Monday, July 30, 2007

What do you make of this?

Among the testimonies from the process of the beatification process of St. Thérèse there is a long and detailed statement by her sister, Céline Martin, whose name in religion was Sister Genevieve of St. Teresa. She gave her testimony from 14 to 28 September 1910 before a diocesan tribunal, set up by the bishop of Bayeux and Lisieux. Sister Genevieve bore witness under oath that:

In 1897, but before she was really ill, Sister Thérèse told me she expected to die that year. Here is the reason she gave me for this in June. When she realised that she had pulmonary tuberculosis, she said: 'You see, God is going to take me at an age when I would not have had the time to become a priest ... If I could have been a priest, I would have been ordained at these June ordinations. So, what did God do? So that I would not be disappointed, he let me be sick: in that way I couldn't have been there, and I would die before I could exercise my ministry.'

The sacrifice of not being able to be a priest was something she always felt deeply. During her illness, whenever we were cutting her hair she would ask for a tonsure, and then joyfully feel it with her hand. But her regret did not find its expression merely in such trifles; it was caused by a real love of God, and inspired high hopes in her. The thought that St Barbara had brought communion to St Stanislas Kostka thrilled her. 'Why must I be a virgin, and not an angel or a priest?' she said. 'Oh! what wonders we shall see in heaven! I have a feeling that those who desired to be priests on earth will be able to share in the honour of the priesthood in heaven.' from: St. Thérèse of Lisieux by those who knew her: Testimonies from the Process of Beatification, ed. and trans. by C. O'Mahony, OCD (Dublin, 1975) pp155-6


Mark said...

I'd suggest you cross check it with an older translation.

Adoro te Devote said...

I have read that book, have it in my room actually, and remember reading that passage.

I have to wonder if there might be an issue with regard to translation, or this testimony taken out of context. For example, we are all "priests", but we cannot all be ministerial priests.

I have to wonder if there was also a loose connotation with the usage of the word "priest"; she cites one saint, a female, brining communion to another saint, and she does not actually call the woman a "priest" yet taken in context of the quote provided, it may have been a sort of Extraordinary Minister that perhaps at the time was more commonly called "priest" in a certain cultural usage of the term.

The problem with language and idioms is that they change with time; so we can't always read the saints with our own cultural definitions. Much like we can't read the Bible in our terms; we have to use historical terms and understanding so as to grasp the true meaning of the passages.

Just my 2 cents.

318@NICE said...

Believe it or not, I first saw that quote used by liberal Lutheran women who wanted to be pastors. One young Lutheran woman really pushed the issue with that quote stating that this saint was being pushed by God to be a priest and yet the Catholic Church Suppressed God's call to her.
So as you can see, liberals always twist words for their own needs.

Divine Mercy said...

Saint Therese is a lovely saint:)