Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

(From delos , a derivative of deo "to boil", to "throb with heat"), is "a necessary effect of love ", being "the vehement movement of one who loves to [secure] the object of his love " ( vehemens motus amantis in rem amatam , St. Thomas, Summa Theol. I-II:28:4 ). Here the distinctive note is in the vehemence, or intensity, of the action to which love impels, an intensity which is proportioned to that of the love felt. As there is two kinds of love, the amor concupiscentiae , which is self-regarding, and the amor amicitiae , which is altruistic, two corresponding kinds of zeal might be distinguished, but by usage the term is restricted to the zeal prompted by the amor amicitiae; indeed in its religious sense it is applied solely to the zeal inspired by the love of God, to the ardent endeavours and works undertaken to promote His glory. Here again we can subdivide according as this zeal for God manifests itself in works of devotedness directed towards the fulfillment of the first or the second of the two great Commandments. In the Bible (cf. Psalm 63:10 ; Numbers 25:11 ; Titus 2:14 , etc.) it is mostly used in the first of these applications; in the phrase "zeal for souls " it is used in the second, and in this sense it is much the more common among religious writers.

Zeal, being love in action, just on that account tends to remove as far as lies in its power all that is injurious or hostile to the object of its love ; it has thus its antipathies as well as its attractions. Moreover, since, though itself appertaining to the will, it presupposes an exercise of judgment as to the appropriate means for the attainment of its object, we must further distinguish true and false zeal, according as the judgment guiding it is sound or unsound. Thus St. Paul's zeal was zeal throughout, but it was false zeal in the days when he persecuted the Church, true zeal when he became its Apostle. "Caritas Christi urget nos" are the words with which this Apostle described the promptings within his own breast of this zeal which contributed so powerfully to lay the foundations of the Catholic Church. And it is a zeal of like nature which, enkindled in the breasts of so many generations of ardent followers of Christ, has, in its co-operation with the lavish gifts of the Holy Spirit, built that Church up into the greatest marvel of human history. For it is the zeal of all those devout souls which, as distinguished from the lukewarmness of the ordinary Christian, has sent forth the Apostles and missionaries to their lives of self-sacrifice, has filled the sanctuaries with an unfailing supply of good priests and the cloisters with throngs of fervent religious, which has organized, sustained, and developed so splendid an array of works of charity to meet almost every conceivable need of suffering humanity.


More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online


Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Job 3:1-3, 11-17, 20-23
1 In the end it was Job who broke the silence and ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 88:2-3, 4-5, 6, 7-8
2 may my prayer reach your presence, hear my cry for ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 9:51-56
51 Now it happened that as the time drew near for him ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 30th, 2014 Image

St. Jerome
September 30: St. Jerome, who was born Eusebius Hieronymous Sophronius, was ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter