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Katie van Schaijik

A conversation with John F. Crosby

Jul. 28 at 11:07am

No single person has done more to shape our understanding of Christian personalism than our former professor, John F. Crosby. Last week he and his wife, Pia, visited us in New Hampshire, and he kindly agreed to sit down with me for a recorded conversation about personalism and phenomenology, von Hildebrand, Newman and Wojtyla.

One of the questions I asked had to do with von Hildebrand and Vatican II. Von Hildebrand is well-known for his passionate opposition to the liturgical abuses that followed in the wake of the Council. Less well-known is his profound influence on the substance of its teachings. 

Click here to hear the recording of his answer to that question.

(Sorry about our dog whining in the background!)

Members can listen to the full interview at the Member Feed.

Pia and John Crosby sitting at our kitchen table with Alice von Hildebrand.


Katie van Schaijik

A Benedictine way of philosophy

Jul. 12 at 4:38pm

July 11 is the Feast of St. Benedict, whose deservedly famous Rule is the basis of virtually all rules in all monastic orders to this day. I first learned about it from Alice von Hildebrand, who drew my attention to the affinity between Benedictine spirituality and the phenomenological method of philosophy her husband had espoused. The prologue to the Rule begins like this:

Listen carefully, my child,
to your master's precepts,
and incline the ear of your heart (Prov. 4:20)

It's the emphasis on listening that stands out, and then, a listening of the heart. Philosophy is all too often a construction of the mind. Clever thinkers elaborate theories. The aim of phenomenolgy, as Husserl

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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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Katie van Schaijik

Separating sex and love

Jul. 20, 2013, at 11:09am

Just now I was listening for a second time to the talk Jules gave yesterday morning in Steubenville on von Hildebrand's distinction between the primary "meaning of marriage", i.e. love, and the primary "end of marriage", i.e. children.  (I can't think of anything I'd rather do than listen to my beloved talk about marriage.)

Specifically, he tries to show that not only does this distinction not (as some critics charge) undercut the Church's teaching on the inseparability of sex and pro-creation, it deepens and enriches our grasp of that teaching, by drawing out and emphasizing the personal structure of conjugal relations.  

Spouses don't use each other to produce children. God doesn't use

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Katie van Schaijik

Tenderness and maturity

May. 7, 2013, at 3:11pm

The word tenderness seems to be in the air lately.  It's clearly a favorite of our new Pope's.  He used it in some of his earliest remarks as Pope. "Do not be afraid of tenderness." He mentioned it again several times today, in reflections on the First Letter of St. John and the sacrament of confession.

"The Lord is tender towards those who fear, to those who come to Him "and with tenderness," He always understands us”. He wants to gift us the peace that only He gives. " "This is what happens in the Sacrament of Reconciliation" even though "many times we think that going to confession is like going to the dry cleaner" to clean the dirt from our clothes...

It came up, too, in the last two

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Michael Healy

Misery and Genuine Hope

May. 21, 2012, at 10:21am

A fourth option for dealing with the miseries and pains of life is that of genuine hope.  How does this differ from mere optimism?  How does is compare to pessimism?  Well, it is an attempt to face the evils of life realistically while not succumbing to them as the last word (vs. pessimism); but, in order to do so, hope must break the bounds of just this world of space and time (vs. mere optimism) where “death comes as the end.”  Hope must find a genuine foundation on which to acknowledge misery without despair, but rather with a realistic possibility of breaking through to genuine happiness. 

That true foundation is ultimately the power and goodness of God; therefore, hope is based on

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Michael Healy

Misery and Pessimism

May. 13, 2012, at 6:58pm

Pessimism is an attempt at an “honest” solution to the problem of the miseries of life.  It tries to face squarely the reality of evil, pain, death, change, catastrophe, etc., and then offers a way to shield oneself from these inevitable facts of life by steeling oneself against them, not letting oneself be touched by them, by showing an enduring toughness and self-sufficiency in accepting them.  It espouses only a negative definition of happiness, relief from misery, without any positive components.  The problem with all this “realism” and “honesty” is the underlying assumption that evil, pain, and misery ultimately win out in life and in being.  But is this true?  Is it honest?  Is it

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Michael Healy

The Transcendent and the Practical Perspectives on LIfe—II

Apr. 25, 2012, at 3:55pm

Continuing our thoughts on how to experientially grasp or get a hold of this distinction between the transcendent and the practical in life, we will look at Josef Pieper’s next three examples of a transcendent perspective: love, death, and beauty.  As mentioned, this is from his book Leisure, the Basis of Culture. 

(4)  Love is certainly an experience that breaks through and revises our carefully laid out plans for ourselves.  It gives us new priorities and opens up new levels of our own life and being.  To quote a beautiful section from Von Hildebrand’s The Nature of Love

In every intense and complete love a person undergoes a certain awakening. I begin to live more authentically; a

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Michael Healy

Joy in the Midst of Sorrow

Feb. 26, 2012, at 5:36pm

In my recent post on the superficial treatment of sex on TV, I ended up expressing basically just the natural emotions of annoyance and disgust at the situation.  While valid, such responses are nonetheless inadequate from a Christian perspective.  As Dietrich von Hildebrand points out in his classic work Transformation in Christ, “supernatural life represents something radically new, apart from other new aspects it introduces, in that its fullness reveals certain vestiges of that coincidentia oppositorum—that union of apparently irreconcilable opposites—which is the privilege of divine life.”  In this case, the seeming opposites which the Christian is meant to combine are a deep sorrow

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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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Michael Healy

Patience is a Virtue

Jan. 13, 2012, at 10:24pm

Further Reflections after 35th Wedding Anniversary.  When I first read Von Hildebrand’s Transformation in Christ at age 21, I was immediately struck by the title of Chapter 12: “Holy Patience.”  The beauty and appropriateness of the conjunction of those two words have stayed with me ever since.  Von Hildebrand unfolds in the chapter that impatience is a form of self-indulgence and is rooted in an illegitimate claim to sovereignty of the self.  Patience, on the other hand, is opposed to all petulance and quarrelsomeness; it is also opposed to fickleness and inconstancy—e.g., if a task or goal seems to require commitment over a long period of time.  True patience recognizes the sovereignty

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Michael Healy

After 35th Wedding Anniversary: Reflections on Fidelity

Jan. 8, 2012, at 6:13pm

Fidelity, faithfulness, constancy—these words imply an entire worldview or personal orientation toward reality.  In classical times, such words also implied strength and virtue, something to be celebrated.  In modern times, unfortunately, fidelity is sometimes ridiculed, as if fruitlessly binding me to a reality which is no more, e.g., in Engelbert Humperdinck’s ‘60’s pop hit Release Me, wherein the crooner, pining for a divorce, sings “to waste our lives would be a sin, so release me and let me love again.”

However, Gabriel Marcel, in his chapter on “Obedience and Fidelity” in Homo Viator, as well is in a separate article on “Creative Fidelity” from the book of the same name, points out

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Jules van Schaijik

Bonhoeffer II: on the objectivity of marriage

Jan. 5, 2012, at 1:09pm

A few weeks ago, before the Christmas break, Katie put up a post about the personalist emphases in Dietrich Bonhoeffer's famous wedding sermon. Now that the break is over and some peace has returned to our home, I would like to draw attention to another great thought in that sermon, which has to do with the liberating and strengthening objectivity of marriage.

Nowadays marriage is frequently thought of simply as a mutual promise between two persons, a promise made in public (often before God) and confirmed in law. As such it is the outgrowth and natural fulfillment of a deep I-Thou relation between a man and a woman. It is the deliberate ratification, one might say, of that relation. And

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Jules van Schaijik

True simplicity

Nov. 12, 2011, at 1:35pm

Steve Jobs, whose genius I've long admired and whose biography I've been listening to lately, was well known for his desire to simplify products and make them more user friendly. (There is a friendly and funny spoof on this, by the Onion.) "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication," Apple's first brochure proclaimed. But simple is not to be confused with simplistic. True simplicity, Jobs knew, comes "from conquering complexities, not ignoring them."

This put me in mind of a chapter on "True Simplicity" in Dietrich von Hildebrand's classic work, Transformation in Christa context about as far removed from computers as can be imagined. Von Hildebrand makes a similar distinction within the

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