Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Virgin and Martyr


On the feast of St Agatha Holy Church celebrates the triumph of Christ centred chastity. In the heat of the current battle it is easy to forget the Church is blind to people sexual orientation, it sees all humanity, and human action, including especially our sexuality, as flawed and damaged and yet, in Christ, all is redeemable.
These youthful martyrs like Agatha remind us that there was a time when the Church to exhort chastity in a world as sexualised as our own. The various accounts of these early virgin martyrs torture and sufferings are sexual, Agatha had her breasts cut off, Agnes was exposed in a brothel, their martyrdoms were focused on their sexuality. Even if we attempt to strip away later exaggeration of their various passion narratives behind everything seems to be an attack on their virginity, and the early Church exalted their chastity and virginity.


20th Century Catholicism seems deeply uncomfortable with speaking about sex ans sexuality, in England and Wales, though the Church is often caricatured as being sex obsessed, the truth is that in many parishes it is something that is never ever mentioned. It is significant that many priests, and not a few bishops, have been silent on the gay "marriage" issue.

We can expect no action to be taken against politicians who publicly proclaim their Catholicism and yet  break communion with the Magisterium. Even after making a very public stance against Catholic teaching it seems very unlikely prominent Catholics will be moved to the Archbishop of Westminster's "garden parties only" list. Indeed the legendary Tina Beattie, professor of Catholic Studies at Roehampton University, theological advisor to Cafod, trustee of The Tablet, the international Catholic weekly, the welcomed speaker at the Westmiinster diocesan justice and Peace events, is in the Guardian today offering her own Magisterial views.

There is a serious danger of us as Catholics, not simply being seen but seeing ourselves, in opposition to what has become the status quo. Our faith is not merely about condemning but offering a new vision of a Kingdom of God. Condemnation of what is bad is only the first step, it is the message of John the Baptist. Jesus not merely invites us to turn away from something but to turn to something.

The Christian vision of sex and sexuality, of marriage and the family, of chastity, of brotherly (and sisterly) love, we have more to say than just a negation of the current world view. Even so our condemnation of the view of what is being put forward in today's debate is just the tip of something that should be much deeper, something which goes to the very heart of the Gospel and our view of mankind.

"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind", is at the very heart of all that we are. Its implications are that our very beings are consumed by God, this is surely why masturbation and pornography are highly problematic and why in our Catholic tradition we have exalted consecrated chastity.

The sacrifice of Agatha, Lucy, Agnes, Cecilia and countless others, not just women, comes from a radical attachment to Jesus Christ and world view in contradistinction to "the world".

St Agnes pray for us
Holy Virgin Martyrs pray fir us

7 comments:

johnf said...

"There've dart Tina Beattie"

If only she was just legendary. . .

gemoftheocean said...

I have always found it irritating that there are women saints in the church honored as "Virgins" but no men honored as such.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Gem,
St John is honoured for his virginity.
There is also Dominic Savio and Alouisius Gonzaga.

The thing is in the 1st Millenium the was the distinct order of Virgins, whereas men just went off to be monks or hermits.

gemoftheocean said...

Hopefully those male monks who hadn't been married were also virgins!

wretchedwithhope said...

"[the Church] sees all humanity, and human action, including especially our sexuality, as flawed and damaged and yet, in Christ, all is redeemable" In a nutshell. Deo gratias

'virgins and mothers' -the virgin renounced, made a sacrifice of, at least the possibility, of motherhood:

"For virginity is most intimately connected to the theological foundation of marriage...earthly infertility becomes true fertility. . . ."
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, 'Daughter Zion', Ignatius Press.

Pablo the Mexican said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0YQdLuMwHY

Tridentine Wedding Mass.

After a courtship supervised by a Priest, the first kiss between this couple was when the Padre pronounced them husband and wife.

They were catechized in tradition, no novelties, and received the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony properly, then began to have their children, as many as God will allow.

How many come before your altar in a state of grace?

Priests need to work on chastity, catechism, and providing proper sacraments.

"...I have always found it irritating that there are women saints in the church honored as "Virgins" but no men honored as such..."

Only women are virgins, men are chaste.

"Joseph was Mary's most chaste spouse"

Catholics must abandon Liberalism and return to the True Faith.


*

BJC said...

Austen's defence of marriage in your link to the Guardian is good stuff for once. Tina's arguments on the other hand are the usual mixture of unreadable prose, emotion and lack of reasoning skills. Apparently marriage is another one of those 'difficult and complex issues' which require hours and hours of thinking about when in fact if you asked an uneducated French peasant what it was they would tell you straight away. I'm glad I'm not a professor.

Meanwhile Tina's latest offering on her blog is a 'sermon' she delivered on a Sunday recently at a Methodist church in Bristol. Is she trying tell us something? Still a Protestant at heart and wants to be a 'priest'? Anyway in the rambling prose she writes this

"However we explain evolution and the processes of life, we know that in the struggle to the top of the evolutionary ladder, we have lost some of the fundamental attributes that would allow us to be at peace in the world and with one another. This is what Christians call original sin, but we can call it by other names – alienation, being towards death, existential angst."

She clearly doesn't understand the meaning of Original Sin and I think that's her problem. She doesn't actually understand what sanctifying grace is. I notice also there's no reference to rejecting God's authority, sin or concupiscence. In a lot of ways I think it explains plenty.