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In honor of the first feast day celebrating Saint John Paul II, Ignatius Press is offering 20%* off the inspiring titles below on Saint John Paul II's life, legacy, teachings and devotion to Divine Mercy.
Simply enter the code SAINTJP* at checkout to save today!
*This offer is valid online only from October 22, 2014 until October 29, 2014 midnight EST.
Saint John Paul the Great His Five Loves Jason Evert Hardcover, 300 pages
Discover the five great loves of St. John Paul II through remarkable unpublished stories on him from bishops, priests, students, Swiss Guards, and others.
Trust In Saint Faustina's Footsteps Grzegorz Górny and Janusz Rosikon Hardcover, 290 pages
This is a story about Saint Faustina and her devotion to the Divine Mercy, which has become the fastest spreading religious devotion in the world.
This lavishly illustrated book is essentially a love story about God’s immense love for his people and the reciprocation of this love by the humble Polish nun declared a saint by Pope John Paul II.
Between 5:00 and 5:30 a.m.—and sometimes as early as 4:00—Pope John Paul II would arise each morning, keeping virtually the same schedule he had as the bishop of Kraków. Although he enjoyed watching the sunrise, the main reason for his early start was to make time for prayer. He prayed the Rosary prostrate on the floor or kneeling, followed by his personal prayers, and would then go to the chapel in order to prepare for 7:30 Mass. According to his press secretary, Joaquín Navarro-Valls, his sixty to ninety minutes of private prayer before Mass were the best part of his day.
At the chapel, he would kneel before the Blessed Sacrament at his prie-dieu. The top of his wooden kneeler could be opened, and it was brimming with notes people had given to him, seeking his prayers for all kinds of petitions, including healings, the conversion of family members, or successful pregnancies. Perhaps thirty to forty new petitions were given to him each day, and he would pray specifically over every one. He said that they were kept there and were always present "in my consciousness, even if they cannot be literally repeated every day."
He told one of his biographers, "There was a time when I thought that one had to limit the ‘prayer of petition.’ That time has passed. The further I advance along the road mapped out for me by Providence, the more I feel the need to have recourse to this kind of prayer." Quite often, those who sent the petitions wrote back in thanksgiving for answered prayers. His assistant secretary noted that most of them expressed gratitude for the gift of parenthood. Not only did he intercede before the tabernacle for these individuals as if they were his most intimate friends, he routinely sought information about the progress of the cases. The liturgy would not begin until he had before him the petitions people had asked him to offer on their behalf.
After going to the sacristy to don his vestments for Mass, he would again kneel or sit for ten to twenty minutes.When visitors arrived to join him for Mass, they would always find him kneeling in prayer. Some said, "he looked like he was speaking with the Invisible." One of the masters of ceremonies added, "it seemed as if the Pope were not present among us." Bishop Andrew Wypych, who was ordained to the diaconate by Cardinal Karol Wojtyła, added, "You could see that he physically was there, but one could sense that he was immersed in the love of the Lord. They were united in talking to each other."
During the celebration of the Eucharist, one observer noticed, "He lingered lovingly over every syllable that recalled the Last Supper as if the words were new to him." Then, after the moment of Consecration, he would genuflect before Christ’s presence on the altar with tremendous reverence. Visitors to his private Masses noticed that you could hear the thud of his knee slamming down upon the marble floor when he became too weak to support himself as he genuflected. After Mass, a lengthy time of thanksgiving followed before the Holy Father greeted guests and gave each of them a Rosary.
The Eucharist was the principal reason for his priesthood. He said, "For me, the Mass constitutes the center of my life and my every day."
Anyone who has read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings can gather that their author hated tyranny, but few know that the novelist who once described himself as a hobbit “in all but size” was—even by hobbit standards—a zealous proponent of economic freedom and small government. There is a growing concern among many that the West is sliding into political, economic, and moral bankruptcy. In his beloved novels of Middle-Earth, J.R.R. Tolkien has drawn us a map to freedom.
Scholar Joseph Pearce, who himself has written articles and chapters on the political significance of Tolkien’s work, testified in his book Literary Giants, Literary Catholics, “If much has been written on the religious significance of The Lord of the Rings, less has been written on its political significance—and the little that has been written is often erroneous in its conclusions and ignorant of Tolkien’s intentions…. Much more work is needed in this area, not least because Tolkien stated, implicitly at least, that the political significance of the work was second only to the religious in its importance.”
Several books ably explore how Tolkien’s Catholic faith informed his fiction. None until now have centered on how his passion for liberty and limited government also shaped his work, or how this passion grew directly from his theological vision of man and creation. The Hobbit Party fills this void.
The few existing pieces that do focus on the subject are mostly written by scholars with little or no formal training in literary analysis, and even less training in political economy. Witt and Richards bring to The Hobbit Party a combined expertise in literary studies, political theory, economics, philosophy, and theology.
Jay W. Richards, Ph.D., is Assistant Research Professor in the School of Business and Economics at The Catholic University of America, a Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute, and Executive Editor of The Stream. He has authored and co-authored many books, including the New York Times bestsellers Infiltrated and Indivisible, as well as Money, Greed, and God, The Privileged Planet and The Untamed God.
Jonathan Witt, Ph.D., is a former English professor, a Research and Media Fellow at the Acton Institute, and Managing Editor of The Stream. He has written many popular and academic articles, scripted three documentaries that have appeared on PBS, and is the co-author of A Meaningful World. He also served as the lead writer for the PovertyCure Series and the award-winning film Poverty, Inc.
Praise for The Hobbit Party:
"The hobbits' Shire is a microcosm of Victorian England in every way, especially the way everything works fine without interference from the institutions of the state. But can the Shire really be a model for our more complex times? The Hobbit Party, with its punning title, makes the case that it can be, should be, was meant to be, and that The Lord of the Rings expands the argument to give us images of an ethical as well as ecological politics, ever more badly needed." — Tom Shippey, Author, The Road to Middle-Earth
"As with the best works of the imagination, Middle-Earth invites one into a true reality, one immersed in timeless and universal truths. Witt and Richards brilliantly delve into the most profound depths of Tolkien's endlessly fascinating soul. A true conservative in the old sense, he recorded the stories of a world in chaos, but saved by the integrity of the person willing to surrender to grace. This work offers us a true feast: the feast of nobility, truth, goodness, and beauty." — Bradley J. Birzer, Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought, University of Colorado Boulder Author, American Cicero: The Life of Charles Carroll
"Beautifully written, this work gives fascinating insights into the realm of Middle-Earth. Moreover, it is a tour of the important issues of our world through Tolkien's eyes, including limited government, man's temptation to power, freedom, just war, socialism, distributism, localism, love, and death. These topics are woven seamlessly throughout, and you will leave the book with unforgettable impressions of these themes illustrated by Tolkien's imagery." — Art Lindsley, Vice President, The Institute for Faith, Work & Economics
"J. R. R. Tolkien is one of the most widely read but arguably misunderstood of the twentieth century's literary geniuses. In this book, Witt and Richards lift the veil on Tolkien and reveal a political and, yes, economic thinker who constantly surprises readers and whose insights are even more valuable for our time than his own. Tolkien fans who read this book will never think about this great author the same way again." — Samuel Gregg, Research Director, Acton Institute Author, Becoming Europe
"This book is a 'drop everything and read it' book. Richards and Witt have opened up an often ignored aspect of Tolkien's work, namely the sense in which his myth bespeaks a political and economic order that stands in stark, even violent, contrast to the presiding power structures that dominate this unhappy globe. It should be made required reading in all courses in political philosophy. It's a glorious book." — Thomas Howard, Author, Dove Descending: A Journey into T. S. Eliot's "Four Quartets"
"Witt and Richards do a brilliant job of rescuing Tolkien's literary legacy from the clutches of the cultural left. They reveal Tolkien as a profoundly Catholic thinker, with deep insights into the fundamental issue of religion, namely man's attempt to grapple with his own mortality. As a conservative’s companion to Tolkien, The Hobbit Party renews our appreciation of Tolkien’s contribution to literature and his profound impact on our culture." — David Goldman, Author, How Civilizations Die
In this volume five cardinals of the Church, and four other scholars, respond to the call issued by Walter Cardinal Kasper for the Church to harmonize "fidelity and mercy in its pastoral practice with civilly remarried, divorced people". The contributors are Walter Cardinal Brandmüller; Raymond Cardinal Burke; Carlo Cardinal Caffarra; Velasio Cardinal De Paolis, C.S.; Robert Dodaro, O.S.A.; Paul Mankowski, S.J.; Gerhard Cardinal Müller; John M. Rist; and Archbishop Cyril Vasil', S.J.
Cardinal Kasper appeals to early Church practice in order to support his view. The contributors bring their wealth of knowledge and expertise to bear upon this question, concluding that the Bible and the Church Fathers do not support the kind of "toleration" of civil marriages following divorce advocated by Cardinal Kasper. They also examine the Eastern Orthodox practice of oikonomia (understood as "mercy" implying "toleration") in cases of remarriage after divorce and in the context of the vexed question of Eucharistic Communion. The book traces the long history of Catholic resistance to this practice, revealing the serious theological and pastoral difficulties it poses in past and current Orthodox Church practice.
As the authors demonstrate, traditional Catholic doctrine, based on the teaching of Jesus himself, and current pastoral practice are not at odds with genuine mercy and compassion. The authentic "gospel of mercy" is available through a closer examination of the Church's teachings.
"Because it is the task of the apostolic ministry to ensure that the Church remains in the truth of Christ and to lead her ever more deeply into that truth, pastors must promote the sense of faith in all the faithful, examine and authoritatively judge the genuineness of its expressions and educate the faithful in an ever more mature evangelical discernment." - St. John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio
When the Communists Murdered a Priest | Paul Kengor | CWR blog
[Editor’s note: This article first appeared at The American Spectator.]
It was October 19, 1984—30 years ago this week. A gentle, courageous, and genuinely holy priest, Jerzy Popieluszko, age 37, found himself in a ghastly spot that, though it must have horrified him, surely did not surprise him. An unholy trinity of three thugs from communist Poland’s secret police had seized and pummeled him. He was bound and gagged and stuffed into the trunk of their cream-colored Fiat 125 automobile as they roamed the countryside trying to decide where to dispatch him. This kindly priest was no less than the chaplain to the Solidarity movement, the freedom fighters who would ultimately prove fatal to Soviet communism—and not without Popieluszko’s stoic inspiration.
The ringleader this October day was Captain Grzegorz Piotrowski, an agent of Poland’s SB. Unlike Jerzy, who grew up devoutly religious, Piotrowski was raised in an atheist household, which, like the communist despots who governed Poland, was an aberration in this pious Roman Catholic country. The disregard for God and morality made Piotrowski an ideal man for the grisly task ahead, which he assumed with a special, channeled viciousness.
Piotrowski’s first beating of the priest that evening was so severe that it should have killed him. Jerzy was a small man afflicted with Addison’s disease. He previously had been hospitalized for other infirmities, including (understandably) stress and anxiety. But somehow, the priest was managing to survive as he fought for his life in the cold, dark trunk of the Fiat. In fact, somehow he unloosened the ropes that knotted him and extricated himself from the car. He began to run, shouting to anyone who could hear, “Help! Save my life!”
He was run down by Piotrowski, a dedicated disciple of what a Polish admirer of Jerzy, Pope John Paul II, would dub the Culture of Death. “I caught up with him and hit him on the head several times with the stick,” Piotrowski later confessed. “I hit him near or on the head. He fell limp again. I think he must have been unconscious. And then I became—never mind, it doesn’t matter.”
It did matter. It certainly mattered to the helpless priest. What Piotrowski became was something altogether worse. He seemed overtaken by another force. As recorded by authors Roger Boyes and John Moody in their superb book, Messenger of the Truth, which is now a gripping documentary, Piotrowski’s accomplices thought their comrade had gone mad, “so wild were the blows.” It was like a public flogging. Jerzy’s pounding was so relentless that it wouldn’t be misplaced to think of Christ’s scourging at the pillar. This young man in persona Christi, not much older than Jesus Christ at his death agony, was being brutally tortured. It was a kind of crucifixion; the kind at which communists uniquely excelled.
One is tempted to say that Piotrowski beat the hell out of Father Jerzy, but such would be inappropriate and inaccurate for such a man of faith. Really, the hell was coming out of the beater, in all its demonic force and fury.
After another round of thrashing, Piotrowski and his two fellow tormentors ramped up the treatment. They grabbed a roll of thick adhesive tape and ran it around the priest’s mouth, nose, and head, tossing him once again in the vehicle, like a hunk of garbage on its way to the heap.
A few years ago, within the framework of an ecumenical celebration and dedication, I was able to visit the new operational center of the Workers' Samaritan Association in Vienna.
The Workers' Samaritan Association (no connection with the British Samaritans) is a kind of local Red Cross with a clear commitment to social democracy. For a long time, Austrian Socialists were reputed to be-and many of them were-critical of the Church, or even opposed to her. That was part of the sad heritage of the division in our country [Austria] that led in 1934 to a brief but violent civil war. The tragic division of the country into "blacks" and "reds" played no small part in the illegal rise of the "browns", the National Socialists [Nazis], which ended with the Anschluss, the annexation of Austria [to Germany]. The picture of the crucifixion that hung in the archbishop's palace in Vienna (shown on the cover of this book) and that was vandalized by fanatical Hitler Youth members is a symbol of the way that only the common suffering under the Nazi persecution brought "reds" and "blacks" together again. Against this background, the dedication to which I just referred was moving and symbolic.
Why am I mentioning this in the introduction to the Gospel readings of the "year of Luke"? On account of the name Workers' Samaritan Association! The image of the good Samaritan comes from the Gospel. It is among the best known of Jesus' parables. It has become the standard example of loving one's neighbor, far beyond the circles of Church "insiders"—so much so, that a completely "red" organization sees its work in helping the victims of accidents, needy people, and the sick as "Samaritan work", without its having any connection with the Church. It is simply a matter of helping one's neighbor who is in need, irrespective of his race, religion, or political views.
The parable of the good Samaritan, however, is found only in Luke's Gospel. It is about Luke and his Gospel that we are now talking, and, in the following pages, that Gospel will be our guide through all the Sundays of the Church's year (Lectionary year C).
Each of the four Gospel writers has his own style, his own sources, his own emphases, and things that only he tells us about. Only all four together produce the whole and unmistakable picture of Jesus. Each of the Gospels adds its own particular note, so that we are quite right in talking about the picture of Christ in the Gospel of Matthew or the picture of Christ in the Gospel of John-and certainly also the picture of Christ in the Gospel of Luke.
It is only in the four canonical Gospels that the Church has recognized the canonical picture of Christ, the true and original picture. It is certainly not by chance that these are also the four oldest accounts of Jesus that we have. The many other gospels, which without exception are clearly later, were not recognized by the Church as being genuine, even if there may be one or another original saying of Jesus in them. Almost every year, one of these numerous so-called apocryphal gospels is brought forward as a new sensation, as happened just recently with the gospel of Judas. Usually it is not mentioned that people have known about them for a long time and that the works have been studied by specialists. Saint Irenaeus of Lyons, for instance, talks about the gospel of Judas at the end of the second century and demonstrates that it is a late forgery.
But what argues far more strongly in favor of the genuineness of the four oldest Gospels is their incomparable spiritual power. Jesus himself is speaking in them. His spirit, his heart, and his transforming power can be felt at work in them. They are not just human discourse and human wisdom. They are also that; but, shot through with the fire of the Holy Spirit, they are truly God's word.
What picture would we have of Jesus without the parable of the good Samaritan? How much, altogether, would be missing from our picture of Jesus if we had no Gospel of Luke! I myself was almost horrified when I discovered, with the help of a synopsis (that is, a parallel edition of the four Gospels), how much of what is quite essential in our picture of Jesus is owed to Luke's alertness in bringing it all together.
Only he tells us the three parables about the way that God's love patiently seeks for us men: the parable of the lost sheep, the parable of the lost penny, and above all—perhaps Jesus' best-known parable—the parable of the prodigal son (Lk 15). What a marvelous picture of God Jesus offers us in this parable!
Left: Icon of the martyrdom of Saint Ignatius of Antioch; right: "The Prophet Malachi", painting by Duccio di Buoninsegna, c. 1310 (Wikipedia)
“I Hate Divorce” | Fr. Joseph Fessio, SJ
The prayers and readings of the Divine Office offer some clear messages appropriate to issues being discussed at the Synod
During the extraordinary synod on the family—that was the theme, wasn’t it?—as I have been praying the Divine Office I have reflected on the fact that the synod fathers were praying the same prayers and reading the same readings as I. Often I have been struck by what seemed to me a clear message in Scripture directed especially at them, a spiritual “daily bread” to nourish and fortify them for this particular moment.
Today, Friday October 17th, the feast of the great early Martyr Ignatius of Antioch, the message in the Office of Readings seemed clearer than ever.
The Psalm for the Office is Psalm 55, which is a lament (“My heart is stricken within me”) for a betrayal (“If this had been done by an enemy I could bear his taunts….But it is you my own companion, my friend. How close was the friendship between us. We walked together in harmony in the house of God”.) is a fitting prelude to the Scriptural reading from the prophet Malachi (emphasis not orthographically in the original):
“And here is something else you do; you cover the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping and wailing, because he now refuses to consider the offering or to accept it from your hands. And you ask,’Why?’ It is because the Lord stands as witness between you and the wife of your youth, the wife with whom you have broken faith, even though she was your partner and your wife by covenant. Did he not create a single being that has flesh and the breath of life? And what is this single being destined for? God-given offspring. Be careful for your own life, therefore, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. For I hate divorce, says the Lord the God of Israel, and I hate people to parade their sins on their cloaks, says the Lord Sabaoth. Respect your own life, therefore, and do not break faith like this” (Mal 2:13-16).
Perhaps this might be included in the final report of the synod?
Postsript: The passage from Malachi in the Office ends where my excerpt ends. And I see no need to comment. However, in checking the exact reference in my Bible, I came across the verse immediately following, verse 17, which also needs no comment, although I will say that it has a double message for all to hear:
“You have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet you say, ‘How have we wearied him?’ By saying, ‘Every one who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delights in them.’ Or by asking, ‘Where is the God of justice?’
I pray that the synod will be truly prophetic—in the footsteps of the inspired Malachi.
A gripping new novel has just been released by Ignatius Press: Iota by T.M. Doran, which the author calls his most ambitious and demanding novel yet. A taut and tense 165 pages long, Iota centers on a journalist, Jan Skala, who has been arrested and imprisoned by the Russian liberators of Prague
During the Nazi occupation of the city, the journalist stayed above ground and continued to work for his father’s newspaper, which had been commandeered by the Gestapo. What must the Russians think of Jan? But more importantly, what is Jan’s take on his wartime role?
Iota is a drama about what men believe and whether their actions are consistent with what they profess. The story, which takes place during a two-month period immediately following World War II, in a temporary Soviet detention facility—a former abattoir—near a devastated Berlin, is an exploration of what it means to be human and whether it is possible to retain one’s humanity in the face of radical evil.
Eerily mirroring the present day European crisis is the 1945 Soviet Union’s desire to gobble up as much of Europe as it can.
The intriguing characters sharing his detention facility all have a backstory, but Jan cannot be sure if any of them is telling the truth. Although the business of daily survival begins to trump every other concern, the men nevertheless struggle to understand their fate. Ruling the facility is the menacing Russian major, who is as opaque as any of the prisoners.
Author T.M. Doran says, “History by William L. Shirer, Martin Gilbert, and Igor Lukes; essays, poems, and memoirs by Liu Xiaobo, T.S. Eliot, and Walter Ciszek; literature by Pasternak, Dumas, and Orwell influenced Iota, a story about radical forgiveness, though we have to dig deep into the grit and brutality to find it.”
Michael D. O’Brien, author of Fr. Elijah: An Apocalypse, says, “Iota is a plunge into the darkest waters of human motivation and character. Set in a political prison at the end of World War II, the story of the ‘cage’ is also a metaphor for the imprisonment of minds and souls….”
Iota is “a gripping read. The atmosphere of tension, squalor and fear is brilliantly sustained and the plot has thrilling twists right to the end,” claims Lucy Beckett author of A Postcard from the Volcano.
“This compelling story reads like an eyewitness account. At times moving, harrowing and genuinely terrifying, Doran’s Iota asks unsettling questions about the nature of innocence, guilt, courage and complicity. I simply could not put it down,” says Fiorella De Maria author of Do No Harm.
James V. Schall, S. J., author of Reasonable Pleasures, says, “The urge to track down and bring to justice is a powerful one. We see it at work here in Iota. In the end, we learn what we ought to do by not doing what we set out to do.”
About the Author:
T. M. Doran is an environmental engineer and an adjunct professor at Lawrence Technological University in Michigan. He is the author of two other novels, Terrapin (Ignatius Press, 2012) and Toward the Gleam (Ignatius Press, 2011), and a guest contributor to the Detroit Free Press and the Catholic World Report blog.
Author T.M. Doran is available for interviews about this book. To request a review copy or an interview with T.M. Doran, please contact: Rose Trabbic, Publicist, Ignatius Press at (239)867-4180 or email@example.com
Title: IOTA: A Novel Author: T.M. Doran Release Date: October 2014 Length: 165 pages Price: $17.95 ISBN: 978-1-58617-854-3 • Hardcover
... about apologetics and American culture. An excerpt:
People consider you to be a Catholic apologist. What do apologetics mean to you in the context of American culture today?
America is both religious and secularized. As a result, people often mistakenly think they know what Christians or Catholics believe. Apologetics today must first clarify for Americans what Catholicism is and then show how faith fulfills the deep aspirations of the human soul, even in 21st century America! Concretely, apologetics must address such things as the “I’m-spiritual-but-not-religious” outlook, the idea that faith means believing things you know aren’t true, why this “Jesus guy” is so important, why the Catholic Church, and what makes life about more than pleasure and building your 401k.
You’ve worked many years for Catholic Answers and Ignatius Press. How have Catholic apologetics changed or evolved in the course of your work?
I would note three changes: broader subject matter, more resources, and more sophisticated, evangelical apologists. When I started at Catholic Answers, in the late 1980s, we focused on Protestant Fundamentalism. Nowadays, social and cultural issues are important, too: human sexuality (including marriage as a civil institution), the human person, pro-life concerns, religion’s place in the public square, etc. And of course basic questions such as the existence of God, the historicity of Jesus, and the claims of the Catholic Church remain essential. Meanwhile, the resources are plentiful—books, videos, audio CDs, websites, phone apps, Catholic radio and TV, etc. What’s more, many apologists—Jimmy Akin and Trent Horn of Catholic Answers come to mind among others—are first-rate thinkers and don’t simply present other people’s arguments. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!) Finally, people increasingly see apologetics as evangelization’s "flipside." The goal can’t be simply to win an argument, as I say in my book, to dispose people to the work of the Holy Spirit. The New Evangelization is “highway and byway” evangelization—taking Christ to people instead of waiting for them to knock at the rectory. The new evangelists see apologetics’ value and apologists see they must be new evangelists. That’s a significant change.
The media has given a lot of attention to how the collapse of families is altering the cultural landscape in America. What challenge does this reality pose for Catholic apologetics?
In some ways, we’ve been here before. The church dealt with collapsing families in pagan Rome. But, as Chesterton and Lewis noted, a post-Christian paganism differs from pre-Christian paganism, as a bitter divorcee differs from an unmarried virgin. The full impact of familial collapse we have yet to experience. The redefinition of marriage and family will have further disastrous consequences. In the meantime, we speak with hurting people who think they know all about Christianity. They know not everything is relative but they often talk and act otherwise. They’re subjects of the dictatorship of moral relativism, at least when it comes to certain areas of their lives. We talk with people who think science has disproved Christianity or that multiculturalism has discredited it. We’re surrounded by children of the sexual revolution, with whom we must speak a language they can understand. Theology of the body helps here. In all of this, we must “walk the walk” as well as “talk the talk” (make arguments). Yes, we’ll fall short. Experiencing mercy can help. Paul VI’s statement about people listening to witnesses more than to teachers is key. If we witness to mercy because we have experienced it, we’ll get “street cred.” People will be more apt to listen. People need mercy—love’s response to suffering. Pope Francis has underscored this in his unique way. But then we have to be prepared to say something worth hearing, too. We’ll need to be ready to make our case.
Mary of Nazareth is an epic motion picture on the life of Mary, mother of Christ, from her childhood through the Resurrection of Jesus. Shot in High Definition, it was filmed in Europe with outstanding cinematography, a strong cast, and a majestic music score. Actress Alissa Jung gives a beautiful, compelling and inspired portrayal of Mary.
The film vividly captures the essence of Mary’s profound faith and trust in God amidst the great mysteries that she lived with as the Mother of the Messiah, as well as her compassionate humanity and concern for others, and the deep love that she and Jesus shared for one another. The movie underscores her special role in God’s plan for our redemption, her unique relationship with Christ, and the tremendous suffering that she endured in union with his passion and death, as well as her serene joy at his Resurrection.
It was directed by acclaimed European film director Giacomo Campiotti (Bakhita, Doctor Zhivago, St. Giuseppe Moscati), and written by Francesco Arlanch (Restless Heart, Pius XII, Pope John Paul II). In addition to the luminous performance by Jung, the film also has inspiring portrayals by Andreas Pietschmann as Jesus, Luca Marinelli as Joseph, Paz Vega as Mary Magdalene and Antonia Liskova as Herodias. The original music score by Guy Farley is enthralling and majestic.
After viewing this movie, Pope Benedict XVI said: “ Mary of Nazareth is the woman of a full and total ‘Here I am’ to the Divine Will. In her ‘yes’, even when faced with the loss of her Son, we find complete and profound beatitude.”
Two-Disc Collector’s Edition. Includes many Special Features – Interview with Alissa Jung; “Backstage” film segment; Film Photos Slide Show; Interview with Fr. Don Calloway; Music Video with song “Pieta”; 24 page Collector’s Booklet & Study Guide; and more.
In English with Spanish and English subtitles.
Praise for Mary of Nazareth:
"The most stunning portrayal of the Virgin Mary on film. A masterpiece!" - Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC
"Mary of Nazareth captivated me from the first scene to the last." - Johnnette Benkovic, Women of Grace
"A profound story of faith, love, suffering and hope. See this film." - Archbishop Samuel Aquila, Denver, CO.
"A very anointed work, a powerful medium of grace." - Michael O'Brien, Author, Father Elijah
"A gripping story, with authentic background, faithfully orthodox very beautiful cinematography." - Steve Ray, Host, The Footprints of God
"Powerful, captivating, and mesmerizing- Mary of Nazareth will transport you to another place and time and you'll grow immensely closer to the Mother of God." - Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle, EWTN TV Host
WARNING: DVDs are licensed for home use only. It is illegal to show this movie in a public setting such as a church, school or organization's hall without a Site License. That applies even if you are not charging admission. For more information and to obtain a Mary of Nazareth Site License, please go to www.MaryFilm.com or email or call Diane direct at 734-455-1973 or toll free at 1-866-431-1531 x 5.
By all accounts, St. Teresa, the foundress from Avila, was a woman extraordinarily gifted, both naturally and supernaturally. In her were combined physical beauty, especially in her youth, and a charm of personality that neither illness nor age diminished. All witnesses seem to agree that she was the type of woman no one can adequately describe in a few pages. She was one of those rare personalities who combine qualities that seem to exclude one another and are seldom found together in one individual. She loved tenderly and affectionately, yet would brook no nonsense from anyone. She possessed both a strong self-image and an astonishing humility. A born leader, she was yet completely obedient to her superiors. She could be a windmill of activity at one time and at another be lost in mystical contemplation. Though she was highly intelligent and amazingly efficient, she gravitated toward simple, humble men and women. (pp. 14-15)
Regarding a woman of prayer and penance who came to visit her, Teresa remarks that "she was so far ahead of me in serving the Lord that I was ashamed to stand in her presence", and she says of the nuns with whom she lived in her first reformed convent that "this house was a paradise of delight for Him. ... I live in their company very, very much ashamed." She was of the opinion that she deserved to be persecuted, and she welcomed even untrue accusations against herself. Foundress though she was, Teresa must have been known widly for choosing to do menial tasks, for that trait comes up more than once in the depositions of her process.
In the very nature of things there is an intimate connection between humility and obedience, and while I am omitting in this sketch many of St. Teresa's heroic virtues, I feel that the latter should be joined to the former. To appreciate both of these virtues in her, we need to recall that she was anything but a timid, passive individual. Diffident people often do not find it difficult to acquiesce to another's decisions either because they are reluctant to assume responsibility for important decisions or because they fear failure and criticism. But as we have noted, Teresa was of an entirely cast of mind: she was full of ideas and abounding in initiative and determination. Criticism bothered her not in the least. Being a born leader, she must have found submitting to another's will naturally irksome. Yet her obedience was legendary. We cannot here detail the many examples of the prompt, joyful carrying out of difficult directions that she must have found extremely painful to her buoyant determination. What she taught, she lived. (p. 27)
And here are some quotes from St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582), the great Carmelite contemplative, mystic, Saint, and Doctor of the Church, whose feast is celebrated today:
• "There is no stage of prayer so sublime that it isn't necessary to return often to the beginning. Along this path of prayer, self knowledge and the thought of one's sins is the bread with which all palates must be fed no matter how delicate they may be; they cannot be sustained without this bread."
• "It is a dangerous thing to be satisfied with ourselves."
• "Do not be negligent about showing gratitude."
• "Those who in fact risk all for God will find that they have both lost all and gained all."
• "We shouldn't care at all about not having devotion—as I have said—but we ought to thank the Lord who allows us to be desirous of pleasing Him, even though our works may be weak. This method of keeping Christ present with us is beneficial in all stages and is a very safe means of advancing."
• "Everything other than pleasing God is nothing."
• "Our security lies in obedience and refusal to deviate from God's law."
• "Once you are placed in so high a degree as to desire to commune in solitude with God and abandon the pastimes of the world, the most has been done."
• "Teach by works more than by words. ... We must all try to be preachers through our deeds."
• "Mental prayer in my opinion is nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us. In order than love be true and friendship endure, the wills of the friends must be in accord."
• "I don't know why we are amazed that there are so many evils in the Church since those who are to be the models from which all might copy the virtues are so obscurely fashioned that the spirit of the saints of the past has abandoned the religious communities. May it please the divine Majesty to remedy this as He sees it to be necessary."
• "Now, Lord, now; make the sea calm! May this ship, which is the Church, not always have to journey in a tempest like this."
It is far from easy to sum up in a few words Teresa’s profound and articulate spirituality. I would like to mention a few essential points. In the first place St Teresa proposes the evangelical virtues as the basis of all Christian and human life and in particular, detachment from possessions, that is, evangelical poverty, and this concerns all of us; love for one another as an essential element of community and social life; humility as love for the truth; determination as a fruit of Christian daring; theological hope, which she describes as the thirst for living water. Then we should not forget the human virtues: affability, truthfulness, modesty, courtesy, cheerfulness, culture.
Secondly, St Teresa proposes a profound harmony with the great biblical figures and eager listening to the word of God. She feels above all closely in tune with the Bride in the Song of Songs and with the Apostle Paul, as well as with Christ in the Passion and with Jesus in the Eucharist. The Saint then stresses how essential prayer is. Praying, she says, “means being on terms of friendship with God frequently conversing in secret with him who, we know, loves us” (Vida 8, 5). St Teresa’s idea coincides with Thomas Aquinas’ definition of theological charity as “amicitia quaedam hominis ad Deum”, a type of human friendship with God, who offered humanity his friendship first; it is from God that the initiative comes (cf. Summa Theologiae II-II, 23, 1).
Prayer is life and develops gradually, in pace with the growth of Christian life: it begins with vocal prayer, passes through interiorization by means of meditation and recollection, until it attains the union of love with Christ and with the Holy Trinity. Obviously, in the development of prayer climbing to the highest steps does not mean abandoning the previous type of prayer. Rather, it is a gradual deepening of the relationship with God that envelops the whole of life.
Rather than a pedagogy Teresa’s is a true “mystagogy” of prayer: she teaches those who read her works how to pray by praying with them. Indeed, she often interrupts her account or exposition with a prayerful outburst.
Here are some of the resources from Ignatius Press relating to St. Teresa of Avila:
Michael Bradley, managing editor of Ethika Politika, writes that Holly Ordway’s account of her journey from atheism to Catholicism, Not God’s Type: An Atheist Academic Lays Down Her Arms (Ignatius Press, 2014), is "a delightful and searingly introspective account of the author’s moving journey from unbelief..."
Ordway's book is filled
with anecdotes and details from her early youth and young adult life, a much more robust account of how Christian literature—particularly the works of Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Chesterton, and Gerard Manley Hopkins—impacted and guided her conversion experience, and how her fencing career integrated with her growth in Christian discipleship.
A slim 187 pages (featuring 27 chapters and 7 “interludes,” none of which are longer than 10 pages) and written in the light and fluid prose befitting a former English professor, Not God’s Type is a quick and uplifting read, and eminently readable. Ordway opens with two quotes—one by John Henry Newman and one by Lewis—about “laying down one’s arms” before the sovereign Lord, thus situating the book’s title and its most persistent thematic element within the context not only of conversion from unbelief to belief, but of continual transformation of imagination and heart. Indeed, imagination plays a major role in Ordway’s conversion because it is an integral aspect of the Christian vision itself; each chapter opens with a snippet from a Christian poem or literary work.
"The meat of the book," Bradley notes, "concerns Ordway’s intellectual investigation of fundamental Christian claims. Did there exist a First Mover, a personal Creator through whose agency all things came into being from nothing? The evidence, as Ordway saw it, indicated ‘yes.’ And so forth for a host of claims that Ordway previous would dismiss with nary a second thought. The fortress begins to crumble, largely thanks those literary conduits of grace: Chesterton’s aesthetic sense, Lewis’s apologetic verve, always the poetry of Hopkins and the literature of Tolkien; seeds sown in silence, bearing good fruit in due season."
He concludes his detailed review by stating:
It is a beautiful account of the courtship of the living God, a person to be known more so than a theory to be investigated. Ordway catches herself by surprise in the book’s latter chapters by realizing that while she “tested” God as a hypothesis, he engulfed her with his Holy Spirit, emboldening her to make not a leap, but a joyful affirmation of faith in the God who is nearer to her than she is to herself.
Non-Negotiables in a Media-Driven, Relativistic Age | CWR staff | Catholic World Report
Veteran journalist Sheila Liaugminas's new book tackles the roots and meaning of hot button issues from abortion to social justice
Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy Award-winning, veteran journalist who has worked in both print and broadcast media. She reported for Time magazine in its Midwest Bureau for over 20 years, and co-hosted the Chicago television program “YOU”. Based in Chicago, Liaugminas is a regular contributor to MercatorNet.com, and has been published in the Chicago Tribune, Crain's Chicago Business, Crisis, National Catholic Register, and National Review Online. She currently hosts the daily radio program “A Closer Look” on Relevant Radio.
Her new book, Non-Negotiable: Essential Principles of a Just Society and Humane Culture, was published recently by Ignatius Press. It has been widely praised, with Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., saying, "Combining the passion of personal conscience and the convictions of reason and faith, Sheila Liaugminas analyzes conflicted points in our culture in the light of first principles. It's a good tool in skilled hands."
Sheila recently took time from her busy schedule to talk with Catholic World Report about her book, the culture and the Church, relativism, human dignity, social justice, and Catholic social doctrine.
CWR: Let’s start with the very first sentence, in your Preface: “We the people are losing our ability to think clearly or reason well.” You also state that we have lost the “art of argument.” There’s surely a lot of blame to go around, but what are some of the foundational factors? And what is the trajectory you’ve witnessed in your years working in secular and Catholic media? Is it simply getting worse?
Sheila Liaugminas: We can look back at any number of periods in the past century, but at least to the Sixties and the rupture in the culture and the Church that seemed to happen suddenly in the chaos of that decade to see where and how the current confusion was sown. It was a revolutionary time when authority was not only questioned but ridiculed and rendered irrelevant, and we rapidly and all too easily lost our reference points to absolute truth and the Judeo-Christian ethics that formed this nation.
It ushered in Roe v. Wade which led to all that Pope Paul VI predicted in Humanae Vitae, redefining life itself and the terms for living a good life to fit the new secular orthodoxy. From then on, we’ve been plummeting further into the ‘dictatorship of relativism’ Pope Benedict XVI warned of, in which things become what culture shapers decide, changeable with the times. Words have been so distorted through that cultural disruption that ‘Choice’ covers abortion, ‘Compassion’ covers euthanasia, and ‘Equality’ covers the redefinition of marriage in law. It is getting worse with each successive movement claiming as its mantle a word that designates empathy and freedom and human ideals. These are persuasive to a population unable to counter with questions that challenge their premises.
CWR: There are, as your book emphasizes, certain truths “so foundational for our life and flourishing that they are simply not open to debate or mitigation—they are non-negotiable.” And yet those truths are, of course, not only debated, they are even dismissed. Why so? How did we arrive at this spot?
Perhaps you’ve noticed that some reporters describe the disagreement between Catholic leaders as between those who want to keep the status quo on marriage and family and those who want merciful and compassionate change.
What nonsense. What political spin.
Many of us dubbed “conservative,” who supposedly peddle a “closed system of theology,” and allegedly confuse the “gospel with a penal code” certainly don’t want the status quo. We believe in change.
In the book “The Gospel of the Family,” the authors, Father Juan Jose Pérez-Soba and Dr. Stephan Kampowski, underscore the transformative power of the gospel on marriage and family life. They want a full engagement of the gospel’s power, which they believe hasn’t been happening in the Catholic Church. That’s hardly status quo. As Cardinal George Pell writes in his foreword, the Church must provide “lifeboats for those who have been shipwrecked by divorce” but the Church must also direct people to a safe port, not toward the rocks or the marshes. And the Church should provide leadership and good maps to reduce the number of shipwrecks to begin with. Again, no status quo.
It’s not a matter of staying the course; it’s a matter of helping people get on the right course. ...
For decades, some Church officials sent mixed messages to young people, to those preparing for marriage, and to married couples about whether the Church really believes what she says. We haven’t collectively directed our creative energies into converting and forming our people. We shouldn’t pretend as if we have. Indeed, in some cases, in the name of being “pastoral”, some leaders formed young people with a vision contrary to the faith. Now we look up and wonder why the world’s problems with sexuality, gender, and marriage and family life so deeply affect the Church.
We need a renewed missionary effort here. How about a, well, New Evangelization? I’m not talking simply about teaching the truth — although that’s crucial. While things have begun to turn around, we have had far too little systematic and engaging teaching in so much of parish life. New resources are available, but we have a long way to go.
No, when I speak of evangelization I mean evangelizing for serious discipleship and doing so in the context of the Gospel of the Family — the good news of what life in Christ says about the family. Catechesis assumes and implies conversion. Conversion is bound up with evangelization. Far from being contrary to mercy, it is, as St. John Paul II, the Pope of Divine Mercy, taught, at the very heart of the Gospel. If we want to live the Gospel of Mercy, then we must convert the family.
Let me at once anticipate comment by answering to the name of that notorious character, who rushes in where even the Angels of the Angelic Doctor might fear to tread.
Some time ago I wrote a little book of this type and shape on St. Francis of Assisi; and some time after (I know not when or how, as the song says, and certainly not why) I promised to write a book of the same size, or the same smallness on St. Thomas Aquinas. The promise was Franciscan only in its rashness; and the parallel was very far from being Thomistic in its logic. You can make a sketch of St. Francis: you could only make a plan of St. Thomas, like the plan of a labyrinthine city. And yet in a sense he would fit into a much larger or a much smaller book. What we really know of his life might be pretty fairly dealt with in a few pages; for he did not, like St. Francis, disappear in a shower of personal anecdotes and popular legends. What we know, or could know, or may eventually have the luck to learn, of his work, will probably fill even more libraries in the future than it has filled in the past. It was allowable to sketch St. Francis in an outline; but with St. Thomas everything depends on the filling up of the outline. It was even medieval in a manner to illuminate a miniature of the Poverello, whose very title is a diminutive. But to make a digest, in the tabloid manner, of the Dumb Ox of Sicily passes all digestive experiments in the matter of an ox in a tea-cup. But we must hope it is possible to make an outline of biography, now that anybody seems capable of writing an outline of history or an outline of anything. Only in the present case the outline is rather an outsize. The gown that could contain the colossal friar is not kept in stock.
I have said that these can only be portraits in outline. But the concrete contrast is here so striking, that even if we actually saw the two human figures in outline, coming over the hill in their friar's gowns, we should find that contrast even comic. It would be like seeing, even afar off, the silhouettes of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, or of Falstaff and Master Slender. St. Francis was a lean and lively little man; thin as a thread and vibrant as a bowstring; and in his motions like an arrow from the bow. All his life was a series of plunges and scampers: darting after the beggar, dashing naked into the woods, tossing himself into the strange ship, hurling himself into the Sultan tent and offering to hurl himself into the fire. In appearance he must have been like a thin brown skeleton autumn leaf dancing eternally before the wind; but in truth it was he that was the wind.
St. Thomas was a huge heavy bull of a man, fat and slow and quiet; very mild and magnanimous but not very sociable; shy, even apart from the humility of holiness; and abstracted, even apart from his occasional and carefully concealed experiences of trance or ecstasy. St. Francis was so fiery and even fidgety that the ecclesiastics, before whom he appeared quite suddenly, thought he was a madman. St. Thomas was so stolid that the scholars, in the schools which he attended regularly, thought he was a dunce. Indeed, he was the sort of schoolboy, not unknown, who would much rather be thought a dunce than have his own dreams invaded, by more active or animated dunces. This external contrast extends to almost every point in the two personalities.
It was the paradox of St. Francis that while he was passionately fond of poems, he was rather distrustful of books. It was the outstanding fact about St. Thomas that he loved books and lived on books; that he lived the very life of the clerk or scholar in The Canterbury Tales, who would rather have a hundred books of Aristotle and his philosophy than any wealth the world could give him. When asked for what he thanked God most, he answered simply, "I have understood every page I ever read." St. Francis was very vivid in his poems and rather vague in his documents; St. Thomas devoted his whole life to documenting whole systems of Pagan and Christian literature; and occasionally wrote a hymn like a man taking a holiday. They saw the same problem from different angles, of simplicity and subtlety; St. Francis thought it would be enough to pour out his heart to the Mohammedans, to persuade them not to worship Mahound. St. Thomas bothered his head with every hair-splitting distinction and deduction, about the Absolute or the Accident, merely to prevent them from misunderstanding Aristotle. St. Francis was the son of a shopkeeper, or middle class trader; and while his whole life was a revolt against the mercantile life of his father, he retained none the less, something of the quickness and social adaptability which makes the market hum like a hive. In the common phrase, fond as he was of green fields, he did not let the grass grow under his feet. He was what American millionaires and gangsters call a live wire.
The sentiment that would carry Francis away and govern the founding of his religious order was, from the very first moment of his conversion, a delirious love for Christ. Not a contemplative love, which is satisfied with a perceptible, mental vision of the Savior, which dwells at length upon his words and his sufferings, but rather an active love. Of course, Francis habitually possessed that contemplative fervor, too, as all of his biographers assure us. Bonaventure writes: "He devoted such an ardent love to Christ, and his Beloved showed him in exchange such a familiar tenderness, that the servant of God had almost continually before his eyes the physical presence of his Savior."
And we find, in one of his prayers, the accents of all the great mystics: "Lord, I beg thee, let the burning, gentle power of thy love consume my soul and draw it far from everything that is under heaven, so that I may die for love of thy love, O thou who hast deigned to die for love of my love."
Furthermore, this is the desire that he expresses for Christians in general, in a sort of "encyclical letter" that he wrote entitled, "Letter to All the Faithful". To those who truly love Christ, he promises that they will be his spouses, his brethren, and his mothers:
We are spouses when the faithful soul is united to Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. We are his brethren when we do the will of his Father who is in heaven. We are his mothers when we bear him in our hearts and in our bodies through our love, through the purity and fidelity of our conscience, and when we give birth to him by the performance of good deeds, which should be a light and an example for others. Oh, how glorious and holy it is to have such a Father in heaven! Oh, how holy, beautiful and amiable it is to have a Spouse in the heavens! Oh, how holy and precious, pleasing and humble, peaceful and sweet, lovable and desirable a thing it is, surpassing all else, to have such a Brother!
We find the same accents in the writings of Clare, the perfect disciple of Francis, for instance, in a letter to Agnes of Bohemia, who had become the abbess of the convent in Prague:
Happy indeed is she to whom this is granted a place at the divine banquet, for she can cling with all her heart to him whose beauty eternally awes the blessed hosts of heaven; to him whose love gladdens, the contemplation of whom refreshes, whose generosity satisfies, whose gentleness delights, whose memory shines sweetly as the dawn; to him whose fragrance revives the dead, and whose glorious vision will render all the inhabitants of the heavenly Jerusalem blessed.
The 1221 rule had enshrined in its text the duty to belong to Jesus Christ:
Let us not desire anything else, let us not want anything else, let nothing please us or give us joy except our Creator, Redeemer, and Savior, the one true God, who is the fullness of Good, the complete and total Good, the venerable and supreme Good, who alone is good, merciful and kind; who alone is just, truthful and right; who alone is beneficent, innocent and pure; from whom, through whom, and in whom is found all pardon, all grace, all glory for the repentant and the just, and for all the blessed who rejoice with him in heaven.
With Christ, Francis could give free rein to his poetic sensibility. But poetry is not good form in a canonical document, and so that exhortation was deleted from the definitive rule.
Now the love of Christ compels the soul and draws it into a service which is preferential, exclusive, and unconditional. Saint Bonaventure could write, "One word sums up all of Francis: faithful servant of Christ." As a servant, he was entirely subject to his master, as called for in the prayer that concludes his "Letter to the General Chapter":
The Church soon begins the synod on the family, an Oct. 5-19 meeting at the Vatican of bishops from across the world who are discussing the meaning of family life in the contemporary world.
Accommodation to secular culture has been the dominant media theme surrounding the meeting. Will the Church change her teaching, her pastoral practice, her disciplines or processes? Will the Church endorse new ideas about family life? Or will she oppose the “progressive” march of Western culture?
Many of these questions are unreasonable — silly, really.
The purpose of the synod is not to change the Church’s teachings. The purpose is to understand family life more clearly, to support it more faithfully and to present it more robustly, more persuasively and more enthusiastically. The purpose of the synod is to witness to the rich beauty of Christian family life.
As a blueprint for this witness, the Church needs to look no further than Cardinal Gerhard Müller’s book TheHope of the Family. Cardinal Müller is the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — an expert and authority on the doctrinal teachings of the faith. He is also a pastor — for 10 years, he served as bishop of Regensburg, a beautiful Bavarian diocese that is a repository of Catholic life and culture.
In Hope of the Family, Cardinal Müller draws from his experience and insight to point to the needs of contemporary families, their role in the life of the Church and the beauty and richness they can offer to the world.
The book is written as an interview, in a style similar to Pope Benedict XVI’s famous Ratzinger Report. And it might be seen as a complement to that book — like the Ratzinger Report,Hope of the Family provides the honest and insightful evaluations of a thoughtful disciple of Jesus Christ.
As a matter of timing, the book is important. Published in anticipation of the synod, Hope of the Family offers a valuable resource for parents, pastors and for the bishops at the synod.
In substance, the book addresses several major topics. On the matter of doctrine, Cardinal Müller defends the unchanging teaching of the Church in a way that is palatable and persuasive. The faith, he says, cannot be “transformed into a new, politically correct civil religion, reduced to a few goals that are tolerated by the rest of society.”
All but ON HUMAN LIFE: Humanae Vitae are available now as e-books.
WHO – Ignatius Press, one of the largest religious publishers in the country, the primary English-language publisher of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s writings and the publisher of Catholic World Report.
WHEN – The e-books and resources page are available now, just in time for the Synod, which begins October 5 in Rome.
Tall and strong, with the appearance of a child, a tone of voice, an expression, hiding within her a wisdom, a perfection, a perspicacity of a fifty-year-old. . . . Little innocent thing, to whom one would give God without confession, but whose head is full of mischief to play on anyone she pleases. Mystic, comic, everything ... she can make you weep with devotion and just as easily split your sides with laughter during our recreations. (GC 2:778)
This is the most vivid portrait that has been preserved of her: it was that of her subprioress, when Thérèse was twenty years old. Is that enough to make her "the greatest saint of modern times"? We have the opportunity to avail ourselves of much testimony about her. In addition to the account of her life that she herself wrote, at twenty-two years of age and completed three months before her death, her sisters, her companions, left a series of interviews, sometimes noted day by day, that retain the sense of immediacy of television news. Through the (apparent) banality of these cartoon strips of piety, we always find the same reality: with Thérèse of Lisieux, we are with someone who, in the face of the two abysses that every man encounters, himself and God, has gone the limit, but while remaining our companion. Thérèse is indeed the human being faced with the abyss of freedom and the possibilities of choice-and faced with another abyss: that of an interlocutor called God (cf. pp. 30-31).
We are still at the dawn of the third great crisis of our civilization: it is no longer merely man confronted with his weakness (with the Greeks); no longer merely man confronted with his guilt (with Luther, at that tragic time for Europe, after the black plagues at the end of the Middle Ages); man today finds himself confronted with his solitude and with the desperate quest for a meaning to his life, confronted with the need to search for what would be an "authentic existence", "true life", which he fears never being able to enjoy. Among the innumerable witnesses that could be called to the stand in this interrogation, such as Rimbaud, Van Gogh, Dostoyevsky, Nietzsche, or Kundera, I have intentionally kept two cries, because they seem to express the question that was Thérèse's own: "Here is my oId anguish, right there in the hollow of my body, like a bad wound that every movement irritates; I know its name, it is the fear of eternal solitude. And I have the fear that there may not be any answer" (Camus).
I implored, I begged for a sign, I sent messages to the heavens: no response. The heavens do not even know my name. I wondered at every moment what I might be in the eyes of God. Now I knew the answer: Nothing. God does not see me, God does not know me, God does not hear me. You see this void over our heads? That is God. You see this hole in the earth? That is God. You see this opening in the door? That is God again. The silence is God. Absence is God. God is the solitude of men. 
Thérèse was familiar with this anguish:
When I want to rest my heart fatigued by the darkness which surrounds it by the memory of the luminous country after which I aspire, my torment redoubles; it seems to me that the darkness, borrowing the voice of sinners, says mockingly to me: "You are dreaming about the light, about a fatherland embalmed in the sweetest perfumes; you are dreaming about the eternal possession of the Creator of all these marvels; you believe that one day you will walk out of this fog which surrounds you! Advance, advance; rejoice in death which will give you not what you hope for but a night still more profound, the night of nothingness." (SS 213)
For years, Thérèse sought her place in society. She had, of course, entered Carmel, but she sought to explain to herself what the essence of it was for her. And one day, completely radiant, she wrote:
Martyrdom was the dream of my youth and this dream has grown with me within Carmel's cloisters. But here again, I feel that my dream is a folly, for I cannot confine myself to desiring one kind of martyrdom. . . . I opened the Epistles of St. Paul to find some kind of answer. Chapters 12 and 13 of the First Epistle to the Corinthians fell under my eyes. I read there, in the first of these chapters, that all cannot be apostles, prophets, doctors, etc. . . . The answer did not fulfill my desires. . . . I continued my reading, and the Apostle explains how all the most PERFECT gifts are nothing without LOVE... .
I finally had rest. . . . I understood that LOVE COMPRISED ALL VOCATIONS, THAT LOVE WAS EVERYTHING, THAT IT EMBRACED ALL TIMES AND ALL PLACES....
Then, in the excess of my delirious joy, I cried out: . . . MY VOCATION IS LOVE!" (SS 193-94)
She had chosen the feast of Pentecost 1887 to confide to her father her desire to enter Carmel: