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Katie van Schaijik

What’s wrong with defining love as an act of will?

Jul. 1 at 11:52am

What does it mean to love?

Well-catechized Catholics are typically ready with an answer to this question. "To love means to will and do the good." Travel a mile in Catholic circles, and every two or three minutes you will come across an article or talk or homily passionately proclaiming that "love isn't a feeling, it's an action."

I suppose I'm revealing something intimate about myself when I say I hate this. I hate it so much that hearing it makes me break out in spiritual hives. To refrain from getting mad at the one saying it, I have to quick remind myself: "He doesn't know any better; this is what everyone is taught. And—remember!— there's an important sense in which it's perfectly

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Marie Meaney

Dwarfing the Other

May. 26 at 1:55pm

Sin attempts to dwarf the other, sizes him down to the level I want him to be. If I gossip, the other simply becomes something to be gloated over, belittled, and judged. In anger, I try to strike him down, so that he is nothing more than my perception of him; in my eyes he is nothing but the despicable act or vice to which I have reduced him. I will lash out at him again, if he tries to find excuses or claims to be other than my view of him; only if his anger matches mine, might I have to back down and get to taste my own medicine.

That this feature of dwarfing the other is present in many kinds of sin, is something I was struck by when discussing Katie van Schaijik’s blog-post on

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Marie Meaney

“Boxing” Others

Feb. 17 at 1:35pm

I’m not speaking here of a boxing-match or of bullies who like beating up others. What I’m referring to is the widespread human temptation to put others into “boxes”. What makes this so terrible, and yet so tremendously tempting?

It can seem an innocent enough pastime. What I tell my spouse or mother, or what I talk about in the inner recesses of the family, won’t hurt anybody, right? I can trust my mother or spouse sufficiently that he or she won’t be going round, spreading the bad news about Aunt Emma’s character faults. Perhaps I can trust them, and neither of us will share this with other members of the family or let alone, God forbid, with Aunt Emma herself (nothing worse than having

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Marie Meaney

Some Reflections on the Spirit of Poverty

Aug. 22, 2013, at 10:34am

Not many are called to a voluntary life of absolute poverty such as St Francis of Assisi, or Mother Teresa and her sisters.  However, everybody is called to be in some respect poor with the poor in order to exercise true caritas on which, after all, we will be judged (Christ tells those who fed, clothed or helped him in some way in the poor, that they will go to Heaven,  while those who didn’t, are cast out). How are we supposed to reach the hungry, thirsty, the suffering, the psychologically wounded, and feed their hearts rather than just their bodies, if we are unable to meet them where they are?  The poor, of course, are not merely those who are in material want, but all those who are

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Katie van Schaijik

Alice von Hildebrand on love and suffering

Jun. 17, 2013, at 1:43pm

Alice von HIldebrand began visiting and speaking at Franciscan University when I was a junior there, in 1986. Her wise and witty words, uttered in that inimitable voice, spoke to my spirit at an unfamiliar depth and with a soul-unifying power.  Up till then, my experience had been that intellectual things were sometimes  interesting, but they didn't touch my heart. They didn't really rouse me; they didn't reach my self.  And emotional things, while absorbing in their drama and immediacy, lacked substance; they seemed rather unreliable and immature—dead-endish. Looking back, I see I was sort of stuck.

By her witness, the dilemma was resolved. The kind of truth that came to me through her

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Michael Healy

Guardini on Forgiveness

Dec. 6, 2012, at 10:09pm

Earlier this month my wife Maria pointed out to me a very beautiful paragraph on forgiveness by Romano Guardini included in one of the daily readings (Meditation for Nov. 12) in the November issue of Magnificat.  Remembering that I had the book (The Lord) in the basement, I searched it out to read further—from Chapter XIII. 

After reviewing the relevant line of the text of the Our Father and some commentary on it in Matt. 6:14-15 (But if you do not forgive men, neither will your father forgive you your offenses), Matt. 18: 21-2 (Forgive 70 times 7 times) and Matt 18: 35 (the story of the king settling accounts with the heartless servant who was forgiven but would not forgive a lesser

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Katie van Schaijik

Von Hildebrand’s view of love

Apr. 19, 2012, at 10:52am

One of the students in my courtship class has just brought to my attention a great primer on von Hildebrand's philosophy of love, happiness and sexuality, by his long-time student, colleague, and friend, William Marra, who died in 1998.

Dr. Marra, who taught philosophy at Fordham University for more than 40 years, had a winning warmth and down-to-earth simplicity and humor that are lamentably rare in philosophy professors.

Here are three paragraphs from the article, to give a taste.  But do read the whole thing, which convey the von HIldebrandian essence in an especially lively and accessible way.

Scattered throughout von Hildebrands works are many references to the great errors that

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Michael Healy

The World of Work and the World of Leisure

Mar. 26, 2012, at 7:29pm

“We work in order to have leisure,” says Aristotle.  By this statement, he does not wish to undermine the importance of the workplace and of accomplishing great things there.  All the practical necessities of our lives depend upon responsible people working hard to satisfy the basic needs of society: food, shelter, clothing, etc.  Christianity confirms the moral relevance of such concerns by labeling them the corporal works of mercy and says that to help the widow, feed the orphan, etc., is Christianity pure and undefiled. 

However, what Aristotle is insisting on—and it is good to be aware of it in today’s world with its tendency to view all things, even people, in a merely utilitarian

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Michael Healy

Forgiveness: What Completes It?  What Cripples It?

Jan. 21, 2012, at 9:10pm

As the title implies, I want to offer two thoughts on forgiveness.  

First, forgiveness is really not complete until the full trust of the love relationship is reestablished.  Thus there would seem to be two main stages or challenges to the process of forgiveness: 1) achieving (and extending) forgiveness in the first place for a serious wound or offense and then 2) achieving the rebuilding of the full bridge of mutual love and trust.  If you have forgiven a person or persons, but no longer rejoice in their presence the way you once did, no longer have an intimacy and openness with them as you once did,  keep them at arms’ length emotionally, much less if you do not want to even be with

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Katie van Schaijik

Practical wisdom about love

Nov. 10, 2011, at 10:12am

Last night the Personalist Project hosted a lecture in our home by Catholic psychologist and marriage counsellor, Dr. Peter Damgaard-Hansen, titled: "The art of loving your spouse, and what to do when you can't."  We'll be posting it soon for members.  

It was a treasure trove of deep practical wisdom.  One line among many that struck a chord with me was: "It's okay not to be able to love;  It's not okay to be unloving."

For me this resolves a difficulty I experience constantly, especially in parenting my children.  I often feel crushed by the weight of my responsibility toward them and sort of wail inwardly to God, "I can hardly be responsible for myself, morally--what were you thinking

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Katie van Schaijik

Is love not enough?

Sep. 24, 2010, at 12:39pm

Maggie Gallagher’s excellent National Organization for Marriage regularly sends subscribers a “marriage news” email comprised of links to recent articles about marriage. One in particular caught my eye today.

Here’s how it starts:

Putting the ‘hopeless’ in hopeless romantics, a new study of more than 1,400 spouses concludes that one of the flimsiest foundations for a marriage is, incredibly, love.

This sort of thing makes me crazy.
It goes on.

It seems a heretical claim to make at a time when two-thirds of the population believes in soulmates — those rom-com-anointed pairings viewed as “meant to be.” But researchers find marriages based on that ideal, although happy,

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Katie van Schaijik

Christian and Islamic visions of love

Feb. 15, 2010, at 11:48pm

On the eve of Valentine’s day I was at Notre Dame University, giving a talk on Catholic (courtship for the annual Edith Stein conference organized by students)—on conjugal love in the Catholic vision, and what it reveals about the nature and vocation of persons.
It is perhaps my favorite of all topics—the one that has been closest to my heart and most on my mind during the more than 20 years since I discovered philosophy through a course on the nature of love in my junior year in Steubenville. I’ve been mulling a book on the subject ever since. And yet, whenever I agree to give a talk, I find myself overwhelmed. There’s too much to say. Too much truth and beauty, too much

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Katie van Schaijik

Tocqueville’s definition of individualism

Aug. 10, 2009, at 1:13pm

An ISI-sponsored lecture by Berry College professor Peter Augustine Lawler has Alexis de Tocqueville defining individualism as a disease of the heart, involving “the mistaken judgment that love is more trouble than it’s worth.”
That’s very well put, is it not?
Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s free online audio library is a treasure trove.

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