Have Cannon, Need Saint

When I was a little kid, wearing my sneakers no doubt, I remember hearing that someone got canonized as a Saint. The adults made a big deal of it. All I could imagine was some guy getting shot out of one of those circus cannons. But the ones I saw only got the guy a couple hundred meters at most. So I figured the pope had one really huge cannon in the Vatican that could manage to get someone shot, not only through the clouds, but all the way into Heaven, too. The launch area had to be something like a holy Cape Canaveral.

I figured it was a good thing they were always canonizing dead folks. I didn’t know if a live Saint could survive a blast that powerful. And even if one could survive the initial blast, now there is the added danger of low Earth orbit space debris that could knock them off their Sainthood trajectory like a blocked field goal. “Hello Vatican, we have a problem! On my way to Sainthood and Heaven, but an old Cold War piece of space junk knocked me off course and I am now in limbo, orbiting Purgatory.” 

So when I visited the Vatican, I looked high and low for that holy heavy metal monster, but I couldn’t find a cannon anywhere that could do the job. I left somewhat disappointed. I had really hoped to see a Saint getting cannonized.

When I grew up I discovered, of course, that there are saints, and there are Saints, excluding sports teams of that name. The capital S ones were the ones the pope shot out of his huge cannon. You could walk into Roman Catholic cathedrals and churches just about anywhere and see statues of them. In fact, some folks put these capital S Saints on their dashboards or on medals they wear around their necks.

The Roman church recently held a mass canonization canonization mass in which seven people were Sainted, including the first American Indian. However, no word was forthcoming from the Vatican on when their statutes will begin appearing in a cathedral or a church near us.

The lower case saints, I discovered in the Biblical record, are a bit more common, and mostly are referred to in current tense rather than past tense as in notable dead Catholics. Of course, from the Biblical record’s New Testament point of view, the saints are all those who have been baptized and received the Spirit of God. The apostles refer to them in their letters to the ekkelsia.

As the apostle Paul wrote to the ekklesia in Rome, “But now I go to Jerusalem to minister to the saints.” [Rom. 15:25]. And as Paul wrote to the ekklesia in Philippi, “All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household.” [Php. 4:22]. And as he addressed his letter “… to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Collosse: Grace be unto you ….” [Col. 1:2]. So for those of us who have been baptized and received the Spirit of God, we are saints before God.

In Hebrew, four words are translated as saints. Three are adjectives. One is chaciyd and is translated as saints, holy, godly, pious among others. The other word is qadowsh, which means sacred, holy, saint, set apart [for God]. One other word, in Aramaic, is the Old Testament qaddiysh, which means saint, holy or holy one. These adjectives are the most common translation of saint in the Old Testament.

The Old Testament noun qodesh means apartness, holy, holiness, saint. As we read, “And he said, The LORD came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir to them … and he came with ten thousands of his saints ….” [Deu. 33:2]

The New Testament word for saint is hagios. It is an adjective meaning most holy thing, or a saint. As Christians, we are to live our lives daily in a godly and holy manner, thus making us saints. Less dramatic perhaps, but saints nonetheless.

So if you come across an ad in Craigslist Rome reading “Have cannon, need saint,” the circus may be in town. Otherwise, you can rest assured you need not apply.

Italics and [ ] are the author's.

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