Every year on the first Sunday of November, we celebrate All Saints Sunday. How much do you know about the Episcopal Church’s understanding of saints?
Q. Aren’t saints just dead people?
A. Yes and no. Saints are extraordinary Christians whose lives bore strong witness to the power and love of God. Yes, they have died, but they live on in the glory of God, just as we all hope to do.
Q. Do we pray to saints?
A. No. Episcopalians believe strongly in praying directly to God. However, the lives of the saints can teach us much about our own life in God if we are willing to listen and learn from the stories of their life and witness.
Q. What’s the deal with icons and statues?
A. Having an icon or statue of a saint in your home or office is akin to having a family member’s photo in a frame. It has no power in itself and should not be worshipped, but it can remind you of the noble truths taught by that person’s life.
Q. Does the Episcopal Church have its own saints?
A. Our calendar of saints is composed of many holy men and women. Some have been adopted from the Catholic and Orthodox calendars, and others are found in the Episcopal calendar alone. Unique examples on the Episcopal calendar include prayer book author Thomas Cranmer, first American bishop Samuel Seabury, and civil rights leader Martin Luther King.
Q. How are saints chosen?
A. In the Episcopal Church, new holy men and women are proposed by various dioceses and voted on at our triennial General Convention. The Diocese of Georgia is currently petitioning to add a Georgia saint, Deaconess Anna Alexander, the first black deaconess ordained in America. Learn more about this extraordinary woman at www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vEP1ObvtSU.
Q. What about not-so-famous saints?
A. Many wonderful Christians have shown us God’s love, even those who aren’t famous. You’ve probably known a few. They, too, are “saints” in their own right and are typically commemorated on November 2, All Souls’ Day. At St. Anne’s, we also include them in our remembrances on All Saints’ Sunday.