Thursday, July 10, 2008

Apathy and Inactivity in the Practice of Virtue

tip to DarwinCatholic

"What’s wrong, that you keep gazing on the ground?"
My guide began to say to me, just when
We had both climbed a bit above the angel.

And I: "A strange new vision makes me trudge on
With such mistrust: it bends me inwardly
So that I cannot stop from thinking of it."

"You have beheld," he said, "that ancient witch
For whom alone those now above us weep:
You saw how man sets himself free from her.

"That is enough! now beat your heels on earth
And turn your eyes up to the lure spun from
The mighty spheres by the eternal King."
(Purg. XIX, 52-63)

(The Siren, thus, is the symbol of those secondary goods which grow under our desire to appear to be great goods unto themselves, and thus turn us away from seeking the true goods. And on these next terraces, Dante will encounter sins which result from excessive love of lesser goods. - commentary)

Here we enter into one of our major problems today, the den of distractions; the inability to focus due to all the options 'coupled' with the current "mandate" to remain 'politically correct' with every choice. For me it was this sin of sloth (the modern view of the vice, as highlighted by its contrary virtue zeal/diligence, is that it represents the failure to utilize one’s talents and gifts in a lack of proper discernment and action towards a vocation) that had so grounded me in an inactivity in the practice of virtue. A major benefit that I have come to treasure in my journey into a Franciscan vocation was a freedom through a pursuit of frugality which helped lead me to an understanding of the Gospel's poverty of spirit thus keeping me focused on the things of heaven and not so much on the trappings of the flesh.

Thanks for your previous post and I admire your trust in the Holy Spirit. I hope and pray for those who have no thought of venturing onto "recognized paths of sanctity" will be able to persevere in this principal of applicability and frugality. Or better yet, I pray that the Holy Spirit will move those keen in this principal of applicability and frugality to find stability and support so as to persevere by coming home to the Church, bolstering up those within the Church who may struggle with this way of life.


Athos said...

I think you've nailed it, Aramis. Might "frugality and applicability" be either (a) the nudgings of the Holy Spirit toward avenues of sanctification that folk don't even know exist, or (b) false conversions that ease consciences while sliding, once again, into sloth?

It dovetails with my "Puzzled" post. I don't want to judge, but I do notice that the various forms of anti-Catholicism fellowships tend to demand very little.

David Nybakke said...

Yes, dear Athos, I think you are right and I feel that one necessary wake up call is constant, repetitive and authentic Catholic teaching to all who claim to be Christians.

From my own life I would testify that not only are most people unaware of virtues, they have no concept of real significance of vices and sin. Girard talks a bit about this in Evolution and Conversion where many people deny violence at the center of things human and therefore flippantly dismiss his theory and the gravity of sin and scandal. People are so custom to the checks of culture that they have no fear of consequences and have taken the bait that faith is faith and religion is religion and it is a personal matter and it just doesn't matter.

On your "Puzzled" post, I agree and I would add that the dis-ease you talk about has left many a Protestant (and I hate to say many left-leaning Catholics as well) in a state of total relativism. "Coupled" with the sin of sloth we have what could be a demise of Christianity in our country.

I can just hear Francis and Clare breathing in deeply and announcing, "Aaahhh, what a great time to be alive giving witness to the life-saving love and power of Our Lord, Jesus Christ."