Yesterday on my Facebook newsfeed, there were two links to articles dealing with the depressing state of our culture and our world. One was A Nation of Sludge by Anthony Esolen, and the other, Ten Things to Do Instead of Wallowing by Simcha Fisher. I thought both worth reading, and perhaps Mr. Esolen could benefit a bit from reading what Simcha has to say. She probably knows what he has to say, as do we all, and she offers a bit of practical advice for those times when we feel like the world is really so much more with us than we can bear.
Mr. Esolen, seemingly overwhelmed by the sludge by which we are increasingly surrounded, begins by quoting The Lake Isle of Innisfree, and Luke 15:18, and goes on to catalog many of the distressing ills that surround us. After a short reflection on the better world in which many of us grew, he concludes:
Then in closing he says that we should do as the prodigal son did and arise and go to our Father's house--our only haven.The poet Yeats wanted to retreat from the hardness of the city and the strife of politics, to that peaceful island, where he would build his cabin and grow his beans. It has been a century since he daydreamed about Innisfree. There is no such island to turn to. All the possible roads back to sanity have been closed off. We cannot arise and go anywhere. Innisfree is as sick as Illinois.
What I would like to add to what these articles have to say is this. Our Father in Heaven, when He created each of us knew that we would be living in the midst of this sludge. This is our appointed time and place. This is the hour for which each of us was born. We have a purpose and a call. I don't know what yours is--heck, I barely know what mine is--but I know it's there. We live in times that call for heroic sanctity. BE heroically saintly.
Pray more. Receive the sacraments more frequently. Read Hebrews 12 and, "Consider how [Jesus] endured such opposition from sinners, in order that you may not grow weary and lose heart," and "...strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees." Read the whole chapter. Think about how Paul in 1 Thessalonians says to rejoice always, always, in all circumstances. Those words aren't just some kind of nice platitude; they are serious and difficult marching orders.
Do I do all this? Well, sometimes. Do I fail. Every day, every day. But that really doesn't matter. Don't look at that. Look at Jesus. He's calling you to something. Find out what it is.
And remember your Gerard Manley Hopkins.
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and ah! bright wings.