“But a natural desire cannot be in vain.”
Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae
VIDEO FOLLOWED BY DISTINCT WRITTEN REFLECTION
For those of us with some length of life experience, Christmas comes to be associated with suffering—whether our own or that of others we know. Christmas depression is proverbial, and it is real.
At this time of year we want to be together with the people we love. And the simple truth of the matter is that often enough there is something that comes between us and them, Causes of separation are many—everything from moral and religious differences or other disagreements, to physical distance or death.
Surely Christmas brings these realities home to us most strongly especially because at Christmas our deepest desires are most present to us. Indeed just two days ago I heard a young adult commenting: “This year I’m trying to recapture the Christmas of my youth.”
In this aspect of Christmas we come face to face with the deepest issues of human existence—or in any case we can, if we are courageous enough to consider them.
Perhaps we tend to avert our eyes, and keep plowing forward in the hurly burly of our observances, in fear of what we might find if we take too hard a look.
Thomas Aquinas, following the thought of Aristotle, makes a remarkable assertion. The natural desire of the human heart cannot be in vain. There is much in this assertion.
This much at least is implicit. The very reality of the profound and universal experience of human longing for a deeper connection with one another, intertwined with the longing for a deeper connection with the divine, is a clear indication that such a longing can be fulfilled.
What to many people might seem naïve and unrealistic is actually rooted in a profound experience of human life, and of the natural world around us. It calls for more reflection.
This time of year many if not all of us will have occasion to wonder about the solidity of human existence, and whether Thomas Aquinas’s confidence is well-founded or not. I for one am convinced that Christmas depression, or even just longing in whatever form it takes, is a unique opportunity to learn an astounding lesson about the meaning of it all.
Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) is considered one of the greatest of medieval theologians. He called Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) ‘the Philosopher’ and wrote commentaries on all his major works.
“Let me live here ever; So rare a wonder’d father and a wise Makes this place Paradise.” Shakespeare, The Tempest *Video below: 4 Tips for Men at Home* Our current situation is unprecedented in the last century, perhaps more, in several ways. It is an utterly unique...
“Courage: in all circumstances the ability to judge rightly about the nature and extent of dangers.” “For instance, when Homer makes Odysseus strike himself on the chest, and ‘call his heart to order,’ saying: ‘Prudence my heart, you have put up with fouler than...
“It was considered unpatriotic to hoard food.” It really struck me when my mother shared this memory from when she was a child during World War II. The war was an occasion for real soul-searching. Who am I, anyway? How is my life intertwined with that of others? How...
Husband, father, and professor of Philosophy. LifeCraft springs from one conviction: there is an ancient wisdom about how to live the good life in our homes, with our families; and it is worth our time to hearken to it. Let’s rediscover it together. Learn more.