Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Long Road

I was in my youth a terrible procrastinator, putting off everything from making beds to writing papers. Only rather recently did I learn to plan ahead and work on projects over time. That my own change of habit seems to have coincided with Pope Benedict XVI's Pontificate is surely coincidental, but not without meaning.

You see my own discovery was not one of utility or efficiency. I didn't learn to take the long path for the purpose of doing better work, although that would have been sensible. Instead I came to realize that I neither enjoyed nor came to a full understanding of the task when I pressed it out in an afternoon. Where once I had pride in my ability to work with little time, I grew to feel cheated. I could finish work and well, but I never lived with ideas until I learned to make a joy and journey of them.

I see in many ways a similar path and love in the Pontificate of Pope Benedict. What could result in the short run, I asked at the time, from Summorum Pontificum? (Much, but still more in time.) Of Anglicanorum Coetibus? (Much, but. . .) Yet theirs is not the path of revolution or reactionary restoration, but of building the good, slowly over time. It is the work not of monument building but of cultivation, and cultivation must be done over time for it consists not in conversion by intimidation or legislation but by inspiration, inspiration at the highest level by the mass, and at the human level by the serene, joyful, and abiding spirit of His Holiness.

The confidence he gave to those in sympathy with his spirit, Catholic in every way and open to all truth and love and beauty, will be seen not in any one, grand gesture, but bear fruit in good lives and beautiful things. To have had as Pope such a kindred, though far excelling, spirit as Benedict is to have been validated as an intellectual and scholar, as a man and humanist, and excited as a Catholic.

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