The Muscular Spirituality of Leah Libresco – UPDATED

In its end-of-year issue, Our Sunday Visitor has profiled 9 Outstanding Catholics of 2012 who have been particularly effective “examples of leadership, service and witness in the past year.”

Three of those nominated for consideration blog here, at Patheos — Marc Barnes (Bad Catholic), Lisa Hendey (A Good Measure) and Leah Libresco (Unequally Yoked) — and another, Sister Lisa Marie Doty, of Nunspeak Blog has contributed several pieces, to our Habit of Witness series.

It was my pleasure to contribute to the feature by penning an appreciation of Leah, which you can scroll down and read, here. I wrote, in part:

In June 2012, with attention from puzzled mainstream media folk, Libresco’s subheader was changed to read: “A geeky convert picks fights in good faith.”

In November she was received into the Church, taking Augustine as her patron; her showtune-laden, beautifully written pre-baptismal posts gave us a glimpse of her muscular spirituality — a promising gift to the Church in a combative age.

She picks fights, always in good faith, even with herself, as is beautifully demonstrated in this post about Les Mis and Javert:

There was nothing I wanted so much as to be like that man, ramrod-straight, inviolate, and wholly consecrated to duty. In fact, when informed of my conversion, one friend, initially puzzled, said, “Well, I guess you’ve always been a bit of an absolutist.” But my Javertian tendencies are as incompatible with Christianity as Javert is with the world of Jean Valjean. . .Valjean and Javert are opposed, not only in their relationship to each other, but in their relationship to the grace and forgiveness that each is offered. Valjean, newly released from prison, robs a bishop who extravagantly forgives him. Javert is discovered as a spy among the revolutionaries, and Valjean volunteers to carry out his execution, but secretly spares his life and sets him free.

Each man is thrown into confusion by the mercy they have been shown, and their two epiphanies musically compliment each other.

Read it all, and her Javertian follow-up. Leah hosts a masterful discourse on the workings of grace and the constant tussle between our instincts toward justice and mercy, and which must prevail. And she does it while providing musical refreshment!

Muscular spirituality, indeed. She does not flinch. We’re going to need her in the coming years!

UPDATE: Leah has concluded her look at Javert here: Javert and Valjean, at prayer

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About Elizabeth Scalia