One Meaning of the Saints


One of the marvels of the Catholic Church is the enormous variety in unity that is available to us in the persons of the Saints and in the Orders to which many belonged. This morning I was talking with a friend and it occurred to me that she had been spending too much time with the "heady" saints--the Dominicans, Benedictines, and Jesuits. Now, to say that these are "heady" Saints is to in no way demean them or to suggest that they are somehow inferior to those I'll call the "hearty" Saints. Rather it is to imply an initial focus and predominant means of access. St. Thomas Aquinas loved God very much, there can be no doubt. He loved God primarily through the work of his mind and the assent of his will to what intellect told it.

I mentioned to her that she needed to read the "hearty" Saints--in my mind, the Carmelites and the Franciscans (of the major Orders). These two orders raised up some saints of tremendous intellectual capability, but the writings tend not to be treatises and arguments, a la Summa, but rather distillations of personal experience and encounters with God.

Now, these are generalizations, and so, in some sense, essentially untrue. Every order has its "Heady" and "Hearty" representatives. Both embrace the fullness of life of the mind and of the heart. But the essential Charisms of some orders incline them toward one or the other more extensively. The Carmelite charism with its focus on Divine Intimacy is more an invitation to tea than a debating society. The Dominican charism of spreading the truth of the Gospel and the Word of the Lord is more an invitation to encounter the living God in all of his reality rather than tea and cookies with Jesus. Again, in my statements, I exaggerate the extremes of both sides, so don't take this as definitive analysis, merely as appreciation for the many wonders God has blessed us with in the persons of His Saints and of the Orders He has raised up and nurtured through them.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on January 16, 2006 11:46 AM.

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