Here is something from Charles Péguy to consider on Father’s Day:
There is only one adventurer in the world, as can be seen very clearly in the modern world, the father of a family. Even the most desperate adventurers are nothing compared with him. Everything in the modern world, even and perhaps most of all contempt, is organized against that fool, that imprudent, daring fool – against the unruly, audacious man who is daring enough to have a wife and family. Everything is against him. Savagely organized against him. Everything turns and combines against him. Men, events, the events of society, the automatic play of economic laws. And, in short, everything else.
Everything is against the father of a family, the pater familias; and consequently against the family. He alone is literally “engaged” in the world, in the age. He alone is an adventurer. The rest are at most engaged with their heads, which is nothing. He is engaged with all his limbs. The rest suffer for themselves. In the first degree. He alone suffers through others.
It would betray the revolutionary character of Charles Péguy to quote him in a spirit of nostalgia, for their author had no patience with the attempt to return to a past which the forlorn tend to romanticize. Be that as it may, the task of fashioning a way of life and a renewed experiment in ordered liberty that does justice to the mystery of the human vocation ought to begin with an assessment of what has been lost.
Freedom exists, not that one might choose according to his or her passing desires, but that one might move toward the true meaning and mystery of life and, in doing so, make that meaning and mystery uniquely manifest, living it out in a way that no one else in the whole history of the world could.
The modern world as a whole is a world that thinks only about its own old age. It is a monstrous old people’s home, an institution for pensioners. … Avarice in the form of anxiety about tomorrow is the lord of all the world.
God plays with man the children’s game of ‘loser takes all’.
— Hans Urs von Balthasar commenting on and quoting Charles Péguy
The preeminent school of self-sacrificial love is the natural family, consisting of children born of the nuptial fidelity of their biological parents. The school of self-governing virtue is a healthy and well-formed moral conscience. A society will conduce to the wellbeing of its inhabitants to the degree that these two schools are recognized as indispensable, respected, and supported. Today both these keys to human dignity and happiness are under assault from ideological forces domestic and foreign. If these assaults succeed – and they each have reason to be confident of success– our society will descend into an anarchy that will be but prelude to a totalitarian attempt to restore order and the dissolution of our civilization. This is the fate of any attempt to build a post-Christian political order. Pre-Christian societies often flourished despite the despair hidden at their core, but a society as exposed to the Christian revelation as ours has been cannot return to that state of cultural childhood. “Those who do not gather with me will scatter” said Jesus. “Without me you can do nothing.” These words are not spoken to strangers. They are spoken to those who had encountered Christ. Those who have not had such an encounter and those cultures that have not had such an encounter might muddle through and “gather” in ways that are both predictable and pitiable. They might be able to do more than nothing without Christ, for Christ and the revelation he came to bring will not have upended the social mechanisms for gathering themselves into a comity and doing the routine work of a civilization. But we and our descendants have forfeited our ability to return to the melancholy routine of a pre-Christian order. We are too Christ haunted. Even those who despise Christianity and those who shrug indifferently are Christ haunted in ways that make their aspiration for a post-Christian order a fool’s errand.
“Enthusiasm is a foul mockery of pure zeal. True goods are peacefully desired, sought without eagerness, possessed without elation, and postponed without regret.”