Friday, May 04, 2012

Saints who were sinners.

The arrest of Jacques Fesch.

Another saint no one wants.

Jacques Fesch, the Parisian 'playboy' who bungled a robbery and shot and killed a policeman in the getaway.  In prison, Fesch was converted, through the influence of St. Therese - the little saint who specializes in the conversion of sinners, 'welcoming them and eating with them' - 'at the table of sinners'.  Fesch was condemned to death and guillotined for his crime.  After his death people called him a saint, and eventually his cause was opened by the Cardinal Archbishop of Paris. [More information here.]

Imagine.  A murderer proposed for canonization?  It's funny.  This public sinner died with a reputation for sanctity.  The French police union protest and condemn the very notion.  Oddly enough, sinners can be canonized.  The Good Thief was one of the first - on his deathbed of the cross no less.
"It is only recently that I have come to understand the meaning of the cross. It is at once prodigious and atrocious: prodigious because it gives us life, and atrocious because if we do not accept to be crucified all life is denied us. This is a great mystery, and blessed are the persecuted." - Jacques Fesch

All saints were sinners - albeit some may not have committed mortal sin, all were born in original sin, and it is probable all committed at least one venial sin at one time or another.  Only Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary were sinless.
"In my Father's house there are many dwelling places." - John 14: 1-6


  1. Anonymous3:09 PM

    Sweet story!

  2. Terry, I know this is in reference to the Mark Shea essay, and I know that it hits close to the bone for you, but can you not stand back a piece and see the glaring difference between Jacques Fesch (who, btw is not even a beatified yet, but you continue to call him a Saint) and Shea's self-canonized saint? Jacques changed his life, repented deeply of his sin, left it, and lived the rest of his life in penance. That's a far cry from a man who may have done charitable things in his life but continued to live in an openly scandalous way against chastity...and puleeze, enough with the "we just don't know if he was living chastely or not"...he said he lived with his 'friend', everyone knew he lived with his 'friend', the 'friend' said they were living together "in love". Enough, really. There is such a thing as being called to carry your cross IF you truly are a Christian, and that means dying to self and sin, even if that means STRUGGLING against it one's entire life...not reveling in it and living openly in it while contiguously saying the Liturgy of the Hours with a long-term paramour, and teaching people about a hybrid form of Catholicism that says it's somehow OK to be an active homosexual if you're doing enough other good works. That is absolutely antithetical to Scripture and Tradition. Carol has a dead-on post about this piece at The Tenth Crusade.

    I fully understand that SSA is a particularly difficult and onerous cross to bear, but a cross called to be born it is...not tossed to the side while plucking the apple and chomping it to the core saying, 'I will have what I want, how I want it, and God will accept me because I tell Him to'...this was the sin of Eden, it was the sin of lucifer, and it is writ LARGE the sin of Amchurch when we canonize people because they were really nice.

    A GREAT quote from the Imitation of Christ that a dear friend reminded me of:

    "In the cross is salvation, in the cross is life, in the cross is protection from enemies, in the cross is infusion of heavenly sweetness, in the cross is strength of mind, in the cross is
    joy of spirit, in the cross is highest virtue, in the cross is perfect holiness. There is no salvation of soul nor hope of everlasting life but in the cross. Take up your cross, therefore, and follow Jesus, and you shall enter eternal life. He Himself opened the way before you in carrying His cross, and upon it He died for you, that you, too, might
    take up your cross and long to die upon it. If you die with Him, you
    shall also live with Him, and if you share His suffering, you shall
    also share His glory. Behold, in the cross is everything, and upon
    your dying on the cross everything depends. There is no other way to
    life and to true inward peace than the way of the holy cross and daily
    mortification. Go where you will, seek what you will, you will not
    find a higher way, nor a less exalted but safer way, than the way of the holy cross."

    Pray for the soul of Perry Lorenzo, I have. But for heaven's sake, don't claim sainthood here. Pray for him, and leave that judgment for God. To make this a political football within the Church is scandal heaped on scandal, and a purposeful attempt to cause division and disquiet. Seriously, in charity, enough already.

    1. Thanks Susan - That's really beautiful! Mr. Lorenzo must be very grateful for your prayers.

      I only know as much as mark Shea wrote, as well as a quick overview of Lorenzo's intellectual/spiritual writing on his blog. It did not appear to me that PL was promoting anything gay, nor did he seem to flaunt his friendship or living arrangement with another man.

      That said, the Church does not require men to live alone. Frequently men who respond to God's grace and call to live chastely continue to share a house and live celibate/chaste lives as friends, often guided by a spiritual director or confessor. I think there are many hidden lives like this. The Church calls persons who are SSA to holiness and chastity. Disinterested friendship between same sex friends, SSA or not, is a great support for persevering in the spiritual life.

      People make the mistake of equating a 'gay relationship' with a natural, heterosexual love affair. (Which is why SS marriage has become so acceptable, BTW.) Same sex couples (males at least) normally do not, or cannot sustain mutual sexual attraction for a great length of time - for many I'd guess it would be 2 to 3 years tops. Then, if it hasn't happened already, sexual aids come into play, such as porn, and more frequently infidelity or sharing sex with others. Most SSA people will deny that however - but it has been something I have seen with the many gay people I have known over the years. At least one in the relationship usually needs 'sexual booster shots' to sustain sexual interest after the 'honeymoon'.

      Forgive me for bringing up the 'dark side' but my point here is that for many SSA friends it is not all that difficult to observe continence in their friendship... living together with separate rooms, separate beds, etc.. I have heard of people in ss relationships who leave a friend because the friend cannot agree to living chastely, therefore the person who wishes to change breaks off the friendship and moves away. Then of course, there are those SSA individuals who are very good at self-control and forgetting what is behind, they earnestly strive for holiness - unmindfull of any opposition, their eyes fixed on Christ. Sometimes these remain where they were first called in order to help their brother come to the truth. The grace of God is marvelous and mysterious and provides a way out of every temptation. Many people who were sinners are guided by good priests who help them to become holy.

      The Church does not tie people to burdens beyond their strength.

      I expect people will disagree with me here, but that is okay by me.

      I respect Mark for speaking of Perry Lorenzo because evidently the man exhibited virtue and fidelity to Church teaching - in other words, genuine signs of holiness. I never got the impression Shea was trying to 'canonize' the man, but rather understood his calling the man a saint in the same way many of us will refer to someone we respect as a 'saint'. For instance: 'My sister is a saint, she has 8 kids and raised them all by herself and is such a good mother... etc.."

      I hope people can see things this way, if we see it another way, I trust God will clarify the difficulty for us. That is what disagreement does, it helps to reveal the truth more brilliantly before us.

      That said, of all people, everyone should realize that Shea does not promote or celebrate the gay lifestyle in the least! He's quite well known for calling out the 'gay brownshirts' - which is by no means a friendly label.

      God bless.

  3. Anonymous1:57 AM


    How do you know he lived in an openly scandalous way? All the evidence says he and his partner were chaste. In fact, it appears that what they did was bear witness to the extremely promiscuous gay community in Seattle--a community deeply hostile to the Church--that you could be gay, chaste, and profoundly dedicated to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Isn't that what the Church, in fact, desires of it's gay members? You seem to be saying that the fact they were in love was a sin. All the Church asks of them is chastity. Why do you demand of them more than the Church does?

    Mark Shea

  4. susan2:36 AM

    excuse me? More than the Church does? Are you aware that most good priests will REQUIRE couples presenting themselves for marriage who are living together, to separate before marriage, even if this means financial hardship, and to repent of this witness to living in scandal? Even when the couple says they will live chastely under the same roof, I've known awesome priests, who are more concerned with the soul than the pocketbook, who said, 'no way!' because anyone with a modicum of common sense can recognize this as 1)--putting oneself in a GREAT occasion of sin, and 2)--a public witness of scandal. Mr. Lorenzo and his friend were two grown men who did not have to live together, who were by their public admission 'in love' their example what was taught??? You can try to justify or square this with Church teaching anyway convoluted way you want Mark, but it will simply never square. If Mr. Lorenzo was really interested in teaching about Chastity, he would have given public witness to it rather than living openly with the man he was in love with.

    And your comment, "You seem to be saying that the fact they were in love was a sin. All the Church asks of them is chastity." is absurd and wrong on it's face. The Church requires much more. Though the dis-ordered attraction perhaps can't be helped, to ruminate on it, and to keep it burning in the soul, particularly by living with the object of desire, most certainly is sinful. The Church as a loving Mother requires her SSA children to seek out the true understanding of friendship, and how it is distorted in a homosexual bond. It would certainly have been ok for Mr. Lorenzo to love his friend, but it is not ok for him to continue the relationship and living together 'in' love...big difference. The first is striving to align our wills and inclinations with the will of God, even if it involves a painful dying to self (and it usually does); the second is saying, 'my will trumps and surely the Church will understand because I do so many other good things'. The first reflects the making of a Saint; the second, well...not so much.

    I say again, pray for Mr. Lorenzo, I HAVE, but you do him and his soul GREAT disservice in this PC canonization. You didn't bring honor to brought another hornet's nest to the Church. But then again, you seem to feed on that of late. Great pity that; you were once one of the great lights in the Church.

  5. "One whose heart is embittered can do nothing but contend and contradict, finding something to oppose in every remark." Ven. Julienne Morel
    "You wish to reform the world: reform yourself, otherwise your efforts will be in vain." St. Ignatius
    "Look not the qualities thou mayest possess, which are wanting to others; but look to those which others possess and which are wanting to thee, that thou mayest aquire them." Ven. Louis De Granada
    "Let us not despise, judge, or condemn any one but ourselves; then our cross will bloom and bear fruit." Ven. John Tauler
    I am using words of holy people lest I be found a hypocrite myself; which I surely would. I believe the measure we offer others will be our measure as well only pounded down and filled to overflowing.
    Mercy then is the currency of the saints, judgement is a wooden nickel. Don't worry the Church won't die because her members were too merciful.
    I was an atheist and the most miserable hateful sinner for most of my life and truth be told I still sin wantonly and am far from God much of the time. I frequent the sacraments and pray alot.
    The prayers of the saints were first their own because they needed to pray for the grace to become a saint. When Saint Francis prayed for peace it is because he needed peace first himself not because he wanted to right a fetching prayer.

    1. St. Teresa of Avila said, "Prayer is a trap door out of sin." Always pray. Pray without ceasing.

    2. Anonymous12:27 PM

      So true!
      St Louis de Montfort said to sinners:
      If you say faithfully the Rosary until death, I assure you, despite the gravity of your sins you will receive a “never fading crown of glory” [1 Pet 5:4]. Even if you are on the brink of damnation, even if you have one foot in hell, even if you have sold your soul to the devil as sorcerers do, and even if you are a heretic as obstinate as a devil, sooner or later you will be converted. You will amend your life and save your soul if you say the Holy Rosary devoutly every day until death for the purpose of knowing the truth; and obtaining contrition and pardon for your sins. Ref: St Louis de Montfort, “The Secret of the Rosary”

      All is grace.

  6. Roman Missiles, there are none so blind as those who will not see.

    Perhaps you're right...let's set aside every standard of behavior, and every admonition to uphold what the Church teaches. Everyone's saved no matter what they do, and hey, let's cananize Harvey Milk, cause, gee, a lot of people liked him and said he was a swell guy. All those hard things that Jesus and the Apostles taught...forget about 'em. Matthew 7:21, the Sermon on the Mount, and their like are no longer in effect cause we're so much more enlightened and compassionate than was Christ...

    It's astounding how easy it is to 'forget' what Christ demands of His followers. And so easy to accuse those who dare to point it out as being haters and embittered. Some things never change, and there are none so blind as those who will not see.

  7. Noone can ever be canonized into hell. The hope your comments betray is that some would be lost and we are to say, "C'est la vie." But what I am telling you is that nothing shines like mercy nothing converts like the long suffering of the faithful. I was converted to atheism by the example of Christians much more than the proof against God, as there is none, but i was converted not by how good they said they were or even by their Church attendance but how judgemental and open to the charge of blatant hypocrisy. Souls are what we are after not self righteousness. It is for sure a humbling process but my convertion would not have been obtained without someone elses humility and long suffering.

  8. Anonymous1:16 PM


    I have no knowledge that they even co-habited, much less that they were unchaste. So yes, you are demanding of them more than the Church does. Here is a gay couple that appears to be doing exactly what the Church asks of them. They lived chastely, bore witness to other homosexuals that Jesus Christ is savior, loved the Church and proclaimed the gospel without editing it in any way that I am aware of

    And it's not good enough for you. You call it a scandal. You condemn defenses of them.

    It does rather suggest that there is, for people like you, *no* place in the Church for same-sex attracted people.

    Mark Shea

  9. susan2:50 PM

    This was truly repugnant...even for you Mark. You are the definition of wormtongue.

  10. susan3:00 PM

    talk about false witness and calumny...'I hope some would be lost'??? where on earth was anything of the sort ever even implied in my writing? Did ya even bother to read that I prayed for this poor man? Your problem is you can't deal with the FACT that MANY will be lost..."My people die for lack of knowledge", and woe to the PC sycophants who preach evil for good, and the black heresy of universalism. You can't blame your atheism on anyone else...YOU made a choice, and you chose against God because you don't like His word. Whether you like it or not, His word stands, and He (and ONLY HE) can decide the fate of a soul. I've already said I don't know where Mr. Lorenzo's soul will end up, I've prayed for mercy for him. Mr. Shea on the other hand is quite sure of the judgment...he after all rendered it. That's a problem, and that's been my point all along.

  11. susan3:02 PM

    (that last bit was for Roman Missiles)

  12. Anonymous3:03 PM


    Give me something to work with here. Since there is no evidence they co-habited and plenty that they were chaste what, exactly, *are* you saying? What is the problem? Why are you so upset with them and with me? What *would* you have them do? Not be in love? Not mention it? What do you *want*? If there is no place for them to have even chaste love for one another in the Church, then what place is there for them?

    Mark Shea

  13. susan3:08 PM

    And Terry, the 'reply' button isn't working for me, but I just want to tell you, though we will continue to disagree on this issue, you are truly the soul of a charitable response. You should be a model for reading someone's words, digesting them as they were written and intended, and responding with class, grace, and clarity. Thank you, and God bless you.

  14. "I will call to a soul three times if they make the slightest movement towards me I will show them my mercy." Jesus as transcibed by Saint Faustina in her diary. I decided at age fifteen that I hated Christians based upon my vast personal experience, this is the nature of depressed and injured youth. I am very blessed and humbled to be a Catholic. I know that the homosexual lifestyle is disordered I have written a ton about it and have taken alot of flack from people who used to be my atheist friends. They call me a bigot and you call me a bleeding heart liberal. I'll take that as balanced. I hope I didn't cause you too much upset, I just don't see how you lambast a soul for which you are praying. We don't hedge our bets, we love openly and fully or we miss the mark ourselves. Noone can judge the state of anothers soul no matter how easy it would seem. God bless you, honestly.
    Aaron (Roman Missiles)

  15. I continue to think there is something wrong with the Shea article. There's something not right about saying "it's none of my business" if someone else is sinning or not. There's just not - that's how I feel anyway. I've tried to think about it and articulate exactly what the problem is, but I'm not sure that I can fully. I think I have it and then I don't.

    But one of the things that I think is right about the article is that it grants the greatest power and knowledge to God Himself. I think that's more than saying "only God can judge" a soul, something which we all rather frequently, if blandly, acknowledge. I think the article implicitly presupposes the realization that "God is greater than our hearts and knows everything"; that God truly is The Divine Mercy and that His entire wish is that we be healed and reconciled when all is said and done.

    That Perry was seemingly living a life of 'holiness' - not perfection, but a life in which the fruits of the Spirit were indeed manifest - is not something that can be overlooked no matter how much else may have been off either in his life or in Shea's distillation of it.

    Perhaps what we all rebel against and at times 'take out on' others is our own woundedness, our own fears that there this is no ultimate healing or salvation. Likewise, perhaps what we all at times 'project' onto others and/or a particular situation is the desire to see our own and others' sins and woundedness finally done away with - we want mercy ourselves and so try to extend that to others.

    This latter point and the desire in which it's rooted, I think, has not been distinguished sufficiently from the validity of still trying to face the horror of sin square on; it's too quick of a move, if not a misguided one completely, to say "it's none of my business" when someone may be involved in serious sin. That reality can be discussed, I think, without trying to judge anyone; I see no reason why it shouldn't also disturb us that, for all we know, any person would be putting themselves in an occasion of sin. "But we don't know!" - no, we don't - we don't know one way or the other, and so not judging may in fact be a two way street.

    I think that's the point I'm trying to make overall: it's a complicated situation. All our lives are. "God knows everything." And I think that fact means that we're called not to judge, nor are we called to move past the confrontation with our broken humanity too quickly - God takes sin seriously; God takes it all, everything, quite seriously.

    We do a dishonor to others and to reality itself when sides are taken, regardless of which side it is, too rashly I think.

    Those reflections were formed in part by reflecting on this homily I read that was prepared for today's Mass readings:

    Finally, I just want to apologize for any times I've spoken rashly here or elsewhere and for any confusion or unecessary 'noise' I've created.

    1. Patrick - you always say good things - thanks.

    Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1941


    ------Book 1------

    TURN thine eyes back upon thyself, and see thou judge not the doings of others. In judging others a man toileth in vain; for the most part he is mistaken, and he easily sinneth; but judging and scrutinizing himself, he always laboreth with profit.

    We often judge of a thing according as we have it at heart; for true judgment is easily lost through private affection.

    If God were always the only object of our desire, we should not be easily disturbed at our own opinions being resisted.

    2. But oftentimes there is something lying hid within, or occurring from without, that draws us along with it.

    Many secretly seek themselves in what they do, and are not aware of it.

    They seem also to continue in good peace, so long as things are done according to their will and judgment; but if aught happen otherwise than they desire, they are soon disturbed, and become sad.

    Too often difference of feelings and opinions giveth rise to dissensions between friends and fellow-citizens, between religious and devout persons.

    3. An inveterate habit is with difficulty relinquished, and no one is willingly led beyond his own views.

    If thou reliest more on thine own reason or industry than on the subduing virtue of Jesus Christ, thou wilt seldom and with difficulty become an enlightened man.

    For God willeth us to become perfectly subject to Himself, and by the love that burneth in us to transcend all reason.


    WE frequently allow ourselves to be biased in our judgments by the inclinations of the heart, instead of being guided by the light of the understanding. Through self-love we ordinarily approve in ourselves what in others we frequently condemn; and are as much alive to the defects of our neighbor as we are blind to our own. A soul recollected in the presence of God, and faithful to the motions of His grace, being thus engaged with God, and united to Him, is solely occupied with God in itself and itself in God; and, endeavoring to keep a strict guard over its own heart, it forgives nothing in itself, and everything in others.


    O MY God! When shall I be so free from all attachment to creatures, and from all self-seeking, as to keep my mind and my heart solely upon Thee, attentive to my duties and to securing my salvation? Grant, O Jesus, I may forget or be wholly ignorant of everything which I ought neither to know nor observe: and thus live only for Thee, with Thee, and in Thee. Vanities, pleasures, news, amusements, and curiosities, how little, or how really nothing are ye, to a soul for whom its God is its all! Suffer me not, O my Savior, to seek, to know, to love, or to possess anything but Thee, Who art more to me than all things else. Inflame my heart with an ardent desire of pleasing Thee, and an humble acquiescence in all things to Thy good pleasure. Amen.

  17. Marmion - Charity for neighbor: avoid judging others
    Lessons from the letters of spiritual direction of Blessed Columba Marmion

    “Watch over yourself especially as regards charity, and be sure that every time you are hard on your neighbor in thoughts and words, your heart is not inspired by the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Who is an ocean of compassion for our miseries and particularly loves those who never allow themselves to judge their neighbor harshly. St Catherine of Siena never allowed herself to judge her neighbor even when it concerned actions which were openly wrong and Our Lord manifested to her how pleasing this was to Him. I know by my own experience how difficult this perfection is, but we should always try to reach what is the most perfect to give pleasure to Jesus.”

    We again find the same doctrine thirty years later:

    “Try as far as possible not to concern yourself with the imperfections of others as long as they do not come under your charge. It is a snare of the devil who aims at lessening your merit and grace. Christ wills that we should not judge our neighbor unless duty obliges us to do so. ‘Nolite iudicare’ (Judge not). ‘ You will be judged by the Lord – He tells us – with the same rigour that you have used towards others.’ Nothing disarms God’s justice more with regard to us as the mercy we have for others.”

    On these occasions Dom Marmion particularly recommends prayer, which baffles the wiles of the devil.

    “Often what hinders us from living in recollection is that we occupy ourselves too much with others. Do not stay to judge others, and do not think that you ought to tell Superiors what you see that seems to you to be wrong in your Sisters, unless it is a duty with which you have been charged. It is the devil who is seeking in this way to prevent you from being united to Our Lord. The good God permits these temptations because they provide matter for an excellent purification. Say a prayer for the person on whom your judgment bears, and if the devil sees that each thought of this kind which he presents to you is the occasion of a good prayer, he will give up these tactics.”

    From De Vita Contemplativa - Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate, Italy [Translation: Contributor Francesca Romana]


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