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There Has Been No Loss of Wonders, Only a Loss of Wonder ? A Brief Summons to Awe

By Msgr. Charles Pope

A big problem today is that of rampant boredom. One would think, with all the diversions available to us, we would be one of the least bored generations in history. There are various forms of entertainment available to us quite literally at our fingertips: television, radio, the Internet, Netflix, video games, and more.

Yet it still seems that we moderns are often bored. The reason for this, I think, is that we are overstimulated.

The loud and frantic pace of even our recreational activities leaves most of us incapable of appreciating the subtler, gentler, and more hidden things of life.

Dale Ahlquist, the great commentator on G.K. Chesterton, writes,

There is no excuse for being bored. … And yet the modern world is bored. … Our entertainment grows louder, flashier, and more bizarre in ever more desperate attempts just to keep our attention.

As G.K. Chesterton proclaims (in Tremendous Trifles, p.7): “The world will never starve for want of wonders; but only for want of wonder.” There are no dreary sites, he declares, only dreary sightseers (Common Sense 101, p. 27).

Boredom is a problem on the inside. And happiness, too, is an inside job. We should all seek the great gifts of wonder and awe. We should strive to appreciate God’s glories and wonders, which are on display at every moment: in everything we see and in everyone we encounter.

But the gift of wonder also depends on other gifts, in particular, humility and gratitude.

Ahlquist further writes,

The key to happiness and the key to wonder is humility. … Humility means being small enough to see the greatness of something and to feel unworthy of it, and privileged to be able to enjoy it (Common Sense 101, p. 33).

Consider well the meaning of this wonderful yet simple reflection, and the relationship between humility, wonder, and gratitude. Yes, to be humble is to feel unworthy of the glories that are ever before us, to wonder at them and to feel privileged just to be permitted to enjoy them.

Indeed, even the word “consider” invites us to a kind of awestruck and grateful mysticism. The word “consider” comes from the Latin words cum (with) and sidera (stars), so that its literal roots convey “with the stars.” In other words, to consider something is to think upon it, regard it, and gaze upon it with the wonder with which one would look at the night sky filled with stars!

So, “consider” well the glories that are on display for us every moment and behold them with humility, wonder, and gratitude.

This article has been reprinted here by permission of the author after original publication at the Archdiocese of Washington D.C. blog- Community in Mission

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