Monday, April 10, 2006

From Huw Raphael*
A saints meme
‘Who are your top five of all time?’ That’s a tough one!

Having a go (cheating a bit to make six)
St John the Evangelist, the only one I share with Huw: my baptismal name, from the high-flying mystic who produced a unique gospel and the Apocalypse
St Benedict, a pioneer of the divine office and thus Mass-and-office Catholicism
• Sharing the honour, two Eastern Church Fathers, SS Basil, a Greek and a doctor of the church, and John Damascene, an Arab, for, AFAIK, essentially writing the Byzantine Rite’s beautiful and of course orthodox prayers — again, high theology
St Thomas à Becket, the ‘holy blisful martir’ who spoke truth to power and paid the ultimate price
St Thomas Aquinas, the master of the Schoolmen who also enjoyed a good Italian meal: ‘Primo mangiare, poi filosofare...’ He’s better known for things like ‘Salus animarum lex suprema’ and the quinque viæ of course. And in the end he became something of a mystic himself.

Runners-up
• St Pius V, the Hammer of (modern) Liturgists (thanks, Holy Whapping) and producer of a masterly catechism
• St Seraphim of Sarov, probably the world’s most universally loved Russian Orthodox saint: he ‘acquired the spirit of peace’ and thus succeeded where the Grizzly Man failed!

Broadening it a bit to make it easier...

Five favourite categories of holy heroes
• The frankly weird, or some ‘marginal Catholics’ on the fringe of society/normality (and natural patrons for people on the autism spectrum): oblates and tertiaries like St Catherine of Siena (a nun who never lived in a convent), holy fools like St Benedict Joseph Labré, and the anonymous 19th-century Russian Pilgrim whose Way is a famous book
• Churchmen in the classical liberal tradition like John Henry Cardinal Newman: apostles of English-style tolerant conservatism
• Martyrs and confessors for Catholic faith and unity like St Maximus the Confessor and the English Martyrs
• The modern orthodox who promoted social justice and peace, such as Dorothy Day and Catherine de Hueck Doherty... and Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani, who both defended the Roman Mass and wanted the church to condemn the use of nuclear weapons
• Along those lines, orthodox Anglo-Catholic confessors from the persecuted Victorian ritualist slum priests (Charles Lowder and other ‘saints in the Docklands’, Alexander Mackonochie et al.) to the bishops and religious-order men who started the anti-apartheid movement... to those who started the Continuum and Forward in Faith.

The Mother of God is of course in a hyperdulic category unto herself. Her importance — very high indeed — is entirely theological and not from personal qualities or details of her life, about which we know next to nothing (apocryphal material and private revelation are not doctrine).

Why not St Sergius of Radonezh? This second patron is so because of a calendrical coincidence more than his worthy and patriotic life: his feast-day according to the Gregorian reckoning is my birthday!

Why not St Alphonsus? Simply because I’m not as familiar with his work as I should be.

Opening this up to anybody who’d like to play. I realise that churchmen are very busy this week!

*Whose blog seems to get better every day. Ace graphics but the box or table with the text is a bit small and needs better contrasting colours like a lighter background — I’ve learnt that aiming at readability and ‘less is more’ art work best in this medium.

No comments:

Post a comment

Leave comment