Everybody and everything is in danger in the presence of a saint. Every ideology, every notion of morality, ethics, right and wrong, up and down, progress and digress, the entire status quo in its pathology short circuits and explodes when a saint emerges in the public sphere. There is no safe place to hide. There are no excuses. Nothing will ever be the same. Sainthood is the revolution that exposes all other revolutions to be cheap, shallow, tawdry, and ineffective.
When one approaches the subject of saints it is tempting to dismiss their passion as an excess of aesthetics. In other words, the burning quest for beauty. There is no doubt that the beatific vision plays a crucial role in the life of any saint. However that is not their quest. It is also tempting to see them as deliberate revolutionaries because their lives produce the revolution, but they are not in it for that either. They are in it for something wholly other. They live for the transcendent.
We always hear people say that if you are too heavenly minded you are no earthly good. When in reality unless you are heavenly minded you of no earthly good. Simone Weil stated that the revolutionary looks forward while the saint fixes his gaze upward. It all depends on where you fix your gaze. In that fixation there is born THE revolution. Not because saints are revolutionary but because of what follows in the wake of the earthquake that is the life of a saint in the present and over the arc of time.
Lets first talk extremes of the nuts and bolts of a revolution. St. Jerome could paint the world blacker than e.m.cioran. Saint Francis could paint it brighter than George Bernard Shaw. The secular expansion is not wider in scope than the circumference of the saintly one. Then there is the competing ideologies of revolutionary models of all shapes and sizes that have been played out. Let us look at that and their results and compare them to the saint in his or her effectiveness in regards to humanizing the world.
Capitalism leaves too many deprived. Communism leaves too many under tyranny. Utilitarianism leaves to many without transcendence. Nationalism leaves too many displaced. Conservatism leaves too many under moral judgement. Liberalism leaves too many dependent. Anarchism leaves too many confused. Libertarianism leaves too many marginalized. Fascism leaves too many under conformity.
The saint by their very presence and action restores dignity to each individual, demolishing deprivation, tyranny, displacement, moral judgement, dependency, confusion, marginalization, and conformity, hence establishing the sphere of transcendence and the climate of mercy. The saint is Occam’s razor with the burning heart of love. Tell me, what or who can top that?
Nothing can top that. Yet people run around to this day spouting revolutionary slogans like two-year-olds in a calculated indifference ignoring the lives of the saints, even the ones in their midst. It is infantile to try and reinvent the wheel. Even if a new ideology comes along and does reinvent it, the wheel will do what a wheel always does which is to just go around in a circle. It never just cuts to the chase of the root of the problem which is to establish a lasting revolution.
The root of every social and political problem is every human being. The root of every human being is the direction of our intent. The root of every direction of intent is the state of the human heart. The root of the human heart is the decisive factor as to whether it has love in it or not. If not, then no lasting revolution. All political revolutions that seem hopeful at the start always come crashing down into a nightmare. History is replete with such examples of sinking Titanics, power just changing hands, wishful thinking and bloody revolutions all ending in ruins.
Yes indeed, history attests to this indisputable fact while history puts a saint in every dream. As that dream expands, the more we can let go of our illusions. It is this final letting go that can give us the vision that we too can have a shot at the very thing that is THE revolution, namely Sainthood.
Therese de Lisieux from “Who Cares About The Saints?” with Fr. James Martin, S.J.
Loyola Productions, Inc. on Sep 7, 2012
Let James Martin, S.J. author of “My Life with the Saints,” introduce you to his favorite saints in the exciting new DVD Who Cares about the Saints? Loyola Productions proudly releases this DVD which combines Fr. Martins lively commentary along with dramatic photos and artwork that brings to life the lives of the saints.
The DVD features twelve 6-10 minute chapters on the lives of Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, Joan of Arc, Francis of Assisi, Mother Teresa, Ignatius Loyola, Bernadette Soubirous, Pope John XXIII, Therese of Liseux, Joseph, Peter, and Mary, Mother of Jesus. The DVD also includes insights from Fr. Martin on how to use the saints today.
Francesco – Trailer
Cinedigm on Dec 14, 2015
Based on Herman Hesse’s book Francis of Assisi, Francesco, starring Mickey Rourke and Helena Bonham Carter, paints an intimate portrait of St. Francis, one of the most beloved, influential and complex figures in the history of religion and civilization.
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