Listening to shouting protesters at the Supreme Court and U.S. Capitol during the hearings for Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh got me wondering what Father Romano Guardini would say about the unsettling events we are experiencing.
In 1951, he wrote the book “Power and Responsibility,” in which he envisioned such experiences. To maintain balance in the midst of mindlessness, he called for the age of the “ascetic man.”
He starts by pointing us to ourselves and first recognizing the wrongs within ourselves and setting about righting them.
He then goes on to spell out the role of the ascetic man.
“He must regulate his physical as well as his intellectual appetites and educate himself to hold his possessions in freedom, sacrificing the lesser for the greater. He must fight for inner health and freedom — against the machinations of advertising, the flood of loud sensationalism, against noise in all its forms.
“He must acquire a certain distance from things; must train himself to think independently, to resist what ‘they’ say. Street, traffic, newspaper, radio, screen and television all present problems of self-discipline, indeed of the most elementary self-defense — problems we hardly suspect, to say nothing of tackling.
“Everywhere, man is capitulating to the forces of barbarism. Asceticism is the refusal to capitulate.”
Finally, Father Guardini states the end result of asceticism is to hold “life high in honor so that it may be fruitful on the level of its deepest significance.”
At the moment, we are experiencing an age of craziness and the unthinkable. No doubt some would object to Father Guardini calling our age barbarous, arguing this is democracy at its best with people airing their sentiments on what is right for our country.
But are those who protest ultimately guided by an inner health and freedom founded on asceticism? Do they reflect the discipline, time and sweat it takes to study and think through their convictions at the deepest level possible?
Asceticism requires the discipline of contemplation and fighting against noisy, useless distractions to judge prudently. If this asceticism were employed, I believe we would experience a “higher life of honor” and fruitfulness.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103