To Become Wise

“The Lord granted him a stern struggle, that he might know that wisdom is mightier than all else.”    – cf Wisdom 10:12,  Entrance Antiphon from the Common of Martyrs

Cardinal Dolan, with his characteristic twist, wit, and wisdom, recently posted on his blog a reflection from the Synod in Rome that is finishing up this week.   To summarize, he noted with irony how focused we all are these days (in society at-large, in public policy, and now even in the Church) on welcoming those who are in the minority even though we are ignoring another critical, “new” minority in the world.

We go out of our way these days to make sure every possible “exceptional” group is not left out (the gays, the transgendered, the divorced, the divorced and remarried, the divorced and remarried who want to take Communion, the divorced and remarried who want to take Communion but only with a gluten free host, etc, etc), and in so doing it is true that our hearts expand to see things from the perspective of the “smaller” group of people.  That can be a good thing.

The Cardinal made this point:  what are we doing to support the new minority of people who publicly claim to adhere to the classical teachings on morality?  Those who say that sex outside of marriage is never a good or healthy thing?  Those who say that marriage is forever, and between a man and a woman only?   Those who understand that contraception and sterilization are grave wrongs?  Those who do believe that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and that no one can come to the Father except through Him?  Those who claim that not all spiritualities and religious approaches are valid, true, or life-giving?

Perhaps the day has arrived that the people in this category will require some sort of legal protection as a minority group of people?   A people whose rights are being trampled upon by a powerful lobby that only sees things one way?

As usual, I could never say it as well as His Eminence, but you get the idea.   He is correct:  in trying to reach out to every possible class of minority, we run the risk of creating a minority out of those who still actually believe (crazy!) in the teachings we have always held to.

I agree with the sentiment.  At the same time, and I realize he is being in his usual manner both tongue-in-cheek and also prophetic, I would not be a fan of any protections for this new minority.

I find the above quote from the book of Wisdom, the Antiphon from the Common of Martyrs, to be very powerful.  God grants, or allows, struggles for a reason.  Struggles teach wisdom, and they refine our desires so that we crave less and less any sort of bodily or emotional comforts, and more and more we crave the precious pearl of wisdom.

One new minority might be this group:  those who do not think we should spend all of our time self medicating, and instead choosing to live in the struggle of life so that we can find union with the Lord, and can find wisdom.

I have been amazed reading lately in the pages of major media outlets the “back and forth” on the benefits of pornography for young people, older people, married people, etc, etc.  All of this in the wake of Playboy’s decision to stop publishing nude pictures because they have now lost a key battle of the very culture war they helped start.  Plain nudity is just not interesting anymore.  Everyone’s naked now. Or nearly so.  And plain nudity just cannot provide the necessary escape anymore that modern day virtual reality porn does.

Everyone is trying to escape the struggle of life.  If it’s not porn its the re-emergence of sensory deprivation tanks (where you just float for hours), or the rise of random recreational sex over lunch breaks (complete with apps to help accomplish this).  Or, the obsession (obsession is the key word) with fitness, or with food, or with choices, or with football, or with gadgets, and on and on it goes.  It all numbs the pain of a life without any real meaning.  I speak as one who struggles a lot with self-medicating behaviors when I say that the numb escape of it all is just a world without any color.

And so I think I prefer the struggle of being the new minority.   It’s the kind of pain you can’t truly live without, if you know what I mean.   It’s the refreshing sting of reality.  It is the pathway to the sweet balm of wisdom.   It is the pathway of union with our Lord who himself was given a stern struggle so that through it we could all be saved.

Besides: I have confidence in the reality that wisdom is mightier than all else, as the same quotation says.  Even mightier than the powerful cultural forces that are driving everyone to medicate themselves (literally) to death, and are forcefully creating this new minority of which the Cardinal speaks.  In the end all of that will crumble, and the Gospel, and the orthodox truth of the faith, will endure.

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About Father Nathan Reesman

Father Reesman is a priest of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. He is the Shared Pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish, and also of Saint Frances Cabrini Parish, both in West Bend, Wisconsin.
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