John Paul II was Beatified? What does that mean?
If you've turned on the TV in the last few days and tuned on to the news, you might have noticed a 30 second sliver of news, between the RIDICULOUSLY extensive coverage of the Royal Wedding, of something going on in Rome. Something that they're doing with the bones of Pope John Paul II.
It's called a BEATIFICATION. What does that mean?
Its a little confusing. I'm not gonna lie. But it is a very cool thing.
By Beatifying a person, the Catholic church is saying that its "worthy of belief" that the person in question is in heaven. So, basically, the Church is saying John Paul II is in heaven.
How do we know? Well, in order for a person to be beatified, at least one miracle has to take place through their "intercession" - that means someone asked the dead person to pray for them to God, and their prayer was answered. OR, a person can also be beatified by being named a martyr - their faith resulted in their death.
Why would they need a miracle? Why couldn't we say JPII is in heaven just because he was such a good Christian in his lifetime? Because it isn't "being a good Christian" that gets us in to heaven. It's God's grace. People don't earn their way in to heaven.
So that's why (unless they're a martyr) a miracle is required to show that they must be close to God in heaven.
But don't we do that for everyone, especially at their funeral? Believe they went to heaven? Well, strictly speaking, no - we HOPE they went to heaven, but don't know for sure. They might still be in the transitional state between this world and heaven, called Purgatory - click HERE if you want to know that that is. Or they might be somewhere else altogether.
So, why don't we just call them a Saint then? Uh, well, (this is where I get a little confused too), a Saint is someone that we know FOR SURE is in heaven. What's the difference? I'm not exactly sure.
But the difference for us between someone who is beatified and someone who is canonized (that means proclaimed a saint) is that we can have feast days after Saints all over the world. Beatified people can only have these named after them where they're from. We wouldn't normal name a Church after a Beatified person, just a Saint.
What does this mean for JPII? Well it means that from now on we'll call him BLESSED John Paul II, that is until such time as he IS canonized, which I think will probably be within the next decade - and then we'll call him SAINT John Paul II.
If you don't completely understand what all this SAINT stuff is all about, and want to learn more about it, click HERE.