The most commonplace example of the cognitive dimension in art is the reader’s recognition—sometimes the shock of recognition—the “verification” of a sector of reality that the reader had known but not known that he had known. You are telling the reader or the listener or the viewer something he already knows but which he doesn’t quite know that he knows, so that in the action of communication he experiences recognition, a feeling that he has been there before, a shock of recognition. And so what the artist does, or tries to do, is simply to validate the human experience and to tell people the deep human truthswhich they already unconsciously know.

-Walker Percy

 Gospel Nonviolence, which proclaims that the Jesus of the Gospels teaches a Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies for His disciples, does not tell Christian something they don’t know. It tells them something they know but is not yet recognize for some reason. Or else, it places before Christians something they know but obstinately refuse to admit they know for some reason rooted in fear.
 Over the near fifty years that I have been directing retreats and workshops on the history, theology and spirituality of Gospel Nonviolence, that is, on the Nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels and His Way of Nonviolent Love of all under all circumstances without exception, or that Christians have been listening to my retreat, Behold the Lamb, on tapes or CDs, I have had untold numbers of people say to me after reflecting on the retreat’s content such words as, “I have known this is the Gospel in my heart for a long time but didn’t have the words to express it even to myself,” or “I have know this all my life but never heard anyone in Church say anything about it, so I pushed it off to some far away place in my mind.”
 When the “shock of recognition” arrives, the Jesus of the Gospels, the only Word of God there is, the only Jesus there is, proclaims a Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies and only a Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies with Himself as the exemplar and definition of that teaching, simply say a gentle, grateful and wholehearted, “Yes,” to this grace you have received. Then, let the ripples of your life lived in a new truth go out into time and into eternity according to God’s salvific Plan.

-Emmanuel Charles McCarthy


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