Saints Here On Earth And There In Heaven (“Mother Teresa” Part 2)

I feel both honored and humbled that well-known Catholic apologist and priest, Father Abraham Arganiosa (“Splendor1618” of “The Splendor of the Church” blog), took the time to respond to my blog article about Mother Teresa. (You may download his reply here.) 

Father Arganiosa is the honorary spiritual  adviser of the strongest Catholic apologetics group in the Philippines, “Catholic Faith Defenders.” I am thankful for this privilege. He even called what I wrote as “very interesting and worth reading.” 

Thus, having said that, I don’t intend this reply to his response to end up as a running debate. Instead, I value reasonable and respectful dialogues regarding faith issues. However, before I answer the arguments he raised in favor of “praying to the saints,” I would like to make a very important clarification.

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I’m surprised that Father Arganiosa wrote, “It is too much stretch of imagination my dear Pastor Ey to deny the existence of the saints in heaven. (emphasis added) [1] He also wrote in response to my explanation of Romans 1:17,
You are suffocating the verse dear Pastor Ey Cortes. [sic] You are also stretching it to impose your belief that there is no saints in heaven. (Emphasis added)
I wonder where in my blog did Father Arganiosa get that idea? For it’s clear in my article that I do not deny at all the existence of our dearly departed brothers and sisters in Christ or “saints” in heaven. In fact, we Evangelicals teach that according to the Bible a believer would go straight to heaven. According to 2 Corinthians 5:8, “Yet we are courageous, and we would rather leave the body and go home to the Lord.” [2]

I actually wrote in my blog that “the word ‘saint’ in the New Testament does not only refer to a departed brother or sister in Christ.” Father Arganiosa also pointed out,
You unwittingly admitted that it is “not exclusive” to the believers here on earth. You didn’t say “only to the believers on earth” but “mostly” which is an indirect admission that the saints are not only the believers on earth; there are others. (Emphasis added)
For us Catholics the term saints refers not only to the believers here in earth but also to the saved, justified and glorified spirits or souls of the believers in heaven. If they are saints here on earth then they will be saints still and much more in eternal life with God in heaven. No more, no less.
The fact that they are human beings worshiping God in heaven shows that there are saints in heaven. Please use your logic and common sense in reading the Word of God dear Pastor Ey. (Emphasis added)
It is clear in my blog that I pointed out that the word “saint” applies also to Christians who already died and are there in heaven and not only to believers who are still alive and are here on earth. I actually agree with him on that part of his reply since that was what I also wrote in my blog. But it was not something I did “unwittingly,” or as one dictionary defined it, “accidentally.” It was actually intentional after reading all the verses that used the word “saint.” I even noted in my article that “1 Thessalonians 3:13 refers to souls of believers coming with the Lord when he returns.” 

So, with all due respect, I don’t really understand why he had to claim that I denied the existence of saints in heaven. I don’t think disagreeing with the intercession of the saints in heaven is equivalent to denying their existence in heaven.

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Father Arganiosa also wrote that “it is very obvious that you are ignorant of Catholic theology and doctrine”, that I “lack… knowledge and understanding”, which he hopes to correct in his reply. I admit the fact that it’s not enough that I was a baptized Catholic, a faithful mass-goer and a member of the Legion of Mary in our local parish before I became an Evangelical believer. However, that’s the very reason why I visited the “Catholic Answers” website when I did my research for the article. I believe I found a good resource since Father Arganiosa himself acknowledged that it “is the biggest Catholic apologetic organization in the United States.” So, I was careful in representing what the Catholic Church believes on this issue. I just hope such is also extended to me and what I wrote.

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Logic and common sense compel us to, as the late Stephen Covey wrote, “Seek to understand then to be understood.” That includes not erecting the proverbial straw man in refuting an opposing thought. A straw man is “an insubstantial concept, idea, endeavor or argument, particularly one deliberately set up to be weakly supported, so that it can be easily knocked down; especially to impugn the strength of any related thing or idea.” [3] While assuming the sincere intent of Father Arganiosa, his claim that I denied the existence of saints in heaven seemingly borders on such an argument. I sought to understand the Catholic position. I hope I would be given the same courtesy.

Seeking to understand and represent fairly an opposing idea add light and not heat in a reasonable, respectful dialogue on faith issues.

For your reference:

The Mother Teresa articleThe reply of a Catholic priest.

My response: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

[1] The reply of Father Arganiosa was in all capital letters. I had to retype it to be easy on the eyes.

[2] All Bible verses are from the New American Bible (Revised Edition), unless otherwise noted.


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