Previous month:
February 2011
Next month:
April 2011

March 2011

The Extreme Remedy

It does not suffice to endure suffering in order to acquire experience. This demands reflection about oneself and the essential conditions of requires the tranquilizing of the soul in God; it takes love, without which suffering embitters and confuses the soul instead of enlightening it.

Suffering is an extreme remedy which either cures the evil or makes it worse, which strengthens or kills. Both the physician's prescription and his attendance are necessary. "Unhappy is he," says Saint Bernard, "who carries the cross of Jesus but who is not with Jesus."

We console a person by sympathizing with his grief; but especially by showing him its beauty.

—Father Antonin Gilbert Sertillanges, O.P.

I thought seriously about whether to include that last line. I don't know how one could possibly say to a suffering person that his suffering is beautiful. Nevertheless, the idea is, if not an explicit part of the Christian faith, certainly a clear implication of it. So many people are embittered by suffering because they can see no purpose in it.

(From Magnificat)

Yoctometers to Yottameters

Don't recognize the words? Neither did I. Find out what they mean here: an extremely cool animation showing the relative sizes of physical things from very smallest (if quantum foam can be called a physical thing) to very largest .  They're grouped by size, not by distance and position relative to each other--I started at the galactic scale and was confused by that at first.

Seeking After a Sign

You know what Jesus said about that: "A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign." Well, I hate to put myself in that group, and I don't often ask God for signs, but there are times when I could really use some clear direction.

For most of the past week I've been wrestling with a difficult ethical question (too private to discuss here). I think I'm probably at least no worse than most people in having a genuine desire and intention to do the right thing (having the strength to do it is another question, of course). But sometimes it's really hard to know what the right thing is. In this case neither option is plainly wrong--that is, I'm not trying to decide whether or not to lie or steal or commit adultery or kill someone. But either choice is going to be painful for someone else, and that's a situation I really hate to be in.

Perhaps I have a worse time than some people with this sort of thing, because I seem to have a greater-than-usual capacity for seeing all sides of a situation, which is sometimes a good thing, but sometimes just causes a paralysis of indecision and ambivalence.  

I don't think I've ever been in this sort of situation and had any clear indication from God of what I should do. Perhaps I'll see one day that the answer was actually clear, and I was being taught to see it. Or perhaps the point is to force me to exercise my judgment, which at age 62 ought to be fairly mature. Whatever, Lord--but it's not helping me much right now.

I seem to be at the other extreme from those people who see signs of God's direction in every little decision.  Ambivalent as ever, I don't know whether to be skeptical or envious of them.

Well, of course, I'm not supposed to be envious. Ok, I'm happy for them.