How Stalin’s daughter became a Catholic
At Aleteia, John Burger observed that “The importance of grandparents in one’s life cannot be underestimated. It can be clearly seen in the life of Svetlana Alliluyeva” – better known as Stalin’s daughter.
Born in 1926, Svetlana “grew up in an atmosphere where God was never mentioned”. Her father’s party and government “did its best to minimise religion’s role in people’s lives – or use it to advance communist ideology”.
But her maternal grandmother “spoke to us gladly of God: from her we have heard for the first time words like soul and God”. That example stayed with her – and in 1962 she was secretly baptised by a Russian Orthodox priest.
After defecting and moving to the US, she met Catholics, and started to question where she belonged. “Despite the friendship I had with Orthodox intellectuals … my spiritual thirst remained unsatisfied.”
Later, she moved to England, and her friendships with Catholics – which she found “natural, calm and encouraging” – helped bring her into the Church.
Burger quoted Svetlana: “Before, I felt unwilling to forgive and repent, and I was never able to love my enemies,” she wrote. “But I feel very different from before, since I attend Mass every day.”
Whoever you are, God needs you
At The Stream, David Mills took inspiration from John Henry Newman to remind readers that “God needs you” – whether you were rich or poor, successful or a failure, clever or stupid. He needs “you, unable to move from the couch because you think you’ve wrecked your life. Or because other people wrecked it for you.
“And you brooding bitterly over those you hurt. God needs you. And you suffering because your miswired brain tells you your life sucks and you suck with it. You too. He needs you as much as he needs the rich man and the scholar. Maybe more.”
Newman’s wisdom is found in his “Meditations on Christian Doctrine”, which are online. He observes that “It has been His will to bring about His purposes by the beings He has created.” So, Mills wrote, it’s not just that God loves you. “He also needs you. You. Whoever you are. However you feel. Whatever you’ve done. He knows you and calls you by your name. He thinks so much of you that He calls you to help.”
What we don’t know about China’s bishops
It was hailed as a landmark: “The ordination of the first bishop in China since a deal was struck between the Vatican and the Chinese government on bishop appointments last year.” But as Elise Harris wrote at Crux, the ordination of Antonio Yao Shun as Bishop of Jining may not be a good test of that deal.
Fr Bernardo Cervellera, editor-in-chief of AsiaNews, told Crux that it was good to have a new bishop – China has many episcopal vacancies.
But it “is still not indicative of how the agreement works, because this is not a bishop chosen by the mechanism implemented by the agreement”. The Vatican had picked Bishop Yao Shun “some time ago”, he said.
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