VI: The Saints

Q: What is a Saint?

A: Derived from the Latin sanctus, the word "saint" means "holy." As such saints are holy ones, those who have been chosen by God and set apart for a divine purpose. In a broad sense all Christians are saints because all Christians have been chosen by God, marked by the Cross of Christ in Holy Baptism, and set apart to bear witness in the world to God's grace. In a narrow sense the saints are Christians whom the church has designated as exemplary models of the Christian life, notably the apostles.

The Augsburg Confession states, "It is also taught among us that saints should be kept in remembrance so that our faith may be strengthened when we see what grace they received and how they were sustained by faith." We as Lutherans do not consider saints sinless nor do we invoke them to mediate with God on our behalf. We thank God for the saints' examples, let their examples strengthen us, and seek to imitate those examples as best as we can.

One way that we remember the saints is by observing saints' days and commemorations. A saint's day is usually the day that the saint died, often by being martyred, and entered eternal life. The Lutheran Service Book contains an extensive list of commemorations of significant persons in church history (page xii).

Some saints' days may be observed when they occur on any Sunday in the seasons after Pentecost or Epiphany. The hymns, prayer of the day, lessons, and sermon would reflect the person's life. Saints' days and commemorations provide an appropriate theme for weekday celebrations. Observing the saints' days and commemorations enriches the liturgical year as it enriches our spiritual lives.

Adapted from About Being Lutheran © Lutheran Liturgical Renewal 1991. Used by permission.