DARE TO LIVE! by the Rev. Albert H. Dolan, O. Carm.

*** NOTE *** 

Below is the text of a small 64 page book on questions many people 
wonder about, I'm sure, but which answers are generally not easy to 

"St. Therese, rich in faith; comforter of troubled hearts; example for
every state, leading souls back to God - pray for us."

Chapter One*


 This booklet is being written under the patronage of St. Therese, the
Little Flower. I shall make frequent reference to her. But even when I
am not referring directly to her, I shall be writing of things which
were realities to her and which I ask her to help us realize.
 At the outset let me tell you of a conversation I had with a young 
lady who came to me for advice. The young lady explained that she had
recently met a friend of hers, a girl of twenty, second year in coll-
ege, highly gifted, hungry for everything great and beautiful and sat-
isfying; attractive, full of life, keen on sport-in fact, a typically
modern girl. The two had attended the same convent school. Their con-
versation drifted to religion. To the college girl her Catholic faith
had become merely a memory; she no longer practiced it and no longer 
had any misgivings about abandoning it. She believes now in an imper-
sonal God and in a fairly rigid code of morals such as any conscient-
ious person would acknowledge. When her friend tried to reason with 
her she said: "I do not want to be reminded of things Catholic. I went
through a kind of religious crisis once-a sort of longing for God, I
suppose- but it passed off long ago. I don't think anymore about it 
now. I don't feel any need for religion. I don't want to be helped."
 "What did you say to that?" I asked my visitor.
 She said: "I told her it was her duty to examine the whole question
carefully, not to just refuse to think of it-that she should not thus
casually sever her connection with a spiritual world of such immensity
-seperate so carelessly from the Catholic Church with such imposing
traditions and such serious claims. I said to her, 'What if the Church
is right and does bear a message to you from God? That is possible and
you cannot just ignore such a possibility. Fight it if you like, but
do not just pass it by as if it did not matter.' She listened and we
went on arguing and we had other later conversations and I think she 
will probably give in if she is honest with herself and has sufficient


 "But, Father," my visitor continued, "before I go any further with my
friend, I want to ask your advice about a difficulty of my own. Have I
the right to try to convert this young lady? Why should I disturb her?
She seemed content with her disbelief, although I imagine she'll miss
her religion as she gets older. But my question is this: Why should we
Catholics try to convert to catholicism decent people who are aiming
high and are far finer specimens of humanity, healthier minded, more
genuine than us Catholics? Like my friend, they have a code of morals
and they make sacrifices to live up to it, even though it may not be
as rigid as ours."
 I said: "Well, your question involves the whole problem of missionary
activity, not only at home, but abroad wherever missionaries try to
bring pagans out of their darkness into the light. Let us face the 
whole problem at once. This is what you mean, is it not: that God will
save men who are outside the Church but are of good will and in good 
faith, and therefore why should we disturb them and try to convert 
 She agreed that such was indeed her meaning; and then I explained 
that we should not disturb them and indeed will not try to convert 
them, unless we have sufficient faith to be absolutely convinced, with
our whole hearts and minds, that the world of the Catholic Church is 
such that we are justified under all circumstances in striving to 
bring into it all those who are outside, even if they are in good 
faith. We should not and will not attempt conversions until we have 
those strong convictions based on a knowledge and study of our relig-
ion - until without the quiver of an eyelid we can uphold the view 
that membership in the Church of God is the best thing for anyone, and
that it will inevitably mean immense happiness for him, the highest 
happiness possible on earth.
 Not only must we believe that but we must know why we believe it; and
we have a perfect right to think about these matters. There are many
Catholics who, when they left school and went out into the world, were
perfectly sure of these things (the value of the Church for all men)-
perfectly sure, until one fine day they caught themmselves envying 
those outside, envying the beggars at the gate, who do not envy is in
the least and would laughingly beg to decline the privilege of joining
us. Therefore we do well to inquire now into the problems contained in
the conversation I have repeated.*


 Let us therefore take up first this question: Is our religion a burd-
en or a boon to the individual? Is it to be preferred, with all its 
restrictions, to the freedom of an unbeliever-like the college girl 
who lost her faith?
 Let it be said first that there is a sense in which our religion is a
burden and a yoke. Our Lord said: "My yoke is sweet and My burden lig-
ht," but He called it both a yoke and a burden. Let us not forget as 
we continue that He spoke of a burden and of a yoke.
 The human heart, until it knows by actual experience that His yoke is
sweet, DOES ordinarily shrink from the yoke of God. Such a feeling 
comes to us all at times. We wonder and we fear what God will do with
us if we give ourselves to Him. The poet Francis Thompson expresses
that thought when he says, "Although I knew His love, yet was I sore
adread lest having him I must have naught beside." He is afraid that
the surrender of self to God would mean loss, not gain-afraid that 
having God, life would be hard and lonely. We have all felt or will 
feel that dread at times as we go through life.


 Such a fear is experienced only by those who have not surrendered to
God. Those who have surrendered to Him have no such fears, for they 
know by valid, genuine experience that He fills the soul, satisfies 
it; that life with Him as a Friend is not dull or lonely but rich and
peaceful. They know that His burden is light and His yoke sweet. But 
that is a conviction that springs from experience. Unfortunately no 
amount of argument can bring that conviction.
 The person who has not experienced the Friendship of Christ bears the
same relation to the experienced friend of Christ as the child does to
the grown man. What excites terror in a child the grown man laughs at.
What the beginner in religion fears, the experienced and genuine foll-
ower of Christ does not fear at all. To overcome such fears there fir-
st must come surrender to Christ, surrender to His law. That is the 
price of learning that His yoke is sweet. "Taste and see," says the
Scripture, "that the Lord is sweet" (Ps. 33,9). "Taste" means self-
surrender, surrender to God.


 There is involved here an old truth which will bear frequent repitit-
But if you begin by not practicing what you believe, you will end by
not believing.
 Let us return to our point: is our religion a burden, or is it to be
preferred to the freedom of unbelief?
 One of the reasons why we have doubts concerning these questions, is
that we see so many around us who are not Catholics and do not seem
to mind it; who have no religion and do not seem to miss it-rather 
quite the reverse; they are glad they have no religion.
 Let us elaborate a little. We may not be troubled about any particul-
ar article of faith, but perhaps we do doubt the power of our religion
to make a full and complete personality out of the person who practi-
ces it. Perhaps we think that Catholicism cannot build up today a cul-
turally superior type of man. We are not satisfied with what we see 
about us. We fail to find the ideal Christian realized. We know that
the Christian ideal is beautiful but we doubt the power of our religi-
on to realize the ideal, because the devout Catholics around us and we
ourselves fall far short of the ideal.
 Meanwhile there is growing up around us a paganism, that is not unat-
tractive - on the contrary, it has more than a little beauty. We all
know modern unbelievers who are splendid types of humanity, torn by no
inward conflicts such as we have, sure of themselves, with no troubles
of conscience or no conscience at all. Our sense of guilt is unknown 
to them. They know regret and shame but no contrition. And what perpl-
exes us is that they seem to pass with the security of sleep-walkers
through experiences which we call sins and of which they are apparent-
ly quite unaware.


 Are they as immune as they seem from the consequences of sin? Is it 
true that unbelievers, committing acts which we call sins, escape all
consequences? No, that is not true, and a moment's thought will demon-
strate its untruth. It is true that the results of sin do not always 
betray themselves on the surface. Even in the case of Catholics the
results of sin are not always visible to the ordinary observer, but it
is certain that God's laws inevitably avenge themselves if they are 
broken. For instance-no person lives who can drink to excess and yet
escape unpleasant consequences. The law of temperance avenges itself.
The body rebels against intemperance; it was not made to withstand ex-
cess. Similarly, impurity avenges itself, as everybody knows. An im-
pure person is never happy; he is always hungry. If God's laws are 
broken they avenge themselves, even upon unbelievers who may not know
fully that they are breaking a law of God. Sin has its effects upon
them, just as poison has its injurious effect upon one who does not 
know the scientific name of the poison and who cannot explain its che-
mical properties. So with unbelievers-sin has its injurious effects 
even though they do not know the name which Christians give to their 
sin; even though they do not recognize it as sin. It poisons them just
the same. But often the injurious results are outside the range of our
 What IS true is that outside the Church, and inside too, souls that
hunger for purity and virtue are becoming fewer and fewer; and it is
true also that multitudes outside the Church are without the sense of
sin that Catholics have, and therefore do not feel the same sense of
guilt that we suffer. But whther they are to be envied by Catholics,
whether their lives are happier, are questions to be answered in the
next chapter.

Chapter Two


 If we are honest we must admit that there are many very attractive 
unbelievers. We meet them every day. Some of them are not only attrac-
tive but also good, solidly good. You have met non-Catholics of whom
you have said: "That man or that woman is a saint."
 Has it ever struck you that such persons are actually necesary to us
Catholics, in order that with their living example before us, we may
see what we sometimes forget-namely, how rich and good our human nat-
ure can be, how much solid worth and nobility there can be extracted 
from human nature WITHOUT any aid whatever from the strength-giving
apparatus of Catholicism?
 But let us come to the very heart of the matter. What we want to know
is: is it not enough to be a good non-Catholic like the saintly man or
woman I mentioned, or like the good-living, attractive unbelievers we
all know? Is it not enough?


 That question leads us straight to the question in the little catech-
ism: Why did God make you? Is the answer: He sent me here to make of
myself a work of art? Or a perfectly balanced character? Or to mould
myself into a cultured, attractive, refined human being whom everyone
will admire, as one would a perfect work of art? Is the answer: God 
sent me here to contribute to the harmony of life and fit with perfect
smoothness into my environment and into the social fabric of my fellow
human beings? Is that what man is here for? Is that the final meaning
of life?
 If it is-if ethical, intellectual, artistic, cultural perfection is
the whole of life's purpose, then indeed we would have to admit that
Catholics should do no proselytizing, that we should not try to bring
back into the Church people like the college girl mentioned in our 
last chapter. No, in that case we would have no right to interfere. We
would be obliged to leave them alone. Indeed in the supposition I have
made, such attempts at convert-making would be sheer impertinence and
presumption. What is more, such efforts would be an absurdity, for 
Catholics would then be setting themselves up to teach their superi-
ors. Why should we insist on anyone taking our road when there are ma-
ny other roads to ethical, intellectual and cultural perfection? If in
the supposition I have made (that man's purpose here is to make him-
self an admirable work of art), an unbeliever should come to us for 
guidance, we should exhort him to be true to his lights and let him go
his way.
 But man was not sent here by God on so meagre a mission or for so 
puny a purpose. Since when has Catholicism been just a system of mor-
als? Since when has our religion been merely a discipline for the 
building up of an attractive personality?


 Is it not because we ourselves have grossly and grotesquely misunder-
stood our own position, that our unique possession has become so dist-
orted? Have we ourselves not forgotten the tremendous import of our 
own God-given religion? And is not that the reason why, instead of be-
ing bearers of a UNIQUE message, we condescend to compete with a mass
of rivals in their own fields-manely, culture, ethical perfection, and
 It is high time that we recalled what it really is that gives Cathol-
icism its UNIQUE character-what it is that makes our religion incomp-
arable and irreplaceable.
 The matter resolves itself into this one straightforward question: 
Has God given to men, to ALL men, not just a chosen few, a special 
message about our purpose in life-the purpose for which He created us?
If God has given this message, then it must be proclaimed and we must
proclaim it to all, however humanly perfect and attractive our friends
may be BEFORE they receive that message. They-all-everyone must rece-
ive that vitally important message because it has to do with something
before which all other things pale into insignificance-namely: How 
does one stand before one's God?
 Let us suppose that many attractive non-Catholics worship, in a sen-
se, a God who speaks to them out of the golden dawn or out of the star
-spangled night - and so on, after the usual manner of such lyrical
outpourings. They never tell us who this God is that they worship. To
them He is not a Person. They never ask themselves the crucial questi-
on which we ask ourselves: How do I stand before God; before God who
has made His will known to me?
 Let us realize the immense distance that seperates the Catholic from
one who does not believe in a personal God - the immeasurable distance
that seperates a person who recognizes dimly the greatness of some im-
personal God in nature, from the Catholic who believes in the Father,
Son, and Holy Ghost - in the Son sent by the Father to teach men, and 
in the Holy Ghost sent by the Father to dwell in the souls of men.
 Moreover, if the personal, living God has spoken; if He has addressed
man; if He demands from men a living reply; if that is all true, what
discussion can there be about the value of an attractive pagan's life
as compared with a Christian's life? The Christian is one to whom God
in His goodness has spoken and who has given God some kind of reply. 
The pagan is one who does not know that God has spoken; and we must by
all means deliver God's message to him so that he too may heed and re-
 If a personal God has spoken, then a pagan life does  not make sense;
a Christian life is the only sane course to adopt.
 We know God has spoken. We know it as we know the letters of the al-
phabet or the multiplication table, but the trouble is, we do not take
God's message seriously enough. We go about wondering chiefly how we
can extract some pleasure from the next week-end instead of wondering
chiefly how we can give a practical answer every day and every week-
end to the liiving God who created us and who has spoken to us and de-
mands from us an answer in our daily conduct.


 Now we are ready to admit, without any semblance of shame, that oth-
ers often do excel catholics: excel them in cultural and artistic ach-
ievements and even in ethics, i.e., in the natural virtues of honor,
honesty, and truthfulness. That should not be so, of course, and we
will return to that point later. But which is more important-ethical
perfection or the personal binding of the soul to God? Who is better 
off, the unbeliever who is admired for his or her natural goodness, or
the imperfect, uncultured Catholic into whose soul God has descended,
mingling His Divine Life with the soul's human life and binding the 
sould to it's God? Show me the most perfect human personality you can
point out and no matter how high it towers over the common level, I
will point out that far above the shining summit of the most perfect
human personality, there rises the holiness of God which cannot be
reached by any human, natural means. No man, however perfect, can of
himself, unhelped by God, climb until he reached the holiness of God. 
And yet God's holiness is within the easy reach of Catholics, for His
holiness descends and He with it; or rather He elevates man to Himself
and to His holiness. How? By grace-grace that comes to us in the Sac-
raments. That elevation can never happen to an unbeliever, howsoever 
perfect; that is a height which he cannot reach until he receives the
gift of faith.


 Grace(the grace of the Sacraments)lifts the soul to heights unattain-
able by any pagan, howsoever cultured; raises him to God. This grace
Christ came to bestow. Christ came to teach that by surrender to Him
every soul can reach God-every soul, not only the exceptional man, the
cultured man, but everyone down to the last illiterate cripple. THAT
is Catholicism. That is the cardinal point upon which everything 
turns. Personal communion with God-that is the unique privilege of 
Catholics. Since we know that personal union with God is possible only
to those with faith in God, we can never believe that a pagan is bet-
ter off than a Catholic, and we can never be satisfied that living 
souls are left without contact with their living God. That is the rea-
son why the college girl should of course be invited by her friend to
re-enter the Church of God and be reunited to her God; to Christ our
Lord, whose glowing message filled the evening prayer of His life, and
His evening prayer was this: "Now this is eternal life: that they may
know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou has sent."
 Let us not henceforth be so forgetful of our own unique, Catholic
privileges as to envy pagans, or entrust them entirely to God, believ-
ing that He may somehow save them. Let us do more than that - let us
pray that they may receive the gift of faith and with it the possibil-
ity of union with God here on earth; and let us help them to the faith
when opportunity offers. And more than that, let us thank God for our
own faith, acknowledge His gift, fall down before Him in earnest pray-
er returning Him thanks for making us members of the One, Holy, Catho-
lic and Apostolic Church of God.

Chapter Three


 We do not know, and no amount of guess-work will reveal, why God sho-
ould single out Catholics for the unique privileges that are ours in 
the Sacraments; but nevertheless we know that He has chosen so to en-
rich us and chosen us to do our best, by prayer and example and instr-
uction, to bring others into His Church so that He may enrich them al-
 Before we turn to our next question, let me remark that we Catholics
have a perfect right to speculate upon matters which concern our reli-
gion and which, at times, tempt us to doubt the efficacy of membership
in the Church. We have a right to discuss these things so that the fi-
nal result will be an "I believe" based on insight and understanding-
not an "I believe" because it says so in the catechism. That is the 
reason I invoked, on the first page of this pamphlet, the intercession
of the Little Flower-"St. Therese, rich in Faith, pray for us." She
herself, on earth, was severely tempted against faith, and will, if 
asked, most certainly assist those who are reading this booklet to 
strengthen their faith.
 So far, we have seen that the modern pagan, however attractive exter-
nally, is in God's eyes an incomplete and unfinished product, a magni-
ficent substructure which lacks a crown-a lamp without a light.
 In fact, those images do not go far enough, because they merely pict-
ure a defect, a falling short of something; whereas the pagan has not
only a defect; he fails utterly to attain the purpose for which God
created him. He lacks the power (grace that comes to us through Bapt-
ism and the other Sacraments) to attain the SUPERNATURAL goal which
Christ came to bring all men.
 Whether, or to what extent, that is his fault is a point we are not 
now discussing. Neither are we discussing how far God will hold him 
responsible for what he lacks. The point is that his soul is not uni-
ted to God. In his soul grace and the Holy Spirit do not dwell, and 
therefore his soul is not beautiful in God's sight.
 We do not condemn the pagan. We do not pretend to judge him. We sim-
ply affirm that unfortunately he lacks that which God has given us,
that which God intended for all men-the attainment of union with God
through grace, through the Sacraments. Therefore we Catholics, if we
understand the meaning of our unique privilege-the attainment of union
with God in this world-will not get excited about any picture of the
"splendid pagan," for we know what he lacks.
 We manifest a very meagre understanding of our religion and of God's
plans for men if we say to ourselves: "Well, for some unknown reason
God has chosen to be abundantly generous with Catholics, but there are
other souls outside the Church who will be saved in spite of their 
lack of what God has generously given us." No, that may be true but we
are not sure. That attitude kills all effort to make converts and to
extend God's kingdom on earth. God expects our co-operation in the sa-
ving of souls. That is the reason why there are priests, missionaries,
lay people who support all missionary effort both at home and abroad-
their goal is to save souls. That was why the Little Flower desired to
be a missionary until the end of time-to save souls. How do we know 
whether a person outside the Churchmay not need just the generosity of
our missionary effort in order to be saved?


 Let me put the matter in another way for the sake of emphasis. There
are souls who seek God, who all their lives dream of meeting their 
Maker, and who finally find Catholicism and find in it what they sou-
ght. If and when such souls meet Catholicism face to face, what does
God require of them? Does He permit them to decline with thanks, to
say, "No, I do not aspire to the heights. Let others attain union with
You if they will. Let others climb the mountains, I prefer to remain
in the valley"?
 Such a declination is like that of the peasant whom the emperor wish-
ed to reward by giving him royalty and his daughter's hand in marr-
iage. The peasant declined the honor, saying that he would rather re-
main a peasant but that if the emperor really wished to do something 
for him, he'd be glad of a present of two more cows.
 The human soul may not, when confronted with Christ's invitation, 
thus refuse. It may not decline the honor, and this is beyond doubt a
terrible compulsion. Salvation is a free gift of God, but it is a gift
that may not be refused when it is offered; it is a gift that can be
rejected only under pain of death.
 We Catholics are frequently offered invitations to a richer Catholic
life, to a more intimate union with God, and it is dangerous to decl-
ine these invitations. It is only human to fight against these invita-
tions from God, only human to put up a desperate resistance. But if we
are wise and good and sincere, we will decide to abandon all resist-
ance, surrender to God's inspirations and accept His invitations. The
struggle of the pagan against accepting Catholicism when he meets it 
is duplicated again and again in the life of a Catholic who struggles 
against accepting God's invitation to a more vigorous Catholic life.
It is sometimes true that the struggle against God's grace is more 
terrible, more desperate, in a believer than in an unbeliever. It is
even true that in a Catholic this struggle sometimes is so fierce pre-
cisely because the Catholic knows that it is a life-and-death battle;
that the issue will decide his life, his whole existence; that it is
really a question of whether or not he shall let his religion pass 
forever out of his hands. And why do we struggle? Because we are "sore
adread lest having Him we must have naught beside." We are afraid that
we will lose something by surrendering to His invitations to more pra-
yer, more Catholic reading, more visits to the Blessed Sacrament, more
study of our religion, more frequent attendance at week-day Mass. We
should not be thus afraid. Our fears are groundless. God will replace
a thousandfold what we give up for Him. He will not be outdone in gen-
erosity. "Taste and see that the Lord is sweet." "My yoke is sweet and
my burden light." "Come to Me and I will refresh you." Let our resol-
ution be to surrender generously to God's invitations to a more intim-
ate union with Him, to a more vigorous, more DARING and more thorough
practice of our religion.


 Now let me answer an objection which was recently proposed to me. A
non-Catholic desired to marry a Catholic girl, who would not marry him
until he succeeded in acquiring some religious belief. Coming to con-
sult me,  he said that he objected to religion in general and to Cath-
olicism in particular on these grounds: "I object to being dragged out
of the natural order of things. I think religion makes aman something
less than human, something less than a he-man. I do not want to be up-
rooted and placed in a new field, no matter how superior the new field
may be. My present world is at least home to me, and although I recog-
nize, chiefly because of the example of the girl I want to marry, the
sublimity and beauty of Catholicism, yet it is strange and foreign to
me, different and cold and chilling. I prefer the freedom of my pres-
ent unbelief."
 These were practically his exact words. I told him that I was glad to
meet such frankness, that such honest outspokenness gave us an oppor-
tunity to get somewhere; then we discussed his ideal, which might be
called "the he-man" ideal, or "the harmony-with-self" or "at-home-with
-self" ideal.
 After some discussion he admitted that his ideal had not brought him
much happiness, had not by any means satisfied his longings. He furth-
er admitted that his ideal was unattainable, that the natural man at
home with himself does not exist, that it is a fairy-tale, a dream 
never realized. He had a fair knowledge of history and therefore ad-
mitted that in every century certain men have cherished the dream of
being at harmony with themselves without religion, and that their 
dream was never realized.
 I drew a picture of the he-man as contrasted with the Catholic ideal,
and he admitted that the he-man ideal looked fairly sick alongside the
other, and that, when it was analyzed, it was not a very imposing 
dream or a worthy goal of human desire.
 You can perceive the same truth if you analyze a certain type of lit-
erature which is forever glorifying the "new generation"-the charming
young people who are being brought up, the books say, on light and air
and freedom. Freedom! Freedom to follow their instincts. Yes, it is 
all very nice to watch-for a time. But how woefully deceived are these
young folk, how completely cut off from the pains and the consequent
blessings that are proper to real men. How pitiful are their sorrows!
How utterly blasted and crushed they are by pain when it comes!
 Those who have something worth while in them soon move on or rather
up to a higher plane, where something more is demanded of them than 
just to present an agreeable and radiant exterior; and only when they
have passed their test on that higher level do they become, and des-
erve to be termed, "really fine specimens of humanity."


 And the others, the young people who remain on the lower level? When
they enter life, as determined by the modern city or the modern uni-
versity, they get dragged one way or another into misery, and often, 
very often, the misery is not only mental but also physical. There are
no people more pitiable in the end than these young people who let
themselves go and are guided by their instincts. I say "pitiable," not
"disgusting," because to a genuine Catholic nosinner is disgusting. I
have no patience with those Catholics who inquire in a superior manner
"How can they do it?"-"How can they be so disgusting in their behav-
ior?"-the reference being to some form of conduct which to them is 
shocking. "How can they do it?" Whatever any man has done, another man
can do. Whatever has happened that is sinful and vicious can happen to
anyone of us. If we are good, it is because God gave us abundant 
grace. If He were to withdraw His grace, or if we were so to neglect
our duty as to cause Him to withdraw His grace, we would descend to
depths of sin as deep as any in history. If we were sufficiently int-
elligent to realize our dependence on God, we would say when we hear
of some shocking conduct, not "How can they do it?" but "There but for
the grace of God would I be too, guilty of the same sin."
 Moreover, people who are prone to exclaim "How can they do it?" are
very often the ones who, through temperament, or lack of opportunity,
or selfishness, or lack of courage and intensity, could not be guilty
of excesses if they tried. Let them refrain from condemning, because
the sinners' self-condemnations, their own keen and constant realiza-
tion of their failure to be true to their better selves, call for our
charitable prayers rather than for our condemnation. Let us pray for
them. And if we cannot understand excess in others, let us thank God
that by reason of our temperament we are not tempted as are some oth-
ers. Some people are tempted to shameful impurity and bloated drunken-
ness, but the temptation of the "How can they do it?" people is to be
smug and uncharitable: smug because they do not thank God for protect-
ing them from the grosser temptations, and uncharitable because they
judge and condemn others in spite of Our Lord's admonition, "Judge not
lest ye be judged."


 The ideal of passing through life without struggle with self is un-
true, crude, immature-and as a standard of life it is so impossible as
to be comical. Two considerations show it is impossible. First, man 
does not dwell alone on an island. He lives with other human beings,
and if he is human and normal, his contact with other human beings 
will often give him not only joy but sorrow, not only pleasure but
suffering. For the least that we expect of a man is that he will share
another's pain, especially if that other is dear to him. Secondly,
every human being is exposed hourly, whether he wills it or not, whe-
ther he is fully conscious of it or not, to a spiritual struggle of 
vast dimensions. He is the object of a struggle between the Powers of
Darkness and God. Both strive to win him. "The Powers of Darkness!",
I can hear someone say derisively. Do you doubt they exist? I used to
be tempted to be dubious when I was younger. But I lived to meet the
Powers of Darkness and the Prince of Darkness many times in souls. I
am no longer tempted to doubt their existence. Perhaps there are some
readers who have experienced what I mean. It is possible to sin so
boldly, so knowingly, with full knowledge and full consent, so fre-
quently and in such open rebellion against God, that into the soul
there swarm all the forces of evil-all the Powers of Darkness, and the
Prince of Darkness, so that the soul comes to hate good and hate vir-
tue and hate God and express that hatred in blasphemy and often in 
blasphemous action. I know such souls-and when you pray, pray for them
and thank God from your hearts that you have been so protected by Him
that you never dreamed until now that such possession by Satan was 
possible in your day and in your midst. All the hatred of religion and
of Christ and of Christ's Church is not to be found in Spain, where 
Christ's statues were smashed and His tabernacles opened and the Hosts
therein scattered blasphemously to the four winds. No, you find some 
of that same hatred here in souls who, by constant sins of impurity,
have admitted the Prince of Evil with all his cohorts. It is the old
by not practicing what you believe and you will end by not believing
at all. All one has to do to leave the door of the soul open to these
Powers of darkness is to keep on sinning, disregarding God's warnings
and inspirations; and if the sin is continued long enough there will
come weakening of faith and then loss of faith, and finally the soul
will turn of God and blame and hate God and the things of God. Even 
then the soul may be delivered by a merciful God from those Powers of
Darkness. But have no doubt that they exist and inhabit souls today.**
And if there is any reader who had detected in himself an incipient 
aversion for religious things for which he formerly had reverence,
then for his soul's sake let him turn to God before he turns on God.
There is need for prompt action or all will be lost. It is not without
reason that in the prayers after Mass every day we say, "Cast into
hell Satan and all the other evil spirits who roam through the world
seeking the destruction of souls."
 Yes, whether he wills it or not, whether he is a subscriber to the 
harmony-with-self ideal or not, man is the object of a lifelong strug-
gle between God who would save him and the Evil One who would destroy


 But to retrace our steps a bit. The conception of man as a splendid
pagan, so entrancingly human and so alluringly natural-that conception
stunts man; yes, stunts and dwarfs him. Physical life, the life of
warm-blooded instinct, is only part of our nature as men; it is only 
one side of man. And the man who becomes wholly submerged in physical,
instinctive life is only half a man.
 Let me not be understood to disparage or decry the human nature of
man. Our humanity is good. But it must not be over emphasized, i.e.,
we must not forget that man also has a supernatural destiny, an immor-
tal soul intended to live a life of union with God even in this world;
that if a man misses that union with God, he is indeed stunted, incom-
plete, only half a man. As we shall see later, in Christianity man
achieves his full stature as man WITHOUT suffering any diminution of
his humanity. The whole business of living a Christian life is to 
achieve a perfect balance between the spiritual and the physical - to
be united to God and yet keep our feet on the ground. But the moment
a man neglects or rather casts off union with God, he sinks back to 
the earth and there lies PRONE, no longer in his perfect state but in
a state of arrested development. He is on the earth-all of him-whereas
part of him belongs in the sky. There is so much of heaven and of hell
possible for all of us even in this world that it is no wonder that 
Pascal said, "Man is much less and much more than man." Our business
is on the one hand to scale the heights of union with God and on the
other to avoid the abysses of sin.

Chapter Four


 In the last chapter we considered the natural man as opposed to the 
Christian man. Our discussion was abstract and philosophical. What I
feel I ought to have done instead of talking in the abstract is to 
have led you, not to St. Francis of Assisi, not to St. Elizabeth of 
Hungary, not to St. Therese of Lisieux, not to St. Bernard and St. 
Augustine, but to this person and that person whom I know, who are 
living today in the flesh, and to have said to you: "See, there he 
stands, a Christian and a man; look at him; see for yourself how he is
every inch aman and every inch a Christian." That would have stopped
all talk about HUMAN nature being crippled and stunted by religion.
 We all know the splendid pagan, the splendid natural man, and we know
that there is much that is noble and genuine in him. But I have seen
and doubtless you have seen the splendid CHRISTIAN man. And therefore
we say to those who glorify the natural man: "Wecan bear testimony to
the reality, to the existence of the splendid Christian man. He is 
rare (as such superior specimens must always be), but he exists and 
in our day and not infrequently. We have seen him, and his beauty is
not inferior to that of the other. Show us your own best type of rich
and happy natural man and we will show you a Christian man who could
not be distinguished from your own ideal image of the natural man --
could not be distinguished from him in all that concerns color, full-
ness, richness of humanity, in vigor and elasticity, in tolerance and
nobility, in red-bloodedness and vibrant vitality."
 I will go further and say that our Christian man SURPASSES your ideal
natural man-oh, far surpasses him. His thinking is more honest, more
mature, more penetrating; his insight is deeper and clearer; his hori-
zon is wider, his preceptions keener and more sensitively responsive;
his heart is braver and richer in inward forces.
 I am talking of men and women I have known. If there is a reader who
has never met a religious man who is also a splendid human, natural 
man, then I say that you have missed something; and I say that you 
will not go far in life without meeting such a specimen, for to meet
such men and women is an experience which, though rare, is inevitable
to everyone who penetrates far enough into Christian life. Moreover,
you can meet such a Christan in yourself if you will and if you have
by nature a spendid humanity. How? By surrender to God and to God's
grace, for God and His grace make splendid Christians what they are.
 If I may inject a personal note, let me say that the persons who from
my boyhood blessed and enriched my life were such Christians, splendid
specimens both of nature and of grace, losing nothing of their lovable
HUMANNESS because of their religion, their humanity being shaped, for-
med, elevated and developed by their religion so that they were every
inch men and every inch Christians. I continue, thank God, to meet 
such splendid specimens of humanity and grace today among the lay peo-
ple, men and women, and I constantly marvel at the richness of the 
natures of those I have in mind. Never have I found in irreligious men
a single genuine value that splendid Christians did not also possess.
Neither have I ever met a single splendid pagan (amongst the many that
I have known) who surpassed in HUMAN excellence, Human, mark you, the
Christians I have in mind. The latter were just as human, just as nat-
ural, just as genuine (just as real, if you will); but their glorious
humanity was raised and transfigured by a mysterious something lacking
in the others, by an indescribable quality which no words can exactly
portray but which we reverently try to express in the cryptic word
"Christlike." There is in these men and women a very close but thorou-
ghly human likeness to Christ. The greatest compliment a man could 
ever receive is to be called "Christlike," for it means that he is 
truly a man and yet his naturalness is glorified and elevated by God's
grace, while he remains nevertheless a man with surpassing human beau-
ty of nature.
 So the ideal of the splendid natural man is too pitiably modest,
because it falsifies and stunts the summit of human possibilities by a
whole dimension.
 Once when I explained this to a man, he confessed that his ideal of
the natural man was undeniably low and that it sprang from a hunger 
for the imppossible-perfect harmony and peace in this world; but he 
said, "Father, I have met men and women without religion who had not
only a human but also a certain spiritual beauty in your own sense.
How do you explain the presence of spiritual beauty in a person with-
out religion?


 I told him that I too had met such people and that the explanation is
this: No man living today, after twenty centuries of Christianity, can
escape being influenced somewhat, howsoever little, by what I call 
"the Christian inheritance." The Christian influence exists in every
man today, as a simple fact, as a part of his being; it has passed 
into his blood and instincts during the centuries of Christianity and
such a past is not easily shaken off; it cannot be cast off in a day.
 It would be interesting if I had the time to trace the influence 
(sometimes disguised) of Christianity upon Ghandi in India, upon the
Sadhus, even upon certain Jewish types. Since Christ came into the 
world, there has never been a world without Christ.. He entered into 
our world like a dye, the stain of which no amount of washing will re-
move; like a drop of God's Blod which remains ineffaceably there.
 That thought is beautifully expressed in the following poem. In these
lines the Church of Christ speaks to the soul and says:

"I have been working on you for a thousand years and more.
 I have blessed all your fathers and mothers with the Cross.
 Pains and wounds have you cost me,
 And amid thorns have I freed your hands from the world.
 You have cost me loneliness, and much dark silence and many human 
 You have cost me blood and possessions, you have cost me the earth
    under my feet, a whole world you have cost me.
 Very fine has your texture become, soul of man, you have become like
    fine flax, which has been long in the spinning"

 Yes, no man today can escape the influence of his Christian inherit-
ance, of the centuries of Christianity, and that is the reason why we
meet people without religion who have nevertheless a touch and more 
than a touch of spiritual beauty.
 What will be the fate of these people? How will God treat them? That
is a question no man can answer. Two things we know: (1) that God ex-
pects us, when we can, to act as missionaries toward them; (2) that 
God is good and merciful and desires the salvation of all. For the 
rest, should we not leave the matter to God's wisdom and love, and
not be like people who are always worrying about the fate of unbapt-
ized children, as if they too could not be left to God's mercy and love?

Chapter Five


 Now we come to the discussion of a question that touches ua all. Sup-
pose that I had a prospective convert to whom I had explained the dif-
ference between the spledid pagan and the splendid Christian. Suppose
that I had described the ideal Christian man as possessing everything
that the splendid pagan has, all his vibrant vitality glorified and
elevated a hundredfold by his religion-and suppose that after that, 
my prospective convert should say to me: Father, I admit that your 
description of the ideal Catholic is very beautiful. It appeals to 
everything fine in me. But what I want to ask is: Why are so many 
Catholics the exact opposite of your beautiful description of the ide-
al Catholic? What of the rank and file of Catholics? Why is the ideal
Catholic so rare? Why is the average Catholic a small, needy sort of
person, so lacking in dignity and strength, in spite of the fact that
he stands within the privileged circle of the Sacraments you have exp-
lained to me-in spite of the fact that the one true image of man (Chr-
ist) stands ever before his eyes?"
 What would be my answer? First, I would have to grant everything he 
said-it IS a tragedy and a sad one, one not to be got rid of by an 
ostrichlike policy of pretending to ignore it. I would have to admit
that Catholic lay people, yes, Catholic priests and sisters and broth-
ers, often are, in spite of their membership or rank in the Church of
God, uncharitable, narrow, rigid, and that they often make a disagree-
able and painful impression upon others. There is no doubt of it-many
Catholics are characterized by prudery, vulgarity and an imperfect 
sense of honor, and are just what the prospective convert described
them to be. So much I would first admit.
 But then, secondly, I would say: Although I grant everything you have
said, and although these sad truths fill us Catholics with shame, st-
ill from another point of view they fortify and strengthen our faith.
Yes, actually, when I contemplate the spectacle of the membership in
the Church of Christ (some few ideal Catholics but the majority imper-
fect); when I contemplate that spectacle, it sometimes makes me want
to fall down on my knees in reverent devotion. Someone will say: What
can you possibly mean? This is too much. I can understand shame at the
spectacle but not reverence."


 But in a moment you WILL understand. I said, as I contemplate the 
spectacle sometimes I am filled with shame and sometimes with rever-
ence. Let me explain both attitudes. First, why should the spectacle
fill us with reverence? For this reason: to see how utterly Christ our
Lord in His love delivered Himself up to men, to ALL men, when he 
founded His Church, and to see how truly heroic is the obedience of
the Catholic Church to her Founder when she desires to take into her
membership all men, all types of men. She dares to take upon herself
the burden of human nature just as it is, to take into her fold, at 
God's orders, all manner of men. She dares to deliver herself up to 
the burden of carrying in her vast arms the masses, the multitude, the
proletariat, all classes including the mob, the elite and the rifraff,
the so-called upper and lower classes, the literate and illiterate,
the cultured and the ignorant, the refined and the crude-and thus ex-
pose herself to being misunderstood, expose herself to degradation and
 How could the Church do otherwise and be the Church of Christ? "As 
the Father hath sent me I send you," Christ said. And to whom was He
sent? To sinners. "I am come not to call the just but sinners" (Matt.
9:13), He said.So must His true Church embrace not only the just but 
also sinners. If you search for the just in her, she can point proudly
to the legions of her saints in every century from St. Agnes down to
St. Therese in our own day. And she can point to those less than sai-
nts in every century, laymen and religious who have been and are
Christlike in our own day. She can point to the thousands of regular,
red-blooded girls and young men who fill the churches of New York City
at the lunch hour every day, not perfect perhaps but keeping themselv-
es unspotted from corruption and trying to be perfect, trying to be
Christlike and succeeding as only a priest who has heard their confes-
sions knows.
 Yes, if you search for the just in the Church you will find them tod-
ay; and as for the power of the Church to produce perfectly balanced
characters and the sanest holiness, read the lives of the legions of
saints, and there you will find a partial answer to the question we 
are discussing. So much for the just.
 Now for the imperfect and the sinful. They must be present in the 
Church of God. Does it require any profound reasoning to perceive that
truth? With whom did our Lord surround Himself? Did He surround Him-
self with the elite of His day, with the philosophers and the wealthy
and the cultured? He did not exclude them. Some of them, like Joseph 
of Arimathea, wer His friends; but generally the elite-the scribes and
the doctors of the law, the Pharisees and the Sadducees-were his enem-
ies. He invited them, He preached to them, but they rejected Him. With
whom did He surround Himself? To whom did He chiefly minister? To sin-
ners. Yes, to sinners. So much so that again and again He suffered the
reproach that "He was the friend of publicans and sinners." "Why doth
your master eat with publicans and sinners?" (Matt. 9:11) Such was the
reproach suffered by our Lord by reason of His ministrations to sinn-
ers. And such is and must be the reproach of the one true Church of
Christ-namely, that she too harbors sinners in her fold.
 Is it not clear that if there is to be a Church of God, a Church of
GOD, mark you, that Church must be for ALL? All are children of God;
all are God's creatures; all were created by Him, redeemed by Him. 
Therefore if you see a Church which is not for all but only for a cho-
sen few (like the Christian Science church which, by the way, is nei-
ther Christian nor scientific, and which not only does not cater to 
the crowd but does not welcome the common people nor appeal to the 
commom people), is ther any avoiding the conclusion that such a church
cannot be the Church of God, who is the Father of all?
 Moreover, our Lord gave His own descriptions of His Church. He comp-
ared it to a net gathering bad fish as well as good; to a field in 
which there were weeds as well as good grain; to a banquet to which 
were invited not only the wealthy and the cultured but also beggars 
and the lame and the crippled from the highways and byways. Yes, there
can be no doubt of the truth that the Church of God must be for all 
men, just and sinners. That is the reason I said that when I contemp-
late the sinners and the imperfect within the Church of God, I am fil-
led with reverence, for their presence tells me it is the Church of
God, fulfilling her mission to all men and to all kinds of men. And 
therefore the spectacle of sinners in the Church should not weaken but
rather strengthen our faith.


 There can be no doubt either that the true Church of God must contain
not only the cultured but also the crude. Who composed the inner cir-
cle of our Lord's closest friends? The refined and cultured were not
excluded, as witness the wealthy Joseph of Arimathea, who provided the
place of our Lord's burial, and Martha and Mary and Lazarus. But whom
did he choose for His Apostles? Fishermen. And for the chief of His
Apostles?-again a fisherman, Peter. And did their close association 
with Christ-daily, hourly companionship with Him-transform them into
perfect men and loyal followers? Why, one of them betrayed Him (Judas)
and another denied Him (Peter) and with the exception of John they all
deserted Him in the hour of His need. Is it strange then, is it not
rather to be expected, that His Church would duplicate His own exper-
ience, and that just as daily association with Him did not transform 
His Apostles into perfect men, so membership in His Church, with all
the intimate privileges which that membership involves, will not nec-
essarily transform all Catholics into perfect specimens of nature or
of grace? The Church of God MUST transform some into such perfect spe-
cimens; it must possess the power of effecting such a transformation
and elevation. But what our Lord Himself did not accomplish in ALL His
followers we cannot expect the Church to achieve in ALL her members.
 But we inquire further: Why should this be so? It is a necessary con-
sequence of the truth that the Church of God must exist for all. When
I say it must exist for all, I mean, to give one instance only, it 
must exist not only for the brilliant but also for the dull. And one 
of the many reasons why there are Catholic churchgoers who remain nar-
row and uncharitable and selfish is because many of them are unintell-
igent. They are intellectually incapable of perceiving fully what 
their membership in the Church of God ought to do for them and in them
and with them. The beautiful doctrine of love of neighbor, based as it
is chiefly on the doctrine of the Mystical Body of Christ, the though-
tless do not fully understand. There are other doctrines too which 
have delighted the minds of the most gigantic intellects of every cen-
tury which are only half-understood by the stupid. Ignorance explains
why the Church of God does not transform many. But would you exclude
the ignorant from the Church of God, the Father of all? No, they must
be there.


 Similarly, there are people who are by nature light, frivolous and 
shallow. They never have taken life seriously; they are utterly incap-
able of appreciating the finer things of life; they immerse themselves
only in what is frothy and superficial. Would you expect that the re-
ligion of Christ would take hold of them as it does the deep thinker?
Such shallow people are incapable of a great, enduringly loyal HUMAN
love; how then can they be capable of loving Christ as He has been 
loved down through the centuries by men who saw in Him not one far re-
moved from them, but a living Person, One whom it was possible for 
them really to love? And again would you exclude the shallow and the
artificial and the frivolous from the Church of God, the Father of 
all? No, there must be a place for them there also. What place? Both
they and the ignorant find in the Church not as much as the thinker 
finds, whose brilliant mind is completely fascinated and satisfied by
Catholic doctrines, but they find what God chiefly intends they should
find: sufficient means to save their souls and, more than that, suffi-
cient means to accomplish also what God intends for them in this life:
union with Him. Does God actually seek union with the shallow and the
stupid? Would He be God if He did not? He is the Father of all. Again
therefore I say, I bow in wondering adoration when I view the spect-
acle of the presence in the Church of the crude and the shallow and 
the stupid, for I tell myself, "These also are not neglected nor for-
gotten by God. He loves these too! He actually desires union with 
them, His children! What infinite love; what infinite goodness!" When
we grasp that truth we can bow in reverence, realizing that with God 
there is no "forgotten man." His Church must contain men forgotten by
all except Him, neglected by all except Him.


 Now let us go deeper into the subject. That the true Church exists 
for all means that she allows and encourages everyone to set out on 
the road of her ideal (Christ's ideal) of perfection. She encourages
everyone to set out on that road, even though he takes along with him
the queerest baggage. What queer baggage? Stupidity and ignorance,
which alone have been responsible for keeping so many of the undisc-
erning from respecting piety. What other baggage? Bad taste, inner 
vulgarity, narrowness, fanaticism-and that baggage has kept many out
of the Church, many more from respecting the Church. Why? Because they
are not clever enough, nor perhaps humble enough to study and reason,
as we have in this chapter, until they see that the Church of God must
be for all. This problem of the presence in the Church of so many lame
and crippled and imperfect and sinful, and the failure of the Church
to transform them-this problem is not new; it has engaged the minds
of the brilliant down through the centuries; and its solution, as ex-
plained in these pages, is not new, but to be found in dozens of older
books at the disposal of any Catholic who chooses to study his relig-
 I said that, since the Church encourages EVERYONE to set out on the
road of perfection, some must necessarily carry queer baggage. What
other baggage is carried besides stupidity and fanaticism and the 
rest? What queer baggage do we all carry? Every single individual 
without exception carries the whole encumbrance of a nature not as yet
purified, not as yet fully controlled, prone at times to error, betra-
yal and disloyalty. Are we not all aware that we have not permitted 
God fully to work in His way with us as our religion teaches us we 
should? And for that shall we blame God, or our religion, or ourselv-
es? Do we not all cherish dreams of living up to the high and beauti-
ful ideal of conduct which our Church has held up to us from child-
hood? And if we have failed to realize those dreams, may we not fairly
expect to see all around us Catholics who like ourselves have not rea-
lized their dreams? If we have to confess the same sins now that we 
had to confess ten or twenty years ago, and if we are lenient in our
judgment of our failure, should we be surprised if other Catholics
about us are not completely transformed by the religion of God?
 It is not that our relligion has failed us; we have failed our relig-
ion. We know full well what great transformation would be accomplished
in us if we would only do what we have been taught to do-for instance,
get down on our knees for frequent prayer, make a thorough DAILY exam-
ination of conscience, spend some time reading Catholic books which 
would develop in us a great love for our Lord in the Most Blessed Sac-
rament and a tender devotion to our Blessed Mother. But no, we neglect
these things wwhich would bring out all that is noble and best in us
and affect enormously our daily behavior and conversation. We neglect
these things which we know would result in our religion dominating our
daily lives and which would make of us shining examples which would
attract others into the Church of God. We neglect these things and in-
stead give our leisure time to the daily papers, to the radio, to idle
gossip, to inane visiting, to pleasure-seeking, and to frothy novels.
If that is true of us, need we be surprised that in other Catholics
too we see not the failure of the Church to transform men but the fai-
lure of men to allow the Church to transfer them? That is what Chest-
erton meant when he said: "Christianity has not been tried and found
wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried."
 Which of us does not know how much, how very much worse we would be
WITHOUT the Church! How very much worse husbands and wives would you 
be were it not for the partial influence which you have allowed your 
membership in the Church to accomplish in you! Think back and see how 
much that is good in your past life, your conduct, in  your choices 
and decisions, you owe to your Catholic training. We all owe much to
the Church to which, through God's goodness, we belong. What is true
of us is true of all those crude, imperfect Catholic churchgoers who
so annoy us. How much worse would they be did they not permit the 
Church to influence them at least a little! Let us think of that when
we are tempted to doubt the influence of the Church on its members. 
And let us remember too that there is accomplished in them, as in our-
selves, by the Church much good that cannot be observed, any more than
others could observe what the Church has accomplished in my soul or in
 All that we have said so far ought to enable us to see something of 
what is meant by the equality of all men before God. That is a truth 
which it is most important to grasp-God is the Father of us all and we
are all equal before Him; our souls, the souls of saints and sinners,
cultured and crude, have equal value in His eyes. Before God no man 
has any claims, but neither is any man forgotten, neglected or disin-
herited. God owes as much to the man of no gifts, to the man of infer-
ior nature, as He does to his more gifted brother, and He gives as 
much to the one as to the other when they wish to come to Him, to ach-
ieve union with Him. And if God opens the door of His Church to the
less gifted man, He gives that inferior  man access to all the preci-
ous treasures of the Church even at the risk that, in coming into con-
tact with what is precious, he may horribly distort it and bring it 
into ridicule by the travesty of his presentation; even at the risk
that the world outside may take his travesty as the criterion of the 
Church's level and the measure of her capacity for the moulding of 
man. But that is, so to speak, the risk God takes in opening His 
Church to the inferior-to all.


 But let us not forget that very many of these apparently inferior 
people extract more good from the Church than many superior people.
Many of these so-called inferiors who are a scandal to the aesthetic
eyes of some Catholics and some outsiders, many who are of limited in-
telligence, illiterate or semi-literate, are so transfigured and en-
nobled by the Church that they lead a life which moves in the highest
regions of the sublime, far above what we would expect, far above 
their own NATURAL "comprehension." In those high regions these men and
women of inferior parts achieve works which are outside the range of
ordinary observation, and are incredible unless you know them as their
confessor knows them, or readd their lives; as for instance, the life
of the celebrated Matthew Talbot.
 When you are visiting a New York church some time, observe closely
some scrubwoman at silent prayer before the Blessed Sacrament and you
will know what I mean. Very often we encounter a life of closest union
with God on the part of men and women who are called "the common peo-
ple"-and sometimes I think that these people are more impressive than
the interesting converts with brilliant minds with whom we dress our
shop windows. But we do not expect that non-Catholics or even many 
Catholics will see the living, compelling beauty and dignity which our
religion does bring even to the poorest, most stricken, most destitute
of illiterate people. Many of us are color-blind to this kind of beau-
ty and see only barrenness and wreckage where we priests and confess-
ors see (are forced to see) radiance and shining splendor. Many look
on in pity and horror, whereas we look on in reverent envy of what God
had done for these humble folk. We must not forget the many of low 
degree whose lives are illuminated and ennobled by our religion.
 The man of low degree often furnishes a better example of the educat-
ive powers of Christianity than his superior does. Some will say: The
former has much to gain and nothing to lose whereas the latter has
much at stake and much to lose, just as the slaves of ancient Rome be-
came Christians more easily than their masters, even though the latter
became Christians too. But let it be said in reply, that for the infe-
rior and the superior, for the slave as well as for his master, the 
stakes are precisely the same-each stands to lose the same thing-
namely, self-and each stands to gain the same thing-namely, God; union
with God.


 I have said all there is to be said in defense of the presence in the
Church of the sinful, the uncharitable, the narrow, and the unattract-
ive whom, in spite of their churchgoing, the Church fails to trans-
form. But there is still much that I would not try to justify or def-
end; still much to which we cannot be resigned; still much that is bad
that positively ought not to be found in the Church of God. That there
are sinners in the Church of God intended for all men is a truth which
does strengthen our faith, but if we are true and right-thinking Cath-
olics their presence also fills us with shame, deep and burning shame.
We feel and rightly feel that we ought to be able to point out more
examples of the splendid, ideal Catholic, every inch a Christian and
every inch a man.
 The truth that the true Church of God must be the Church of the mass-
es is a partial but not a complete answer. Why? Because too often the
uncharitableness of the churchgoing Catholic, his pettiness and self-
ishness and smugness is not just the baggage of the pilgrim on the 
road to perfection; no, often these qualities are the distinguishing
mark of the veteran Catholic, the trademark of the finished product.
 That we must admit. There is no justifying, no excuse for it, and to
it we may not resign ourselves without gross treachery to the cause of
Christ. We must not excuse it but condemn it and condemn it roundly,
whether it is found in ourselves or in our fellow Catholics. There is
no defense for the presence in the Church of God of veterans who are
not developed to their full stature, who are not able to walk erect,
who go about stifled, bent crooked and disabled, not bearing honorable
scars of battle, but characterized by visible weakness which shows 
that they never bore the banner of their faith and never went into 
battle against their faults. Such Catholics are a laughing stock to 
our enemies and a cause of burning shame to the Church. More than 
and were it not an immortal body it would certainly have bled to death
by now.


 Who are these Catholic people whose lives constitute an open wound in
the body of the Church? If any one of my readers has produced upon 
non-Catholics by his conduct and conversation the impression that 
Catholics are no better and perhaps a little worse than non-Catholics,
then I say to you: "Thou art the man. You are amongst those who const-
itute the open wound in the body of Christ." And if I or any priest 
have ever given cause to catholics or non-Catholics to have less resp-
ect for the Church of Christ, then we can likewise say to ourselves:
"Thou art the man." 
 Everyone, priest or layman, who does not DARE TO LIVE his religion,
who in his spiritual life does not rise above what is small and triv-
ial, above what is commonplace and comfortable, who remains contented-
ly on the same level as those outside the Church who have not the Mass
and the Sacraments-every such person is a cause of shame to the Church
and can accuse himself, saying "Thou art the man."
 We Catholics who do not DARE TO LIVE our faith are the ones who give
material to the enemies of the Church for their searing, scathing
criticism of Catholicism. We are to blame if those who might otherwise
be attracted to Catholicism indict and pillory our Church, for they
cannot be expected to perceive their error in attributing the cause of
our failure to our religion itself rather than to our failure to live
our religion.
 The Little Flower, in our time, sets an example of what we could and
should be. I have set forth, in many volumes, how, in a small way, we
can imitate her and imitate Christ and become Christlike.
 From the reading of such books we learn to DARE TO LIVE OUR FAITH, to
summon the courage to climb out of mediocrity or worse, to be dissat-
isfied with ourselves if we lead a life in which there is only a mini-
mum of Christian effort, to be dissatisfied with a sweet, emotional, 
wishful existence in which we merely dream of being real Catholics. 
The tame, pretty-pretty, unadventurous, effortless, comfortable Catho-
lic life which most of us lead is a life that is diseased at the core
and lives on a lie, and is its own speedy avenger; for it brings no
such happiness as comes to the one who DARES TO LIVE HIS FAITH. Such a
diseased, anaemic Catholicism destroys itsef, perishes of its own ana-
emia, condemns itself to a continuous process of degeneration. It does
not produce men, but caricatures. It makes no appeal whatever to what
is best in us nor to what is best in anyone else. It does not satisfy
those noble impulses that ask to be seized in a firm, bold grip and 
exploited for great and noble ends. Anaemic Catholicism caters to what
is petty and cowardly in us, not to those brave impulses which, if we
let them have their way, would give us the courage to DARE TO LIVE our
faith and live it fully and abundantly and happily.
 If anyone today sees in the Catholic Church, especially in Europe, a
deformed, decayed body, then the blame is to be placed flatly on the
shoulders of Catholics themselves, priests and people, who are leading
anaemic Catholic lives instead of DARING TO LIVE THEIR FAITH. We sho-
uld DARE TO LIVE our faith so fully that when people meet us they meet
the souls of Christianity and, because of our Christlike example, en-
ter the Church of God.


 Lest anyone should think that I have drawn a despairing picture of 
the Church today, let me make to you my confession of faith in the 

 "This body of the Church of God is immortal and bears upon it at all
 times, even today, the sign of resurrection. Catholicism is on the 
 threshold of persecution and of new birth. The world is breaking down
 around us but the world is not finished, nor played out, nor is the
 Church of God. Both the world and the Church are being renewed once
 more. The world which rejected Christ and is no longer capable of 
 Christianity is breaking up, collapsing, and a new dawn is at hand. 
 In that new day the world, which will come out of chaos, will be open
 again to penetration by the Church of God. There are at our very door
 possibilities of a Catholicism such as we would never have dared to
 dream in normal times. Our Catholic watchword these days should be:
 'March on, on; keep marching, Catholic men and women, for you are 
 needed today as never before; march on because the dawn of a new day
 for your Church is at hand.'"
 I ask those who are reading this book, as well as the young lady who
hesitated to bring her college friend back into the Church: "Can any-
thing be finer than to lead a brave young spirit to this bold advent-
ure - the attempt to conquer the modern world for the Church of God?
Can anything be finer than to guide eager steps to the coming dawn?"
 Let us have an end to complaints about inferior types predominating
in the Church today-let us have an end to them because each and every
one of us possesses the cure, the remedy. The remedy is that WE DARE
TO LIVE OUR FAITH. Let us see to it then that fine, upstanding warri-
ors rally to the banner of the Church of God, and that these fine, up-
standing warriors are ourselves, you and me.
 By our own individual, personal efforts let us see to it that piety 
is not confined to the small and weak and sickly; that Catholicism is
not merely the life-line of the weary and distressed, the soft pillow
of all who find life too much for them. Let us, by our individual eff-
orts, make Catholicism the great adventure of the strong, the heroic
exploit to which we will bring as much daring and as much courage as
others bring to bold and hazardous adventure. May God, who blesses 
the brave, help each of us to DARE TO LIVE OUR FAITH. May the Little
Flower, who herself DARED TO LIVE, teach us to do likewise, and ob-
tain for us the great grace of doing our full, brave duty to our 
Lord, whom we all love, and to His Church, which we all love too.
 All of our discussion, so far, about the natural man and the splen-
did Christian, and the inferior types in the Church of God, is the
discoursing of strangers and pilgrims who believe and hope but who do
not yet love. In the closing chapters of this booklet, it remains 
for us to discourse as men and women who believe and hope and LOVE, as
men and women who are not strangers debating on the threshold to acqu-
ire courage to enter the Church, but as men and women who have entered
and who therefore have had some experience of the truth of our Lord's
words: "My yoke is sweet and My burden light." Therefore we turn next
to the consideration of love for our Lord.

Chapter Six


 The suggestion that we ourselves supply the need in the Church for 
brave and stalwart Catholics who dare to live their religion was 
based, you remember, on this consideration: that it is not only our
opportunity but our plain duty, to allow our Catholicism to shine att-
ractively out of our lives, our conduct and our conversation.
 But conduct based merely on a sense of duty is hard. It is the most
toilsome and the slowest way to God. It is neither the best nor the 
most pleasant way. The easiest and pleasantest path to Him is the way
of love. Therefore, in order that our future days may be illumined by
the love of God, let us discuss and study something of God's love as 
it is revealed in the saints in general and in the Little Flower in
particular. From our study I am sure we will all glean enough to make
our path to God more pleasant, and to convince us that love makes His
burden light and His yoke sweet.
 Let us at the outset correct the more important misconceptions of the
saints who are so little understood even by many Catholics.
 One of the most prevalent errors concerning the saints is that their
holiness destroys their humanity, i.e., that to be holy a saint must
cease to be human, must destroy everything that is human and natural
in him. That is not true. The very opposite is true. Sainthood is pos-
sible only for one who is intensely human. That statement will become
clear as we proceed, but let me repeat it: sainthood is possible only
for one who, like the Little Flower, is intensely human.
 In the Little Flower her glorious humanness, so tender, so passion-
ately loving, was not destroyed by her holiness. One cannot seperate
the flesh-and-blood Little Flower from the saint. The saint was the
NATURAL Little Flower raised to the highest degree. She was the human
Little Flower and more-the human Little Flower raised to the utmost 
possibility of her being.
 There are two things we can do with our human nature. We can elevate
it or we can drag it down. We can stretch it up to the very utmost 
and glorious limits of its possibilities, or we can drag it down to a
level on which it becomes more animal than human. Did you ever see the
wreck of a man or a woman in whom there had been splendid qualities 
all destroyed by slavery to drink or impurity or both, so that the 
person became more animal than man? If you did, then you know what I
mean by the opposite extreme-the elevation of human nature to the 
highest possible degree, so that the person reaches a point at which
his human nature is so completed, so perfected that, remaning human,
he is more Christlike than merely human.


 Most of us are not human enough to be saints. Holiness needs a deep,
healthy, natural ground if it is to take root and bear fruit. Before
we can spiritualize, there must first be something to spiritualize-a
splendid humanity.
 Now what does all this theory mean? It means in plain language that
to be a saint a person must have a great capacity for human love. I
use the word love, of course, in its best sense. I am not speaking of
lust or even of sensual love. There are relations between human beings
that are base, furtuive and besmirched, but to call such relations
"love" is a shocking misuse of the word. What is love in the best 
sense? It admits of many definitions but a satisfactory one is this:
love means a capacity for self-giving and a great love means a great,
an extraordinary capacity for self-giving, for self-donation. Here 
again I am speaking of the giving of self in the best sense, not of 
the giving of sensual love. Sensual love is selfish because it seeks
its own satisfaction. So that when I say that love means a capacity 
for the giving of self, I use self-giving in the best sense, and I 
say that sainthood means the very same thing, namely, a great capac-
ity for self-giving, for the giving of oneself to God. But you will
not find in any saint a capacity for the giving of oneself to God un-
less there was first a capacity for the giving of oneself to one's 
friends and dear ones.
 Let us apply all this to the Little Flower. What was the very essence
of her humanity, of her human nature? It was that she was humanly 
speaking, a great lover, with an extraordinary capacity for loving.
Even as a little girl she loved her father and mother and sisters with
no ordinary love but passionately. Hers was a supremely generous heart
with an incomparable capacity for self-giving. It was upon that found-
ation that her holiness was built. If she were by nature cold, there 
would be no foundation for holiness in her; she would never have bec-
ome a saint. A person has to have a NATURAL capacity for self-giving
or that person will never reach the point at which the person surren-
ders self completely to God.
 Perhaps I ought to further illustrate this point from the life of the
Little Flower. Our little saint was, as a girl and as a Sister, from
the beginning to the end of her life, entirely human-burningly, hungr-
ily, tenderly human. If you have read her life you are acquainted 
with these extraordinary qualities in her even as a girl: her almost
unrestrained yearning for warmth, nearness and caresses. You know the
very human pain her seperation from her idolized father cost her when
she entered the convent. She tells us all about it in her "Autobiogr-
aphy." Her love knew all the pain of parting and seperation, all the
anguished longing for reunion, all the loneliness that springs from a
hunger for caresses which she sacrificed, knew she was sacrificing, 
and was glad to sacrifice, when she entered the convent. You all know,
too, how happy beyond the average capacity for happiness she was when
she denied herself those caresses and turned her love to God, into the
closest and happiest and most constant union with Him.
 Yet even after that intimate union with Him was attained, she still
had room in her great heart for all those whom she loved on earth. You
remember the picture she gives us of herself mounting the convent 
staircase past her sister Pauline's door. She loved Pauline as few 
sisters have ever been loved; and the Little Flower had to cling to 
the bannister to keep herself from entering her sister's room for a 
visit at a time when the convent rule forbade visits and yet you know
how happy she was in the sacrifice she made. The apparent contradict-
ion between happiness and the denial of her instincts I will explain 
 Similarly, if you know her life, you know how very human, how very
natural was her reaction to her father's illness-to the stroke of par-
alysis which affected first his body and then his mind, and then, aft-
er what must have been to the Little Flower endlessly long days, res-
ulted in his death. Her grief was as unbounded and passionate as was
her love. She was simply submerged in a sea of sorrow. And have you 
not felt how loveable she is in the comfortless abandon and misery of
her woe?
 In recalling the Little Flower on the staircase and on the occasion
of her father's death, I wanted to show you how human Therese the 
saint was, and if you study her, you will realize how much more human
feeling, how much more flesh and blood passionateness she had, in the
human sphere than most of us would dare to have, even if we could.
 Now that we have understood that sainthood must have as a foundation
an intense humanity and a great capacity for love and self-giving, 
and now that we have perceived that his or her human nature is not de-
stroyed, we are ready to penetrate further into the nature of holiness
and understand the saints more clearly.
 Their human nature and their natural capacity to love is not destroy-
ed but is diverted to and occupied with God. That brings us to the 
most correct definition of a saint: a saint is a friend of God. Those
are simple words and yet they are freighted with meaning. They give us
the key to the understanding of a saint. We have reached the very 
heart of the matter under discussion.


 A saint is a friend of God. A saint is one who is in the relation of
a friend to God, and God is in the relation of a Friend TO HIM. It is
a special, personal, intimate and vital relartionship, very different
from that of the ordinary God-fearing and God-seeking believer. A fri-
end of God! The term includes a whole range of meanings from the most
vapid convention to the most tremendous intimacy. When we say a saint
is a friend of God we use the word "friend" in its fullest and richest
significance, as denoting something altogether exceptional and preci-
ous. Friendship in our sense then is nothing less than love. The saint
therefore (to alter the wording of the definition) is a person whose
relationship to God is personal love. 
 To the saint, God is not an abstraction, not a something that is
unimportant and matter-of-course--no, to the saint God is something
real-or better THE Reality. To the saint God is in no sense some Thing
but some One; not It, but He; no, notmerely He but Thou. We all beli-
eve in a personal God; we wish to love Him and to serve Him; but the 
saints' love of God is different. We wish to love Him but the wish 
bears little fruit. In the saint the wish flowers and bears fruit. 
When we see the love of the saints like a rose-tree in a splendor of
luxuriant blossom, our courage begins to fail. We tell ourselves, a 
good will, a wish to love God, suffices. And that is true. Thank God,
it is true, for it would be a poor lookout for most of us if God requ-
ired more of us than that we should try, as best we can, painfully and
stumblingly, to do His Will.
 But if we are to be content with just doing God's Will (which is all
he requires of most of us, although there are some souls who are call-
ed to love Him greatly), we must at the very least realize that our
attitude is not the only right attitude. We must realize that there is
another attitude, that of the saints who actually do love God as real-
ly as they love their human friends. As a matter of fact the Little
Flower loved God as truly, as genuinely, as passionately as she did 
her father and her sisters.
 So let us fix in our minds the difference between the saint's love of
God and the ordinary Christian's love of God. For a saint is God's 
gift to us, a letter written to us, a letter we are meant to read.
 True, we can serve God loyally without the great love of the saints,
but their way is the happiest-not as slow and toilsome as our way; and
we ought therefore to make their way ours as far as we can.


 There are Christians who do perseveringly serve God as loyal subjects
serve their king, but they would never dream of entering into the Kin-
g's presence. They would draw back in confusion at the hint of a con-
fidential talk, and still more at the hint of a caress or an embrace. 
There are many Christians who are content to remain outside the King's
presence all their lives, on guard as it were, and to them God is a
reality but never Friend, never the Beloved One. Their love for God is
a very beautiful thing, strong as life and faithful to death, but it 
is not the love of the friend.
 On the other hand, the saint is the friend of God. Perhaps when we 
see the saints' great human love, like the love of the Little Flower 
for her father or sisters, and when we realize that she had the same
warm love for God, then we realize what our love of God is NOT. Then 
for the first time we see the appalling difference between the living
fire, the capacity to do and to suffer and to give-the difference bet-
ween that and the pettiness and chilliness and satisfied ease of our 
love for God.
 If you have grasped the definition of a saint (one who is in love 
with God), then what formerly was unintelligible in the character of
the saints will become clear to you and not seem unnatural or untrue.
Before I knew that a saint was one who is in love with God, I read of
St. Aloysius who had to be ordered by his confessor to turn his thou-
ghts away from God because his weak  body could not bear the continual
strain. I shook my head and was tempted to doubt that the report was 
reliable; and if it was, I thought it was unnatural, and that St. Alo-
ysius must hve been a strange specimen. But when I learned that a sai-
nt is a friend of God, in love with God, I understood that incident in
the life of St. Aloysius and understood to why the Little Flower decl-
ared that she was determined that no loving wife would ever do more 
for her husband in love and thoughtfulness and sacrifice than she 
would for our Lord. She was in love with our Lord; He was her Spouse
and Friend.

Chapter Seven


 We have said that our definition of a saint-one who is in love with
God-would be the key to our understanding of much that has hitherto 
been puzzling in the lives of the saints.
 Have you ever been perplexed by the humility of the saints? Have you
ever shrugged your shoulders doubtfully when you read of some saint 
who declared himself a great sinner, although there was no grievous 
sin in his life? Have you ever read with great impatience of some sai-
nt's consuming remorse for sins which scarcely seem sins to us; or of
the saint's lifelong tears over a mistake which seems to us so natural
and not worth worrying about; or of the saint's profound conviction of
personal unworthiness when the world is already on its knees in rever-
ence before that saint? Has not such humility often seemed to you pre-
tense, forced, affected humbug, or even a form of crooked vanity?
 Let us apply our key to the problem: the saint is one who is in love
with God. Look at some human lovers. How unworthy some of them feel of
the love that is given them! Men have come to me for advice because 
they felt so unworthy of the women who gave their love to them. And 
because they felt they were not worthy, their undeserved love showed
up their defects and faults in a light more glaring than all the re-
proofs of their enemies.
 Well, if a man can feel so unworthy of a woman's love, what will be
his humility when he perceives with the whole of his startled soul 
this tremendous fact: that GOD wishes to be his Friend - that he is 
God's friend and, more incredible still, that God is his Friend? Can
the man do otherwise then than remain tremblingly aware of his infin-
ite unworthiness? Can he do otherwise than adore in utter humility a
choice that he can never, never understand? Why of course his faults
will then appear mountainous to him. That is why the humility of the
saints is so alert, for they know that our Lord has taken the very no-
thing that they are and laid His kiss upon it and make it His friend.
 How cold is the philosophical humility of those who recognize their
littleness before the great God of the universe when it is compared 
with the warm glowing humility of the lover, of the saint! There is 
nothing affected, nothing forced, nothing of pretense about the sense
of unworthiness that characterizes the saints. Yet their humility has 
nothing of the inferiority complex about it; it is very calm and fear-
less, for the saints know, when they think of their faults, that in 
spite of those faults, God loves them. They know that He fulfills that
best of all definitions of a friend: "He knows all about them and    
loves them just the same." And every one of us can say the same thing
of our Lord when we recall His willingness to come to us in Holy Comm-
union: He knows all about us but loves us just the same. So much for 
the humility of the saints which, because we forget that they were  
friends of God, we judge to be unreal, wheras it is genuine and now 
 Let us turn now to another widely misunderstood feature of the lives
of the saints, a feature which the Little Flower displays with except-
ional intensity, namely, sacrifice. What does sacrifice mean in the 
lives of the saints? What is its true interpretation and explanation?


 We see the saints sacrificing all we most value, every earthly good
in human experience: property, wealth, marriage, home, family, every-
thing; and so completely, so extravagantly! Flinging away these goods
with both hands! We see them fasting, scourging their bodies. And if
we do not understand what I am about to explain, we may be inclined to
turn away from such sacrifices shocked and dismayed as at something 
distorted and unnatural, as at some pathological self-mutilation. "How
horrible!" some exclaim. Even the word "sacrifice" stirs uneasy fears
in some, as if something fanatical and cruel lurked behind it.
 In some everything that is young and strong and shining  struggles 
against the very idea of such sacrifices. Others think that their own
nature must be corrupt, because they hunger for those things which the
saint so splendidly shuts out of his life.
 Both these criticisms of the sacrifices of the saints are immature
and shallow, unfounded and untrue, and based on this error: in both 
cases the critics look upon the sacrifice of the saint as a negation,
as a compulsion, and as a refusal of life. We shall see that the sac-
rifice of the saints is none of these things.
 A third error, often found amongst Catholics, is to look only at the
pain which accompanies sacrifice and to exagggerate the pain; or,
worse, to believe that God takes pleasure in man's self-inflicted mis-
 Let us now rid ourselves of these errors and acquire the correct not-
ion of sacrifice instead of turning it into something unnatural and 
 It is not sufficient merely to approve sacrifice as a spiritual and 
mental discipline to train a strong will and to achieve an iron self-
control which will fashion our natural instincts into pliable instru-
ments for the spirit's use. Sacrifice has this purpose and it is a 
very important and valuable one, but there is more, very much more to
it than that.
 To understand sacrifice we must first remember that sacrifice is a 
gift to God. When you give a gift, you must of course deprive yourself
of the gift; you cannot give it and keep it; you must renounce instead
of keeping and that renunciation must often be felt as painful. But 
the pain is the most unimportant feature in your eyes. You do not give
for the purpose of hurting yourself. Why do you give? To please the
receiver. Ah, there's the point to remember: you give to please the
receiver, your friend. You do not notice much the pain your gift costs
you;  much less are you proud of the pain. No, you are thinking of the
pleasure the gift will give your friend. Just think of the absurdity 
of a man who wanted to give only to feel the loss of his gift, and who
knew that his friend's only pleasure in receiving it was his knowledge
of the pain it gave the donor. Absurd. And yet we dare to think of God
like that! We should be ashanmed to have harbored such an idea of God.
If He were that kind of being, no one could love Him.


 To return to our point: a sacrifice is a gift to God. Let us turn to
the human scene for a comparison. You want to give a very special gift
to a very special friend. You want to give yourself as far as God per-
mits. You want to say to him: "Here I am; take me; make use of me;    
consume me." But you cannot say that very well in so many words. So 
what do you do? You take a "thing," something that he can use and you
fill it brimful with your love and your longing to be of use and you 
give it to your friend. Don't you see? It is as though you said: "This
is myself. Be me, gift, take my place!"
 The thing you give them assumes a double meaning; it no longer means
just itself but you, the giver. It has become a symbol, a symbol of
your love.
 That is exactly what the saint does, what any one of us does when we
offer a sacrifice to God. God is the saint's friend and because the 
saint cannot give himself, he looks around for something give God as a
symbol of his love for God and he finds he has nothing to give, for 
his property he has already given and his right to a home and family 
and so on. But he MUST-he is driven by an innner necessity, the neces-
sity of his love-find something to express his love; and so he fasts,
or scourges himself or seeks some humiliation or some discomfort; and
around that fasting, or scourging or humiliation or discomfort he wra-
ps his love for God and says to God: "This I give You as a symbol of 
my love. Please accept it as an expression of my love." Is there any-
thing fanatical about that? Contrariwise is it not beautiful, sublime?
 And God? God is not concerned about the pain any more than the saint
is concerned about it. But God is good enough to accept the gift-not
because of the pain, which was almost unnoticed, but because of the 
love of which the sacrifice was an expression.
 Does God require this of any saint? NO, THE SAINT REQUIRES IT OF HIM-
SELF. The saint is driven by the inner necessity of his love to expr-
ess his love for God. Again let us go to the world of men for a para-
llel case. The saint requires sacrifice of himself because he is a 
lover, a young lover, an ardent lover who thinks he must continually
draw his sweetheart's attention to himself and his love, so that she 
may have no doubts of it or of him. So he expresses his love again and
again by letters, by gifts, by attentions. He experiences a tireless 
urge to keep up such tokens, for the message is never fully expressed.
So he gives tirelessly, each time more madly, if you like, and he 
recks nothing of the labor and pain his gifts cause him. On the cont-
rary, he exults and leaps as he proves his love, for he can say to 
himself: "I've achieved that too for your sake." She would be a queer
sort if she were not pleased with such love.
 Now raise all this from the finite and narrow human sphere into a 
life with God and this is what sacrifice to God means: it is a letter,
a token, a symbol of love from the saint to God. All the love of the
saint's heart he puts into his gift and presents it joyfully with open
hands to God, his Friend, with but one request: that God will accept 
it, that it will find favor in God's sight. And God of course accepts
it and blesses it; for if God can see and reward the DUMB love deep 
hidden at the bottom of the soul, how much more does he bless the love
that is expressed in sacrifice. Notice that just as the young lover 
experiences the urge  ever to devise new ways  of proving himself to
his beloved, ways and means that the beloved by no means demands; so
God does not require the sacrifices of the saints. But He of course 
accepts them and blesses them because He understands, as we perhaps do
not, the inner necessity which drives the saint to express his love 
for God, which is as genuine and ardent and real as that of any man's 
love for woman.


 Are the saints made unhappy by their sacrifices? Is it true to call 
their sacrifices self-inflicted misery? On the contrary, the sacrifi-
ces of the saints are the sources of their happiness, for it is happ-
ier to give than to receive, and a sacrifice is a gift to God.
 Of course sometimes with the saints, as with ordinary people, a sac-
rifice is preceded by a struggle. One love may be in opposition to an-
other. For instance, the Little Flower's love of her father, which 
urged her to remain with him, was in a sense in opposition to her love
for God, which drew her to the life of sacrifice in a Carmelite conv-
ent. When two such loves are almost equally strong, a person is well-
nigh torn in two by the conflict. But when one love, the love of God, 
begins to grow in him, its growth is so powerful, so forceful, so lux-
uriant that it simply thrusts the OTHER IMPERIOUSLY ASIDE. In such a 
case, and this is always the case with the saints, the choice is fin-
ally made without struggle, without conflict. The power of the love of
God is overwhelmingly victorious, winning the whole being to its side.
The person concerned hardly sees or knows that he loses anything by 
it. He does not count what he leaves behind.
 This has been happening since the world began in the purely human
sphere, as when man leaves father and mother to cleave to one woman;
leaves wife and children to fight for country. The same thing happens
when an exile renounces his fatherland for the sake of an ideal (or
when a martyr gives his life for his religion). We do not find these 
things surprising; we admire the enthusiasm of people who make such 
sacrifices. We know that their choice was based on their greater love,
and that any other choice would have brought them misery, and that 
they are not regretful or unhappy because of their sacrifice. There-
fore ought we not to admire also the enthusiasm of the saints which 
leads them to make sacrifices in their love for their God?
 In human love a point is sometimes reached that makes everything out-
equally unimportant. Anything and everything is risked insanely, if 
you will, and lost WITHOUT REGRET as though unworthy of a thought.
 Incredible as it may seem, this same point may be reached and is rea-
ched in man's love for God. That is the reason we see the saints mak-
ing their sacrifices with smiles and songs.
 The Little Flower tells us that one evening as she was helping an 
old, complaining, invalid sister to traverse the dark and gloomy con-
vent cloister, "there suddenly fell on my ears the harmonious strains
of distant music. A picture rose before me of a richly furnished room,
brillianly lighted and decorated, and full of elegantly dressed young
girls conversing together as is the way of the world. Then I turned to
the poor invalid; instead of sweet music, I heard her complaints; in-
stead of rich gilding I saw the bare brick walls of our cloister,    
scarcely visible in the dim, flickering light. The contrast thrilled 
me, and our Lord so illumined my soul with the rays of His truth, in 
the light of which the pleasures of the world are but darkness, that
not for a thousand years of such worldly delights would I have have 
bartered the ten minutes spent in my act of charity."
 She would not have exchanged her life of sacrifice for a thousand 
years of all the delights the world could offer. Is there any remain-
ing doubt that the saints were happy in their sacrifices?

Chapter Eight


 So far, in the study of the saints, we have explained that a capacity
for love is the indispensable natural foundation for holiness. Such a 
capacity is found in every saint. It assumes many colors and tones, 
different in man and women and varying with age and race, but it is 
never absent. The saint's biographies display every sort of psycholo-
gical background; but none was ever cold. Coldness of heart is no more
the way to God than any other cowardice.
 We have explained too that the sacrifices of the saints are gifts of
love to God, candles which they gladsomely keep burning before the 
face of God, their Friend.
 Concerning this last point, someone may interpose this objection: I 
can understand now why the saints can give as gifts to God precious 
things, as when they sacrifice home and family and seperate themselves
from dear ones for the love of God. These are indeed beautiful sacri-
fices. But why do the saints also SEARCH for things that are ugly and
painful and humiliating? For instance, why are they eager to strip 
themselves not only of all comforts but of all but the barest necess-
ities in the way of food and clothing and possessions; and why are 
they apparently so much in love with suffering and pain that they do
not merely ENDURE what God sends but also SEEK suffering and pain?
 The answer is that the saints really love our Lord "like a human be-
ing." Human love is a mirror in which we see what the saints' love of 
God is and what our love of God might be. And what is one characteris-
tic of the love bewtween human friends? If you have a friend, do you 
not desire to enter into his life, to share his life? Do you not wish
not to be better off than he is? Have you never stood longingly watch-
ing a suffering which seemed to enclose your friend like a wall and 
seemed so to shut you out that you wished you could share it? Have you
never actually said to a friend: "I wish I could bear it for you"?   
Have you ever heard the story of the blind man's mother who sat for 
hours beside her blind son with her eyes shut in the bright light of a
summer day-shut why? That she might not be better off than her son.
 Well, then, recall that the saints love our Lord "like a human being"
and because His whole life was a life of suffering and poverty, they 
want to share His life; they wish not to be better off than He. Hence
their thirst for poverty and pain and suffering. It is a thirst born 
of their love for Him, alove which, like that of the blind man's moth-
er, desires not to be better off than He.
 This is very similar to what we all do when suffering comes to us; we
Christians endure a headache and "offer it up," thinking of our Lord's
crown of thorns. We endure thirst, thinking of His thirst upon the 
cross. But the saints, being greater lovers of our Saviour than we 
are, are not content to endure what He SENDS, but are impelled by the-
ir love to SEARCH for suffering which will make them more like Him and
bring them a sense of nearness to Him. The miserable food, clothing, 
and lodging which they choose, their rough work, their obedience-all 
this is a sharing of our Lord's poor, wandering life, a blessed compa-
nionship with Him, a penetration of His experience. That is the secret
of the search of the saints for suffering, the secret too of their 
boundless love for the poor, of the sick and of souls; the secret of 
their willingness to offer their sacrifices for sinners because Christ
their Friend died to save them. Are their sacrifices not just what we
would expect from lovers of Christ with an extraordinary capacity for 
love and self-giving? Is it not true that the wonder is, not that they
did so much for Him but that they did not do more in the burning ardor
of their love?


 Yes, the saints are great lovers-and here is a truth that will give 
comfort to many: a gift for loving, a capacity for love is a dangerous
gift, for it may lead the possessor away from God as well as to God.
But even he to whom this gift has brought destruction, even he who has
been swept away from God on a tide of illicit love, was nearer to the
possibility of being a saint than the cold, exemplary Christian who 
has had no no experience of the dangers to which the other has succum-
bed and who knows nothing either of the stormy upward sweep of the   
soul to God. I say that this truth is comforting, because if their is
any reader who has been given by God a great capacity for love and who
has so far abused that gift, be assured that you, you the bold and da-
ring sinner, have in you the possibilities of holiness, the seeds of 
sanctity; and you must divert and redirect your love to God and armor
yourself against your illicit love and root it out, or your end will 
be like Satan's. There is in these words both a threat and a golden 
promise: a golden promise that if you DO BREAK with your illicit love,
God will take you to Himself as His friend in no ordinary manner. He 
will embrace you  as warmly and permit you to come to Him in as close 
ties of glorious, satisfying friendship with Him as He embraces and 
permits His saints to come to Him; for like the saints you were given
a great capacity to love-to love Him.
 So to such souls I say "Courage." Do not be discouraged by the bold-
ness and frequency of your past sins, for you are made in such a way 
that you can be just as bold and intense in your love for God.
 To the others, whose nature are more mild, who are unacquainted with
the storms that can sweep over and devastate a man like an avalanche,
I say: "Never exclaim 'How can they?', when you see some extremely 
reckless sinner. Rather pray for him, for he needs prayers because he,
unlike you, has a nature so intense that he must either rise to heigh-
ts of love of God that would make you dizzy or fall to depths that 
would shock your very soul. When you see such a one in the depths,  
pray that he may be able to rise again to the heights." Prayer for 
sinners is one of the characteristics of the genuine Christian; one of
the characteristics of the Little Flower and of all the saints; and if
we cannot imitate their reckless sacrifices for God, there is no one 
who cannot imitate them in their frequent prayer for sinners, for the 
dying, prayer for the grace of a happy death for sinners as well as   
for themselves.

Chapter Nine


 Just as at the beginning of this pamphlet, so at its close we turn to
St. Therese, under whose patronage this booklet is being written. In 
the last chapter we spoke of the sacrifices of the saints and of their
love for souls, for the souls of sinners particularly. The saints, be-
ing friends of our Lord, loved and prized and made sacrifices to save
the souls for whom our Lord died. But among all the saints who were 
remarkable for their love and prayers and sacrifices for souls, the 
Little Flower stands pre-eminent. Like all the saints she had an ext-
raordinarily vast capacity for love, for self-donation, and she gave 
her love without stint and gave her whole self to the work of saving 
souls. In fact, not being able to do as much as she desired for souls
while she was on earth, she begged and obtained fron our Lord the pri-
vilege of "spending her heaven doing good upon earth"-doing good to 
souls. "I will spend my heaven doing good upon earth," she said. "I 
shall return to make Love loved." That is her mission, how well she 
fulfills it!
 Doubtless she is a star which shines in the heights of heaven and  
from afar lights up the way, but she is also the eagle which, sighting
his prey from above the mountain peaks, swoops down, seizes it and 
bears it aloft. From her high place of honor she looks down upon all,
seeking souls whom she can make her prey and whom she can seize and 
bring to God. She descends to sinners. No sinner on earth repels or 
disgusts her, howsoever low and vile he may be. She cries out to these
souls of sinners: "The love of God, which is my lot, shall be yours 
also, if you wish. For," she says, "if I draw nigh to God with love 
and trust, it is not because I have kept from mortal sin. Were my con-
science laden with every imaginable crime, I would not have one whit
less confidence; heartbroken and repentant, I would throw myself into
my Saviour's arms. He loves the prodigal son; I know His words addres-
sed to Magdalen, to the adulterous woman and to her of Samaria. Who   
could make me afraid? I know His mercy and His love; I know that once 
I had thrown myself in His arms, all my numberless sins would disapp-
ear in an instant like drops of water cast into a furnace."
 She descends to doubters, descends to those darkened regions of un-
certainty and unbelief, searching sincere souls, for there are many 
such there. Into their dark night she, she who on earth had been so 
severely tempted against faith, lets fall a ray of celestial light. 
She descends to sensualists and cowards and to the ardent; to the hum-
ble; she descends to all, to souls who call her and to many who do not
call her. It is thus then that she spends her heaven, catching souls 
in her net of love, fascinating them by her sweetness and purity.
 The mission of St. Therese, then, is clear. It is to put into action
the words of our Saviour: "I am come to cast fire on the earth and 
what will I but that it be kindled?" (Luke 12:49). The mission of St.
Therese is to enkindle in our hearts the fire of divine love.
 These considerations bring us back to our remaining topic: the expla-
nation of the Christian "love of neighbor," especially in the lives of
the saints. Having spoken at length of the love of GOD, our treatise
would not be complete if we did not reflect also upon love of NEIGH-
 Sometimes the question is asked: Does not love of neighbor, love of
our fellow-men, flower more beautifully among Socialists and the fin-
est type of Jew and similar groups than among devout Christians?
 Indeed it looks that way sometimes. There is a basis for such an opi-
nion. But nevertheless it is the opinion of those who do not think 
deeply, the opinion of shallow, superficial thinkers, as we shall pre-
sently perceive. Let us analyze the actual truth.
 There is such a thing as a natural capacity for love of one's neigh-
bor, a capacity for sympathy. There is a certain sensitiveness of soul
in some people, belonging to their very nature, which makes them alm-
ost as acutely aware of another's suffering's as of their own. In fact
some such sensitiveness sleeps at the bottom of us all (as when tears
come to the eyes at the movies over the plight of the hero or heroine
depicted on the screen). This sensitiveness can be awakened and nour-
ished by non-Christian influences, by Buddhism, Socialism, or by any 
humanitarian faith. This entirely NATURAL disposition is deceptively 
like the Christian "love of neighbor." It produces the reformer, the 
philanthropist, the Communist, all of whom we may assume are nobly 
concerned with other men's suffering.


 This love of man for man's sake must necessarily be stronger in the 
camps of unbelievers than amongst Christians, for since they are with-
out God, how terribly important they are to one another-much more than
we can ever be to one another because we live not only with one anoth-
er but also with God. To unbelievers this globe, like a rudderless    
ship drifting over the ocean, is roaming through space with none to 
guide it and none to care. Its population, like that ship's crew, is 
welded together by a common doom, wholly abandoned to each other and
dependent solely on each other. Their plight MUST arouse the protect-
ive instinct of strong natures. That is the reason Communists denounce
injustice and oppression so passionately and so bitterly.
 But this love of man for man's sake is very different from the broth-
erly love of Christianity which is love of man FOR GOD'S SAKE. Let me 
contrast for you the bitterness of the one with the tenderness of the
other. Let us see what happens to the natural capacity for sympathy 
toward our fellows, when that capacity is illumined, deepened, eleva-
ted by Christianity-when it is, in a word, baptized.
 In the first place Christianity does not regard kindness as a natural
gift which some do and some do not happen to possess. No, Christianity
makes love of fellow-men a general inescapable DUTY FOR ALL. Christi-
anity has forced millions who have by nature no benevolence to pract-
ice benevolence as a matter of duty and conscience. What desolation 
there would have been down through the centuries, and would be now, if
everything were removed which springs solely from this DUTIFUL love of
 Now we approach the heart of the matter. The driving impulse of Chr-
istian love of neighbor springs not from a sense of the loneliness of
men on a rudderless ship with no God to care or to guide-no, it spr-
ings from something far more sublime. It streams from the overflowing
fount of the Christian's love for Christ. He said: "As long as you did
it to one of these My least brethren, you did it to Me." The Christian
knows that in serving his fellow-men and bestowing kindness upon them,
he is serving Christ, who died for all, who is the Brother of all.
 Now watch this love of neighbor blossom in the genuine Chrsitian, in
the saint or near saint. The Christian, or if you will, let us say the
ideal Christian, the saint, bestows kindness upon his neighbor not as 
upon an "object of charity," but as upon a personal friend. Yes, actu-
ally-as upon a personal friend! It is with the warm love of personal 
friendship that the saint ministers to the sick, the leprous, the    
poor, the afflicted. Why with the warm love of personal friendship? Is
there anything forced or strained in their assuming the role of perso-
nal friends towards their fellow-men? Not in the least, as will appear
if we again look into our mirror, the analogy of human friendship.


 Suppose that a friend of yours sends you someone he loves, to be your
friend and ward. You are to take the place of that distant friend, 
lend him your time and strength, your hands and eyes and voice, so 
that THROUGH YOU, or as it were IN YOU, he can care for this other. 
Would not such a request, placing such a trust in you, be a gift, an 
honor, a pleasure? Would it be an "impersonal" task to you? Would the
stranger remain a stranger? Would he not be welcomed familiarly for 
your friend's sake and himself become your friend?
 The saint feels like that toward all men. All men, it seems to the 
saint, were sent to him by God. God bids the saint stand in His stead
to them: "Love one another as I have loved you." Therefore the saint 
receives every man with open heart, with entire trust, and with eager
delight, because to the saint every man is sent by God as in the exam-
ple I gave: a friend sends a friend to a friend.
 What an honor it is that God should thus entrust to us His other fri-
ends! This honor the saint realizes, and therefore the saint welcomes
the friends of God. Friendship is not a rare gift in the life of a 
saint. The saint's secret is to see every person as God sees him, as
God's friend. The saint really sees his fellow-men with the eyes of 
God. God sees no one as a stranger; to God no one is a stranger; but 
everyone a friend. Therefore the saint does not ask who is "worthy" or
"unworthy" BEFORE he loves. St. Elizabeth mourns with her whole heart
over the poverty or malformation of a child of God; bends with mother-
ly concern over the sick and crippled without disgust or fear, for 
this one too was worth God's choice to create him and no other in his
place. That is the reason why saints like St. Francis not only bound
up but kissed the leper's wounds (and by the way, he first had to con-
quer his own unspeakable horror of lepers). That is the reason why the
Little Flower, brought up in the most delicately refined surroundings,
reserved her sweetest smiles and kindest words and deeds for those 
sisters in the convent who had no such refinement as she.
 "Is he a human being?" the saint asks. "Then he is a friend of God 
and a friend of mine." That is what makes Chritian love so humble, so
pure, so sweet and reverent towards the recipient without the least
shadow of offensive, wounding condescension. Such love for a neighbor
few of us have, for the love of the saint for his neighbor is the full
genuine, human love of a human heart. Such a love we lesser beings re-
serve for one or a few. But, the saints love EVERY Man with the love
which we give, at most, to a few.


Chapter 1

*The nine chapters of this pamphlet correspond roughly to nine sermons
delivered by Father Dolan at the Eastern Shrine of the Little Flower 
in Englewood, N.J., in September, 1938.
*The subject-matter of "Dare to Live!" was suggested and inspired by
two books by Ida Coudenhove, "The Nature of Sanctity" and "The Burden
of Belief", both published by Sheed and Ward (New York). Many passages
from those magnificent volumes have been incorporated although seldom
verbatim. (Author's note.)