To love the church and desire to destroy it...

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H/T to Fr. James Martin, SJ for sharing on his FaceBook page these lines from the Italian spiritual master Carlo Carretto (1910-1988).  Martin first heard these words this morning in Cardinal Timothy Dolan's homily at the annual Chrism Mass in New York.

This passage is sometimes referred to as Carretto's Letter to the Church.  I can't help but think that many readers here will identify deeply with these words.  That they come to us in Holy Week is a grace and a gift from God.  I know they are both for me.

How much I must criticize you, my church,
and yet how much I love you!

You have made me suffer more than anyone
and yet I owe more to you than to anyone.

I should like to see you destroyed
and yet I need your presence.

You have given me much scandal
and yet you alone have made me understand holiness.

Never in this world have I seen anything
more compromised, more false,
yet never have I touched anything
more pure, more generous or more beautiful.

Countless times
I have felt like slamming the door of my soul in your face
-- and yet, every night,
I have prayed that I might die in your sure arms!

No, I cannot be free of you, for I am one with you,
even if not completely.

Then too--where would I go? To build another church?
But I could not build one without the same defects,
for they are my defects.

And again, if I were to build another church,
it would be my church, not Christ's church.

No, I am old enough, I know better."
- Carlo Carretto


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  1. I read that too, and it has been on my heart all morning. A friend and I were discussing this recently - our broken hearts and yet knowing that this was indeed our place, our people, our community - up close and at large.

  2. This reminded me of the old observation that the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. The hate has to come from a root of love, or at least caring, otherwise what would fuel the emotion?

    As Catholics, we should always fear indiffernence towards the church much more than dissappointment or "hate".


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