Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Fanatic By Any Name Is Still A Fanatic

Mortification: the subjection and denial of bodily passions and appetites by abstinence or self-inflicted pain or discomfort.
-Merriam-Webster Dictionary

If you followed the link to the article about Opus Die yesterday you learned that some members of Opus Dei practice what are know as corporal mortifications or corporal penances.

...members practice small physical mortifications occasionally, such as giving up certain items of food or drink. Within this spirit, numeraries and associates (celibate members) sometimes practice traditional Catholic penances such as using the cilice and discipline. These are practices that Catholics have used for centuries and are commonplace in the lives of the saints, for example: St. Francis of Assisi, St. Thomas More, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Padre Pio and Blessed Mother Teresa. The motivation for these voluntary penances is to imitate Christ and to join him in his redemptive sacrifice (cf. Matthew 16:24), and they can also be a way to suffer in solidarity with the many poor and deprived people in the world.
-Opus Dei-FAQ

For those of you who do not know what a cilice is, Father Mike Barrett, a member of Opus Dei, describes it this way, "It's a small, light, metal chain with little prongs worn around the thigh. The cilice is uncomfortable--it's supposed to be--but it does not in any way hinder one's normal activities and there's absolutely no Da Vinci Code gore." As for the disciplines (hitting yourself with a whip) he describes it this way, "Some celibate members use them generally once a week for a minute or two. Again, no blood, no harm, just some short-term discomfort...the real disciplines are made of woven cotton string and weigh less than two ounces."

(For those of you not sure what the hell Father Mike is talking about, this is a leg cilice and this is a light woven cotton discipline rope. I don't know about you but those things look like they would hurt.)

The reason for these practices, as stated above, "is to imitate Christ and join him in his redemptive sacrifice." Opus Dei give Matthew 16:24 as the citation for the practice.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me.'
-New Jerusalem Bible

How do you get from what is written in verse 24, Chapter 16, of Matthew to what can only be described as masochistic practices done in the name of Jesus? Why because they are, "commonplace in the lives of the saints." Let's face it, saints are the original fanatics. People who Merriam-Webster describe as being, "marked by excessive enthusiasm and often intense uncritical devotion." Although I was taught as a child to look up to the saints I always knew I never wanted to meet one of them. Read their life stories, most of those people are scary and a little nuts.

Not only are corporal mortifications done in the name of Jesus, Opus Dei tells us they are also a way, "to suffer in solidarity with the many poor and deprived people in the world." Since I was once one of the poor and deprived I can tell you right now this self-indulgent "I feel your pain" action is would not have helped me. If you really wanted to help you would give me food or do something constructive to rid the world of hunger and suffering.

Why am I writing about this? Because Rick Santorum is connected with this group. He may not be a member of it as rumored but he is connected to it. That speech he made back in 2002 in which he said he did not believe in Separation of Church and State and that John F. Kennedy made him throw-up was given at a Opus Dei event in Rome. When that speech went public he went on the defensive saying on ABC News:

To say that people of faith have no role in the public square. You bet that makes you throw-up. What kind of country do we live in that say only people of non-faith can come in the public square and make their case. That makes me throw-up.

Oh, please, no one is saying people of faith have no role in the public square. We are saying that people of faith have no right to force their personal religious beliefs on other Americans and, therefore, have no right to make those personal religious beliefs public law. Rick Santorum knows this but like Opus Dei he thinks that if he downplays what is really going by lying about it no one will see him for what he really is, a religious fanatic who wants to recreate the county in his own image.

No comments: