Were you a mediaeval villein, you would be getting a week off, now. There are so many ways in which the life of a mediaeval villein was better than that of a twenty-first century wage slave.
It seems odd to get a holiday because the Paschaltide is over, but there you go. In the Middle Ages, when work was for men, there were lots of holidays. Today, when men are for work, there are only a few. The wheels of industry keep turning. And the days are long, too. Imagine, having to work seven or eight hours continuously, with only a short break for lunch. But I have friends who must do this, and spend another three “commuting,” and they do it five days a week. Can you believe it?
A lot of things are worse now than they used to be, and people are right to fear change.
“All change is for the worse, including change for the better.” I think Frederick William Faber said that, but the Internet isn’t helping me.
In a similar spirit, the commendable Deacon Scheer pointed to an interpretive error in one of my recent Idleposts, on “Victoria Day.” It is not we who honour a sovereign with such a birthday gesture, he explained, on behalf of Elizabeth, on behalf of our national birth-mother, Victoria. Rather, she favours us:
“From time out of mind,” he wrote, “in lands near and far, the sovereign (virtually all sovereigns, in fact) granted the people a holiday from the subsistence-farming that nearly every society was, until we learned to eat chemicals instead of food. As passports were once permission to leave, not authority to enter, so the holiday marked today was in its origin a national ‘hall pass from the principal’ to be off larking about. And it also was an occasion of thanksgiving for the stability that a living governor permitted, as contrasted with wars of succession. (For governors, even despots, are preferred to anarchy. See Declaration of Independence: ‘Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.’)”
I stand corrected.
I am not sure precisely when the Church originated, in historical time, and I’m not sure I need to understand it. But it was some time over the last few weeks. Those who date it from the Last Supper (i.e. the first Mass) are unanswerable, but so are those who date it from the Ascension and the Pentecost. At this moment we stand bereft of Christ, who has returned to Heaven; but not without the promise we have seen fulfilled. The Holy Spirit has descended upon us, and will be with us until Christ comes again. Then, as now, we are living in the End Time.
If I might re-phrase Winston Churchill, as I am wont to do, “Now this is not the beginning. Let alone the end of the beginning. But it is, perhaps, the beginning of the end.”
Thus reversed, we may perhaps glimpse our paradoxical situation. We look to a future, a very distant future, where there is … nothing. For time began and in the end time ends. In earthly terms, those who live for the future live for Death. It is an odd way to live, yet as we were reminded from Ireland yesterday, this is only one of the ways in which men of the West now embrace sterility and futility; that “Culture of Death.”
To be dead, and to leave no successors, and no record except the evaporating one, of having indulged one’s earthly desires, with, or more commonly without, much pleasure. The other beasts of Earth do as much. But they seem to enjoy it more, and have more foresight, with respect to progeny.
Our current idea of Life has become strictly bounded by time. Some gnostic idea of an afterlife is still entertained (as likely by nominal Catholics as by the nominal “Nones” as the statisticians now call them), but it is iron-cast in temporal terms. No serious effort is directed to looking beyond time as, among the beasts of this world, only humans can do. In the future, we will all be dead, as Lord Keynes said. (And true enough, he died, leaving us debt-ridden by his “progressive” economic prescriptions.)
Futurity is not like that at all. What is beyond time, is beyond time. It was previously, is now, and will continue to be — beyond time. And we are in time, only for this moment.
A moment bounded by the timeless on every side. And a moment within which we discern the rushing of the Spirit, the babble of tongues, the displacement of persons, the direction to ends beyond human understanding. And with this comes a simple instruction, understood at least by some:
Go and tell the world that nothing changes.