The Importance of ThinkingFATHER GEORGE RUTLER
Our Lord expects each of us to use the mind He has given us.
I became mindful of this on a train when someone seated behind me spoke interminably on a cell phone about shopping for sweaters. It would be pedantic in such a circumstance to expect a conversation about polyphony, nuclear physics, or the Cambridge Platonists, but what was miserable, apart from the inconsequential subject being discussed, was the repetitiousness, profanity, and inarticulateness of the speaker – not to mention the unmodulated voice that sounded like Minnie Mouse on helium – and the total lack of regard for the other passengers. Some trains now have a "quiet car," as though silence were an oddity reserved for eccentrics. Perhaps trains will soon have a "thinking car" for those who want to perpetuate the dying custom of using one's mind.
It was "in the wilderness" – the Biblical equivalent of a "quiet car" – that John the Baptist appealed to those willing to think. Only by thinking can people avoid "dislocation and insecurity," and only by thinking about the deepest things can the "intellectual, cultural and moral foundations of social life" avoid breakdown.
Our Lord expects each of us to use the mind He has given us, and daily to be discontented with the little we know about our world. When a society breaks down, the best that dislocated and insecure people can hope for is that they might "feel good about themselves". It is a limited aspiration. St. Augustine said, "If you would obtain what you are not yet, you must always be displeased by what you are. For when you are pleased with yourself, there you have remained".
If I should have the chance to listen in on a saint talking on a cell phone, I expect that the conversation would be edifying and articulate. I do remember speaking over the telephone with Blessed Teresa of Calcutta about a newspaper that had misquoted her, and she was brief, to the point, and blunt. There was nothing dislocated or insecure in her simple eloquence, and – although she was surrounded by noise – her voice was both quiet and quieting. That is the essence of prayer, and we may be thankful that we do not need a telephone to talk to God. We only need to direct our thoughts to Him. That is what John the Baptist was saying in the wilderness. Some people thought he was crazy, but he would have said the same thing about that person on the train shouting four-letter words over a cell phone.
Father George William Rutler. "The Importance of Thinking." From the Pastor (December 11, 2011).
Reprinted with permission of Father George W. Rutler.
Since 1988 his weekly television program has been broadcast worldwide on EWTN. Father Rutler has published 17 books, including: Cloud of Witnesses - Dead People I Knew When They Were Alive, Coincidentally: Unserious Reflections on Trivial Connections, A Crisis of Saints: Essays on People and Principles, Brightest and Best, Saint John Vianney: The Cure D'Ars Today, Crisis in Culture, and Adam Danced: The Cross and the Seven Deadly Sins.
Copyright © 2011 Father George W. Rutler
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