Interview of Dr. Alice Von Hildebrand

We encourage you to listen to the interview of Dr. Alice Von Hildebrand (which can be found by clicking the link below if you can’t listen directly from this post).  Mr. Jim Havens interviews her and she is a legend.  The summary of her seven main points are below.

One of her best quotes from the interview is on the topic of suffering.  Catholics are the only religion that teaches us how to properly understand suffering which allows us to make sense of it and put it in its correct perspective.

Here is part of her quote:  “It is only in Heaven that all this will be translated and every tear will be dried, but on this Earth, you can expect suffering and when suffering is transfigured by love it will bring you closer to God.”


Seven Bold Insights from my interview with Dr. Alice Von Hildebrand



Several years ago, I had the blessing of doing a short interview with Dr. Alice von Hildebrand. I recently listened to it again for the first time in a long time and I was blown away by some of her insights. I have highlighted seven takeaways, with quotes from the interview below (transcribing the best I can). You can also listen to the interview in its entirety here:
Dr. Alice von Hildebrand Interviewwith Jim Havens
1. Men and women are different, complimentary, and we truly need each other.

“Man is characterized by his strength, his courage, his nobility; he’s meant to be chivalrous to protect the weak. The woman has something tender, she has empathy, she has a much easier time feeling herself into others. And so they have this complementarity, it is profound. ‘It is not good for man to be alone.’ In order to be complete, man needs a woman and a woman needs a man. Now this goes so far that the holiest priests I have met in my life, who have dedicated their lives to God and live in perfect celibacy, all have a very special devotion to the Holy Virgin and the Holy Virgin gives them what would be lacking if it was simply a development of male characteristics.”

2. The Catholic Church and her Sacramental life are essential for authentic masculinity and femininity.

“The tragedy is that after original sin all the beautiful, magnificent male qualities, such as strength and courage and virility and so on, degenerated into something that is unfortunately a horrible perversion: male brutality – you just need to read the newspaper to find out that day after day women are abused and battered by the activities of their boyfriends or husbands. On the other hand, the beautiful female characteristics of empathy and sweetness, the heart can degenerate into self-centeredness, pettiness, sentimentality, all sorts of distortions. Now when both are distorted, both of them need to be purified. And this is the unbelievable gift of the Roman Catholic Church. I’m a cradle Catholic, and day after day after day, I’m more grateful of the fact that ever since I was a child I have been given Catholic food.

For example, take the seven Sacraments, all of this struck me as a little girl, that every single problem, every single difficulty, has an answer through the Sacraments – through Baptism we are brought back in communion with God, in Confirmation we are strengthened, through the Holy Eucharist we receive the divine food that God, that Christ, promised to his disciples and gave at the Last Supper, through the Sacrament of Penance you can cleanse yourself of your daily sins and imperfections – for every single facet of human life you have divine help.”

3. The enemy of femininity is feminism.

“Feminism has actually harmed femininity. In my mind, when you say feminism and femininity, you are saying two things that are radically different. The enemy of femininity is feminism because feminism basically looks down upon femininity as a sign of inferiority and so they say ‘man is truly the one who is powerful, is the one who is setting the stage, is the one who is creative, so women have to become like men.’ No. Obviously a woman can never become a man. At best she can be a caricature of a man and this is what we often see today: when women behave like men, swear like men, smoke cigars like men, and then believe that they are very manly. In fact, they’re betraying their femininity.”

4. The lives of the Saints reveal masculinity and femininity redeemed. Both are marked by holy courage. 

“…what is amazing, is that through grace, man can be purified and his beautiful male characteristics can revive, can be rejuvenated…you see that in the Saints: they are strong, they are powerful when it comes to defending the faith, they are gentle and tender toward the weak. In other words, the great mistake is to believe the opposite of strength is gentleness. It’s not true at all. Strength and gentleness belong together – you find this in Christ, who is so strong and simultaneously meek of heart, you find that in the Saints. What is the opposite of strength is weakness and cowardice.

You find the very same thing in women – the opposite of sensitivity, of empathy, is not sentimentality, which is basically to be sense-centered, it is a holy courage for the faith. This is why, for example, one of the things that always impresses me so, is the Holy Virgin at the foot of the Cross. We have to keep in mind that no human being has ever suffered as much as the Holy Virgin – she had the greatest privilege ever granted to a human being, simultaneously she carried the heaviest cross because she was at Calvary watching every single step of this abomination which is the Crucifixion. And what is absolutely amazing, this struck me already when I was a little girl: Mary was standing. She was not collapsing in self-pity. She was standing because it is by standing that she collaborated most with the Crucifixion of her Son. This is why the Blessed One is also the Mother Dolorosa.”

5. The key to right thinking and right living is reverence and humility in our metaphysical posture toward God. 

“Something that occurred to me fairly recently: when Adam and Eve were in Paradise, there was love, there was peace, they were in harmony, they were obeying God, then comes the serpent…what does he do? The amazing thing is he doesn’t make a declaration, he raises a question – ‘why can’t you eat of the fruit of the tree?’ Now it seems to me every one of us is going to say, ‘Isn’t it legitimate to raise questions?’ My answer is: the questions that you raise, betray the metaphysical posture that you’ve taken. The very moment that you start challenging God, in this very moment you are wrong in metaphysical posture. And this is what the devil said, he didn’t say ‘disobey,’ he said, ‘why can’t you?’ And all of the sudden the stupid Eve says, ‘Yes, indeed. Why can’t I?’ In this very moment she cuts herself off from God, then fell into sin. And you know the consequences are dreadful of course.

But what is amazing is that the woman is the one that the serpent addressed. According to St. Augustine, the serpent addressed himself to the woman because she is the weaker one, I say no, he addressed the woman Eve because she has such an influence on Adam that he (the serpent) knew perfectly well that once Eve ate, he (Adam) would follow too, which is exactly what happened. A woman has less power, she has less authority, but she has an enormous influence that she can use for good or for evil. So the whole question is – What are the questions that you raise? They betray your metaphysical posture.

For example, you say today ‘why can’t two men get married?’ The question cannot possibly be raised once you are in the right metaphysical posture and understand that God made man, male and female. So two men, or two women, can never, never fulfill what humanity is because it is both male and female. So once you raise that question, you are just on the wrong track, and once you’re on the wrong track, one mistake will lead to another mistake will lead you to the abyss, which is revolt against God.

The question raised by the devil was a devilish question. What about Mary in Nazareth?: ‘How can this be? I know not man.’ She’s raising the question in an attitude of awe, respect, and humility. And she gets the answer; therefore it’s not a question of raising the question, it is a question of raising the right question, in the right metaphysical posture, and toward God it is always reverence and humility. In the other case, it is arrogance and basically you put God in the dark. And you see you have to justify your attitude, you have to justify what you have done, and then you’re off track.”

6. Being a mother who loves sacrificially is the privilege of being a woman (and being a father who loves sacrificially is the privilege of being a man).*

“On this Earth, God has so made it after original sin that love and suffering cannot be separated. And you find that in Christ (who is the Incarnation of Divine Love; He is Love itself)…He accepts torture and the most abominable death in order to save us.

Now therefore to my mind, what is maternity? It is self-giving, total self-giving for another person, because after all, a mother raises her child for others, not for herself. If the mother wants to give the child for herself, she’s just a selfish mother, she’s not a good mother. God has given the child to her, she’s giving it to others. Simultaneously, maternity is linked to profound suffering. Of course it’s another question that the feminists are going to raise, ‘why is it that for a male, procreation is a moment of ecstasy and that’s all there is to it, why is it that for a woman, it is linked to nine months which can be discomfort, which can be pain, which can be excruciating pains, and simultaneously can be life-threatening.’ Now this is the privilege of being a woman, because accepting to suffer, she understands that on this Earth you cannot separate love and suffering.”

7. In this life, suffering has tremendous value – it affords us an opportunity to love like Jesus. 

“In the world in which we live, people want fun, but they don’t want suffering; therefore, you’re going to seek to eliminate suffering. For example, you’re not expecting a child and the child comes, you abort it. Suppose for example, that someone is elderly and is not producing anything at all: euthanasia, you get rid of it. You try to eliminate suffering and by so doing, you create a world which is diabolical and so haphazard that love is totally eliminated. Don’t forget – the world in which we live is an attack on the Cross. This is what happened when Obama went to Georgetown. They covered the crosses. The Cross and Christianity are one on this Earth. It is only in Heaven that all this will be translated and every tear will be dried, but on this Earth, you can expect suffering and when suffering is transfigured by love it will bring you closer to God.”

*In her book, The Privilege of Being a Woman, Dr. Von Hildebrand states the following: “All women without exception are called upon to be mothers…to refuse this maternity, is to refuse to love. It is to refuse to suffer in order to give life.” The call to paternity and maternity are so deeply ingrained in man and woman that a spiritual motherhood and fatherhood exist even beyond the biological.

Suffer Everything for My Sake

December 16, 2015

More from The Imitation of Christ

MY CHILD, in this life you are never safe, and as long as you live, the weapons of the spirit will ever be necessary to you. You dwell among enemies. You are subject to attack from the right and the left. If, therefore, you do not guard yourself from every quarter with the shield of patience, you will not remain long unscathed.

Moreover, if you do not steadily set your heart on Me, with a firm will to suffer everything for My sake, you will not be able to bear the heat of this battle or to win the crown of the blessed. You ought, therefore, to pass through all these things bravely and to oppose a strong hand to whatever stands in your way. For to him who triumphs heavenly bread is given, while for him who is too lazy to fight there remains much misery.

If you look for rest in this life, how will you attain to everlasting rest? Dispose yourself, then, not for much rest but for great patience. Seek true peace, not on earth but in heaven; not in men or in other creatures but in God alone. For love of God you should undergo all things cheerfully, all labors and sorrows, temptations and trials, anxieties, weaknesses, necessities, injuries, slanders, rebukes, humiliations, confusions, corrections, and contempt. For these are helps to virtue. These are the trials of Christ’s recruit. These form the heavenly crown. For a little brief labor I will give an everlasting crown, and for passing confusion, glory that is eternal.

Do you think that you will always have spiritual consolations as you desire? My saints did not always have them. Instead, they had many afflictions, temptations of various kinds, and great desolation. Yet they bore them all patiently. They placed their confidence in God rather than in themselves, knowing that the sufferings of this life are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to come. And you—do you wish to have at once that which others have scarcely obtained after many tears and great labors?

Wait for the Lord, act bravely, and have courage. Do not lose trust. Do not turn back but devote your body and soul constantly to God’s glory. I will reward you most plentifully. I will be with you in every tribulation.

“unbearable psychological suffering,”

The story below about a young woman that decided to not kill herself is instructive of the dangerous mindset today that life is not worth living because of the human suffering we experience.  Mental suffering is the worst kind of suffering as well because the thing that suffers the most is the thing we need to overcome the suffering.  Thank God this young woman changed her mind.  Hopefully she can avail herself of the One true faith and save her soul and find some solace in this harsh world.


Mon Nov 16, 2015 – 2:46 pm EST

Doctors agreed to euthanize this depressed woman. Moments before her death, everything changed.

Note: Video from the documentary is included below.

Nov. 16, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The poignant story of a young and healthy Belgian woman, “Laura”, 24, who obtained permission for legal euthanasia earlier this year because of “unbearable psychological suffering,” has come to an unexpected conclusion. Her last months and days before obtaining a lethal injection were filmed by The Economist in her hometown of Bruges. The documentary has been online since November 10 and – spoiler! – it has a happy end. “Laura”, whose real name is Emily, chose life in what would have been her last hour.

This is of course good news. A young life has been saved. Hopefully, Emily will be able to get on with her life and be fully liberated of her profound despair. But the documentary, with its dramatic and also complacent portrayal of a suicidal young woman, is above all a plea for legal euthanasia in cases like hers.

The gist of the argument goes like this: as long as this deeply depressed young woman felt there was no way out, she desired death more than anything else in the world. But once it was within reach, legal euthanasia freed her of her most terrible anxieties. Knowing it is there, at her fingertips as it were, has given her some peace of mind.

This is an obvious fallacy. When Emily obtained permission to be euthanized from a team of three doctors and psychiatrists, the whole idea was that her condition would not and could not improve, and that no treatment whatsoever was available that would rid her of her mental illness or give her even the slightest hope. Now the fact that she was facing death certainly triggered something in her mind, helping her to find reasons to live. If that means anything, it shows that her despair was not so deep-rooted as to be utterly beyond help. The resources were in her own mind – and, probably, in the sympathy, the listening, the support of her mother and her friends who are shown in the 20 minute film, who were in turns supportive of her decision and devastated by it.

So her illness was not untreatable after all, and even though at the end of the documentary Emily does not seem to be entirely freed of her death wish, she obviously considers life worth living.

Arguably, the doctors and psychiatrists who have been taking care of her for the last three years have failed, not because there was no solution, but because they found no way to give Emily hope. In the film, the young woman shows the reporter her drawer-full of antidepressants and other medication which did not relieve her of her incessant bouts of self-hate and self-harm, much less heal her. Medication is certainly indicated when mental illness creates such a terrible imbalance in the mind – but in this case it was not enough, to say the least.

Emily’s story starts with a video she shot of herself a few years ago expressing her death wish openly for the first time, before being approached by The Economist’s reporter. “It keeps feeling empty, whatever I do,” she says, cringing in a corner, her arms scarred and bandaged where she cut herself. She remembers thinking she “shouldn’t be here” when she was three – Emily was born in a dysfunctional family. Her mother had no other choice than to live apart from her father, a violent alcoholic, and Emily spent most of her time with her maternal grandparents. Aged six, she was already dreaming of killing herself.

In an interview she gave last spring, Emily, under the assumed name of “Laura,” said she was convinced her family troubles were not linked to her death wish. She started harming herself, but those who surrounded her did not realize the gravity of the situation. After high school, she embarked on a theatrical career and moved in with a girlfriend in what she called a “very agreeable amorous passion.” The relationship was to end because of problems caused by Emily’s ongoing depression.

At this point a psychiatrist challenged her to apply for internment in an institution. Emily agreed to let go of the theatre; from that point onwards, episodes of self-harm became more frequent and more intense. In the documentary, she explains that she wanted to get rid of the “evil monster” she felt was trapped in her rib cage: cutting herself would give her the feeling the evil was leaving her body but only for a few minutes; she would bang her head against the wall in an effort to free herself of her inner pain.

The documentary does not underscore what she said during her interview last spring about her difficult childhood, nor does it say her anger and aggressiveness were so bad she was regularly sent home to give workers at the psychiatric institution a rest.

It was at the institution that she met another psychiatric patient, a woman she names “Sarah,” who was organizing her own euthanasia. The two would often talk about death and it was the “example” of her friend that pushed Emily to request for a lethal injection – not doctor assisted suicide, which is also legal under Belgian law. In the documentary, she says she would have killed herself but that it would have been “an awful, painful and lonely death.” “Without the option of euthanasia, I would have committed suicide,” she says.

But would she?

The three doctors who authorized Emily’s euthanasia – as the Belgian law requires when psychological suffering is given as the reason for the request – decided, after several months of consultations, that her suffering was indeed unbearable and that no amount of treatment could offer her hope of getting over her depression. Among them, Lieve Thienpont is a psychiatrist who specializes in assessing euthanasia requests. She authored a book about euthanasia and psychological suffering, Libera me. For her, this is fully a part of the question of “death with dignity” and euthanasia is an acceptable answer from her point of view. Calling her a proponent of euthanasia in these cases does not seem unfair.

She appears several times in the documentary to comment on Emily’s situation. The reporter even filmed the moment when three doctors, including Thienpont, explain the death process to Emily, insisting that she should feel absolutely free to pull back even at the very last moment, without being afraid that her “credibility” would be any less because of that.

In one interview, Thienpont explains that Emily’s suffering is so bad that it is “not compatible with life,” saying only prolonged and profound discussions with the patient can let one become sure of this. She adds that her life does not have a “sufficient quality” for her to go on.

The documentary also shows Emily’s mother and two friends coming to terms with Emily’s death: they are filmed less than two weeks before Emily’s “due date.”

The reporter was also present during those last hours before that day when Emily was to have received a lethal injection at 5 p.m. At the very end, she decided not to go on. “Very rationally, I said: ‘I cannot do it’, because the last two weeks before that Thursday when it should have happened were relatively bearable. There were no crises. And it was very unclear to my why that was so. Was it because the serenity of death was so close? Because we were saying goodbye and that I was feeling OK because of that? Or has something changed?”

What is certain is that Emily’s story is being used to promote euthanasia as a possibility for all who want it, and even as a solution that can, ultimately, help some people choose to go on living. But in Belgium, even if a number of these cases have been documented, others do die at the hands of their doctor while physically in good health, like Emily.

Notably, the filmed documentary does not bring up the subject of Emily’s troubled childhood, nor of her lifestyle. It just notes that she is not a believer, and has no idea whether there is an afterlife.

Did she need spiritual help and support above anything else? The question deserves to be asked, in the same way that the validity of her psychiatric treatment could also have been questioned, but never was in the documentary. At a time when so many young people are struggling with their own identity, not least because of school methods that encourage them to imitate others rather than to gain consciousness of their individuality – so many young people today are not even able to distinguish between the subject and the object in an ordinary sentence – Emily’s case should be a wake-up call rather than being used to lobby for euthanasia.