Kings made tombs more splendid than houses of the living, and counted old names in the rolls of their descent dearer than the names of sons. Childless lords sat in aged halls musing on heraldry; in secret chambers withered men compounded strong elixirs, or in high cold towers asked questions of the stars. And the last king of the line of Anárion had no heir.
– J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings
From the inability to let well alone, from too much zeal for the new and contempt for what is old, from putting knowledge before wisdom, science before art and cleverness before common sense, from treating patients as cases and from making the cure of the disease more grievous than the endurance of the same, good Lord deliver us.
– Sir Robert Hutchison
Weary, they wavered at times, worshiping idols, Summoning sacrifices, saying old words aloud, Praying the demon who damns would deliver them. Old customs were curious but comfort was missing . . .
We were so worn out by decades of lying nonsense that we yearned for any scrap of truth no matter how tattered.
– Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago
Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.
Who will make clear to mankind what is really heavy and intolerable and what only grazes the skin locally? Who will direct the anger to that which is most terrible and not to that which is nearer?
Just as, all too often,
some huge crowd is seized by a vast uprising,
the rabble runs amok, all slaves to passion,
rocks, firebrands flying. Rage finds them arms
but then, if they chance to see a man among them,
one whose devotion and public service lend him weight,
they stand there, stock-still with their ears alert as
he rules their furor with his words and calms their passion.
So the crash of the breakers all fell silent once their Faither,
gazing over his realm under clear skies, flicks his horses,
giving them free rein, and his eager chariot flies.
Virgil, The Aeneid
From that day on I have known of Troy’s disaster, known your name, and all the kings of Greece. Teucer, your enemy, often sang Troy’s praises, claiming his own descent from Teucer’s ancient stock. So come, young soldiers, welcome to our house. My destiny, harrying me with trials hard as yours, led me as well, at last, to anchor in this land. Schooled in suffering, now I learn to comfort those who suffer too.
Virgil, The Aeneid
The commander’s words relieve their stricken hearts:
“My comrades, hardly strangers to pain before now,
we all have weathered worse. Some god will grant us
an end to this as well. You’ve threaded the rocks
resounding with Scylla’s howling rabid dogs,
and taken the brunt of the Cyclops’ boulders, too.
Call up your courage again. Dismiss your grief and fear.
A joy it will be one day, perhaps, to remember even this.
Through many hard straits, so many twists and turns
our course holds firm for Latium. There Fate holds out
a homeland, calm, at peace. There the gods decree
the kingdom of Troy will rise again.
“Bear up. Save your strength for better times to comes.”
Brave words. Sick with mounting cares he assumes a look of hope and keeps his anguish buried in his heart.
– Virgil, The Aeneid, Book 2
“The transmission of human life is a most serious role in which married people collaborate freely and responsibly with God the Creator. It has always been a source of great joy to them, even though it sometimes entails many difficulties and hardships.
“The fulfillment of this duty has always posed problems to the conscience of married people, but the recent course of human society and the concomitant changes have provoked new questions. The Church cannot ignore these questions, for they concern matters intimately connected with the life and happiness of human beings.
“But the most remarkable development of all is to be seen in man’s stupendous progress in the domination and rational organization of the forces of nature to the point that he is endeavoring to extend this control over every aspect of his own life—over his body, over his mind and emotions, over his social life, and even over the laws that regulate the transmission of life.“
Humanae Vitae, 1968 (emphasis added)
“The autonomous will really has no choice but to attack the body as well as the mind. For the body is the most obvious locus of the given, the most stubborn impediment to the power claimed by the will. “
-Douglas Farrow, Theological Negotiations, 2018