Tuesday, December 29, 2015

From Fr. Delp's Diary, 29 December 1944

Far more than a civilization or a rich heritage was lost when the universal order went the way of medieval and ancient civilizations.  Western humanity today is spiritually homeless, naked and exposed.  The moment we start to be anything beyond "one of the masses" we become terribly aware of that isolation which has always encompassed the great.  We realize our homelessness and our exposure.  So we set to work to build ourselves some sort of house and shelter.  Our ancestors, those among them who were really great, could have left us a legacy much more helpful for our progress.  We can only account for the contorted thought of men like Paracelsus or Böhme on the grounds that life's insufferable loneliness and lack of design forced them to build a shelter for themselves.  And although it is such a self-willed and distorted and angular structure it still has the marks of painstaking care and trouble and in that must command our respect.  Goethe had rather more success; his instinct was surer and it led him to guess at some of nature's more important designs.  Moreover, he had a good - thought not in all respects dependable - master whose ideas he copied to a very large extent.

Every now and then someone comes along and tries to impose his own plan on the rest of the world, either because he knows he has stumbled on a universal need or because he thinks he has and overestimates his own infallibility.  Such people will never lack followers since so many people long for a well-founded communal home to which they can feel they "belong."  Time after time in the end they come to realize that the shelter offered is not all it purports to be - it cannot keep out the wind and the weather.  And time and time again the deluded seekers conclude they have been taken in by a mountebank; the man probably had no intention of deliberately deceiving but he was nevertheless a charlatan misleading himself and others.

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It is quite remarkable.  Since Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve I have become almost light-heartedly confident although nothing outwardly has changed.  Somewhere within me ice has been melted by the prayer for love and life - I cannot tell on what plane.  There is nothing tangible to show for it and yet I am in good heart and my thoughts soar.  Of course the pendulum will swing back and there will be other moods - the sort that made St. Peter tremble at the wind and the waves.

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I have a great yearning to talk with a few well-loved friends... when?
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