June 2007


Nowhere in the preserved books written by great men do we read that life is an easy proposition. It is based on love, creativity and hard work, and one must dedicate his God-given being to all these pursuits, with hard work at the forefront without which we cannot know the true meaning of creativity, born of love.

Think of the life of Christ, how much He had to sweat and sacrifice to achieve a moment of teaching, to share with the peoples of this world the mysteries of God’s glory, and it had to be done through the discipline of hard work, for that is the channel through which love is expressed in creativity.

Just as the newborn must learn to be creative on his own with his toys, through the hard work of frustration, screams and tears if necessary, so the man, through his hard work, must aggressively seek those moments of creativity through the art, not necessarily of his choice, but the one in which he has the most God-given talent even if for purposes which he may not fully understand or appreciate. But he must work just as hard at the creative art as he does at the profession through which he earns a living, his daily bread, equally an expression of his God-given talents and for its own good purpose.

Therefore, we can only hope and pray that the profession and creative art by which we employ our talents are truly pleasing to God and in accordance with His will.

And if we write that book, if we build that house, if we plant that tree, and if we have an earthly son, and he sees what we are doing, may he become an imitator of us if our efforts are in harmony with God’s will and if he willingly deems our efforts worthwhile, and so not only an imitator of us, but one who can take the creative spark, however feeble and humble, but so sincerely and passionately handed down to him, and run with it, so to speak, and explore and express deeper depths of creativity, pleasing to God and according to His will, so that the soul of the child become man can draw closer to the glory of God than we ever dreamed possible.

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To everything there is a season, a time when life is simple, a time when life is hard. But even simplicity imposes the hardship of a vacuum. But what does simplicity really mean? The feeling of security in our material resources, whether many or few, the freedom to do nothing or pursue cheap entertainment or to achieve greater or lesser artistic and social feats. Each one must endeavor to measure his own talents in proportion to his resources, both real and potential on both accounts, and set about the business of life accordingly, not only without complaint, but with a cheerful attitude.

Nonetheless, this formula is often difficult to measure, the variables may be constantly changing, especially in a dynamic social context. Perhaps the pre-industrialized, agricultural world was simpler: there were lords and peasants; from time to time the lords warred among themselves over control of land and trade routes, in a word, resources, while the peasants seldom revolted.

Perhaps we of today face greater challenges to our faith, the equalizer in the formula of life; we are less secure in our knowledge of our real and potential resources and talents, we are less secure in our knowledge of who we are and where we are going, yet, in an industrialized society, each one has more real and potential resources to do nothing, pursue cheap entertainment, or achieve greater or lesser artistic and social feats. Perhaps we need more faith than ever now.

One thing that has not changed is our freedom to choose to waltz in the ways of faith. This is still the most important resource and talent, and should be the focus of our best efforts.

The faithless man is like a creaky ship on windy seas with a broken rudder and no anchor, while the faithful man calms the winds and walks on water.

Waiting patiently for God to express His will. Take this opportunity, then, to practice the virtue of μακροθυμία.

Does your present situation prevent you from cultivating the fruits of the Holy Spirit, does it prevent you from pursuing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and discipline? Against these there is no law.

Wait patiently, then, while God spells out His will for you and accept His will while still cultivating the same fruits of the Holy Spirit.

Do not worry, then, for the fruits will grow in the proper soil in their season: cultivate the garden that the Lord assigned you and accept the wage on offer, and yours will be a soul at peace with itself and with the creation, playing your part in accordance with your talents, in proportion to your faith.

Teach them about bread, wine, and the Holy Spirit. Cultivate within them the Holy Trinity and be humble to partake of the fruits of the earth, bread, the work of our hands, to sustain your heart, wine, the keepsake of the kingdom of joy, to lighten your heart, and oil, the fruit of peace, to shine your face, the essence of your personhood, the keepsake of your soul.

The symbolism by which we come to know our personhood is as real as the material world that surrounds our bodies, the temple of our souls. Therefore, in knowing thyself, as the saying goes, take pains to understand both the symbolism and, to the extent useful to the soul, in proportion with one’s faith, also the substance of the material world.
But, above all, the truth is the most sincere feeling in your heart, what you feel so passionate about that you put it in words and song, so passionate that you participate in the work of the Sovereign Lord.
May the purpose of all your efforts, then, be the attainment of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and discipline, and this is what we mean by bread, wine, and olive oil, the efforts of men of good will to share these things.

According to the testament of John, Jesus said to those of faith to ask the Lord in His name and the Lord will give. I ask the Lord to grant that I make a living in a way that I may better serve Him than I do now, maintaining peace and harmony in my family. But obviously to achieve this, to be granted this, I must grow in the faith, I must let go certain securities, or let go hope, the illusion of certain securities and take more risks in proportion with my faith. I also must cease with the idea that I can “buy” my way into an already ideal material and social situation and instead take action to create a new situation that continues, or even re-creates, the spiritual tradition and adopt it to the realities of current conditions. I have stopped studying history. Now is the time to start making history, the new history that is the old history; if necessary, be the first, be the pioneer on whatever frontier, cut a new swathe, but in the spirit of the Tradition, the tradition of the spirit.

I do not know the answer to the following question: in what social environment, in what human community can my talents do the most good in providing for my family and in saving souls?
Perhaps the message from the Lord is that it is not right to only indulge in such wishful thinking as re-creating what I fantasize to be the spiritual feeling, as also expressed through the surviving arts, of the late Roman Empire, mainly because most people do not give a damn or at best they can hardly relate to it.
The real issue is creating the best spiritual environment that we can in the midst off the real situation that surrounds us, and one of the first steps towards achieving this is to set aside the feeling of helplessness that we cannot re-create what we perceive to be the spiritual environment of a by-gone era, without, however, compromising the best of our Tradition and allowing some room for our favorite traditions.

In the words of the philosopher-king, then, stop indulging in dreams of having what you have not, and reckon up the blessings that you do have. Then, once you have accurately measured reality, build upon it for the glory of God both in the world and in the kingdom.

We could write all day, as we have done for years, about the demise of the golden age middle class of industrialized Europe and North America, in short, the north Atlantic community, but this is no longer a practical matter. What is a practical matter is helping souls.

God and the circumstances in life already provided you with enough philosophical education and the disposition of heart to be as spiritually stable as a sinner, a mere man, can hope to be, so now the practical matter is to put that spiritual stability into the service of others, starting with your wife and son, then, if God grants you the grace, into the service of as many others as is proportionate to your faith and as the circumstances allow.

What a beautiful scene I have in front of me in the Andean mountains, in thrice-domed Cuenca, a rainy sunset over the mountain top, a symphony of sound and color that the likes of Respighi could only hope to imitate.

If we do not willingly sacrifice ourselves for the betterment of our fellows, then Christ’s crucifixion means nothing.