Thursday, April 8, 2010


We are hard to please. We can be bedazzled by something one moment and completely board by it the next. Last week many people gravitated to the local gadget store to see the latest and greatest gewgaw that modern science has to offer the masses. That is not to say that, whatever it is, (it will eventually make its way into my life with no effort on my part) is not truly something of note and wonder, but it makes everything that comes before it old and useless. Yesterday’s marvel is today’s landfill. (If you think this is harsh, remember that this is coming from a man who still listens to a gramophone from time to time.)

Think of the innovations of the past that we now take for granted. There was an article in the newspaper the other day about the invention of the gas lantern. Previously at best a room would be lit by candles or a fireplace. But now there was a lantern that could be hung in the center of a room and everyone in the room could read from the one light source! Now that was a show! To them, the paper reported, the simple gas lamp would have been a spectacle like a laser show to us. Perhaps not though since we grow used to laser shows.

Then a book I was reading, Pillars of the Earth, told the story about an architect and his first encounter with stained glass windows as they were just coming into fashion. The character told at how amazed he was at the color and the light streaming in to the cathedral like nothing he had ever seen before. Today the simplest of churches seem incomplete unless they have some sort of colored glass in their windows.

Things get even more basic than that. Reading for leisure is a relatively (considering the total history of man) recent phenomena. And at some point reading silently was a new fad. If I remember my history correctly it was Saint Ambrose who taught St. Augustine this novel way of reading. Could you imagine what a modern library would be like today if everyone read aloud? Oh wait. Yes we can. It’s called cell phones going off.

There is a certain danger in getting too used to things of the earth and to be in the constant practice of setting them aside for the newer and (usually) better. Not that we cannot come to appreciate the new, but we should also remember that the new was built on the shoulders of the old; that the simplest of things were once marvelous, new, innovative achievements without which we would not have magic phones that can give us movie reviews, tell us where it is playing, buy our ticket, tell us how to get there, and enable us to call friends to meet us there.

Goethe said, “He who cannot live on 3,000 years of history is living hand to mouth.” It is only when we can look back and marvel that we can come to fully appreciate the Resurrection. A good historian knows how the world changed through the invention of the stirrup, which was not an original part of a saddle. We too must contemplate what it meant to be looking forward to a coming Messiah, to not have assurances of life after death, to not have God fully revealed to us through His Word. It is only then that we can fully and most joyfully celebrate this modern Easter Season.


ck said...


Adoro said...

Father~ Yes, it was St. Ambrose, and as I recall, St. Augustine was quite shocked and confused by the behavior! lol

And yet, the practice of "reading aloud" is coming a point. in Lectio Divina, the practice, maybe without actual vocals, but in mouthing the words while reading, can help bring the scriptures (or for that matter, other spiritual writings) to life!

Kind of an "in between".


Now...on the coming of the Messaiah: last December I was grading student assessments, and read a great answer to an essay question about Mary. The student noted that we owe honor to the Mother of Jesus because of that role, and, as the student noted, Jesus went on to be crucified and die for our sins. He sincerely asked, in the essay, "And where would we BE if Jesus had not come to die for us????"

Indeed. Such a question sometimes keeps me awake at night....