Its hardly surprising that, with the exception of Judas Iscariot, all of the twelve disciples of Jesus Christ are venerated as Saints in the Catholic church. I don’t think I need to explain why Judas was overlooked.
But even if you haven’t gone as far as to do something as heinous as betraying the son of god achieving the title ‘Saint’ is still no easy thing.
As you probably know Mother Teresa is currently in the running for the title. The current Pope has just cleared the way for this to happen. Ultimately it’s the Pope’s decision, his and his alone, but she needs to have met certain criteria before even he can say yes, or no.
Now you would think someone like Mother Teresa would be a shoe-in for the title. Born in Macedonia she moved to India when she was 18 years old and devoted her life to the betterment of the dirt poor in India. During her life she received numerous honours, most notable being the Nobel Peace prize in 1979. She is credited with founding the Missionaries of Charity which consists of 4,500 nuns working in 133 countries running hospices and homes for people with HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis. They run soup kitchens, mobile clinics, orphanages and schools.
In short, and in most peoples books, Ms Teresa is already a saint.
But to become a real, proper, saint, she needs to meet certain criteria, which are in no particular order (according to sainthood for Dummies);
- Be dead (check)
- Live an exemplary and pious life (check)
- Be Catholic (check)
- Perform at least two miracles (…)
If the first requirement wasn’t a killer, pun intended, then the last one has to be.
I would suggest becoming a saint today is infinitely more difficult than it would have been say, 500 years ago. The scientific standards have moved on somewhat, and if science can explain pretty much everything then how can anyone, Mother Teresa included, actually perform a bona fide miracle and thus achieve sainthood?
In the good old days a few hundred years ago it would be easy. Your have to remember back then they believed in witches, sea serpents, minotaur’s, centaurs, dragons and unicorns. Probably.
Persuading the Pope you had performed a miracle would have been relatively easy. ‘Look I just resurrected a Unicorn and my mate Fernando saw it!’
The only tricky part would be persuading them it was a divine miracle rather than some form of witchcraft. Get that wrong and things might quickly turn bad for you.
But assuming you do (lie convincingly that is), you only then need to perform one more miracle, live your life piously, make sure you are Catholic (simple enough) and then just die.
So it would appear on the face of it Mother Teresa has her posthumous work cut out for her.
Well, no, not really.
Two weeks ago the Pope recognised the second miracle attributed to her, when she healed a man with multiple brain tumours. The first was healing a tumour in the abdomen of an Indian woman after the ‘application’ of a locket containing Mother Teresa’s picture.
So she will at some point in the future become a saint, and in my opinion this is good. I’m not a man of faith but understand such things are very important to a large proportion of the world’s population. And if anyone from the modern time deserves it, its got to be her.
But back to the miracles she is supposed to have performed. Both have been challenged strongly by doctors and scientists who were around at the time and even some who witnessed the so call miracles.
So if I was a betting man, both miracles were probably not really miracles, but does it really matter?
The Pope doesn’t think so, deep down he probably knows miracles don’t exist, but he has to follow centuries of protocol – he has no choice. And this is one of the many reason why I like him. A lot.
Pope Francis came along after the last one ‘resigned’. He inherited a shambolic church, riddled with scandal and one which was rapidly losing the respect of the global congregation, plus everyone else.
Born in Buenos Aires in 1936 he studied as a chemical technologist and worked as a nightclub bouncer before he began his seminary studies. An interesting start indeed for someone who would ultimately become the Bishop of Rome.
But from the outside looking in, he appears to be a breath of fresh air. He appears to be a man of the people, having no issue with mingling with the common person. He seems to be addressing the multitiple issues facing the church ranging from paedophilia to people of non faith (like me), homosexuality, abortion, contraception as well as the ‘standard’ calls for world peace and the like.
He appears to be addressing these thorny issues head on and in a transparent way whilst continuing to act as a normal person. A good example of this is during a recent visit to the US the Senate had organised a lavish dinner in his honour. He politely declined the offer and spent the evening having his tea at a local soup kitchen.
So what’s not to like about the man?
I’m also not alone in my admiration for the man. Time magazine named him 2013’s man of the year, he’s been on the cover of Rolling Stone and Fortune magazine ranked him number one in their list of 50 greatest leaders. The praise just keeps on coming.
Yes, the current Pope seems to have managed in a very short period of time to have resurrected, again pun intended, the battered reputation of the Catholic church. There is a long way to go, but in my, and a lot of other peoples opinion they have the right man at the helm to do this.
And if in the future this doesn’t count as a miracle or two then frankly I don’t know what would.
So having spent a long time conducting a deep and detailed study into the entry requirements for sainthood I have come to the realisation its going to take more than a miracle for me to qualify. I am far from being the Pope or Mother Teresa.
But that’s ok, I don’t and won’t even try to measure myself against these lofty and pious individuals.
I have set myself a lower standard but one I still think Francis would still approve of.
Don’t be evil is Google’s motto.
Now that’s a standard even I think I can live up to, and perhaps everyone else can also..