The Lord knows I try my best to stay positive. It is a difficult thing to do these days and the best antidote I’ve found is the reading of good books and much prayer. It’s all too easy to fall into despair as Denethor, as pointed out in this wonderful piece by T.M. Doran. As a commenter beneath the article wrote: I often find myself falling dreadfully near to Denethor’s despair (until now never having made that comparison!!). But how could it be otherwise, as I’m getting most of my information from our own day’s Palantír — an information source under the complete control of the enemy.
A brilliant analysis of our modern use of media. Any media. There are days when I swear it can’t get any worse on Twitter and then I’m proven wrong the next day.
So I’ve thrown a cover over the seeing stone and limit my peeks as best I can.
An immediate benefit I attribute to my reading is coming across nuggets, phrases or whole paragraphs that bring you to pause, reread it again slowly, and either highlight the words or write them down in a journal. (Or at times in my case, talk-to-text them into your iPhone’s Notes program or snap a picture of the page and email it to myself for later use.)
The old Baltimore Catechism stated that “To gain the happiness of heaven we must know, love, and serve God in this world.”
It is with that thought in mind that made me write the following passage down and place it in my Sunday Missal so that I might add it to my prayers before Mass, because I succinctly and directly mean every single word:
O Holy Mother, stand by me now at Mass time, when Christ comes to me, as thou didst minister to Thy infant Lord–as Thou didst hang upon His words when He grew up, as Thou wast found under His cross. Stand by me, Holy Mother, that I may gain somewhat of thy purity, thy innocence, thy faith, and He may be the one object of my love and my adoration, as He was of thine.
–Meditations And Devotions, by Cardinal John Henry Newman. Part III: Meditations On The Christian Doctrine (Hope In God – Redeemer, paragraph 13).
There is no palantír with its fleeting images to peek into when at Mass. There is only the eternal fabric of time during which I pray for a small portion of the purity, innocence and faith held by Mary, so that I may love and adore (serve) Christ.
And while Thomas à Kempis wrote in The Imitation of Christ that “At the Day of Judgement, we shall not be asked what we have read, but what we have done; not how eloquently we have spoken, but how holily we have lived” I must echo that I do not believe I will read my way into heaven. But by reading good books I’ve found that I am able to bring order to my knowledge (wisdom) and when combined with prayer I find the strength to “do” and to “live” in a manner I pray is worthy of the Kingdom.