DeGaulle and Anne (Downs)




Bloggger: Notice the hats as status-symbols of the personas. Then the

respective orientation of the eyes – both loving in different ways: admiration and empathy. A love-photograph – how great!

A Father’s Love: The Story of Charles and Anne

April 26, 2017

In World War II, Charles de Gaulle saved France’s honor from the shame of defeat. Few know, however, how much strength he drew from his Down Syndrome daughter.

Dr. Samuel Gregg

When it comes to failed governments in our time, it’s hard to ignore French President François Hollande’s administration. Hollande’s record on basic issues like unemployment as well as his ineptness in the face of jihadist terrorism is so unimpressive that he declined to run for reelection. This, however, hasn’t stopped his government from making the type of last-minute defiant gesture beloved of administrations whose days are numbered.

In Hollande’s case, it has taken the form of effectively banning pro-life websites that don’t explicitly identify themselves as pro-life. This follows a 2016 ruling by France’s Conseil d’État endorsing a broadcasting tribunal’s 2014 decision to prohibit a commercial portraying Down Syndrome children as joyful individuals loved by their parents because it might distress those who chose to terminate an unborn disabled child.

Reflecting upon these developments, I couldn’t help thinking how much France owes to one particular Down Syndrome child: a young girl who struggled to speak, needed assistance to walk, and who died of pneumonia at the age of 20 cradled in her father’s arms. Anne de Gaulle’s father, however, was no ordinary man.

Charles de Gaulle was surely the twentieth century’s greatest Frenchman. Yet for all his achievements, the ultimate drama of de Gaulle’s life was his helpless daughter. What Anne gave to him, however, was immeasurable. As de Gaulle confided to a priest at the beginning of his lonely crusade in 1940 to save France’s honor, “for me, this child is a grace, she is my joy, she helps me to look beyond all the failures and honors, and always to look higher.”

Un enfant pas comme les autres

Charles de Gaulle was an austere individual, one who consciously cultivated distance from others. 47 years after his death, however, we know much more about the private man. Thanks to the publication of memoirs, especially those of his son Admiral Philippe de Gaulle, the General emerges as a man who, like many French army officers of his background, found solace in his Catholic faith and a closely-knit family. We’re also discovered that de Gaulle had a rich intellectual life which went far beyond politics. This went hand-in-hand with a wicked sense of humor which, in private, de Gaulle wasn’t averse to using against himself.

By the time he reached his mid-30s, de Gaulle had settled into a milieu in which his faith, family and profession provided many of the certainties required for an ambitious man intent upon shaking up a political and military establishment committed to obsolete ideas. All this was shattered on 1 January 1928 when Charles and Yvonne de Gaulle’s third child was born. Within a few months, it became apparent that Anne was severely disabled.

It’s important to remember that this was an era in which disabled children were neither seen nor heard in polite company. Down Syndrome children were referred to as “mongols.” Some even speculated that the condition resulted from alcoholism or some form of impropriety on the parents’ part. It wasn’t until 30 years after Anne de Gaulle’s birth that another devout French Catholic, Professor Jerome Lejeune, and his research team discovered that Down Syndrome was caused by an extra copy of chromosome 21.

In the 1930s, it was common for French families to place disabled children permanently in hospitals that were woefully ill-equipped to care them. Charles and Yvonne de Gaulle, however, refused to send Anne to live with, as he would say, “strangers.” In de Gaulle’s words, “God has given her to us. We must take responsibility for her, wherever she is and whatever she will be.” In a way, de Gaulle’s reaction to Anne’s entry into his life foreshadowed the spirit of resistance expressed in his famous appeal of 18 June 1940 to Frenchmen to continue the war against Germany.

The de Gaulles worked hard to build a place for, to use de Gaulle’s expression, “a child who is not like the others” in their family. From all accounts, Yvonne de Gaulle adopted a matter-of-fact approach. She focused on the practicalities of caring for a disabled child. Charles de Gaulle’s contribution was to envelop Anne in a web of affection. According to his son, de Gaulle wanted to give Anne the assurance that he loved her just as much as her older brother and sister—that her disability meant nothing to him.

The tall army officer infamous for his air of haughty disdain as leader of Free France during World War II and later as French President didn’t hesitate to unbend to play on the floor with Anne. De Gaulle sang to Anne, told her stories, and even allowed her to play with one of his most treasured possessions: his officer’s kepi hat. De Gaulle also said prayers with Anne in the evening. Painstakingly, she would repeat each word after her father. “You see,” de Gaulle proudly informed his relatives, “she knows her prayers!”

When away on army business, de Gaulle constantly inquired about Anne’s well-being. On one occasion, Anne had an operation while he was absent on maneuvers. De Gaulle telephoned incessantly to ask if she was in pain, whether the procedure had succeeded, what the doctors were saying, etc. Anne seems to have been aware of just how much she meant to her father. Her first governess recalled that Anne adored him and would be visibly upset when his responsibilities took de Gaulle away from his family.

Though the de Gaulles valued their privacy, they didn’t view Anne as an embarrassment. There are pictures of her standing awkwardly with members of the de Gaulles’ extended family. Most striking, however, is a photo of Anne taken at a beach in Brittany in 1933. She is sitting on her father’s lap. He, dressed in a homburg hat and three-piece suit, gently holds her hands as the five year-old girl looks intensely into her father’s eyes. It’s an image of unconditional love.

While Anne lived, the de Gaulles took her everywhere with them. That included less-than-hospitable locations such as the French mandate in Syria and Lebanon. De Gaulle was posted there in 1929, partly because some of his superiors wanted to sideline an officer who asked awkward questions about France’s readiness for the next war. There was, however, no question of leaving Anne behind. Instead she went with them, with the de Gaulles hiring a full-time governess to help them care for Anne in a Middle-Eastern country.

Fragility—and Resistance—in the face of Evil

There was, of course, a cost to all this. Though Charles de Gaulle came from a minor aristocratic family and his wife from an upper-middle class background, the de Gaulles were not wealthy. His modest army pay was their main source of income. Hiring full-time help was subsequently an enormous financial liability, but one they didn’t hesitate to assume.

Then there was the psychological burden. As Yvonne de Gaulle’s biographer Frédérique Neau-Dufour observes, Yvonne was an exuberant, even care-free young woman before Anne was born. After Anne’s birth, that woman gradually disappeared. Yvonne became a much quieter, even somewhat withdrawn person who dreaded public appearances. This, however, didn’t stop her from undertaking the extremely difficult task of successfully fleeing France with the profoundly disabled Anne in tow as the German Army swept across the country in May and June 1940.

This brings into focus another factor of which Charles de Gaulle was undoubtedly aware: how the National Socialist regime treated the disabled. Eugenics was part and parcel of the Nazi view of the world (and most Western liberal opinion for decades). And, as the Nazis made clear right from the beginning, the disabled had no place in a National Socialist world. They were lebensunwertes leben (life unworthy of life).

Starting in September 1939, the Nazi government began removing Down Syndrome children and infants suffering from other disabilities from their parents. These children were taken to “health facilities” and killed by lethal injection or gas poisoning. In the name of “racial health” and other eugenics nonsense, the regime murdered thousands of disabled children. Among them was a 15 year-old Down Syndrome cousin of the future pope, Joseph Ratzinger.

This would have been Anne de Gaulle’s fate if she had ever fallen into Nazi hands. Although de Gaulle never referenced it specifically, it’s likely that the brutal treatment of the disabled was one of the things he had in mind when referring to the evil of the Nazi regime. When de Gaulle refused to surrender in 1940 and was branded a traitor by France’s political and military elites, it was certainly the act of an intensely patriotic man unwilling to accept his country’s abasement by the Nazis. But de Gaulle’s act of resistance also concerned safeguarding his defenseless daughter from those who viewed her as sub-human.

Life after Death

Like many Down Syndrome children, Anne de Gaulle died at an early age. Her brother Philippe recollects arriving at his parents’ house in 1948 to find the entire residence immersed in silence. No one, he writes, dared to say anything to his grief-stricken father. Anne was subsequently buried in the cemetery at the de Gaulles’ parish church in Colombey-les-Deux-Églises. After attending their regular Sunday Mass and always on the anniversary of her death, Charles and Yvonne de Gaulle would visit Anne’s grave. 22 years after she died, her father was laid to rest beside Anne. Her mother joined them in 1979.

That, however, wasn’t the end of the story. Back in October 1945, the de Gaulles raised enough money from private donors to buy the chateau de Vert-Cœur in the department of Yvelines, not far from Paris. They then began creating a home for intellectually disabled girls. A few months after Anne’s death, the Fondation Anne-de-Gaulle opened its doors at the chateau. Staffed by nuns, funded by the considerable royalties generated by de Gaulle’s memoirs, and presided over by Yvonne de Gaulle until her death, the Foundation continues to serve the disabled today.

One of Charles de Gaulle’s biographers, the late Jean Lacouture, records him as once saying, “Without Anne, I could never perhaps have done what I did. She gave me the heart and the inspiration.” In that sense, the man of June 18 and his beloved pauvre petite Anne teach us something which we are tempted to forget—that all of us can find strength in weakness and that nothing is more powerful than self-giving love.


May 12 - Blessed Alvaro del Portillo 2017

May 12:


  1. Biography of Blessed Alvaro del Portillo
  2. Pope Francis’ Letter on Beatification of Alvaro del Portillo

Dear brethren in Christ, below you have  a biography of Blessed Alvaro del Portillo and Pope Francis’ letter to Bishop Javier Echevarría, Prelate of Opus Dei on the occasion of the Beatification of Alvaro del Portillo.

1. Biography of Blessed Alvaro del Portillo

Alvaro del Portillo was born in Madrid on 11 March 1914, the third of eight children of a Mexican mother, Clementina Diez de Sollano, and a Spanish father, Ramón del Portillo y Pardo.

After receiving his secondary education at El Pilar school (Madrid), he entered the School of Civil Engineering, where he completed his studies in 1941. Subsequently he worked in a number of state water authorities. At the same time he studied Philosophy and Literature, specializing in history, and in 1944 he completed his doctorate on the early exploration of the California coast.

In 1935 he joined Opus Dei, an institution of the Catholic Church that had been founded seven years earlier by St. Josemaría Escrivá. He received formation directly from the founder, with the spirit corresponding to this new path in the Church. He carried out a wide-ranging work of evangelization among his fellow students and colleagues, and from 1939 he undertook numerous apostolic journeys to various cities in Spain.

On 25 June 1944 he was ordained a priest by the Bishop of Madrid, Leopoldo Eijo y Garay, together with José María Hernández Garnica and José Luis Múzquiz. These were the first three priests of Opus Dei, after the founder.

In 1946 he moved to Rome, a few months prior to St Josemaría moving there, and lived alongside the founder in the years that followed. This proved a crucial period for Opus Dei, which around that time received its first juridical approvals from the Holy See.

For Alvaro del Portillo it was also a decisive period during which he carried out a deep reflection on the role and responsibility of the lay faithful in the Church’s mission, through their ordinary work and their social and family relations.

“In a hospital,” he wrote years later by way of illustration, “the Church is not only present through the chaplain: it also acts through the faithful who, as doctors or nurses, strive to provide good professional service and to show respect and care towards the patients. In a particular locality, the church building will always be an indispensable point of reference, but the only way of reaching those who don’t attend it will be through other families.”

Between 1947 and 1950 he spurred forward the apostolic expansion of Opus Dei in Rome, Milan, Naples, Palermo and other Italian cities. He promoted Christian formational activities and provided priestly service to many people. The impact his work had in Italy is reflected today in the numerous streets and squares that have been dedicated to him in various cities.

On 29 June 1948, the founder of Opus Dei erected the Roman College of the Holy Cross in Rome, an international center for formation, of which Alvaro del Portillo was the first rector and in which he taught moral theology (1948-1953). In that same year, 1948, he obtained a doctorate in Canon Law from the Pontifical University of St Thomas.

During his years in Rome, the various Popes from Pius XII to John Paul II called upon him to carry out numerous tasks as a member of or consultor to 13 bodies within the Holy See.

He played an active role in the Second Vatican Council. John XXIII appointed him as consultor to the Sacred Congregation of the Council (1959-1966). In the stages prior to Vatican II, he was president of the Commission for the Laity. In the course of the Council (1962-65), he was secretary of the Commission on the Discipline of the Clergy and of the Christian People.

After the Council, Paul VI appointed him as consultor to the post-conciliar Commission for Bishops and the regulation of dioceses (1966). He was also for many years consultor for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The life of Alvaro del Portillo was closely united with that of the founder. He remained always by his side until the very moment of his death, on June 26 1975, helping St Josemaría in his work of evangelisation and pastoral care. He travelled with him to many countries to help set up and give advice on the apostolic works of Opus Dei.

At the time of Alvaro del Portillo’s death, an Irish Augustinian, Father John O’Connor, wrote: “on seeing his friendly and unobtrusive presence beside the dynamic figure of Mgr Escriva, there came to my mind the thought of the humility of St. Joseph.”

On September 15, 1975, in the General Congress convened after the death of the founder, Don Alvaro del Portillo was elected to succeed him as head of Opus Dei. On November 28, 1982, when Blessed John Paul II erected Opus Dei as a personal prelature, he appointed Alvaro del Portillo Prelate of the new prelature.

Eight years later, on December 7, 1990, the Pope named him bishop, and on January 6, 1991, he received Episcopal ordination in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Over the years he spent as head of Opus Dei, Bishop Alvaro del Portillo promoted the start of activities of the prelature in 20 new countries. In his pastoral visits, which took him to every continent, he spoke to thousands of people about love for the Church and the Pope, and preached persuasively on the Christian message of St. Josemaría about seeking holiness in ordinary life.

As the Prelate of Opus Dei, Mgr Alvaro del Portillo inspired the start of many social and educational initiatives. The Monkole Hospital in Kinshasa (Congo), the Niger Foundation Hospital in Enugu (Nigeria), the Center for Industrial Technology and Enterprise (CITE, en Cebú, Filipinas) are example of social development projects carried out by members of Opus Dei, with others, under the direct impetus of Bishop del Portillo.

In addition, the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross (since 1985) and the Sedes Sapientiae International Seminary (from 1990), both in Rome, and the Bidasoa International Ecclesiastical College (Pamplona,Spain), have formed for the dioceses thousands of candidates for thepriesthood sent by bishops from around the world.

They show the concern of Bishop del Portillo for the role of the priest in today’s world, a theme to which he devoted much of his energies, as evidenced during the years of Vatican II.

“The priesthood is not a career,” he wrote in 1986, “but a generous, complete self-giving, without calculation or limits, to be sowers of peace and joy in the world, and to open the gates of Heaven to those who benefit from this service and ministry.”

Bishop Alvaro del Portillo died in Rome in the early hours of March 23, 1994, just hours after returning from a pilgrimage to Holy Land. On Tuesday, March 22, he had celebrated his last Mass at the Church of the Cenacle in Jerusalem.

Alvaro del Portillo was an author of publications on theological, canonical and pastoral subjects: Faithful and Laity in the Church (1969), On Priesthood(1970) and numerous articles, many of them collected posthumously in the volume Rendere amabile the Verità. Raccolta di scritti di Mons. Álvaro del Portillo, which was published in 1995 by Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

In 1992 the book Intervista sul Fondatore dell’Opus Dei was published, a collection of interviews with Italian journalist Cesare Cavalleri about St. Josemaría Escrivá. It has been translated into several languages. The English translation is entitled Immersed in God.

Since his death in 1994, thousands of people have testified in writing to the memory of Bishop Alvaro del Portillo: his kindness, the warmth of his smile, his humility, his supernatural courage, and the peace of mind his words inspired in them.

2. Pope Francis’ Letter on Beatification of Alvaro del Portillo

Dear brother,

The beatification of the Servant of God Alvaro del Portillo, faithful collaborator of St Josemaría Escrivá and his first successor at the head of Opus Dei, is a moment of special joy for all the faithful of the Prelature, and also for you, who were for so long a witness to his love for God and others, and his fidelity to the Church and to his vocation. I too wish to unite myself to your joy and to thank God, who embellishes the face of the Church with the holiness of her children.

His beatification will take place in Madrid, the city where he was born and spent his childhood and youth. Here his life began to take shape in the simplicity of family life, through friendship and service to others, as when he went to outlying districts to help provide human and Christian formation to so many people in need. And in this city, above all, there took place the event that definitively marked the course of his life: his meeting with St Josemaría Escrivá, from whom he learned to fall more in love with Christ every day. Yes, to fall in love with Christ. This is the path to holiness that every Christian has to follow: to let ourselves be loved by the Lord, to open up our hearts to his love, and to allow him to be the one who guides our lives.

I like to recall the aspiration that the Servant of God would often repeat, especially for personal celebrations and anniversaries: “Thank you; forgive me; help me more!” These words bring us closer to the reality of his interior life and his relationship with the Lord, and can also help to give a new impulse to our own Christian life.

In the first place, Thank you. This is the soul’s immediate, spontaneous reaction on experiencing God’s goodness. It cannot be otherwise. He always goes ahead of us. However hard we try, his love always arrives first, touches and caresses us first. He takes the initiative and is always waiting for us. Alvaro del Portillo was aware of the many gifts God had given him, and thanked God for that manifestation of his fatherly love. But he did not stop at that: his recognition of our Lord’s love awakened in his heart desires to follow him with greater commitment and generosity, and to lead a life of humble service to others. Especially outstanding was his love for the Church, the Spouse of Christ, whom he served with a heart devoid of worldly self-interest, far from discord, welcoming towards everyone and always seeking in others what was positive, what united, what was constructive. He never spoke a word of complaint or criticism, even at especially difficult times, but instead, as he had learned from St Josemaría, he always responded with prayer, forgiveness, understanding and sincere charity.

Forgive me. He often confessed that he saw himself empty-handed before God, incapable of responding to so much generosity. But to admit our poverty as human beings is not the result of despair but trusting abandonment in God who is our Father. It means opening ourselves to his mercy, his love, which is able to regenerate our life. His love does not humiliate us, nor cast us into the depths of guilt, but embraces us, lifts us up from our prostration and enables us to go forward with more determination and joy. The Servant of God Alvaro knew the need we have of God’s mercy, and devoted a lot of his own energy to encouraging the people he met to go to the sacrament of Confession, the sacrament of joy. How important it is to feel the tenderness of God’s love, and discover that there is still time to love!

Help me more. Yes, the Lord never abandons us, he is always at our side; he journeys with us, and every day he expects new love from us. His grace will not fail us, and with his help we can take his name to the whole world. The heart of the new Blessed beat with the desire to bring the Good News to all hearts. And so he travelled to many countries to foster new projects for evangelization, undeterred by difficulties, moved by his love for God and his brothers and sisters. One who is very immersed in God is able to be very close to other people. The first condition for announcing Christ to them is to love them, because Christ loves them before we do. We have to leave behind our selfish concerns and love of comfort, and go out to meet our brothers and sisters. That is where our Lord is awaiting us. We cannot keep our faith to ourselves: it is a gift we have received to give away and share with others.

Thank you, forgive me, help me! These words express the pressing concern of a life that is centered on God. It is the life of someone who has been touched by the greatest Love and who lives totally on that love; someone who, while experiencing their own human weakness and limitations, trusts in God’s mercy and wants all mankind, their brothers and sisters, to experience it too.

Dear brother, Blessed Alvaro del Portillo is sending us a very clear message. He is telling us to trust in the Lord, that he is our brother, our friend, who never lets us down and is always at our side. He is encouraging us not to be afraid to go against the current and suffer for announcing the Gospel. He is also teaching us that in the simplicity of our daily lives we can find a sure path to holiness.

I ask all the faithful of the Prelature, priests and lay-people, as well as all those who take part in its activities, to please pray for me. At the same time, I give them all my Apostolic Blessing.

May Jesus bless you, and may the Holy Virgin watch over you.



Blessed Alvaro del Portillo: “Saxum”

Following the beatification of Bishop Alvaro del Portillo in 2014, the Church designated May 12th, the anniversary of his First Communion, as his feast day. Blessed Alvaro del Portillo was a close collaborator of St. Josemaria Escriva and his first successor as Prelate of Opus Dei.

In this reflection from the St. Josemaria Institute Podcast archives, Fr. Javier del Castillo explains why St. Josemaria called Blessed Alvaro by the nickname “Saxum,” which means “rock” in Latin.  We also learn about Blessed Alvaro’s fortitude and how God sends us this gift of the Holy Spirit in order to help us overcome all obstacles and to become “rocks”— “a better building block for the Church wherever God has placed you.”

Christian Anthropology = Ipse Christus

The Call to Be Christ Himself. How? By Making the Gift of Oneself, Ultimately to Death

            This goes beyond an anthropology of observation. This is the Christian anthropology revealed in the Person of Jesus Christ. The readings of the breviary after Easter all point in the direction that man is created in the image of God in order to become Christ Himself living Himself out in time and space creating a secular order which is divine. This reality was experienced by St. Josemaria Escriva in the street and forms the basis of the spirit of Opus Dei. Christ’s living Himself out consists in the conversion away from Himself on the occasion of ordinary life in the service of others. To serve the others and not think about self is to experience Christ as oneself. Consider the following texts:

Ipse Christus

  • “You are my son; you are Christ” (Locuation to St. Josemaria, October 16, 1931

“The Lord is passing very close to you all; I know it, although you may not realize it. He is passing quasi in occulto. Besides, without hiding, He is in your heart, in these small battles which perhaps are not so small and that other times you make big with your foolishness, as I do. But I am not referring to the interior life when I tell you this.

“Some day, when the years pass, you will see that Jesus has been very close to you: not only in the Eucharist, not only by grace. You have not had the occasion to see Him because I have tried that you not see Him, knowing that I want you to love Him with all your strength, with all your mind, with all your heart.” (Family reunion with St. Josemaria, January 1971).

3) John Paul II “Redemptor Hominis” (1979)

  1. Christ united himself with each man

When we penetrate by means of the continually and rapidly increasing experience of the human family into the mystery of Jesus Christ, we understand with greater clarity that there is at the basis of all these ways that the Church of our time must follow, in accordance with the wisdom of Pope Paul VI86, one single way: it is the way that has stood the test of centuries and it is also the way of the future. Christ the Lord indicated this way especially, when, as the Council teaches, “by his Incarnation, he, the Son of God, in a certain way united himself with each man”87. The Church therefore sees its fundamental task in enabling that union to be brought about and renewed continually. The Church wishes to serve this single end: that each person may be able to find Christ, in order that Christ may walk with each person the path of life, with the power of the truth about man and the world that is contained in the mystery of the Incarnation and the Redemption and with the power of the love that is radiated by that truth. Against a background of the ever increasing historical processes, which seem at the present time to have results especially within the spheres of various systems, ideological concepts of the world and regimes, Jesus Christ becomes, in a way, newly present, in spite of all his apparent absences, in spite of all the limitations of the presence and of the institutional activity of the Church. Jesus Christ becomes present with the power of the truth and the love that are expressed in him with unique unrepeatable fullness in spite of the shortness of his life on earth and the even greater shortness of his public activity.

Jesus Christ is the chief way for the Church. He himself is our way “to the Father’s house”88 and is the way to each man. On this way leading from Christ to man, on this way on which Christ unites himself with each man, nobody can halt the Church. This is an exigency of man’s temporal welfare and of his eternal welfare. Out of regard for Christ and in view of the mystery that constitutes the Church’s own life, the Church cannot remain insensible to whatever serves man’s true welfare, any more than she can remain indifferent to what threatens it. In various passages in its documents the Second Vatican Council has expressed the Church’s fundamental solicitude that life in “the world should conform more to man’s surpassing dignity”89 in all its aspects, so as to make that life “ever more human”90. This is the solicitude of Christ himself, the good Shepherd of all men. In the name of this solicitude, as we read in the Council’s Pastoral Constitution, “the Church must in no way be confused with the political community, nor bound to any political system. She is at once a sign and a safeguard of the transcendence of the human person”91.

Accordingly, what is in question here is man in all his truth, in his full magnitude. We are not dealing with the “abstract” man, but the real, “concrete”, “historical” man. We are dealing with “each” man, for each one is included in the mystery of the Redemption and with each one Christ has united himself for ever through this mystery. Every man comes into the world through being conceived in his mother’s womb and being born of his mother, and precisely on account of the mystery of the Redemption is entrusted to the solicitude of the Church. Her solicitude is about the whole man and is focussed on him in an altogether special manner. The object of her care is man in his unique unrepeatable human reality, which keeps intact the image and likeness of God himself92. The Council points out this very fact when, speaking of that likeness, it recalls that “man is the only creature on earth that God willed for itself”93. Man as “willed” by God, as “chosen” by him from eternity and called, destined for grace and glory-this is “each” man, “the most concrete” man, “the most real”; this is man in all the fullness of the mystery in which he has become a sharer in Jesus Christ, the mystery in which each one of the four thousand million human beings living on our planet has become a sharer from the moment he is conceived beneath the heart of his mother.

4)  Caryll Houselander on the Ipse Christus

“If Christ is formed of our lives, it means that He will suffer in us. Or, more  truly, we will suffer in Him.

            ‘And He was made man.’                 

Our lady saw at once what was meant in her case: supernaturally, He was made herself.

If He is made man in you, He will be made you; in me, me.

It is extremely difficult to lay hold of this fact. It is very hard not to think of a kind of mystical Christ just beside us or just in front of us, suffering with infinite patience and joy, being obedient, humble, persevering, fulfilling His Father’s will.

I                       t is really difficult to realize that if He is formed in our life we are not beside Him but in Him and what He asks of us is to realize that it is actually in what we do that He wants t o act and to suffer.

For example, if you are conscripted, it is Christ Who is saying good-bye and leaving His home: Christ Who is marching on the endless route march. The blisters on the feet the new recruit are bgleeding on the feet of Christ.

            Again, if you are ian office worker and the person over you is trying perhaps rather limited in intelligence, so t hat you imagine you have some kind of right to be irritable, wee, it is not you at all that must be obedient and humble and gracious , it is Christ, Christ Who said to the weak and timid civil servant, Pontius Pilate:  ‘You would have no power over Me if it were not given to you from above.’

            It really needs to be practiced to be understood. We need to say to ourselves a thousand times a day: ‘Christ wants to do this.’ ‘Christ wants to suffer this.’

5) From a sermon by Saint Leo the Great, pope
(Sermo 12 de Passione, 3, 6-7: PL 54, 355-357)

Christ lives in his Church

My dear brethren, there is no doubt that the Son of God took our human nature into so close a union with himself that one and the same Christ is present, not only in the firstborn of all creation, but in all his saints as well. The head cannot be separated from the members, nor the members from the head. Not in this life, it is true, but only in eternity will God be all in all, yet even now he dwells, whole and undivided, in his temple the Church. Such was his promise to us when he said: See, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.

And so all that the Son of God did and taught for the world’s reconciliation is not for us simply a matter of past history. Here and now we experience his power at work among us. Born of a virgin mother by the action of the Holy Spirit, Christ keeps his Church spotless and makes her fruitful by the inspiration of the same Spirit. In baptismal regeneration she brings forth children for God beyond all numbering. These are the sons of whom it is written: They are born not of blood, nor of the desire of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

In Christ Abraham’s posterity is blessed, because in him the whole world receives the adoption of sons, and in him the patriarch becomes the father of all nations through the birth, not from human stock but by faith, of the descendants that were promised to him. From every nation on earth, without exception, Christ forms a single flock of those he has sanctified, daily fulfilling the promise he once made: I have other sheep, not of this fold, whom it is also ordained that I shall lead; and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.

Although it was primarily to Peter that he said: Feed my sheep, yet the one Lord guides all the pastors in the discharge of their office and leads to rich and fertile pastures all those who come to the rock. There is no counting the sheep who are nourished with his abundant love, and who are prepared to lay down their lives for the sake of the good shepherd who died for them.

But it is not only the martyrs who share in his passion by their glorious courage; the same is true, by faith, of all who are reborn through baptism. That is why we are to celebrate the Lord’s paschal sacrifice with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. The leaven of our former malice is thrown out, and a new creature is filled and inebriated with the Lord himself. For the effect of our sharing in the body and blood of Christ is to change us into what we receive. As we have died with him, and have been buried and raised to life with him, so we bear him within us, both in body and in spirit, in everything we do.

6) Augustine on St. John 15 – The New Commandment: To Love as Christ’s Self-gift is to be Ipse Christus

From a treatise on John by Saint Augustine, bishop
(Tract. 65, 1-3: CCL 36, 490-492)

The new commandment

A new commandment I give you, that you love one another. This commandment that he is giving them is a new one, the Lord Jesus tells his disciples. Yet was it not contained in the Old Law, where it is written: You shall love your neighbor as yourself? Why does the Lord call it new when it is clearly so old? Or is the commandment new because it divests us of our former selves and clothes us with the new man? Love does indeed renew the man who hears, or rather obeys its command; but only that love which Jesus distinguished from a natural love by the qualification: As I have loved you.

This is the kind of love that renews us. When we love as he loved us we become new men, heirs of the new covenant and singers of the new song. My brothers, this was the love that even in bygone days renewed the holy men, the patriarchs and prophets of old. In later times it renewed the blessed apostles, and now it is the turn of the Gentiles. From the entire human race throughout the world this love gathers together into one body a new people, to be the bride of God’s only Son. She is the bride of whom it is asked in the Song of Songs: Who is this who comes clothed in white? White indeed are her garments, for she has been made new; and the source of her renewal is none other than this new commandment.

And so all her members make each other’s welfare their common care. When one member suffers, all the members suffer with him, and if one member is glorified all the rest rejoice. They hear and obey the Lord’s words: A new commandment I give you, that you love one another; not as men love one another for their own selfish ends, nor merely on account of their common humanity, but because they are all gods and sons of the Most High. They love one another as God loves them so that they may be brothers of his only Son. He will lead them to the goal that alone will satisfy them, where all their desires will be fulfilled. For when God is all in all, there will be nothing left to desire.

This love is the gift of the Lord who said: As I have loved you, you also must love one another. His object in loving us, then, was to enable us to love each other. By loving us himself, our mighty head has linked us all together as members of his own body, bound to one another by the tender bond of love.

Question: Do we have greater dignity after sin and redemption in Christ, now? N.B the prayer at the end of vespers of Thurs, 4th week of Easter: “Father, in restoring human Nature you have given us a greater dignity than we had in the beginning.” Blogger response: In the beginning we were made in the image and likeness of the divine Persons, and loved individually by God (grace), but now God as actually become man and has personally, as divine Person, lived our life. It is incomparably greater that God in His divine Act of existence lived as one of us, He actually lived the divine transcendence in the smallest human act performed by His Persona.





“Affirmation:” The Most Helpful Insight and Takeaway From a Retreat

Sources: Joseph Ratzinger (“Principles of Catholic Theology” (Ignatius [1987] 79–81]; Josef Pieper “An Anthology [see footnote]; “Conrad Baars M.D. “I Will Give Them a New Heart” St. Pauls [2008] 12.


Ratzinger: “The root of man’s joy is the harmony he enjoys with himself. He lives in this affirmation. And only one who can accept himself can also accept the thou, can accept the world. The reason why an individual cannot accept the thou, cannot come to terms with him, is that he does not like his own I and, for that reason, cannot accept a thou.

             “Something strange happens here. We have seen that the inability to accept one’s I leads to the inability to accept a thou. But how does one go about affirming, assenting to, one’s I? The answer may perhaps be unexpected: We cannot do so by our own efforts alone. Of ourselves, we cannot come to terms with ourselves. Our I becomes acceptable to us only if it has first become acceptable to another I. We can love ourselves only if we have first been loved by someone else. The life a mother gives to her child is not just physical life, she gives total life when she takes the child’s tears and turns them into smiles. It is only when life has been accepted and is perceived as accepted that it becomes acceptable. Man is that strange creature that needs not just physical birth but also appreciation if he is to subsist. This is the root of the phenomenon known as hospitalism. When the initial harmony of our existence has been rejected, when that psycho-physical oneness has has been ruptured by which the ‘Yes, it is good that you are alive’ sinks, with life itself, deep into the core of the unconscious – then birth itself is interrupted; existence itself is not completely established…. (T)he charism of revolution has been for a long time not just remonstrance against reparable injustices but protestation against existence itself, which has not experienced its acceptance and hence does not know that it is acceptable. If an individual is to accept himself, someone must say to him: ‘It is good that you exist’ – must say it, not with words, but with that act of the entire being that we call love. For it is the way of love to will the other’s existence and, at the same time, to bring that existence forth again. The key to the I lies with the thou; the way to the thou leads through the I.”[1]

[1] J. Ratzinger, “Principles of Catholic Theology” Ignatius (1987) 79-80.


Joseph Pieper (Sociologically): In Sartre’s experience, “every human being is in principle alien to every other, who by looking at him threatens to steal the world from him; everyone is a danger to everyone else’s existence, a potential executioner. But fortunately, the creative artist in Sartre, or simply the brilliant observer and describer of human reality, repeatedly rises up against merely intellectual theses. And the artist in him, altogether unconcerned about his own ‘philosophy,’ will then say things like this: ‘This is the basis for the joy of love…: we feel that our existence is justified.’ As may be seen, that is not so very far from the above-mentioned notions of ‘giving existence’ and ‘conferring the right to exist.’ Here, however, the matter is seen not from the lover’s point of view, but from that of the beloved. Obviously, then, it does not suffice us simply to exist; we can do that ‘anyhow.’ What matters to us, beyond mere existence, is the explicit confirmation: It is good that you exist; how wonderful that you are! In other words, what we need over and above sheer existence is: to be loved by another person. That is an astonishing fact when we consider it closely. Being created by God actually does not suffice, it would seem; the fact of creation needs continuation and perfection by the creative power of human love.

             “But this seemingly astonishing fact is repeatedly confirmed [Sociologically] by the most palpable experience, of the kind that everyone has day after day. We say that a person ‘blossoms’ when undergoing the experience of being loved; that he becomes wholly himself for the first time; that a ‘new life’ is beginning for him – and so forth. For a child, and to all appearances even for the still unborn child, being loved by the mother is literally the precondition of its own thriving. This material love need not necessarily be ‘materialized’ in specific acts of beneficence. What is at any rate more decisive is that concern and approval which are given from the very core of existence – we need not hesitate to say, which  come from the heart – and which are directed toward the core of existence, the heart, of the child. Only such concern and approval do we call real ‘love.’ The observations of Rene Spitz have become fairly well known. He studied children born in prison and brought up in scarcely comfortable outward conditions by their imprisoned mother. These he compared with other children raised without their mothers, but in well-equipped, hygienically impeccable American infants’ and children’s homes by excellently trained nurses. The result of the comparison is scarcely surprising: in regard to illness, morality and susceptibility to neuroses, the children raised in prison were far better off. Not that the nurses had performed their tasks in a merely routine manner and with ‘cold objectivity.’ But it is simply not enough to able to eat to satiation, not to freeze, to have a roof overhead and everything else that is essential to life. The institutionalized children had all such needs satisfied. They received plenty of ‘milk;’ what was lacking was – the ‘honey.’”[1]

[1] Joseph Pieper, “An Anthology,” Ignatius (1989) 30-31.


Psychological Confirmation:

Conrad Baars, M.D.: Emotional Deprivation Disorder: Characteristics: “feelings of inferiority and inadequacy, inability to establish normal rapport with one’s peers and form lasting friendships, feelings of loneliness and insecurity, doubts about one’s self-worth and identity, fear of the adult world, and often deep depressions. Although the energetic among them are able to succeed in business or profession, they fail in their personal lives. If married, they find it impossible to relate in a spontaneous and emotionally satisfying way with spouse and children. In matters of faith, dullness prevails as their feelings cannot participate in their spiritual life. Their religious experience is neither ‘a burden that is light,’ nor ‘a yoke that is sweet.’ Their psychosexual immaturity may express itself in various ways, for instance, in masturbation, pornography, homosexuality, sexual impotence or frigidity…

Cause of EDD: an inadequate feeling of self-worth. And this is the key to it all: “The source of the feeling of self-worth is always another person – the ‘significant other’ – who can either give or withhold it. The process whereby a person receives his or her feeling of self-worth from the ‘significant other’ is for every human being a bonum fundamentale. In a very special relationship with the significant other, the person is seen and experienced by the other as good, worthwhile and lovable. The pleasure of the approving and loving other is perceived in such a manner that the person literally feels this through his or her entire being.[1][2]

Persons Related to by Affirmation: “can be said to have received the gift of themselves. They feel worthwhile, significant and lovable. They possess themselves as man or woman. They know who they are. They are certain of their identity. They love themselves unselfishly. They are open to all that is good and find joy in the same. They are able to affirm all of creation, and as affirmers of all beings are capable o f making others happy and joyful, too. They are largely other-directed. They find joy in being and doing for others. The find joy in their love relationship with their Creator. They can share and give of themselves, be a true friend to others, and feel at ease with persons of both sexes. They are capable of finding happiness in marinate of the freely chosen celibate state of life. They are free from psycho-pathological factors which hamper one’s free will and are therefore sully responsible – morally and legally – for their actions.”[3]

 Unaffirmed Persons: “can be said to have been born only once; their second or psychological birth never took place (or, since it is a protracted process, was never complete). They were not made to know and feel their own goodness, worth and identity. They have been thrown back upon themselves by denial on the part of significant others in their life. They are like prisoners – locked in, lonely, and self-centered – waiting fort someone to come and open the door of their prison, waiting to be opened to their own goodness and that of others. No measure of success in business, profession or otherwise can adequately compensate for their feelings of inferiority, inadequacy, uncertainty and insecurity. Both the married life and the celibate life accentuate the fundamental loneliness of these persons and their inability to relate to others as equals. Their spiritual life suffers as time goes on, and their basically joyless way of life changes more and more to a state of depression until death seems the only way out.


            “Most importantly, unaffirmed persons have only one concern and need: to become affirmed, to be loved for who they are and not for what they do. They are literally driven to find someone who truly, unequivocally loves them. This is in marked contrast to affirmed individuals who look for someone with whom they can share their love, who can give love as well as receive, who can wait and are not hurried, driven, or compelled to find someone who will love them. If affirmation by a significant other is not forthcoming, many unaffirmed persons wells use their talents, intelligence and energy to try to convince themselves and the world in a variety of ways that they are worthwhile, important and significant, even though they don’t feel that they are. The most common ways of doing this are by the acquisition, display and use of material goods, wealth, power, fame, honor, status symbols, or sex.”[4]

[1] Note that John Paul II, writing to Teresa Heydel, remarked: “Everyone… lives, above all, for love. The ability to love authentically, not great intellectual capacity, constitutes the deepest part of a personality. It is no accident that the greatest commandment is to love. Authentic love leads us outside ourselves to affirming others.”  A month later, he wrote: “After many experiences and a lot of thinking, I am convinced that the (objective) starting point of love is the realization that I am needed by another. The person who objectively needs me most is also, for me, objectively, the person I most need. This is a fragment of life’s deep logic… The great achievement is always to see values that others don’t see and to affirm them. The even greater achievement is to bring out of people the values that would perish without us. IN the same way, we bring our values out in ourselves” (G. Weigel, “Witness to Hope” Cliffside Books [1999] 101-102].

[2] C. Baars, “I Will Give Themn a New Heart” St Pauls (2008) 12.

[3] Ibid 190.

[4] Ibid190-191.