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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Cardinal Newman's Hushed World and a Busy Girl's Blues

Feeling a bit blue tonight.

There's no real reason for it, just the sort of restless disgruntlement that follows a wonderful week of doing what one loves, with the subtle letdown of knowing that one must now return to reality.

Reality, of course, entails a return to one's everyday life...the job, the commute, the news with the fluctuating bias depending on the sources of NPR, CNN or FOX.  It means watching two people eat lunch together while texting other parties, barely noticing the other except to be sure the check is split correctly.  It is listening to the useless debates over who can get married and who can't, as if marriage in the public eye holds any sort of significance at all any longer.  It is watching the rapid decline of common courtesy, human dignity, and viable civilization.

So how would I have it be, in my vastly superior attitudes and wisdom?  What view would I wish to see as I leave the sanctuary of my home and venture forth into society?

I would have the busy world be hushed.

It is one of my favorite expressions, this line from Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman.  It conveys a sense of calm, a sense of wonder, a feeling of serenity that he seemed to possess in abundance and could invoke with a few well-chosen words.  It is not a cry for quiet, or for all things external to end, but rather that the senses be dulled to them, that they cease to matter, that we somehow transcend them.  It is one of those things that I somehow consistently fail to do.

One of my goals since Lent has been to improve my prayer life.  To this end, I have started new and somewhat uncomfortable private devotions.  I have set aside time to talk to the Almighty in both His language (Latin) and mine (Southern).  I have sought to befriend His Mother and His more faithful servants.  I have added daily Mass to my weekly routine whenever possible, as well as Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

It is in His Presence that I find the peace that the Blessed Cardinal Newman describes.  Before the altar of God, I find that the world is hushed, that the secular does not speak of its violence and horrors, or even of its pleasures and distractions.  There is no time here.  There is nothing to interfere with simply being in His Presence.

I needn't speak to God.  He needn't speak to me.  Just as I once sat comfortably in silence with my grandmother, enjoying the gentle sounds of her performing her usual tasks, so it is with God.  I can simply sit in His temple, before a monstrance, before the elevated Host, before His tabernacle with its shimmering candle announcing that God is here.  It is enough that He is.  It is enough for Him that I believe this, and that I can linger in silence, content in His company, watching with Him for one hour.  He asks so little of me, and I fail even in that, and even in my longing I fail Him, and so I find myself in sorrow, despising a world that no longer knows Him, not knowing how to correct this, and no longer wishing to be a part of it, even while knowing I must.

I would have a world that yields to quiet contemplation, that gives credence to Beauty and Truth, that applies Reason to its actions.  I would have it filled with that gentleness that seems to be dying away, that "keep calm and carry on" attitude that curbs the hysteria that we see in our daily surroundings.  I would want it to recognize what is good, not necessarily what is perfect, but what is worthy of humanity, what makes it civilized instead of merely human.  It is not enough to be sentient.  It is not enough to educated and enlightened.  The world needs to feel the longing for eternity again.  It needs to recognize that there is something other, something beyond, something greater, and it must mute its own voice to do this, as I must mute mine when in His Presence.

I would have it hushed, if only for a moment, for in that moment, God can place eternity, and the shades will lengthen, and the evening will come, and we will have peace at last.

1 comment:

  1. Rumor has it God is fluent in Southern.

    Well written words and wisdom.