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self-love

Self-love... is not so vile a sin As self-neglecting.

William Shakespeare

Henry V

Devra Torres

The Weary World Rejoices

Dec. 15 at 11:09pm

Happy belated Gaudete Sunday!

                                       

Here’s a quote brought to my attention by my, let’s see, brother-in-law’s brother. Thank you, John Herreid.

More than ever before the Lord today has made us conscious of the fact that he alone can save his Church. …We are called upon to work with all our might, without anxiety and with the composure of one who knows that he is a useless servant even when he has done his full duty. Even in this reference to our littleness, I see one of the graces of a difficult time. A time in which patience, that daily form of love, is called for.

--then-Cardinal Ratzinger, now Father Benedict (as I just found out he would prefer to be

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Katie van Schaijik

Random personal encounter

Dec. 10 at 4:32pm

I had a funny experience today at my weekly hour of adoration. There was a man in the chapel I'd never seen before. Sixty-something, grey-haired and bearded, he was a bit disheveled looking, with the red-rimmed eyes of illness or addiction. He looked at me with an intense, plaintive expression when I arrived. I smiled and said prayers for him, half expecting to be accosted for cash. (It's happened before at this chapel.)

At some points during my hour he and I were the only ones there, and I felt a little apprehensive. I thought he might be mentally ill. But he stayed in his pew, reading a book another woman gave him, watching people come and go, and quietly weeping. I said more prayers for

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Devra Torres

Assessment Run Amok

Dec. 7 at 10:06pm

When we started homeschooling, I was apprehensive about a good number of problems that turned out to be imaginary.

                                       

One was whether I’d enjoy my children's company if I were with them all day, every day. (I did: it turned out they were much more pleasant people when they weren’t in a state of chronic exhaustion.) Another was how on earth I’d find time for all the testing and quizzing I’d need to do to assess their learning. 

A week in, I abruptly stopped worrying about that one. To tell the truth, I now knew more than I wanted to about their strengths and weaknesses: more, even, than I’d learned in nine years as a parent who went to all the meetings

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Katie van Schaijik

Some power struggles are good and necessary

Dec. 4 at 2:18pm

Power struggles are a consequence of the fall in Eden. Human persons are meant to live as equals. Christians are called to give ourselves in love and service. The strong, in particular, are responsible to serve the weak, the rich the poor, the well the sick.

But it doesn't follow that all power struggles are wrong. Sometimes they are called for. Whenever someone takes what is ours by right, or usurps a prerogative, or treats us with condescenion instead of the respect we are due, we do well to resist him. To fail to resist may well be a fault of weakness or cowardice or sloth. Often its easier and more comfortable to put up with mistreatment than to fight it. But it's not okay. We ought to

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Devra Torres

The Banks and Beauty Parlors of Grandma Europe

Nov. 26 at 12:59am

I want to call your attention to a strikingly candid (but little-noted) address that Pope Francis gave to plenary assembly of the council of the bishops' conferences of Europe back on Oct. 3rd.

                                      

Do read the whole thing here. As Sandro Magister explains, this is not the prepared text: he distributed that but then said this:

What is happening today in Europe? What is going on in the heart of our mother Europe? Is she still our mother Europe, or grandma Europe? Is she still fertile? Has she fallen into sterility? Is she unable to give new life? 

...for one thing, this Europe has committed a few sins. We must say this with love: it has not wanted to

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Devra Torres

Who Cares What You Think?

Nov. 22 at 1:04pm

When I came home from college for the first time, my eyes were opened to just how strange my family was. Everything I had thought “that’s just the way it’s done” about had turned out to be just one option among many. Other people didn’t share my assumptions: In fact, some thought my family’s ways were just as bizarre and alien as I thought theirs were. Then I got home and saw my family through their eyes.

                                        

I should add that my college was just about as congenial to my upbringing as it was possible for an institution to be. And it was still a shock. This classmate was horrified by the way I forced the French toast down into the butter when we shared

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Katie van Schaijik

The problem with “consenting adults”

Nov. 21 at 9:46am

The operative ethical principle in our society seems to be: "Anything goes, provided there's no coercion. If it's between consulting adults, it's no one else's business."

I had a conversation with a Catholic libertarian friend along these lines not long ago, when I linked this article about how Sweden has managed to dramatically reduce prostitution by adjusting its laws to focus on the problem of the exploitation of women. The clients are punished by law; the prostitutes are offered help getting out of the "profession," if they want to. (It turns out that most do.) My friend was skeptical. As a Catholic, he thinks protitution is immoral, but as a libertarian he thinks that since it's

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Katie van Schaijik

Cutting ties

Nov. 19 at 10:02am

I've heard many Christians, including priests, teach that "we have to stay in relationship" and that "nothing is more important than unity." In other words, they hold that it's not okay to cut ties. To me, this seems manifestly false—out of accord with Scripture, Church teaching, and ordinary moral experience. 

At 17, I took a life-saving course, and learned that a drowning person has to be approached from behind, because he will instinctively treat his rescuer as a buoy, clutching at him in such a way that unless the rescuer quickly and aggressively disengages and swims away, both will drown. 

It's a good metaphor for certain relationships, isn't it? Unless we get out of them, we'll

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Jules van Schaijik

What would Newman say about the Synod?

Nov. 17 at 12:12pm

In a comment under my last post, Freda asks what John Henry Newman might have thought about the recent Synod on the Family in Rome. Specifically, she worries that some of the suggestions made by some of the bishops represent not  developments of what came before, but radical departures from it.

I will say a few things about Newman’s distinction between developments and corruptions of doctrine, but the thrust of what follows is a critique of the conservative critics of Pope Francis.  I draw heavily on Newman to formulate this critique, but I do not pretend speak for Newman. Rather, I turn to him for help and insight in clarifying and articulating my own thoughts.

If, then, some of the

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Devra Torres

Death with What? Brittany Maynard, Veterans Day, and the lure of the pseudo-obvious

Nov. 12 at 10:24pm

The suicide of Brittany Maynard, may she rest in peace, and her efforts to persuade others to follow suit, have brought on a lot of conversation about “death with dignity.”

                                    

Everybody has an opinion. But we'll get nowhere until we back up and address the question, “What do we even mean by dignity?”

Here are two common meanings that most people seem to have in mind (even if they're not pressed to articulate them).

  • According to the first definition, to do something with dignity means to have things under control. After all, it seems undignified to be out of control, at the mercy of events, of biology, of nature.
  • The second definition is related to the
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Katie van Schaijik

Why we need fraternity maybe even more than charity

Nov. 11 at 6:02pm

Pope Francis upset many on the political right a few months back, when he said that "inequality is the root of social evil." They took him to be calling for socialist-style wealth-redistribution. I heard something different. I heard a deeper (true) point about human relations. 

Since the fall in Eden, all human relations have been menaced by the master/slave dynamic. Instead of the "communion-of-love" that characterized our original way of being together, all of us are now constantly tempted to relate to each other according to power dynamics. The strong and rich are tempted to "lord it over" the weak and poor, and the weak and poor are tempted to slavishness and resentment.

Sometimes the

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Katie van Schaijik

One of love’s opposites: Contempt

Nov. 9 at 9:31am

Some fortunate souls have mystical experiences. I'm not one of them. But all my life I've been subject to profound "moral experiences"—occasions I can only describe as dramatic breakthroughs in my understanding. Some come very suddenly; others are more gradual. They are existential in character, by which I mean, they're not a simple resolution of an intellectual difficulty, but a kind of illumination of my life and self. They are always accompanied by pain—the searing pain of humiliation—of realizing I've been wrong, and in the wrong. That passing pain is soon followed by a a lasting sense of liberation and peace, and an awareness of interior gains. One of the most significant came several

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Devra Torres

The Trouble with Gurus

Nov. 9 at 12:33am

I used to be a serial guru follower. Not back when I was five or six and my parents were flirting with Eastern religions--I was just a mother-and-father follower in those days. Wherever they went, I followed (and they went all over the place, both geographically and religiously. Eventually we all became Catholic and stopped switching allegiances.).

                                  

No, I mean that as an adult, I used to search for gurus who would help me stay afloat as a child-rearer, a cook, a manager of money, a grownup human being. (Later I searched for homeschooling gurus and writing gurus.) At the tender age of 25 I abruptly became a homemaker (or began trying to); at 26, a mother.

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Katie van Schaijik

Interpreting the Pope through personalism

Nov. 5 at 10:35am

When an editor at the National Catholic Register asked me to write an article expanding on my short post about the Synod, I came up with a long list of Pope Francis's words and themes that strike me as conspicuously personalist. I wanted to show, pace the anxieties of the traditionalists, how consistent he is with his two great predecessors, and really with all the post-conciliar popes.

I only managed to develop one of those points: the emphasis on receptivity. I never got to the way he proposes love and service in place of the power dynamics of the fall; the way he focuses on the affirmation of the good as opposed to condemnation of the bad; I hardly mentioned the imagery of embodiment,

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Devra Torres

What’s at Stake

Nov. 2 at 10:46pm

Here’s the message I’ve been trying to get out for years, first of all to myself but also to anyone else who might benefit from it:

Just do whatever’s on your plate! Don’t get discouraged and cynical if you don’t see spectacular spiritual or intellectual progress. Live wholeheartedly in the moment. Age quod agis (Latin for, more or less, “Whatever it is you’re doing, really do it!”)! Don’t be discouraged or paralyzed by failure.

Your own real spiritual state is notoriously hard to get a handle on. Don’t concentrate on futile attempts to evaluate where you stand, as spouse, parent, Christian, or human being. You can’t save the world singlehandedly. In fact (what’s become clearer and

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Jules van Schaijik

Is all confusion evil? A Socratic thought.

Oct. 28 at 2:10pm

In response to a question after a recent lecture, Archbishop Chaput said about the Synod on the Family that “the public image that came across was one of confusion” and that “confusion is of the devil”. I think I understand what he means by this, and to some extent I agree.  However, there's another, more positive way of looking at it. Not all confusion is of the devil. Some confusion is even salutary—a necessary stage on the way to wisdom.

The point is made classically in Plato’s Meno. The dialogue begins with Meno confidently telling Socrates that he knows perfectly well what virtue is.

There is no difficulty about it… I have spoken about virtue hundreds of times, held forth often on

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Katie van Schaijik

The death of a priest and a personalist

Oct. 26 at 8:46am

A rare soul has left the world, Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete.

Msgr. Albacete was born Jan. 7, 1941, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He obtained a degree in physics, and after his ordination to the priesthood he earned a doctorate in theology at the Angelicum, officially known as the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas.

He served as the responsible for Communion and Liberation in the U.S. and Canada, and was chairman of board of advisors for Crossroads Cultural Center, a project which hosts events exploring the relationship between religion and culture.

He was also a co-founder of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family in Washington, D.C.

I've read several of his articles over the

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Devra Torres

“High-Quality Love”: Four Questions to Ask Yourself

Oct. 24 at 10:17pm

It’s been a few years since I translated Self-Esteem without Selfishness, and I’m finally able to read it with fresh eyes--for enjoyment, not false cognates and typos.

                                        

One recurring problem I encountered during the translating was how to render “amor de alta calidad.” “High-quality love” just didn’t cut it: in English, it sounded like I was describing merchandise, hawking a product—exactly what the author was not doing. In the end I found several more palatable ways to render the phrase.

But Fr. Michel Esparza has some strikingly perceptive observations about love. They touch on something we’ve discussed repeatedly here at the Personalist Project (

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Devra Torres

Factions

Oct. 20 at 11:39pm

The Synod is over!  The Synod is over! Relieved or dismayed, euphoric or alarmed, we can take a deep breath and relax. (No, not really: now it’s time to begin sifting through the results and preparing for the real Synod.)

                        

The commentary has ranged from distraught to elated, but one recurring idea is that it’s been good to get things hashed out: that it’s a good sign we haven’t settled for a bland, generic document-generating process. Over at Shoved to Them Rebecca Frech even has a post entitled “Why I’m grateful to Cardinal Kasper,” 

She argues that a rousing debate about important questions is a wholesome and necessary thing, recalling the words of her high school

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Devra Torres

The Synod: Caricature and Reality

Oct. 13 at 2:00pm

This is not a post about the Extraordinary Synod on the Family. You can learn about what’s actually going on there elsewhere. (Here’s Katie on Pope Francis’ opening remarks and here's the document that's causing today's uproar).

No, this post is about the caricature of the Synod, which you can all too easily bump into--by reading only headlines, or reading entire articles uncritically, or reading them critically but failing to consider the source.

                        

The caricature is this:

The centerpiece of the Synod is the fate of divorced and remarried Catholics, and the sole question at issue is: Justice or mercy? Will the Catholic Church finally relinquish its fixation on rules

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