“The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding.”
As daily news becomes increasingly anxiety-ridden, this quote from Leonardo da Vinci challenges us to ask, “Where do we start to create the noble joy in understanding?”
In his book “The Virtues,” theologian Father Romano Guardini directs us to the first principle of understanding, “First, there is a talent for this, a keenness of sight, a delicacy of feeling, an ability to put oneself in another’s place. … These are important qualities which establish community between individuals.”
In a parish I served, one day the pastor invited me to lunch with parishioners in their workplace.
Before this experience, whenever I celebrated Mass and preached, the parishioners were “out there” with me looking down at them from the pulpit. After the experience of being with them in their working environment, I drastically recrafted my homilies.
The result was a deeper sense of delicacy of feeling and keenness of sight of which Father Guardini speaks.
Many of our communities sometimes reflect artificiality. The saying “familiarity breeds contempt” is ever so true. It is easy to become matter-of-fact and routine, to take our family, co-workers and acquaintances for granted. Our keenness of sight and delicacy in relations with them lose their sharpness.
When playing the violin, music frequently calls for delicacy. There are days when that delicate touch is there and days when it is not there. Maintaining delicacy in speech and demeanor to understand each other requires asceticism.
Asceticism is often portrayed as leading a rigorous life devoid of fun. Its Greek meaning, however, is uplifting: the exercise in the proper directing of one’s life. It is antithetical to chaos, where disorder and misunderstanding reign. Asceticism, on the other hand, aims at producing harmony resulting from assiduous understanding.
We must wonder if the joy of understanding of which Leonardo da Vinci speaks is present today, as we live in an age of jumping to quick decisions and ignoring our contemplative abilities.
Many of us have been taught there is nothing free in life, meaning we are required to work in order to get. This is especially true of understanding and the work needed to practice it well.
In a time of crisis CatholicPhilly.com keeps the information flowing
During the current coronavirus crisis, you can help CatholicPhilly.com deliver the kind of news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live ― every day.
Budgets are tight at this time, and CatholicPhilly's is no different than those of most families. We make sure your donation in any amount will go a long way toward continuing 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.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103