holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.
(2 Timothy 3:5, NASB)
Maybe The Reformers Were Wrong About Roman Catholic Mystics
In Christianity Today Promoting the Cult of Richard Foster a couple of weeks back Apprising Ministries told you about a feature interview with Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic Richard Foster in this month’s edition of Christianity Today magazine. As of this writing, September 12, 2008, on the front page of the evangelical “Protestant” Christianity Today website is a link to “A Divine Love Story” over at its Christian History website.
The aforementioned article is actually a piece lauding the spiritual life of the Roman Catholic mystic known as Catherine of Siena, which begins:
God is “madly in love” with us, said the medieval mystic and activist Catherine of Siena, and when we finally realize this truth, we’ll discover that loving others is irresistible. Her Dialogue, prayers, and letters teach us to be alone with God in “the cell of our soul.” Only then are we ready for public service.
Her own life followed this path. Born Caterina Benincasa (1347-1380), she was the 24th of 25 children in an Italian wool dyer’s family. She dedicated herself to Christ as a child and at 16 took the habit of a Dominican lay sisterhood. After being disfigured by small pox, she chose a time of solitude at home. For three years, she spoke little, praying instead. Then, at 21, she experienced a spiritual union with God that she described as a “mystical espousal” to Christ. (Online source, italics theirs)
This supposed mystical marriage is also confirmed by the Catholic Encyclopedia:
At the age of seven she consecrated her virginity to Christ; in her sixteenth year she took the habit of the Dominican Tertiaries, and renewed the life of the anchorites of the desert in a little room in her father’s house. After three years of celestial visitations and familiar conversation with Christ, she underwent the mystical experience known as the “spiritual espousals”, probably during the carnival of 1366. (Online source)
Eternal World Television Network, which is a “Global Catholic Network,” gives us a little more about an alleged vision:
At the age of six she had the remarkable experience which may be said to have determined her vocation. With her brother she was on the way home from a visit to a married sister, when suddenly she stopped still in the road, gazing up into the sky. She did not hear the repeated calls of the boy, who had walked on ahead. Only after he had gone back and seized her by the hand did she wake as from a dream. She burst into tears. Her vision of Christ seated in glory with the Apostles Peter, Paul, and John had faded. A year later the little girl made a secret vow to give her whole life to God. (Online source)
Then the website Saint Catherine of Siena we read:
Among St. Catherine’s many ecstasies and visions, was her mystical marriage to Jesus in 1366. He gave her a wedding ring during the vision that she wore invisibly for the rest of her life. Ever after, she dedicated her life to serving the sick and poor. Catherine also received the stigmata in 13 65, though the marks were invisible to all until her death. She requested this boon from Jesus in order to not draw attention to herself. (Online source, emphasis mine)
Is There No Limit To The Gullibility Of Professing Christians?
The obvious convenience of the ring and stigmata being “invisible” aside, in his classic History of the Christian Church Philip Schaff tells us about a tract written against the idolatry of relics within apostate Roman Catholicism by the great Church Reformer John Calvin:
The following is a summary of this tract: —
What was at first a foolish curiosity for preserving relics has degenerated into abominable idolatry. The great majority of the relics are spurious. It could be shown by comparison that every apostle has more than four bodies and every saint two or three. The arm of St. Anthony, which was worshipped in Geneva, when brought out from the case, turned out to be a part of a stag. The body of Christ could not be obtained, but the monks of Charroux pretend to have, besides teeth and hair, the prepuce or pellicle cut off in his circumcision. But it is shown also in the Lateran church at Rome. (Volume 8, 607)
But what does that have to do with Catherine of Siena? Good question; I’m glad you asked. Well, it turns out that she seems to have done even better in the relic department than those monks Calvin talks about above. Remember that invisible wedding ring Jesus supposedly gave to Catherine; was it some precious stone? Ah, no. As you’ll soon see apparently Jesus gave a piece of Himself to this messed up Roman Catholic mystic now being heralded by the Protestant publication CT.
Dr. Peter J. Leithart has posted an excerpt from the book Ritual in Early Modern Europe by Edward Muir, which proves quite germaine to our topic, where we’re informed:
Other than the consecrated host and perhaps some drops of blood shed on the cross, the fleshy residue from the infant Jesus’s circumcision would have been the only bodly remnant of Christ on earth since the rest of the his body was resurrected and ascended to heaven. The researches of Caroline Walker Bynum have shown that the cult of the holy foreskin seems to have had a certain charm for female mystics. When Catherine of Siena experienced her mystic marriage to the infant Jesus, she received from him a ring made not of gold but of his foreskin.” (Online source)
Personally I find it very sad that this blasphemous material needed to be brought out because of the continuing postevangelical romance of Roman Catholic mystics through their revisionist history. As a friend of mine put it these women mystics would have been much better off getting married than to have passed off their frustration upon the Christian community through their repulsive erotic imagery aimed at our Lord.