To know we are loved, even when we have sinned, or when we are lukewarm, when we suffer, when we’re in darkness, when we are scandalized by the manner in which God chooses to work through his providence: that is not easy, it is the hardest thing there is. We don’t think often enough of this [difficulty], absorbed as we are in the contemplation of our own little attempts at love. Beyond that, there is all this problem of evil. And it is in the face of such evils and such appearances that we are loved.
René Voillaume (1905–2003)
It’s nice to hear stories about how the saints interacted with one another. Sometimes they do so as friends, sometimes as colleagues (in agreement or in disagreement), sometimes indeed as superiors and inferiors in life or in the work of God. One example of the latter is Saint Alphonsus, founder of the Redemptorists, and Saint Gerard, one of the first lay brothers in that congregation.
While under investigation for a crime he did not commit (and while being unjustly punished for it), Saint Gerard lived in the same house as his order’s founder. When walking along the corridor, they once ran into one another. Gerard paused and then said to Saint Alphonsus, his rector: “Your face is like the face of an angel. Every time I see it, I am consoled.”
(We can smile upon hearing this, I think!)
All in all this is rather the same thing they said of Saint Stephen, the first martyr: “And all who sat in the council looked intently at him, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel” (Acts 6:15). This inspires love in some, hatred in others. For Saint Gerard seeing Saint Alphonsus, he loved the holiness; for those who looked on Saint Stephen, they were agitated and fearful in their hearts. But no matter whether are hearts are disposed to love the good or to hate it, what we have, at the core, is the very transfiguration of the body – the taking up of the flesh deeper into the human spirit, animated more and more by the Holy Spirit.
Each Mass is, by means of the Cross of Christ, a great blessing, a silent explosion of love, a grand descent of God into the world in order to prevent it from perishing and to prevent evil from completely prevailing over the good. And in return, each Mass provokes, in a hidden part of the world, a response of love, which, by means of the Cross of Christ, ascends back up to God.
Charles Cardinal Journet (1891–1975)
We must admit that we have not yet succeeded in eradicating totally our feelings of superiority over other races. No, we have not rid ourselves of such feelings, even if we believe the contrary. We are not yet able to behave towards these others with the complete simplicity and openness due to human beings. We are ostentatious in our friendliness, which only reveals our underlying, unacknowledged feeling of superiority.
René Voillaume LBJ (1905–2003)
Those who remain silent are responsible.
Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross
What does this quote mean? In English, there’s a twofold possibility:
- Those who remain silent about their own goodness act responsibly.
- Those who remain silent about evil in the world share in culpability.
It is, in the original, the latter which is meant: Those who remain silent about evil in the world share in culpability.
Contemplation only means certain kinds of silence. Contemplation is totally incompatible with silence in the face of injustice, oppression, racial prejudice, economic injustice, or any form of social evil.