The Vimy problem

“Lord, please don’t make me do that. Nevertheless, according to Thy will.”

This is not among my favourite prayers, but I fear it could join the most frequent. Without going into sordid detail, I, along with who knows how many other practising Catholics — and our separated brethren, too — face a world that is becoming increasingly unfriendly. But this against a background history that was never all that friendly, anyway.

Here I am referring not only to specific opponents, but to the world itself, “structurally” as it were. “Man’s gotta do what man’s gotta do” many times daily, at some modest level, starting with getting up in the morning. (Newman somewhere observed, that getting straight out of bed without dawdling is the beginning of holiness.)

Every soldier must mull the call into battle. That trumpet is not attractive to all. Careful examination of my grandfather’s diary — he went up Vimy Ridge, &c — left me in awe of his generation. The thought that, “Whether or not I happen to make it, we are going to take the top from Jerry,” survives as a campaign medal. Does it survive in our hearts?

My own existence owes to his luck, so that I begin to appreciate his implicitly anti-Darwinian perspective. For it is: whether or not “I and my descendants” make it.

He was a simple Methodist farmboy, neither philosopher nor theologian. Bit of an artist, though. He did not always consider questions in the round. Considering them thus does not always contribute to courage, however. Perhaps one of the most acute failings, of my own bourgeois-hippie generation, was thinking in philosophical and theological terms — when we had no more of the equipment for it than did grandpa’s generation.

In light of what I wrote yesterday here, and for today, over at Catholic Thing — about the serious stress my co-religionists are and will be facing — I return to the Vimy problem. God is tooting on our horn, and we will just have to go up that hill. Jerry’s at the top, and he shouldn’t be there.