Notebook

Frail Goodness?

Martha Nussbaum once wrote a book with the incomparable title, The Fragility of Goodness. Once you’ve heard the phrase, it stays lodged in the memory. Often enough the good seems terribly fragile. That is when it matters to walk, not by sight but by faith, believing firmly in the supreme Goodness that bears all things. In the Dialogue, Catherine of Siena heard the Lord say: ‘I wish to act mercifully towards the world and to provide in all circumstances for my creature endowed with reason. Ignorant man, though, turns into death what I give for the sake of life; thus he makes himself cruel to himself. I always provide, and I tell you that what I have given man is highest providence. With providence I created him; and when I looked into myself, I fell in love with the beauty of my creature’ (c. CXXXV). On this account, even our destructive inclinations result from a perversion of the good, which it matters to catch sight of in order to reorient our energy towards it. Further, a gaze of love – suffered love – rests upon us even in our rebellion. If only we would awaken to it.