Praying for Real

St. Catherine of Sienna warns us not to let our prayers consist “more in words than in affection.” The goal of prayer is for the soul to be “inebriated and set on fire and sated with holy longing, finding herself filled completely with love of [God] and of her neighbors.” Recognizing that “the soul isContinue reading “Praying for Real”

Saints Among Us

How many of those walking among us here and now will one day be revered as saints? I suspect we would all do well to reflect more deeply on this question, and its implications for our lives, personally and culturally. I mut confess to giving the matter much less thought than it deserves. Still, thereContinue reading “Saints Among Us”

On Keeping One’s Head (Part II)

And if thy hand, or thy foot scandalize thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee. . . . And if thy eye scandalize thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee. Matthew 18:8-9 These words, metaphorical though they be, and no matter how one interprets them, are among the many hard sayingsContinue reading “On Keeping One’s Head (Part II)”

Unquenchable Cravings

Many waters cannot quench charity, neither can the floods drown it: If a man should give all the substance of his house for love, He shall despise it as nothing. Canticle of Canticles 8:7 Friday being the day of Our Lord’s Passion, it is good to commemorate it not only by abstaining from meat, orContinue reading “Unquenchable Cravings”

Look Upon Us

Give to everyone that asks thee. Luke 6:30 Silver and gold I have none; but what I have, I give thee. Acts 3:6 As St. Peter’s example shows, Christ’s command to give to everyone who asks something of us does not mean we must give everyone what they ask of us. Whether we measure ourContinue reading “Look Upon Us”

The Plain and Visible Truth

La Santissima Trinita (The Most Holy Trinity) is among the last of Alessandro Scarlatti’s numerous oratorios. Originally performed in May of 1715, it dramatizes a theological debate in which Faith, Theology, Unbelief, Time, and Charity contend for the final word on the nature of the Almighty. Contemporary critics cannot deny the masterful beauty of theContinue reading “The Plain and Visible Truth”

Doing the Truth

A sure sign that a given regime is despotic is its hostility or indifference to what is good, true, and beautiful. The science of despotism consists in discouraging virtues such as (genuine, active) charity, and instilling vices, such as deception, or compliance with the web of lies in which despotism seeks to entangle us. HowContinue reading “Doing the Truth”

A Charitable Defilement

Almighty Jesus, my sweet Savior Christ, which wouldst vouchsafe thine own almighty hands to wash the feet of thy twelve apostles, not only of the good, but of the very traitor too, vouchsafe, Good Lord, of thine excellent goodness, in such wise to wash the foul feet of my affections, that I never have suchContinue reading “A Charitable Defilement”

Gaining Mastery of the World

St. Catherine of Sienna’s Dialogue with Christ begins with a question precisely opposed to the one  most of us would think of asking: “What can I do to suffer for you?” In response, Jesus affirms the generosity of her desire, but proceeds to instruct the saint on the true nature and value of Christian suffering.Continue reading “Gaining Mastery of the World”

The Test of True Virtue

St. Catherine of Sienna recounts to us how Christ explained the nature of virtue to her. Every virtue, he stresses, no matter how private it seems, is practiced in relation to others. First, every true virtue is given by God, and performed for love of him. Next, every virtue redounds in some way to theContinue reading “The Test of True Virtue”