Opinion

Organization honored for helping persecuted Christians around the world
NEW YORK — Earlier this year, the Holy See’s Mission to the U.N. was instrumental is the passage of a U.N. resolution that condemned, among other forms of religious hatred, “Christianophobia.” At the May 22nd annual gala for the Path to Peace Foundation, which supports the work of the Holy See at the U.N., papal nuncio Archbishop Bernardito Auza observed that “It was the first time that the term Christianophobia appeared to denounce the hatred behind anti-Christian attacks. Words are not enough, of course, but they are important. They describe what is happening. They make it harder to ignore. They make it easier to respond. But they must be followed up action.” For that reason, the Path to Peace Foundation chose to honor the papal foundation Aid to the Church in Need with its annual award for its work, as Auza described, as the “the leading organization in the world putting words to the persecution Christians are suffering in certain places and, even more importantly, responding with action.” In an interview with Crux on the morning after the gala, Aid to the Church in Need President, Dr. Thomas Heine-Geldern, described: Why he believes the United Nations plays a central role in the global acceptance of religious freedom as a human right. How ultranationalism is incompatible with Christianity. How Pope Francis’ call for “artisans of peace” goes beyond just calls for no more war. What follows are excerpts of Heine-Geldern’s conversation with Crux. Crux: What role do you believe the United Nations, and particularly the work of the Holy See’s Mission to the U.N., plays in elevating the plight of persecuted Christians for a global audience? Heine-Geldern: The respect and recognition of religious freedom as a human right can only become accomplished by the full commitments of nations and the international organizations, so in my opinion, the United Nations plays a very important role for the global acceptance of religious freedom as a human right. Saying that, it is clear that the Mission that the Holy See to the United Nations plays an important role. The Holy See has an observer status and the Holy See is a permanent defender of human rights. There is a lot to do, and there is a lot to do for silenced minorities whether they are Christian or Yazidi or other minorities without a voice. When we have the concept of equal human dignity of every human being, the enforcement of the acceptance of the human rights is extremely important. Last night in your acceptance speech you noted that “At least 75 percent of all religiously-motivated violence and oppression around the world is carried out against Christians.” Why, in your view, have Christians in particular been targeted? Maybe it has to do mainly with the fact that in a lot of countries with a predominant other culture, there are everywhere Christian minorities. The Christian Church is a missionary Church. We have the mandate of our faith, therefore we have everywhere diasporas or minorities of Christians. I think that’s one of the answers. Other religions have a more concentrated set-up on the world map. The other thing is that faithful Christians will not be very fast in being tempted by ultranationalism. As the Gospel speaks about peace, speaks about forgiveness, speaks about reconciliation, and speaks about love, you are not an aggressive nationalist when you accept that. You are not against something, you are in favor of something, and with that you create a bewilderness or aggressiveness from the other side. We read in the Gospel that you will be hated, you will not be accepted, and so forth. We shouldn’t be surprised by this. We had decades and centuries in the western world of a lovely comfort zone, but when you read the Gospel, maybe that’s not a normal situation. We are a contradiction to a lot of nationalistic, populistic policies and ideologies that try not to embrace others but to exclude them. If we walk our talk, we’re certainly not a religion of exclusion. Aid to the Church in Need is a papal charity. In what ways has Pope Francis brought a distinctive approach to addressing concerns of the persecuted Church? The Catholic Church is not a Church of exclusion, that’s exactly what his message is. He says go to the borders, go to the people, take them in, and try to understand them, try to help them, and don’t close your eyes when the other is suffering or persecuted. Be open-minded and use your brain for yourself, and do what the Gospel says. That’s especially what Pope Francis says. He is trying to teach us, help us, asking us to become “artisans of peace,” and that means we have to do something and have the right understanding. The right understanding of peace is not just a warless environment, it’s more. It starts with respect for other people. In Aid to the Church in Need’s “Religious Freedom in the World” annual report, you chronicle not just areas where the Church is under threat, but also areas where religious freedom has improved. What are some common themes you’ve discovered about the necessary foundations for improving religious freedom? In the majority of the constitutions of the different states, it is written that people and persons are considered equal. Very often that is not accepted. To enforce what is written in the constitution, to live it, and to allow those who have been considered second-class citizens, that would make enormous improvements. To accept that there are minorities, that there are religious diaspora, but to also maintain the constitutional enforcement of equal rights for everyone, if equal rights are accepted for everyone, the situation of people who are persecuted for their faith improves dramatically. It is important to know whether you are willing to put the meaning of the constitution into life. Aid to the Church in Need has projects going on in over 140 countries. Tell me about some that are closest to your heart. We have approximately 8,000 applications for projects and only five or six thousand that we can realize and execute. We are a pastoral charity, and our main purpose is to be able to support the Church where it is persecuted or suffering or where the Church does not have the financial means to fulfill its mandate. So, when we can help a bishop get a car, a parish priest with a donkey, or a nun with a bicycle, then we do small projects. As for the big projects, it’s important that many charities or foundations look to Aid to the Church in Need as the “know-how” bureau and wants to cooperate with us. For example, because of the wars in Iraq and Syria, we had a big increase of our work there because there are the foundations of Christianity. So, we decided that for those who want to remain there, for those refugees that are internally displaced persons and want to go back to their villages and hometowns, then we help them to be able to do so. There, we’ve done an enormous amount of work in Iraq and the population of the Nineveh Plains. I’ve been several times in that area and I’ve seen the progress and also the difficulties that they have there. Follow Christopher White on Twitter: @cwwhite212  Crux is dedicated to smart, wired and independent reporting on the Vatican and worldwide Catholic Church. That kind of reporting doesn’t come cheap, and we need your support. You can help Crux by giving a small amount monthly, or with a onetime gift. Please remember, Crux is a for-profit organization, so contributions are not tax-deductible.
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Pro-life Leadership Coalition Statement On State Representative Brian Sims (D-PA)
For immediate release: May 21, 2019 Contact: Deborah M. Piroch Email: [email protected] (Front Royal, VA) Our Movement Will Not Be Intimidated In recent days, the pro-life community and many other Americans were shocked and disgusted at the behavior of Democrat State Representative Brian Sims from the 182nd Legislative District of Pennsylvania as he attempted to shame and intimidate peaceful pro-life people who were praying outside of a Planned Parenthood abortion facility. As leaders in the pro-life movement we not only condemn his actions, but likewise call upon leaders in the Democratic Party, Planned Parenthood, the abortion lobby, and pro-choice women’s rights groups to do the same. We furthermore declare that we will not be intimidated by such threats or actions, but rather will continue to equip and encourage our movement to come to the places where the killing of children in the womb takes place, and to intervene for the babies, their moms, and their dads! As we have done for decades, we will come as law-abiding citizens, we will come in peace, we will come in love, we will come with determination to save lives and awaken the conscience of our communities. We look forward to the day when all of us can exercise our rights as citizens without having to witness the behavior that Rep. Sims demonstrated. And we likewise look forward to the day when children in the womb will enjoy the same protections as the rest of us. Rev. Father Shenan James Boquet, President, Human Life International Fr. Frank Pavone National Director, Priests for Life Janet Morana Co-Founder, Silent No More Awareness Campaign Matt Britton Chairman & General Counsel, 40 Days for Life Catherine Glenn Foster President and CEO, Americans United for Life Kristan Hawkins, President Students for Life of America Tom Glessner, President Anne O’Connor, Vice President National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) Evangelist Alveda King, Director Civil Rights for The Unborn, Priests for Life Royce Dunn Director, Please Let Me Live – Life Chain Allan Parker President, The Justice Foundation John-Henry Westen, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief, LifeSite News Chris Slattery President, Expectant Mother Care EMC FrontLine Pregnancy Centers-NYC Bryan Kemper, President – Stand True Gregg Cunningham, Director, Center For Bio-Ethical Reform Cynthia Collins Global Advisor, Operation Outcry Archbishop Craig Bates, Primate of the Charismatic Episcopal Church Fr. Terry Gensemer, International Director Charismatic Episcopal Church For Life Terrisa Bukovinac, Founder and Executive Director Pro-Life San Francisco Joel Brind, PhD President and CEO, Natural Food Science, LLC Larry Cirignano, Children First Foundation Joseph A Brinck President, Sanctity of Life Foundation Fr. Fidelis Moscinski, CFR Red Rose Rescue Connie Eller, Founder, Missouri Blacks For Life Deborah Hollifield, Executive Director, Presbyterians Protecting Life Shari Richard Unborn.com Astrid Bennett Gutierrez, The VIDA Initiative Brendan H. O’Connell, President, Life Matters TV and Media, Inc Lynda Bell, President, Florida Right to Life Molly S. White, Former Texas State Representative, Pro-life Speaker and author Ann “Lauren” Morris, Florida State Director, National Life Chain John J Jakubczyk, Pro-life Attorney, Southwest Life & Law Center The post Pro-life Leadership Coalition Statement On State Representative Brian Sims (D-PA) appeared first on Human Life International.
Catholic stand-up comedian juggles faith and family
[Editor’s Note: Jennifer Fulwiler is the host of the “Jennifer Fulwiler Show,” which airs daily on the national SiriusXM network. She is the author of Something Other than God, as well as her new book, One Beautiful Dream, a humorous memoir which was a #1 bestseller at Barnes and Noble and in the Top 25 of all books on Amazon. She lives with her husband and six young children in Austin, Texas. She spoke to Charles Camosy.] So, you’re a stand-up comedian and host your own radio show on Sirius XM. You also are a former atheist, Catholic convert, raising six kids. That is…well…a unique combination. It is. And that’s one of the reasons why I’m excited to get into standup comedy. There aren’t many people out there, especially women, sharing this perspective. Can you say a bit more about your faith journey? What brought you from the belief that a god or gods don’t exist–to the life of a serious Catholic? I was a lifelong atheist. I never considered that God might exist, even as a child. But after I became a mother, I began to sense that love has an origin external to the chemical reactions in our brain. All my life I’d thought that we should believe only in ideas that are provable by the scientific method. I began to see that we accept things as true all the time that cannot be proven in a laboratory, and maybe there could be spiritual realities that exist but can’t be discovered the way things in the material world are discovered. After this ‘ah-hah’ moment, I finally set aside my biases and started seeking truth with an open mind. I read a ton of books. And, to borrow an analogy others have used, I ultimately found the Catholic Christian worldview to be like the box top of a jigsaw puzzle — it made all the pieces of life fit together in a way that made sense. The more research I did, the more compelling I found this belief system to be. My husband did as well. We both converted to Catholicism at the same time. One of the things I’ve been thinking about lately is the tension that exists for some people with professions pushing them to perform a “loud” public version of themselves who also desire the “quiet” reflective life necessary to connect with God. Do you sometimes feel that tension? Does your Catholic faith give you tools for navigating it? That tension is always there — not just because of my public presence, but because I like to have a million things going on. I used to beat myself up for that. I thought that it was wrong that I always stay so busy, that I should be more like my friends with slower schedules. Ultimately, I realized that this is simply how I’m wired. I thrive at a fast tempo. But it does mean that I need to make sure I’m not surrounded by so much noise I can’t hear the voice of God. Being Catholic is so helpful for navigating that. It keeps me focused on what really matters. Also, it’s tempting to feel like you *have to* keep doing everything you’re doing, even if you feel like you need a break, because the world will fall apart without your efforts. My faith reminds me that I can occasionally take a step back from everything and it will be fine because God is in charge. I learned some funny and moving stories from your book about “chasing your dreams while also chasing multiple kids in diapers.” Any advice for parents pursuing their professional dreams and goals who also want to give everything they can to their children? We need to reject the old paradigm that pits family and your personal pursuits against one another. Your family and your dreams are complementary. One gives energy to the other. When you pursue your personal passions in a spirit of camaraderie with your family, it brings energy and inspiration to the entire house. In One Beautiful Dream I talk about how I came to see my family as an orchestra: we each have a unique instrument we play, and it’s really beautiful when we come together to play one song, rather than each person being a soloist. This means that each of us has to sacrifice sometimes, but ultimately it makes for a beautiful song. Word on the street is that you have a new comedy tour coming up in the fall. Where can we find more information about it? Yes! I’m so excited about it. I’ve been working hard — including getting up on stages at my local stand-up comedy clubs — to craft a set that has truly great material. I am also hoping that each of these events will be a chance for my fans to have a fun night out with their friends, as well as to connect with one another. I will announce dates and cities on Facebook (@Jen.Fulwiler) and Instagram (@JenniferFulwiler). Crux is dedicated to smart, wired and independent reporting on the Vatican and worldwide Catholic Church. That kind of reporting doesn’t come cheap, and we need your support. You can help Crux by giving a small amount monthly, or with a onetime gift. Please remember, Crux is a for-profit organization, so contributions are not tax-deductible.
Growing Violence Against Pro-Lifers
Pro-Life Assault I am troubled by what appears to be a growing trend of violent attacks on peaceful pro-life activists. Perhaps the most famous recent instance was caught in a dramatic video last fall. The video shows a twenty-something-year-old man wearing a purple sweater, with a pentagram (a pagan symbol) on a necklace around his neck. He asks the pro-life woman behind the camera what should happen if a 16-year-old gets pregnant by rape. From his tone, it is clear that he doesn’t really want an answer. Still, the woman begins to explain that the child is still a child, and should not be murdered, regardless of how the baby is conceived. Before she can finish, however, the young man sticks out his tongue, winds up, and kicks her. The camera falls and clatters on the ground. A female voice is heard crying, “Someone call the cops!” The woman who was assaulted, Marie-Claire Bissonnette, described in a written account the astonishing indifference of the Toronto police who arrived on the scene. Eventually, however, the attacker was identified, and charges were filed. As it turns out, the same man was responsible for another violent assault on a pro-life activist some months before. Courtesy of Lifesite – Marie-Claire Bissonnette, Youth Coordinator for Campaign Life CoalitionAs Bissonnette points out, the attack on her is far from an isolated incident. And while the video of the assault against her was viewed millions of times, most of these assaults receive little to no public attention. On the very same day that Bissonnette was attacked, for instance, a woman walked up to a pro-life man who was silently praying at a location just West of Toronto and poured paint down his back. This was mild in comparison to what happened just days before, also in Toronto, when Gabby Skwarko, a member of the Ryerson Reproductive Justice Collective, walked up to pro-life activist Blaise Alleyne and proceeded to repeatedly punch her, attempted to grab her bag, and threw a metal dolly at her. One elderly woman recently had her leg broken when she was assaulted outside Kentucky’s only abortion facility, in Louisville. Another elderly man, participating in the recent Lenten 40 Days for Life campaign, was thrown to the ground and viciously and repeatedly kicked. Then there’s the woman who was left bruised after being punched outside a clinic in Alabama. Or the young man who was repeatedly punched by a pro-abortion woman during a pro-life demonstration at the University of North Carolina. As a life-long pro-lifer, Bissonnette has participated in pro-life demonstrations for years. She says she has repeatedly suffered physical and verbal assault. “Rocks have been thrown at me,” she writes. “I’ve been spat upon multiple times and pushed. Men have aggressively asked how I would like it if they raped me and forced me to have an abortion.” Brian Sims’ Contemptible Attack Thankfully the issue of aggression and violence against peaceful pro-life activists is receiving some (but still shockingly limited) media attention right now, thanks to the contemptible antics of Pennsylvania Democratic Representative Brian Sims. Earlier this month Sims posted a video of himself harassing a pro-life woman who was praying the rosary outside an abortion facility, calling her “shameful,” “disgusting,” “racist,” as well as “old white lady.” Even worse, he also filmed himself approaching two young girls (aged 13 and 15), calling them “a bunch of pseudo-Christian protesters who’ve been out here shaming young girls for being here.” Sims then offers $100 to anybody who can identify the girls. This is called “doxing” – that is, publicly identifying ordinary citizens in order to subject them to systematic shame and harassment. It’s a terrible practice. Coming from an elected politician, aimed at young, minor girls, it’s downright evil. Ironically, in posting the footage of his harassment of the girls, Sims accused the pro-life activists of “prey[ing] on young women.” People who protest Planned Parenthood” use white privilege, & shame,” he claimed. “They’re racist, classist, bigots who NEED & DESERVE our righteous opposition.” Got that? According to Sims, young pro-life girls “need” to be harassed by grown men such as himself. Astonishingly, at the time of this writing, Sims has neither resigned, nor been dismissed from office, though he did record and release a video apology. If instead of a pro-abortion Democrat, it had been a pro-life Republican who berated and doxed young teen girls I think this story would have ended quite differently. Democratic State Representative Brian Sims has harassed pro-lifers on more than one occasion.Both Discouraging and Hopeful Obtaining reliable statistics on assaults against pro-life activists is difficult, and so I can’t say with certitude that there are more of these types of attacks than in the past. What is certain, however, is that reports of these attacks have been coming out with surprising frequency these past few months, and that many of them have been unusually brutal. I’m far from the only one to notice this. What does this trend mean? On the one hand, it is clearly a discouraging sign of the spiritual sickness of our culture, the growth of a violent underbelly in our national discourse, a testament to the woundedness of so many men and women, and evidence in many cases that pro-abortion activists are held to a completely different standard than pro-lifers by the media, politicians, and the public. Sims, for instance, clearly believed that pro-life activists were “fair game” for his vicious anger. Why else would he have proudly broadcast his harassment to the world? From his perspective, pro-life women had forfeited their rights to be treated with even a modicum of decency and respect. This kind of dismissive attitude towards just about anyone who holds traditional moral values is becoming alarmingly common. Consider, for instance, the fact that, as far as I can find, no prominent liberal politicians, media figures or activists have publicly condemned Sim’s misbehavior. Truth be told, many so-called “progressives” now see almost no difference between ordinary social conservatives who believe such things as that marriage is between a man and a woman, and neo-Nazi skinheads. On the other hand, one senses that the desperation that motivates these attacks stems in part from anger in the face of the fact that the pro-life movement is succeeding as never before. And this is cause for hope. One of the recent attacks, for instance, was in Alabama, which just last week passed the single-most restrictive abortion bill in the country, a bill that would ban almost all abortions in the state, and that was designed directly to challenge Roe v. Wade. This was only the latest of several strongly pro-life bills explicitly crafted as a test to overturn Roe v. Wade. There are further reasons to think that the growing instances of assault on pro-lifers are a cause for hope. Consider, for example, the obvious fact that in order for pro-life activists to be assaulted in the first place, they need to be in a public space, proclaiming their pro-life beliefs, and trying to prevent abortions from taking place. As it turns out, on any day of the week, all across the country, in rain, shine, snow or hail, thousands of peaceful pro-life activists are gathering outside abortion clinics to pray. Others are holding signs on public streets, or demonstrating on college campuses. That so many are willing to sacrifice their time, and to take the risk of boldly defending human life, is a great sign of hope. 2019 Walk for Life, San FranciscoAnother reason for hope is the response of the pro-life activists who are the victims of these assaults. Consider Donna Durning, the pro-life woman whose leg was broken after she was shoved to the ground. “I believe that the lady who caused this injury needs prayers,” Durning said after the attack, “and I’m forgiving her and I would hope that people would also pray for her.” Abby Johnson, who recently spoke at a public rally protesting Brian Sims’ harassment, had much the same message. “I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anybody that needs Jesus more than that man right there,” she said about Sims. Indeed, it is very likely that many of those perpetrating these assaults are themselves deeply wounded by abortion. Perhaps they themselves had an abortion, or paid for an abortion; or perhaps some close loved one, perhaps even their own mothers, had abortions. Their anger and their violence against pro-lifers is evil, but I strongly suspect that in many cases they are the products of deep pain, pain that only love – above all the love of Christ – can heal. Clearly the pro-life message is Gospel-motivated. However, it is deeply encouraging to see how thoroughly the Gospel has penetrated into the pro-life movement, so that even those pro-lifers who have been violently assaulted by our ideological opponents can say, along with Christ, that most Christian of all prayers: “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Walk for Life 2019, San FranciscoI hope that you will join me today in praying both for the victims of these attacks, and for the perpetrators. Furthermore, I hope that these incidents, far from discouraging our efforts, will cause us to redouble them. Though more common than I should like, such violent attacks are still relatively rare in comparison to the number of pro-lifers participating in peaceful prayer vigils and the like. Certainly, these attacks should not frighten us away. We need more and more pro-lifers to listen to the call of Christ, and to physically place themselves where the killing of innocents is taking place, so that they can serve as a voice for the violence against pro-lifers///. Thanks to the many silent prayer warriors who participate in 40 Days for Life vigils, or other peaceful protests, untold numbers of babies have been saved, and mothers and fathers spared life-long regret. Will you respond to Christ’s call, and join their life-saving efforts?     The post Growing Violence Against Pro-Lifers appeared first on Human Life International.
Saints help author and mother drop a toxic perfectionism
Colleen Carroll Campell is a mother of four, a former presidential speechwriter and an award-winning journalist. In a new book, she writes that for years she was burdened by her self-imposed expectations and quest for perfection — and was only able to be rescued through the help of the saints. Ahead of the release of The Heart of Perfection: How the Saints Taught Me to Trade My Dream of Perfect for God’s, just out this week, Campbell spoke with Crux about some of the seven ex-perfectionist saints who helped her find her way, along with her eventual discovery of true freedom in Christ. Crux: First off, is there anything patently wrong with perfectionism?  Campbell: Yes, there’s a lot wrong with perfectionism: Studies show that it fuels unhappiness, stress, self-loathing, burnout and procrastination, among other things. Most of us know about these. But I’d argue that spiritual perfectionism—that same demand for flawlessness transposed into our relationship with God—has even higher and more hidden costs. Spiritual perfectionism fuels a toxic cycle of pride, sin, shame, blame and despair that turns our spiritual journey into a slog or convinces us to abandon that journey altogether, all while distancing us from our one true hope for healing: God’s grace. Spiritual perfectionism is the most toxic form of perfectionism. And the unspoken lie at the root of it—that we can earn God’s love—fuels and exacerbates all the others. How did your perfectionism lead to mistakes in your parenting, and how did the saints, broadly speaking, help you find a way out of it? After the years-long battle with infertility that I chronicled in my last book, My Sisters the Saints, I tackled motherhood with the same sky-high expectations and can-do spirit that I bring to everything I’m passionate about. That served me well in some respects, but perfectionist tendencies toward control, comparison and impossible expectations make the ordinary ups and downs of parenthood feel calamitous. While perfectionism can make you too hard on your children, my greater struggle was being too hard on myself and allowing discouragement and guilt over my mistakes—everything from a freak accident resulting in an ER visit to an overly sharp rebuke or a failure to be fully present in the moment—to steal my joy. The recovering perfectionist saints whose stories I tell in The Heart of Perfection helped me see how hardness and impatience with myself were driving my hardness and impatience with others, including my children, and how both were linked to the flawlessness that I thought God demanded of me. These saints taught me that I didn’t need to rationalize my failures or wallow in them. I needed to turn them over to Jesus, ask forgiveness, then teach my children about the reality of God’s mercy by accepting that mercy for myself—not just once, but again and again and again. Benedict of Nursia seems to be in vogue these days. How has his vision for living helped you during some dark periods of your own? Like many perfectionists, I have a tendency toward workaholism and I struggle to find enough time in the day to do all I want to do—homeschool my four young children, write my books and speeches, carve out enough down time to spend with God and my husband. I knew that Benedict was a patron saint of balance and that his Benedictine rule was a model of moderation. What I didn’t know until I researched The Heart of Perfection was that Benedict himself was a hard-core striver, a man whose first attempt at founding a monastic community ended in disaster partly because of his unrealistic expectations. The Rule of Benedict that calls us to respect our limits and those of others, to put work aside when it’s time for prayer or rest, and to remember that our labors are for God’s glory rather than our own is the product not of a milquetoast moderate who never much cared what he accomplished but of a passionate achiever who learned through trial and error that we bear more fruit for God by leaning on his grace than our own strength. I found it easier to internalize that lesson, and to respect limits on my time, strength and achievements in this life, once I learned from Benedict that biblical balance is not synonymous with blandness or mediocrity. St. Therese taught you about forgiveness and mercy — two concepts sorely lacking in our world. How do you think we can begin to recover some of that?  I’ve long been an admirer of the Little Way of St. Thérèse, but the older I get and the more I understand it, the more challenging I find it to be. Showing extra kindness to those who irritate you, humbly accepting your imperfections rather than denying or raging against them, making sacrifices for God that others neither see nor appreciate and often misinterpret—this is tough stuff. And as an approval-hungry people pleaser who found herself on the receiving end of more than her share of criticism and coldness from fellow nuns, Thérèse knew how tough it was. That’s why I think the greatest lesson Thérèse can teach us, at least in the context of forgiveness and mercy, is that it’s simply not possible to love our enemies as Jesus commands in Matthew 5:44 unless we love them with His love, with His heart. Thérèse, like nearly all the recovering perfectionist saints I profiled in The Heart of Perfection, had an ardent devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It’s a devotion we tend to associate with schmaltzy images and outdated pieties, but its powerful, biblical message is due for a comeback: that if we want to love as God does, we must ask Him each day to replace our heart with His and love others through us. In the end you abandon the search for perfectionism for what you call “holy freedom.” What does that entail exactly?  Holy freedom is a concept I picked up from St. Francis de Sales, who urged his friend and fellow recovering perfectionist St. Jane de Chantal to trade her harshness and anxiety for what he called “the freedom of the children of God who know they are loved,” his paraphrase of Romans 8:21. Some examples include: slowing down and accepting that we can’t do all that we want to do as soon and as well as we want to do it; showing gentleness to ourselves when we realize we’ve once again prioritized the urgent over the important or our own glory over God’s; keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus instead of our own virtues or vices or those of others; rethinking our image of God to be sure it conforms to the truth of the Gospels and not some benevolent dictator caricature we picked up in childhood; learning the art of Ignatian discernment to discover the difference between inspirations that come from God and those that come from our perfectionist compulsions; and embracing the single-minded focus on Christ that allows us to care more about how we look to God than to how we look to the world and that helps us remember God is always looking at us with love. My bottom line in The Heart of Perfection is not that we must abandon our longing for perfection—that’s hard-wired into us; God put it there—but that we must allow God to purify and redirect that longing to the pursuit of a new kind of perfection: freedom in Christ.
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