Here we go.

From today’s Divine Intimacy, which considers the significance of Christ’s circumcision:

“Every undertaking must receive its baptism of blood in order to be fruitful.”

Well, now.


  1. Thanks, man. I needed to be reminded of that.

    Does my headache from last night’s prosecco count?

    (Please, don’t correct me if that’s spelled incorrectly)

  2. NewMexicoNurse says

    …As every tyrant in human history would agree. MJH

  3. Matthew Lickona says

    Though perhaps the tyrant would hesitate to agree to the shedding of his own blood…

  4. NewMexicoNurse says

    I sort of see your point – I think conventional liberals for example want the many to suffer more than they do. But not so fast: think Heaven’s Gate cult or Jonestown, circa 1979. The essential intellectual move here is the willingness to bleed. Many a cult has stepped up to the plate! I think one of the overrated qualities of ‘saints’ is the strength to ‘walk the walk’. Many a fanatic has that same strength – but we don’t call it virtue! MJH

  5. Matthew Lickona says

    Okay, let’s lay it all the way out – do you really see a lot of fanatics, Heavens Gaters or Jonestown folk who are willing to lay down their lives for the sake of their fellow men? They may be willing to die, but to die for the sake of another’s happiness – not even necessarily God’s? Seems to me the saints are different in this way – think Maximillian Kolbe. Or, in the case above, Jesus.

  6. I think Matthew has hit it in the last comment.

    Even if it is in some type of spiritual solidarity for a cause, it is rarely truly for the life of another.

    Just look at the recent passing of a devout Catholic dad, who died to save his son. He dove into a septic tank. It made it to the Washington Post and all over the internet. Why?

    Because it was salvific in its action.

  7. All,

    St. Gianna Beretta Molla.

    Enough said?


    p.s. OK, maybe not: NMN – particular salient fact: St. Gianna had it “all” – successful career, great family life, worldly success – and decided to ditch it all for the love of one (and One) she’d never seen before and knew she would never see in her time on earth. That fact, standing as a shadow of sadness behind her faith, did not deter her – nor does it define her as a fanatic. Rather, compared to all the Regulus’s in the world, St. Gianna was motivated by divine love – her decision was not made rashly, but with full confidence that love, not fanaticism, is at the heart of every Christian act.

    Jones vs. Jesus: There’s a big difference between selfish suicide and selfless sacrifice.

  8. JOB,

    Nice. Especially, the “one and One” sentence. You grammatical rock star.

    Especially about Gianna Molla’s sadness. That was one thing that really struck a chord in me, reading about her life. Her hubby would walk in to find her face grief-stricken, her eyes distant. She was going to leave her husband and never see her children. This decision was no picnic for her, merely because she had made it.

    The decision was never about feelings. Love is a choice, not an emotion.

  9. isn’t it important to point out to, that the saints go willing to their deaths, receive their deaths, unite their suffering to Christs, etc. for love of God, for love of others, for the salvation of souls. However, they never CAUSE there own deaths, bring about their own deaths, or even, I would go so far to way, WILL, their own deaths unless it be in united their will to Gods will for them. This, to my mind, is very far different than fanatism. Which I would argue, assumes that the death will amount to something. No saint does that. They simply put their lives into the hands of God.

  10. NewMexicoNurse says

    Forgive but I don’t think you understand the examples I gave. The cultists were willing to sacrifice their own lives – think David Koresh – for both God and neighbor, specifically the members of GOD’S TRUE CHURCH – meaning each other. They fear corruption by the world more than death – and said so repeatedly. Sound familiar?

    As to the more general point of laying down ones life for others, the military and local police, firemen and paramedics do it all the time. That willingness doesn’t divide the sheep from the goats. The motto of the USAF pararescuemen is “That others may live”. Inculcating and practicing such altruism is just part of many a secular subculture.

    Maximillian Kolbe’s story is an amazing one and I have not one critical thing to say about it!

    You wrote: “Even if it is in some type of spiritual solidarity for a cause, it is rarely truly for the life of another.” I know the word ‘truly’ gives you some wiggle room here, but this claim is far from obvious. Isn’t our practice of Christianity born in and constantly aware of our own happiness and ultimate fate?? Why draw the line at ‘altruism’ vs. ‘selfishness’? It isn’t hard to argue that Christianity has always treated outsiders as potential converts or enemies. Isn’t that what the cultists think too?

    Many besides “Catholic dads” have died rescuing their children – I think it is interesting that it is the “Catholic” part that makes the story relevant for you.

    I don’t think Saint Gianna is a particularly illustrative example. how about the early Christian described by Saint Justin Martyr in the first book of his Apology (with apparent approval) who requested castration to aid his life as one not of this world? Is this an example we should admire? Isn’t it fanaticism of the garden variety?

    OK, so Saint Gianna prioritized and did what she thought love required. It is a great story, I agree, but are you aware that all the major religions have similar stories to hold up for the inspiration of the many? And that mothers lay down their lives regularly as the Catholic dad above did?

    And no, I don’t think she is a religious fanatic – there are natural motives at work here too, namely, the life and safety of her unborn child. She is worthy of our respect as human aside from what faith strengthened her moral intuition.

    You wrote: Jones vs. Jesus: There’s a big difference between selfish suicide and selfless sacrifice. Ah, yes there is.

    Anonymous makes the old distinction about causing and willing vs. putting our lifes in the Hands of One Who he has never met and can’t weigh in on our choice when the moment comes. ..OK, it works for you and that is something. I simply want to point out that we are actually estimating what the Creator would have us do and I don’t know where He tells us: “Every undertaking must receive its baptism of blood in order to be fruitful.” MJH

  11. New Mexico Nurse—
    some interesting points…
    Of course, i can only speak for myself, but my “happiness” has no relation to my choice of faith. I find being a faithful Catholic in Western society pretty tough at times, in all honesty. It’s no picnic, whether or not I can see eternity as my goal.

    As far as “converts or enemies,” yeah, I would admit that this has been an issue in periods of church history. For me, personally, I think about my near and dear—particularly my athiest and agnostic loved ones— and know that I don’t want them believing out of fear or coersion. That type of faith would never last.

    And for the “Catholic” dad story, I only mentioned his Catholicism because “Divine Intimacy” is a book of Catholic, Carmelite spirituality. Since Matthew brought that up, I thought he was a good example.

    Any father of any faith (or no faith) dying for his child would have relevance for me because I don’t think it’s as common as you say it is and it should be.

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