Historic thoughts are still relevant

Friday, January 23, 2004

From St. Peter to contemporary Italian educator Chiara Lubich, the Roman Catholic Church is the most documented of all Christian denominations, and, of course, is the source of all protestant denominations.

For all its history, both positive and negative, the Catholic Church has produced great theologians, philosophers, artists, scholars, as well as simple believers, who have shaped Christian thought throughout the centuries.

And today, in the 21st century, the thoughts of these Christian believers are still relevant. Bear in mind, synonyms for "catholic" include "universal" and "general."

All Shall be Well is a thoughtful collection of the best words of Christians of the past 20 centuries, and includes the thoughts of church leaders as well as secular luminaries such as artistic geniuses Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, authors Graham Greene, Flannery O'Connor, G.K. Chesterson, and Ranier Maria Rilke, mathematician Blaise Pascal, soldier Joan of Arc, and Heloise, the doomed wife of controversial 12th-century theologian Abelard.

The quotes are organized into 10 categories addressing good works, perseverance, love, suffering, faith, hope, life, death, prayer and joy. The biographical sketches at the end of the book are well-honed and concise.

Following are some samples from each chapter.

From "Good Works:"

  • While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart. ---- St. Francis of Assisi

  • Do not honor Christ here in the church with silken garments while neglecting him outside where he is cold and naked. ---- St. John Chrysostom.

    From "Perseverance:"

  • No athlete is crowned but in the sweat of his brow. ---- St. Jerome.

  • God commands you to pray, but he forbids you to worry. ---- St. John Vianney.

    From "Suffering:"

  • The extreme greatness of Christianity lies in the fact that it does not seek a supernatural remedy for suffering but a supernatural use for it. ---- Simone Weil.

  • Let the crucifix be not only in my eyes and on my breast, but in my heart. ---- St. Bernadette.

    From "Faith:"

  • Faith seeks understanding. I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. ---- St. Anselm of Canterbury.

  • All earthly delights are sweeter in expectation than in enjoyment; but all spiritual pleasures more in fruition that in expectation. ---- Fran¨ois de Salignac F/nelon.

    From "Hope:"

  • Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin. ---- Mother Teresa.

  • A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral. ---- Antoine de St.-Exup/ry.

    From "Life:"

  • Get away from any man who argues every time he talks. ---- sayings of the Desert Fathers.

  • Truth never contradicts truth. ---- Pope Leo X.

    From "Death:"

  • Hell is full of the talented, but Heaven of the energetic. ---- St. Jane Frances de Chantal.

  • While I thought that I was learning how to live, I have been learning how to die. ---- Leonardo da Vinci.

    From "Prayer:"

  • Prayer is not a one-sided practice. ---- Joseph Cardinal Bernardin.

  • At the times when you remember God, increase your prayers, so that when you forget Him, the Lord may remind you. ---- St. Mark the Ascetic.

    From "Joy:"

  • From my infancy until now, in the seventieth year of my age, my soul always beheld this sight ... The brightness which I see is not limited by space and is more brilliant than the radiance around the Sun ... Sometimes when I see it, all sadness and pain is lifted from me, and I seem a simple girl again, and an old woman no more. ---- St. Hildegard Von Bingen.

  • Without work, it is impossible to have fun. ---- St. Thomas Aquinas.

    All Shall Be Well is an excellent book for meditation or contemplation, regardless of one's religious orientation ---- or lack thereof.

    All Shall Be Well: Hope and Inspiration from Great Catholic Thinkers; Jane Cavolina and Matthew Bunson; paperback; 210 pages with biographical sketches; Berkley Publishing, a division of Penguin Group; $13.

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