Where we find love there we find God

“God is in everyone’s life. Even if the life of a person has been a disaster, even if it is destroyed by vices, drugs or anything else – God is in this person’s life. You can, you must try to seek God in every human life. Although the life of a person is a land full of thorns and weeds, there is always a space in which the good seed can grow. You have to trust God.” Pope Francis

The second quotation from Pope Francis to which John Candido has drawn my attention is to my mind of key importance. It asks me to put on one side my picture of a God so infinitely great that he is inevitably remote, and to look more closely at an intimate God whom I encounter continuously in every aspect of my world.

I can look at this is different ways but I start with an insight which was brought home to me by Frank Sheed in his great book Theology and Sanity. (Frank Sheed was, I understand, the only lay person at that a time who held the qualification of Doctor of Divinity. He died in 1981.) The point he made was that, if we believe that God is the creator of everything, then it must follow that every single aspect of the universe exists because of his ever present will that it should exist. On the table in front of me lies an idle paperclip. And I remember that, from moment to moment, that paperclip exists because God chooses that it should. And not just the paperclip, but every atom of it, and all the particles which make up that atom. Were he to withdraw his will, the paperclip would simply cease to be.

This is a dramatic thought. God is so close to us through his creative will that his presence is to be recognised in every moment of human experience. When I think about issues of science, I am studying the material world, but in studying that material I am studying the will of God.

But what do we really know of God beyond philosophical statements such as his omnipotence or his omniscience? These don’t help us very much because they are concepts beyond the grasp of the human mind. Maimonides, the great medieval Jewish philosopher, taught that every characteristic we posit of God takes us further away from his reality – he is so far beyond such concepts. But the question was put by the Apostle, Philip, when he asked of Jesus: “Show us the Father” and Jesus replied: “He who has seen me has seen the Father.”

The only way in which I can interpret this exchange is that, if we want to know the Father, our human understanding will never get closer than our understanding of the Son. If I say that Jesus is a metaphor for the Father, I use that word in a special sense.

If I then extend this to Paul’s words: “I live now, but not I, Christ lives in me” I realise that we are to be the metaphor of Christ to each other, and the world. At which point my heart fails because most of us, I think, obscure Christ as much as we display him. But maybe at some times, and on some occasions, we show Christ, and so the Father, to others.

But Francis takes us further because he emphasises that we are all redeemed. He tells us, using the extreme case, that even the atheist can do good in company with us. Although the atheist does not recognise Christ in the guise of his neighbour, through his good deeds, he displays him. And anyone who does not know atheists and agnostics who do good deeds, must know very few.

It is significant that, although Francis recognises the mystical contemplative life as a special charism, he sees Christ’s presence as dynamic. It is most characteristically seen in action. And seen in action in every human circumstance in which we are all continually faced by the opportunity to do good, or to reject it.

The Jesuit poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins, has an often-quoted line: “The world is charged with the grandeur of God.” Indeed, whether we like it or not, whether we are believers or not, we encounter him continually, and we are continuously faced by his challenge.

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About Quentin

Science Editor, Catholic Herald. Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
This entry was posted in Pope Francis, Quentin queries, Spirituality. Bookmark the permalink.

97 Responses to Where we find love there we find God

  1. Ignatius says:

    About fifteen years ago I was helping out with a Sunday service in a prison. It was a large and populaced prison in the South of England and had services where both General wing and vulnerable wing prisoners sat on separate aisles, general wing to the right and vulnerable prisoners (mainly sex offenders ) to the left of the chapel. I was sitting among the offenders on the left hand side one day as the chapel was filling. Two men, probably in their sixties or seventies came along and sat in the row in front of me. One was obviously infirm. In the way that the one helped the other to his seat it was clear that a genuine care and a tenderness was present. I remember the moment with complete clarity – along with the sudden revelation that the love of God inhabits us all, no matter what ruin we have made in the course of our lives.

  2. solanatara says:

    I I have been blessed to have moments of the seeing of this truth, that God is in everyone and everything. I hope day to have that seeing happen more often.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Quentin.
      I am not too sure what you are saying-perhaps that is the reason for the post.
      The way I see it ‘at the moment until we go further into it, and that is we know that God is everywhere there is no where that He isn’t so therefore He would be in everyone.
      Jesus took on our image as humans. we take on His image in our soul.
      I think it is our souls that reflect God’s Image
      The comment by Ignatius,with the love of the two prisoners were showing Gods Love, but the Holocaust was man.s evil,. We would hope that forgiveness towards the evil would show Gods Love in the them.
      That is a hard nut to crack!

      • milliganp says:

        St Joseph, I don’t want to criticise but you must get over your dualism. Franciscan theologians said that the incarnation would have happened without the fall as God always intended to allow us to fully comprehend the image of God which is in our created nature. God can create alone but humans create a new person, complete with immortal soul through the union of man and woman.
        To be clear we are the image of Christ in both our body and soul and, through the doctrine of the hypostatic union – where Christ can never again separate his human and divine natures so we are too guaranteed that we are in the image of God, body and soul.
        With this realisation we cannot dismiss sinful or fallen behaviour as somehow the product of our body with the soul “separated” as the bit most like God.

      • St.Joseph says:

        millignap.
        CCC. 366-The Church teaches that the soul is created immediately by God-it is not produced by the parents.
        CCC 370.
        Also read about Grace.
        .
        There would have been no need for Salvation if there was no fall!
        We are Living now with the Sanctifying Grace and Saving Blood of our Saviour..
        Our soul will live on whether it is purified or not!
        Of course one has to believe in the sin of our first Parents’- who were made in Gods image to begin with
        We all know about Jesus”s’ Hypostatic union’ God is pure Spirit. Jesus as Man.
        Jesus is now in His’ Glorified Body since Risen from the dead. as we hope to be when we die Sinless..and Purified. with Grace.
        Have you a problem with that?

    • Nektarios says:

      Solanatara

      Welcome to secondsightblog.net.
      I see you have studied, practice and teach some Yoga and have studied Eastern religion and practice.
      I would recommend you read Srila Prabhupada works especially on God.
      As a counter balance, you might like to read Jiddu Krishnamurti, both very helpful.

      Regarding Pope Francis’ encouragement to seek God in everyone, that will be useless
      until one has found God or found of God in oneself. Right?
      In the West we are certainly hooked on words and definition, this has led to a world full of the cheated and the cheaters.
      In the midst however, just occasionally, we come across those who are full of love, compassion, able to teach the truth and communicate it to others – but these are rare.

      • solanatara says:

        Nektarios: Thank you for your reply. I am aware of Srila Prabhuda’s works, and have used his translation of the Gita numerous times because of his excellent sanskrit breakdown. Also I am well of aware of Krishnamurti, I studied him a whole semester and visited one of his places in India.

        I agree we can see God in everyone until one has found God within oneself, but I don’t think it is useless for the Pope to encourage it. If people understand that it is a possibility, perhaps they can hold it as intention for themselves.

        I also find that these days there are more and more people awakening to that ability to feel compassion for the world. I am hopeful.

  3. John Candido says:

    ‘Two men, probably in their sixties or seventies came along and sat in the row in front of me. One was obviously infirm. In the way that the one helped the other to his seat it was clear that a genuine care and a tenderness was present. I remember the moment with complete clarity – along with the sudden revelation that the love of God inhabits us all, no matter what ruin we have made in the course of our lives.’ (Ignatius)

    This quote pretty well sums up almost everything anyone can say on the topic at hand. Ignatius has done us all in I am afraid, by beating us to the bell with a simple but superb story.

    It is an absolute that, as Quentin has said; the paper clip, the atom and all of its parts are all inhabited by God. Likewise the two jailed elderly sex offenders as told above, where one was kind enough to help the other more infirm inmate, to his seat at a service.

    I think the word ‘surprise’ comes to mind, when one contemplates the presence of God throughout the universe. If one were to ask the question; where is God not located? The inevitable answer is that there isn’t a place where God isn’t located. To then follow the inexorable logic; if God is everywhere, then God is present and observant where evil is first thought of, planned and executed.

    Therefore, God was present when Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, God was present when ‘Kristallnacht’, or the night of the broken glass was perpetrated between the 9th & 10th November 1938, and God was at the Wannsee Conference, were the machinery of the Holocaust was intricately planned by 15 high ranking Nazi officers, on the 20th January 1942. Incidentally, eight of the fifteen officials had earned Doctorates from various Universities. God was also present at the end point of blind nationalism; the killing sites, commonly known as concentration camps.

    God was present when Hitler gave any one of a multitude of his appallingly criminal decrees that effected untold damage to millions of innocent human beings. If God is present in this man, he is also in a child murderer, a paedophile, a drug taker, a thief, a prostitute, a prisoner, an alcoholic, or an uncontrollable gambler. Where God spends time and where God may be located is certainly surprising.

    God is also present in what I hope are less dramatic circumstances; in you and me for instance. God is a constant traveller inside our own imperfections and failures. For all of these observations, it underlies what Christ has said of other human beings. We are to treat all people as other Christs. An almost impossible ideal to live by to be sure, but one we are commanded to try, because the innermost kernel of our purpose in life is to love one another.

    • St.Joseph says:

      John Candido.
      Have you read ‘The Diary of Saint Faustina’.When Jesus appeared to her and gave her the messages. It is approved by Holy Mother Church.
      The reason for the Divine Chaplet to be said daily- and ‘Divine Mercy Sunday’ as asked for by Blessed Pope John Paul The Sunday after Easter…

      I did not see much love floating around when the Priest child abusers were being discussed-by Catholics!!!!!!

      Let us all not be hypocritical!

  4. John Nolan says:

    Quentin, reference your Stop Press. It is well known that many American Catholics (and probably not a few over here) are in favour of contraception, abortion, divorce, same-sex relationships, women priests and goodness knows what else. However, the issue here is not Church teaching, but “pastoral provision”. Those who think that the Church is going to execute a doctrinal U-turn are deluding themselves. Recent comments by Archbishops Gerhard Mueller and Vincent Nichols have underscored this. Perhaps when this finally sinks in those who dissent will in conscience transfer their allegiance to a denomination which better accommodates their agenda.

    You seem to link a lot to the NCR. A perusal of its combox shows that a large proportion of its readership is quite frankly barking. They make John Candido seem like a pillar of orthodoxy.

  5. John Nolan says:

    Since I, like most laity, have no direct pastoral responsibility for anyone else, the questions are not really relevant. Issues raised at the National Pastoral Congress (which had lay input) were brought to the last Synod on the family in 1980 by Cardinal Hume and Archbishop Worlock. According to one (not particularly reliable) source JP II showed no interest in them, and the Synod was hijacked by Vatican officials. Vincent Nichols (who was there) does not corroborate this. One thing is predictable – the final report will cover those points on which there is agreement.

  6. St.Joseph says:

    My Husband said to a liberal priest many years ago who thought I should’ make my husband a Catholic’ and then he could learn about the faith afterwards! My husband said to him ‘ If I stay the way I am you will be like me anyway’.!He defended the faith for many many years before he converted,. undergoing a lot of insults.
    When we married in those days the non-catholic had to sign a paper to say he would go along with the RC’s teachings- he surely did that and much more!

  7. St.Joseph says:

    Ps.
    His ‘only name was Peter’!!

  8. John Candido says:

    A global questionnaire will be used in preparation for the Vatican’s October 2014 synod. The subject will be on the “Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization”. This is a hopeful sign that the spirit of free enquiry and the dignity of the laity are making at least a jaundiced comeback, from the Church’s self-imposed deep freeze, during the post Vatican II era. Synods have been instituted by Pope Paul VI in September 1965 (almost 50 years ago) and there has never been a single instance where the Church has consulted the Laity on a global scale apart from this one. Why has it taken the Church almost 50 years to consult with the Laity on a global scale with one questionnaire? The very definition of ossification!

    Assuming that the Church will unshackle its Bishops, clergy and religious, from being one step away from being removed, for speaking their minds through the encouragement of loyal dissent, (an unlikely event) the Church has one other tool that it can employ as a half measure. Apart from its shackled but shinning intelligence, it can make use of computer databases and the internet to consult the Laity and its sensus fidelium. This communication tool was not available during the Second Vatican Council, not that it would have made any difference then. Will this be a complete waste of time now? We shall all bide our time.

    The Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales, has been an example for all conferences to follow, through their online facility that any clergy, religious or Laity can make easy use of. No such leadership in evidence in the USA. They will not consult with their Laity or even ask their Laity the time of day. What an obnoxious lot of nineteenth century antediluvians!

    • John Nolan says:

      JC, spare us the histrionics and the hyperbole. You must be perfectly aware that the object of the exercise is not to change doctrine or dogma on the basis of a referendum. We all know many Catholics practise contraception, or live in irregular relationships. But the Church’s teaching, based on Natural Law, will not change. Nor can it go against Scripture regarding the indissolubility of marriage or the illicitness of so-called same-sex relationships. The question is, how can the Church better get her message across, and how can she better address pastorally those who for one reason or another fall short of the ideal.

      Bishops are not primarily there to “speak their minds”, although if they do so, and make it clear that they are voicing their private opinions, few will deny them this right. They are there, as successors of the Apostles and in communion with the successor of Peter, to articulate the mind of the Church. You seem incapable of grasping this simple truth.

      • milliganp says:

        More defective ecclesiology; Bishops are directly responsible for the care and development of their flock and are sovereign in that. Bishops’ teachings are formed through the grace of their ordination and consecration and we have the duty to presume that the Holy Spirit guides us through them.
        As an example of consultation the documents of the Second Vatican council were forged in the debates of the council, not written by the Pope (though Pope Paul directly intervened in the formulation of some of the content).
        Pope Francis has made it clear that he is not looking to the Bishops for passive submission but active contribution to an important issue in the life of the Church. Finally the indissolubility of Marriage is a matter of Dogma, the reception of Communion is a matter of Discipline – which can and does change.

  9. John Candido says:

    This is the online facility from the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales that I referred about previously.

    http://surveymonkey.com/s/FamilySynod2014

    • St.Joseph says:

      John Candid
      What about all the elderly who who have no on-line facility -is this survey only open to the users of modern technology.
      Your comment about ‘ossification’ and the lack of consultation towards the laity since post Vatican.2 -perhaps that is why the rest of the world have (as far as I know) kept the faith more than the UK who did have a questionnaire in 1979.
      It wont make one bit of difference to Truth-only it might make people realise they do have a duty towards the Church-if they call themselves Catholics.And maybe make them to become more pastorally involved.
      It will never be like a vote, of the majority.

      .

      • Quentin says:

        For all I know, provision for postal returns may be available. Worth watching the Catholic newspapers next week. I am afraid that it is a fact of modern life that the use of the internet is cheap, the previous methods tend to be expensive.

        In fact, I find the questionnaire disappointing; although we are invited to answer as individuals, it appears to be aimed at parishes or suchlike. There are certain techniques known to professionals for drawing up survey questionnaires so as to be clearly understood and to record the true opinions of the respondents. And also to be readily and accurately analysed. It would appear that our bishops are not aware of this.

        Looks like a missed opportunity through incompetence, I fear.

      • milliganp says:

        Quentin, I think you’ll find the core questions are direct from Rome. The Bishops are merely using an online system so that it is possible to gather as wide a range of responses as possible.
        My concern, in the Diocese of Southwark, is that the colation is being given to a part time member of staff who is already overworked.

      • milliganp says:

        St Joseph, are you attributing the current state of the Church in England and Wales to a 1979 questionnaire! The church is in decline throughout Europe and North America and almost all the immigrant, first generation, Catholics are seing a decline in the faith of their children. This patern will undoubtedly spread to those areas of the developing world that are seing economic and social change. Setting the clock back 60 years is not going to help the situation.

  10. Vincent says:

    I was trying make a list of all the ways God makes himself present to us. Within in ourselves, within other people, within his created matter, under the appearance of bread and wine, in the inspiration of Scripture. Are there others?

    The concept is difficult. For example I have a photograph of my late sister a few feet away from me. But it is necessarily only a representation of her. To make it live I need to bring not only my memory of her as a person, but a further string of memories from my childhood. Is it the same when I see God in, say, an inanimate created object? I can understand that the recognition requires faith from my side, but what is required from God’s side? Is he really present or is he only present because I believe him to be? I haven’t put that question well. I suspect that if I could put it well I could find the answer.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Vincent.
      I expect you read the Psalms .
      When I read the Psalms I find God in them.
      I find God in the Confessions of St Augustine. Book Thirteen..
      These are all in the Spirit, which brings me closer to God In The Blessed Sacrament-the Word made Flesh.!
      I believe as we all must that the Sacraments we receive from the Holy Spirit enlightens us with Sanctifying Grace that we see Gods Will.
      We all are on a separate journey, and see things differently’ hopefully the end is the same .
      Not very clear , but then I have never been able to make things clear as to what I mean!

  11. John Nolan says:

    GM Hopkins said of a bluebell “I see the beauty of Our Lord in it”. Not sure he’d say the same of a paperclip, but you never know.

    • Quentin says:

      Oh I’m sure there was a poem which started “Glory be to God for paperclips”. Perhaps it slipped its clip and got lost. And I am confident that had the atoms which made up the paperclips revealed their sub atomic nature, he would have been overcome with wonder.

    • milliganp says:

      Pied Beauty
      “And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.”
      God’s Grandeur
      “And all is seared with trade; bleared smeared with toil.”
      I’m sure Hopkins saw the glory of God in all honest human endeavour.

      • Quentin says:

        Our shared interest in Manley Hopkins confirms my view that he has something very special to say to Catholics.

        If you get a chance to hear a recording of Paul Schofield reading the Wreck of the Deutchland, grab it. One of our best actors reading one of our best poets, It’s agonisingly beautiful.

  12. Ignatius says:

    Vincent:
    I was trying make a list of all the ways God makes himself present to us. Within in ourselves, within other people, within his created matter, under the appearance of bread and wine, in the inspiration of Scripture. Are there others?
    Angels Vincent, you missed out the Angels! The spirit of God which intercedes for us and within us you have covered. Can’t think of many others since I guess the magisterium and the Church are implicit in ‘people’

    • St.Joseph says:

      The Catechism of the Catholic Church has a wonderful Chapter on Angels and Gods Creation 328 to 354, It includes ‘Canticle of the Creatures’ St Francis of Assisi 212.
      Really.beautiful !

      • St.Joseph says:

        Nektarios.
        Syria Prabhudas and Krishnamurti I have never heard of before .
        I notice on looking up the reference to one of them,the list of wonderful thinkers the last name is Jesus Christ!!!,
        I was about 8 or 9 when I read the Parables of Jesus and what came to mind is ‘How clever Jesus is to work all this out!And more important to work miracles.
        Jesus when he was born was not only the last prophet but the King Gods Son 2nd person of the Blessed Trinity
        I am not disagreeing with you mentioning them-just putting things in perspective.

  13. St.Joseph says:

    Millignanp.To answer your inquiry above.
    The 1979 NPC questions were very ambiguous., I mean by that open to misinterpretation and to me ambiguous in their presentation. I was secretary to Parish Meetings and in all conscience could not take part in it.
    I found afterwards it did create in a lot of parishioners thinking that we could decide on matters of Church teaching that suited our private conscience.And those with the loudest voice were heard.
    Our Parish community was doing fine before all this came to pass,got worse when people who wanted to stick to the Truth were considered to be living in the past. A lot of catholic’s left the Church either on their own accord or the practice of their faith was open to doubts
    We had open talks on ‘peoples ‘opinions’ We had Archbishop Weakland over here speaking at the priests conference new Age meetings , Catholics for a changing Church. etc etc etc.RE in schools not teaching the truths-my children did not go to a Catholic school so I did not have that battle like a lot of my friends..
    I don’t make statements without evidence I have kept everything !

    In my comment above I did say ‘As far as I know.’ Other countries kept the faith more than the UK
    I still believe that to be true as the vocations to the priesthood seem to be more flourishing.
    I don’t know how old you are, perhaps you don’t remember what I speak about. A lot of older people than myself died of broken hearts when what seemed to them ‘the rug pulled from under their feet’ .I pray they will be at peace now with Our Lord and His Blessed Mother.
    Let us hope and pray that this questionnaire will bear fruit. more than the the last!
    .

  14. John Nolan says:

    Would Paul Milligan like to explain what is ‘defective’ about the notion that the mind of the Church is articulated by the bishops in communion with the pope? This would appear to square with the idea of collegiality as defined in Lumen Gentium.

    Of course bishops have “immediate and ordinary jurisdiction” over their flocks. However, Vatican I declared that the pope exercised the same jurisdiction over every Christian, a far more significant claim than that of papal infallibility, since it created an ecclesiological dichotomy which despite Vatican II has yet to be resolved.

    • John Candido says:

      John Nolan, I thought that you recently wrote that you were not a believer or supporter of ultramontanism and legal positivism. Your current and past efforts seem to point to these positions. Please explain.

      • John Nolan says:

        JC, actually they don’t, if you read them carefully and don’t jump to the conclusion that because I’m not a knee-jerk liberal I must be – how did you put it? – ah yes, an obnoxious nineteenth century antediluvian. Ecclesiology needs to be understood in historical terms, which is why I am happier talking about this than about theology. Unlike the Eastern Churches, which have historically inclined towards Caesaro-papalism, whether Caesar be the Byzantine Emperor, the Czar of all the Russias, or Vladimir Putin, the Western Church is uniquely bound up with the papacy, to the extent that the history of the popes is in effect the history of the Church. In Eamon Duffy’s excellent history of the papacy “Saints and Sinners” the third chapter, dealing with the period 1000-1447 is significantly titled “Set above Nations”. This probably sums up the position of the papacy in today’s world too.

        In terms of Church governance, however, the relationship between the authority of the pope vis-à-vis the authority of the local bishop is still overshadowed by nineteenth century ultramontane ideas. Paul VI imposed a new liturgy on the entire Latin Church and demanded unconditional obedience (Hans Kung supported Marcel Lefebvre on this one). Of course it is absurd to suggest that bishops be allowed to make up doctrine on the hoof and impose it on their flocks, but at the same time it is a cop-out to say “just take your cue from the Pope, he’s bound to be right”. Faced with the challenge from an aggressive secularism which would overturn three millennia of Judaeo-Christian ethics, we need a stronger lead from the bishops and a better understanding of collegiality. Benedict understood this, and so does Francis.

      • John Candido says:

        That was an interesting read John Nolan. You are definitely more nuanced for a conservative, than I had ever thought you were.

  15. Iona says:

    Bluebells unfold “of themselves”, according to their own nature. Paperclips, on the other hand, are manufactured from metal which has itself been extracted from rock mined from the ground. I’m not saying that this necessarily puts paperclips a step or two further away from God than bluebells, but it certainly seems harder to see God in paperclips than in bluebells.

    • milliganp says:

      If we regard Man as God’s greatest creation, the paperclip – dependant on so may of mans skills (dig out the coal and iron ore etc..) is ultimately a work of God.

      BTW Chardin was a Paleontologist, it was presumably the challenge of the long history of human evolution that fed his philosophy and theology.

      • Mike Horsnall says:

        Only partly. He was both geologist and paleontologist also strongly affected by the lengthy time he spent geological mapping inChina-the sheer weight of the population. Oddly enough I had a similar impression myself during my years there. You have to remember he was essentially mystical. You can get a brief account of his life on Wikipedia if you want, have you read him?

      • St.Joseph says:

        milliganp
        It is uncanny when one thinks about it that we ‘throw unborn babies in a incinerator as easily as throwing a paperclip in the bin’!

  16. Iona says:

    I’m another Gerard Manley Hopkins enthusiast.
    Also, FWIW, have read Krishnamurti – but many years ago.
    Am I right in thinking that Teilhard de Chardin was a geologist (as well as everything else)? – and saw God in the inanimate rocks with which he worked.
    BTW, Quentin, I loved this post of yours.

    • Quentin says:

      Thanks Iona. In a way you can thank Pope Francis, too. I have done a lot of thinking since he came on the scene. And I am much helped by the Blog discussions. Q

  17. Ignatius says:

    Hi Iona,
    In his wonderful ‘hymn of the universe’ Chardin sees the physical world in its entirety as a sacrament. Yes he was a geologist.
    Coming back to St Josephs pertinent mention of the concentration camps as symbol of evil I agree this is not an easy issue to consider. I was at the museum in Terezin, Prague (gestapo staging camp for Auschwitz) awhile ago and they had there recordings of Auschwitz survivors speaking. I do remember one talking about the childrens work they did and how they tried to spare children the full awareness of their predicament for as long as possible and how there were celebrations and dancing at Terezin, : “Bright moments of joy in the immense horror of Auschwitz” were the words used to describe these moments of humanity.

    We should hesitate to speak of those times I feel yet we do have to come to some settlement with the issue. I should think that in those times there were many, many, many small incidents of kindness sacrifice and utter heroism- amid the horror of it all. I don’t know the answer about God and Auschwitz but I am sure that the potential for mercy was there in abundance and taken up by some.

    • johnbunting says:

      Today’s Daily Telegraph has an obituary of Edith Kraus, who was at Terezin, and has just died, aged 100. She related how music came, for the prisoners, to have a value far beyond the ordinary. Her friend, the pianist Alice Herz-Sommer, who was also there, is I think, still living – and still playing her beloved Schubert.

      • St.Joseph says:

        The motto ‘Love the sinner and hate the sin’ is a wonderful gift of Gods Love-however it should not prevent one from seeking justice for those who have suffered..
        Will God the Father seek Justice for His Son?
        I wonder how He will serve His Justice to those who are guilty.
        Do we hide behind Gods Love in all this and let the innocent carry the load?

  18. Iona says:

    St. Maximilian Kolbe managed to maintain contact with God in Auschwitz (was it Auschwitz?). And I suppose you could say that God was indeed present in Auschwitz – having nails hammered through His hands and feet.

  19. St.Joseph says:

    EWTN Catholic Television this evening number589 on SKy or on line. UK time a programme ‘Finding God in all things’
    Ought to be worth watching! On in 30 mins for 30 minutes.

    • St.Joseph says:

      John Candido.
      Thank you for that link.
      It reminded me of a talk given in 1997 in St James Church, Spanish Place. London by a priest.
      Where he said ‘To our consolation, St.Maximilian Kolbe wasn’t born as a Saint.when he was little, he was one time disobedient to the point of making his mother despair of what would become of him.
      That very night his Heavenly Mother,who knew him better, appeared to him, offering two crowns, the red one of martyrdom,and a white one for purity . She asked him to choose. He said he wanted them both. He aimed always at the maximum. What was the secret of his sanctity? It was his faith and trust in Mary.

      Mary Immaculate Pray for us. St. Maximilian Pray for us.

      • Singalong says:

        On a less exalted level, I am sure, as Quentin says, we all know good people who do not realise that it is Christ whom they are encountering when they help others, and who will truly recognise Him when they meet Him in the next life.

        We have one friend in particular who is an atheist, but her kindness and empathy, and willingness to sacrifice her time and energy and talents for others is remarkable.
        She famously, it was eventually in the national news, befriended a homeless, smelly, inarticulate tramp, outside a supermarket. She realised that just to give him money would not meet his needs, and make him feel like a human person, so she tried to talk to him and find out who he was and how he had come to his current condition. This escalated into her organising a rota of friends to join her in trying to make him feel part of the human race again. She made sure that somebody would meet him every day, take him some nourishing soup or other food, and spend time talking with him, and she proceeded to make enquiries, which after many frustrating, expensive and bureaucratic months, led to finding his family in Malta, returning there, and meeting them again. He had developped cancer and died soon after, but not by the side of the road, unwanted, unknown and unloved, as he might well have done without her love and concern.

        Come you blessed of My Father . . . . .

  20. John Nolan says:

    Regarding GMH, I remember being gratified a few years ago to find ‘Spring and Fall’ in a GCSE poetry anthology. The introduction said “A deceptively simple poem which embodies a very profound idea.” Quite. I think that Hopkins would have said the paperclip had its own ‘inscape’ – he was drawn to Duns Scotus and the idea of ‘haecceitas’.

    I often attend Mass at St Aloysius, Oxford, where GMH was curate for a time – he appears in a group photograph taken in front of the church. It is now the Oxford Oratory.

    • Quentin says:

      Though we might remember that the paperclip first came into the question as a proxy for how every single thing displays the Almighty because its existence depends on his active will.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Quentin.
        You say in in your Posted comment, ‘Were he to withdraw his will, the paper clip would simply crease to be.
        I am a bit slow here in catching on to the relationship to a paper clip ( as you say only a proxy) however I still do not see the connection to the Will of the Almighty.
        I can only associate it to man’s will in his invention like the wheel etc.
        God is in every one as in our soul which is immutable it lives forever.
        Putting aside atheists as is mentioned, they can do good and all good is willed my the Almighty.
        However evil is not willed by the Almighty, the power of evil acting out in those who sometimes believe in God – believe it is His Will when evil is done..
        So is Pope Francis saying that God is in everyone in our evil thoughts.?
        Hitler was a Catholic.!!
        Forgive me if this sounds senseless.. I am writing as I am thinking- not always a good idea!

  21. Ignatius says:

    So the paper clip is holy then?

  22. Singalong says:

    Can I move from the sublime poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins, to the devotional and once very well known Kitchen Prayer, or Divine Office of the Kitchen, by Cecily Hallack, “Lord of the pots and pipkins,” which has been on my kitchen wall for the last 50 years. This shows the presence of God in every domestic utensil and activity, and turns them all very beautifully into prayer. It occurs to me that it could well be adapted to office work and paper clips, or to any other workplace.
    The opening phrase taken from St. Teresa, of Avila, I presume, indicates the centuries old belief that God is present everywhere in all human life, it is implicit in so many prayers and thoughts.

  23. Ignatius says:

    MilliganP:

    “….St Joseph, I don’t want to criticise but you must get over your dualism. Franciscan theologians said that the incarnation would have happened without the fall as God always intended to allow us to fully comprehend the image of God which is in our created nature. God can create alone but humans create a new person, complete with immortal soul through the union of man and woman….”

    This has been bothering me for some time and I have finally figured out why. It seems to me you are seeking to somehow ‘objectify’ what is clearly a partial and personal preference for a particular interpretation and use it to correct a persons thinking. Have you read recently Romans ch7 and 8 for example? I would like to know who your “Franciscan theologians” are exactly and why you think their version stands so tall? Perhaps you could direct my reading a little?

    • RAHNER says:

      Jack Mahoney considers incarnation without the fall in Chapter 4 of his recent book, see previous blog discussions.

      • Ignatius says:

        Rahner, yes I did read it but I don’t think its that evolutionary sense that is implied here. I understand the perspective but that doesn’t mean it is ‘truth’ no matter how appealing it is. Also I’m not convinced that we can argue the case – as Paul Milligan seems to by appealing to the hypostatic union, its too speculative as far as I can see and certainly should not be elevated to the level of corrective dogma.

    • RAHNER says:

      Ignatius,
      “its too speculative as far as I can see and certainly should not be elevated to the level of corrective dogma.”
      What would you propose as an alternative to the Scotist approach? And surely ANY discussion of a theological question of this kind is bound to be fairly speculative?

      • Ignatius says:

        Rahner,
        That’s the point. Lots of my theological thinking is very speculative so I don’t brow beat people with it. As far as I understand it the hypostatic union implies that perfection of the human being exists as a potential which is perfectly realised in Christ and is the direction in which we are headed. It doesn’t mean that our humanity, wrapped as it is in flesh, partakes always of free will. As to the scotist approach-give me a reference or a clue to follow and when I understand it I will come back to you on the subject!

  24. Singalong says:

    It is indicated in Genesis that Adam and Eve knew God without the need for His incarnation, or is this also to be taken as non literal? And what happens to the theology of the Felix Culpa?

    • Ignatius says:

      Singalong, Thanks for the reference to ‘Felix culpa’ That’s something else I’ve learned today! Could you spell out a bit the significance of Adam and Eve’s knowing God? Is it that the friendship, existing from the start, shows the greater purpose of God and the potential of man to know God pre fall? Does this mean the ‘fall’ is an example of Felix Culpa?

      • Singalong says:

        Ignatius, the thought of God walking with Adam in the cool of the evening has always been very powerful in my mind, and regardless of how it fits in with what we know about evolution and the development of man, and original sin, I think it shows us that God`s intention was always, from the beginning, to share His life with us, and for our relationship to be far more than that of a Supreme Creator to His creature.

        The idea that God might have always also intended to become a man, and that His incarnation did not depend on evil and man`s disobedience, is new to me, and I will have to do more reading, thinking and praying about it.

        The Happy Fault, resulting in the Incarnation and our Redemption, was the disobedience and sin of man. We sing it in the Easter Vigil Exultet, and there is a carol by Benjamin Britten, based on a mediaeval carol, which includes, ne had the apple taken been, never had Our lady a been heavene queen . . as well as many theological writings by the doctors of the Church.

      • Singalong says:

        Ignatius, my 9.35 comment was very rushed, we have a Mothers` Prayer group at 10 am, but in any case my theology is not up to much more, particularly to a deacon in training!

        The carol is Adam Lay Ybounden, and even more relevant lines are,
        Blessed be the time that apple taken was,
        Therefore we maun singen Deo Gratias, Deo Gratias.

        (and I see it is Boris Ord, not Benjamin Britten, perhaps he wrote another version)

  25. Ignatius says:

    Rahner- Ok I’ve found Scotism….needs a bit of looking into though!

    • RAHNER says:

      Moving on from Scotus an interesting book that looks at this issue (i.e., the motive for the incarnation) in the context of 19/20 Cen. theology (including Schleiermacher and Barth) is “Incarnation Anyway – Arguments for a Supralapsarian Christology” Edwin van Driel, OUP, 2008

    • St.Joseph says:

      Ignatius.
      To accomplish the work of our salvation a sublime mystery was needed-the mystery of the Incarnation, the mystery of the Son of God made man for us
      Faith teaches us that the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity,having the same nature with God the Father, became also truly Man by taking a body and soul like ours. “The Word was made Flesh” God the Son became the Man Jesus Christ.
      We therefore believe that Jesus Christ is not only truly God,born of the Father from all eternity, but is also truly Man having been Man only from the time of His Incarnation that is from the time of His taking Flesh that He assumed His human nature, and united it to His Divine as to form but one Person; Being in the form of God, He thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but emptied Himself taking the form of a servant. being made in the likeness of men,and in habit found as a man” .(Phil,ii.6,7)

      I don’t know what else there is to know . Or what the problem is. perhaps Rahner will explain.

  26. Ignatius says:

    Rahner…explain? surely some mistake here St Joseph!
    Briefly speaking it seems there is a line of theology which argues that God’s purpose with humans is basically about friendship and development – our development I hasten to add! This purpose is greater than and predates the necessity of atonement so that Christ taking human form was not simply to conquer the powers of Sin and Death but to bring humans towards perfection. I’m about to become more familiar with the subject as, thanks to Rahner , I have discovered two new words these being supralapsarian and infralapsarian!. Rahner thanks for the reference, I’ve just had a look through the introduction of the book on Amazon and am now better armed for the debate. The supralapsarian view, according to the book, still seems to be a minor trend in Western thought and thus as I said not one to bang people on the head with! Having said that the notion of God having friendship as an ultimate aim rather than salvation does chime rather well.

  27. St.Joseph says:

    Ignatius.
    I made my comment before Rahner’s last comment, I have a habit at looking at the times of comments before I make a comment., always a good idea.
    I asked Rahner to explain to me what his problem,was! A perfectly clear question as he often leaves things hanging in the air.
    I am pleased that you are going to be satisfied with what you find,it wont make one bit of difference to the Truth, but if it helps so be it.
    I am not against anyone seeking knowledge if they are not satisfied with Catholic Truth, as found in the CCC. or the Creed.

    • Ignatius says:

      St Joseph,
      I like the definition of theology as ‘faith seeking understanding’. I like it because faith and understanding seem to me to go hand in hand with experience. By this I mean the journey of our lives brings us slowly closer to the God who loves us. This love we somehow ‘feel’ or ‘sense’ We are drawn to it and desire to comprehend it as best we can according to the way we ‘work’ as individuals. This means your personal understanding of God is probably a bit different than mine as mine is to yours. Certainly the way you express your faith is different to the way I express mine. As you say our thoughts about truth make little difference to the Truth whom we meet in eucharist. But the search for understanding might just make it more possible for me to explain things to people. That for me is one of the chief purposes of this blog, to listen and join with debates in order to increase my understanding so that I might be better able to talk stuff over with agnostics, atheists and particularly with lapsed catholics.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Ignatius.
        Thank you for your reply
        If I can be so bold as suggest to you it might be good idea to start with the Fall of the Angels, which took place before God Created Man, starting from the beginning.
        I am sure those who are lacking understanding and have lost their faith would be interested in that too.
        I am delighted that you will with Gods help convert those who live in ignorance
        Just to make it clear Barthe’s Supralapsarian. is only a theory!!!

  28. Ignatius says:

    Yes, it is not a hill to die over (as the saying goes).I’m quite interested in angels as it happens, have you (or anyone) ever seen one?

    • St.Joseph says:

      God created Angels in the state of innocence happy and endowed with excellent gifts but
      but their happy state did not render them incapable of committing sin. He created them free, and willed that they undergo a trial in order that everlasting happiness with Him might be the reward of their fidelity. Nor did all remain steadfast under the trial.
      Many by pride rebelled against God,and being in an instant changed into devils, were cast from Him forever down into the fires of hell. God spared not the angels that sinned (2Pet.ll.4) It is even believed that Lucifer the leader in this revolt drew after Him a third part of the heavenly host.
      Though the exact number of the Angels is nowhere stated in Scripture it must be very great and probably vastly surpasses the number of men that will have appeared on the earth from the time of man;s creation to the end of the world.
      It is not difficult to understand that if we consider that Almighty God assigns to each particular soul created by Him a separate Guardian Angel as its guardian . And if God created man to fill in heaven the place of the lost Angels who are supposed to have formed a third part of the heavenly host we may well wonder at the magnitude of their number.
      According to the Prophet Daniel “Thousands and thousands ministered to Him and ten thousand times a hundred thousand stood before Him (Dan, vii.10).
      I could go on with St John.s Apocalypse of around the throne,but must stop somewhere.
      Back to the fallen angels and your question ‘have I seen one.?’
      The fallen Angels,though condemned to everlasting torments are not always confined to the limits of hell but great numbers still bearing their torments with them are permitted by God to come upon the earth for the trial of men!
      OH yes I have seen many!!

  29. Ignatius says:

    What did you see?

    • St.Joseph says:

      Ignatius
      I must say in my solitary existence here on my own, although not alone with God we never are,
      However you make me smile
      As if I am going reveal it to you .

      • St.Joseph says:

        Ignatius.
        Before I retire,in a minute a little prayer we learnt as practically not much older than babies which we taught to our children and children’s children
        There are four corners on my bed.
        There are four Angels there to spread.
        There are four more at my bed side .
        My Guardian Angel will be my guide.
        St Matthew St Mark St Luke St John
        God Bless the bed that I lay on.
        And if any evil should come to me.
        I shall get up and pray to Thee.

        Also the Prayer to St Michael who is like unto God, led the faithful hosts against Lucifer and His rebel Angels;.

    • RAHNER says:

      An empty whisky bottle perhaps?

  30. Ignatius says:

    I take it you aren’t big on angels then Rahner!!!!?

    • RAHNER says:

      Clearly we cannot rule out the possible existence of non-human, created, intelligent beings. And if people find the idea and imagery of angels helpful, OK. But they are largely just pious myths and metaphors.

      • St.Joseph says:

        RAHNER,
        When you lay in your coffin and the congregation will sing that the Angels bring you into Paradise’-be careful they may drop you at the ‘bus stop and make you find your own way!. Always pray about it!!

      • St.Joseph says:

        P.S So you would not believe in the Incarnation and the Angel Gabriel or the other references to Angels appearing to St Joseph in a dream, or St Peter when he was released from chains in prison etc etc-what name would you give them,or are they all pious myths.?
        Or is God a myth too?
        I would like an answer please.

      • Quentin says:

        St Joseph, the subject of myths and metaphors is an excellent one to discuss. I am doing a little work to see if I can set up a post on which we can discuss the questions which arise. The heading might even be your question: “Is God a myth?”. So don’t waste too much ammunition now. Quentin

      • milliganp says:

        About 25 years ago I asked a priest friend “whatever happened to guardian angels” to which he replied “now we have the Holy Spirit”. I understood his intent, God is in and with us and does not need an intermediary but I felt the explanation was unsatisfactory. If a guardian angel is good enough for Padre Pio, I’m not going to indulge in denial despite my inability to rationalise God’s purpose in providing them.

  31. Ignatius says:

    I bet you don’t believe in the tooth fairy either..

  32. John Nolan says:

    The pseudonymous Rahner enlivens this blog no end with his rationalist Protestantism. I still think him to be a troll, and would have advised people not to feed him (nolite monstris escam dare) but he is a very clever troll (monstrum ingeniosissimum).

    • St.Joseph says:

      John Nolan.
      I always respect what you say, so I will take your advice! Thank you

    • Quentin says:

      This could depend on your definition of ‘troll’. I see this as working under anonymity, and writing deliberately to cause trouble or upset. Rahner may have perfectly good reasons for anonymity but in no other respect does he fit my definition of a troll. If he did, he would not be given space on this Blog!

      • St.Joseph says:

        Quentin.
        You make a good point that I never thought about regarding anonymity
        I would not like anyone to think I was using St Joseph to hide my identity.
        My grandson put me on Facebook as I thought maybe when I was a teenager although I keep in touch with many.I gave my name as a double barrel with my maiden name when I was single and a recent photo. So if any one wants to see my identity I will e.mail it to them.
        I like St.Joseph as a blog name as he always looks after me for the Lord of course.
        If anyone is interested go ahead. . I will even put it on the blog I don’t mind
        In fact I think Rahner knows me!!!!.

      • Quentin says:

        No need to change your name, St Joseph. There are people on this blog whose chosen pseudonym might well be more revealing than their everyday name. Shan’t say who. I have endless fun trying to visualise what people look like. But I haven’t the faintest idea.

      • RAHNER says:

        Thank you, Quentin, I knew we could rely on your good sense….

      • John Nolan says:

        Perhaps gadfly would be more accurate than troll. In any case he provides a useful service, and I suspect his pithy interjections are not primarily designed to elicit a response.

  33. Ignatius says:

    Denial of angels would seem to run counter to the experience of many many people and also fly in the face of orthodox catholic teaching on the subject. In fact one of the many things I find so delightful about Catholicism is its cheerful acceptance and celebration of their existence together with the recommendation we treat them with respect…having bumped into one or two along the way I can see why!!

    • St.Joseph says:

      Matthew chpt 26.52-54 Jesus then said ‘Put your sword back, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.,Or do you not think that I cannot appeal to my Father who would promptly send more than twelve legions of angels to my defence?, But then how would the scriptures be fulfilled that say this is the way it must be’.?

      As far as I know the word Angel means messenger or sent,!

      • St.Joseph says:

        When priests perform exorcism’s is it only for good Spirits to put to rest?.
        Or who is it that roams the earth for the ruin of souls?
        I must ask a priest that question or a Deacon maybe!

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