The Epiphany and Pieper

Josef Pieper

For four Doctrinal Homily Outlines for the Epiphany, please click here and then scroll down.

Another book that has been a big help to me

Josef Pieper, a married layman, was a German philosopher who worked in the tradition of St. Thomas Aquinas. His dates are 1904 to 1997. He is famous for a slim treatise called, in English, Leisure as the Basis of Culture and the book-length The Four Cardinal Virtues. Over the course of decades, he also wrote one book each on the theological virtues. These have been collected in an English edition, called Faith, Hope, Love. His book on love was a particular revelation to me when I was writing the thesis for a second MA degree, this time in theology. My thesis was the idea of friendship in the Gospel of John.

Pieper defined love, or charity, or agape, essentially as affirmation, the saying yes! to the being of another. Pieper says that the primordial act of love is God’s creation of every being. My own summary of part of Pieper’s argument is that if you love someone you are glad he or she exists; and from this flows that you want that person to have everything good; finally, you want him or her to have this good forever. The human tragedy is that we cannot give this complete love to anyone. The good news is that God can, and he wants this for us.

I have tried to put this simple but profound understanding of love into a love song called “Glad You Are.”

I think Pieper’s writings can be read slowly during mental prayer. It gives one something to think about in the presence of God and to speak with our Lord about.







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