On Vocations

4 03 2010

Fr. Dwight Longenecker wrote Contaception and the Vocations Crisis for the website, Inside Catholic. My response in the comments section was the following:

I hate to bring people down to earth, but the “contraceptive” mentality is only a symptom of a larger process. People don’t remember that, back in the day, especially in the American Catholic ethnic “ghetto”, the only way some men and women could get an education and leave the life of eight kids and a blue collar job was to join the clergy or female religious. Indeed, for a Catholic woman, it was probably the ONLY way to be able to study and do anything else but be a housewife. I am not saying that people only joined religious life for “selfish” reasons, but it was an incentive.

The other aspect of all of this is that we tend to regard marriage as a choice. A couple of generations ago, in my mother’s native Mexico, it wasn’t a choice. You stayed together because you could not make it on your own. And mother didn’t just “stay home and raise the kids”. She was out in the fields with her husband and kids. My grandparents have been married for sixty years, and they definitely didn’t have the benefit of “good Catholic marriage formation” (they didn’t even know that they had to have a ring at the ceremony). They stayed together because they had to, since love is often the fruit of necessity. That is heresy to our modern ears, but it’s true.
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On virginity and death

4 03 2010

Not much gets my attention on the Ochlophobist blog. I could care less about the machinations of Orthodox bishops and what a bunch of people with the last name of Smith and White think about Byzantine liturgical praxis. But this I found relevant to my interests:

Only in the Breton Buez is the rape of Non fully dramatized and Non’s reaction to the rape voiced. There is a lengthy scene building up to the event in which Non calls at a nunnery and asks the abbess if she can join the convent and take a vow of virginity. She enters the chapter house and is accepted by the other sisters who all consider her to be a wise, pure virgin. On her way to mass, hurrying through an area of lonely woodland she meets Kereticus and is raped against her will. In the Welsh Lives there is no moral condemnation of the incident, since David’s birth has been foretold thirty years in advance and Sant is merely enacting part of the divine plan:

When the foresaid thirty years had passed, divine providence sent Santus, king of the territory of Ceredig, as far as the kingdom of the people of Dyfed. And the king came across a nun named Nonnita, who was a virgin, an exceedingly beautiful girl, and modest. Lusting after her, he raped her, and she conceived the son, the holy David. Neither before nor after did she know a man, but continuing steadfastly in chastity of mind and body, she led her life most devoutly; for, from the very time she conceived, she lived only on bread and water.

That is one of the stories behind the conception of St. David of Wales. For me, it made me think a lot of the apocryphal death of Sarita Colonia in Peru, in which she is said to have cast herself in the sea rather than be raped by two men. Of course, this is not how the real Sarita Colonia died. She probably died of something like malaria. Nevertheless, she was confused with an actual woman in Peru who had cast herself in the sea in the 1920’s to escape rape. In her death, Sarita Colonia assumed an archetype that predates even the existence of Christianity.

Felix Coluccio and other folklorists tell the story of raped and murdered women throughout Latin America: women who died at the hands of men trying to have their way with them. Some were more “innocent” than others, but these stories are truly a pattern etched deeply into human consciousness.

It also reminds me a lot of AG’s review of the Bergman film, The Virgin Spring.