“…And what there is to conquer /
By strength and submission, has already been discovered /
Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope /
To emulate–but there is not competition– There is only the fight to recover what has been lost /
And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions /
That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss. /
For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.” ~Eliot
As we are the Transitional Generation (see the previous post), I think that we need to forgo any thoughts of creating anything truly arresting and profound. At best, we can lay the groundwork (both artistic and, more importantly, spiritual) for future generations of great people who will look back at us–as painful as this might be for us to accept–as people who, by and large, sold their birthright–Western civilization, though a few managed to pass on what was essential to following generations.
The challenge: to keep trying. To avoid the consuming maw of perpetual motion, change, and novelty. To maintain what we can–that which we should–of the West. To fight despair.
To fight despair.
To fight despair. Perhaps, as Eliot writes, we may not gain. Perhaps we are not to experience the jubilation of any great victories. Let us, however, not lose anymore than we already have.
The Catholic Church preserved and reinvigorated what was best of the ancient West during periods when the light of civilization had all but been extinguished in the West. Let us hope that the Church will once again step up to task. (Though, something tells me that guitar Masses, cheesy felt banners, and churches that look more like gyms than places where Our Lord resides may prove to be less than inspiring.)
What still gives me hope? Not to descend into mawkish sentimentality, but the sight of babies still give me hope. (That is, when one actually sees a baby.) Maybe, just maybe, they will learn from our mistakes. For the most part, my peers do not inspire me. Older people sure as hell lack what it takes to inspire. Babies, though. That, and the sight of young men and women who choose to respond to the call to religious and secular life: young priests, monks, and nuns who have set themselves apart from this world–not out of a false sense of piety or fear, no; rather, young people who see the essential emptiness of modern life and who instead choose a life of selfless love. Such people carry within themselves the burning Heart of Jesus, a heart that immolates itself with love for all people.
Let those who can respond to religious and secular life. Let others fall in love with somebody else, have children, and cultivate little bastions of culture within their homes. We have despair to fight. We have a light to pass onto others–others who will, I hope, I trust, hold the torch (or the illuminated iPhone as the case may be) higher than we have.