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Commonplaces

Piquant excerpts lifted from Touchstone editors' own reading & listening.



Now, while the problem glared out at the world in those symptoms [of evil], and while the symptoms were and remain terrible, none of that alters the hard fact that if you throw all of your energies into a struggle to better the symptoms, to change nothing more basic or more causal than those symptoms, the general deterioration will continue. In fact, more and still more symptoms will arise to harass you and the people for whom you intended to be an apostle.

Moreover, while you continue to expend all your energies on material symptoms, even with the purest intentions in the world, you will probably cease to be an apostle at all; almost necessarily, you will become what you are doing. If the material symptom that inflamed you with a desire to help is social degradation, you will become a sociologist. If poor housing becomes your mission field, you will become a building contractor or a lawyer. Political oppression will make a guerrilla or a politician of you. But none of it will make you an apostle; or a Jesuit; or a Catholic; or a Christian.

Malachi Martin
"On Fire to Build Man's World" in The Jesuits (1987)


Society Commonplaces #1 July/August 2020

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