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At the Middle of Lent & the Beginning of a Conclave

All the towering materialism which dominates the modern mind rests ultimately upon one assumption; a false assumption. It is supposed that if a thing goes on repeating itself it is probably dead; a piece of clockwork. People feel that if the universe was personal it would vary; if the sun were alive it would dance. This is a fallacy even in relation to known fact. For the variation in human affairs is generally brought into them, not by life, but by death; by the dying down or breaking off of their strength or desire… The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that they specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately,but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.” GK Chesterton, Orthodoxy

 

Is it really power and complexity that heaven values? Is potentia what delights Divinity? Do the angels find power their greatest pleasure? From all I know of God, of Scripture, of communio and of sanctity, I dare say not! While I do not think monotony as we know it is what thrills them, I think that even our earthly monotony is far closer to the celestial joy than any amount of earthly power. Perhaps I am being childish and romantic, but I do not think that I am wrong (or even alone) in asserting that a child’s smile or a true love’s kiss delights the angels far more than all of our epics and entertainment. A summertime picnic glows with more celestial radiance than the presidential election or Superbowl. Speaking only from my own limited perspective, I can affirm that the times I feel closest to the heavenly shores are moments characterized by the simple joy of existing. Alone in my lover’s arms. Full and satisfied after Christmas dinner. A warm fire on a cold winter’s night. A cool swim on a hot summer’s day. A best friend’s intense hug. Smooth wine and warm bread. I feel the full joy of existing, of just being alive, at moments like this. Certainly moments of exultation and excitement are important.

Life-defining moments like graduations and weddings and funerals and retirement are great and all. But our small human hearts can’t comprehend all the joy and sorrow of moments like these. On the other hand, the small moments contain just enough of the joy and love-of-being-alive that we can see it all at once. Like Chesterton said above, we are not yet strong enough to exult in the monotony of life. We merely plug along through monotony, when the very idea of Eternity indicates a joyous and exultant monotony. What makes us think that we are ready for the sheer joy and incessant pleasure of heaven? We have sinned and grown old. We, as a race, are all too easily bored with both the simplicity of earth and of heaven. For God renounced all the whims of power when he first created the heavens and the earth. Rather than rule vengefully according to fancy, changing the course of the seas and sky everyday, re-writing the laws of physics so as to trip up sinful man, God has chosen to love as with an inspired monotony. As the omnipotent Creator, he could have made creation a place of constant flux, but He delighted in simplicity instead. God saw a value in simple constancy that our greatest rulers and thinkers alike have a tendency to overlook or undermine.

The value of things, both earthly things and heavenly things, is, in the final estimate, based on their fidelity to the goodness of their being. According to the philosophers, God’s Goodness is directly related to His Act of Existence, His Perfect State-of-Being. If that be the case, the smallest hydrogen atom has more in common with God than even the greatest of the fallen angels. Satan dwells in a land of shadows and nothingness. One isolated proton acting as hydrogen in its being is more real and good than he. To be created powerful is of little consequence. To continue in existence, in the simple joy of being: that is what God values. We would do well at this mid-point in Lent and on the Eve of a Papal Election to keep that in mind. Hell is the place for those that seek power. The new heavens and earth will belong to those who are poor enough to accept the raw goodness of just being:

About Daniel Lacourrege

Daniel Lacourrege is a 20-something year old theologian living in the Archdiocese of New Orleans. It is the best place in the world to be a 20-something. It is the third best place in the world to be a Catholic (Rome & Jerusalem claiming first & second).
His life has become one adventure right after another. Most of them start in a classroom or library, but very few of them finish there. He likes most things, but usually must be in the mood for them. The only thing he is never in the mood for is traffic.
If you feel so moved, you may email him at lacourrege4@archbishopshaw.us.

Comments

  1. Geoffrey, thank you for that.

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