Defining Saints in the Catholic Church
The Catholic Church believes that saints are ordinary and typical human beings who made it into heaven. In the broader sense, everyone who’s now in heaven is technically a saint. Saints are human beings who lived holy lives in obedience to God’s will and are now in heaven for eternity. The classification or title of saint, however, is a spiritual pronouncement that the faithful can be morally certain that this particular person is indeed in heaven; prayers to and from the saint are considered efficacious.
In the Catholic Church, only after death can someone be called a saint, even though while alive the person lived a saintly, holy life. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, for example, who was revered around the world by people of every religion, couldn’t be given the title of saint until after her death and only after a thorough investigation of her life and only after what the Church believes to be some undisputed miracles that took place through her intercession.
Catholic devotion to the saints is nothing more than respect and admiration for the memory of the deceased heroes of the Church. Just as a society honors its dead who helped make the world a better place while they were alive, Catholics honor saints.
Saints aren’t born saints. Saints are born sinners in the state of original sin and were sinners throughout their lives. Saints are ordinary people. They weren’t born with a halo around their head, and they didn’t glow in the dark. What separated them from those who weren’t given the title is that saints never gave up and never stopped trying to be and do better.
Instead of seeing or portraying saints as superheroes, Catholicism wants to present them as just heroes — ordinary people who made it to heaven. The idea is that if they could do it, so can you.