In the Light of Reality

16 Jan

Editors Note: We are happy to have a contributor from the Bellarmine Forum, a staunch defender of orthodoxy, the sanctity of marriage, and the centrality of the liturgy. In a world that forgets that fidelity to the Church is essential in all things, the Bellarmine Forum reminds its readers of the importance of obedience to the eternal verities of the Church. Mr. John Dejak is the president of the Bellarmine forum and a frequent contributor to their blog:

The Bellarmine Forum

For all of the iPhones, iPads, and modern comforts and conveniences, we all still seem to want the basics. We want something real. A good hot cup of coffee brewed on a frosty Minnesota winter morning is one of the great gifts of our Creator (couple it with bacon and eggs, and you have heaven on earth!); so too is a conversation with friends before a roaring fire that begins early in the evening and lasts deep into the early hours of morning, feeling like only a few minutes have passed. Listening to Mozart or seeing the stars of the clear night sky create in us a pensiveness and an awe that oftentimes can only be expressed by the simple words of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”

I suspect that people throughout all of history have experienced these things and have had similar reactions. These are the simple things of life and—though I have only mentioned a few—they are the good things. In their simplicity, lies their profundity—for that is where the really real may be found: comfort, friendship, goodness, beauty, and truth. These are desires that we all share and they point to the fact that there may be something to this notion of a “common humanity.” We can identify these common and simple desires of human persons with another simple term: happiness.

Happiness has been a preoccupation of human persons since creation. Life seems to be a constant battle for that goal. And as Genesis says that we were made from the earth, so too is life a gritty and dirty business. Along with the simple joys just mentioned, there are profound sorrows and sufferings that rack us to the depths of our soul—addictions, neglect, poverty, sickness, abuse, death. But in the midst of these sufferings and tragedies, stands tall the God who knows suffering; whose light dispels the darkness; and who built an edifice—the Church–to bring a suffering humanity comfort, friendship, goodness, beauty, and truth. An edifice that may be old and beaten—even deplorable—on the outside, but within is the longed-for happiness of every human heart. This is nothing less than the answer to the poetry and mystery of human life. Perhaps the mystery was best put by Evelyn Waugh in Brideshead Revisited:

[A] small red flame—a beaten copper lamp of deplorable design, relit before the beaten copper doors of a tabernacle; the flame which the old knights saw from their tombs, which they saw put out; that flame burns again for other soldiers, far from home, farther, in heart, than Acre or Jerusalem. It could not have been built but for the builders and the tragedians, and there I found it lit this morning, burning anew among the old stones.

This is the flame which shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

-John Dejak

Mr. Dejak is a man of many talents: a classicist, attorney, teacher, and veteran of the US Army. Currently, he is Dean and Latin Teacher at St. Agnes in St Paul. He is a happy husband and the proud father of seven children.


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