Pagan Nonsense in the Name of St. Thomas Aquinas

A well-known Catholic page published a meme that I refuse to quote in anything approaching its entirety. It begins with the words, “How is it that they live for eons in such harmony.” St. Thomas didn’t write it; anyone who is familiar with St. Thomas’s work at all should recognize it for the forgery it is.

The actual author is a man named Daniel Ladinsky. He claims to be only the translator, but I’ll let one of the Amazon reviews tell you what’s going on:  “Daniel Ladinsky has a history of writing his own poetry and selling it as though it were translated material. Many people in the West know the name of the Iranian poet, Hafiz, through Ladinsky. Although Ladinsky has admitted at times that his writings are not translations of Hafiz but are based on his vision of Hafiz, he has continued to market his material as though it were actually authored by that poet.”

It might be that the “translator” took “inspiration” from something St. Thomas really did write, though I can’t imagine what. I am sure that St. Thomas would not be happy having his name attached to some of the thoughts in the poem.

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The St. Thomas Aquinas Compendium

In advance of St. Thomas’s feast day, I give you a list of his appearances on this blog:

I confidently predict that the one about wine will be all over the interwebz, again, on his feast day. Sigh.

St. Francis de Sales: Your value as a human being

Have patience with all things – but first with yourself. Never confuse your mistakes with your value as a human being. You are perfectly valuable, creative, worthwhile person simply because you exist. And no amount of triumphs or tribulations can ever change that.

Attr. St. Francis de Sales.

The first sentence is really his, or close enough. Wikiquote gives it as, “Have patience with every one, but especially with yourself,” which is close enough. WQ says that the source is “Quoted by Bishop Jean-Pierre Camus in The Spirit of Saint Francis de Sales, section ‘Upon Discouragement’.” Bishop Camus was consecrated by St. Francis, who was his spiritual director, so I’ll take that as a good enough source. The full quotation there is:

Have patience with every one, but especially with yourself. I mean, do not be over-troubled about your imperfections, but always have courage enough at once to rise up again when you fall into any of them. I am very glad to hear that you begin afresh every day. There is no better means for persevering in the spiritual life than continually to be beginning again, and never to think that one has done enough.

Link to text

As for the rest of the purported quotation … I would bet (before I look) that St. Francis de Sales never used the phrase “your value as a human being” in his life, so the sentence containing that will be a good search phrase.

  • A Google search turns up the usual suspects (and boy, are they suspect) with no good sources apparent.
  • I already mentioned Wikiquote. The rest of the alleged quotation doesn’t appear there at all.
  • Google Books gives a series of hits from 2006 onward, and … one hit from 1981: New Woman, vol. 11, p. 34. It’s available only in snippet view, and just enough of the snippet is visible to show me that the quotation there is: “Forget about the mistakes and absorb yourself in the joy of creating. ❡ Accept yourself. Never confuse your mistakes with your value as a human being. You’re a perfectly valuable, creative, worthwhile person.” It gives a source: Imagineering, by Michael LeBoeuf.

    So I searched for that book, and voila! On page 140, Google Books let me see just enough. LeBoeuf wrote, “4. Accept yourself. St. Francis de Sales wrote, ‘Have patience with all things, but first of all yourself.’ Never confuse your mistakes with your value as a human being. You’re a ….” The snippet cuts off there, but that’s enough to tell what happened. The first line of the alleged quotation is St. Francis de Sales. The second line is Michael LeBoeuf. And the rest is someone else–I’m not going to try to figure out who, since I know it’s not the saint.

Since the source of the error can be identified, I can put this one into the definitely false category.