Humans cannot bear much reality

Humans cannot bear much reality . . .The church lies bereft,
Desecrated, desolated.
And the heathen shall build
On the ruins . . .–T. S, Eliot

These haunting words punctuate the lowest point of T. S. Eliot’s MURDER IN THE CATHEDRAL (James P. Stobaugh, BRITISH LITERATURE, Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2005). Archbishop Becket will die, martyred by the selfish King Henry II, but not for any nostalgic reason. Not for any sentimental purpose. He will die in obedience to our Lord God’s purposes. He defies hyperbole.

As we struggle to make sense of all the hard times we face, of all the good things we can do. Let us choose the obedient thing to do, not the thing that may seem right in our own eyes.

There is a crisis of ethics in our time. Only the fool, fixed in his folly, may think he can turn the wheel on which he turns. To do the right deed for the wrong reason . . . in this age of compromises, of good intentions, it is critical that we follow Becket’s example. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Human kind cannot bear very much reality.
The church shall be open, even to our enemies.
We are not here to triumph by fighting, by stratagem, or by resistance,
Not to fight with beasts as men. We have fought the beast
And have conquered. We have only to conquer
Now, by suffering. This is the easier victory.
For every life and every act
Consequence of good and evil can be shown.
And as in time results of many deeds are blended
So good and evil in the end become confounded.
In life there is not time to grieve long.

And the heathen shall build
On the ruins
Their world without God.
I see it.
I see it.

Let us not be of the world; let us be in that world. But let us create a new world!

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