At the men’s group at church we have been going over the “Catholicism” series by Fr. Robert Barron. Last night’s episode was about the Saints. I was surprised that of the four saints that were covered in the video, all were women. I don’t have a problem with that. I was just surprised that he didn’t cover any male Saints.
I made a comment that I had heard on the Catholic Answers that as of now, there have been no native-born American male Saints. It was a surprise to pretty much everyone I knew, so I thought I’d look into it further to see if that statement was correct.
And it was. There are two who are being considered for Sainthood, and I have no doubts that it will happen one day. These two are Father Michael McGivney, the founder of the Knights of Columbus; and Bishop Fulton Sheen, the very first ever televangelist who used to give Milton Berle a run for his money when it came to ratings on the 1950s.
But I looked further and noticed that really very few women Saints are also native born. There are only three who were born in the boundaries of what is NOW the U. S. St. Katharine Drexel is the only Saint, female or male to have been born in the U. S. after the birth of the nation in 1776. The other two were both born in what is now New York. St. Kateri Takawitha, canonized only this past year, was born in the 1680; and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, who was born only less than two years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
But it shouldn’t be too surprising. The Church has a 2,000+ year history, and the U. S. has only been around for 237 years. Also the standards for becoming a Saint are much more stringent than in times past. At one time, people became canonized by popular support. Later, the Church decided to formalize proceedings so that all people could know beyond reasonable doubt, that the person in question is actually in heaven. The best way to do that is by seeing evidence of their intercession, usually in the form of bona-fide miracles--which is why the Church investigates "miracles"so thoroughly.
I was reading about today’s Saint, Salvator of Horta at Americancatholic.org. The commentator make an important point. In it he says that in times past, some of the miracles that were wrought, would probably not be considered miracles per-se today. Some of the miracles performed by this Saint, could no doubt be attributed to psychological healings by helping people re-prioritize their lives, reducing stress, leading to better health and a better sense of well-being.
That in no way belittles the miracles. For the Creator of the Universe(s), healing cancer is a no-brainer. What is hard even for God, is changing a person’s life when He is up against human free-will, stubbornness, and hard hearts.
Keep in mind that becoming a Saint (with a capital “S”) is not a title we give them that would bestow anything new on them that they don’t already have. If Bishop Sheen is canonized, it does not mean that he is NOW being welcomed into heaven. It is us recognizing that he is already there and interceding on our behalf. And becoming a Saint also does not mean that NOW this person is worthy of our attention, veneration, and to be emulated by us. We can certainly do that before the person is declared to be such.