That word signifies a law of the universe — the tendency of all things to decompose, to fall apart, to decay. Eventually, of course, it means the end of the universe itself. We get a glimpse of it in the fall (this is not just physics, it’s biology as well) amid the splendor of the dying maple leaves. It poses a question.
That question was articulated by Leonard Mlodinow, the physicist and screenwriter: “…if the natural tendency of the universe is disorder, then where does the order of life come from?” Einstein loved simple answers to complicated questions, and this one comes from a seven-year-old — “Isn’t God the author of life?” He designed life’s questions to be understandable to the simple. Why not everybody?
Sometimes when we consider the complexities of life, we wonder, what can the uneducated make of it? That may be why Einstein looked for the simplest answer.
Ask me to write a prayer? Armand, my WWII friend, asked me to write one for his friend suffering from a stroke—something he could do when the limitations of the stroke seemed too oppressive. What better occupation for a writer? Here’s what I came up with for his friend, Benedict:
To the Holy Spirit
Dear St. Benedict, leader of men, speak for me to the Holy Spirit, that changer of minds, that He may enlighten me as to how I am to take this affliction of a stroke. For He sends us only what is good for our eternal salvation, and I am not sure as to how I am best to take this. Without excluding a cure, I rest in confidence in your intercession with the Giver of Light. Amen.
It is often not the affliction that is unbearable, but how we are to endure it. The Holy Spirit, known to Christians since the post-Resurrection days, is the one who inspires knowledge and sagacity. Pray to Him often.
During World War II, there were a thousand things that could go wrong on the assembly line for making war goods; the assembly workers had a name for these devils who accomplished these flaws==gremlins. I had plenty of devils to contend with, but I worked (prayed) so hard to get my brother into heaven, and I think I finally succeeded.
He died alone in a Covid 19 room, but he was good at doing things alone. He got little help from us on his way to his Ph.D., but he did it, with two Masters’ degrees to boot. The gremlins were coaxing him at his bedside. “You’ve got your firearm collection at home; don’t put up with this coronavirus,” they coaxed. He remained adamant.
This time I did help. A rosary a day, and he went peacefully. Some saint said it succinctly: For the greater glory of God. He helps to the end.
I was at the podiatrist today, to take care of those two essentials without which I would not be getting around. There are some things we can get done by experts when we no longer do it competently. I was tired of drawing blood every time I cut my own toenails. The doctor also caught some foot ulcers I had missed.
We live in Western Civilization, where all kinds of amenities are available. I got help with my mental health by consulting some of my Catholic friends (pastor) because as an imaginative novel writer I tend to impose some situations on people I know. (Catholics call it rash judging.)
To know about a model human being like Christ and to try to be his comrade is a thrill, in a world full of thrills. I try to discern what’s for me and what to avoid.
Sometimes I’ve come so close to disaster, that I cannot explain my escape except through divine providence. Or through a guardian angel. I learned about him or her as a child, and reviewing the evidence, I can only thank a very paternal God for such a being.
Angels, or God’s messengers, go back to the Old Testament, and while the New Testament does have a few instances of them, they owe their visibility to Christian tradition and art. They are prominent in the works of the great medieval and later painters. As such they are beautiful creatures.
How can we say an angel is beautiful when we’ve never actually seen one? There’s an old English proverb: “Handsome is as handsome does.” You get that? Your actions are what make you good looking.
The winner at last November’s elections was Judaeo-Christian forbearance in the face of adversity. Any unbiased observer could tell that with pandemic conditions at the time, we had a looser election than any time in history. We had almost a month of days to vote, and in some cases more ballots cast than people. Texas and twenty states took cases to the Supreme Court. Perhaps thinking of a civil war, the Court denied them.
So the man who saved us was born just a little over 2,000 years ago, and his attitude prevailed. We are not now in the situation of Venezuela, or even Cuba. We are the nation founded on Judaeo-Christian principles by men like George Washington. It is advisable not to dispute that.
If we continue to be that “city” on a hill mentioned by the Bible, it will be because we remain true to that man who preached Judaeo-Christian principles two thousand years ago. Song and history celebrate him.