The mysteries of love and wickedness
At Just Thomism, James Chastek meditated on God’s goodness and human wickedness. “The ceaseless saccharine sermons about God’s love forget its main marvel: we’re not lovable. It’s mercy.” But this point isn’t easily grasped. “We shouldn’t confuse knowing that we don’t command or justify love with knowing just how and in what way we don’t command or justify love.
“Correctly experiencing our own wickedness is as hard as experiencing the presence of God, and they grow in tandem. We are as likely to make mistakes about our unloveableness as we are to make mistakes about God’s nature. Only knowing God’s love as a saint could one know man’s depravity correctly.”
We should, then, remember that our wickedness cannot be wholly understood – and some things about it can only be understood “with effort”. In that, it’s like God’s love.
And we can make mistakes in thinking about both. “A demon is just as happy to work with your self-loathing as your self-esteem.”
An executive decision to give it all up
David Valls wasn’t happy. Despite his wealth and power – he was a top executive at a big oil company – he felt something was missing. So at the suggestion of a non-believing friend, he went on retreat at a Benedictine monastery in Montserrat. It had such an impact on him that, at the age of 57, he has given everything he has to the poor and joined the monastery.
As reported by Aleteia, he told the news agency EFE that he used to live as “a complete egotist”. He lived with “several women”, and was even invalidly married to one.
“The greatest example of selfishness,” he said, “was thinking that telling my partners that I did not want to have children was a sign of sincerity.” Aggressive and money-loving, he realised that he had hurt those around him, and that there was “no option but to stop”.
Today, the life of a monk “is all I want. It makes me very happy.”
Is ‘Lead us not’ really a bad translation?
The Lord’s Prayer is changing – at least in Italy. The country’s bishops, in a move first encouraged and then officially approved by Pope Francis, have changed “Lead us not into temptation” to “Do not let us fall into temptation”. The Pope explained that the previous version was “not a good translation” because it is Satan who leads us into temptation.
But at the Times Literary Supplement, the Cambridge professor of Classics, Dame Mary Beard, said she was “puzzled” by the Pope’s words. In the Greek of St Matthew’s Gospel, the key verb is “a nasty irregular Greek verb that would be transliterated into English as eisphero, and it means ‘bring into’, ‘carry into’, ‘introduce into’. The next part means ‘into a test’, ‘into a temptation’, ‘into a trial’. Certainly no ‘falling’ here!”
The old translation, Professor Beard argued, is much closer to the sense of the Gospel text. “Pope Francis may not like it theologically, but it looks as close as you can get to the earliest (Greek) version we have.”
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