St Teresa of Avila: "The pain was so great that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it."

Catholicism is unique in world religions in how it venerates and canonises people who engaged in savage self-torment. Consider what I am writing in light of the Catholic doctrine that the chief way to venerate a saint is to learn from her or him and model yourself on that person.  Prayers to the saint are only an outworking of that, an expression of it.

The apostles are the top saints and the fact that they have not been canonised is because they do not need it. 

The apostle Peter seems to have written an allegedly divinely inspired letter in the Bible.  It endorses suffering.

1 Peter 1 is insulting to suffering people for it tells them to cheer up for they only suffer for a little while.  It is startling to think that if Christians help them at great cost then they are telling themselves, "Let us help these nuisances for it is only for a while." 

1 Peter 4:1 preaches that since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin.  Suffering then must be as good as or better than doing great good!  Either idea is warped. 

1 Peter 2:18-25 tells slaves that enduring suffering for doing wrong is not a thing to be praised and suffering for being accused in the wrong else.  But a slave committing a wrong is not in the same league as a freeperson doing wrong.  It is wrong that the person is a slave in the first place.  And moreover a person making a mistake and taking the consequences with dignity is indeed to be praised.  She or he cannot change the past.  Christianity is not the great believer in forgiveness it pretends to be.

One infamous saint is Saint Mariana of Jesus de Paredes who was canonised in 1950. She starved herself so that she only got an ounce of bread every ten days.
The list of Catholic saints who underwent savage and chilling penances and were canonised is as disturbing as it is long. For most of the last millennium the popes only made saints out of those who hurt themselves the most. Before a person can be canonised miracles have to happen through her or his intercession. God does the miracles to show that the person has his favour and should be emulated by the people. The miracles mean that God approves of the gospel of pain and blood and unhappiness. If you think religion should make people happier then you have to attack the doctrine that miracles show you what God wants you to believe.

The gruesome miracle of the stigmata is a person having some or all of the marks that Jesus had after his passion. St Francis of Assisi (1181/2-1226) had stigmata which the Church said was genuine. The Church created a Mass to celebrate his stigmata (page 6, The Stigmata and Modern Science). St Catherine of Siena (1347-80) had invisible stigmata – it was lunacy for the Church to accept that as a miracle which shows that reliability is greatly lacking in its estimation of miracle occurrences. St Padre Pio (1887-1968) and St Gemma Galgani (1878-1903) are two of the stigmatics who were declared blessed or saint by the Church. The Church says these honours do not imply anything about their stigmata or visions. But the Church’s own Bible says that true prophets or visionaries who receive and do signs will not err when reporting what God says (Deuteronomy 18). These people all chose great suffering and that did not satisfy their God who heaped the incredible sufferings of Jesus on them. Gemma wore a very tight rope round her body for mortification.
Some saints “miraculously” re-enacted the crucifixion of Jesus with all its horrors.
St Martin de Porres from Peru is a well-loved saint among Catholics. He practiced brutal self-flagellation.
The roots of Christian masochism are to be found in the Bible.
The Bible offers blind faith that brings much suffering so it indirectly takes up the cause of masochism.
It says that God comes first at all times and that God is to be valued supremely meaning that it is better to suffer an entire lifetime than to live one second without him which is extreme masochistic doctrine.

The prodigal son who Jesus praises in his parable did not say he was sorry and would not do it again. He just said he did wrong and degraded himself by saying how unworthy he was.  He just regretted the bad time he had away from home living as a profligate.
James 1:2, “Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations”.
Philippians 2:17, “Even if my lifeblood must be poured out as a libation on the sacrificial offering of your faith [to God], still I am glad [to do it]”.

Jesus said that those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness are blessed unlike those who are not (Matthew 5:11, 12). They are to rejoice and be glad for their endurance will be rewarded in Heaven. Jesus knew this was impossible for they could not be that sure of the reward.
So, we are to rejoice in our sufferings and be glad we have them. But in that case they are rendered useless. You might as well be out on the town drinking champagne and downing caviar as lying in bed ill when you like being ill. Moreover, the suffering is the state of feeling that you existence is useless so “rejoice in your suffering” is a contradictory command. You can be happy and be in pain showing that is pain not suffering. Nobody can tell you to suffer for a purpose for if suffering is the illusion of worthlessness how can it truly make you a virtuous person at least when it is happening? To say that others should be permitted by God to suffer so that you will help them is to attack the fact that the human person and human life is of absolute value. It’s the most valuable thing there is. If the person is absolutely valuable that means the person should never have to experience a valueless existence. To believe in God is to approve of the evil of suffering being permitted by him and to say it has a purpose is extremely evil because you are most sure that person is valuable for you are more sure the person exists than you are that God does.
All this proves that religious masochism and the preference for pain are unhealthy. It is having pain for nothing other than to enjoy it. The saints were sexual perverts. Their penances were a gruesome and morbid form of masturbation.
The saints had no right to condemn the harming of other people when they regarded the harming of themselves and encouraging others to do the same as virtue. Their casting ashes over themselves and rolling in nettles and all the rest were not acts of humility but of pride when they liked to frown upon cruel people. They should have told the victims that if they did not approve of being abused that was their own concern.

It is pride to hurt and torment yourself even helping others for a belief, your belief that you made.

The gospels say that Jesus Christ said that nobody could be his disciple unless she or he lifted him his cross to follow him. The cross may be the burden you should bear. But we have no need to assume that the cross is figurative. Jesus could have been asking for his disciples to keep working for him though it would lead to crucifixion. He did tell his disciples to flee to another town if persecuted in any town. The two statements can be made to agree if it eventually happens that there is no escape. Then Jesus wants it to be cross for them. For the rest of us, it has to be something as terribly painful as the cross but not necessarily a literal cross.
The apostles were brought before the Jewish courts and charged with slandering the Jewish leaders. The apostles were saying that the Jews had crucified Jesus. Acts 5 says that the apostles were delighted and pleased to have had the honour of suffering humiliation in the name of Jesus. Note that they did not say they were glad because the maltreatment would have some good results but it was the humiliation and the suffering they enjoyed. If people are allowed to enjoy their own pain, then they can enjoy seeing others suffer too! And especially if the other people are in Hell forever! The example of the apostles led to the sadism of the Inquisition.

In the second century, St Ignatius of Antioch went to the lions and provoked them to torment him to death.
Origen, born around 185 AD, cut off his organ of reproduction as a sign of devotion to Jesus. He thought that it was a sin to have it when it drew him into sin. Christians argued that since nobody can be forced to sin he should not have done this. It was going too far.
The rule of St Benedict, who was the fifth century founder of Western monasticism called for monks who disobeyed the rule a lot to be battered with rods.
Wearing their hooded robes with red crosses on them the Flagellant Brethren walked in procession all over the place during the Middle Ages. Their peak was during the Black Death when they did severe penance to persuade God to stop this terrible plague. They whipped themselves until the blood ran. In Germany and the Netherlands, some sects shot out of the movement claiming that the sacraments were no good and that any spiritual benefits they allegedly gave could only be obtained by whipping yourself.
Today, the Penitentes sometimes even undergo crucifixion as penance for sins around Good Friday. They are certainly into inflicting pain and misery on themselves. They are active in the Philippines and Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado. They say that since Jesus learned obedience through horrific suffering in the form of crucifixion (Hebrews 5:8 – verse 7 proves that he suffering of the cross is meant) we need to do it through worse for we are sinful unlike him. And Jesus had suffered severely before he even went to Jerusalem where he was arrested and that was not enough. It did not even get God to go easy on him when he was sentenced to death because God let it happen. God needs people to suffer more than they can bear all the time. Their argument is valid.
Also today, the Roman cult, Opus Dei, orders its members to whip themselves to become holy.


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