Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Saint Rose of Lima (1586-1617)

This short work was just the right length for my flight back to San Francisco.  It is the story of a young lady who was the first person from the Americas to be "canonized" by the Roman Church.  The lady's real name was Isabel Flores who was of the Spanish settlers.  A passion for Christ at the youngest age caused her to rebel against all the requirements of a young lady and pursue a life of fasting, sleep deprivation, and self-inflicted tortures of various sorts as a nun.  I can personally relate to the self-inflected tortures, but generally avoid the fasting and sleep deprivation.  Supposedly she helped the sick and hungry, although I don't quite see how that would be possible given what she had done to her body.  Or to put it another way, her life was a slow act of suicide done in the name of spirituality.

Much of her biography seems to be visions of Catherine of Sienna, Mother Mary and the Baby Jesus.  This is combined with a power for prophecy and healing.  It is these last two features that would cause the most problems for a Protestant like myself.  The easiest way to deal with these is to dismiss them as so much rubbish that is unfit for a modern, scientific outlook.  As if intellectuals weren't constantly receiving their own mystical revelations which they simply re-labelled as "science".  I should prefer a revelation from God to one that was obviously a fraud dreamed up by an intellectual hiding behind a Ph.d.

Yet what do we make of visions of Mary?  From my view, this is totally contrary to the Bible and I completely reject the Mariolatry of the Papists.  Yet at the same time, I cannot condemn this as the work of evil spirits.  A separate pretext for dismissing the whole thing as delusions is thus on offer to the Protestant:  That it isn't theologically sensible.  At this point, I am more inclined just to put the airplane seat back and listen without offering too much judgment.

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