Doesn’t that term send shock waves of imagination through your entire being—both exhilaration and guilt? Exhilaration, because we marvel at the thought of someone being so pious, benevolent, holy, and perfect. Guilt, because, instantaneously, either consciously, subconsciously, or both, we realize we do not fit that mold. Then, we must ask ourselves how we came by those ingrained ideas in the first place, and secondly, are they justified? I can’t answer with certainty for you, but I can for myself.
From day one of my earliest memories until this very day, I have been schooled in the idea that certain people are known to have followed ‘God’s Laws’ to perfection, and thereby, are known, and have been certified, to be saints in heaven. The question then arises; ‘who makes those observations and certifications?’. Early in my Roman Catholic schooling, training, and upbringing, I didn’t really question such ideas—I just marveled at them. The disappointment came rapidly as I soon realized I couldn’t be one of them—I was too bad—I felt guilty.
As I got older, and the level of understanding and interpretation expanded with specifics about certain saints. I learned there might be a glimmer of hope for me after all. One prime example, touted with great exuberance, was Augustine of Hippo. I learned from the Catholic sisters, who taught me, that Augustine had been a womanizer of the highest degree—a real no-no for becoming a ‘saint’. But he had ‘an ace in the hole’, his mother, saint Monica. Throughout all the seventeen years of his life of debauchery, he squandered everything he had. Not only that, but he also tried every religion he could find—none fit. In the meantime, Monica continued to pray for his conversion. Finally, after years of indulgence and a burned out, spent life, he converted to Roman Catholicism.
Augustine was an intelligent man. Soon after his conversion, he became a priest. Realizing there was an unsettled controversy in the Church about the specifics of Original Sin and the Trinity, he developed a philosophy which explained them to the Church’s satisfaction—he was made Bishop of Hippo. He was canonized a saint some nine hundred years later—Monica, his mother, also was canonized.
A contemporary of Augustine, Jerome, was also a Catholic priest in Italy. He spoke both Greek and Latin. He is tributed with having translated the Bible from Greek to Latin. However, Dr Bart Ehrman, professor of Bible at North Carolina University, and a celebrated author about biblical concerns and events, asserts that, in his translation of the Bible from Greek to Latin, Jerome either eliminated or drastically changed most texts portraying ‘anything good’ about women—sex had become the absolute greatest evil in the Church’s eye, and ‘women were sex’. G. Rattray Taylor, in his insightful book, Sex in History, relates that Jerome became a staunch ascetic. In fact, to scourge himself more meaningfully, he moved from Italy to the Middle East desert in Judea where he became a hermit. He took three women with him. However, he made them dress as men, rub their face with dirt and ashes to hide their beauty, and torment their bodies continually, as he did. One of the women had four children. The oldest child died, and Jerome scolded her severely for weeping, telling her she should be thankful because, now she would have more time to devote to God—such was the ideation of ascetics—modern-day Opus Dei. Jerome was canonized three hundred-fifty years after his death.
Those two examples will serve to set the stage for who are considered to be ‘holy men’. Now, let’s back up thirty to forty years before Augustine and Jerome came along. The year is 325 AD. Jesus had been dead about three hundred years. The Jewish Kingdom was still under Roman control—a government within a government. The Jews were basically like sharecroppers under Roman rule, just as they had been in Jesus’ time. Christianity, of sorts, had spread eastward to all of Europe and North Africa along the Mediterranean Sea. Each town had its own bishop who was supreme ruler in his jurisdiction, However, there were many differences in Christian belief and practices from one Jurisdiction to another. Consequently, among the Christian Church, there was much squabbling and infighting, sometimes with outright hostility. Instead of working and producing for the Roman State, the Christians were spending their time bickering and arguing with each other. In the meantime, Emperor Constantine, and Emperors before him, had depleted both the Roman army and resources by engaging in perpetual conquests. The official Roman Religion at that time was Mithraism, a pagan religion which had been brought to Rome in 60 A D by the Roman Army from Persia—it was readily accepted by the Romans. Taylor asserts it is very similar to Roman Catholicism—the Church denies it. Be that as it may, Constantine reasoned that it would be more practical to make Christianity the official religion rather than attempt coercing the squabbling Christians into meaningful production. Consequently, He called the eighteen hundred world bishops into council at Nicaea—only 180 attended. At any rate, he commissioned those ‘holy men’ to form a religion of their liking—it would be enforced to the death by the Roman army. After much squabbling they formed a consensus, and the Holy Roman Catholic Church was born. In my humble opinion, it bore no resemblance to Jesus’ teaching. It reverted right back to the Jewish sacrificial religion which Jesus despised, and which got him killed for saying so. However, it did put those ‘holy men’ into a position of total control just as the King and High Priest were in Judaism—it gave them unadulterated control of our souls and our pocketbooks. As far as I can observe, nothing has changed to this day.
Oh, other ‘holy men’ finally split off from the ‘parent company’ and ‘set up housekeeping’ on their own. The visible result is thirty-three thousand different churches and sects, each proposing to represent the real Jesus—all headed by ‘holy men’—all are imposters.
If you have not already done so, please read my little books, Wilderness Cry, Peace in Spirituality, Provocative Catholic, and just for kicks, Growing Up in Fancy Farm Kentucky. Amazon-Kindle and me, firstname.lastname@example.org. You will get an earful and get your eyes opened.
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