When I take a break from my regular job and my schoolwork, I have been reading up on the saga of the Holy Grail. While that’s interesting, what struck me about it was how different we are today from Medeival times. In some ways that is good, but not in all things. No more quests, no belief in the numinous, no confidence in Chivalry or Honor, no sense of the Holy. You may smile to hear that people took comfort in the physical presence of relics, that they believed such things were signals of the will and pleasure of God, that people considered Man’s place below God’s will and that we pursue the holy not as a duty or a choice but because it changes us in ways that no other force could, but the man who lives without such beliefs is the poorer for that choice. The reality and presence of the holy is of an order of Reality beyond our comprehension, and is the essence of both fear and hope.
Non-Christians frequently charge that if Christianity were all it claims, there should be clear evidence of a different way of life among Christians. They’re right, it’s the fruit of our faith that we should live in love and hope, not acting as we did when our souls were dead in sin. Yet it must also be remembered that we still live in the carnal world, that our journey to the Kingdom of Heaven is through the wasteland of human hubris, and we are not truly home until we are perfected through Christ’s holiness. And so it is true not merely that we are granted visions of holiness as beacons to guide us in our lives, but also as spiritual sustenance; just as we partake of Communion in remembrance of Christ, so God sends us images of the holy to remind us of our identity and sustain our soul in spiritual communication.
I fear sometimes that we lose sight of the holy. As the Church finds more and more enemies, it has a harder time pointing out the holy to those who seek it, and as the world focuses more on more with personal pleasures and immediate gratification, the things of the next world are far too easily missed. We see the surface effect, not the cause, and we discard greatness because it is inconvenient. We see suffering as something to avoid, and miss the character of bearing hardship. We do no penance, because we assume we are in no need of rebuilding in our soul. We trust our own clever wit, and forget the deeper wisdom of our Maker. We call the Humane the highest ideal, and so pass by the road which leads to something greater than the human condition.
We should remember to seek that which is holy, and to be humble in our place.