On St. Teresa – and Karl Marx?


Did Teresa of Ávila – the “Pope Francis of her time” – also get attacked by conservatives?

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Saturday, October 15, is the feast Day of St. Teresa of Ávila.

On that note, back on March 30, 2015, St. Teresa was dubbed “the Pope Francis of her time.”  Which leads to the musical question:*  Did she also get attacked by conservatives?

About a year ago, conservative cartoonist Michael Ramirez pictured Pope Francis espousing “the Gospel of Marx.*”  For an update, I Googled “gospel of marx pope francis.”  I found some very interesting reading.

You can see some of the results of this off on a tangent search in the notes.  But perhaps the best – the most common sense – response came from The Gospel of Bernie Sanders and Pope Francis: Darcy cartoon.  (That’s where the cartoon above came from.)  

Pope Francis and Bernie Sanders are guilty of the sin of socialism in the eyes of conservatives…  The Pope’s comments on capitalism, wealth disparity, corporate responsibility to society and climate change, have been touted by Democrats and criticized by conservatives as espousing socialism and even communism.  [E.A.]

But – the writer noted – the Pope also criticized Cuba’s Fidel Castro and his brother.

In their case, it was for the kind of dictatorship that “Pope Francis is all too familiar with having had to live under military dictatorship in Argentina.”  The Sanders and Pope Francis writer concluded:  “The fact that the Pope has Democrat and Republican politicians both agreeing and disagreeing with him, tells me he’s on the right path…”

I covered Teresa in last year’s On Saint Teresa of Avila.  That post included this nugget:

Somewhat surprisingly, she was “of Jewish descent,” and among other things could be rather droll.  (If not apparently disrespectful to God.)  According to one story, she was traveling to visit another convent when her cart overturned and she was thrown into a mud puddle.  Embarrassed at having to show up in a dirty habit, Teresa reportedly prayed, “God, if this is how you treat your friends, no wonder you have so few!

(On that note, see More on “arguing with God.”)  But the point here is that Teresa (1515-1582) was a reformer; that is, a person “who works to change and improve a society, government, etc.”

In her case, the reforming spirit began when she joined a Carmelite order in Ávila(In Spain.  The image at right shows the city’s “Fiestas de Santa Teresa.”)

However, she soon found herself “increasingly in disharmony with the spiritual malaise prevailing at the monastery.”  (Which you might expect from someone who takes God to task.)  She moved to reduce the “laxness” in the order’s spiritual discipline, but her devotion “excited a scandal among the citizens and authorities of Ávila.”  (Sound familiar?)

Then too, while she had powerful support, her hard work also made her a slew of enemies.

On that note, it seems that – throughout history – true reformers have always made enemies of the entrenched interests in power at the time.  Saint Teresa was no exception:

In 1576 a series of persecutions began on the part of the older observant Carmelite order against Teresa, her friends, and her reforms…  The general [“older’] chapter condemned her to voluntary retirement to one of her institutions.  She obeyed and chose St. Joseph’s at Toledo.  Her friends and subordinates were subjected to greater trials.

Fortunately, her years of sending letters to King Philip II of Spain – pleading for relief – finally paid off.  (Shortly before the Spanish Inquisition came into play.)  The charges against her were dropped, and her efforts at reform continued.

In other words, St. Teresa ended up by not getting burned at the stake, like the poor schmuck at left.

Then too, Teresa was a mystic, and as noted before:

The terms “mystic” or “mysticism” seem to throw Southern Baptists and other conservative Christians into apoplexy.  (Try it sometime!!!)

See On Saint Teresa of Avila, which added this about the idea of a “mystic” freaking out some Christians.  For example:  “The term ‘Christian mystic’ is an oxymoron.  Mysticism is not the experience of a Christian.”  (From What is Christian mysticism? – GotQuestions.org.)  Or this:

Mysticism is when you get into a mystical state and it’s something you cannot understand, you’re out there in “la-la” land, it’s an “oooh” experience and you’re really not thinking.

See Is There A Biblical Mysticism? | thebereancall.org.

On the other hand, it’d be hard to describe Teresa’s experience – shown in the sculpture below – as anything but a “mystical experience.”  (See e.g. Christian mysticism – Wikipedia and The mystical teachings of Jesus. Or check the notes below.)  The fact remains:  Teresa was canonized as a saint, and that alone may have made lots of people jealous, both during her time and since.

But before we go off on another tangent, I’d like to close this post on St. Teresa with an observation.  Some people – who should know better – portray Jesus as some kind of a button-down conservative.  Which leads to this “musical question:”

If Jesus was a “conservative,” how come we’re not all going to synagogue?

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“The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, by Bernini…”

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148751 600 Gospel According to Marx cartoonsThe upper image is courtesy of The Gospel of Bernie Sanders and Pope Francis: Darcy cartoon.  It’s an update on last year’s accusation – by cartoonist Michael Ramirez – that the Pope was either a Marxist, Communist, or both.

(For my take on the issue, see On the “Gospel of Marx.”)

On the same topic – of whether Pope Francis is a “Marxist,” or worse – see also “Pope Francis: A Socialist By Any Other Name:”

Francis has [] referred to ours as “an economy of exclusion and inequality…”  As a consequence,” Francis concludes, “masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.”  Where have we heard this lingo before?

(For one answer see:  Trump pitches black voters: “What the hell do you have to lose?”)

A second article: “Pope Francis says ‘freedom … of God allows Christians to break some laws:”

The Popes are believed to be infallible, meaning while acting in his capacity as head of the church, he can never err or lie.  Simply put, everything from his mouth is gospel truth. Well, it has never been and this time it is worse.

That writer concluded, “The catholic church is not a church but a den of demons.”  (Note the non-capitalized “catholic” and “church.”)  The article got one response:

Dude, you have NO idea what you’re talking about!  “Papal Infallibility” only applies to matters of Faith and Morals…  It does not — repeat NOT — apply to off-the-cuff comments or statements made such as the one you are making such a big deal out of…  What His Holiness is talking about is Phariseeism – those who would complain about the speck of dust in their brother’s eyes while ignoring the log in their own.

(See also Ex cathedra, at Papal infallibility.)  Which could lead to one valuable object lesson:  That there’s a lot of crap on the internet.  (Not to put too fine a point on it…)

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 As for the phrase “asks the musical question,” see e.g. Carol Brady – Quotes – imdb.com:  “Carol Brady:  ‘Yeah, the show that asks the musical question: Can eight average people make it in the big time?’” (It’s under “‘The Brady Bunch Variety Hour: Episode #1.4 (1977).)  See also “Bibliographia” – Verbatim, Vol. 29, Issue 1, Spring 2004 (“A Decade-by-Decade Guide to the Vanishing Vocabulary of the Twentieth Century”), which included this:

In the postwar years, young people became increasingly anti-authoritarian in their behavior. Blame it on Marlon Brando in The Wild Ones.  One way to keep the old folks at bay was to cut them out of your communications…  “KIDS,” a song from the 1960 musical Bye Bye Birdieasks the musical question, “Who can understand anything they say?”

See also “Birdie” – What’s the Matter With Kids Today – YouTube.  (Talk about “deja vu all over again.”)

For more on St. Teresa – from the Satucket website (with the DORs) – see Teresa of Avila.  As to Avila’s “fiesta,” Wikipedia noted, “The festivities of Santa Teresa last almost the entire month of October.”

Re:  Death by burning.  Wikipedia noted that the practice “has a long history as a form of capital punishment,” for crimes such as treason.  “The best known type of executions of death by burning is when the condemned is bound to a large wooden stake (this is usually called ‘burning at the stake,’ or in some cases, auto-da-fé),”  On that note, the caption from the “Inquisition” article – to the left of the paragraph beginning “Fortunately, years of letters” – reads as follows:  “The burning of a 16th-century Dutch Anabaptist Anneken Hendriks, who was charged with heresy.”

Re:  Jesus as a mystic.  See also, contraWas Jesus A Mystic? – Shane Hipps.

The lower image is courtesy of Teresa of Ávila – Wikipedia.  The full caption:  “The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa by Bernini, Basilica of Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome.”

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Also, in case I miss it, next Tuesday, October 18, is the feast day of St. Luke, the Evangelist.  I covered St. Luke in On St. Luke – 2015, and – from 2014 – On St. Luke – physician, historian, artist, including the image at right.

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