Of Saints – and Their ‘Companions’, by Randall Smith

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St. Paul by Claude Vignon, c. 1622-24 [Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, MA]. “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (Romans 7:15)

By Randall Smith, The Catholic Thing, July 10, 2024

Randall B. Smith is a Professor of Theology at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas. His latest book is From Here to Eternity: Reflections on Death, Immortality, and the Resurrection of the Body.

Note: Be sure to tune in tomorrow, Thursday, July 11th at 8 PM Eastern to EWTN for a new episode of the Papal Posse on ‘The World Over.’ TCT Editor-in-Chief Robert Royal and contributor Fr. Gerald E. Murray will join host Raymond Arroyo to discuss Archbishop Vigano’s excommunication, further Latin Mass restrictions (projected to come later this month), as well as other developments in Rome and the U.S. Check your local listings for the channel in your area. Shows are usually available shortly after first airing on the EWTN YouTube channel.


The other day someone asked me whether only those recognized as “saints” are in Heaven. I get this question quite a lot, actually. Sometimes it takes this form: “So, is it possible that my grandma is in Heaven, even though she’s not a saint?” – where the underlying sub-text seems to be: “She’s not a saint, and she definitely wasn’t a saint.” There are two issues here, not one, so let’s take them up separately.

I have to wonder what people think saints were like in life. There seems to be this presumption that men and women who are now recognized as “saints” were all quiet, clean, orderly, and pious. Most saints were far from “saintly,” if by “saintly,” you mean something like what one sees in certain pious Gothic sculptures and Renaissance paintings – people always deep in prayer or walking around with their eyes turned up to Heaven even when being stabbed with hot pokers. They never swore; they never got angry; they never had doubts; they never had bad thoughts. …

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