Opportunity for Excellence

Horses are prey to many species. Their behavior, their physiology, is that of a beast under constant threat from, usually, smaller, less beautiful organisms.

Yet, wild horses capture our imaginations. Their grace and beauty, their power, and their gentleness reminds us of what we would be if we lived into our highest ideals for ourselves. We would be worthy of our sufferings.

Your routine has been obliterated. Nothing you did routinely two weeks ago will be done for at least a month. Your life is changed, probably forever. And material, the change is for the worse.

You will be less comfortable. Your choice of foods to eat will decline. Your choice of how to spend your time will diminish. Your money will disappear.

There seems to be nothing good about this. From a secular, materialistic point of view, this is all bad. All bad.

We all have a choice to make: to use coronavirus as an excuse, or to choose to pursue the outer limits of excellence.

“[E]verything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms-to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

These words come from Viktor Frankl, perhaps the most famous of all Nazi death camp survivors. They come toward the end of his short description of the horrors of that evil period in his book Man’s Search for Meaning.

We will all have more time on our hands now. Perhaps get a copy of Man’s Search for Meaning and read it?

Frankl continues:

“Fundamentally, therefore, any man can, even under such circumstances, decide what shall become come of him-mentally and spiritually. He may retain his human dignity even in a concentration camp. Dostoevski said once, “There is only one thing that I dread: not to be worthy of my sufferings.” These words frequently came to my mind after I became acquainted with those martyrs whose behavior in camp, whose suffering and death, bore witness to the fact that the last inner freedom cannot be lost. It can be said that they were worthy of their sufferings; the way they bore their suffering was a genuine inner achievement. It is this spiritual freedom-which cannot be taken away-that makes life meaningful and purposeful.”

The pinnacle of excellence is to be worthy of one’s sufferings. The perfect example in history is Jesus of Nazareth, the unblemished lamb who was tortured and killed for my failings.

As we step into an unknown future that will almost certainly be worse than any we imagined a week ago, maybe our goal should not be economic recovery. Perhaps we should choose simply to be worthy of our sufferings.

I wish I could say that’s the path I will take, but I can’t. I have no idea what path I will take. I have no idea if I will be worthy of my sufferings or if my sufferings will be multiplied by cowardice and selfishness. (If history is a guide, assume the latter.)

All I can do is ask God for the grace to suffer worthily and remember that whatever suffering I experience will be far less than I deserve.

Please pray for me as I pray for you, that we obtain the graces to become like wild horses.

P.S. If you are interested in learning more about the wonderful Traditional Latin Mass, please email me at bill@hennessysview.com.

God bless.