Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Revisionist hagiography - it's everywhere.

"St. Jerome, St. Augustine, St. Bernard, and all the great servants of God
have had very particular friendships without doing any harm to their perfection.
When condemning the disorders of the pagans St. Paul accuses them of being people
 "without affection" [Rom. 1:31], that is, they had no true friendships.
Together with all good philosophers, St. Thomas states that friendship is a virtue.
He speaks of "particular friendship" since, as he says,
"perfect friendship cannot be extended to a great many persons."
Hence perfection consists not in having no friendships,
but in having only those that are good, holy, and sacred."
- Introduction to the Devout Life, Bk. III; 19

Retelling the lives of the saints, and 'pernicious heresies' - 2 Peter 2:1

Not a few writers are active these days manipulating the lives of the saints to suit an agenda.  The interest in angels and saints has become a part of pop-culture in recent years, and some are promoted for reasons not at all edifying - or true.  While others are outright blasphemed - especially in visual art.  The revisionist effort brings to mind a passage from the Second Letter of Peter: "Through them, the true way will be made subject to contempt." - 2 Peter 2:2   As one might expect, the most blatant rewrites come from GLBTQ authors and academics.

So what does the Catechism of the Catholic Church say about the saints?
2683 The witnesses who have preceded us into the kingdom,[41] especially those whom the Church recognizes as saints, share in the living tradition of prayer by the example of their lives, the transmission of their writings, and their prayer today. They contemplate God, praise him and constantly care for those whom they have left on earth. When they entered into the joy of their Master, they were "put in charge of many things."[42] Their intercession is their most exalted service to God's plan. We can and should ask them to intercede for us and for the whole world.
828 By canonizing some of the faithful, i.e., by solemnly pro claiming that they practiced heroic virtue and lived in fidelity to God's grace, the Church recognizes the power of the Spirit of holiness within her and sustains the hope of believers by proposing the saints to them as models and intercessors.[303] "The saints have always been the source and origin of renewal in the most difficult moments in the Church's history."[304] Indeed, "holiness is the hidden source and infallible measure of her apostolic activity and missionary zeal."[305] - CCC 
Refashioning the saints in our image.

By way of example:  The late Yale professor John Boswell wrote extensively claiming the Early Church somehow approved of gay unions - even blessing them.  He also tried to refute most Biblical condemnations of homosexuality.  His research, studies, and conclusions have been repeated and expanded upon by gay advocates and academics ever since Boswell published them.  It continues to be taught in gay studies programs, in liberal church basements, and elsewhere.  His research continues to resurface today.  Rumours and falsehoods never seem to die; they soon become myth, which somehow manages to be promoted and even accepted as truth.  It is happening right before our eyes these days.

The other day I wrote about St. Aelred - he comes up a lot.  Gay Catholics insist he was gay 'like us'.  They interpret his work on spiritual friendship as a sort of gay handbook, so to speak.  Several gay Catholic bloggers promote him as a gay saint.  I engaged one blogger some time ago about her statement affirming Aelred was gay:
In a comment on her post I expressed doubt that Aelred was gay or ssa in the sense we understand homosexuality today, writing: "I'm sorry, but I'm also not sure Aelred of Rievaulx was same sex attracted in the sense modern gay people like to think - his writings on friendship are directed to companions in communities of same sex religious and unfortunately are misinterpreted these days of sexual permissiveness."  

To which the author responded:  "I have it on the authority of an Aelred of Rivaulx scholar (a very straight conservative guy with no agenda to advance) that in his private letters to his spiritual director St. Aelred discusses his temptations to sodomy. These aren't available in English, so I can't quote you chapter or verse, but I think that's prima facie evidence of SSA."

The author's claim was disingenuous, based on hearsay, and not backed up.  It strikes me as wishful thinking.  Now there is nothing wrong for same sex attracted persons to seek particular saints as their patrons, but it is very wrong to make statements as if they were undeniable fact, such as: "with Aelred of Rivaulx, we know for a fact that he did (have same sex attractions)."  Thus implying Aelred was gay and therefore he is a gay patron saint.  That is a very Boswellian claim.  Other gay Catholic sites claim Joan of Arc as a gay saint, and of course Sebastian, along with many others.  The author also said that "it would be a true scandal if the Church had never once managed to lead a single homosexual soul to sanctity."  I'm absolutely convinced that the Church has indeed done so.  Oscar Wilde comes to mind, as does Pier Vittorio Tondelli, the Italian author who died after contracting AIDS.  No doubt there have been others, just as there have been numerous penitent saints who abandoned a disordered life and followed Christ.  Likewise, the Church definitely continues to lead people with ssa to sanctity and salvation, in and through the sacraments, and not without support.  One approved support apostolate is Courage.  Not all may be inclined to a particular group, but the literature and guidance is always there to help the individual, as should be faithful priests for spiritual direction.

Gay propaganda.

Younger people have been raised - and educated - to accept homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle, and to accept homosexual acts as normal - equal to heterosexual sexual behavior.  Artificial contraception pretty much neutered sexual activity and compromised traditional moral principles and taboo.  Thus many today judge history and the lives of the saints by their own highly sexualized/eroticised understanding of friendship and intimacy.  The revisionist hagiographers may have a rather tainted outlook, as this story from the Desert Fathers illustrates:
In the Desert Fathers, there is a story of a perverted monk who came to complain to one of the abbas, that a couple of monastics, living together, were “of evil life,” that is a euphemism for living in a homosexual lifestyle. The old man had the two men come and stay with him awhile, watching them, seeing how after the customary prayers they lay down side by side on their mats, and he did this for many days. He determined that there was no substance to the accusation, and it turned out that the accuser was himself guilty of the offense. It goes without saying that those who attempt to smear the paired saints of antiquity are like this perverted monk accuser. - Romanos

False teaching.

The problem as I see it is that gay revisionists are making up new myths, new saints, a new cult for a false religion.  The lives of the saints they propose appeal to a gay spirituality they are intent upon forming in "Queering" the Church.  Ordinary Catholics know little about the saints these days, especially since the cult and iconography of saints - statues in churches for instance - has diminished since Vatican II.  (Although the example of Bl. John Paul II, as well as pop-culture, has revived interest in the saints.)  Nevertheless, faithful people are misled by the new hagiography - even priests, many of whom don't know the difference between this Teresa or that Theresa, can be misled by the new 'scholarship'.  On some level, new hagiographers have become like those ancient writers who embellished the lives of the saints with mystic wonders and exaggerated tales of valor.  They are corrupting the truth.
"These people, however, not only revile what they have no knowledge of but are corrupted through the very things they know by instinct, like brute animals." - Jude 10
Temptation to sexual sin, such as homosexual acts, is not evidence that someone is gay or has 'innate' homosexual tendencies.  Temptations against chastity take many and varied forms in the lives of celibates, or any person for that matter.

The very worst story I came across was sent to me yesterday by a friend.  A blogger posted on the friendship of St. Bernard and St. Malachy, and described some of the mystical writings of St. Bernard as homoerotic. 
Bernard of Clairvaux was a medieval French abbot who wrote homoerotic poetry about Jesus had a passionate same-sex friendship with the Irish archbishop Malachy of Armagh. Bernard is best known for founding 70 monasteries around Europe and for his

Of course I have heard it all before and I'm acquainted with many of the slanderous accusations - nothing new amongst gay revisionists.  I just don't want to go into more detail about the life of St. Bernard here, but I do want to say I consider the revisionist, 21st century view to be complete rubbish.  As St. Paul wrote, "As for lewd conduct or promiscuousness or lust of any sort, let them not even be mentioned among you - your holiness forbids this." - Ephesians 5:3   That passage alone would disprove that there was any hint of sensuality in the spiritual friendships of the saints, or in the monastic foundations of their reform - and I don't care how many gay revisionists/gay monks say otherwise.

The stories keep repeating however, and in doing so, they become embedded in the public memory, and falsehood gains more of a foothold.  Although what is worse, the Gospel and the Church is discredited - and souls may be lost.  Temptation - scandal - will always come - but woe to those who teach it - who propagate it.   

Art: St. Lutgard, Amplexus.  Typical Cistercian iconography depicting mystical intimacy between the soul and Christ.  Christ embraces the soul in mystical union.


  1. As St. Paul wrote, "As for lewd conduct or promiscuousness or lust of any sort, let them not even be mentioned among you - your holiness forbids this." - Ephesians 5:3

    I went with great trepidation to the blog link you gave yesterday on the alleged "passionate same-sex friendship with the Irish archbishop Malachy of Armagh." I had mercifully forgotten about this blog and judging from the illustrations on the side it is better that I forget it again.

    All I can say is: "And he said to them: This kind can go out by nothing, but by prayer and fasting." Mark 9:29

    They see everything only through the lens of their same sex attraction. EVERYTHING.

    1. Sorry about that - I deliberately did not link here.

  2. "Hence perfection consists not in having no friendships, but in having only those that are good, holy, and sacred."

    Going off-topic again, I'm friends with many people who are not devout Christians, and some who are not even very religious at all. I don't hang around with people who would lead me into sin, but I don't know if I'd call my friendships "holy" or "sacred" -- just people whose company I enjoy, or whose conversation is interesting.

    1. That's normal friendship. This is about 'special' friendship - soul-mate friendship - albeit without benefits.

    2. Haha, I see. Still, aren't such things possible with people who are not [yet] Christians, but whose hearts are open?

  3. +JMJ+

    I knew a Psychology major who wanted to revise the story of St. Anthony of Egypt, because he was clearly suffering from mental illness, rather than harassed by demons.

    A few years later, I mentioned to a friend that a demon had tried to attack me in my sleep. She couldn't help giggling at my silliness. Why do we religious types have to see angels and demons everywhere?

    But my favourite revisionist historians, hands down, are the Ancient Aliens guys. They've taught me more about the Bible in five seasons than eleven years of Religion teachers in Catholic school ever did! And St. Aelred was probably an alien. So there.


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