Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Irony of Fate

Easter Sunday, 2007

Easter is the Feast when we celebrate Our Lord's triumph over this world. We must never despair. We must not let the ill turns of apparent fortune turn our hearts sour: God writes in crooked lines. Think how odd it is that the Supreme Court's arrogance in Roe V. Wade has done more to get true believing Protestants and Catholics to work together than all the ecumenical commissions of scholars and prelates put together!

Does God work good through evil? It is too horrible a question to approach, much less answer. Its ugliness drives me to retreat into a fetal position of childish faith. Yet its true answer seems so much more subtle than I can express. In the Lord of the Rings, Evil always seems sure to win. When the heads of your friends are catapulted over the walls of Minas Tirith, can there be any hope left? But your duty is to soldier on. True faith is pietas: doing your fate when you know in your heart you must lose!

Think of Tolkien. You know Sauron can not lose. At least by any calculations of this world. Yet, weakness triumphs! There seems in the books a fate driving events ill, but yet it is undermined by a subtler doom. It is as if there is an apparent fate that shouts through the corridors of time, while Providence whispers. What causes the ring to fall just when it does so that Bilbo finds it? Why does Frodo become the Ringbearer? Tolkien portrays better than my prose can articulate the true nature of Providence. Still more important for our souls, he shows us that any victory on this earth (this middle yard or Middle Earth) is but temporary. There is ultimate victory, but it is not here. It is like Christ's that we celebrate this Easter Day: it comes after death to this world. Then we triumph. That is the true, if not comforting, meaning of the Christian virtue of hope.

The word "virtue" (Latin: "virtus") originally meant a manly quality. The Christian virtue of hope has a larger component of courage than we care to admit.

Happy Easter and soldier on!

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