Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Beware of the Good Stuff!

Here's a life story that would make an excellent movie: St. Ignatius of Loyola. (I would vote for Jim Caviezel to act the part). Born in 1491 in northern Spain, he was the baby of 13 children. At the age of 16, he worked as a page for Juan Velazquez, treasurer of the kingdom of Castile. As a member of the household, Ignatius was often at court and fell into a deep attachment towards all it offered. He was a gambler, a womanizer, and loved a good deal of swordplay when the occasion fell on him. He would actually walk around dressed in fighting array, wearing a breastplate, sword, etc! During a battle against the French, Ignatius was struck in the legs by a cannon ball. It wounded one leg and broke the other. As he was recuperating over those long months, he asked for some books to brush away his boredom. Romance novels, knight's tales was what he really wanted. But in the castle of Loyola, all he got was a copy of the life of Christ and a book on the saints. With nothing else to do, he began to read them. And that was his undoing. Once Ignatius tasted the eternal joys of heaven, he felt his heart being redirected to true glory and the deepest peace; the things his heart was really made for. He was "ruined for life" - the passing life of fame and pleasure the court offered anyway. In the immortal words of Milli Vanilli, "When you had a taste of paradise, back on earth can feel as cold as ice." (yes, that was Milli Vanilli) The lesson, then, my friends, for all of us: Beware of the Good Stuff. Watch what you read! Look out for those unsettlingly good books that can fall into your lap and lead you away from the surface, the frivolous, the passing pleasures that distract us. If you want to keep yourself comfortably shallow, stay away from the good stuff! And just so you know which are the worst ones, the real speed bumps that can slow down our life in the fast lane where it's fun fun fun, here are some of the more dangerously excellent worst best books ever that can ruin your life of comfort and security: 1. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis (oooh so deadly!) 2. Space Trilogy, by C. S. Lewis (caution, this "fictional" adventure will alter your view of the universe forever, and who wants that to happen?) 3. Anything by Peter Kreeft (he makes way too much sense!) 4. The Lord of the Rings (subtle and poisonous, you'll never see life the same way! Aaagh! I can't stop reading it myself) 5. On Being Human, Essays by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen (this one is chiefly responsible for my own downfall into interior peace and joy) 6. Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton (don't even crack the binding on his stuff, or you're done) 7. The Poetry of Gerard M. Hopkins 8. The Poetry of Jessica Powers So be warned! Remember what happened to Ignatius! And to that frivolous young man from the fourth century, Augustine, when he stopped for just a moment's breath to heed a voice that whispered "Take and Read, Take and Read." Look what happened to him! We can't be too careful. Thankfully, there's always... television.
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