Joy Behar Says Catholic Saints Crazy

Foolish as it would be to look for deep theological insights from "The View," Joy Behar’s recent statements on Catholic saints (a) not existing any longer, and (b) needing medication, was about as close as you could come to a nice Youtubable, public display of anti-Catholicism, for any who doubt it still exists. Here are my comments, inserted under "Respondeo," as a nod to St. Thomas Aquinas, from whom Ms. Behar might learn a little about the use of reason. And, by the way, Ms. Goldberg, Catholics don’t "pray to statues." They are asking for the saints’ help in heaven, much as you would ask a friend to pray for you down here. JOY BEHAR: I’m going to get in trouble for this, but you know what? I have a theory that you can’t find any saints any more because of psycho-tropic medication. I think that the old days the saints were hearing voices and they didn’t have any thorazine to calm them down. [laughter] Now that we have all of this medication available to us, you can’t find a saint any more. [RESPONDEO: In the "old days," not all the saints heard voices. This is actually a rather rare phenomenon in the lives of the saints. And, for record, in modern times there are plenty of examples of very holy people, including Mother Teresa, Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, Archbishop Oscar Romero, Padre Pio, Pope John Paul II, and many more, who most people would say qualify as "saints." Sanctity is not something reserved for the past. ] ELISABETH HASSELBECK: I don’t think so, Mother Teresa. BEHAR: That’s why Mother Teresa had issues. Let’s not forget, she didn’t really believe 100 percent like these saints who were hearing voices. She didn’t hear voices. So the Church said "okay, she does good deeds. Let’s make her a saint." In the old days it used to be you heard voices. They can’t do that anymor] [RESPONDEO: This an example of the lazy, but rather popular, conflation of Mother Teresa’s "Dark Night" with disbelief. Though she at times struggled with doubt, as evidenced by her letters, she continued to believe and trust in God, remaining true to her original mystical experience, which indeed consisted of hearing God’s voice. Her experience was similar to that of someone who believed in God, but felt little in the way of consolation from God. How do we know that she continued to believe? In two ways: first, she continued her work among the poor. Second, she continued to speak to God in her prayer. Mother Teresa reported that she did hear what she would later described as Jesus’s voice, asking her to work with the poor. She never wanted to discuss this experience in public during her life, since she felt it would only focus more attention on her, rather than on God. And so this facet of her spiritual life was revealed only after her death -- in letters that she hoped wouldn’t be shared. But she certainly believed in this unusual experience, and based the rest of her life on it. Also, she is on the track to eventual canonization not simply for her "good deeds," or her mystical experiences alone, but for the example of her faith-filled life, taken as a whole.] WHOOPI GOLDBERG: They’d cut your hair off. They’d set you on fire. Don’t forget what they did to Joan of Arc. [RESPONDEO: In point of fact, it was Joan who cut her own hair, to resemble a man. She also wore men’s clothes, something that infuriated the English judges at her trial. But this was Joan’s choice. The reasons set forth for this choice vary, depending on the biographer: she may have wanted to lessen the inevitable sexual tension between her and the male soldiers around her. Or her reasons might have been more mysterious, coming as they did from her "voices." And the church did not "set you on fire" if you were a person with a reputation for holiness who reported hearing voices. Many of those who heard voices and received visions, like St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuit Order, were revered in their lifetimes and later canonized as saints.] BEHAR: Because she was hearing voices. GOLDBERG: They set her on fire. That’s why people stopped saying anything. [RESPONDEO: That’s only half-right. Joan’s voices were certainly one reason why the English burned her at the stake in Rouen. The other was far more political: she was leading the charge of their enemies, and had become a rallying point for the French. And those post-15th century saints who followed Joan of Arc who heard voices or saw visions certainly not stopped "saying things."] BEHAR: Well it was- no, no, no, in the last century before you had medication, they still were hearing voices. I’m telling you. HASSELBECK: I don’t think they were hearing voices. I think they were committed to their faith and they’d go to death for it. [RESPONDEO: Again, relatively few of the saints heard voices. Others found God in far more prosaic ways: by meditating on Scripture, by working with the poor, by attending Mass, and by thinking about God’s activity in what they saw around them everyday. But yes, Elizabeth, all of them, including Mother Teresa, were ready to go to their death for it. Overall, I’m not too worried about Joy Behar causing anyone to misunderstand Mother Teresa. Most believers understand that God cannot always be felt in prayer, and yet they continue to believe. Mother Teresa’s example is one of remarkable fidelity even during those dry times in her spiritual life. And I’m not worried about Joy Behar causing people to misunderstand the saints. Their stories are naturally appealing and will endure far longer than "The View." Moreover, most people know holiness still exists, because they know holy people in their own lives. And I’m not worried about Joy Behar herself: I’m sure Mother Teresa is already praying for her.] James Martin, S.J.
9 years 5 months ago
I'm pretty sure Joy didn't come up with this theory on her own.
9 years 5 months ago
You say "People of faith do charitable work because that is what their faith asks of them, and that's what Christ asks of all of us. The charity springs from their faith. And their obligation springs from their belief" Charity springs from our inherent human compassion and that compassion has nothing to do with religious faith. Yes, faith and family can nurture our compassion and charity but they are not the source. Of Dorothy Day you say "But she always strove for sanctity and understood the need in the church for saints. As did all the saints." I'd question the belief that Dorothy Day would have had the desire to be a saint regardless of the fact that she felt a need for them and lived such a devout Christ-like life. I think the expense and effort involved in her cause alone would have had her turning over in her grave. In today's world some saints would be labeled crazy so I got Behar's point and I don't think she was being anti-Catholic at all. Again, I think you are over-reacting. To Mary: Behar was born and raised a Catholic and from what I can gather still practices so ummm, her religion is the target. I rarely watch TV and have never seen this show so I have no idea if this her normal M.O. or not but Catholics have every right to question and comment on any part of their religion.
9 years 5 months ago
Thank you for this response to Joy Behar, Fr. Jim. Much needed and well done. Saints do walk among us today.
9 years 5 months ago
Fr. Jim, I have not read the book and I know you have commented extensively on it so perhaps you can explain this to me. On Mother Theresa, one thing I could never understand is how, if she really believed she heard Jesus speak to her, how could she have dissolved into darkness within such a short time of hearing his voice? If one felt Jesus speak to them and really and truly believed it was the voice of God it should sustain one for quite some time (a lifetime even) I would have thought.
9 years 5 months ago
Of Mother Theresa Fr. Martin asks "How do we know that she continued to believe? In two ways: first, she continued her work among the poor. Second, she continued to speak to God in her prayer. " Do you think that people who lose their faith automatically stop all charitable work and lose whatever sense of compassion they had? Are you saying that people of faith doing charitable work are only doing it because they believe or out of obligation? As for Behar and Goldberg - two supposed professional comediennes trying to be funny - I didn't sense anything particularly malicious there... Why you'd even waste this much effort on them is beyond me. I hadn't even heard about this until I read it on here. I'm not much of a saint person anyway. My feeling is that someone deserving of sainthood probably would not have wanted it and anyone who did want it wouldn't deserve it. I find it reprehensible that Mother Theresa was betrayed with the publication of her private letters in order to promote her for sainthood.
9 years 5 months ago
Dear Ann: You're not alone in wondering how Mother Teresa could have moved from her mystical experiences to darkness. But this is not uncommon in the spiritual life at all, and the "dark night" has been the lot of quite a few of the saints. What happens in darkness is that we lose all sense of God in prayer, which is not as a result of losing faith or not praying, but just the mysterious workings of God in prayer. That is, the fruits of prayer are something that we have little control over. But Mother Teresa continued to believe in her work, and still continued to believe in the original call, hard as that was for her in this long darkness. It would be similar to a person knowing that a spouse loved you, and then finding oneself in a place where letters and phone calls didn't reach you. You would still believe in that love, but might not feel it as much. In a sense, for some reason, Mother Teresa did not hear God's voice, at least in her contemplative prayer.
9 years 5 months ago
Thank you Fr. Jim for your response to Ms. Behar. We all will pray for her as she continues to try and be more informed of other religions. Let her realize that if she wants people to be tolerant of her religion, then she in good faith needs to be less out spoken on her opinions on public tv. Her comments should be voiced in private or at a cocktail party.Joyce we pray to the saints that you are given more insight to the love and compassion of the Lord.
9 years 5 months ago
The View is yet another reminder that TV exists to sell beer and shampoo, not to inform, enlighten, or educate. Think of the oxygen wasted by that exchange.
9 years 5 months ago
How do these shows come up with their kooky material -- focus groups, polls, the friars club? Maybe she knows some authentic saints who, but for their medication, would inspire her to defend the church as a person of the faith, maybe they even live in her neighborhood. As those brighter than me have pointed out, she opens the door to evangelizing, it's a great opportunity for the church! Of course it's not uncommon to lament the lack of great saints, that nostalgia for what never existed in the first place. It speaks to a certain repressed yearning, this great interest, does it not?
9 years 5 months ago
The view tv soap opera/show is comedy, not 'news' and typically the way the money making industry works is that when not enough people watch the players are fed outrageous things to say in order to have a news outlet pick up their diatribes on their 'entertainment' items for the day (or hour, or minute...which is how quickly they pass). I don't know, I don't think she was at all serious and just having some fun, and we all have different tastes in comedy. If she meant to be serious then she ought to be willing to stand up for her views and debate it publicly and honestly, in real time, with real people. Like 'holiness', there's always time to try that again.
9 years 5 months ago
To Ann: Thanks for the questions, which I'll answer here... Do you think that people who lose their faith automatically stop all charitable work and lose whatever sense of compassion they had? No, but most priests, sisters and brothers who lose their faith in a definitive way do, in fact, leave their religious orders or the priesthood. They may continue with their good works, but they don't continue with their commitments to the religious organizations to which they belong. That is part of what I meant by her continuing to do her "work," which included not only charitable works, but actually running the Missionaries of Charity. Are you saying that people of faith doing charitable work are only doing it because they believe or out of obligation? People of faith do charitable work because that is what their faith asks of them, and that's what Christ asks of all of us. The charity springs from their faith. And their obligation springs from their belief. As for the saints not wanting to be saints, while the saints were to humble to say that they were saints, they all wanted to become holy. As Joan of Arc said, when asked if she was in a state of grace, "If I am, may God keep me there. If I am not may God put me there." For me, that is a good way of understanding the desire to become holy, coupled with humility, as it always is in the lives of the saints. A few years ago, in fact, I asked Robert Ellsberg, the biographer of Dorothy Day, about her comment, "Don't call me a saint. I don't want to be dismissed that easily." And now Dorothy is being proposed for canonization. Wasn't that against her wishes? He answered not at all. She didn't want to be dismissed as a saint during her lifetime, since that would mean that people would put her on a pedestal and not really listen to her. But she always strove for sanctity and understood the need in the church for saints. As did all the saints.
9 years 5 months ago
It would be just icing on the cake if Father Jim would go on Joy's funny show to explain it all to her seriously. Then we all wouldn't have to pray so hard for her to be enabled in realization, we would know it was true. I don't know that we have to explicitly pray for her as the above poster says since what we need is already known. But if others would find it encouraging in their walks of faith, I am sure we can find some help to make it happen.
9 years 5 months ago
Re: "My feeling is that someone deserving of sainthood probably would not have wanted it and anyone who did want it wouldn't deserve it." Emergency! Someone please give Ann a crash course on justification and grace. Re: "I'm pretty sure Joy didn't come up with this theory on her own." I was wondering that too, Ken. If she did, I'm impressed.
9 years 5 months ago
I guess it is not just the naive who must be realize that you can't fight city hall!
9 years 5 months ago
I saw this entire exchange and it was not meant as entertainment but a general "dissing" of the Church. Something Behar has been doing for quite some time. It would not be "entertainment" or "all in good fun" if Behar's religion were the target of the misrepresention and meanness. It is indeed tempting to shrug this off as an attempt to be funny but it part of a persistent pattern of anti-Catholic rhetoric on this show. While Rosie O'Donnell was more vicious and obvious with her remarks against the Church, the pattern is sadly continuing with the new hosts and cast. I would have thought that Goldberg would have been above such obvious willful denigration and misrepresentation of a another's faith. The underlying driver for such remarks is the need to diminish the Church's creditability during election season, so that its members ignore teachings that are against the great right to destroy humans in the womb. During the last election, Catholics were a major part of the "swing" vote that caused the Democrats to loose. This show, like so many other shows, packages political beliefs as entertainment. During election season the viewers are offered a constant stream of thinly veiled political endorsements. While the show attempts to "balance" out the views presented, it is a half-hearted attempt as Elisabeth Hasselbeck as the the voice for Christianity and the "right" is no match for the intellectual skills of Goldberg and Walters or the combined comedic and general communication skills of Walters, Goldberg and Behar. It's a typical ploy on these shows: pick a representative for "balance" who is mean, intolerant, and harsh or dull and intellectually, and not up to the challenge. Your opinion appears to be the winner and those on the fence or not well informed will side with you.
9 years 5 months ago
Fr. Martin: I would argue that the long dark night of the soul is actually a gift - God's vote of confidence. In such cases, I imagine that their faith was so deep that such a complete withdrawal was the ONLY way for God to test them. And I would argue that Mother Teresa is STILL being tested, if the existence of Christopher Hitchens is anything to go by.

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