Friday, 6 July 2012

A horrid feast

This just has to be about the worst feast in the Church's year.  It is perfectly horrible.  What is there to celebrate about St Maria Goretti?  Yes she attained the twin crowns of Virginity and Martyrdom, yes she forgave her attacker, but......ought we feel guilty or ashamed if we couldn't follow her example, if we chose to live and submit to the assault rather than fight it to the death?

What about those countless children systematically raped by family members; childhood lost in a web of blackmail, lies and violence.  Is not their determination to live worthy?  Is not their daily battle (every day for the rest of their lives), a battle of scars that won't heal, wrestling with self-hatred and disgust, and freaked out by "normality", worthy of a crown.  Is not their endurance a form of slow martyrdom?

Forgiving your assailant on your deathbed, shortly after your ordeal is worthy.  Living on for decades in the same neighbourhood as your attacker is heroic.  Making a mess of your life and battling self-abusive behaviour because you've got no self worth and struggle with sexual relations as a result of your childhood experiences, is utterly tragic.  But any act of love, performed by such an individual, moved by the love of God to perform heroic acts of charity, is a pearl beyond price.  Such people are living saints and even if they can't be canonised, they deserve a voice.

Just saying....


Mac McLernon said...

There are different saints and different examples of heroic virtue in the Church's calendar for us to follow. Just as a recognition that some vocations are a higher calling than others does not imply that following a different vocation is a reason for guilt, so a recognition of St. Maria's holiness (not just due to her death) is not a denigration of those others who are victims of abuse.

Rita said...

You're right Mac, but as a good Catholic friend of mine who was abused as a child said "is not the Church giving out the message that people like me would be better off dead?"

We had Mass in school on this feast day and knowing what some of our pupils have been through, we just couldn't use that Mass, we did one of the votive Masses instead.

My point is, where is the saint for victims of abuse that victims of abuse can actually realte to?

She is a saint, yes. But for some, in honouring her, many wounds are reopened.

Robert said...

I personally think this may be a reason to regard Maria's mother as the greater saint and the better model. She wasn't abused in the "usual" sense, but she did have to live for years with the memory that her daughter had been attacked and killed. She had to live with the memory of seeing her daughter torn and weak and dying in the hospital. She had to have been scarred by the incident, yet she forgave the assailant, and even befriended him. I hope someday this mother will be canonized, and that she would be made the patron of the abused, a perfect patronage for the mother of an abused child.

Saint Augustine sort of addressed this issue in City of God, in that there is no guilt, regardless of what is done to the body, as long as there is not consent of the will.

Sadly, I think there will always be some nuts out there who would attack even a canonized "survivor" of abuse, by suggesting that they asked for it, or that they must have cooperated, or that the canonization was just a "cheap" means for the Church to "atone" for priestly abuse. It would make it difficult for even such a saintly survivor to be a model without still becoming a source of some pain to other victims.