Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Vampire - a gay metaphor? (REVISED)

(I mistakenly posted this in the draft stage - hopefully I can do some damage repair on it! And maybe it will be more coherent than the new RSV Bible translation.)

Have you ever noticed that vampire movies are replete with sexual tension?

The vampire steals into the bedroom of his victim and assaults him - or her, sucking the life-blood of his victim in order to feed his craving, thus continuing his life amongst the living dead. It is a totally selfish act, exploiting the victim for the vampire's pleasure, without regard for his victim's humanity and eternal soul.

Again, I'm thinking about the Ted Haggard scandal! Although I am not implying he is the victim here.

I believe, in cases of married men seeking same sex pleasure, there are those who unconsciously attempt to derive some sort of affirmation of their sexuality, their maleness, while asserting a sense of power or dominance over the other. On the other hand, the gay man, again unconsciously as well as symbolically, may be seeking to 'sap' this energy - that is, the man's virility, away from the other - it becomes a 'victory' of sorts. Gays refer to 'tops' and 'bottoms' in their sexual partnerships, which translates to dominant and submissive behavior. The 'roles' can be interchangeable, yet the terminology is very telling, as well as fundamentally demeaning. It is the epitome of weakness.

Many homosexuals are attracted to the 'manly man', the straight, masculine man, due in part to their insecurity regarding their own manhood. Because the straight man appears to be so unobtainable, he may present a challenge, thus becoming more attractive to the active, and/or passive homosexual. When one considers that one of the 'cures' for same-sex attraction is a wholesome, non-genital same-sex friendship, it is obvious that sexual encounters between men represent this need to find affirmation and validation of their masculinity, albeit perverted by genital expression.

Descending to the level of anonymous homosexual encounters in latrines or any other semi-public place, as well as in the solicitation of a prostitute, men encounter the more predatory homosexual. The encounter must be more sexually exciting because of the danger of being caught. It would be an adrenaline rush. I imagine it has to have something to do with the excitement of the illicit along with the risk involved. Regardless of the motivation, what is happening is a mutual exploitation for sexual pleasure, yet more deeply, a vain attempt to satiate an obscure psychological, emotional, and spiritual deficit. (Although the hedonist may well be simply seeking pleasure for pleasure sake.)

Married or unmarried, homosexual or heterosexual, all promiscuous men enjoy the chase, the hunt, and catching their prey. While some men may continue to enjoy the hunt after marriage, even if they 'play' the part of the pursued - they are still hunting. The dynamics are so much more complicated than these thoughts, and I ought not generalize so arbitrarily. Nevertheless, I keep wondering what is it that would cause a married man to leave his marriage bed for another man?

The next time you watch a vampire movie, look for the homosexual overtones - or rather, all the perverted metaphors - then connect these to the actions of certain types in our culture. I think the vampire has to be a metaphor for the many types of aberrant sexual behavior that occur in our decadent society.

(I don't know if I tackled this issue very well.)

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Vocation of Lay Brother

Today is the memorial of St. Martin de Porres, a wonderful mystic from Lima, Peru. He was of mixed blood, born of a Spanish father and a negro mother. He entered the Dominican order as a familiar, not having the status of a professed religious, although I believe he became a lay brother later.

He is known as a patron of peace and justice. His ministry to the poor who came to the monastery, as well as his medical knowledge caused him to be very popular amongst Lima's lower class. He is often shown in art with little domestic animals, with whom he enjoyed a special relationship and understanding, perhaps much like our father Adam.

All of his attributes, portrayed in art or literature, exist to illustrate for us his remarkable holiness and union with God. He wasn't a la-ti-da romantic, rather a penitent whose penances are rather repulsive to read about for the modern anglo mind. Gifted in prayer he was known for miraculous occurrences, such as levitation and bi-location. All the while exercising himself in his duties with the simplest practicality and devotion.

What we see in him is a humble soul exalted by God, given the immense grace of union with God in charity. This is what devotional paintings attempt to convey, his participation in the very life of God with the peace and joy, and reconciliation with nature Divine Grace effects in the purified soul.

After Vatican II, the status of lay brother in most monasteries and religious orders changed, there remained little distinction between choir religious and lay religious, most became brothers of more or less equal status, save for those in Holy Orders. Brothers enjoyed a new prestige and ministry, especially in the mendicant orders. Many pursued higher education if they did not already have it. They were more likely to teach or have some form of apostolate.

Unfortunately, the vocation of the simple lay brother, who was responsible for the more menial tasks of the monasteries, more or less fell by the wayside. I know brothers who insist that the idea of the lay brother as a servant in the community is insulting to their status as a religious. As a result, some monasteries hire people to do the menial work, including the cooking and cleaning. This may also be due to a lack of vocations. Although one wonders if the lack of vocations might also be the result of discouraging this humble vocation.

The vocation of lay brother is a lofty vocation in the Church, with many, many saints to attest to the beauty of a life of humility, hidden with Christ in God. Their lives were marked by many mystical graces and lofty prayer, as well as miracles, while they served the more contemplative brothers and fathers of the community. Perhaps some of the orders will reinstate this vocation one day.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

All Souls - remembering the souls in Purgatory.

November is the month of remembering the Holy Souls. Catherine of Genoa pretty much explains why they are "holy".

St Catherine of Genoa's mystical treatise on purgatory is the very best literature I have ever read on the subject. It is so doctrinally sound and much more substantial than anything else most contemporary writers have to offer. (I'll go after a couple of these at another date; writings that seem to pander more to curiosity and sensationalism.)

St Catherine was a no-nonsense woman, very practical, and quite an able administrator. Before her conversion she would have been someone we might describe as a 'bitch', lacking charity as well as any sense of humor, while being rather worldly and vain. Her conversion, when she had gone to the Church to make her confession, was an intense experience of the love of God, and her life was forever changed. She devoted herself to the care of the poor and the sick, founding a hospital, of which she became the Administrator.

She combined the practice of the contemplative life with the active life in an extraordinary fashion, never compromising herself with the world or lukewarm Christians and Ecclesiastics.

Presented is an excerpt from her "Treatise":

"The state of the souls who are in Purgatory, how they are exempt from all self-love.

This holy Soul (Catherine of Genoa) found herself, while still in the flesh, placed by the fiery love of God in Purgatory, which burnt her, cleansing whatever in her needed cleansing, to the end that when she passed from this life she might be presented to the sight of God, her dear Love. By means of this loving fire, she understood in her soul the state of the souls of the faithful who are placed in Purgatory to purge them of all the rust and stains of sin of which they have not rid themselves in this life. And since this Soul, placed by the divine fire in this loving Purgatory, was united to that divine love and content with all that was wrought in her, she understood the state of the souls who are in Purgatory. And she said:

The souls who are in Purgatory cannot, as I understand, choose but be there, and this is by God's ordinance who therein has done justly. They cannot turn their thoughts back to themselves, nor can they say, "Such sins I have committed for which I deserve to be here ", nor, "I would that I had not committed them for then I would go now to Paradise", nor, "That one will leave sooner than I", nor, "I will leave sooner than he". They can have neither of themselves nor of others any memory, whether of good or evil, whence they would have greater pain than they suffer ordinarily. So happy are they to be within God's ordinance, and that He should do all which pleases Him, as it pleases Him that in their greatest pain they cannot think of themselves. They see only the working of the divine goodness, which leads man to itself mercifully, so that he no longer sees aught of the pain or good which may befall him. Nor would these souls be in pure charity if they could see that pain or good. They cannot see that they are in pain because of their sins; that sight they cannot hold in their minds because in it there would be an active imperfection, which cannot be where no actual sin can be.

Only once, as they pass from this life, do they see the cause of the Purgatory they endure; never again do they see it for in another sight of it there would be self. Being then in charity from which they cannot now depart by any actual fault, they can no longer will nor desire save with the pure will of pure charity. Being in that fire of Purgatory, they are within the divine ordinance, which is pure charity, and in nothing can they depart thence for they are deprived of the power to sin as of the power to merit." "Treatise On Purgatory"

I do not dispute that God, in His Providence, has permitted souls to appear, speak, ask for prayers, what have you. Yet I believe the "Treatise" gives a better understanding of what the experience of purgatory is, as well as encouraging our prayers and suffrage for the Holy Souls.