The news that two Central New York Roman Catholics from history will be canonized as saints this weekend is being met today with excitement by many Roman Catholics in the area, including a couple hundred who have traveled to Rome to participate in the big doings.
The news is met by me with one word, three syllables: "Whoop-de-doo!"
Mother Marianne is a Syracuse native who went to Hawaii and set up a leper colony in Kalaupapa. She served there from 1883 until 1918. Kateri Tekawitha was a Mohawk Indian convert to Catholicism in the 17th century and lived near present day Albany, NY. Her claim to fame is that she took a vow of chastity and lived as a virgin until her death at the age of 24.
I don't mean to make light of Mother Marianne's sacrificial service, or Tekawita's virginity, but service to lepers and purity is not the issue here. The issue is what the Roman Catholics claim when they declare someone to be a saint. By the way, what's the big deal about someone actually doing what is commanded of all believers? How bad has it gotten that someone who remains sexually pure needs to get rewarded? Doesn't that fall under what Jesus talked about: being an unprofitable servant doing only what He has commanded?
In order to be a saint in the Roman Catholic Church, one must have some miracle attached to their lives, either during their lifetime or later. In both of these cases, the miracles are attributed a long time after they actually walked this earth. One Central New Yorker claims to have been healed from a pancreatic ailment by praying to Mother Marianne in 2005. A kid from Washington State claims to have been healed of a flesh eating disease because of praying to Tekawitha in 2006.
I don't question the validity of their healing. I do question the source.
You can pray to dead people all day long and it is a waste of time. God hears prayers. Nowhere in the Bible are we commanded or is it even suggested that we should pray to dead believers. However, the Scriptures are full of admonitions to pray to God. We are encouraged to "pour out our hearts" to Him in Psalm 62:8.
Were these people healed? Very possibly. The source of their healing was not a superstitious prayer to a dead person, but God. He causes the blessing of rain to fall on the just and the unjust. Because God is merciful, He allowed these people to be healed. Until they repent of falsely crediting their healings to dead people and start crediting them to God, they are guilty of idolatry and will not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).
Question: when I have an invitation from the very God who created this universe with spoken words, why would I waste my time going to dead saints? Just set aside the question of how do we know that these people had anything whatsoever to do with these healings for a moment. How these things are "verified" by the Vatican can also be set aside. According to the Bible, who answers prayer? Dead believers or God? 1 John 5:14-15 makes it clear that it is God who answers prayer. He hears us when we pray according to His will and He answers.
The issue of Tekawitha's post-death appearances is another issue which fails the test of Scriptural support. She is reported to have appeared to three people and told them that they were to tell others that she was on her way to Heaven. Let's assume for a moment that she was not trusting in the doctrines of salvation that the Roman Catholic Church taught (not likely considering her beatification and canonization), especially in the 17th century, and that her faith was actually Biblical. If so, why would she need to tell others she was headed to Heaven? Jesus told the story of the rich man and Lazarus and it is recorded that the rich man's brothers would not repent even if one rose from the dead to plead with them. Did Tekawitha know something Jesus didn't? Considering that the Apostle Paul said that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord, then why would she be "on her way". The truly saved believer is ushered at the moment of his or her death into the presence of Jesus Himself. There is no need for a GPS or to pack for a journey.
The Roman Catholic Church is not Christian by any reasonable definition of the term. It is a pagan institution, incorporating elements of pagan idolatry in their worship and denying the source of truth that all true Christians embrace: the Bible.