Saturday, March 21, 2015

Divine Madness

It occurred to me during the recent St. Patrick's Day how many great stories we have surrounding the Apostle of Ireland. Which made me think about all the other great stories we have about saints in general.

After that, I tried to imagine what the reaction would be like to these sorts of personalities if they were with us today. For example, consider the impressions people get when they hear about folks in Opus Dei who wear a cilice or use the discipline. Typically, they are horrified. If not horrified, they at least take the view that such people are weirdos and possibly even mentally ill.

Now compare that to this guy:

This is St. Symeon the Stylite. St. Symeon lived on top of a pillar for 37 years. The space at the top was about 1 meter square. This was how he did penance for the world.

This is Catherine of Siena.

Once, St. Catherine was having difficulty taking care of lepers she was trying to help out. Their sores and such were just too gross for her. She solved this problem by draining pus from one of the sores and drinking it. That got her over her disgust. 

The list goes on and on. Saints who jumped into thorn bushes and rolled around in them to strike back temptations. Saints who beat themselves with iron chains. Saints who wore nothing but rags, spent their lives begging, or spent all of their spare time in adoration. Saints who worked out the spiritual combat in bodily suffering and abuse from demons. And yes, saints who went to war for the honor of God.

Oh, and let's not even get into the saints who would be stoned for hate speech. Daring to call our Faith the True Faith, pursuing the conversion of Protestants/Jews/Muslims, condemning the sins of homosexuality and adultery? How quick would they be thrown out on their ears?

All of these people would now be regarded as insane fanatics who should be committed to institutions. When you hear about people advocating for a "radical" Catholicism, remember the examples we already have. Then ask yourself if this kind of personal mortification and/or commitment to orthodoxy is what they are talking about. 

Or when people lambaste these kinds of activities, recall who they are actually referencing when doing so. 

We know what saints look like. Chances are, it's nothing like us.

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