By Rev. Rebecca
There is some diversity of thought and practice in regard to the saints within the Anglican tradition. However, most Anglicans would agree that we don't and should not "pray" to the saints (prayer is offered to God alone, indeed God alone can be the recipient of prayer). And it goes without saying that the worship of the saints is idolatry and absolutely not allowed. However, this does not mean that we cannot commune with the saints; in fact, we can always ask them for their prayers and intercessions. If there are people who have died who have shown themselves to be very godly and holy, we can feel just as comfortable asking them for their intercessions and prayers as we would asking a godly person who is still living for their prayers. As the author of Hebrews writes in chapter 12:1, “we are surrounded by so a great a cloud of witnesses.” These witnesses are the “communion of saints” that we affirm in the Apostle’s Creed, and this is the spiritual communion of the living and the dead.
Anglicans do not formally “canonize” saints the way the Roman Catholic Church does, however we do observe all the major saint’s days exactly as was practiced prior to the Reformation. In the Episcopal Church we also have our own “Lesser Feasts and Fasts” calendar. Individuals on that calendar include many people of faith you would not find in a strictly traditional saints calendar. It includes individuals like Martin Luther King Jr., Evelyn Underhill, John Wesley, and the martyrs of Uganda; because their witness is something we want to remember and honor in order to encourage us in our own journeys of faith. This, after all, is what all Christians seek to become. In that sense, our calendar reflects the idea that all believers are indeed “saints,” we simply see it as helpful to commemorate some outstanding believers to serve as examples to us all.