“Hold fast to patience with a silent mind.” These words from St. Benedict’s fourth chapter on humility seem to burn through the muddled and distorted thoughts of a mind overwhelmed by the horrors of today’s politics, more accurately described by TV character Garrett Moore of Blue Blood’s wry comment to New York Police Commissioner Frank Reagan, than of statecraft:
“The circus came to town and they never left.”
But it is the contemporary climate of major universities that sears my heart and psyche even more deeply as I write on this cold morning…an apt metaphor for the wisdom eclipsed by a perverse racism. David Warren writes:
The Catholic Thing
“Civilizations have come and gone.” The winter is upon this one now; our own death is constantly before us. What we glibly call “Western Civ,” once so powerful, is now under vicious, barbaric attack not only at frontiers but from within the very institutions it created. Those with the solemn moral responsibility to uphold them are instead wetting their pants.
The grief and sense of loss I feel is deep. With ease I can recall the lure of those ancient Greek philosophers to my twenty- year- old mind, filled with the distractions and lies of another age. Although much of what I studied of Plato, Socrates and Aristotle was far too dense for total comprehension, the consolation of knowing that there were others who had loved wisdom was enough. Like many young people of every age, I had walked away from everything; it was these very studies that provided a grasp, albeit a tenuous one, on reality.
Two years ago, I satirically wrote a post with the title, “Wisdom From One of the Dead White Guys.” It was no exaggeration when I wrote…”while working my way through my undergraduate degree in pursuit of wisdom and truth, it was just those dead white guys who, in a very real sense, saved my life.
Reading Warren’s article brings back vivid memories of my lost years. Of course, I think about today’s young people who are asking the same questions that I did? Where do they find wisdom?
The fourth degree of humility
is that he hold fast to patience with a silent mind
when in this obedience he meets with difficulties
and even any kind of injustice,
enduring all without growing weary or running away.
The words of the fifth century saint’s Rule are a balm to my soul…reminding me of what I know- more accurately of what I do not know. The recollection evokes a smile while pondering the ending of today’s daily reading:
Moreover, by their patience
those faithful ones fulfill the Lord’s command
in adversities and injuries:
when struck on one cheek, they offer the other;
when deprived of their tunic, they surrender also their cloak;
when forced to go a mile, they go two;
with the Apostle Paul they bear with false brethren (2 Cor. 11:26)
and bless those who curse them (1 Cor. 4:12).
And I am delighted, grateful and excited about this newest book I have begun. Another “novel of the ancient world.” Another excuse to study the dead white guys of ancient Greece for young Saul/St. Paul, I am learning, grew up in Tarsus. A city on a par with Alexandria and Athens…intellectual powerhouses, replete with all the moral abominations of the time. A book that can be written only by holding fast to patience with a silent mind. One of the thousands of lessons that the writing of I, Claudia taught me.
As always, thank you for reading,