St. John Paul II: Anger and Tears

It’s better to cry than to be angry; because anger hurts others, while tears flow silently through the soul and cleanse the heart.

Attr, St. John Paul II

A lot of people who have shared this struggle with the word “cleanse.” I’ve seen it as “cleans” and as “cleanses,” both of which are obviously wrong.

  1. It fails the ear test, though admittedly I am highly suspicious. It just doesn’t sound like St. JP II to me.
  2. I went through 10 pages of Google search results, finding all the usual suspects (“quote” aggregator sites, Facebook, Pinterest, et al.), none of which gave a citation. There were lots more results, but I figured if there wasn’t a citation on the first 10 pages, there wasn’t likely to be one later. The earliest dated sighting of this attributed to St. JP II (or, for that matter, to anyone at all) is from 2012.
  3. I searched the Vatican web site. No dice.
  4. I searched the EWTN web site, hoping at least to discover a source for the original erroneous attribution. (Love you, EWTN, but you’ve done this to me before.) No dice.
  5. Google Books turned up no citations either.

I would be happier if I could run the original saying to ground, but as it is, I’m going to call this one “unlikely.”

St. Francis: hands, head, heart

He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.

Attr. St. Francis of Assisi

I’m not sure why this is attributed to St. Francis, since it has little to do with anything he was interested in. Wikiquote says: “This quote was actually composed by Louis Nizer, and published in his book, Between You and Me (1948).” I did some checking and I can’t verify this citation directly (Google Books won’t do a full book search), but I did find it attributed to him elsewhere. But I can also find it given as “an old saying” in a 1944 publication. I certainly didn’t find any place giving an actual citation to St. Francis (as in, saying where it came from).

Verdict: Not St. Francis.

C. S. Lewis and running towards a cliff

When the whole world is running towards a cliff, he who is running in the opposite direction appears to have lost his mind.

Attr. C. S. Lewis

Attributed to CSL, but not by him. The invaluable William O’Flaherty of “Confirming C. S. Lewis” says on his FB group that it can’t be found in Lewis and that its earliest appearance as a CSL “quotation” is 1997. O’Flaherty has digital editions of Lewis’s oeuvre, so he is quite likely correct. For what it’s worth, I looked around a little on Google Books and couldn’t find it in Lewis either.

Pope St. John XXIII and your dreams

Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.

Attr. to Pope St. John XXIII

A Google search turned up the usual suspects, none with citations (at least in the first few pages of results). Wikiquote has it on the “Unsourced” list on the discussion page for Pope St. John XXIII. It mostly doesn’t appear in books before about 2000. The oldest citation I can find is in The Ligourian for 1972, which is only available in snippet view, so I can’t see the full context.

Since no one at Wikiquote could find a real source, and since I couldn’t either, and since this sounds more like pop psych than anything else, I’m going to call it doubtful. If anyone has access to The Ligourian, I’d love to know what it says.

How to avoid fauxtations

Several people have told me, either in person or via the internet, that they’re a little shy about putting up possible quotations for fear that they might be fauxtations. I realize not everyone is interested in chasing down every quote’s source before posting it, but here are a few things you can do quickly to cut down your chances of appearing on Fauxtations:

  1. Check the fauxtations blog. It’s got a handy search box, tags, and other such amenities.
  2. Apply the ear test. If it sounds like a modern-day motivational speaker, it probably wasn’t said by a saint. If it sounds like a greeting card, it probably wasn’t said by a saint (St. Mother Teresa and St. Thérèse can sound a little Hallmark-y at times, especially if taken out of context).
  3. Check Wikiquote, and make sure you didn’t hit one of the pages where someone used secondary sources (“quoted by Joe Smith in Things St. Francis Said“). To be double sure, you can go to the discussion tab (not visible on the mobile site) and see if it’s discussed there.

It takes more to guarantee a non-fauxtation, but those three tests will catch a good number of fauxtations.

Special bonus:
If the alleged quote is from C. S. Lewis, try this page:
If it’s from St. Mother Teresa, try this page (but be aware that the bottom half of the page contains paraphrases, and it’s hard to know how far the alleged paraphrase varies from what she actually said):

Augustine: God loves each of us

God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.

Attr. St. Augustine

This comes in various paraphrases, but what they all have in common is that they aren’t quite what St. Augustine said (the level of quiteness varies from paraphrase to paraphrase). Someone has done most of the legwork for me in this blog post.

The saying appears to originate in St. Augustine’s Confessions, 3.11.19, where he says this:

O thou Omnipotent Good, thou carest for every one of us as if thou didst care for him only, and so for all as if they were but one! (Tr. Albert C. Outler)

In Latin, that’s o tu bone omnipotens, qui sic curas unumquemque nostrum tamquam solum cures, et sic omnes tamquam singulos

I leave it to the reader to decide whether or not the saying at the top of this post is an acceptable paraphrase.

Gerard Manley Hopkins and the core of your identity

Your personal boundaries protect the inner core of your identity and your right to choices.

Attr. to Gerard Manley Hopkins

My initial thought when a friend brought this to my attention is that there is no way on earth that Hopkins wrote it. I thought it was 20th Century psychobabble, and my friend thought that it was far too un-poetic for Hopkins. And we were both right.

The source is How to Be an Adult: A Handbook on Psychological and Spiritual Integration, by David Richo, published in 1991 by Paulist Press. The epigram at the start of Chapter 7 looks like this:


Your personal boundaries protect the inner core of your identity and your right to choices:
“There lives the dearest freshest deep-down things.”
–Gerard Manley Hopkins

Here’s a Google Books link to the page so you can see it yourself (if GB deigns to do so; it can be finicky about showing previews of copyrighted texts).

I am tempted to say something here about Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, but I’d better not. At any rate, the alleged quotation is definitely faux.

St. Clare and what we love

We become what we love, and what we love shapes what we become.

Attr. St. Clare of Assisi

This came in low enough on my “sounds right” test to get me searching. The first search result was from Goodreads, which means no citation.

The second hit was from a blog by a teacher at Franciscan University of Steubenville, who gave a longer version: “We become what we love and who we love shapes what we become. Imitation is not a literal mimicking of Christ; rather, it means become the image of the beloved, an image disclosed through transformation.” The author attributed that to St. Clare, but it scores about as low as it is possible to score on my “sounds right” scale, so I searched for the second sentence, and it turned up very quickly in Google Books, in a book called Franciscans at Prayer, by Timothy Johnson, p. 54. You can see that page here. The words–all of them–are Johnson’s, not St. Clare’s.

Edith Stein/St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross: Truth and Love

Do not accept anything as the truth if it lacks love. And do not accept anything as love which lacks truth.

Attr. St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)

The saying is found in Pope St. John Paul II’s homily for her canonization. The exact passage, with punctuation and italics as in the original, looks like this:

St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross was able to understand that the love of Christ and human freedom are intertwined, because love and truth have an intrinsic relationship. The quest for truth and its expression in love did not seem at odds to her; on the contrary she realized that they call for one another.

In our time, truth is often mistaken for the opinion of the majority. In addition, there is a widespread belief that one should use the truth even against love or vice versa. But truth and love need each other. St Teresa Benedicta is a witness to this. The “martyr for love”, who gave her life for her friends, let no one surpass her in love. At the same time, with her whole being she sought the truth, of which she wrote: “No spiritual work comes into the world without great suffering. It always challenges the whole person”.

St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross says to us all: Do not accept anything as the truth if it lacks love. And do not accept anything as love which lacks truth! One without the other becomes a destructive lie.

Throughout the homily, when the Holy Father was quoting St. TBotC’s words, they are placed in quotation marks (see the end of the second paragraph above). The alleged saying is not in quotation marks–it’s italicized, as are other points that Pope St. JP II wanted to emphasize.

If there’s any doubt about it, a look at the context makes it clear that the quoted phrase is JP II’s summary of (a part of) St. Theresa Benedicta of the Cross’s message; it’s not something that she herself said, in so many words. Someone saw “says to us all” and misread it (in my opinion, but backed by evidence) as attributing the saying to her.

Verdict: Fauxtation; actually a saying of Pope St. John Paul II.

St. Mother Teresa: War, Killing, Abortion

We must not be surprised when we hear of murders, of killings, of wars, of hatred. If a mother can kill her own child, what is left but for us to kill each other.

Attributed to St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa)

This might be a good time to remind readers that this blog is not about taking down sayings I don’t like or disagree with; I am only asking whether or not the person to whom a quotation is attributed actually said or wrote it.

The usual web search turned up the usual list of suspects without citations. Not a usual suspect, but without a citation, was this 2004 article in the National Catholic Register. That means the saying has been around for at least that long, and widely enough attributed to her that the Register didn’t think it needed a source.

I wasn’t able to find it on Google Books in any books older than the Register article.

It’s not listed on my go-to site for checking sayings attributed to St. Mother T. (By the way, I’ve grown leery of the second half of that site; I’d prefer to judge for myself how significantly something has been paraphrased.)

To keep a potentially long story short, the saying sounds like something from her 1979 Nobel Prize acceptance speech:

And I feel one thing I want to share with you all, the greatest destroyer of peace today is the cry of the innocent unborn child. For if a mother can murder her own child in her womb, what is left for you and for me to kill each other? Even in the scripture it is written: Even if mother could forget her child – I will not forget you – I have carved you in the palm of my hand. Even if mother could forget, but today millions of unborn children are being killed. And we say nothing. In the newspapers you read numbers of this one and that one being killed, this being destroyed, but nobody speaks of the millions of little ones who have been conceived to the same life as you and I, to the life of God, and we say nothing, we allow it. To me the nations who have legalized abortion, they are the poorest nations. They are afraid of the little one, they are afraid of the unborn child, and the child must die because they don’t want to feed one more child, to educate one more child, the child must die.

(emphasis mine, to highlight the most relevant portion)

Is it possible that she said the original quotation somewhere else? Certainly, but I can’t find it. I think it’s more likely that someone took the highlighted sentence and attached something to it.

If you can find out that she said or wrote the whole thing, and you can give a primary source, I’d love to know about it.