Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Matt Talbot...a "Loser" Saint?

You may have noticed how book and article titles about saints and saintly people have changed in recent years. Not long ago, there were such straightforward book titles as Saints, Spiritual Companions, and A Book About Saints. Today, we find such titles as Cutthroats, Crooks, Trollops, Con Men, and Devil-Worshippers Who Became Saints, Look Past the Halo: Saints had Sinful Starts, and Perfect Fools: Folly for Christ's Sake in Catholic and Orthodox Spirituality.

The following article also has one of those catchy titles, in which Matt Talbot is included in pretty good company.

"Loser Saints"

Terry Nelson

May 2nd, 2008

Posted at Abbey-Roads2

I lie awake and I moan… like some lonely bird on a roof.- Ps. 101

Psalm 101 is the fifth penitential psalm - a loser’s psalm really. Of course losers, and their heavenly counterparts - the saints who were losers, really only lost in the eyes of the world, since the eternal life they embraced in Christ is so much gain. Therefore, in Christ all become a new creation; there is no slave or freeman, male or female, loser or self-made-man-success-story; all are now one in Christ.


So anyway - not all Christians have reached that awareness, and if they have in theory, they often haven’t done so in practice, thus even the saints were sometimes considered losers after they converted or repented, or just because they were born poor or crippled. Naturally the world considers all Christians to be losers. We see this especially in the lives of the martyrs, who have to be the world’s biggest losers - how foolish, in the eyes of the world, are their deaths. We thought their passing away an affliction, a punishment. Yet it is the martyrs who are exalted above the heavens and reign gloriously with Christ.

God loves humility.

God loves humility so much he sent his only Son to become the most foolish man in the history of the world. Jesus did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at, rather he emptied himself, took the form of a slave, allowed himself to be mocked and treated as one insane, a veritable fool… He shared the lot of the poor and the lowly, those the world considers foolish - because of this we should no longer look on anyone in terms of mere human judgment - but we do.

Loser saints.

The loser saints understood that the power of the cross is complete foolishness to those who are headed for ruin, hence they ran to embrace Jesus and him crucified. It pleased God to save them through the absurdity of the Gospel, they were not always wise as the world accounts wisdom, nor attractive, often they were such that men hid their faces, ignoring them, making them outcasts. Nevertheless, God chose the weak to shame the strong, the poor to embarrass the rich, the simple to refute the wise. He chose those who count for nothing so that mankind can do no boasting before God… because it is Jesus Christ alone who is our wisdom, our justice, our holiness and our everlasting life and riches.

The names of a few loser saints I have devotion to:

(I may write about them as time goes on, for today I’ll just name a few here.)

St. Alexis, the pilgrim. He couldn’t be married so he ran away and lived as a homeless pilgrim.

St. Basil of Moscow. Another fool for Christ I write about a lot.

St. Francis of Assisi. Surprised? He was so revered in his lifetime. Big loser - even now in death - if he walked into a Franciscan friary today, would he even recognize the men as his followers?

St. Benedict Joseph Labre. Uh-huh! He couldn’t even hold a temporary job. As everyone knows he is my very special patron.

St. John of God. People thought he was nuts at first, and then his order never really was recognized until after his death.

Bl. Herman the Crippled. Nasty looking fellow who wrote the Salve Regina.

St. Joseph of Cuppertino. Considered very stupid for much of his life. His levitations caused sort of circus-freak atmosphere about him and he was hidden away from the public.

Bl. Charles de Foucauld. He founded an order that had no members until long after his death - there was very little about him I would consider normal.

St. Margaret Mary. Her own sisters in the Visitation made fun of her.

St. Margaret of Cortona. You’d have to read her life to know what I mean - way over the top.

Bl. Angela of Foligno. Drama queen.

St. Catherine of Genoa. Kind of a bitch at times.

St. Marina. Transvestite - she pretended to be a man so she could live as a monk.

St. Pelagia the penitent. Another trannie. She gave up a profitable career as a dancer/slut, left everything, and went to Jerusalem disguised as a man and lived as a hermit.

St. Mary of Egypt. She ran around the desert totally naked - you tell me.

St. Martin de Porres. Mixed race? Big loser in those days.

St. Moses the Black. He was black - and also the leader of a group of robbers - before he became a desert father.

Jacques Fesch. Murdered a police officer as part of a bungled robbery.

St. Camillus de Lellis. Dissolute gambler and failed soldier.

Ven. Matt Talbot. Laborer, alcoholic, and Irish.

St. Bakhita. Black slave becomes Italian nun and is the prioress for the community.

Bl. Margaret Costello. Blind, crippled, abandoned by her family.

St. Roch. Pilgrim, contracted the plague, later imprisoned as a spy.

St. Simeon Salus. His title, ’salus’ means ‘the crazy’. A desert monk who returned to the city to live amongst the poor - ministering to them, especially harlots - he is the Father of all fools for Christ.

St. Thais. My friend David’s favorite because she made a public bonfire of all her jewels, fine clothes and possessions. She had been an Egyptian harlot before her repentance.

Blessed Nunzio Sulprizio. Abused as a child and crippled for life, died as a teenager.

Bl. Laura Vicuna. Poor, abused, murdered by her mother’s lover.

Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati. Oh yes indeed. Disrespected and misunderstood by his family, not a very good student, disappointed in love.

The Martyrs of Uganda. St. Charles and companions resisted the advances of the king and chose to die rather than commit the sin of engaging in homosexuality.

St. Rita of Cascia. Her community made a fool of her - before that she did not have a very successful family life.

St. Christina the Astonishing.

St. Zita. A housekeeper.

So anyway - that is my short list.