Thought for the Day – 4 September – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
“There are two kinds of optimism.
The first is the optimism of worldlings who expect nothing but pleasure from life.
They run away from anything which smacks of sacrifice or self-control and, as a result, virtue is completely outside their grasp.
Their motto is the “carpe diem” of the poet Horace (Carmina 1:11).
Living for the day in this fashion, they seem to uphold the philosophy which the Book of Wisdom puts on the lips of the foolish: “Come, let us enjoy the good things that are real and use the freshness of creation avidly. Let us have our fill of costly wine and perfumes and let no springtime blossom pass us by. Let us crown ourselves with rosebuds ere they wither; let no meadow be free from our wantonness” (Wisdom 2:6-8).
This kind of optimism is an inversion of true human values.
It is the result of the domination which man’s lower instincts can sometimes acquire over his reason.
But because our natural longing for what is good can never be completely stifled, this pleasant epicurean approach, always leaves in its wake, a sense of disillusionment.
Sooner or later, this optimism is converted into pessimism.
Human pleasure must always turn tp sorrow and at this stage, unless some miracle of divine grace intervenes, the spirit rebels and falls prey to despair.
It is true, that most of us will have avoided the worst excesses of the epicurean outlook but, we may have developed a distortedly comfortable and selfish approach to life.
If this is so, we should remember that our lives are in conflict with Christian principles.
“Unless the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies,” Jesus said, “it remains alone. But, if it dies, it brings forth much fruit.” (Cf Jn 12:44).
“Unless you repent, you will all perish” (Lk13:5).
“The kingdom of heaven has been enduring violent assault and the violent have been seizing it by force” (Mt 11:12).
“If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Lk 9:23),
Let us consider whether our lives are in accordance with this teaching.
Christian optimism abhors the malice of sin, lightens our sufferings and moderates our pleasures.
It helps us to see God’s image in all creatures, gives us joy in this life and hope in the hour of death.
In this sense, let us be optimists!”