“Catholic writers tend to see humanity struggling in a fallen world. They combine a longing for grace and redemption with a deep sense of human imperfection and sin. Evil exists, but the physical world is not evil. Nature is sacramental, shimmering with signs of sacred things. Indeed, all reality is mysteriously charged with the invisible presence of God. Catholics perceive suffering as redemptive, at least when borne in emulation of Christ’s passion and death. Catholics also generally take the long view of things – looking back to the time of Christ and the Caesars while also gazing forward toward eternity… Catholicism is also intrinsically communal, a notion that goes far beyond sitting at mass with the local congregation, extending to a mystical sense of continuity between the living and the dead. Finally, there is a habit of spiritual self-scrutiny and moral examination of conscience – one source of soi-disant Catholic guilt.”
Gioia is an Anselmian as he received an honorary doctorate from Saint Anselm’s in 2006. On that occasion he gave one of the finest commencement addresses I have heard at the college. Those of you there that day may remember that he not only urged us on to adopt a self-assigned task in life, but he also read not one but two poems of Robert Frost’s.