THE CONCILIAR CONSTITUTION
On the Veneration, Intercession, and Canonization of the Saints
THE CONGREGATION FOR SACRED TEXTS
On the Veneration, Intercession, and Canonization of the Saints
THE CONGREGATION FOR SACRED TEXTS
1. The Communion of Saints, or rather, that body of the blessed dead who, through the immense and sovereign majesty of the Holy Light, have attained that blessed end which all the Illuminati desire--namely, enteral union with the Light in the most blessed Dawn--enjoy an exalted status within the Church as both model and intercessor of the whole of the faithful. Accepting through faith and the expressed virtue of their lives the Light's eternal gift of mercy, the saints are purified from the sinfulness of our fallen state. Only by this purification are they able to participate in the unity all the faithful seek, and only by merit of this unification are they able to serve as effective intercessors for all the living.
2. Therefore, the holiness of their state is not something which may be attributed to their own merit. Indeed, it is solely the holiness of the Light which enables the faithful soul to holiness--yet the faith they experienced and expressed in their mortal lives served as the means by which the saints accepted the free gift of the Light's mercy. Thus, their union with the Light does not constitute a mutual merging of the Light and the saint into one another, but of the saint divesting himself entirely to be welcomed into the Light's loving embrace--restored to the blessedness intended for all mortals.
The Veneration of the Saints
3. Since the Light and the saints differ by their very nature, the response due to them on the part of the faithful must also be distinguished. Indeed, only the Holy Light--blessed, undivided, perfect, holy, and true--is worthy of adoration. In the ancient language of the Church, the word latreia is used to identify this sort of adoration. In the common parlance, this term may be best identified as "worship". It is only the Light which receives the lateia of the Church--which is expressed most fully in the sacred liturgy. Indeed, in all circumstances, the sacred liturgy and private prayer is addressed to the Light and the Light alone.
4. Yet, the saints, by merit of their eternal union with the Light, enjoy the respect and honor of the faithful. In the ancient language of the Church, the word dulia is used to identify this sort of honor. In the common parlance, this term may be best identified as "veneration". Veneration never constitutes worship. In practice, this means that the faithful may address the Light in prayer, by expressing honor for the saints. In other words, prayer may never be addressed to the saints--since the saints are not capable of hearing or answering prayers by their own power. This belongs to the Light alone.
5. However, the saints do not cease to sense in their state. Rather, their senses are perfected by their unity with the Light such that they too are aware of our needs by their closeness to the Light--to whom all our needs are addressed. Nor do the saints lose their ability to act in this union. For only those in an imperfect state lack freedom, but the perfected soul is totally freed by the Light. Thus, the saint is capable of acting on our needs by their own faculty.
The Intercession of the Saints
6. By virtue of this freedom, the saints are capable of aiding the living by interceding on their behalf. In other words, as mortals express their needs to the Light, the saints may likewise join their voices to the prayer of the fainthearted. Indeed, if we, who are separated from the Light by sin, may be heard by the Light which is perfect, how much more may they, who have been unified totally in holiness with the Light, be heard?
7. The faithful, therefore, are capable of asking such intercession from the saints. Indeed, it is this that the Church often does when addressing the saints in the liturgy. In practice, this means that the faithful may request one of the blessed to intercede on their behalf. Such a request doubly avails the sinner unto holiness. Firstly, by honoring the saints in such a way, the sinner recognizes the blessedness into which he may be joined. Secondly, in his imperfection and sinfulness, the sinner gains the unwavering intercession of one who is incapable of sin and who is totally unified with the perfection of the Light. Yet, a third benefit also arises: namely, the Light, who has seen fit to raise the saint to holiness, is glorified by the honoring of its servant. For, the good master exalts not only in his own honor, but in that of his slave. Likewise, good parents are always honored by the praise of their children.
8. Thus, the economy of prayer which exists between the Church mortal and the Church sanctified is an expression of that charity which is born only of the virtues. For, in our veneration of the saints, respect is fostered. In their intercession, tenacity is made manifest. And, in the mutual adoration of the Light by both the sinner and the saint, compassion is given to the Church by the Light.
The Canonization of the Saints
9. In order to aid the faithful to participate in this mystery, the Church has, through the ages, identified publicly certain members of the faithful who, by their faith and their lives, have most assuredly accepted the gift of the Light and joined with It eternally in the Dawn. These blessed men and women are called "saints". Yet, it is not the recognition of the Church which grants them such an exalted status. Rather, it is this recognition which avails the faithful to knowledge of such a union. Indeed, there are surely many more saints who dwell forever in the heights which the Church does not, and may never, acknowledge publicly, but shall one day be revealed to us in the Dawn. These too enjoy the freedom which all the saints enjoy with the Light and, in the humility of their hidden state, serve as strong intercessors for the whole of the Church and are duly honored on that most solemn feast of the Light's Dawn and all the Saints.
10. Still, since the Church mortal is limited by the perception of our fallen state, only a few of the blessed are identified for the public veneration of the faithful. These constitute those saints who have receive "canonization"--or rather, have been accepted canonically (that is, by law) as members of the blessed. Such a declaration is not made lightly by the Church, for it constitutes a tenant which is binding de fide, that is, by faith on the whole of the people. Such a status may not be revoked, and therefore may only be declared by that most admiral and noble authority which only rests in the supreme vicar of the Light: the Archbishop.
11. Though the Archbishop, by virtue of his status as supreme legislator and judge of all things spiritual and temporal in the world, is always capable of such a declaration by his own authority, it is, however, the general practice of the Church that in the consideration of the canonization of a saint, many authoritative bodies are consulted among whom are, firstly, this noble body of the Congregation for Sacred Doctrine, upon whom rests the duty of considering the consonance of the candidate's expressed faith with that of the infallible teaching of the Church. Secondly, the Congregation for the Inquisition, whose purpose is to consider the merit of the candidate in regards to the practice of his life. And, finally, the Congregation for Education, whose purpose is to consider if the canonization will be beneficial to the devotion of the faithful.
12. Yet, in all things, the Promotor of the canonization, be that an individual or local church, is responsible for presenting the cause for canonization to these bodies and to the Archbishop, and to responding to all official inquiries from any of these bodies.
13. Because it seems behooving unto the edification of the faithful that the structure of the process of canonization be expressed fully, this Sacred Congregation, by virtue of its authority as the protector of the entire deposit of faith and guarantor of the teaching authority of the Church, hereby decrees the following processes which, in general cases, is to be observed in the cause for the canonization of a saint. However, it is the will of this Congregation that the supreme authority of the Archbishop be once again recalled as having the ability to overlook one or the entirety of this process, as is necessary for the good of the faithful.
14. In promoting the cause for canonization for a saint, the Promoter is to submit an official petition to His Holiness, the Archbishop, and to the prefects of the sacred congregations for Doctrine, Inquisition, and Education. In this petition should be included the necessary information about the saint's life which will aid these bodies in the consideration of the cause. Once the cause is officially accepted by the Archbishop, the candidate for canonization may be addressed with the title "Venerable"
15. In each cause for canonization, four considerations are to be given:
- First, that the deceased never expressed publicly, or at least without retraction, views which are directly contrary to the deposit of the faith;
- second, that the deceased never committed publicly or privately, at least without public repentance or private confession to a priest, actions which are contrary to the virtues, provided the repented action was not ongoing;
- third, that the deceased performed some great work, or miracle, or sacrifice, or provided some great example which will avail the faithful unto holiness;
- and finally, that the canonization of the deceased will be for the welfare of at least some body of the Church, and never the cause of scandal or division within the whole body.
16. Having considered the whole of the matter himself, as well as the recommendation of the individual congregations as they may apply, the Archbishop alone is free to make the public declaration of canonization. Such a declaration always occurs within the context of the sacred Liturgy, at which point the Archbishop announces the date upon which the saint shall be annually commemorated.
17. The formula for such a declaration is as follows. The Archbishop, wearing the sacred tiara and bearing his pastoral staff, says: "In the name of the Light, I, by the Light's own goodness the supreme legislator and judge of all things spiritual and temporal, do decree that N. is to be hereafter added to that body of saints which is worthy of the veneration of the faithful, and that his (her) memory shall be solemnly celebrated with joy each year on D."
18. The declaration must likewise be made public in written form by the chief notary. Likewise, the liturgical texts of the commemoration are to be submitted by the Promoter to the Congregation for Sacred Doctrine for review and revision, or the texts may be drawn up entirely by the same congregation. In either case, the text is immediately added to the Codex of Rites, and should be included in all future printings.
This Sacred Congregation wishes the eternal blessing of the Light upon all. Grace and peace of the Light be with you.
Dom MICHAEL Nicholls, O.S.C.
Archabbot of Northshire
Prefect of the Congregation for Sacred Doctrine
Given at Northshire, on the twenty-seventh day of July, in the six-hundred twenty-sixth year of the King's rule, the third year of the blessed reign of Archbishop Alonsus II.