Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Post About Nothing

My mother hates Seinfeld.  Actually, my mother hates Jason Alexander and the character he played on Seinfeld, and thus, by extension, the whole program.  I cannot say that I disagree with her, though I find it somewhat absurd that she mutes the television whenever he appears on a program or in a commercial.  It is a show about nothing; they revel in this fact.  If one is going to produce something, it should have a point.  To whit, it has been weeks since I have published anything on this site.  It is not as though life is dull.  In fact it has been much to the contrary.  It is not as though I have no time to write.  There is always a spare moment to compose at least a few sentences.  Rather, I have experienced nothing particularly new nor sufficiently thought provoking to write about it here.  I do not want to write a post about nothing.

And yet, I find that "nothing" is precisely the substance of this little reflection.  I had a conversation with a friend recently, who bemoaned, as often my peers do, the fact that "he gets nothing out of Mass."  It seems as though many of my generation expect religious experience to be consistently deep, constantly engaging, sensually rewarding, and sentimentally provocative.  Religious experience, however, is not always all of or even any of these things.  Religious experience, in fact, is mostly quite dull.  God's relationship with man does not exist for the sake of man's amusement.  Just as I do not look to my food to be first and foremost a source of mirth, likewise do I not presume my spirituality and religiosity to be mostly a vehicle of entertainment and recreation (in the commonest sense of the word).

How, then, is one to understand religion?  In the Catholic tradition, it is understood as a virtue whose purpose is to render worship unto God who is the source of all being and the principle of the government of all things.   Its principle object is to offer Almighty God the homage demanded by His entirely singular excellence.  There is not a single mention of "fun" to be has in such a definition.  The thing about religion as understood this way is that it does pose within itself the possibility of monotony.

Thus, for one such as I, whose business is religion, I have had little new to write.  I teach, I preach, and I administer the sacraments, all in profound worship and praise of Almighty God.  These actions are, I suppose, quite profound, but they can be a dull source of inspiration for an author.  What can I say today that I could not have just as accurately said three weeks, or six weeks, or three years ago?  It is not that I find myself bored, but rather, that I fear my reader will be.  To have written more recently would have been much like describing the flow of a river.  It remains more or less the same from day to day.  Water from upstream flows downstream in a relatively steady progression.

Like the flow of a river, which over the millennia cuts a valley through granite mountains, religion also washes over its observer, incrementally polishing away rough edges and carving through the granite shell of the soul.  This process is surely not "nothing,' but it takes a long time, and it is not especially interesting to watch, except in time lapse photography.  I'll publish another post when I have more footage.