That autobiography is the crucifix —the inside story of my life not in the way it walks the stage of time, but how it was recorded, taped and written in the Book of Life.
It is not the autobiography that I tell you, but the autobiography I read to myself. In the crown of thorns, I see my pride, my grasping for earthly toys in the pierced Hands, my flight from shepherding care in the pierced Feet, my wasted love in the wounded heart, and prurient desires in the flesh hanging from Him like purple rags. Almost every time I turn a page of that book, my heart weeps at what eros has done to agape, what the “I” has done to the “Thou,” what the professed friend has done to the Beloved.
What you read is truth nevertheless, but on a lower level: the narrative of a jewel and its setting, the treasure and its wrapping, the lily and its pond.
The molding of the clay was done by great sacrifices on the part of my father and my mother, who would deny themselves every personal comfort and luxury in order that their sons might be well clothed and well cared for. Our family life was simple and the atmosphere of our home Christian. Grace was said before and after each meal; when we had visitors none of us was permitted to sit at table without wearing a coat and tie; the Rosary was said every evening; the priests of the cathedral visited the home once every week; and visits of old-country cousins were very frequent.
“What would you like to have in education?” I said: “I should like to know two things— first, what the modern world is thinking about; second, how to answer the errors of modern philosophy in the light of the philosophy of St. Thomas.” He said: “You will never get it here, but you will get it at the University of Louvain in Belgium.”
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