The Sarabite: Towards an Aesthetic Christianity

There is a continuous attraction, beginning with God, going to the world, and ending at last with God, an attraction which returns to the same place where it began as though in a kind of circle. -Marsilio Ficino

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Fleeing the World


I lived in a retreat center of the Society of St.Pius X for a year about six years ago now. I had just dropped out of college and was enjoying the quiet surroundings of the Santa Cruz Mountains, a life of prayer and work. I remember once, though, going into a department store during this time and feeling that the world that I had left was evil and the advertisements around me were the new idolatry of man abandoning God. I felt almost superior to that consumer culture that no longer thinks about the last things, its Creator and Redeemer. It was very childish to think that, and also very wrong.

Not that our postmodern society is Christian by any stretch of the imagination. The world, as the Gospel understands it, is very evil, but not in the ways we would like to think. It is not the noise, the distractions, and the responsibilities we are given that make us sin. It is the forgetfulness of God, and that can happen anywhere, even in a monastery in the middle of the desert.

Seneca said that a true man colors everything that he encounters the color that he wants. If we give thanks to God even in a department store, on a busy bus, or in a cubicle, we have found our sanctuary, our inner citadel, our altar where we offer our sacrifices to God, solus cum Solo. It is never about location. You will be yourself, no matter where you go.

I sometimes think that while many have been human beings that have become mystics, few are those who have been mystics trying to become human beings. I think that I may be one of the latter, but then I think I might just be neurotic. In any event, we have no excuse to not behave as Christians in every circumstance of our lives. Any hand-wringing against an evil world is just a sorry excuse. Life is a battle, and it is not for the timid.

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