Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Just a theory

When I was young (OK, late ‘60s), it perplexed me that my grandparents and their generation, and even many of my parent's generation, had plastic flowers in their homes and extolled the virtues of the imitation over the real. At one time my soon to be mother-in-law explained the great effort that had once to be made to care for the rose bush to produce a bloom that could only be enjoyed for a day or so, but now it could be enjoyed all year, and year in and year out, with only dusting as the necessary labor. Not raised around rose gardens or a television, at the time I found the plastic roses far less interesting than the color television they rested on.

Last night, listening to a group of my seniors discussing their less than fond memories of the traditional mass, I recognized that perhaps the two are connected and stem from the same source; exhaustion with the labor that beauty requires? Perhaps that is why the old appeals to the young, because they are not exhausted with beauty never known, but with the banal imitations.

Perhaps that is also why, although I find it difficult and daunting to learn, I’m captivated with the Dies Irae which I hope to learn by Saturday for the funeral mass of the mother of one of our Dominican Laity.


  1. You know, I had never considered the connection between plastic flowers and crappy liturgy before; but now that you bring it up, it makes a lot of sense. It's all of a piece, namely, the desire to avoid sacrifice.

  2. In defense of our elders of whom I wrote, they knew plenty of sacrifice. I know for some, there was something that broke as a result. Finding our sacrifice is our task.

  3. ...exhaustion with the labor that beauty requires?

    That is rather well said, Mark. The insight is compelling. I reflect on my laziness in not wrapping gifts. The paper needs to be found, cut, stickytaped, ribboned, etc.

    The labour that beauty requires is sidestepped everywhere, especially in prayer. 'Haymefulagrace ..'