“In the twenty-first century, our situation as Catholics seems even more perilous and uncertain than in the heyday of these thinkers,” writes Gregory Wolfe in his book, Beauty Will Save the World, in a chapter discussing the influence of writers of the Catholic Intellectual Renaissance.
Rather than dishearten, Wolfe aims to bring hope. To do this, he employs the help of one who hails from the above-mentioned group, Dominican writer Gerald Vann.
Vann once wrote that in uncertain times, Christians must do two things. One, “to learn to be receptive of life before plunging into activity; to learn to be possessed of life, of truth, of love, to be possessed by God.”
He’s got my attention.
The other thing we must do, he says, is to learn to face what he calls “the squalors of life” as they come to us. “…we do not grow into the light by trying to escape the darkness but by meeting it — with courage and tranquility…”
Courage and tranquility: I like these two words. They feel…necessary.
The deeper our knowledge of darkness becomes, Vann says, “the deeper also becomes our sense of oneness with the redemptive pity of God, and therefore the less our danger of coming to terms with evil.”
And then, Vann plunges into his point.
“In that way we shall incidentally integrate ourselves; for we shall find that, in a world which is so largely uncreative and so largely hopeless, we for our part shall find always a renewal of life and of hope, through our sharing, however humbly, however fumblingly and imperfectly, in the re-creative, the redemptive, work of the Word who was made flesh and dwelt amongst us in order precisely that we might have life and have it it more abundantly.”
Do you believe this? That you were meant for life in abundance? Then have courage, and embrace a tranquil stance. God is with us, powerfully and assuredly.
Let’s grow into the light, not by trying to escape the darkness but by meeting it with the calm certainty that through God, all things are indeed possible.
Q4U: How might you cultivate a courageous and tranquil response to life’s challenges?