THERE is one characteristic common to all great souls, whether they be good or evil, in whatever sphere they may be found. It is seen in a Byron, or a Shelley, or a Goethe, in an Alexander, a Caesar, a Napoleon, in a Luther, a Calvin, a Wesley, in a Paul, a Xavier, a Teresa.
In some it attains to some issue, though never to a complete satisfaction; in others it seems only to add to the tragedy of life, rendering it broken-winged and desperate.
This common characteristic is a certain craving to be something more than merely ordinary, to do something more than it is given to everyone to do, to attain to some end above the common; this alone seems to them to justify life.
As Browning has put it:
A man's reach should be beyond his grasp,One man will endeavour to satisfy this craving in words. He will dive through life itself and fathom its depths; he will disclose its pearls or its weeds as the case may be; such a man we call either a poet or a philosopher, or both. Another will express it in action....
Or what's a Heaven for?"
From The School of Love and Other Essays
by The Most Reverend Alban Goodier, S.J.
Burns, Oates, & Washburn, Ltd. 1918