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In Defense of Heloise
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Heloise, the patron saint of Twin-Soul love
Heloise: "I spit on your 'holy' saints and your angry god!"
Father Benson addresses the issue of "holy" and "saints":
As a former priest of the Church, I regret deeply that I ever gave tongue to such misguided teaching... humiliating... absolutely crushing... And there are hosts of others like me!
Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson
An excerpt from Father Benson's "More Light":
invidious distinctions profoundly disliked
In some cases the 'dead' are distinguished by the appellation 'holy souls.' Souls they most certainly are, but holy, most certainly not. Incidentally, holy is not a word that is ever in favour in these [spirit] realms. It savours too much of the sickly pious and the sanctimonious. It suggests invidious distinctions which are disliked profoundly. Both the words holy and righteousness are reminiscent of religious jargon, and as such are not in use here...
The article of the creed which says I believe in the Communion of Saints, is one which at first sight would appear to hold out the greatest hopes of possessing some substance. It is suggestive of much, but it is mostly empty words after all, for the 'communion' consists solely in the faithful honouring the saints as 'glorified members of the Church', by offering prayers to them, and by the saints in turn praying for the faithful. It is all extremely negative.
To use a present day idiom, this particular communion is only open to one-way traffic. The faithful are in communication with the saints, but the latter would not appear to be in communion with them. It would be positively dreadful if one of the saints really made his presence felt and known, and thus made the communion reciprocal and concrete. Who are the saints towards whom the Church shows so much devotion?
They are ‘glorified members of the Church’, according to the official definition. The Church has presumed to know beyond all doubt, since the Church which does the canonising claims infallibility for its establishment and its head upon earth, the spiritual status of the person whom it elevates to sainthood. That is a powerful and - if I may say so - a tall boast.
What is the truth? Simply that there is no individual on earth who can say what is the spiritual status of any person living in the spirit world unless that individual is specifically informed upon the matter direct from these lands. That has never happened in the course of any canonisation proceedings. Nor is it ever likely to happen.
The estimate of the sanctity of the candidate for canonisation is pure guess-work, pure assumption, and pure presumption. After proving to the satisfaction of the ecclesiastical authorities that the candidate led a ’holy’ life upon earth, it is then required to prove the occurrence of ‘miracles’ which can be unquestionably attributed to his absence after his departure from earth.
As there are no such things as miracles [Editor’s note: Father Benson explains elsewhere that he objects to the term 'miracle' as all proceeds according to natural law.] on earth - or in heaven – what then becomes of one of the principal qualifications? The performance of miracles has not always been insisted upon. 'Martyrs' for the faith have in their time been spiritually promoted by the Church on earth.
What a blind performance the whole thing is, for the Church cannot on the very face of it have the least notion in what part of the spirit world their prospective saint is living. The Church would hold that to be in ‘heaven’ is sufficient. Heaven is all one; though there may be portions of it that are more select and exclusive than others, yet basically it is all one.
Earthly sanctity, as appraised by the Church, is a quality doubtful in the extreme, since so much stress is laid upon being an exemplary member of the Church, whether minister or layman. Obedience to the Church’s laws and ‘commandments’ have no spiritual value [in the next realm] when it comes to the great reckoning. While the Church elevates its saint into the highest heaven, he may, in truth, be languishing somewhere far below. The calendar of the saints, like so much else which goes to make up the sum total of Orthodoxy, has, as it were, become a habit.
The prayers that are addressed to the so called saints are upon the same level as all other prayers. How many of the faithful know anything at all about the saint to whom they are offering their prayers? Let them take the ecclesiastical calendar in their hands. Beginning upon the first day of the year, let them proceed through the whole three hundred and sixty-five, noting each day's saint, and let them write down all that they know of each saint. The result, I am persuaded, would astonish themselves as much as anybody else. For I should be greatly surprised if they knew one single fact concerning any of them. That was my experience as a priest upon earth. The saints are nothing more nor less than a brazen superstition.
If the seeker of knowledge were to read about them, particularly about those who were canonised in the very early days, he would be surprised at the amazing credulity displayed upon all sides. The 'saints in heaven' is a term commonly used among church folk, who feel that those same saints are powerful advocates for them. What is the truth about them? Just this: that the saints, far from being all congregated in 'heaven', are scattered over the length and breadth of the whole spirit world [from the lowest dark realms to the heights].
There is no 'company of saints', for the saints of the Church’s manufacture are not all of one spiritual excellence. Indeed, I have been told that on many occasions in early times the 'saint' newly-made was in far greater need of the Church’s prayers than ever the Church was of his. He was in deep trouble often, but the Church had infallibly said that he was in heaven! The faithful, then, may hold communion with the 'saints', but the ‘saints’ cannot hold communion with the faithful.
Perhaps it is as well, for if active and literal communion were to be established with the 'saints' and their supposed Church upon earth, the latter might hear some unpleasant news, some disturbing facts, and receive a well-merited shock to its presumption and spiritual self-satisfaction. The Church which makes saints has closed the door upon all revelation to itself by the simple means of proclaiming that all revelation ceased in the apostolic age, that, in effect, God has nothing further to add to what He is already supposed to have said in the Scriptures, and that if one should return 'from the grave' to speak to people on earth, then that unwanted visitor is nothing but a devil disguised as an angel of light who is wandering through the world seeking the destruction of souls.
The term communion, as used by the Church, is as vague as it was intended to be. In a poetic sense one may commune with nature by going into the pleasant green fields among the flowers and birds, and there thinking of nothing in particular. That is communion of a negative kind, but it has as much purpose and effect as the 'communion of the saints'.
In fact, one might be far more impressed by the beauties of one's rustic surroundings, by the charm of the flowers and the song of the birds, and so be altogether uplifted, soothed, and inspired, and brought closer to the Father in the garden of nature, than ever one would be in some cold, bleak church praying to a saint of whom one knows nothing but his name.
Such things as the litany of the saints monotonously recited in procession, with its tedious repetitions, are as ineffective as all other such praying-wheel methods of the Church. The real saints do not appear upon any of the Church’s published lists and calendars.
There are some notable exceptions, but this can be said of them, that the time of canonisation was not contemporaneous with their reaching a high spiritual status. The latter, in many instances, came long after the canonisation. [Editor’s note: Father Benson is saying that some of these individuals, having been in the afterlife for some time now, may in fact have advanced to higher levels of spirituality - but not because of a canonization to sainthood.]
The word 'saints' is not one that we use in the spirit world. We are not graded into such categories of spiritual distinction. We each of us live in that realm for which we are fitted, and that is the end of the matter. Upon some future occasion we shall progress and so advance in our estate; we shall pass into another realm higher, and thus we shall go on. But however high we mount spiritually, we shall never become saints, in that we shall never be marked by name as being of superior spirituality. We shall stand forth for all men to behold us for what we are, whichever realm we inhabit.
The only distinguishing sign, if you can so denominate it, is that of the realm in which we live. Personal insignia of spiritual status, such as the ... members of the Church might imagine saints to possess, are not observable as such.
Whatever rewards we may gain are personal rewards [due to service mindedness]. They cannot admit us into a non-existent company of saints.
Editor's note: regarding Father Benson's comment on "members of the Church," consider the corroborating assertion of Father Reginal Foster on people praying to so-called "saints" instead of God.
"Jesus is only number 6 on a list of saints that Catholics pray to!"
Father Reginald Foster
Biographical information from Wikipedia:
Father Reginald Foster O.C.D. is an American Catholic priest, an expert in Latin literature, especially Cicero. After spending more than 40 years in Rome, he returned to the U.S. in 2009. He suffers health complications resulting from a fall in 2008.
In 2008, outside the Vatican, Father Foster was interviewed by Bill Maher in the documentary-film Religulous.
Father Foster comments on a survey revealing that, in times of trouble, Catholics pray to Jesus only as number six on a list of saints! - suggesting, it seems, that the "angry, unapproachable God" is much farther down the list! This is sad.
CLICK HERE to view a Youtube excerpt of the interview.
Some of Peter Abelard's enemies, ruthless politicians, bigoted ideologues, would soon enjoy the Church's worshipful status, an elevation to the pantheon of lesser gods, the so-called 'holy' saints. Unfortunately, the fearful and uneducated masses could be intimidated into obeying church-leaders with magical stories of these now larger-than-life "saints."
- Herman Melville: "You are destined for high elevation - but only at the gallows."
But the issue became confused. At times, a genuinely spiritual individual, like a Bernadette Soubirous, or a Francis of Assisi, would wander upon the scene, and, later, due to popular acclaim, the Church had no choice but to acknowledge their advanced spiritual status - but, only after first persecuting them; and, as with the case of Francis, after his passing, burning his followers at the stake as heretics - so threatened was the dark-spirited church hierarchy of their growing popularity (see Kenneth Clark's Civilisation).
But the most egregious case of bestial crime concerning a "holy saint" must be awarded to Bishop Cyril of Alexandria, one of the butchers of history. This bloodthirsty and demonic church-politician incited a mob to destroy the great Hypatia, a stellar female scientist of the ancient world. (The movie Agora, while historically inaccurate in certain respects, gives the general idea of what happened.)
Cyril's henchmen, the rabble brown-shirt monks, attacked the noble and cultured Hypatia, stripped her naked, brutalized her, dismembered her body, displayed the bloody pieces to the approving fanatical crowd of so-called Christians... and then they made Cyril a 'holy' saint.
Editor’s note: There is debate among scholars concerning what Cyril knew and when he knew it, with opinions breaking along “party lines” and “aligned interests.” It is difficult, however, to conceive that the murder of Hypatia occurred as the result of “rank and file” activity. She was well known, enjoyed high-profile status in the city, and it strikes me as unlikely that her death could have taken place but for approval from the highest sources in the local regime.
"Saints," such as these, require, from each of us, more than spitting upon.
Some will say, "But the Church is changed today. It's different - and our pastor is such a Nice Young Man." If, to some, the Church today seems on its best behavior, we can thank the US Founding Fathers and Mothers - people like John and Abigail Adams - and the rule of law they insisted upon, which has put despotism on a short leash.
I will tell you frankly, as will your Advisors on the other side, that, as we move beyond consciousness-levels of fear, shame, and guilt, we will no longer be able to stomach any support of these counterfeit service-organizations which jealously cling to the prestige of Jesus of Nazareth, while denying the substance of his teachings, as they make merchandize of the people - a colossal sham, a plenitude of hucksterism, the most brazen and pompous prevarication and con-artist game of history.
There is a reason why it is stated - an afterlife report - that all, but for one, of the Popes of history can be found today in the "rat cellar."