Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Sainthood for All

I was educated by the Roman Catholic Church in a series of what was known at the time at parochial schools.  I guess the term was used to illustrate the narrow focus of the curriculum.  A Catholic education, during the 1950s and 60s was an experience that I liken to a military experience.  It wasn’t that much fun at the time but as a survivor it’s an experience that cannot replaced or truly explained to anyone who hasn’t been there.  There was a certain ineffable quality of love and brutality that kept one alert, wary, with a strong longing for escape.

The education was first class.  Even I, a poor student at best, managed to absorb knowledge and life skills at a survival level far above my public school counterparts.  I haven’t kept up with my schoolmates but it wouldn’t surprise me to find most of them as successful citizens contributing to the community.  The emphasis in the program was learning not financial gain, which is a little unfortunate for those who don’t get to live in a convent or rectory.  Nonetheless the intellectual life was, as I now realize, quite amazing.  The assumptions of the plan included the idea that the students were capable of being stretched to the limit and so they were.  You could fail; you could be as many grades behind as necessary to get you to the level required by the Church’s idea of an educated person.  We had students that were two and sometimes three years older than the grade level.

So with all this brain power cooking away in a world that was and is rapidly changing, how did and does the church think people will continue to believe in the spiritual agenda?  I come to this question because as I was watching the newscrawler at the bottom of my television picture I noticed a tag about some priest investigating a possible miracle cure by the late Pope John Paul II.  I got to wondering about this.  In Christian life death is the beginning not the end of existence.  I began to imagine John Paul getting to the pearly gates and being told to head on back down to earth if he wanted a better seat in the room God reserves for His closest friends.  It must be crowded in there. So, do these dead holy people have to circle the planet looking for a worthy cause in an effort to earn Sainthood?  I noticed that there were actually two potential miracles to investigate to establish the rationale of Sainthood status.  Let’ suppose this is something that is real.  What happens after the confirmation is made, do the miracles stop?  I can’t remember hearing of recent miracle investigations of the actions of, oh, let’s say St. Joseph.  Is it the case that once a dead person shows enough life to cause a miraculous action that they can accept a certain status; something like class 1 saint and relax around heaven?

I have long ago left organized religion to those who enjoy living with ghosts and who earn a living scaring the hell out of people instead of nurturing the heaven in them.  All of us have a certain spiritual longing that is difficult to cope with and to pin down effectively. For that reason I never disparage anyone’s beliefs but I do wonder why they believe it.

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