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A friend of mine likes to tease the Jesuits about their motto: "For the greater glory of God." "God doesn't need you to enhance his glory," he likes to kid them. Partly he's right, but the Jesuits are right too: God doesn't need our praises, but we need to give praise, otherwise our lives degenerate into bitterness and violence. Why?
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Sometimes it's helpful to imagine you're a strip of litmus paper and then analyze the colours you turn as you fall into the various acids of life and religion.
When Therese of Lisieux entered the Carmelites at age 15, she tried to anticipate the difficulties she would face there. She knew that many would see this as the misguided notion of an immature child, entering a convent to be with her older sisters who were already there. She knew too that because of her age she would draw unhealthy reactions from every side and would either be doted-on as the darling little child or scorned as the spoiled brat.
Last year, in a presentation at a symposium on Being Missionaries to our own Children, Michael Downey posed this question: How do we speak of God inside a culture that's pathologically distracted, distrusts religious language and Church institutions, and yet carries its own moral energy and virtue?