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Guest Column

When is a Saint not a Saint?
By John Walsh
Feb 9, 2014 - 12:10:30 AM

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Born into a staunch Roman Catholic Family in Ireland, I have for many years now lived in America. I spent my formative years however, being educated in Melbourne Victoria in Australia.

Australian culture owes a lot to the Irish, and all Irish jokes aside, there is a strong kinship between Australians and the Irish. There is also a lot of kinship with the Scots, and one Australian born Scot has recently made headlines that does the heart proud of every Roman Catholic. The headline of which I speak is that Mother Mary MacKillop of blessed memory (as we Irish like to say); founder of the Sisters of Saint Joseph, is to be canonized and made an official Saint of the Roman Catholic Church.

I'm sure every 'Mick' in Australia is jumping for joy over that news, and not a few Scots back in the Highlands and the Heather. It is a great day to be sure to be sure to be sure!

The Roman Catholic issue concerning 'Saints' however, is one of those fiddly wee things that the protestants like to make a big deal about sometimes; the reason being the prerequisites to canonization.

In the 'Catalik' church you see, before you can become an official saint, you have to have performed a few miracles. And there's the rub! How can dead people work miracles?

It's a prickly issue for sure, because as the 'heretics' rightly point out, there is only one mediator between God and Man and that is Jesus; and the souls of the departed are separated from us.

But you know if you look at the Miraclous healing in Luke 17:11-19, Jesus attributed the one leper's healing to 'his faith'. There were 10 lepers in all, but only one was healed.

The Catholic Church teaches that the departed intercede for us with Jesus, and the bible says that Jesus intercedes for us. Is the Roman Catholic Church right or wrong? No matter the answer, how do we explain a miracle that comes from someone praying to a departed saint?

Perhaps we just put it down to a person's faith. If I believe that my long lost uncle Joe will intercede with Jesus for a miracle, and then I get the miracle, does it matter whether Uncle Joe took the lift up or down on his deathbed? I got the miracle didn't I?

I believe that it is my 'faith' which initiates the miracle. Now if you want to believe differently, then so be it, but I really have a hard time with those of a more 'rigid' religious mindset, insisting that the miracle is the devil's work. Fancy saying that I got a miracle from the devil while all your prayers to God got you nothing. It's a thick hide that can say that I think!

My evangelical friends tell me that I must believe in Jesus, and I do. Then they say that is not enough. They say I have to say a sinner's prayer. Are they taking the 'micky' out of me? Every time I go to confession I say a sinner's prayer, but apparently that isn't enough.

Some tell me that I need to be Baptised by being half drowned in a swimming pool. So what then I asked them. Am I saved yet? Not bloody likely! Then I have to take out membership in their church and go to their bible studies and believe everything that they believe.

You'd think that would be an easy decision to make wouldn't you? Then another bible thumper comes along and tells me that unless my baptism is prayed over in just the right way, it is null and void. Saints preserve us, who can you trust?

I figured long ago that it is best just to trust God to understand that it is an impossible thing to know which church is right.

I don't know if the Sainted Mary Mackillop did or did not do any miracles, but I sure as hell am going to try and find out. I'm off to find a statue of her, and beg her indulgence to intercede with Jesus to provide me with an answer to the question. If I get that miraculous answer, then I'll know for sure that the blessed Mary is a saint. I only hope she doesn't tell me to start going to the Baptist church down the road.

Bye for now.
John Walsh.

Not wanting to reach heaven or hell faster than is God's plan, I have not provided my email address or other particulars. If anyone really feels the urge to give me a tongue lashing, they can send their messages to Mr. BenDedek who has agreed to forward any emails.

A Merry Christmas to you all!

Editorial: Mary MacKillop's Story can be found at

Photos here and also here

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