|Play the man, Master Ridley; we shall this day light such a candle, |
by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.
I have been asked many times what Anglicans believe concerning the Saints. My answer has always been that there are two types of Saints.
First of all, the Saints are the People of God, those who serve the Lord with all their hearts, with all their soul, and with all their mind: the total man serving the total God through vows and Church membership. Therefore, we are all saints as long as we endeavor to be faithful to our baptismal vows. It must be said that the word "saint" comes from the Greek word hagios, which means "consecrated" to God, holy, sacred, and pious.
In the New Testament, it is often used in the plural, "saints". In Acts 9: 13, we read, "…Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem". In Acts 9: 32, we read, "Now as Peter was traveling through all those regions, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda". And there are many other references in the Bible concerning the saints. We are all saints because we are a group of people set apart for the service of God and His kingdom.
To make it short, all Christians are saints because we are the body of Christ, the Church. St. Paul was clear about this when he wrote to the Corinthians: "To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy…" (1 Corinthians 1:2).
The word "saint" also refers to those people who lived a godly life with goodness, steadfastness, and courage. They enriched the Christian Church by providing examples of service, devotion, and tenacity for all of us to admire and follow.
In times past, these men and women have been recognized officially by the Church by a process we call canonization. Going through Anglican formularies, I don’t see anywhere this process is explicitly exposed or even stated. But Anglican practice has always appeared to recognize and accept as Saints those great Christians so proclaimed by the Roman Church prior to the Reformation.
When I first joined the Anglican Church, I learned that Anglicanism has not "officially" claimed any Saints since the Reformation. However, names such as Cranmer, Laud, Charles I, Wilberforce, Keble, Latimer and Ridley (burned by Queen Mary - see graphic) and John & Charles Wesley are certainly in the minds of many Anglicans. Likewise in America, Anglican Churches have permitted honor and recognition of such great Christians as Seabury, White, Kemper, and Brooks.
Many Anglican Churches have Icons or Statues of the Saints. These images serve only to remind us of the exemplary life these lovely souls led. We do not bow down or venerate these objects as many mistakenly believe. In my next post, I will talk more about "Christians-Saints-Prayer".
Peace and blessings!
"For the vision is yet for the appointed time; It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay" (Habakkuk 2:3).