a priest's musings on the journey
Monday, April 23, 2007
St George, Defend us from evil
Today is the feast day of St George. He has been venerated since the 4th century, and is one of the most popular saints in both the East and the West. The story of St George slaying the dragon probably adds to his attraction: who doesn't like a good action story? and with swords and dragons? Bring it on!! It's one of those stories of faith that my son never tires of hearing (we even have an icon of St George slaying the dragon over his bed for protection- and it seems to be keeping the ghosties, ghoulies and things that go bump in the night away). :)
But, St George was much more than the original dragonslayer. Although we know virtually nothing of his life, an Eastern Orthodox hymn hails him as a defender of the poor and a physician of the sick. In 495 George was canonized by Pope Gelasius I with others who were remembered as "good men, justly remembered, whose good deeds are known only to God."
In the Coptic Tradition, it is believed that George was engaged to be married, but was forbidden to do so by Christ,who "was keeping him as a pure virginal bridegroom for himself". When George finally was received into heaven (after having been killed and resurrected several times, according to his mythology), Jesus greeted him with these words:
And the Lord said to the blessed George, Hail, My George! Hail beloved of myself and of My Angels...I swear by My right hand, Oh my beloved one that I will establish a covenant with thee that when thou shalt bow thyself upon thy spiritual face in heaven and shall come with all they congregation to worship the holy Trinity, all the saints know thee by reason of the honour which I will show thee, O My beloved
Of course even the New Testament uses bridal imagery to explain Christ's relationship with the Church. However, George is the only male saint where same sex marital imagery is used to describe his relationship with Jesus Christ. Consequently, it has been suggested that George become the patron of same sex marriages. That seems like an obvious choice for me, the same sex marital imagery notwithsatnding. Gay couples can identify with George's experience of being denied full participation in the sacrament of marriage. By using them as a political agenda, and by refusing to offer them the sacramental grace that God offers them, the Church demands that they forsake their beloved spouses and live lives of celibacy. I happen to believe that celibacy is a holy and worthy station of life, and I honor and admire the religious, and others, who embrace this gift and live it faithfully. However, most of us are not called to this way of life. Most of us are called to experience the love of God in the context of marital love and union- that's what makes us human, and unites our humanity to the Divinity of the Christ who unites us to God. The Church has no right to force gay couples to follow this path. The Church has no right to deny grace to faithful disciples who need and desire sacramental grace to assist them along their journeys to holiness. In fact, the Church is turning away from God when it chooses to turn gays away; in dehumanizing gays by denying them full participation in the life of the Church (and by refusing to bless, clebrate, and support thier families) they dehunamize Christ, and make him a God far removed from us, who does not experience the full human condition.
So, on this day, I offer a prayer to St George, that he would defend us all from the evil one, slay the dragons of hatred, exclusion, and prejudice, and that through his intercessions, the cries of the gay oppressed would be heard by God, and that justice would reign in the Church and the world.
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 7:31 AM
You learn something every day. And there was me seeing St George as the quintessential Englishman. The English, the English are best - Flanders and Swann song! They do say many Englishmen are a bit "That way inclined"!