"Are we prepared to promote conditions in which the living contact with God can be reestablished? For our lives today have become godless to the point of complete vacuity. God is no longer with us in the conscious sense of the word. He is denied, ignored, excluded from every claim to have a part in our daily life." - Alfred Delp, S.J.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Follow-up post: Another Martyr for Purity ...

Bl. Albertina Berkenbrock (1919-1931)
Virgin and martyr


Her assailant informed her of his intentions but she firmly refused him...

One day when Albertina was searching for a runaway bullock she came across Maneco loading beans into his cart. When she asked him if he had seen the bullock he pointed in the wrong direction to entice her to a place where he could satisfy his lust without attracting attention. 
Innocently, Albertina followed Maneco's directions and came to a wooded area. On hearing twigs cracking she turned, thinking it was the bullock, and found herself face to face with Maneco. She was petrified. 
He informed her of his intentions but she firmly refused him. Albertina fought hard for her virtue. Even when he threw her to the ground, she did her best to cover herself. Furious at having been morally defeated by the young girl, Maneco grasped her by the hair and slit her throat with a knife. - Vatican

It is so strange how people use the 'F' bomb right and left, but you can't say Virgin Martyr.

You can talk about animated vaginae - but don't mention virginity or modesty.  Weird.

I'm not trying to aggravate readers, but the fact is, there are quite a few virgin martyrs whose heroic witness fits the same MO as St. Maria Goretti.  Therefore, if you want that Goretti should have died just because she didn't want Serenelli to commit sin - go ahead.  There are several other virgin martyrs who admired St. Maria for her heroic sacrifice, who also died rather than submit to their attackers.

As often as the Church is blamed for insensitivity towards victims of sexual abuse and rape, the fact that these holy women and girls are almost immediately proposed for beatification is a sure sign of pastoral concern and support for victims of sexual abuse and rape.  If the Church ignored them, there would surely be an outcry.  In fact, it is always the people of God who initiate devotion to those who were so brutally murdered.

If that doesn't 'twerk' for you, here's a thought ...

As I mentioned in the com box of another post, In our culture virginity has become a joke, an out dated idea.  Middle and high school girls call one another slut and whore, while rap songs extol unchaste behavior, calling girls 'bitches' and 'ho's'.  Virginity as an ideal has become repellent to women.  Chastity is certainly not esteemed in our culture.  

Nor is modesty.  So-called modesty/purity culture is frequently compared to rape culture - always blaming the victim.  There is some validity to that connection of course, however, many of the arguments strike me as rather naive and unconvincing.  Ask yourself why strip bars and porn is so popular.  What is concupiscence of the eyes?  It actually means human beings are aroused by nudity as well as provocative and immodest fashions.  That doesn't mean that anyone has the right to violate another, nor that the victim is to blame either.  It's just reality. 

My apologies if that offends you.  

45 comments:

  1. My apologies if that offends you.

    No apologies needed when you speak the truth.

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  2. "...the fact that these holy women and girls are almost immediately proposed for beatification is a sure sign of pastoral concern and support for victims of sexual abuse and rape."

    I don't get it. Maybe I am too worldly. Maybe I have too much of a checkered past to overcome. Give me the formerly sleazy saints - Augustine and Angela of Foligno come to mind - to imitate and befriend me. Sainthood is for ALL.

    These posts have been interesting - even as I rail against them and squirm with discomfort.

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    1. You have to avoid reading these posts, you know that, don't you? LOL!

      I'll stop and return to the evils of homosexual catamites. What?

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    2. This blog is a like a train wreck - I can't avert my eyes! Just joking - yours is pretty much the only blog I read anymore because no matter what the topic is (virgins, gays, scandal, etc.) you always provide a reasoned and balanced approach on topics that are so polarizing.

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    3. I have to agree..God rest their souls for the horrible way they died..but...the reformed "baddies," make more interesting and relatable saints to me...(plus you just know they knew how even post reform how to throw out a sarcastic one liner to put someone in their place..I value that in Saints and Sinners.) Maybe it was all those years in grade school hearing the nuns rant on and on about Theresa, the Little Flower, and how we all should be like her (just what third grade boys aspire to be....little flowers...)

      My question is on this and other stories about crimes, how to they know what happened when she was dead already...(I sound like Maneca's lawyer..."How do we know she didn't entice him to the woods, and when rejected by the upstanding and pure Maneca, kill herself???")

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    4. Because the killer confessed and gave details.

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  3. Terry, your poonts are taken, but I think you miss why this kind of stuff pushes buttons. I don't think people react to the concept of virginity or the concept of modesty, and what the church teaches there. It's how these things are often used as sticks to beat others with, especially for men to use against women.

    Honestly, people who get frustrated with the combox modesty culture are not saying pornography and strip clubs, as well as provocative fashions are okay -- what Catholic in their right mind would? The issue is when women are told, as my sister was, that she was being immodest because she had a pair of running shorts on. Or when trad priests say *all* women's bathing suits are a mortal sin.

    Virginty and modesty are great virtues, something to be admired and cultivated. But I don't think it's rejection of this that drives people (like me) to become so worked up. It's the kind of people who use these things to tie up heavy burdens on others.

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    1. What I mean is, the "instruction" is not aimed at women dressing like skanks, but against good, chaste, young women who happen to dress like its 2015 in the US and not 1906 in rural Italy. Because they wear jeans or sundresses, not because they wear see-thru yoga pants or something.

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    2. Sorry Merc - I know it is a sore point - and I don't mean to suggest that we should be governed by the rules imposed by rad-trads. Although ... just kidding.

      I was just trying to make a point.

      It such a mine field, I need to just shut up.

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    3. Haha of course you don't. I just wanted to point out that most people who take issue with the modesty talk are not asking for permission to wear skanky clothes and have cleavage popping out, but to wear stuff like jeans or shorts without some bitter combox crusader calling them a harlot.

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    4. Mercury - you nailed it! I couldn't find the words but you did.

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  4. I didn't know David Bowie was a martyr for purity...


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    1. It happens that very different people, even of opposite sex and diverse age, look somewhat similar.

      I wonder if DB knows a job about Blessed Albertina.

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    2. Do you think she looks like DB?

      The other day I wrote a post about pearls before swine and mentioned a mommy blog. I didn't link to the blog because she had such lovely photos of her children - their innocence and beauty made such an impression upon me I didn't want to expose them or the mother to crude comments or anything unworthy.

      That blog was a grace to me. I completely reversed my thinking regarding family and the protection of children from the contamination of our decadent culture.

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    3. Somewhat similar.

      Not so similar as to be really confusable, as Scott suggested, but somewhat.

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  5. "What is concupiscence of the eyes? It actually means human beings are aroused by nudity as well as provocative and immodest fashions." Terry, you're talking about men here. Women are not aroused by the sight of men's bodies as much. Stranger in Speedo, please cover yourself; I'm trying to eat my lunch here. Generally. There's the odd woman here or there. And I do mean odd.

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    1. You are right of course. Maybe that's why Magic Mike XXL - the male stripper movie didn't do as well as expected at the box office.

      BTW - I think there's a corollary between male strippers and male
      temple prostitutes in Biblical times. Continuing my theme of neo-pagan-revival I begand a few weeks ago with the trans posts. But I digress. ;)

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  6. Berkenbrock and Maneco sounds as if there were some ethnic conflict involved?

    Was she of Dutch origin living among Mexicans, or sth?

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    1. Brazil. She lived in Brazil and the family who worked for her dad was native to Brazil. Actually, she was quite close to the family - including her attacker. As the biography states, "she was especially loving to the children of an employee of her father; while unknown to her, that man would become her future assassin."

      Not sure there was ethnic conflict - by the perpetrator's own admission it was a crime of passion.

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  7. Terry - all this discussion has had me wondering if human fallen nature affects some by making them see particular virtues as too distant. Or, that humility is underdeveloped in such a way that they know something they either are involved with, or once were involved with, was within reach to oppose, but they did not (I'm not speaking of rape victims regardless of whether their attackers were successful or not; I'm referring to non-victims who seem to have a problem, as you say, speaking of virgin martyrs, while not having any qualms dropping F-Bombs.).

    I say this because I have encountered people with past, promiscuous (willful) lifestyles. There are some who have left this life and they grasp this as not only sinful, but acknowledge their own "yes" in it all. These tend to gravitate to those like Maria Goretti in praying for ongoing assistance with purity. Then, there are those who seem to be dismissive of her, as not relatable. Certainly, St Augustine is a great saint to whom many probably can relate to, if they have given in to any kind of lustful tendencies. But, I think any soul who has dealt with inpurity cannot go wrong asking for the intercession of virgin martyrs like these. I think people need to be careful to avoid getting caught up in the kind of fallen nature that makes us sometimes abhor good and virtuous people only because they are, or were, perfect where we are not.

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    1. I think you have a point. I also think pop culture and media has had a hardening effect upon many. We've become jaded, I think. What you are describing is an effect of acedia or sloth - the good appears to be unattainable, hence the discouragement and compromise - viewing particular virtues as too distant - settling for the status quo - which is set at a very low bar.

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    2. I wouldn't say I am dismissive or abhor virgin martyrs. I am just drawn to the 'lost sheep who were found' type of saints. It's hard enough to sit through homilies or presentations about purity and chastity when you have a past you desperately want to forget even when you've been to confession many times, have had solid Catholic counselling to get over the guilt and your life has been turned around 180 degrees. I am sure post-abortive women who grieve their abortions feel the same way when Prolife issues come up.

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    3. I don't think you are dismissive either - Mercury really did express it well.

      I'm also drawn to penitent saints - too bad we can't talk - the way of spiritual childhood is definitely the antidote to all of this - to recover lost innocence one only has to look into the face of an innocent child or infant - which is why I love devotion to the Infant Jesus and rambunctious kids at Mass. Stick with Therese - she helps us.

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    4. Terry, to be fair though, I think it's important to know the difference between heroic and ordinary virtue. The saints went above and beyond the ordinary path of virtue that most Christians have to tread. It's a mistake to assume we all should, or even could, achieve what they did (since God does not grant all graces to all people). Looking at St. Francis, for example, he's a shining beacon of a radical embrace of poverty for the sake of the Gospel, but not everyone is given that grace, and for the bulk of Christians, an approach of moderation is what God asks of them. Likewise, not all are called to be virgins, much less virgin martyrs, so the ordinary approach for most Christians is chaste married life, or barring that, chaste single life.

      I know if I married someone and she decided she wanted to be a consecrated virgin (somehow), I'd be pretty unhappy. Same with a dad who decides to sell everything and move to a hermitage. Saints have done these things, but they had special callings from God. And ordinary man who told a priest that's what he plans to do would be told to get his butt back home and help his wife with the laundry.

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  8. So many times I've had Catholics - including those with well followed blogs, justify foul language by saying its part of the culture they come from; or as just part of the culture they work in. Yet, we are asked to be counter cultural. Can you imagine Mother Teresa dropping F-Bombs? And, she worked in the poorest of areas, where I'm sure she heard salty language. But she did not feel it necessary to use filthy language to "reach out" to people "where they are."

    Also, reflecting further on what I wrote earlier how some dismiss a particular saint because they can't relate to the kind and level of virtue they had, I see another problem. No one I know in the Catholic sphere (aside from dissenting wing) would dare say, "Jesus was good, but I can't relate to Him because he was sinless." Yet, this attitude is taken against some saints.

    St John Vianney was the laughing stock of his time, except for the humble souls who were graced to know better. He is still dismissed as no longer relevant today by some laity and clerics alike. But, I think he makes people uncomfortable because he challenged the occasions of sin in which people put themselves. When you look at immodesty today, or the kinds of TV shows and movies we expose ourselves to, we know what St John Vianney might say. Some suggest, "but those were different times." The practice of virtue is timeless and it is an area we need to keep discussing in an effort to learn, without overreacting towards those who don't understand.

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    1. The language is never justified - it is always a sign to me they do not understand the spiritual life. A hooker using the same language stopping in a church to light a candle is a better model of holiness and spiritual maturity than some of the uber-Catholic bloggers who use similar language and trot about offering to give talks at parishes, and so on.

      At Lourdes a priest seriously counselled me to never use that language since it is the devil's own - esp. the f-word. It is so commonplace today that even children use it.

      I may sound like a prude - but no one - sinner or saint - can be edified by such language.

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    2. Good points about language, at least the F-bomb. It's always been a vulgar word as far back as its history goes, and has always been considered offensive and even inflammatory regardless of context. I think it's irredeemable, as are certain extremely vulgar words related to certain body parts, especially female ones.

      That said, it's well-documented that other words only "became" outside the pale in the Victorian period. This goes for the Sh-, A-, P-, D-, and B-words. These words are not inherently profane, and I don't see why they need to be perpetually considered offensive just because the same people who had a problem with "leg" deemed them so. What most priests have told me is that, depending on context, they are at most rough, but the nature of sin would only be there if one were using them in a way that causes someone scandal or offense, or directing them at someone in order to insult them (in which case, "stupid" is a "bad word"). In any event, I don't see it as necessarily a bad thing that some of these words don't have as strong a stigma attached, because I think the stigma was artificial to begin with.

      As for St. Jean Vianney -- I don't think it's the "avoid the occasion of sin like the plague" message that makes people squirm, as that's pretty boilerplate Christian stuff (maybe I'm naïve though). It's the particular kinds of occasions he took issue with: folk dancing, taverns, naked babies, etc. I think most people can dance in a mixed environment and it's not even a remote occasion -- I love watching the waltz, and my brother and his girlfriend always go Cajun dancing with her aunts and uncles, grandma, and other young Catholic friends. The very best dancers I know are priests or seminarians. On the other hand, any place people call "the club" and dance to loud electronic music is probably a meat market dedicated to debauchery as its ultimate end, lubricated by heavy, heavy drinking, and best avoided by Christians.

      And I don't think people object to the virtue of modesty when those discussions come up, but they do object to certain people (who seem to be legion online) that equate "dressing provocatively" with "wearing jeans or shorts EVER and wearing a swimsuit EVER". I saw one dad on a forum one time who said he makes his daughter jog in long sleeves and a long skirt because "it's hot outside, but hell is hotter." It's that kind of thing that people object to, especially when they use the words of the saints, the particulars of which are conditioned by culture, to foist "rules" on unsuspecting and poorly formed consciences.

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  9. Interesting point about Jesus being sinless. I love Jesus and Mary even though I am a sinner. Because they were born sinless I suppose they are different than virgin martyrs of the regular human variety.

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    1. It's funny - many people stay away from St. Therese for the same reason - but obviously she's removed that fear from us - as she said, "Even if I had on my souls the worst sins I would still trust in Jesus." You're good Ang.

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    2. One more thing about the f-word. No matter what - it means what it means and it is offensive. Someone used it this past weekend right in my face when speaking about what he always wanted to do to a co-worker we all knew. It was extremely offensive. It is hard to imagine anyone being flattered by that 'sentiment' much less finding it appropriate to say.

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  10. Just look at how Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks quarterback) is being criticized and made fun of because he said that he and is girlfriend will not have sex before marriage. So many people can't stand it. What is so strange to me is that I remember a time when it was a given that couples would not have sex before marriage, and by and large they didn't, although some did, of course. But now, the expectation is that people are literally unable to abstain. Weird.

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  11. I can't follow the logic that virgin martyrs motive is preventing assailants' sin. Shouldn't they have prevented their assailants from committing the sin of murder in that case as well?

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    1. I said the same thing.

      It maka no sense, Mr. Fawlty.

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  12. Do you know of any young men who were martyred for virginity? Maybe this is a path to sanctity for altar boys molested by a parish priest.

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    1. Sts. Charles Lwanga and companions were martyred for resisting the sexual demands of their king.

      In the early church there were male youths who consecrated themselves to God (were 'virgins' in today's lingo) and were martyred during persecutions. While imprisoned, prostitutes were sent to them to try to ruin their chastity.

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    2. The molested don't need a path to sanctity, it was not their sin, its the sin of the perve priests who did it.

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    3. "The molested don't need a path to sanctity, it was not their sin, its the sin of the perve priests who did it."

      1) You mean as long as they never consented either to the sin or to taking pleasure in being forced?
      2) And you assume, perhaps somewhat hastily, that being involved in sex in a way in which you are taken advantage of cannot be ruinous for your future purity, or that purity cannot in such circumstances be essential to your sanctity?

      I think you may easily be wrong on both accounts.

      And THAT rather than just having made someone go through a somewhat kinky experience he maybe didn't quite want is the normal Christian rationale over centuries for seeing very severely on the taking advantage of someone younger and weaker sexually.

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  13. +JMJ+

    Thank you for this post. I know I've run into Blessed Albertina in the past, but this time it's going to stick.

    As I grow older, I find myself more and more drawn to teenage saints. It seems a little strange, but if they're willing to hang out with an old lady like me, then I'm not telling them to get off my lawn! =P

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    1. I've always been attracted to the younger saints and blessed laymen. It give me hope and restores my youth as it were - I also have 'arrested development' - I think I'm somewhere between 12 years old and 30 - emotionally and mentally. ;)

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    2. I have a similar relationship with younger saints. With Maria Goretti, I've always seen her as a go-to saint with prayers of intercession on matters of temptation and purity. This gets lost, I think, in discussions on her. I have a similar affection for St Dominic Savio for his general fidelity to all the virtues.

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    3. Intercession for purity - or for getting forgiven, if you were at some time not respectful of someone else's.

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