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God’s little answer

October 3, 2012

I was traveling on St. Therese’s feast day and while I missed many posts acknowledging the little saint, this one by Fr. Dwight Longnecker of Standing on my Head managed to catch my eye:

If Frederich Nietzsche met Therese Martin how would the conversation go? He might explain the death of God and the inexorable rise of nihilism. Therese would say ‘the good God’ was not dead, but only man’s false ideas of God had died. When he explained how morality was discovered by each person Therese would reply that each person did indeed have to discover morality–but discover the reality of the received morality in a radically personal way. When Nietzsche explained how the great ones had to give up fitting into dull society, had to give up attachment to all material things, Therese would agree and point out that this is precisely what she aimed to do by becoming a Carmelite. When Nietzsche explained that this process of negation and discovery of true values was the process by which  the “superman” came to be, Therese would agree, but she would call that “superman” a “saint”. When she cries, “Sanctity! It must be won at the point of a sword!” or “You cannot be half a saint. You must be a whole saint or no saint at all.” She gives the world her own version of the “superman”–one who has overcome the dull conventional beliefs and behaviors and risen to another dimension of humanity altogether. Nietzsche’s use of poetry and paradox would not have been lost on Therese either–and this is where she trumps Nietzsche–she would say that the way to become that saintly “superman” is precisely by being what Nietzsche despised: a little girl. The way to become the “Overman” was to become the “Underdog”. The way to become a great human was to become a trusting child of the loving Father–a slave to others and a slave to Love–and one who follows the  ”little Way” that is a great way, and a simple way that is the hardest of all.

This is one of God’s great jokes: that the world throws out a Nietzsche–a proud, self dramatizing Byronic philosopher– the atheist of the grand flourish and the tragic gesture, and God answers with a little girl who likes to sit on Papa’s lap and see her initials in the stars. See how it all ends…” {continue reading}


Fr. Longnecker closes the post with a summary of their perspectives and asking his readers where they stand in the “great clash of our age”.  Be sure to read the whole thing in honor of the little Doctor of the Church whose feast day was celebrated on October 1st.

St. Therese the little flower, pray for us.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 3, 2012 3:59 pm

    That was a good article. The small and the humble confounding the high and the proud.

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