self-help mantras:
"He's a saint, she's a saint... we're aaaalllll saints!"


But with a bit of tweaking, it could be a nice practice: if you listed their patron saints, asking for their intercession.

Ann Margaret Lewis

Can't do that either, Jeanette - that would be changing the ritual of the mass and we don't do that (at least you're not supposed to).

I remember once being at a parish where they did Martin Luther King and Ghandi. Made me wanna hurl.


THIS kind of stuff is what makes me worry! Please don't anybody show me any "untimely kindness" (Igantius of Antioch) like this hooey when I die. If you really love me, pray for my soul in Purgatory. Assuming people are in heaven is selfish. It only helps those left behind feel better, not those who died.


At the parish where I attended All Saints' day Mass, the "litany" included Oscar Romero, Martin Luther King, and Thomas Merton :(. And instead of "pray for us" they sang "Stand firm and see what the Lord can do." Grrr....

Anonymous Choir Person

I didn't realize that canon law proscribes adding saints to the litany. Our parish traditionally adds the patron saints chosen by the catechumens when we sing the litany at Easter Vigil.


I'm no expert, but I vaguely recall that in the abbreviated rubrics for the Easter Vigil published in my parish's missallette (can't recall the name, but published by OCP and filled with Haas and Haugen songs - but that's another rant) it was permitted (and perhaps even encouraged) that the Litany of the Saints be expanded to include the local church's patron, a sainted founder or other patron of the religious order (if any) of the celebrant, and the namesake patrons of those to be baptized, confirmed, and/or received. I was particularly struck one Vigil to hear "St. Thomas More" in the Litany, then later hearing a female confirmandi take "Thomas More" as her confirmation name. After Mass, when I read in her bio in the bulletin that she was a lawyer, I concluded that she "got it."

Are you really sure the Litany must be invariant? From this and from observed actual practice in a number of parishes, dioceses and archdioceses (but based on no actual knowledge of church documents) I understood that it could be edited to suit local circumstances (shortened as well as lengthened), as long as all those mentioned are truly canonized Saints or enrolled Blessed ones.

Rick M

I remember hearing Ghandi and MLK in the litany of the saints. That is one of the reasons I left the Novus Ordo behind -- after suffering through constant liturgical abuses with no recourse -- I decided to settle for liturgical peace -- the Tridentine Mass (in an indult community). Our All Saints Mass was great!

Tim J.

Well, Rick, just for the record, our Novus Ordo All Saints Mass was great, too.

No novelties. I love the incense, even though it irritates my nose and throat. Some things are worth a little discomfort.


Our parish also uses includes the names of the candidates and confirmandi during the Easter vigil. Sometimes the names are simply the person's name that don't appear to reflect an actual saint.


I think folks are confusing two things here.

The practice of adding the patron sants of those to be baptized to the litany as recited at the Easter Vigil would not contravene the canon as stated, because the persons that would be added are "recorded in the list of the saints or the blessed." (We are ignoring for the moment any possible liturgical law issues.)

Contrariwise, the practice of mentioning the parish's deceased as "St. X" when person X has not been canonized (which is what the original questioner observed) is forbidden by the canon Jimmy has quoted us.

Is there a traditional or scriptural basis for the understanding of purgatory? I can't find it in my bible. I'm not some protestant trying to mess with the people here, I just can't locate anything that talks about purgatory.

Thank you.



Here is the passage from Maccabees.

"It is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins" (2 Mac 12:46)

If the dead are in Hell, our prayers are of no use, if they are in Heaven they are of no need.



Every time people have this kind of "fun" with the liturgy---the prayer of the Church that is supposed to form those who pray---they unlearn their faith a little bit.

Thomas A. Gill

The thinking behind doing this type of Litany is very un-Catholic. It disregards the concepts of sin, puragtory and hell (Satan, too presumably) altoghter.

David B.

I will come back from dead to deal with whomever's gonna praise me in Church with-out my being canonized! ;-p


Yep, they did this at my parish as well. I knew something didn't seem right. Thanks Jimmy for this information.


Unfortunately, this may have come over from the Protestant understanding of hagios. In many Protestant churches, the word "saint" is used more generally to refer to anyone who is a Christian.

Catholics who have succumbed to an overly ecumenical stance have often seemed to compromise the integrity of the Catholic Faith for the sake of ecumenism.

I am reminded of Fr. Corapi, in one regard, that (and I'm paraphrasing here) we shouldn't be doing things like hiding the Virgin Mother Mary for the sake of ecumenism but instead bringing them out in order to bring about an understanding of these aspects of the Catholic Faith.


When our cathedral was being renovated the illustrious Dick (don't call me Father) Vosko suggested that artwork of "unnamed local saints" be added to the cathedral.

A few years ago at our parish the RCIA director included the typical non-Catholic "saints" in the litany but fortunately he was fired. Unfortunately, he just migrated to another parish.


Conversely, we had a delightful retired priest who talked about becoming saints and those not yet canonized. He mentioned Father Solanus Casey and Bishop Frederic Baraga (aka "the Snowshoe Priest"), but he FORGOT their names! So he simply described their work and we all nodded. Afterwards I asked him if he did it on purpose.

BTW we had three concurrent Masses in our vicariate last night (soon to be a merged parish with three churches open). Retired priests handled our church and one other so our parish priest could say Mass in a third. We tend to pray that God grants our retired priests health and longevity!


I'll be right there with you, David B!



I think we're talking at cross-purposes here. To what part of my post are you objecting?



Never mind. You confused me with the anonymous person who posted beneath my comment.

Fr Martin Fox

My understanding is that anyone who IS a saint may be included in a Litany of the Saints; the actual names in the litany are not invariable.

Actually . . . while I used the Litany of the Saints at my two parishes for All Saints, it's not a part of the liturgy for the day. In my parish, we used it as the entrance hymn, which is, in my judgment, a legitimate application of existing rubrics, but may be a bit of a stretch. The other option that occurred to me would be as the prayers of the faithful -- but I have absolutely nothing to cite to justify that.

In short . . . it may be we're not even supposed to do it!

Any actual liturgy experts care to comment?


Esau -- that usage is, in fact, older than the use of "saint" to mean someone in heaven. There is a sense in which any Christian is a saint in the sense of "holy."

However, that's not the usage for the Litany of the Saints.

To include those who have not been formally canonized, one says, "All you holy virgins -- pray for us." or "martyrs" or "men and women of God" Etc.


We're dealing here with the definition of "canonization". The word means "to be put in the Canon", what is now called the Eucharistic Prayer.

Communication with the dead is witchcraft, a mortal sin. We can communicate with only those who have been recognized by the Church as being in Heaven. The Pope demonstrates that a soul has attained Heaven by petitioning that soul in public. We are then permitted to follow suit.


Want further illicit saint prayers?

I could have sworn a song by our choir included asking Tertullian and Origin to pray for us.


Esau -- that usage is, in fact, older than the use of "saint" to mean someone in heaven. There is a sense in which any Christian is a saint in the sense of "holy."

I am acquainted with that understanding of hagios from Protestant friends, but to further elaborate what I meant, there are those Protestants (not all though, mind you) who believe that if you've accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Saviour, you've been saved and will go straight to Heaven. In fact, there was someone who was recently at a Protestant funeral. The deceased, according to the Pastor there, was saved and, therefore, he would not have to submit himself to any kind of judgment. There are even some Protestants (again, not all though) who believe that the judgment itself only applies to non-Christians.

However, that's not the usage for the Litany of the Saints.
To include those who have not been formally canonized, one says, "All you holy virgins -- pray for us." or "martyrs" or "men and women of God" Etc.

Concerning Litany of the Saints

As far as the Litany of the Saints goes, we only pray to canonized saints!

We don’t canonize people – I mean, for one thing, it may discourage people from praying for them, and that’s bad; but that’s not the only reason we don’t do it. We also don’t do it – and this is the more fundamental reason – we don’t know if they were saved or not.

They might be in Heaven. They might be in Purgatory. Or they might be somewhere south of the border. So, it’s not clear exactly where someone is. We don’t know until God gives the kind of evidence as he gives in the case of actual canonized saints for us to say for sure that someone’s in Heaven, so, as a result, it is presumptuous for us to decide their fate when their fate was in God’s hands and he has access to information that we don’t – like the state of their heart at the time they died. So, that shouldn’t be done.

The distinction the Church makes here is that liturgically speaking or officially, with Catholic prayer, we only pray to those who are beatified and canonized such as at Mass or any sort of liturgical function for the simple reason that we have the certainty that the Church tells us that they are in fact in Heaven.

How can the Church know who is in Heaven?

The understanding of this is that if God performs a miracle through the intercession of a particular individual, then that’s a pretty good sign that that individual is in Heaven and is interceding for people or, at least, is saved – as interceding for people. And so what the Church does when it’s evaluating whether someone is in Heaven, it waits and it sees if God seems to be performing miracles through the intercession of this person. And it waits and if it gets a report of a miracle performed through that person’s intercession, it goes and it checks it out and if it turns out that it really does look like a miracle, and it really was performed in conjunction with someone asking for that saint’s intercession, or that person’s intercession, then after one miracle like that, the Church may have that person declared as beatus or blessed. After two miracles like that, then the Church may declare that individual a saint. Because after two miraculous events that seems to be prompted by the intercession of this person, that’s a pretty good sign the person is saved.


AT our All Saints Day mass, the Litany of the Saints included Moses, David, Solomon, Isaiah, etc etc - correct me if I'm wrong, but the Jewish patriarchs and prophets and other Old Testament figures were not Catholic so thus they cannot be canonized. That's not to say they aren't in Heaven - but including them in the Litany of the Saints seems inappropriate. Our pastor is currently on vacation, and I intend to take this up with him when he returns.

Also, using Jimmy's answer as guidance, is it permissible or logical to pray to/for Moses, David, etc on All Souls' Day? I'm curious as to whether there is any Church teaching on the prominent figures of the Old Testament - as to their presence in Heaven. Thanks to anyone who can point out some documentation.


Communication with the dead is witchcraft, a mortal sin.

I think you may have got this wrong.

For example, some Protestants who don't quite understand Catholicism may invariably go to Deuteronomy 18:10 which condemns necromancy or which they believe condemns communication with the dead and they’ll say, “See, you guys are communicating with the dead!”

But, in fact, Dt 18:10 is not condemning communication with the dead – because if that were true than Jesus broke the commandment there because on the Mount of Transfiguration in Acts 17:1-3 and in Luke 9:31-32, Jesus spoke to both Moses and Elijah, who were long since dead.

The key is to understand properly that Dt 18:10 is condemning going to séances, witches, and conjuring up spirits. That’s not what we do when we pray to saints. We don’t conjure up spirits in an attempt to manipulate the future and so forth like in fortune telling.

We are merely doing what Jesus did in Matthew 17 when he himself prayed to saints, if you will.

We're dealing here with the definition of "canonization". The word means "to be put in the Canon", what is now called the Eucharistic Prayer.

I think you maybe confusing things a little bit here.

Here's what canonization means according to the Catholic Encyclopedia:
Canonization in the Catholic Church is quite another thing. The Catholic Church canonizes or beatifies only those whose lives have been marked by the exercise of heroic virtue, and only after this has been proved by common repute for sanctity and by conclusive arguments. The chief difference, however, lies in the meaning of the term canonization, the Church seeing in the saints nothing more than friends and servants of God whose holy lives have made them worthy of His special love.

Here's what it says about CANON as it applies to the Eucharist:
Canon (Canon Missæ, Canon Actionis) is the name used in the Roman Missal for the fundamental part of the Mass that comes after the Offertory and before the Communion. The old distinction, in all liturgies, is between the Mass of the Catechumens (the litanies, lessons from the Bible, and collects) and the Mass of the Faithful (the Offertory of the gifts to be consecrated, Consecration prayer, Communion, and dismissal). Our Canon is the Consecration prayer, the great Eucharistic prayer in the Mass of the Faithful. The name Canon (kanon) means a norm or rule; and it is used for various objects, such as the Canon of Holy Scripture, canons of Councils, the official list of saints' names (whence "canonisation"), and the canon or list of clerks who serve a certain church, from which they themselves are called canons (canonici).


Well, posted the above too soon! At any rate, included in the above there, obviously, is the general definition of Canon as well as other uses for the term Canon as it applies to the Canon of Scripture, etc.


Fr Martin, glad to hear you say that. We didn't have the litany at our mass and I felt gyped, so we did it with bedtime prayers. I'm glad to know they weren't omitting something required. We had no music at all. (12:05 mass).

Fr. Stephanos, O.S.B.


The Church's list of saints and their days in the calendar is published as a book entitled "Martyrologium Romanum". Its latest edition is from 2001. I have it in front of me as I write.

Old Testament figures such as patriarchs and prophets have for centuries been venerated by the Church as saints.

A few examples of such saints and their days in the Church's calendar.

Abraham, October 9

Isaiah, May 9

Moses, Septemer 4

Elijah, July 20

David, December 29

All the Holy Ancestors of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham, the Son of Adam, December 24

David B.

"I'll be right there with you, David B!"

Good. When that day comes, we shall come with a purging fire and wipe away the ignorance that is obivously common among the Church Militant!



Thanks, Fr. Stephanos, for your reply. I had been leafing through Butler's Lives of the Saints (which isn't Church Documents, I know, being just a reference tool), and I didn't come across any OT figures. But it makes sense, now that I've thought about it further. Any other material out there to colloborate?

Some Day

You know what is phenomenal, in Germany, Charlemagne is venerated as St. Charlemagne.
Ofcourse, they have permission, and in my low opinion, when the Church is in a better state and not in danger, Charlemagne will be cannonized publicly.


Being beautified and cannonized used to be something had some meaning to it until JPII and the saint machine in his beautification of more "saints" in his 26 year pontificate than all of the popes of the past 500 years combined. There used to be something called the "Devils advocate" which was thrown out by JPII as well and the miracle clause as well was diminished and basically eliminated. It is now one big popularity contest and it is shameful. Your concern is valid

57 of the 70 popes reigning during the first 600 years of the Church have been proclaimed saints. Many of these popes died prematurely by martyrdom.

Only 2 of the 62 popes reigning during the last 600 years, from 1397 A.D. to 1997 A.D., have been named a saint. Neither has died a martyr.

The earliest popes were men of integrity and strong moral character. Many of these men died for their faith in Jesus, while upholding the truths He had taught and had personally died for rather than deny or allow them to be diminished.

How can one feel the desire to pray to a man like JPII where during his reign and I only have the statistics from Oct. 16, 1978 - 1997 a period of over 18 years, there have been an estimated 50 million surgical abortions performed worldwide each year. This approximately totals nine-hundred million (900,000,000) innocent dead during these 18 years. There have been about 10 times that number of abortions directly caused by chemical and mechanical means such as the birth control pill and the I.U.D. This number could be as high as nine billion (9,000,000,000) innocent people murdered by a variety of such methods. The combined number approaches twice the total of Earth's present living human population.

I am sure I will get a lot of flack from this-but a leader is judged by his actions and as Pope why did he not order his Cardinals, Bishops and Priests to go and stand up agains this horror and the church considers him someone to fast track

David B.


The Pope makes an infallible statement when he canonizes a saint. Be more respectful towards our late Holy Father.

David B.


I don't run this blog, but I suspect you broke Rule #1.

Fr Martin Fox

Don't argue with John. It is an uncharitable thing to do. Do you argue with those people who talk to themselves on street corners? No, you show them compassion, smile, and keep walking.



Pope John Paul II spoke out frequently against abortion and I think it is unfair to insinuate he is 'responsible' for the abortions that happened in that period.

I also disagree with your comments about his canonizations. It was JPII who 'sped up' the process for Mother Teresa.



Well I apologize as I did not mean to break any rules, but the thread or question I should say questions the validity of many saints as they themselves may be in purgatory or Hell. Our sermon yesterday was on just that topic as a nun who was later canonized received visions and messages first from her friend who was clergy and them Pope Innocent III who appeared to her asking her to pray for him as he was in purgatory and needed prayers. Here was a Pope than convened the Lateran council in the 13th century and by all accounts was a great Pope, but was in great pain and needed prayers. So she had prayers and if I recall masses said for him by the priests and he later appeared to her thanking her

So as far as JPII and the horrors of abortion, quite possibly he should should have spent a little more time like the other leaders of their faiths attending to the ills of society that are damaging the souls of his flock instead of flying across the globe in his desire for ecumenism today -ecumenism tomorrow as his motto went.

So if he is "Santo subito" the fast track candidate for sainthood the best of the "modern world", the "Great"-what does that say about the past saints? or future?

It shows that diminishing standards and rules as has been done in every aspect of the church these past 40 years has created confusion and doubt


So as far as JPII and the horrors of abortion, quite possibly he should should have spent a little more time like the other leaders of their faiths attending to the ills of society that are damaging the souls of his flock instead of flying across the globe in his desire for ecumenism today -ecumenism tomorrow as his motto went.

How can you even state something like this even in light of all the facts that even the secular world would testify?

They virtually even devoted an almost 24 hour coverage of John Paul II on such stations like FOX and MSNBC at the time of his passing and all throughout to testify to the message that John Paul II gave when he lived.

Do you deny the many hundreds of folks, especially young people, who were strengthened in their Catholic Faith or even those non-Catholics who came to know of the Catholic Faith because of John Paul II being like a "St. Paul", going to many countries and preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to almost every corner of the world!?!?

It is my personal belief that the man, John Paul II, especially considering his old frail age at the time he was off and doing these things, could only have achieved such a feat by the grace of God carefully guiding and strengthening him throughout all these things.

There are so many folks who knew nothing of Catholicism who came to know of it through him and even came to join the Church. Those who, because of his teachings on abortion, took up the campaign to fight for the rights of the unborn with such zeal and such fervor it never had before!

Clearly, to you he might have failed in all these things, but the record speaks for itself which is the very reason why when John Paul II passed, his funeral was of such high regard and notable prominence; truly, none could not apply a better title to him than "GREAT"!

Visit the below website if you have any doubt from MSNBC.com:

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