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December   2000

SIMPLICITY AND SANITY

"What he was, he remained and what he was not, he assumed."
Morning Office Antiphon 1 Jan.

THE EDITOR

Jesus remained God but assumed human nature. Eternal and inaccessible, He became accessible and finite in His human body. If the mystery is complex, the reality of the Infant King brought forth in a stable, wrapped in swaddling clothes and enthroned on a makeshift bed of straw remains very simply understood. Indeed, simplicity, both material and spiritual, is the essence of the first Christmas. From the ramshackle birthplace to the obedience, faith and trust of St. Joseph, the Blessed Virgin, the shepherds and three kings, the peace and simplicity of the Nativity stands in stark contradiction to our tormented Western world full of complicated people beset by selfish lives of self-inflicted complexity. A root cause of the disillusion, cynicism and anxiety that afflict modern men and women lies here: precisely in a loss of that grace of simplicity which leads man to see the essentials of life and to concentrate upon them.

The endless search for material and esoteric spiritual sensations and satisfactions in the affluent, navel-gazing West is much commented upon. As is the concomitant rise of stress and the range and types of phobias and mental instability. It is the paradox of the prosperous erstwhile Christian society that the wealthier it gets the poorer it gets; the healthier the economy the sicker (more spiritually and socially self-destructive) it becomes. In recent years, the sophisticated hi-tech know-how (not to mention EU bootlicking) which has fuelled Ireland's economic boom has been accompanied by a rise of several hundred per cent in the suicide rate among young Irish males. The drug problem in Dublin is now among the worst in Europe. And so it goes. In Ireland as elsewhere, the familiar pattern of affluence, selfishness, fragmentation, alienation and despair is a sure path to collective insanity: to a suicidal culture of death enforcing classroom sex-ed, contraception, abortion, euthanasia and ever more aberrant 'advances' in bio-technology.

This is not to damn prosperity or the rightful striving for social and economic improvement. It is just to say that the sort of pyscho-spiritual and consequent social dangers that follow in its wake cannot be met without the grace of true simplicity, which enables man to cut through the superfluous complications and worries of the affluent society to concentrate on the Essential: on God and His holy will. The simple man desires only to do God's will. And having set his himself that course he need not worry about the complications of his own life or those of the over-sophisticated, over-analytical world collapsing around him. He contributes as best he can wherever he can and although dissatisfied with his achievement or conscious of his failure he is never discouraged. His simplicity - outward-looking and selfless because seeking first the kingdom of God - secures him against disappointment. Success and failure are beyond his reckoning so why should he fret?

This simplicity of will and undivided purpose surely underlay Padre Pio's famous maxim: pray, hope and don't worry - which is the motto of the simple man and wise advice in what Father Paul Marx, OSB, recently called "a very crazy, irresponsible, godless, un-Christian world." Britain's oldest living twins concur. Based on their accumulated experience of the entire twentieth century, one hundred-year-old identical twin sisters Nellie and Alice Clarke observed that the modern world and women especially "have gone mad... absolutely mad…everybody tells lies today." Quite. And yet the man who surrenders himself to Christ and learns simplicity will breeze through all the secular delirium; will remain unaffected by the outward complications and complexes tearing at the psychological fabric and peace of the modern world.

Similarly, if we are not to be discouraged and overwhelmed by the sheer scale of today's ecclesiastical madness - or "diabolic disorientation" as Sr. Lucia of Fatima termed the modern episcopal mindset - we must pray for greater faith and deliverance from all that would distract us from attaining that true simplicity we need to remain combative but calm before the furious incoherence and instability of the Modernists. Thus, concerned only with God's holy will, supported by His grace, imbued with His ineradicable peace, the spirit of Bethlehem in us will be our sanity and our salvation


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