" I implore you, my child; observe heaven and earth, consider all that is in them, and acknowledge that God made them out of nothing (ex nihilo), and that mankind comes into being in the same way..." 2 Maccabees 7:28

Monday, May 12, 2008


Now I know from college philosophy classes that, while drawn to the stories of the early martyrs who gave up their lives for their faith, Nietzsche was repulsed by what he saw in Christianity as baptizing passivity and inaction. He was disgusted by the emphasis on such virtues as humility, forgiveness, etc... I think there is still this temptation in our modern culture to see things in that light, despite the evidence of our own experience to the contrary. Humility, forgiveness, just try it and we all see try how horribly difficult they are. Certainly not virtues for the cowardly.

On those lines, I am reading a book by Father Tadeusz Dajczer called "Inquiring Faith". I only read about a page a day, but I use it when I am trying to pray but can't concentrate (most of the time, lately). And everytime I open it, I find some idea or thought that feels like it was written just for me.

A few days ago I read about the parable of the talents. So the word "talent" in the bible actually referred to a monetary currency, and not a personal gift or strength as it means in English. I'm just going to quote the book for the next paragraph or so, because I was so touched by it.

God waits for us to look with the eyes of faith at all the experiences we live through, especially the difficult ones. A talent is a gift and material, but at the same time an opportunity. Christ, in giving you a talent, trusts you and waits for you to take proper advantage of it. If he has given you abilities, then he is not indifferent as to what you do with them. If, however, you did not receive these abilities,- this is also a talent. A talent is not only receiving something, but also lacking something.

In the light of faith, the good health you have is a talent, but bad health is also a talent. You can equally waste good health and even more so, the lack of health. It is a talent if you are unable to pray, yet you consider this a misfortune. It is important what you do with your inability to pray; maybe you bury this talent and say, "well, I will just not pray". But you can gain so much from it! This inability should intensify your hunger for God. The very search for the deeper understanding of personal experiences is to profit from the talent. Difficult graces are the most valuable talents of your life.

So there it is, take it or leave it, poor Mr. Nietzsche. But I believe it wholeheartedly! After reading this part of the book, I went through my life and looked at the big disappointments and hurts; looked at myself with all that I would wish to change or improve. All the opportunities he had given me to grow, some which I had used and some which I had squandered. And I suppose these are the types of lessons that we have to learn and re-learn for the rest of our lives. But I'm sure there will be many more opportunities to come...


Br. Robert, OP said...

I find that I often only learn my lessons in hindsight. At the moment, I think I'm just barely surviving, but a month or a year or a decade later, I look back and see that God has given me exactly the growth and gifts I needed -- and that I need now.

You're right, Nietzsche is wrong: nihilism is for those too weak to be humble.

hopeyg said...

You know what really amazes me about Nietzsche- his moustache. WOWZERS, that thing's huge!

Anonymous said...

Isn't this a wonderful book? I love it. I am tracking down copies in different languages for my variously-languaged friends.