April 22, 2007

Sunday pot-luck...

What gives your life focus and direction? Death.

Without faith, everything the natural man thinks, says and does is conditioned by the fact of death. In the face of our ultimate death we are, by default, either Epicureans or Stoics. The first face death and determine to gather from this life what little morsels of comfort and pleasure that can be had. In the face of death the second type of person creates whatever meaning for his little life he can muster, and does whatever noble acts he can manage before the lights go out.

Of course your ordinary Joe and Jane don't consciously decide that they are either an Epicurean or a Stoic, but whether they wear the badge or not, these are the only two choices. You see it played out in their lives. Are they living for pleasure and comfort (even if they do so in a tasteful and 'nice' way)? Then they are Epicureans. Are they quietly pessimistic, cynical or complacent and seemingly 'content with their lot'? They are Stoics.

Christians, on the other hand, have been captivated by the resurrection. This historical fact changes everything. It means their lodestar is not death, but life. Life everlasting becomes a possibility, so life here on earth takes on a totally new dimension of meaning. The truly Christian soul lives every moment with a different perspective. The new life charges everything with a new inner dynamism. For the Epicurean and Stoic nothing in this world really matters because it will all pass away when they breathe their last.

For the Christian everything matters because through the resurrection 'the world is charged with the glory of God.' Because everything lives, everything matters. Most of all, because every soul is eternal every person matters.

If I believe this is true, the only question that remains is, "What am I going to do about it?"

      --Fr. Dwight Longenecker


I don't think Fr. Longenecker is quite right about everybody except Christians being either Epicureans or Stoics. There are still lots of non-religious people around who seem to live their lives as if there were things greater than themselves, and causes worthy of great sacrifice. For whom things "really matter." Some of them read this blog. My constant worry—obsession even—is the question of whether this virtue may be a "wasting asset." Is it a human constant, or is it a "habit" inherited from previous generations who had more faith and lived with greater dangers? And thus something that will diminish in this soft self-indulgent age? Posted by John Weidner at April 22, 2007 6:06 AM

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