Labor Day, September 5, 2005
And there was no man to till the ground.
. . . cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
Work before the Fall, toil after.
There is a general tendency to preach that work is noble, leisure useless and on the whole degrading. The practice of the world contradicts this statement.
—Jan Gordon, Modern French Painters
Scholarly writing: many citations, no convictions.
Immaturity, immaturity everywhere, and not a hint of innocence.
Spoke with MES after Mass (Father back at lectern for the homily) about the inadequate responses—“altar, sword, and pen”—to the recent hurricane. But the responses are emblematic of years of bad faith.
We are the dupes, but to use again the terrible words of Collot d’Herbois, whose favor was implored on behalf of the little seventeen-year-old Marquise de Levis: “There are no innocents among the aristocrats.” I say that there are no innocents among the deceived, that it wouldn’t be possible to find a dupe totally unresponsible for a deception of which he is nearly always both perpetrator and victim, that there is a certain principle of deception common to deceiver and deceived, that, in short, anyone who is deceived is capable in his turn of deceiving. Yes, the deceived is usually the parasite of the one who tricks him—that’s worth knowing. But we must go much farther still. . . .
Men deceive each other it’s true, but they cannot do so very long without deceiving themselves. This self-deception is, after all, the secret motivation of their lies. Thus diminishes every day the number of men still capable of good faith, those who can still recognize bad faith in themselves, or at least look for it, even though they fear to find it.
—The Last Essays of Georges Bernanos, pp. 153–154.
Milton! thou shouldst be living at this hour;
England hath need of thee; she is a fen
Of stagnant waters: altar, sword, and pen,
Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower,
Have forfeited their ancient English dower
Of inward happiness. We are selfish men;
Oh! raise us up, return to us again;
And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power.
Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart:
Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea:
Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free,
So didst thou travel on life’s common way,
In cheerful godliness; and yet thy heart
The lowliest duties on herself did lay.
—Wordsworth, “London, 1802”
Lincoln! thou shouldst be living at this hour, to teach us to hallow and to dedicate.
Chapman! thou shouldst be living at this hour, to pray with us and remember.