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.