Nothing in Science
They have science; but in science there is nothing but what is the object of sense.
The spiritual world, the highest part of man’s being is rejected altogether, dismissed with a sort of triumph, even with hatred.
The Reign of Freedom
The world has proclaimed the reign of freedom but what do we see in this freedom of theirs? Nothing but slavery and self-destruction.
The world says: “You have desires and so satisfy them, for you have the same rights as the rich and powerful. Don’t be afraid to satisfy and even multiply your desires.
What follows from this right of multiplication of desires? In the rich, isolation and spiritual suicide; in the poor, envy and murder; for they have been given rights but have not been shown the means to satisfy their wants.
Alas, put no faith in such bond of union. Interpreting freedom as the multiplication and rapid satisfaction of desires, men distort their own nature, for many senseless and foolish desires and habits and ridiculous fancies are foisted on them.
Men live for mutual envy for luxury and ostentation. To have dinners, visits, rank, and slaves to wait on one is looked upon as a necessity for which life, honor and human feeling are sacrificed; and men even commit suicide if they are unable to satisfy it.
Resorting to Drunkenness
We see the same thing among those who are not rich, while the poor drown their unsatisfied need and envy in drunkenness. But soon they will drink blood instead of wine, for they are led on to it.
The Road to Freedom
The monastic way is very different. Obedience, fasting and prayer, are laughed at, yet only through them lies the way to real, true freedom.
Which is more capable of conceiving a great idea and serving it- the rich in his isolation or the man who has freed himself from the tyranny of material things and habits?
Monk and Peasant
Take care of the peasant and guard his heart. Go on educating him quietly. That is your duty as monks for the peasant has God in his heart.
(The words of Father Zossima in The Brothers Karamazov.)
Reprinted from The Catholic Worker, May 1, 1934.
Houston Catholic Worker, Vol. XXII, No. 4, July-August 2002.