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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
                 Wednesday, August 13 2003 

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

It's the saints (last in the series on role models)

Having criticized the Protestantism of my upbringing on Monday for not having enough regard for the saints of Christian history, I want to give more credit to the historic Protestant view today. The founders of Protestantism claimed that "glorification" (to use the main Eastern Orthodox word for it) or "canonization" (in Catholicsm) is at best an empty ritual and at worst, counter-productive. It's empty because only God knows who are the true saints and who are the most saintly in any generation. It's counter-productive if the run-of-the-mill church goer believes it's an ideal too far above him or her to even shoot for or, even worse, if they believe that the saints can be holy "on their behalf," they don't have to do it themselves.

The latter argument has been used widely as one of the Protestant criticisms of Catholicism. And to their credit, throughout much of the five centuries of Protestant history, most of their clergy and many of their faithful have practiced this preachment: we must all pursue righteousness. At least this is why I've always been led to believe serious Protestants make better role models than their neighbors: they swear less, drink, smoke, gamble less and have more stable marriages and families than the norm, and this is directly attributable to their belief that every believer must be personally accountable and holy before God. Of course this has eroded tremendously in the past century as part of the whole culture's sliding down to lower depths of godlessness.

Though I know the Catholic Catechism (simple summaries of the church's core beliefs) teaches that everyone must pursue his or her own relationship with God in holiness of life, there does seem widespread popular belief in the hope that the saints, and even the priests, can be the everyday believers' surrogates. I have yet to get well acquainted with anyone older than 20 who grew up Orthodox (all the people I know at my parish being converts like me), but it's certainly a theme of Orthodox spiritual writing that salvation consists of a personal relationship with God through Jesus, and anyone who believes she or he can get to the eternal kingdom of the Father without being sanctified ("made holy personally") is kidding him- herself.

I love an observation made by a fellow convert to Orthodoxy after he'd read his first couple of dozen books. He chose as his subject line to a post to a Protestant-Orthodox email list the slogan (adapted, I think, from an old beer commercial that claimed "it's the water"): it's the saints. He had been impressed in the right way by the right reason we have for reading the lives of saints. Not that they're so far above us we can't aspire, but because they're so close to us that we should aspire to be more and more like them.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

VACATION—Procedural note: for the next week I plan to be traveling on a brief vacation. As usual, the plan is to have the computer along and post whenever possible. But please be advised that some days we may be late, others very early, and on some may not be able to post at all. I look forward to writing "on the road" or (here's hoping) the friendly skies

More memories of the fabulous 'fifties

Here are some other things I would have told my son about my
childhood if I had figured his system could handle it.

We had to actually do something praiseworthy before we were praised.
We learned that you had to earn respect.
All newspapers were delivered by boys and most all boys delivered newspapers. I delivered the Evening Tribune six days a week. It cost 7 cents a paper, of which I got to keep 2 cents. On Saturday, I had to collect the 42 cents from my customers. My favorite customers were the ones who gave me 50 cents and told me to keep the change. My least favorite customers were the ones who seemed to never be home on collection day.

— Sent by Mary Ann Losiewcz

Thought for today

— Sent by Sallie Covolo

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