Re-Orientation Requires That We Stop What We've Been Doing

I have written elsewhere that the act of embracing suffering is, to a certain degree, experienced by us as quitting what we have been doing to become good. This is the act of faith whereby we acknowledge our littleness and inadequecy and resign ourselves to God's will, allowing Him to lead us blindly. The reason this act of humility, faith and love is experienced by us as suffering is that it has been ingrained in us from our infancy that we have to be constantly doing hard things in order to be doing good--the harder it is the greater the sacrifice, greater the good, the greater the effect in us. In the book, Leisure, The Basis of Culture, Josef Pieper begins to explain to us why this is false:

"'Effort is good'"objecting to this thesis in the Summa theologia, Thomas Aquinas wrote as follows: 'The essence of virtue consists more in the Good than in the Difficult.' 'When something is more difficult, it is not for that reason necessarily more worthwhile, but it must be more difficult in such a way, as also to be at a higher level of goodness.' The Middle Ages had something to say about virtue that will be hard for us fellow countrymen of Kant to understand. And what was this? That virtue makes it possible for master our natural inclinations? No. That is what Kant would have said, and we all might be ready to agree. What Thomas says, instead, is that virtue perfects us so that we can follow our natural inclinations in the right way. Yes, the highest realizations of moral goodness are known to be such precisely in this: that they take place effortlessly because it is of their essence to arise from love. And yet the overemphasis on effort and struggle has made an inroad even on our understanding of love...But what does Thomas say? 'It is not the difficulty that makes this kind of love so worthy, even though the greatness of the love is shown by its power to overcome the difficulty. But if the love were so great, as completely to remove all difficulty--that would be a still greater love."

When our love of God is so great that we surrender ourselves unconditionally to Him by accepting whatever joy and suffering He may desire for us, so that it is no longer We who are trying with great difficulty to love, but He Who in fact loves in us, all obstacles are removed and the practice of virtue becomes effortless. "I can accomplish all things is Christ, Who strengthens me."

1 comment:

Willa said...

Something I needed to hear from a Catholic perspective, thank you!

Catholic Attachment Parenting

A philosophy of parenting modeled after the self-donative love exemplified in the relationship between Mary and Jesus.

1 Jn 4:18

"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love."

Luke 1:17

" turn the hearts of the parents toward their children..."