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A Word of Caution

Few statements are true in all respects or for all plausible interpretations. This is especially true of interesting or significant statements and arises from the vague and ambiguous nature of language. The only way we know of surmounting this problem is to look for proportion in a set of statements or ideas. To this end quotes and aphorisms have been grouped into sets of two, three or more. Successive items within each set have then been connected with an italicized word or phrase which suggests a relationship.


Table of Contents

God . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Life. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4

Knowledge. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5

God's Permissive Will. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

Misfortune . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7

Evil . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8

Suffering. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9

Neurosis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11

Religion & Happiness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12

Grace. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16

Faith. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17

Prayer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19

Petitionary Prayer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24

Contemplation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25

The World. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26

The Body . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28

The Senses. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32

Charity. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .33

Virtue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .39

Humility . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43

Humility & Pride . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .46

Prudence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47

Scandal. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52

Fear of the Lord . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64

Sin. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .65

Pride. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66

Judgement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67

Hell . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68

Heaven & Hell. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .71

Heaven. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72

Sanctity. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73

Evangelization. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .74

Apologetics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .82



Be merciful, then, as your Father is merciful. Judge nobody, and you will not be judged; condemn nobody, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven.

Luke 6:36-37

You set yourselves up to judge, after your earthly fashion; I do not set myself up to judge anybody. And what if I should judge? My judgement is judgement indeed; it is not I alone, my Father who sent me is with me.

John 8:15-17

If you want Divine Justice, you will get Divine Justice. The soul gets exactly what it expects of God.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux



I am the vine, you are its branches; if a man lives on in me, and I in him, then he will yield abundant fruit; separated from me, you have no power to do anything. If a man does not live on in me, he can only be like the branch that is cast off and withers away.

John 15:5-6

There is but one good; that is God. Everything else is good when it looks to Him and bad when it turns from Him. And the higher and mightier it is in the natural order, the more demoniac it will be if it rebels.

C. S. Lewis



You are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Matt 5:48

If a man gives so much as a draught of cold water to one of the least of these here, because he is a disciple of mine, I promise you, he shall not miss his reward.

Matt 10:42

The Scottish mystic George MacDonald said that God was easy to please and hard to satisfy.



Only the spirit gives life. The flesh is of no avail.

Jesus of Nazareth

The food, the sex, the books, the music, the conversation, the friendship in which we thought enjoyment resided will betray us if we put our trust in these things. The enjoyment wasn't in them, it only came through them.

Facts as facts do not always create a spirit of reality, because reality is a spirit.

G. K. Chesterton



Beware you are not swallowed up in books! An ounce of love is worth a pound of knowledge.

John Wesley

Ignorance is the curse of God,
Knowledge the wing wherewith we fly to heaven.

II Henry VI

Eternal life is knowing thee, who art the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

John 17:1-4



Woe to the world, for the hurt done to consciences! It must needs be that such hurt should come, but woe to the man through whom it comes!

Matt 18:7

Any conception of reality which a sane mind can admit must favour some of its wishes and frustrate others.

C. S. Lewis

I defy anyone to imagine an environment more exquisitely designed to provide us with opportunities for spiritual growth than this life of ours.

M. Scott Peck



What of those eighteen men on whom the tower fell in Siloe, and killed them; do you suppose that there was a heavier account against them, than against any others who then dwelt at Jerusalem? I tell you it was not so.

Luke 13:4-5

Whereupon his disciples asked him, Master, was this man guilty of sin, or was it his parents, that he should have been born blind? Neither he nor his parents were guilty, Jesus answered; it was so that God's action might declare itself in him.

John 9:1-4

The one thing that would make suffering intolerable would be the thought that it was systematically inflicted upon sinners. On the other hand, the doctrine which makes it most endurable is exactly the opposite doctrine, that suffering may be a strange honour and not a vulgar punishment; that the King may be conferring a decoration when he pins the man on the cross, as much as when he pins the cross on the man.

G. K. Chesterton



There is no uncreated being except God. God has no opposite. No being could attain a "perfect badness" opposite to the perfect goodness of God; for when you have taken away every kind of good thing (intelligence, will, memory, energy, and existence itself) there would be none of him left.

C. S. Lewis

Evil has no capital of its own. It is a parasite on goodness.

Fulton Sheen



He is not worthy of me, that does not take up his cross and follow me.

Matt 10:36-39

Nothing really good can be accomplished without genuine suffering. The higher the achievement, the higher the price. There is no greater thing than sanctity, and therefore one must be ready to pay the highest price.

To suppose that God would admit to His close friendship pleasure-loving people who want to be free from all trials is ridiculous.

St. Teresa of Avila



Human dignity consists in the role we must play in our own perfection. Taking a role in our own self-completion is the highest expression of our creativity.

Michel Quoist

Man cannot remake himself without suffering. For he is both the marble and the sculptor.

Alexis Carrel



A great many saints showed, what we would call, neurotic symptoms at the start of their quest for God.

Neurosis is what one might call suppressed ambition, a state of worry because we are so anxious to succeed. Almost all the great psychologists would agree that neurosis is a certain symptom of self-centredness. The more self- centred, the more neurotic because the will for power is so very great. Ambition to succeed, deep down in your heart, will produce neurosis when it is blocked by outside impediments.

Bernard Basset S.J.

When it comes to knowing God, the initiative lies on His side. If He does not show Himself, nothing you can do will enable you to find Him. And, in fact, He shows much more of Himself to some people than to others–not because He has favourites, but because it is impossible for Him to show Himself to a man whose whole mind and character are in the wrong condition.

C. S. Lewis



So you see we're a mixed family religiously. Brideshead and Cordelia are both fervent Catholics; he's miserable, she's bird-happy; Julia and I are half-heathen; I'm happy, I rather think Julia isn't; Mummy is popularly believed to be a saint and Papa is excommunicated–and I wouldn't know which of them was happy. Anyway, however you look at it, happiness doesn't seem to have much to do with it, and that's all I want.

(Sebastian describing his family to a
friend in the novel Brideshead Revisited)

Religion does not care whether a man is happy; it only cares whether he is alive.

G. K. Chesterton

We find by experience that there is no good applying to Heaven for earthly comfort. Heaven can give heavenly comfort; no other kind.

C. S. Lewis



You are unhappy? Think: there must be an obstacle between God and me. You will seldom be wrong.

Monsignor Escriv 

Religious mania is, perhaps, the most painful form of lunacy; we go mad over the very cure which should set us free. And I would say that most religious lunacy is caused by a wrong notion about Our Lord.

Bernard Basset S.J.



St. Teresa, as she grew older, became more gentle; more tolerant both of others and of herself. In her youth there had been traces of something that comes nearer to Stoicism than Christianity, a straining and forcing of the personality that certainly contributed to her illness. As the years went by she became increasingly more ready to accept herself as she was–in all that was not sin.

Elizabeth Hamilton

Self-knowledge is the one and only way that one can begin to face religious reality. We will never conquer fear, never pray with ease, never enjoy life or attain self-fulfilment until we are familiar with our own spiritual equipment. The Greeks recognized this need and, over the entrance to Apollo's temple in ancient Delphi, they placed the inscription "Know thyself."



Hereupon Peter said, And what of us? we have forsaken all that was ours, and followed thee. Jesus said to them, I promise you, everyone who has forsaken home, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children for the sake of the kingdom of God, will receive in this present world, many times their worth, and in the world to come, everlasting life.

Luke 18:28-30

If you've set your sights on the Kingdom of God you must not expect to live a charmed life. On the other hand, an unfulfilled life is not such a good sign either.

You will achieve definitive self-fulfilment only in the next life.

Michel Quoist



Nobody can come to me unless he has received the gift from my Father.

John 6:66

Grace is a participation in the nature and life of God.

Grace does not destroy nature, but purifies and builds upon it. This means that grace generally respects abilities, talents and natural inclinations. For example, grace will no more make a person who doesn't care for thinking a clear thinker, than it will make a person who doesn't care for exercise physically fit.



Believe in God and you will have to face hours when it seems obvious that this material world is the only reality; disbelieve in Him and you must face hours when this material world seems to shout at you that it is not all. No conviction, religious or irreligious, will, of itself, end once and for all this fifth-columnist in the soul. Only the practice of Faith resulting in the habit of Faith will gradually do that.

I define Faith as the power of continuing to believe what we once honestly thought to be true until cogent reasons for honestly changing our minds are brought before us.

C. S. Lewis



If human life is in fact ordered by a beneficent being whose knowledge of our real needs and of the way in which they can be satisfied infinitely exceeds our own, we must expect a priori that His operations will often appear to us far from beneficent and far from wise, and that it will be our highest prudence to give Him our confidence in spite of this.

C. S. Lewis

The trusting dependence on the word of another is what faith finally means.

Faith begins as an experiment and ends as an experience.

W. R. Inge



St. Teresa of Avila speaks of prayer as a loving conversation with God, yet one in which words are not an essential. As she well knew, in sickness or distress of mind, not only words but thought may become impossible.

The wish to pray is a prayer in itself.

Georges Bernanos

Prayer is a turning to God.

Michel Quoist

Prayer is religion in act; that is, prayer is real religion. Religion is nothing if it be not the vital act by which the entire mind seeks to save itself by clinging to the principle from which it draws its life.

William James



As a young woman St. Teresa of Avila used to watch the nuns at their prayers, and was impressed if she saw one of them weeping. Mistaking emotion for religion, she imagined this to be a sign of virtue and felt guilty because she could read the whole of the Passion without shedding a tear.

Without a special grace one won't feel anything in prayer. Emotion is situated on the sense level, but in prayer one puts oneself in the presence of One who is beyond sense experience. To really enter upon the way of prayer one has to renounce mere human reasoning and mere human feeling. The reason why so many people give up prayer is because they can't give up the merely human.

We tend to think of prayer, in spite of ourselves, in terms of profit and loss.

Michel Quoist



Any number of holy people have praised the use of some mental recon-structions but, in dealing with the world of spirit, these prove very fatiguing and inaccurate. In my old age, I am beginning to wonder whether thought itself is so important in prayer. Perhaps we try to think too much.

Broadly speaking, the more you think, the more you think about yourself. I would say that all scruples, fears, religious mania, melancholy, hatred and impurity are based on the inability to control our thoughts. This is the supreme form of self-centredness. The more you love God and copy Christ, the more you will stop yourself thinking about yourself.

There are many Christians who love God, love their neighbour, say their prayers, receive the sacraments, practice certain devotions, and yet fail dismally in one important area: they can't control their thoughts.



Experience taught St. Teresa of Avila that the most powerful and acceptable prayer is that which leaves the best effects–prayer, in short, which leads to action.

What a man takes in by contemplation he must pour out in love.




Keep watch, then, praying at all times, so that you may be found worthy to come safe through all that lies before you, and stand erect to meet the presence of the Son of Man.

Luke 21:36

St. Teresa's friend, St. Peter of Alcantara, compared us at prayer with soldiers keeping guard outside the palace gates. If the King comes out we feel rewarded; if not, we are quite content to wait and watch.

Just when I need them, lights, hitherto unseen, break in upon me. As a rule, it is not during prayer that this happens, but in the midst of my daily duties.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux



Believe me, you have only to make any request of the Father in my name, and he will grant it to you. Until now, you have not been making any requests in my name; make them, and they will be granted, to bring you gladness in full measure.

John 16:23-24

In another sense there is much truth in the schoolboy's principle "them as asks shan't have."

C. S. Lewis

There are more tears shed over answered prayers than over unanswered ones.

St. Teresa of Avila

God punishes us mildly by ignoring our prayers and severely by answering them.

Richard J. Needham



True spirituality has its basis in moral life, which in turn is based on contem-plation.

Fulton Sheen

The mystic in us should surpass the moralist. It's not a matter of ignoring the moral virtues, but not becoming entangled in them.

I knew nothing of evil, so I was afraid to meet it. I had not yet discovered that nothing can be "unclean for those who have clean hearts," and that a simple, virtuous soul sees evil in nothing, for evil exists not in things but in corrupt hearts.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux



An almost forgotten truth, even among some practising Christians, is that it's never the physical world, but only the spirit of the world that is evil. Therefore the soul must detach itself from the spirit of the world.

Fulton Sheen

I am not asking that thou shouldst take them [his apostles] out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them clear of what is evil. They do not belong to the world, as I, too, do not belong to the world.

John 17:15-16

The Catholic ideal is to order the whole of life towards unity, not by the denial and destruction of the natural human values, but by bringing them into living relation with spiritual truth and spiritual reality.

Christopher Dawson

The restoration or recreation of humanity and all material creation through the incarnation and the redemption is the essential doctrine of Catholicism.



All the things of this world are no more than dirt. Place them in a heap under your feet and you'll be so much nearer to heaven.

Monsignor Escriv 

Aristotle, says St. Thomas, refuses to withdraw from the realities present to the senses, and St. Thomas himself emphatically accepted this principle. Those things which can be seen, heard, tasted, smelled, and touched, are to be taken as realities in their own right–not as mere reflections, shadows or symbols of something invisible, spiritual, otherworldly.

According to Aquinas it is too little to say that everything is good because it exists, or because God created it. Rather, it should be put this way: because the being of the world participates in the divine being which pervades it to its innermost core, the world is not only a good world; it is in a very precise sense holy.



I find distasteful the traditional idea of Christianity which preaches the resurrection of the body. Frankly, I see my body as more of a limitation than a virtue, and I will be glad to be free of it rather than having to continue to cart it around. I prefer to believe that souls can exist independently from bodies.

M. Scott Peck

The fact that we have bodies is the oldest joke there is. It is a continual demonstration of the truth that we are composite creatures, rational animals, akin on one side to the angels, on the other to tom-cats.

It is a bad thing not to be able to take a joke. Worse, not to take a divine joke; made, I grant you, at our expense, but also for our endless benefit.

C. S. Lewis



Say to your body: "I would rather keep you in slavery than be myself your slave."

Monsignor Escriv 

If man attempts to suppress the animal side of his nature by a sheer effort of conscious will, nature finds a hundred unexpected and unpleasant ways to take its revenge.

Christopher Dawson

Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul.

Oscar Wilde



The worst result of popular evolutionism has been this. It has substituted the Beast for the Devil. It has made us think that our enemy is what they call our "lower nature", which means our mere lusts and appetites, things entirely innocent in themselves.

Pigs are not corrupted with Imperialism. Tigers have no spiritual pride. Whales never sneer. Crocodiles are not in the least hypocritical. The worst sins of all are the purely spiritual sins. You may move upwards, working out the brute, and not work them out in the least. Indeed, you may work them in. The less beastly you grow, the more bad you may grow.

G. K. Chesterton



The choicest morsel, if eaten by a pig, turns–to put it bluntly–into pig's meant. Let us be angels, so as to dignify the ideas we assimilate... But, let us not be beasts, like so many, so very many!

Monsignor Escriv 

Man is neither angel nor beast, and it is unfortunately the case that anyone trying to act the angel acts the beast.


Refuting the thesis `the real man is the spiritual soul', Aquinas replies, `The soul united to the body is more like God than the soul separated from the body because it possesses its own nature more perfectly.' It is an answer that is by no means easily digested, for it implies not only that man is corporeal, but that in a certain sense, even the soul is corporeal.

Josef Pieper



According to Aquinas sensuality is good–so much so that Thomas calls "unsensuality" not merely a defect, but a moral deficiency.

Thanks to St. Thomas' utter fidelity to his thesis of the goodness of all created things, there is not the slightest trace of the narrowness, pettiness, and unnaturalness so common to moralistic tracts.



We love things because they are lovable; with God it is the other way round: things become lovable because he loves them.

There is something in each of us that cannot be naturally loved. It is no one's fault if they do not so love it. Only the lovable can be naturally loved. You might as well ask people to like the taste of rotten bread or the sound of a mechanical drill.

C. S. Lewis

Genuine love is volitional rather than emotional.

M. Scott Peck



Unless you make a daily effort to see the world as God sees it, you will never get beyond mere appearances.

Michel Quoist

Human beings judge one another by their external actions. God judges them by their moral choices. When a man who has been perverted from his youth and taught that cruelty is the right thing, does some tiny little kindness, or refrains from some cruelty he might have committed, and thereby, perhaps, risks being sneered at by his companions, he may, in God's eyes, be doing more than you and I would do if we gave up life itself for a friend.

C. S. Lewis

Charity is a reverent agnosticism towards the complexity of the soul.

G. K. Chesterton



The measure in which you give is the measure in which you will be repaid, and more will be given you besides. If a man is rich, gifts will be made to him; if he is poor, even the little he has will be taken away from him.

Mark 4:24-25

Poverty of goods is easily cured; poverty of soul, impossible.




God is a community of persons and He has created you in His image, not as an isolated individual, but as a person whom He has invited to a communal life with Himself and with the whole human family.

Michel Quoist

A man's greatness is to be measured by his capacity for communion with others.

Michel Quoist



Love is essentially the gift of oneself to another and to others.

The motto of hell is, `I am my own.'



The theological virtue of charity is the mysterious power, communicated by grace, to love as God loves.

Michel Quoist

And now I say to you who are listening to me, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you; bless those who curse you, and pray for those who treat you insultingly.

Luke 6:27-32

I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no hurt, but only more love.

Mother Teresa



According to Aquinas we must define a thing not by its ultimate principle, but by the proximate one; and therefore the answer to the question, "What is the essence of virtue?" is not "Doing the will of God" but "Doing what is consonant with insight and appropriate to the situation."

It is extraordinarily easy for us to convince ourselves that God wants us to do what we are doing.

How can God save us from the consequences of our imprudence without interfering with our freedom?



Make no mistake: if you are really going to try to meet all the demands made on the natural self, it will not have enough left over to live on. The more you obey your conscience, the more your conscience will demand of you. And your natural self, which is thus being starved and hampered and worried at every turn, will get angrier and angrier.

In the end, you will either give up trying to be good, or else become one of those people who, as they say, `live for others' but always in a discontented, grumbling way–always wondering why the others do not notice it more and always making a martyr of yourself. And once you have become that you will be a far greater pest to anyone who has to live with you than you would have been if you had remained frankly selfish.

C. S. Lewis

Christ says `Give me All. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don't want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked–the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.'

"Is it easy to love God?" asks an old author. "It is easy," he replies, "to those who do it."



Virtue does not consist so much in abstaining from vice, as in not having an affection for it.

Sanctity or virtue in a heroic degree means not only right conduct, but a considerable habit of control over those springs of conduct. Such a habit of control isn't a common achievement in the lives even of good men and women.



St. Thomas held that if love were to be so perfect that the difficulty vanished altogether it would be more virtuous still.

If virtue were its own reward, it would no longer be a human quality, but supernatural.




Man must learn to think of himself as a limited and dependent being, and only suffering teaches him this.

Simone Weil

Day after day harsh experience proves to us that we do not have the physical, mental and moral energy which we absolutely need to carry out our purposes and accomplish our desires.

Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself.

St. Francis de Sales



With the removal of all question of merit or payment, the soul is suddenly released for incredible adventures and rewards. If we ask an ordinary person how much he merits, he becomes hesitant and instinctively modest. It is doubtful whether he merits six feet of earth.

But if we ask him what he'll take or what he's capable of enjoying–the sky's the limit. This gay humility, this holding of ourselves lightly and yet ready for an endless string of unmerited rewards, is the secret of humility, a secret that is almost too simple to grasp. In fact humility is so advantageous and practical a virtue that people suspect it must be a vice.

Humility is mistaken for a vice all the more easily because it generally goes with a certain simple love of splendour which amounts to vanity. Humility will always, by preference, go clad in scarlet and gold; pride is that which refuses to let gold and scarlet impress it or please it too much.

G. K. Chesterton



I tell you truthfully, the man who does not welcome the kingdom of God like a child, will never enter into it.

Mark 10:15

Simplicity of character is no hindrance to subtlety of intellect.

The only simplicity that matters is the simplicity of the heart.

G. K. Chesterton



The humble man neither praises nor belittles himself. Underestimation can be as false as overestimation.

Perfect humility dispenses with modesty.

C. S. Lewis

Humility is not renunciation of pride but substitution of one pride for another.

Eric Hoffer

Pride consists in a man making his personality the only test, instead of making the truth the test. It is not pride to wish to do well, or even to look well, according to a real test. It is pride to think that a thing looks ill, because it does not look like something characteristic of oneself.

G. K. Chesterton



Whenever a man does a thoroughly stupid thing, it is always from the noblest motives.

Oscar Wilde

St Thérèse of Lisieux found the long damp winters of Normandy a great trial, thanks partly to a delicate constitution and partly to an unheated cell with only two thin blankets for her straw mattress. If, from the beginning, she had told the Novice Mistress, a remedy would at once have been provided, but she preferred to accept this stern penance without uttering a complaint.

Though in her spirit of generosity she had embraced this austere penance with joy, she subsequently made known with due respect that such excessive suffering, though permitted by God, was not willed by Him, and that in future it would be well to guard against it...that to act otherwise was to sin against prudence and to tempt God.

Though God has commanded us to love Him with all our strength and with all our mind and with all our heart and soul, at the same time His Goodness never meant us to go so far in our exuberance that we impair or ruin our health... All virtue lies in the happy medium... We could have too little or no love for God... or an over-zealous love too excessive for our natures.

St. Vincent de Paul



Religion is the one force that is stronger than self-interest and sensuality, that is capable of transforming human nature and altering the course of history. The danger of religion is not that it is too weak or too abstract to affect human conduct, but rather that it is so absolute and uncompromising that nature is overwhelmed and crushed.

Christopher Dawson

St. Teresa of Avila advised her brother Lorenzo, `Remember that we middle-aged people need to treat our bodies well, so as not to wreck the spirit,' and when Lorenzo took a notion that he ought to meditate on hell she told him, `Don't!'



Detach yourself from creatures until you are stripped of them. For the devil, says Pope St. Gregory, has nothing of his own in this world, and he goes into battle naked. If you are "clothed" when you fight with him, you'll soon be pulled down to the ground, because he will have something to grab on to.

Monsignor Escriv 

There is no getting beyond a thing without first getting as far.

C. S. Lewis

It is dangerous to press upon a man the duty of getting beyond earthly love when his real difficulty lies in getting so far. It is easy enough to love the fellow-creature less and to imagine that this is happening because we are learning to love God more.

C. S. Lewis



Do everything unselfishly, for pure love, as if there were neither reward nor punishment. But in your heart foster the glorious hope of heaven.

Monsignor Escriv 

To act from pure benevolence is not possible for finite beings. Human benevolence is always mingled with vanity, interest or some other motive.

Samuel Johnson

Despair is the price one pays for setting oneself an impossible aim.

Graham Greene



You can't love God too much, but you can be too religious–or, at least, too overtly religious.

But do thou, at thy times of fasting, anoint thy head and wash thy face, so that thy fast may not be known to men, but to thy Father who dwells in secret; and then thy Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward thee.

Matt 6:17-18



He who is too busy doing good finds no time to be good.

Rabindranath Tagore

The doer of good deeds can have a complex set of motivations. Underlying the act of generosity there can be a need for approval, and sometimes even a need to exercise power, even spiritual power, over others.

Jean Vanier



The saint is undoubtedly the best argument for the truth of the Christian religion. But saints are severely rationed, and even if the rest of us can't exude sanctity we can at least exude sense.

Arnold Lunn

We should judge ourselves as Christians by the amount of sanity which we show before the world.

Bernard Basset S.J.



I have still much to say to you, but it is beyond your reach as yet. It will be for him, the truth-giving Spirit, when he comes, to guide you into all truth.

John 16:13

Whenever you find any statement in Christian writings which you can make nothing of, do not worry. Leave it alone. There will come a day, perhaps years later, when you suddenly see what it meant. If one could understand it now, it would only do one harm.

C. S. Lewis

Love, to be true, has to hurt.

Mother Teresa

I was drawn to suffering. It had about it a charm which delighted me, though I didn't really understand much about this charm, for until then I had suffered without loving suffering. But from that day I felt a deep, true love for it.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux



There is a story about a schoolboy who was asked what he thought God was like. He replied that, as far as he could make out, God was "the sort of person who is always snooping round to see if anyone is enjoying himself and then trying to stop it."

There is a justifiable reaction against a type of religion which imposed rigid restrictions on any kind of rational enjoyment, while it left men free to exploit one another and to make life hideous in the race for wealth.

Christopher Dawson



One common effect of a religious conversion is to narrow the range of interest in everything outside religion.

The combination of a lazy mind and a devotion to the religious life usually produces narrowness as a byproduct.



The most important trait in determining a person's attractiveness is the degree of their negativity. The more negative, the less attractive. The same holds true for belief systems.

The happiness of us poor men, even when it has supernatural motives, always leaves a bitter aftertaste. What did you expect? Here on earth, suffering is the salt of our life.

Monsignor Escriv 

The pleasure of the moment begins to wither almost as soon as it blossoms; our pleasures are soon swallowed up in time's relentless torrent.

Michel Quoist

The body of man is a limitation. Only the spirit opens onto the infinite.

Michel Quoist



Observe how the greatest minds yield in some degree to the superstitions of their age.

Henry David Thoreau

Thomas Aquinas, too, apparently could not raise himself above his times. In the Summa Theologica he poses the question of whether heretics can be endured, tolerated. And his answer is that heretics can not be tolerated. If it was just to condemn counterfeiters to death, then surely it was necessary to put to death those who had committed the far worse crime of counterfeiting the faith.

The moral blindness, in certain respects, of even the holiest people should never be cause for surprise.

It's a sign of maturity not to be scandalized.

Flannery O'Connor



If, to save an earthly life, it is praiseworthy to use force to keep a man from committing suicide, are we not allowed to use the same coercion–"holy coercion"–in order to save the Lives (with a capital) of so many who are stupidly bent on killing their souls?

Monsignor Escriv 

A God all mercy is a God unjust.

No hell, no dignity.

Flannery O'Connor

I hold it to be the inalienable right of anybody to go to hell in his own way.

Robert Frost



I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forego their use.


Where religion is concerned many people suppress their critical intelligence.

I believe the Bible is the infallible word of God and every word in it, cover to cover, is true.

Stockwell Day

(politician & Bible Christian)



King David and King Solomon
Led merry, merry lives,
With many, many lady friends,
And many, many wives;
But when old age crept over them –
With many, many qualms! –
King Solomon wrote the Proverbs
And King David wrote the Psalms.

Things do look so very much as if our whole faith were a substitute for the real well-being we have failed to achieve on earth. After all, we do not usually think much about the next world till our hopes in this have been pretty well flattened out–and when they are revived we not infrequently abandon our religion.

C. S. Lewis



God is tolerant, man is not tolerant; Omniscience pardons, frailty is inexorable.

Sidney Smith

Self-righteousness is the inevitable fruit of simple moral judgments.

Reinhold Niebuhr

In a televised interview Rev. Donald Spitz commented on the murder of a receptionist at an abortion clinic as follows: "Why is the life of a receptionist worth more than the lives of fifty innocent human babies. They were guilty. They had blood on their hands. I'll be honest. If they died without accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour in that split second before they died they are in hell now, and they'll remain there for eternity."



The theological point of view does not consider fire "as such," insofar as it is fire, but insofar as it is in some sense referred to God. Such denaturalization of the natural world sooner or later has to become intolerable; it is simply impossible to live a healthy and human life in a world populated exclusively by symbols.

When a thing is pushed to its extreme, it moves to its opposite.

The theology of the Eastern Church is emphatically unworldly, and it is precisely within the sphere of influence of this form of Christianity that the most thoroughgoing form of secularism in history has arisen.



If you were to obey the impulse of your heart and the dictates of reason, you would always lie flat on the ground, prostrate, a vile worm, ugly and miserable in the sight of God who puts up with so much from you!

Monsignor Escriv 

Fear and guilt drain all the joy from many lives. The salutary fear of God is based on our nothingness and His power, not on our sinfulness and His petulant wrath.



I tell you, in heaven; there will be more rejoicing over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine souls that are justified, and have no need of repentance.

Luke 15:6-7

There can't be repentance without sin. Thus we have the paradox of good coming out of evil. The evil of sin is a necessary prerequisite for the joy that is occasioned by repentance.

The central defect of evil is not sin but the refusal to acknowledge sin.

M. Scott Peck



Pride, the worst of all the vices, can smuggle itself into the very centre of our religious life. But you can see why. The other, and less bad, vices come from the devil working on us through our animal nature. But this does not come through our animal nature at all. It comes direct from Hell. It is purely spiritual: consequently it is far more subtle and deadly.

C. S. Lewis

It is easier to make a saint out of a libertine than out of a prig.

George Santayana

Moral theologians maintain that sins of the spirit are deadlier than sins of the flesh.



The outward appearance of things is forced ultimately to conform with their inward reality. At the resurrection our body will be transfigured in exact proportion to the interior transformation wrought by the spirit.

The self one has to live with can be one's own greatest punishment. To be left forever with that self which we hate is hell.

Asked whether he believed in life after death the English writer William Golding replied, "No. I couldn't bear the thought of being myself forever."



Up until the twentieth century the popular image of hell corresponded fairly closely with the following little verse:

There is a dreadful Hell
A place of aches and pains,
Where sinners must with Devils dwell,
In fires and shrieks and chains.

I certainly could not have become a Catholic if I had been force to accept as de fide the highly-coloured and to my mind repulsive views of the torments of hell which [C. E. M.] Joad quoted in our correspondence from Catholic writing in an older and vanishing tradition.

Arnold Lunn

What you must know about hell is that hell is part of divine mercy. God does not make hell. God cannot make anything bad. Hell is a place where those, who are turned away from God forever, hide from Him. They are least miserable in hell, not most but least.

Fr. Benedict Groeschel



The Son of Man will give charge to his angels, and they will gather up all that gives offence in his kingdom, all those who do wickedly in it, and will cast them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping, and gnashing of teeth.

Matt 13:41-42

Traditionally, hell has been viewed as a place of torment where the damned are forcibly incarcerated on God's orders, rather than the self-inflicted punishment of a proud ego.

More than a physical place, hell is the state of those who freely and definitively separate themselves from God, the source of all life and joy. So eternal damnation is not God's work but is actually our own doing.

Pope John Paul II

Hell is not a punishment imposed externally by God, but the condition resulting from attitudes and actions which people adopt in this life.

Pope John Paul II



It doesn't matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the soul away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick.

C. S. Lewis

The safest road to Hell is the gradual one–the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.

C. S. Lewis

All sins tend to be addictive, and the terminal point of addiction is what is called damnation.

W. H. Auden

I will tell you a great secret my friend. Don't wait for the Last Judgement. It happens every day.

Albert Camus

Every action is a judgement.



Nothing burneth in hell but self-will; therefore it hath been said, "Put off thine own will, and there will be no hell."

Theologia Germanica

The difference between the saved and the damned is that the former eventually say to God "Thy will be done," while God finally says to the latter "Thy will be done." Everyone in Hell chooses it and no one that seriously and constantly desires Heaven misses it. Hell is a state of mind, the turning in of a creature on itself, whereas Heaven is simply reality.

The happiness of heaven is an immense activity, an endless springing from knowledge to knowledge and from love to love. It's not a mere state, but a perpetual act.



We shall not miss created beauty, because we have been given Beauty uncreated: we shall have both. For, as St. Thomas points out, beatitude does not destroy nature, but only perfects it; hence it does not destroy natural knowledge and love and the enjoyment we can derive from the exercise of our natural powers. After the resurrection of our bodies, our human nature will be more adequately present to be filled with this overflow of the happiness of heaven.

Heaven is a place where we find the fullness of all the fine things we enjoy on this earth.

Every faculty of man, whether high or low, is destined to have its share in his new supernatural life.



It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare.

C. S. Lewis

If I could show the person in New York who is most distant from God what holiness and sanctification was, they would want it, they would be drawn irresistably to it. Whatever their hostility to God, whatever their anger at God, they would say "Yes, make me a saint." If they could see it.

Fr. Benedict Groeschel



Cheerfulness is that quality which enables one to make others happy. It takes its origin half in personal goodness, and half in the belief of the personal goodness of others.

Fulton Sheen

A sad saint is a sorry saint.

St. Teresa of Avila



The incongruous and inaccurate repetition of the word "sweet"–as in "sweet and gentle Jesus"–has probably kept more Englishmen out of the Catholic Church than all the crimes of the Inquisition and all the lies written about them.

We resent offenses against our taste at least as much as offenses against our conscience or reason... The `sentimentality and cheapness' of many Christian hymns had been a strong point in my own resistance to conversion.

C. S. Lewis



There are no entirely false opinions. The listener, then, must proceed from what is valid in the opinions of the speaker to the fuller and purer truth as he, the listener, understands it.

Josef Pieper

Aristotle remarks that if one wishes to find the truth one must first consider the opinions of those who judge differently.

The first duty of love is to listen.

There is nothing sweeter than to be sympathized with.

George Santayana



Religion is a popular thing and, in that sense, a vulgar thing. Anyone who's fastidious by temperament or refined by education or upbringing, will usually find something in the average church service to displease them, either intellectually or aesthetically.

Religious life doesn't level off the usual variety in human personality and character. Like those outside the religious life, priests and nuns are clever and stupid, energetic and lazy, generous and petty.

Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.


Always respond to criticism by trying to concede something if at all possible. First, you gain credibility–this person may be a Christian, but they can't be completely wrong because they partially agree with me. Second, you put them under an obligation to concede something in their turn.



In the end it is not argument that convinces us, but people.

John Henry Newman

A good life is a main argument.

Ben Jonson

Our best work is not achieved by what we say, or even by what we do, but by what we are.



With what infamous lucidity does Satan argue against our Catholic faith! But, let's tell him always, without entering into debate: I am a child of the Church.

Monsignor Escriv 

The great obstacle to the conversion of the modern world is the belief that religion has no intellectual significance; that it may be good for morals and satisfying to man's emotional needs, but that it corresponds to no objective reality.

Christopher Dawson

When I told him [his friend Sydney Cockerell] I had become a Catholic he was genuinely puzzled, saying, `But how can you believe in a creative, all-good, all-wise God, knowing that you have an appendix, which is a totally useless organ and can prove dangerous?'

Alec Guinness

It's very important that Christians don't merit the intellectual contempt of their non-believing neighbours.



A vulgar philosophy laments the wickedness of the world, but when we come to think of it we realise that the confusion of life, the doubt and turmoil and bewildering responsibility of life, largely arises from the enormous amount of good in the world.

G. K. Chesterton

The modern world is not evil; in some ways the modern world is far too good. It is full of wild and wasted virtues. When a religious scheme is shattered (as Christianity was shattered at the Reformation), it is not merely the vices that are let loose. The vices are, indeed, let loose, and they wander and do damage. But the virtues are let loose also; and the virtues wander more wildly, and the virtues do more terrible damage.

The modern world is full of the old Christian virtues gone mad. The virtues have gone mad because they have been isolated from each other and are wandering alone.

G. K. Chesterton



More than once I have been told: "If you want to succeed with me, severity is no use. You will get nowhere unless you are gentle." But I know that no one is a good judge in his own case.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux

I have never, never in all my life, succeeded when I spoke with the faintest trace of harshness or asperity. I have always noted that if one wishes to move another's mind one must be ever so careful not to embitter that person's heart.

St. Vincent de Paul

God made me realize that His mercy does not grow weary of waiting for some souls and that He enlightens them only slowly. So I took good care not to anticipate Him.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux

God's business is done little by little... We must always be careful not to run on ahead of God's Providence... It seems a paradox to say this but it is true, that they who are in a hurry delay the things of God.

St. Vincent de Paul



There's a vague feeling that science forbids us to believe in miracles, as if science could forbid us to believe in something which it doesn't profess to investigate. Science is the study of the admitted laws of existence. It can't prove a universal negative about whether those laws could ever be suspended by something admittedly above them.

The assumption that God, if he exists, would never dream of interfering with the routine of nature is one that is so firmly embedded in our thought that we don't realize that we're guilty of assuming the truth of something which is not only unproved, but at variance with a vast amount of evidence.

Every century, every culture, every kind of person has contributed to an enormous mass of human testimony bearing witness to the claim that the supernatural exists, and that supernatural beings intervene from time to time in the natural order. No a priori argument can be advanced against the supernatural thesis, and no facts, scientific or otherwise, contradict that thesis. Therefore, the attempt to refute this testimony proceeds from an a priori belief in unalterable natural law, or an a priori prejudice against the supernatural.



Bible Christians routinely claim that the Bible is infallible because the biblical authors–Peter and Paul, John and Matthew, etc–were given the gift of infallibility. They insist that the Bible alone is our authority because the Bible is infallible. But is it clear that once God gives the Church infallible scripture, there will be no need for infallible interpretations of scripture?

History shows, in the most unambiguous manner, that an infallible Bible is not sufficient to hold the Church together. Luther's naive view that a text simply means what it says and all the rest is mischief can no longer be held by thinking people. All texts require interpretation because words require interpretation, and the words of scripture more than most. Without an infallible interpretation of scripture an infallible Bible is pointless and ineffectual.

The old phrase `What does the Bible say?' is futile. Strictly speaking, the Bible doesn't say anything. You can't put a book in the witness-box and ask it what it really means. The Bible, by itself, cannot be the basis of agreement among Christians when it is so obviously a cause of disagreement.

If God once used fallible sinners, such as Peter and Paul, to infallibly communicate infallible truth, could He not continue to do so?



Papal infallibility means that all Catholics believe that God will guard the pope from teaching falsehood to the Church on those special and rather rare occasions when he is appealed to to end a controversy with a final statement of faith.

His ordinary pronouncements, though naturally received with profound respect, are not infallible. His private character depends on his own free will, like anybody else's; and his having been Pope is nothing to his salvation. But the question is, given our need for such final decision to save Christianity at great crises, what organ of the Church decides? The longer historical experience accumulates, the more profoundly thankful most Catholics are that the organ is a human being; a mind and not a type, a will and not a tradition or tone of a class.

The best bishops ruling as a class would become a club, as a parliament does. They would have all its scattered responsibility, all its mutual flattery, all its diffused and dangerous pride. But the responsibility of a Pope is so solitary and so solemn that a man would need to be a maniac not to be humbled by it.

G. K. Chesterton



The difference between the evolutionist and the theist is not that one thinks evolution true and the other thinks it untrue. The difference is that the evolutionist thinks that evolution is an explanation and the theist is quite sure that it isn't.

Evolution based on Darwin's theory of natural selection is generally understood to mean that over billions of years primordial matter was able to evolve into man and all other living things by a purely natural process without the need for an intelligent designer. But for a theory to be scientific it must be supported by evidence. The theory of natural selection is represented as a scientific theory despite the following facts: evolution of species has never been observed in breeding experiments; transitional fossils have never been discovered; no mechanism is known by which it occurred at the molecular level.

Evolution is accepted by zoologists not because it has been observed to occur or...can be proved by logically coherent evidence to be true, but because the only alternative, special creation, is clearly incredible.

D. M. S. Watson (evolutionist)



Alfred North Whitehead pointed out that it was the medieval belief in the ultimate rationality of the world that prepared the European mind for the belief in the possibility of science, while the clear distinction introduced by the medieval schoolmen between the province of natural reason and that of religious faith made it possible for the former to assert its independent rights in its own sphere.

The worst parochialism that scientists often invoke in interpreting their history is the notion that progress in knowledge arises from victory in battle between science and religion, with religion defined as unthinking allegiance to dogma and obedience to authority, and science as objective searching for truth.

Stephen Jay Gould

True science is never philosophically partisan. It is open to any new knowledge or understanding whatever the philosophical implications.

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