Saturday, 29 January 2011

The Antidote

I had forgotten what a simple pleasure it is to read Chesterton. Every book to one degree or another and for one reason or another is like an opponent. Some are like harsh school masters cracking your knuckles with a ruler, frustrated to no end at our difficulty to understand them. Demand after demand, they dun away at the door of the mind until the due payment of credence is given and we have reconciled ourselves to their wisdom or their nonsense.

Other books, are like the childhood playmate who never tires of playing the same games and never tires of talking and reminiscing. The one who would walk five miles to your house without an idea of what you would do together, and for whom you'd do the same. You might call them the holidays of the soul.

But Chesterton, he is that rare friend that demands not only that you listen to him in order that he should make you better, but that you give him the precious chance to make you smile. He's the friend who invites you over for a fine dinner and a few drinks, so that he can force you to discuss philosophy and theology. Yes, he's like the artisan who compels you into a dark cathedral to show you his work, and pulling down a huge canvas he reveals a beautiful stained glass window from which you couldn't possibly turn away, lit up by the sunlight which your tortured eyes are wont to escape.

As I read the master of syllogism's work 'The Dumb Ox,' I was in agreement with him especially on two points. He said that at times St. Francis of Assisi was almost too efficient for him, and that every generation seeks out a saint that is the antidote to its own excesses. And I thought," Well, isn't that right?" Don't we love the saints not only because of their love for that which we love, namely God, but because of whom they rebuke and those pernicious ideas they so easily dispense with through word and deed? We love the saints because they show us how to efficiently love God and how to be loved of God. We love them because of how quickly their light destroys the same darkness that menaces us.

And to the later, isn't it true that we do love rest? Once we've exhausted ourselves with passion, once society is in the throws of mortifying agony due to want of vain things, having been forced to recognize the futility of our vain ideas, don't we seek any means to end suffering? Don't we seek an antidote once we've injected ourselves with poison? Every generation seeks out its saint.

The thaumaturgist St. Pio, what a marvelous antidote he was in the age of doubt when the world of intellectuals said that belief in religion and miracles was only sacred to superstitious idiots and fearmongers. And St. Josemaria Escriva, whom I am learning to love, what a contradiction he was to those who said that the Church and progress are irreconcilable. When the fount of prayer, the holy order of Carmelites foundered in worldliness and arrogance, the clasped hands of Sts. Teresa De Avila and John of the Cross chained the gates of Carmel which Satan had thrown open.

I think now, what poison is it which the world has? What antidote does she need? God knows, but how shall we begin to tell? Seeing the destruction of the family, is the antidote family? Seeing all the confusion in the world, is it order? Having been infected with amorality, is it morality? Ten thousand questions we might ask just to find the answers.

In relation to all of this, I thought earlier today about the crisis of vocations. We usually think about diocesan priests and deacons when we think about vocations, but we forget about those who pray for us. In the English speaking world, Catholics are infected with Luther's idea that each is sufficient for himself, excluding the necessity of the Priest to bring us the sacraments. This is an entirely heterodox concept. We are all called to holiness and good works, but what about those who are supposed to be perpetually devoted to good works and a contemplative prayer life?

You know, most of us have a Super-Walmart in our area. Well, imagine the parking lot of the Walmart. If you placed them shoulder to shoulder with a foot's space in front of each of them, you wouldn't be able to fill up half of one Super-Walmart parking lot with all of the monks on the entire continent of North America. Think about that. With 350,000,000 people living in North America, that is the state of monasticism. Something grave is wrong with this picture. Something grave is wrong with the faith of Catholics when monasticism has become a superfluity. But it is the tip of the iceberg in the way of what is wrong with the world.

So, pray for the antidote to this generation. Without prayer, we will surely perish.  

"Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim." ~Aristotle~

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