Questo articolo è disponibile anche in: Italian English

Dear Father Angelo,

First of all, I sincerely thank you for your great work to answer all the questions and to enrich our faith. It is the first time that I am writing to you but I am a regular reader of “Dominican Friends”.

I am a 20-year-old university student who converted to Catholicism only a few months ago. When I was very little, I perceived a sort of vocation to the religious life, I was very interested in Marian devotions, Holy Scriptures, and martyr tales as well; then, perhaps to avoid hurting my father (Protestant), I tried to repress these interests, finally lost completely (only now recovering them). I spent my entire childhood and adolescence in a desperate search for God, converting to an infinity of religions. I never felt really at ease in any one until last October, when I strongly felt I was carrying emptiness in me and, almost unnoticing, I turned to Jesus Christ. I believe I received a call, because in my desperation the only thing that made me happy beyond words, and still I feel so, was the thought of serving the Lord and consecrating my life to Him. I was really on the verge of abandoning the studies I had just begun, but my mother convinced me to continue because I had too high grades and my future career would have been affected. Now I have decided to finish the three years of university also to give myself time to decide what to do with my life. Before, I chased the world and fame, now I despise the first and the latter makes me sick; I changed so radically that at first, confused, I thought I was simply tired or depressed, and that my return to Christ was just a momentary whim. Instead, several months have passed and I am even happier to live away from the vanity and sins which before I could not live without. I only desire to do God’s will and to use my abilities for His glory. I was very attracted to contemplative life (precisely among the Dominicans!), and to asceticism, but now I doubt strongly and I am trying to clarify within myself, also because of my shortcomings.

And here a grave problem arises: I find seriously difficult in loving my neighbor, because  for most people feel indifference if not contempt (due to my past experiences that have made me almost lose any trust in the human race); I have no difficulty in serving these same people, on the contrary I do it with pleasure. I read that in order to better serve her relatives, Saint Catherine of Siena united her mother to Our Lady, her father to Jesus, and her brothers and sisters to the disciples and apostles. I found this “method” absolutely enchanting, and I immediately applied it. The fact is, however, that I feel as a hypocrite to behave so kindly with others “only” for the love of God … I would like to learn to love my neighbor sincerely, for what they really represent, but I am very far. Unfortunately, sometimes I even have to fight with myself to even repress real racist thoughts which, I realize, are senseless and counterproductive. Is there a selfless way to love one’s neighbor, without “hiding” behind the love for God? I know well that St Paul said: “Whatever you do, do from the heart, as for the Lord and not for others […]” (Col 3:23-25), but I feel uncomfortable hearing people compliment my kindness and my goodness, and I really feel like I am just pretending …

And, how can I behave worthily with my father, who tries in every way to distance me from the Church? I would like  him to be a Catholic who attends mass, but he is adamant. Thanks to your answers provided on Dominican Friends, I am able to defend myself quite well from the doctrinal attacks that he continues to raise against Catholicism, but this has in any case ended up distancing us, and I’m sorry. I don’t even want to think what he’ll say when he finds out about my calling.

And I have a final question: is it possible to perpetually consecrate oneself to a saint, committing to imitate him for the rest of one’s life?

Forgive me if I seemed superb and forgive the length of the email as well.

Thank you in advance and greetings,


Dear Irene,

1. You ask me if there is a completely selfless way to love men.

Kant asked to perform duty because of duty!

Maritain said that such a disinterested love, which at first won the hearts of many, ended up making them disinterested.

Kant’s morality seemed like a very high one. Someone came to say that it was the gospel expressed in secular terms.

Instead of putting charity as the supreme goal of everything, one should put duty and the others.

Thus, M. Blondel rightly affirmed that in order to live according to nature, man needs a supernatural strength (Carnets intimes (1883-1894), p.197).

2. After all, only from a human point of view, how can we love a person who hurts us, who corrupts or kills our children?

To love people takes a higher reason than their faults. If that reason is not found, you will hardly love them.

3. There is a higher reason. And that is God.

God, to be brought into them, as a root for their inner transformation.

And, also and above all, as a reason for their highest joy and perfection.

4. This is why St. Gregory the Great, pope and doctor of the Church, said that the love of God generates love of neighbor, and love of neighbor preserves the love of God (Moralia, 7:24).

God’s love leads us to love everyone, even those who harm us, even those who, from a human point of view, have nothing lovable.

And thus, He generates love for neighbors.

5. And in turn, love for neighbors preserves the love of God because God must be loved with deeds.

And since we can give nothing to God, as He already possesses everything, we can love Him by bringing Him into our neighbors’ hearts.

Thus, we love our neighbors in the highest way, because we unite them with the greatest good which is God Himself.

That is charity.

6. That is why our great Saint Thomas Aquinas said that “Now the aspect, under which our neighbor is to be loved, is God, since what we ought to love in our neighbor is that he may be in God(Summa Theologiae, II-II, 25, 1).

And also: “since what we ought to love in our neighbor is that he may be in God.

Hence it is clear that it is specifically the same act whereby we love God, and whereby we love our neighbor. Consequently the habit of charity extends not only to the love of God, but also to the love of our neighbor”.

“But if we loved our neighbor because of himself and not because of the love of God, our love would belong to another order: for example, to natural or political love [Tr.] (Quaest. disp. de caritate, a. 4.)1.

7. So, as you can see, there is no human selfless way leading to love everybody without conditions.

The only way to love in the highest and most selfless form is to love one’s neighbor for love of God, that is, to give him God and to please God.

8. You ask me if we can consecrate ourselves to a saint.

By itself, consecration is made only to God.

However, you can do it to God in imitation of that particular Saint or under the patronage of that particular Saint.

9. I am pleased that you are happy with the idea of ​​being among the Dominican contemplatives, where you would undoubtedly choose “the best part”.

But, if you want, we will talk later about that.

Meanwhile, I follow you with my prayer and I bless you.

Father Angelo

1 St. Thomas,A. Royo Marin comments: “The divine goodness, that is reflected in the neighbor, is the reason or the formal motive of charity so decisively that, if we lose sight of that to adopt any other reason, we automatically leave from the field of charity. How many acts of philanthropy and how many alms seem splendid acts of charity but really, they are not so! When God is out of sight, charity can no longer exist, or at least, it no longer acts in those deeds which are performed in favor of a neighbor” ([Tr.] A. Royo Marin, Theology of charity, p. 617).