In his latest book Angels and Saints: A Biblical Guide to Friendship with God’s Holy Ones, Scott Hahn leads the reader on a journey to discover the heavenly realm of the spiritual. As always he presents his topic deeply rooted in scriptual facts. You will come away from this book with the realization that angels and saints truly are our friends along our journey of life.
The book is divided into two parts. The first part details what it means to be holy and a saint. The distinction is made clear in a fascinating explanation on the use of the word holy. In the Old Testament the Hebrew word kodesh (holy) is reserved for God alone. There is no reference to anyone being a saint. “But no man at this time is a “saint.” Noah is a “just man”. Moses is a “man of God.” David is a man after Gods own heart.”
Upon establishing this point Scott points out an up to that point unheard of distinction. In the New Testament when the angel Gabriel appears to Mary he states: the child to be born will be called holy. “Look at the significance of this. How many times have we heard this during Advent and possibly passed it by? The child Jesus is called by God’s name! He possesses a quality that belongs properly only to God!”
Further in the book another observation. Now that Jesus walked as God amongst his people, everything changed. Previously unheard of actions took place. In scripture we read that Jesus touched lepers, a corpse and a bleeding woman. These were all actions that under the law of Moses were enough to render a man unfit to enter the temple. “Holiness broke into the world when the Word became flesh, and it broke out in unexpected places. No longer in the reserve of Jerusalem’s precincts, no longer exclusively amid the people of Israel, no longer confined to the twenty-four hours of the Sabbath, holiness erupted into the ordinary lives of ordinary people everywhere.”
Taking this a step further, Scott discusses the new covenant through Christ and communion with God through the sacraments. He states “Before the coming of Jesus Christ, Greek-speaking Jews would never, ever use the word koinonia (communion) to describe relations between God and human beings.” We are all now a part of the communion of saints tasked to help and pray for each other…on both sides of heaven.
In Part II of the book Scott provides brief sketches of some holy ones and saints. These are chapters on their lives that were provided as sources of meditation on some truly holy people. Included are St. Michael the Archangel, Moses, St. Paul, St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Irenaeus, St. Jerome, St. Monica, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Josemaria Escriva and last but not least Mary, Mother of the Church. Each of the twelve covered, provides a good overview of their example as a holy person (or angel in some cases) of faith. From the introduction, “I pray that these saints will lead us all to a deeper understanding of the Church, the perfect society they share with us.”
Angels and saints are everywhere and if you don’t already believe that you certainly will after reading this book. Ultimately each and every one of us is called to be a saint. This book gives the reader solid examples of others that have achieved that already. Scott also shows how those who have gone before are still with us. There truly is a communion of saints and though they may have passed to the spiritual realm, they are with us on our own journeys of faith. You would do well reading this book and learn more about the angels and saints who accompany us through our lives on this earthly plane.
I received a copy of the book for this review from the publisher, Image Books.