Father Ed on the via negativa

One of my favorite quotations from one of my favorite apostles of spiritual healing:

“There is a negative approach from agnosticism. This was the approach of Peter the Apostle. “Lord, to whom shall we go?” … I don’t think we should despise the negative. I have a feeling that if I ever find myself in Heaven, it will be from backing away from Hell.”

Father Edward Dowling S.J. (1898-1960), addressing the Alcoholics Anonymous 20th anniversary conference in 1955. The quotation is included in Bill W.’s memorial tribute to Father Dowling.


  • Stephen Sparrow

    The negative – not a bad approach actually. Novelist Walker Percy had a variant on the above – he was sometimes asked by Reporters, “Mr Percy, why are you Catholic?” To which he would reply “What else is there?” He said the question was a bit smart a***d so he replied in kind.