Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Lord: Chapter 70, “Renewal”

Dear friend,

Every kid wants to conquer the world. My best friend in Cilley Hall lower year believed in establishing a world government. He also aspired to be the first Jewish president of the United States. Obviously, those goals haven’t been reached quite yet. Still, having lived through the MLK assassination together in the spring of upper year, we both would have been flabbergasted to learn that the USA would have an African-American president before we turned 60. The times they were a-changing.

My ambitions were always on a narrower scale. I wanted to change myself. From soon after I left home for our old school, I felt restless and discontented with me, WB. I wanted “Renewal.” Of course, in one way or another, that became the theme of our whole generation, at least for a short time, making me not so very unique. Romano Guardini writes: “There are experiences in which unknown possibilities seem suddenly to unfold; creative forces of which we were totally unaware. At times this urge seems to take hold of a whole culture.” Witness our culture, circa 1969.

But the culture didn’t change me. And my restless search for solutions over the Eastern horizon—zen, yoga, the tao, whatever—didn’t finally change me either. What has made the greatest difference in my life—in me—as in change, renewal—is becoming a Catholic five years ago. With that has come daily mass, frequent confession, a regular schedule of readings and prayer—and the same old Webster Bull.

I am still cranky (ask Katie), still lazy (ask my banker). But at the same time I am renewed, every single day, by the understanding that there is something durable, permanent, eternal at the base of my own existence—that Christ can be “the beginning and end of the movement known as life, its measure, and source of strength.”

Let me end this brief letter with a quote from RG, which backs up what I’m saying while also putting me in my place:

“The extent to which we succeed depends on our loyalty and our power of sacrifice. Hence the believer does well to say, not that he is a Christian, but that he is trying to become one. The better he succeeds, the wider the doors of existence will open for him.”

Still trying, still trying to become,

This series of posts on Romano Guardini’s book The Lord continues here with chapter 71.

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