July 21, 2004

Yin and Yangs

Read books last night about two men at opposite ends of the spiritual spectrum, Hendra's "Father Joe" and Montefiore's "Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar". The contrast is edifying. Father Joe is as unselfish and loving as Stalin was selfish and unloving.

Of Father Joe Warrilow, well, too often I appreciate saints for their heroism (St. Perpetua is a favorite) or intellectual prowess (St. Thomas Aquinas). But Father Joe is only about love. He wasn't particularly bright nor particularly heroic, in the sense we are accustomed to.

Stalin was almost a relief after Father Joe since it quit me from thinking about myself, which books about spiritual giants sometimes do in one prone to pride and the desire to avoid pain in the form of Purgatory (i.e. one sees how dauntingly far the journey to holiness is after seeing saints like Fr. Joe).

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