In need of infinite help 


"The Christian religion is only for one who needs infinite help."

"...That is, only for one who feels infinite anguish. The whole earth can suffer no greater torment than a single soul. The Christian faith — as I see it — is one's refuge in this ultimate torment. Anyone to whom it is given in this anguish to open his heart, instead of contracting it, accepts the means of salvation in his heart." (Ludwig Wittgenstein)

I don't know about you, but this is the kind of quote that makes me feel right at home.  This gives me hope.  Anguish, torment — this Wittgenstein is a man who understands.  So do Maria Callas, Renaissance painter Matthias Grunewald, and the people in charge of adorning Mexican churches.

I love a good statue of Jesus with a hole ripped in his chest and his sacred heart hemorrhaging blood. Nobody knew better than Christ that people to whom everyday things like holding a job or interacting with another human being are never-ending sources of torture and anxiety are exactly the ones most in need of healing.

A guy who hung out with lepers, paralytics, the possessed: this is someone I can trust. We don't have to go up to him, he comes down to us. We want a doctor, a hospital, meds; he gives us himself. We want to stop the suffering; he says, I'll suffer with you.




Heather King. "In need of infinite help." excerpt from Redeemed: Stumbling Toward God, Marginal Sanity, and the Peace That Passes All Understanding (New York: Viking Publishing, Penguin Group Inc., 2008).

This excerpt appeared in Magnificat in July 2012.


Heather King is the author of three memoirs: Parched (New American Library 2005); Redeemed: Stumbling Toward God, Marginal Sanity, and the Peace That Passes All Understanding (Viking 2008); and Shirt of Flame: A Year with St. Therese of Lisieux (Paraclete 2011). She is a sober alcoholic, an ex-lawyer, a Catholic convert, and a full-time writer. She lives in Los Angeles and blogs at Shirt of Flame: Musings on Los Angeles, The Writing Life, Divine Intoxication, and The Thin Line Between Passion and Pathology. For more information, visit her website at

Copyright © Heather King

Subscribe to CERC's Weekly E-Letter



Not all articles published on CERC are the objects of official Church teaching, but these are supplied to provide supplementary information.