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.
Bill McCormick, S.J.
Catholic News Service
James Martin, S.J.
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