James Martin, S.J.
February 08, 2019
Geez! All this time I thought to be happy with God in Heaven, I had to know Him, love Him, and serve Him! So glad to find out I just had to be me. Easy peasy!
Honestly, it’s in the little things where Fr. James Martin, LGBTQSJ, always seems to lead people astray. It’s a really subtle betrayal: a quote out of context, a misquote, a slight mischaracterization, moral ambiguity, incomplete teachings, etc. “The devil is in the details” explains it perfectly when it comes to Fr. Martin.
First, let’s look at the title and theme of this little piece: “To be a saint, just be who you are”. Wrong. I’m sure that Charles Manson was THE BEST Charles Manson anyone could be. I bet Kermit Gosnell was THE BEST Kermit Gosnell he could be. The problem is that these two men were/are evil. They never understood self-denial, putting God first, or love. They understood hate, death, and murder. Would you ever tell these two, “To be a saint, just be who you are.”?! Please.
Last week, we talked about the saints as both our patrons and our companions. They both pray for us from their posts in heaven and serve as our models. But sometimes people feel that the saints are so far away from them, that their ways of life are unattainable, and so they couldn’t possibly be their models. People say, “Oh, I could never be Mother Teresa and work in a hospice in Calcutta and take care of the sick and dying!” But of course you’re not meant to do exactly what Mother Teresa did, or even be who Mother Teresa was. Now, you might be called to work with the poor, and maybe in a slum, and maybe even in India, but you’re not called to do it exactly like her. You’re not supposed to be Mother Teresa.
You won’t hear me say this often about Martin, but I agree completely. We tend to say, “I can’t be like that so I won’t try to do anything.” All saints were different. They weren’t all called to do things the same way but the end game and means to get there were the same. They took up their crosses, they denied themselves (aka avoided sin), and truly loved.
But here’s where the wheels come completely off. This is what Fr. Martin does best: he spreads a bit of truth and then completely twists it.
Too often we short circuit God’s plans for our own holiness by comparing ourselves to some other saint or saying that we can’t possibly be a saint in our own daily lives. People say, “I’m just a student.” “I’m just a teacher.” “I’m just a grandparent.” But you’re not “just” anything, because God has created you as a beautiful and unique person. So you’re called to be a saint in your own way. As the Trappist monk Thomas Merton said, “For me to be a saint means to be myself.” So maybe it’s time to stop trying to be like someone else. Stop looking at someone else’s roadmap to holiness. Because all the directions you have are inside your heart. As St. Francis de Sales said, “Be who you are and be that perfectly well.
First of all, I looked around for the quote from St. Francis de Sales. I found it in a few places, but Martin’s quote seems rather misworded and out of context from the original. If someone can find these words in context from St. Francis de Sales, please feel free to share, but this is what I found when trying to find this quote anywhere. From this quote below, you can see Fr. Martin’s usual tactics in play.
Don’t sow your desires in someone else’s garden; just cultivate your own as best you can; don’t long to be other than what you are, but desire to be thoroughly what you are. Direct your thoughts to being very good at that and to bearing the crosses, little or great, that you will find there. Believe me, this is the most important and least understood point to the spiritual life. We all love according to what is our taste; few people like what is according to their duty or to God’s liking. What is the use of building castles in Spain when we have to live in France? ~St. Francis de Sales
Hmmm… Fr. Martin seems to have omitted a key part of the super cool quote he found in wikiquotes. Let’s look at it one more time:
Believe me, this is the most important and least understood point to the spiritual life. We all love according to what is our taste; few people like what is according to their duty or to God’s liking.
Even the quote given by Fr. Martin from Thomas Merton is severely lacking the context which was all too important. For my readers, it comes from his description of our true self compared to the false self, in “New Seeds of Contemplation.”
For me to be a saint means to be myself.
Here’s the whole shebangg. (Source picked for accurate context and nothing else. Don’t know anything about them.)
And here’s the quote surrounding Fr. Martin’s cherry-picked quote, and as you can see, his soundbites are hugely deceptive, as usual:
We are not very good at recognizing illusions, least of all the ones we cherish most about ourselves—the ones we are born and raised with and which feed the roots of sin. For most of the people in the world, there is no greater subjective reality than this false self of theirs, which cannot exist. A life devoted to maintaining and expanding this false self, this shadow, is what is called a life of sin.
All sin starts from the assumption that my false self, the self that exists only in my own egocentric desires, is the fundamental reality of life around which everything else in the universe is ordered. Thus I use up my life in the desire for pleasures and the thirst for experiences, for power, honor, knowledge, feeling loved, in order to clothe this false self and construct its nothingness into something objectively real. And I wind experiences around myself and cover myself with pleasures and glory like bandages in order to make myself perceptible to myself and to the world, as if I were an invisible body that could only become visible when something visible covered its surface.
To be a saint means to be my true self. Therefore the problem of sanctity and salvation is in fact the problem of finding out who I truly am and of discovering my true self, my essence or core.
For a priest who seems to claim Merton a hero, Fr. Martin, LGBTQSJ, sure promotes a misread of him. “God made you this way!” is his favorite message to those suffering from same-sex attraction. Seriously, leaving out the distinction of true self and false self is crucial, yet Fr. Martin CONSTANTLY contradicts this teaching of Merton by teaching everyone that we are our sins and proclivities, i.e., LGTBQSJ Catholic. He encourages people to embrace their “false self.” To be a saint, according to Merton, you need to be your “real self.”
To become a saint is to learn to love and sacrifice DESPITE ourselves. Fr. Martin, you were on track when you said not to compare your life to, say, Mother Teresa and throw in the towel because you are not there. However, you were so wrong when you said that being yourself is good enough. That’s kind of arrogant. You could have really said something valuable if you honestly quoted St. Francis de Sales. Here’s a gem:
It is not those who commit the least faults who are the most holy, but those who have the greatest courage, the greatest generosity, the greatest love, who make the boldest efforts to overcome themselves, and are not immediately apprehensive about tripping.
Now that’s the real untwisted St. Francis de Sales. So, just as a recap. Fr. Martin is saying that we ARE the sum total of our sins and proclivities which, as usual, is wrong. We are made in the image and likeness of God. God is not sin and proclivities. If you really were a fan of Thomas Merton or St. Francis de Sales, you wouldn’t quote them out of context. It’s simply a dishonest twisting of their teaching.