Friday, 3 February 2017

Contra Rahner on Saints

 "Herein lies the special task which the canonised Saints have to fulfil for the Church. They are the initiators and the creative models of the holiness which happens to be right for, and is the task of, their particular age. They create a new style; they prove that a certain form of life and activity is a really genuine possibility; they show experimentally that one can be a Christian even in ‘this’ way; they make such a type of person believable as a Christian type. " Karl Rahner

I disagree.
Rather than saints being the flavour of the month and becoming zeigeist poster-figures it's actually the reverse....
It's cometh the hour: cometh the saint
Rather it's when there's a dearth of a virtue or a social malaise or an intellectual or spiritual depletion that specific saints come to the fore...they're the salt of the earth - they're counterintuitive - counter-cultural and they counteract the madness.
Think the Little Flower during World War One - who'da'thunk'it? The soldier's sweetheart!
Chesterton reminds us: When so-called starchy victorian sobriety and philanthropy and public betterment institutions and temperance/reform societies were making the poor poorer and the rich more self-satisfied who jumped into the fray? St Francis of Assisi!
When Academia had lost the plot and was stuck between the scylla of Dewey, James & Bergson's pragmatism and the charybdis of Logical and linguistic positivism on the other who jumped in to ruffle everyone's intellectual feathers and keep the Church Catholic? Dear old Dumb Ox Aquinas and Leo XIII & Pius X ensured that treasure regained wouldn't be lost even in the harsh winters to come...
While the priesthood and vocations were in such disarray who came to the fore? St John Vianney?
When the Vatican was at its height of power and opulence and worldliness with its political machinations at every turn..who became the most prominent saint in the hearts of the faithful? The half-mad-beautiful soul beggar saint Benedict Joseph Larbre
At the height of the British empire where the sun never set and we were stealing two thirds of the world from its rightful owners simply because they were coloured gentlefolk an we could impose civilised decency - what statue could be seen in even the tiniest family shrine or dressing table or hall window? Little illegitimate black man St Martin de Porres...
At the height of the two world wars where everything European was the filthy hun? How many Catholics had private devotions with the little oddly shaped statue to the Child of Prague?
When in the fifties and sixties in the iron heat of modernity and consumerism and hyper capitalism and white goods...Our Lady of Lourdes & The Sacred Heart somehow seized Catholic devotional piety - along with the corresponding saints Bernadette, Margaret Mary etc
It's ironic - it's counterintuitive - in the hippy era and post hippy times as Catholics were catching up with the madness and fashion sense a decade too late where spirituality became all centring prayer and stylised felt doves and becoming one with the spirit and being up one's own posterior? What spiritual works were being most read by Catholics ? Ignatian Spiritual exercises and St Francis de Sales' "Introduction to the Devout Life" - you couldn't get spiritualities more diammetrically opposed to the zeitgeist....
In this era where we're in doctrinal madness and ecclesiastical corruption chaos and being all too serious about ourselves and not giving tuppence for who we really are and what we believe ... we have the Chesterton revival [and i'll knock anyone's block off who says he isn't a saint!]
yes there's a massive diversity - from all walks of life - but when there's a time of need certain characters rise to the fore to defy the spirit of the age and bring us back to timeless reality..and bring hope.. they light a candle in the darkness

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