Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Passion of Therese of Lisieux

Click to purchaseThe Passion of Therese of Lisieux. By Guy Goucher, O.C.D. With a new Introduction by Benedict Groeschel, C.A.R. Crossroad. 370 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 100 17, 1997. Pp. 268. Paper. $14.95. Also available at

"...It is abundantly clear that [bishop and Carmelite, Guy] Gaucher wants to counteract the overly saccharine image of Therese which was all too prevalent in pre-Vatican II days and which has deprived many, even in our own time, of a genuine appreciation for a young woman whose wise ways subverted a piety of fear and a spirituality of subservience. Rather, Therese became a herald of love and trust. Recall that the very last words in her notebooks were, "I go to Him with confidence and love" (Story of a Soul, 1996, p. 259). Bishop Gaucher also insists that the saint of Lisieux not be quoted out of context.

"Gaucher demonstrates that the wisdom of this young woman was refined in the crucible of suffering, especially her suffering during those final months before she died. And this wisdom was enlarged by her grasp of the teaching of her guide, John of the Cross, to whom she turned when she was about seventeen. Moreover, John of the Cross's writings were at the saint's bedside in the months before she died, a time when she often found her way to another John, the author of the fourth gospel...Read it all

Note: The book is perhaps the most profound and moving I have ever read on the saint and I cannot recommend it highly enough. --SH

--->The Atlantic: The Rise of the New Global Elite. "Through my work as a business journalist, I’ve spent the better part of the past decade shadowing the new super-rich: attending the same exclusive conferences in Europe; conducting interviews over cappuccinos on Martha’s Vineyard or in Silicon Valley meeting rooms; observing high-powered dinner parties in Manhattan. Some of what I’ve learned is entirely predictable: the rich are, as F. Scott Fitzgerald famously noted, different from you and me...

--->Telegraph: Authoritarian governments start stockpiling food to fight public anger...

--->Al Jazeera’s Cairo office burned down 'by pro-Mubarak thugs'...

--->CounterPunch: Our New Man in Egypt. Swapping a Dictator for a Torturer. "Habib was repeatedly zapped with high-voltage electricity, immersed in water up to his nostrils, beaten, his fingers were broken and he was hung from metal hooks. That treatment wasn't enough for Suleiman, so: To loosen Habib's tongue, Suleiman ordered a guard to murder a gruesomely shackled Turkistan prisoner in front of Habib – and he did, with a vicious karate kick...

--->The Real Apostle Paul — The Catholic Perspective on Paul... (Link fixed)

--->Coptic Catholic bishop urges prayer to prevent civil war in Egypt...

--->Teenager builds 'death-ray' which can burn through almost anything...

--->It is absurd for an atheist to talk about justice ---even as he spends his days ignoring [for him] the problem of the ontological good and trying to project final meaninglessness and evil onto a universe he did not create. Justice springs from the certainty that the good and creation have Someone in common who expects something of us.

Click for more on the bookIt would be silly for Catholics, Muslims or Jews, et al to pretend that the children of our religions have always behaved well throughout history. None of us is always a pure victim, always immaculate in deed. All have sinned. It should go without saying. There is plenty of room for reasonable, objective criticism. To pretend otherwise is a non-starter when it comes to better relations for today and for the future. Honesty is where better relations begin. A mature people---Jew, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, etc---must expect some criticism, and, when it is motivated by a desire to be better neighbors, even to welcome it, even when it is tough. As with our personal spiritual lives, so with our collective histories. I see no contradiction between the responsible bona fide scholar who looks at the sometimes hard facts of history (ad extra or ad intra) as objectively as possible, in context, and Popes and other religious leaders who try to work for better relations. For most of my adult life I, like many others, have tried to objectively consider responsible criticism on all sides. And I have learned something from most critics, realizing also that no critic is above criticism. In the end I do my best to take the meat and leave the bones based on what I want to be a fair assessment.

Returning to the idea of constructive criticism---beyond all hatred and demonizing of the critic, whether 'ours' or 'theirs'---is a very Christian place to start from, even as we insist against any irenic tendency that would suggest all things can be true. Syncretism is a cop out. Precisely because we Christians believe the crucified rabbi, Jesus Christ, is Who He claimed to be, the Way, the Truth and the Life (Jn 14:6), we are called to "strive for peace with all men" (Heb. 12:14) without collapsing into either naivete or cynicism.

Responsible criticism on all sides then cannot be the enemy of truth or neighborliness, as the failure for all to own up to mistakes of the past can be.

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