Being canonized a saint is somewhat analogous to being inducted into the Hall of Fame. They are recognized for extraordinary holiness and heroic virtue as models for us to imitate and learn from. The process of canonization takes years and sometimes centuries. A committee closely scrutinizes the persons life, looking for evidence of great holiness and heroic virtue. One of the members of the committee is nicknamed the “devil's advocate” because his job is to look for significant faults and any evidence whatsoever, that the person does not deserve to be canonized. Furthermore, at least two authenticated miracles, as a signs from God, are required as a result of that person's intercession. There must be no doubt that the cure was supernatural and could not have happened by natural or psychological means. An example may be the sudden disappearance of an advanced malignant cancer.
Do Catholics pray to the dead? How could we? Canonized saints are alive and with God in heaven. We're certain of that by virtue of the fact that they are canonized. Thus we can honor them and have a devotion to them. Of course, Christ is the only intermediary between man (in the generic sense) and God. However, we can ask a saint to pray for us in the same manner that I am asking friends and the sick I minister to pray for the success of our Newman Club and offer their crosses for itl
Do Catholics pray to Mary and saints? Some do ask them for prayers, the same as I may ask you to pray for me over a problem or illness. Some saints may have a certain power that God may give them to use according to His will. The Hail Mary prayer to Mary is Biblical, found in Luke 1:28,42. Mary's role is to nurture the faith and bring people closer to her son, protect them, teach them, etc. She is so intimately united to her son that she is always aware of His will and is subservient to it.
Above all, Mary prays for us, nurtures our faith, and serves as models of heroic virtue and unusual holiness. In no way can a saint ever replace God. Devotion to Mary or a saint is completely optional. Of course, one may go directly to God. However, Mary purifies our petition and magnifies our prayers, sacrifices, and offerings. Mary interceded at Cana for the newly weds , who were out of wine. She told her son: “They have no wine.” A few minutes later. She told the servants her servants” “Do what He tells you”. You know the rest of the story from John 2:1-11. Mary also intercedes today as the Queen Mother in the heavenly court. Similarly in the Old Testament the Queen Mother had a place of special honor and influence in the King's court.......much more so than any of the King's many wives.
Every prayer directly or indirectly has the Bible as its root, e.g. petition – “Whatever you ask in my name shall be granted to you”. The Bible is a prayer in itself and inspires more prayer. Every saint must be inspired by the Bible or s/he cannot become a saint. The saints inspire us to holiness by their example of heroic virtue and love of God, which lead us to a greater interest in the Bible. Their stories and writings are great supplements to the Bible, which help us to understand the Word of God in greater depth.
Can you become a saint? Of course you can. Anyone can become a saint, although probably not canonized. By definition, a saint is anyone who makes it to Heaven. We are all called to be saints; we are all called to holiness. Practice the ten points mentioned in Blog #18 and some day you will be a saint honored on “All Saints Day”, one of millions of other unknown saints who loved God above all things and loved their neighbors as themselves .