C.S. Lewis: Never too old

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.

–attr. C. S. Lewis

  1. No postive results from a general Google search.
  2. Several Google results did the rest of my searching for me: here (featuring another one of my favorite not-Lewis quotations on body and soul) and here (see the comments [no, seriously]).

    Both sets of results refer to Les Brown as another possible source.

  3. It’s also listed as “misattributed” on Lewis’s Wikiquote page, with a nod in the direction of Mr. Brown.
  4. And it really doesn’t sound like CSL.

Verdict: fauxtation.

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St. Augustine: Romance, Adventure, Achievement

To fall in love with God is the greatest of all romances; to seek Him, the greatest adventure; to find Him, the greatest human achievement. — Attr. St. Augustine

This one’s easy. It’s not St. Augustine; it’s Fr. Raphael Simon, O.C.S.O.,  who is credited with it as far back as a 1964 story in Newsweek. I can find something like it in Fr. Simon’s book Formation of the Priest, on p. 125:

Now to fall in love with Jesus requires faith. We have to know the story of Jesus, of His coming into the world, of His teaching and deeds and fellowship in this world, of His passing to the Father, of His coming back in life after death to talk with His disciples and continue His fellowship with them, of His going to the Father and sending into our hearts the Holy Spirit and His love. This is the greatest story in the world, the greatest romance, and we are called to the greatest adventure.

Obviously that’s missing the “human achievement” part, but it shows at the very least that Fr. Simon wrote something along the lines of the quotation, and I suspect he was quoting himself here, in modified form (or perhaps he later expanded on this thought).

I don’t know who attached it to St. Augustine; the earliest I can find it attached to his name is in 1984, in How to Live Life to the Fullest: A Handbook for Seasoned Citizens. 

St. Jerome: Praying and reading

When we pray, we speak to God; but when we read, God speaks to us.

attr. to St. Jerome

I saw this in a meme going around FB from accounts with famous names attached, but it’s is a centuries-old fauxtation (or at least a very free paraphrase). It stems from St. Alphonsus Ligouri’s “On Spiritual Reading,” which, in the English language version available on the Web, attributes the phrase to St. Jerome exactly as given above. What St. Jerome actually said was: “Do you pray? You speak to the Bridegroom. Do you read? He speaks to you.” (Letter XXII, to Eustochium, 25.) St. Alphonsus paraphrased it. (The actual Latin of St. Jerome is: “Oras: loqueris ad sponsum; legis: ille tibi loquitur,” from here. A literal translation runs like this: “You pray: You speak to the bridegroom. You read: He speaks o you.”)

St. Ambrose said something similar, referenced in CCC 2653, which references Dei Verbum 25, which says that it’s St. Ambrose, De officiis ministrorum 1,20,88:PL 16,50, and you can verify that the citation is correct by looking at PL 16, 50 right here. The Latin is, “Illum alloquimur cum oramus, illum audimus cum divina legimus oracula.” The English translation is, “We speak to him when we pray; we listen to him when we read the divine oracles.”

St. Thomas and the means of conversion

To convert somebody, go and take them by the hand and guide them.

–Attr. St. Thomas Aquinas

  1. Generic Google search. I don’t know why I try this. Actually I do–it finds the source of authentic quotations quickly most of the time. It turned up only the usual suspect quote aggregation sites this time.
  2. It’s not on wikiquote, neither on St. Thomas’s authentic quotes page nor on the talk page where disputed quotations go.
  3. It’s not in the English version of the Summa on New Advent. But I did find something that might lie behind the alleged quotation. In I.113.4, St. Thomas is speaking of guardian angels and says this:

    Further, angels are appointed to the guardianship of men, that they may take them by the hand and guide them to eternal life, encourage them to good works, and protect them against the assaults of the demons.

    The resemblances are obvious. I was curious how St. Thomas said “take by the hand and guide” in Latin. It’s one word: “manuducantur,” literally from “guide by the hand.” As given, it’s third person plural passive subjunctive. With this find, I was able to search the entire works of St. Thomas in Latin for the word, in plural, singular, indicative, and subjunctive. He uses it in several other places, but none of them are the original quotation we’re seeking.

Verdict: Probably taken from ST I.113.4, but the fauxtation has wandered rather far afield from its original context.

Mother Teresa, the lamp, and oil

To keep a lamp burning, we have to keep putting oil in it.

Attributed to Mother Theresa.

  1. Google search: The usual quotation sites with the usual lack of citations.
  2. Wikiquote: This does not appear on her page.
  3. Google Books:
    Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 12.51.42 PM
    From Love, a Fruit Always in Season, edited by Dorothy Hunt. I believe that the attributed quotation is related to this one, but I don’t think Mother ever put it into the words of the meme.