Fr Michael Gollop runs the blog Let Nothing You Dismay. This poignant title is quoted from the popular Christmas carol God rest ye merry gentlemen. He heads the blog with this message:
This, then is our desert: to live facing despair, but not to consent. To trample it down under hope in the Cross. To wage war against despair unceasingly. That war is our wilderness. If we wage it courageously, we will find Christ at our side. If we cannot face it, we will never find him.
I ask your prayers as I go through inner conflicts and difficulties. It isn’t a question of having fun in a boat and then going back to the humdrum of work and “normal” life! It often happens to me at this time of year – probably a dose of acedia, like a boat on a mirror-like sea and no wind.
The message makes so much sense. Life is so empty when it is a matter of material concerns and the cynicism of our contemporaries. Indeed, we have to combat our discouragement and face the constant conflicts. I have feelings of forebodings about so many things going on in the world, or not going on… I just don’t see things as I saw them thirty years ago.
Enough of self-pity! I only write this reflection for the benefit of anyone else going through the “doldrums” when the sails just flap helplessly from their yards and the ship goes nowhere. We just seem to have to hang on and wait for better days.
Two Jehovah’s Witness women came to the door this morning. Our little increasingly senile dog Seraphine ventured out of the gate to sniff at their feet. I picked her up and directed her back towards the house. They began the show me their publications and came out with the standard line about the Bible. The penny dropped, and I asked them the direct question – Are you Jehovah’s Witnesses? “Yes”, they answered. I simply said “Thank you” and closed my gate. I wasn’t in the mood for arguing with them. They were such pleasant ladies, and I felt shocked about expressing such a rude rejection, but the deed was done. Discussing things with those programmed people is like dealing with some people you come across in the forums and blog comment boxes. You are swimming against the current against ideologies and things people have just learned to repeat without understanding them. If I resist being “converted” by them, what should I “convert” them to? I have become so accustomed to the priestly life in the desert in a world that wants to know nothing of Christianity for its own sake.
The two ladies went their way, apparently used to repeated rejections or worse. Cold calling has become ever more frequent, most for commercial purposes, and it makes us hard of heart. The JWs have been doing it for a long time, like the men who used to peddle clockwork toys or vacuum cleaners. They were probably nice and decent people, but recruited in the cause of such a strange and screwed-up revelation and creed.
Modern life makes us hard-hearted and sceptical, isolated and cynical, as materialistic as our contemporaries. I would never dream of “evangelising” by cold calling. It cheapens what we believe in and invades privacy like the company that wants to do a thermal analysis on our home or sell us insurance. Again, this is one of my recurring subjects!