Saturday, December 23, 2017

Arlene Corwin writes

All Kinds Of Celibates

When a celibate wakes up each morn
Morning hard-on,
Morn’s erection,
What’s his action?
Question that one stumbles on
Which no one seems to answer.

She, a nun with husband;
Neither Jesus kind,
Nor Buddhist nor
Whichever kind is self-denying,
Disciplining mind
She thinks of One - this nun.
She cooks, she cleans,
Has lovely sex within her means.
Still, stilling brain,
Directing it in one direction.
Works it through without tradition.

Have you thought about,
Thought out or fathomed what
This non-tradition shackled nun is?
She’s a mystic without habit.

Sleuth work, mystery;
Point of issue seldom met,
What is it to be pure and chaste?
What is it to be celibate?
 The Temptation of St. Thomas Aquinas -- Diego Rodriguez de Silva Velázquez

[A pair of angels save the "Doctor Angelicus" from the woman in the background; one of them holds a band to bind his genitals to save him from future temptation. In his view,  "Virginity is more excellent than marriage."]


  1. Santo Domingo founded the Ordo Praedicatorum (Order of Preachers) in 1216; it quickly developed a reputation for intellectuals, producing many important theologians and philosophers. The Dominicans were punningly known as the "Domini canes" (Hounds of the Lord). Four years after the death of Domingo, Tommaso d'Aquino was born. At 19 he determined to join the new order, but his family had him imprisoned for over a year to prevent him from doing so. At one point, two of his brothers hired a prostitute to seduce him, but he used a fire iron to drive her away; that night two angels appeared to him in a dream and strengthened his determination to remain celibate. After joining the order he studied in Paris. Mocked by his fellow students, his mentor, Albertus Magnus, one of the Catholic Church’s most important theologians, reprimanded them, saying, "You call him the dumb ox, but in his teaching he will one day produce such a bellowing that it will be heard throughout the world." Indeed, he became a seminal figure in Western philosophy, particularly in the areas of ethics, natural law, metaphysics, and political theory. He began his “Summa Theologiae” in 1265 while teaching at the Santa Sabina in Roma, the order’s 1st studium provincial (then an intermediate school but now the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas) and completed its 1st part (the Prima Pars, concerning the nature and existence of god and man) before resuming his professorship at the Université de Paris, which was given papal recognition at the same time the Dominican order. The 1st part of the Prima Secundae dealt with general principles of morality, including a theory of law, and its 2nd part with morality in particular, including individual virtues and vices. He began Tertia Pars, explicating the nature of Christ and the sacraments, but in 1273 he stopped teaching and halted his work on the book, claiming that “all that I have written seems like straw to me." In 1933 G. K. Chesterton, best known known for the stories about his fictional priest-detective Father Brown, commented: “Since the modern world began in the sixteenth century, nobody's system of philosophy has really corresponded to everybody's sense of reality; to what, if left to themselves, common men would call common sense. Each started with a paradox; a peculiar point of view demanding the sacrifice of what they would call a sane point of view…. A man had to believe something that no normal man would believe, if it were suddenly propounded to his simplicity; as that law is above right, or right is outside reason, or things are only as we think them, or everything is relative to a reality that is not there. The modern philosopher claims, like a sort of confidence man, that if we will grant him this, the rest will be easy; he will straighten out the world, if he is allowed to give this one twist to the mind... Against all this the philosophy of St. Thomas stands founded on the universal common conviction that eggs are eggs. The Hegelian may say that an egg is really a hen, because it is a part of an endless process of Becoming; the Berkelian may hold that poached eggs only exist as a dream exists, since it is quite as easy to call the dream the cause of the eggs as the eggs the cause of the dream; the Pragmatist may believe that we get the best out of scrambled eggs by forgetting that they ever were eggs, and only remembering the scramble. But no pupil of St. Thomas needs to addle his brains in order adequately to addle his eggs; to put his head at any peculiar angle in looking at eggs, or squinting at eggs, or winking the other eye in order to see a new simplification of eggs. The Thomist stands in the broad daylight of the brotherhood of men, in their common consciousness that eggs are not hens or dreams or mere practical assumptions; but things attested by the Authority of the Senses, which is from God.”

  2. I just adored the illustration and the fact that you published it. I've just re-published on Facebook and called you 'the wonderful...' And you are.


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