Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Tuesday Prompt: Mary Judith Ress: Saint


St. Jude, help of hopeless cases.
St Ann, find me a man. 
St. Anthony, patron of grimy little boys who’ve lost their caps, their shoes or their bus money.
St. Lucy, patroness of the blind (she had her eyes gouged out),.
St. Maria Goretti, saint young girls beseech to remain chaste on that first date (Maria died of 14 knife wounds, but fought off her would-be rapist).
St Rose of Lima, another patron saint of virgins. (When admired for her beauty, she cut off her hair and smeared pepper on her face, to foil would-be suitors).
St Martin de Porres, patron of the humble black man.
Our two Chilean saints, Teresa de Los Andes and Laura Vicuña:
            Teresa entered the Carmelites at age 14, and died of typhus nine months after she took her vows.
            Laura, patroness of incest and sexual abuse victims, died at 12.  She entered the convent to flee from a situation of domestic violence.
            Both pre-pubescent saints, not unlike the “Little Flower,” St. Therese of Lisieux.
Looking with a critical eye at the women raised to sainthood, they were cloistered young things who today would be analyzed as being afraid of men and of their own ripening sexuality.

            Sexy women have always been a stumbling block for a church that raises up Mary, the immaculate mother of Jesus, and bestows sainthood on Mary Magdalene, only because she supposedly lived in a cave as a penitent after Christ’s death. (Of course, now another story is emerging, thanks to Biblical studies, showing Magdalene as Jesus’ partner and co-founder of the Jesus Movement.) 
            Male saints are almost always celibate, although there is the occasional king or pope who lays claim to the title. Most gave their lives to the poor.  Francis of Assisi, Ignatius of Loyola, our own Padre Hurtado. Then there are the martyrs. They have to be raised to sainthood because of their sacrifice.  But, being headstrong, they are controversial. Bishop Romero still languishes---he’s not even been declared “Blessed”—while Jose María Belaguer, founder of Opus Dei, is a full-fledged saint.  
            But in the best of Catholic tradition, there is another side to sainthood. We, the faithful, declare our saints viva voce through sensus fidelium—our good sense.  The cryptic “odor of sanctity” supposedly surrounding would-be saints come to center stage:  do we smell that we are in the presence of holiness? 
    If so, they—you and me—pass the test. 
St Judy, presente!
St. Ellen, presente!
St. Susan, presente!  
St _______ (fill in the blank, sensus fidelium, dearie).  And there you have your saint.

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