The Sound of Silence, Simon & Garfunkel, 1964
Sunday morning, at 07:00 there was silence, no traffic, no people, no sign of life anywhere. Here in Canada, at least, the entire society has been shut down by civil decree and even the churches, whichever church you used to attend, if you used to attend, have caved to civil authorities and all are quietly doing what they are told. It really doesn’t take much to shut the world down, does it?
In a province where small towns have been hard hit by the world oil economy shut down over the last 5 years, this “made in government” pandemic crisis may well be the end of the line. Personally, I don’t believe things will ever “get back to normal”, there will be a new normal that will not include small towns, at least for a generation or two. Unless of course this whole new “online work from home” meme catches on and spreads. In which case, folks may begin to see the benefits of moving far away from big cities. I am really glad that I am at that end of life where God’s plan is the plan that matters.
And, the mere fact that I can say “even the churches”, identifies me as a “man out of time”, a throwback to a time when there was a generally recognized higher moral authority. Higher, that is, than our local police and administrations or even our provincial or federal authorities. A time when people didn’t get everything they thought and talked about from “official government press releases”, and a gushing faucet of banal triviality and distraction, MSM, Sports at all levels, Social Media, Michael Moore, Netflix “documentaries”, the gold star in their societal copybook which was graded at the local coffee shop. Hmmm, no more coffee shops and restaurants, … what is one to do? Where can we go now for our daily dose of approval?
Well, we can always yell (or type in bold) at someone we think is out of step on Facebook. We must live, think, breath right thoughts, in the right face, living right actions according to the example and instructions of our betters … “Brights” like like Greta T, Bary Obama, and even Pope Francis, in their exhortations via the 2020 “Earth Day” festivities and how we are being “chastised” by mother earth through this COVID-19 “pandemic”? Whatever, your mileage may vary, right?
Now it’s Monday, gee, time flies when you are having fun. Yesterday was Good Shepherd Sunday, (or maybe it’s next week, depending on which liturgy one is referring to, old or new) so called because of the nature and content of the readings regarding the Good Shepherd laying down his life to protect his sheep. And today we heard from John 6:32 “My Father gives you the true bread from heaven“. Jesus tries to teach us that we set our sights too low, that we have blinders on, that we are stuck in “This world”. He has so much more in store for us than ordinary bread.
Remi Brague, French Catholic philosopher and winner of the prestigious Ratzinger Prize, in a lecture at the University of St. Thomas, suggested that the “secular” are those whose lives are defined by a horizon of a hundred years. “That is simply what the word ‘secular’ means,” he declared. In this simple statement we see the difference between a “secular” view of the world as opposed to one whose vantage point is “eternity”.
“1940 – Christianity is finished. Communism is the future”. “The march of progress – think of the good we might gain from killing this embryo.” “Witness our current fancy for relativising and destroying human dignity – the disposable asset called “Man”“. “A never ending frenetic pursuit of a theoretical utopia, or never ending despair, cynicism and nihilism when the latest utopia proves illusory”. Go read the Remi Brague article linked to above. We are always breathlessly waiting for the next big thing, the next big catastrophe, the next big pandemic.
From a genuine historical point of view, current, secular, cultural accomplishments disappear almost over night. We look around and they are gone. Liberal socialism, a decaying leper. Liberal Democracy, reality programming for dummies, who will we vote off the island now. Communism, dead as a door-nail and taking millions with it. Atheism, screaming loudly as it swirls towards the drain.
Social medicine, unsustainable. Fossil fuels, killing the planet. Social Assistance and food stamps, slavery for life. “Public Education”, dumb down, dumb down, dumb down into daycare for post natal infants. Social Credit, gone. Whigs & Tories, unrecognizable. WWII – why? Hitler, gone. Stalin, gone. Pol Pot, gone. Mao, gone. The dirty 30’s, the roaring 20’s, WWI the Great War – what was so great?
The sun never sets on the British Empire, Long live the Queen. Hearts of Oak, Rule Britannia, Hapsburgs, The Third Republic, the second republic, La Republic, Liberte Egalite Fraternite, gone, all gone. The Holy Roman Empire, the original Roman Empire. All gone, pick your 100 years, whatever you thought was the current great is like a morning’s snow, starting out hushed and pristine white and degenerating into a sloppy muddy mess requiring cleanup.
Hallelujah, Leonard Cohen, 1984
So through it all, if you take the long view, the eternal view, what we see is a continuous battle of good against no good, of God against no god. All the rest is sound and fury, lipstick on a pig and without the long view we are trapped in the sound and fury, putting our lipstick on, getting ready for the next dance, the next dalliance, the next distraction, ad infinitum.
So which side do you choose? God or no god? That is really the only choice. Choose wisely for the sake of eternity.
St. Augustine had it right I think: “… Lord my God, You who are holy, look and see my affliction! Have pity on the child whom You have engendered in sorrow and do not consider my sins, lest You forget Your power over them. What father will not liberate his son? And what son has not been chastised by his father’s compassionate rod? O Father and Lord, although I am a sinner, I am nonetheless Your child, because You have created and recreated me.
Can a mother forget the fruit of her womb? If she should forget – You Father, have promised to remember. Behold! I cry, and You do not hearken to me, I am torn with grief, and You do not console me. What shall I say, what shall I do, miserable creature that I am? Deprived of Your consolation, I am far away from Your sight.
O Lord Jesus, where are Your ancient mercies? Shall You be angry with me forever? Be appeased, I beg you, and do not turn Your face away from me … I confess that I have sinned, but I am certain that Your mercy surpasses all my offenses! Weep my soul, and complain, miserable one; groan because you have sent away your Spouse, Jesus Christ, the All-powerful God; do not be angry with me, O Lord, for I could never withstand Your anger. Have pity on me, so that I may not fall into despair. Although I am worthy of condemnation, do not withhold that which can save sinners.
I hope for much from Your bounty, O Lord, because You Yourself teach us to ask, to seek, and to knock; at Your word, I ask, I seek, I knock. O Lord, You who tell us to seek, grant that I may find; You who teach us to knock at the door, open to the one who is knocking! I am weak; strengthen me,.
Bring me back, because I have wandered away, and revive me, because I am dead. According to Your good pleasure, direct and govern my senses, my thoughts, and my actions, that I may live by You and give me entirely to You” (St. Augustine)
Quid Hoc Ad Aeternitatum