Friday, December 14, 2012

More and More Luminous

Catherine de Hueck Doherty
It is December 14. In Madonna House, that date holds one signification and one only: it is the anniversary of death of our foundress, Catherine de Hueck Doherty. 27 years ago she had her birthday into eternity—if she is ever by God’s grace beatified or canonized, this will be her feast day. Meanwhile, it is a special solemn festive day in MH, a day of gratitude, prayer, and joy.

Last year I began the tradition (doing something two years in a row makes it a tradition!) of handing the blog over to Catherine on December 14. The blog exists, as you can see on the sidebar, because of my concern that Pope Benedict’s writings are ill-read, that due to media caricatures or perhaps a reluctance to tackle hard theology, people shy away from his inspired and inspiring words.

But I have a second concern, and that is that Catherine de Hueck Doherty’s writings, and her life and spirit in general, are largely being forgotten in the Church today. She was a well-known figure in Catholic circles in her life, particularly in the 60s and 70s, but in the ensuing decades has gone into something of an eclipse.

This is a great loss. She has a spirit, a depth, and a beauty in her writings that is truly unique in the Church, a warmth, a tone, a poetic passion that is quite her own.

And so, my annual challenge to my readers: if you read the below passage, and you like it, would you consider sharing it on your Facebook page or Twitter feed? It’s those little buttons that say ‘F’ or ‘t’ at the bottom of the post. Pope Benedict may be ill-read, but he is not likely to be wholly forgotten, being pope and all. Catherine is in danger of being forgotten, and I would like that not to happen.

So without further ado, here is the woman herself, talking about faith for this Year of Faith:

The tragedy of our modern world is that it wants proof that God exists. There is no such proof. No amount of books, libraries, erudite people or marvelous speakers can convince us that God exists. We enter into the unseen mysteries of our faith, the mystery of God, through an experience, an event, a happening, a miracle.

Once upon a time the second person of the Most Holy Trinity walked this earth. There is a spot of land somewhere that has kept his footprints. You might not see them but they are there! To make all things clear the Son died for us. Before he died he brought us a new covenant, a new contract if you like. After he died he resurrected! At that moment faith exploded like a thousand stars, or suns or moons. Love thus became a platter and presented itself to each of us carrying faith.

This pits our peanut-brain against the mystery of faith. We want to tear apart the very thin veil of faith, to see if we can weigh it, measure it. Faith always eludes us when we approach it this way.

Those of us who have been baptized have received faith as a grace of God, a very special gift. This gift has to be constantly reaffirmed. It is so important to continue to ask for it, to implement it and to act as if I believe. Then it becomes bigger than the whole of the cosmos. Then the whole of the world is in me and I am in the whole world because God belongs to me and I belong to God.

Through faith we are able to turn our faces to God and meet his gaze. Each day becomes more and more luminous. The veil between God and man becomes less and less until it seems as if we can almost reach out and touch God.

Faith is a pulsating thing; a light, a sun that nothing can dim if it exists in the hearts of men. As St. Paul says, “It is the assurance of things not yet seen” (Heb 11:1). That's why it's so beautiful. God gives it to me saying, “I love you. Do you love me back? Come and follow me in the darkness. I want to know if you are ready to go into the things that you do not see yet, on faith alone.”

Then you look at God, or at what you think is God in your mind, and you say, “Look, this is fine, but you're inviting me to what? An emptiness? A nothingness? There is nothing to see. I cannot touch you. I cannot feel you.” Then God goes on to say, “I invite you to a relationship of love; your love of me, my love of you.”

Yes, God comes to us as an invitation to love. True, his invitation to love is crucifixion. In a strange and incomprehensible way the pain of the crucifixion that we foresee blends into the joy of an alleluia of his resurrection. As he is crucified, so he is risen. So, too, do we die and rise. No sooner is he taken off the cross and put into the tomb than the stone is rolled back. He is not there. Here is where faith enters. With Mary Magdalene who was the first to see him, we cry “Rabboni! Master!”

At this moment love surges in our heart like a tremendous sea that takes us in and lays us in the arms of God whom we haven't seen but in whom we believe. Across the waves we hear, “Blessed are they who have not seen and yet believe” (Jn 20:29). Now I walk in the darkness of faith and I see. I see more clearly than is possible with my fleshly eyes.

Now I'm free because I believe. That's true freedom. Believe without end, believe without frontiers, believe without any kind of proofs, any kind of walls. Just believe. Credo!


  1. Thank you for sharing this Fr. Denis. May God richly bless you and MH.

  2. Many times I wish you would write more about this remarkable woman of faith, to compliment your expositions on Pope Benedict's writings and just to share more of Catherine with the world on this blog.

    1. That is a very good suggestion - I will ponder how to do just that. Thanks!


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