The Paradox of Humanity

Contradictions

. . . for it is certain that as man’s insight increases so he finds both wretchedness and greatness within himself. In a word man knows he is wretched. Thus he is wretched because he is so, but he is truly great because he knows it.

Know then, proud man, what a paradox you are to yourself. Be humble, impotent reason! Be silent, feeble nature! Learn that man infinitely transcends man, hear from your master your true condition, which is unknown to you. Listen to God. Is it not as clear as day that man’s condition is dual?

These fundamental facts, solidly established on the inviolable authority of religion, teach us that there are in faith two equally constant truths. One is that man in the state of his creation, or in the state of grace, is exalted above the whole of nature, made like unto God and sharing in his divinity. The other is that in the state of corruption and sin he has fallen from that first state and has become like the beasts. These two propositions are equally firm and certain.

– by Blaise Pascal (translator A. Krailsheimer) in  Pensees (Penguin Classics)

Burden of the Angel/Beast

From the lying mirror to the movement of stars

Everybody’s looking for who they are

Those who know don’t have the words to tell

And the ones with the words don’t know too well

    Chorus:

    Could be the famine

    Could be the feast

    Could be the pusher

    Could be the priest

    Always ourselves we love the least

    That’s the burden of the angel/beast

Birds of paradise — birds of prey

Here tomorrow, gone today

Cross my forehead, cross my palm

Don’t cross me or I’ll do you harm

We go crying, we come laughing

Never understand the time we’re passing

Kill for money, die for love

Whatever was God thinking of?

Could be the famine

    Could be the feast

    Could be the pusher

    Could be the priest

    Always ourselves we love the least

    That’s the burden of the angel/beast

Bruce Cockburn in Dart to the Heart

Eleventh Ignatian Rule for Discernment

Let one who is consoled seek to humble himself and lower himself as much as he can, thinking of how little he is capable in the time of desolation without such grace or consolation.  On the contrary, let one who is in desolation think that he can do much with God’s sufficient grace to resist all enemies, taking strength in his Creator and Lord.

– Timothy M. OMV Gallagher in  The Discernment of Spirits: An Ignatian Guide for Everyday Living

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