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St Irenaeus: not a psychobabble practitioner

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The single most celebrated quotation from St Irenaeus, the apostolic Father who lived from about 130 to about 202AD is “Gloria Dei vivens homo.” (Adversus Haereses 20-1-7) As my old patristics teacher, Father Antonio Orbe once said as politely as he could to a student who wanted to study the dictum for his dissertation: “This phrase is very often cited, but always wrongly understood.”
Not a statement of self-actualising psychobabble The venerable professor said this because the much-quoted statement used to be widely misused to enlist St Irenaeus as a supporter of the personalist psychology of the 1970s. In this context, it would usually be quoted as “The glory of God is man fully alive” by which is meant man fully self-actualised, replete with “healthy” self-esteem.

You could find this misinterpretation of St Irenaeus in books written by priest psychologists, in pastoral letters, and in sermons. I have sadly even seen it filter down to Catholic schools as a way of getting across the…

"Una stilla": a reflection on the Precious Blood

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The power of the blood of Jesus to redeem us from our sins is infinite. St Thomas puts it graphically by saying that one drop (una stilla) is enough to save the whole world from every crime. Here is the verse from the hymn Adoro te Devote and the unsurpassed translation by Edward Caswall:
Pie Pelicane, Jesu Domine,
Me immundum munda tuo Sanguine:
Cujus una stilla salvum facere
Totum mundum quit ab omni scelere.

O loving Pelican! O Jesus, Lord!
Unclean I am, but cleanse me in thy blood;
of which a single drop, for sinners spilt,
is ransom for a world’s entire guilt.
With him is plentiful redemption In his reflection on the great power of one drop of the precious blood, Father Faber focuses on the copiousness of our redemption:
“The worth of one drop of the Precious Blood is simply infinite; consequently, no imaginary arithmetic of possible creations will convey any adequate idea of its overwhelming magnificence. Alas! the very copiousness of our redemption makes our view of it less cle…

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St Irenaeus: not a psychobabble practitioner