Saturday 28th January 2023

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

The Existentialist Dread Of Five-Year-Old Girls

October 25, 2017 Frontpage No Comments


My youngest daughter was horrified at a world-shattering thought: Cartoons aren’t real.
Now in order to really dive into this revelation that each of us must have had at some point, imagine oneself absorbing the idea of a myth — any myth — with the wonder and amazement of a child. One implicitly believes. After all, why would you question the facts as presented to you?
St. Thomas Aquinas summarizes this best with what should have been the instant refutation of the Cartesian cogito ergo sum — nothing is first conceived by the intellect which is not perceived by the senses.
Thus the good old-fashioned Peripatetic Axiom is the mantra of every child right up until the point that one realizes that sometimes, and in some things, myths are not realities. Such was the revelation for my daughter who has a habit of penning notes to her mother (mostly consisting of “O Please May I Have An Oreo?” and other nominees for a Nobel Laureate).
This one in particular was left in the open, and it reads “Now I know that nothing is real and now I think that I am not real.” Yes, she actually penned this.
So after making sure all of my Kierkegaard and Camus texts were still on the bookshelves and not hidden under a pillow somewhere, my daughter’s 15 minutes of existential dread subsided with a conversation with her mother. In essence, she had determined she was real because her mother was real, and that ended the argument.
It is interesting how myths are created in the world today. For instance, I subscribe to the myth that the Washington Redskins can win football games. That the Virginia Cavaliers might actually beat Virginia Tech this year in football. That Aesop’s Fables are instructive, even if they are not actualities. Fairy tales and fiction; Beowulf and Tolkien all fill that gap between fantasy and fishing stories.
Yet in instances of religion, we find that the “myth” of religion often fails as reality imposes new truths upon our presupposed facts. The idea of the suffering of small children, for instance, confounds the skeptics and atheists. The silence of God in the face of our constant and shallow attempts to fill the silence with words, junk, and experiences. We build our myths; reality wears them down.
Of course, we all deal with these struggles in different ways, just as my daughter did with a concept as simple as realizing a cartoon character was insufficiently real. As Catholics, we too may struggle with our faith, especially during times of distress — whether material or spiritual.
Surely, for the Catholic there is an instant parallel here between Jesus and Mary. When our faith struggles, the Blessed Mother is quite real. When our doubts become fears, the Blessed Mother appears as a calm reassurance. No doubt we can express was not conquered at the crucifixion, no uncertainty we possess was not responded to with the Magnificat, no regret we hold was not restored at the Resurrection.
Naturally, my daughter has probably forgotten her episode. Yet I still have the note in my desk drawer, perhaps one day suitable for framing — and perhaps not. These are the joys of learning from a home-schooled child.

+ + +

This week, a reader helpfully notes that the recommendation to give $10 a month to Catholic organizations doesn’t just stop in America, as there are places in Latin America, Africa, and India where $10 a month goes a long way. In some instances, we are talking about chickens and goats (yes, you can sponsor a goat for $50 and when it goes to slaughter for $120, the family who raises them not only buys two new goats, but gives an extra $20 to live on).
This is an interesting thing, as there is a gulf of difference between philanthropy and charity.
Philanthropists may give with all the proper inclinations of the mind, but at the end it is philos at play. Christ asks for agape — the same love in John 21 where Christ asks Peter “Do you love (agapas) me?” Peter responds, “Lord, you know that I love (philo) you.” We miss this distinction in English with our poor substitution for the word love.
Yet as we are reminded in 2 Cor. 7, the greatest of the virtues of faith, hope, and charity is indeed charity, not in the sense of philos but agape — not a philanthropy of the spirit, but a moral assent of the will that sees the Imago Dei in the Other.
In today’s world, we fear agape because we fear the loss of self it must bring. Philanthropy and philosophy, rules and rubric, logic and dialogue are far safer means of expressing love than taking that total leap into the arms of Christ — and if that is too far a jump, then into the arms of the Blessed Mother, whose advice will be the advice of any mother proud of her Son — “Do whatever He tells you” (John 2:5).
Now that’s a long way from goats and $10 a month, yet one suspects that the Catholic Church in America (and American society) has some work to do in recovering the Greek distinctions of the meanings of love.
Another excellent letter from Mr. M from Arizona writes about the good old days of a common moral consensus in America. And that despite that, even with the best catechesis, the best parenting, and the best K-12 formation, four brief years in a college can change a young gentleman or young lady into something entirely conforming to the world.
There are notable exceptions, of course. And several great reasons to hope . . . but for times such as these, I always reflect on G.K. Chesterton’s line in his biography of St. Thomas Aquinas. When Chesterton ruminated about why the Roman Empire converted to Christianity so quickly, his answer was effectively that the Romans simply got bored with sex.
Perhaps, being saturated with worldly (mundi) desires as we are today, it will all become mundane? Hope springs eternal!

+ + +

Of course, I am succeeding (but not replacing) the inestimable Mr. James K. Fitzpatrick for the First Teachers column. Please feel free to send any correspondence for First Teachers to Shaun Kenney, c/o First Teachers, 5289 Venable Road, Kents Store, VA 23084 — or if it is easier, simply send me an e-mail with First Teachers in the subject line to:

Share Button

2019 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Twitter Feed

House Republicans approved 2 #ProLife measures.

The first measure would ban #Abortion on babies born alive and require the babies be given medical care and treatment. The other measure condemned a spurt of growing attacks against crisis pregnancy centers.

House Republicans Pass Pro-Life Bills

House Republicans on Jan. 11 approved two pro-life measures. The first measure passed by the House would ban abortion ...

"I'm afraid that the West will die. There are plenty of signs. You are invaded,still,by other cultures & peoples,who will progressively dominate you by their numbers and change your culture, your convictions, your morality."~ Cardinal Robert Sarah

Load More...

Vatican and USCCB leave transgender policy texts unpublished

While U.S. bishops have made headlines for releasing policies addressing gender identity and pastoral ministry, guidelines on the subject have been drafted but not published by both the U.S. bishops’ conference and the Vatican’s doctrinal office, leaving diocesan bishops to…Continue Reading

Biden says Pope Francis told him to continue receiving communion, amid scrutiny over pro-abortion policies

President Biden said that Pope Francis, during their meeting Friday in Vatican City, told him that he should continue to receive communion, amid heightened scrutiny of the Catholic president’s pro-abortion policies.  The president, following the approximately 90-minute-long meeting, a key…Continue Reading

Federal judge rules in favor of Gov. DeSantis’ mask mandate ban

MIAMI (LifeSiteNews) – A federal judge this week handed Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis another legal victory on his mask mandate ban for schools. On Wednesday, Judge K. Michael Moore of the Southern District of Florida denied a petition from…Continue Reading

The Eucharist should not be received unworthily, says Nigerian cardinal

Priests have a duty to remind Catholics not to receive the Eucharist in a state of serious sin and to make confession easily available, a Nigerian cardinal said at the International Eucharistic Congress on Thursday. “It is still the doctrine…Continue Reading

Donald Trump takes a swipe at Catholics and Jews who did not vote for him

Donald Trump complained about Catholics and Jews who did not vote for him in 2020. The former president made the comments in a conference call featuring religious leaders. The move could be seen to shore up his religious conservative base…Continue Reading

Y Gov. Kathy Hochul Admits Andrew Cuomo Covered Up COVID Deaths, 12,000 More Died Than Reported

When it comes to protecting people from COVID, Andrew Cuomo is already the worst governor in America. New York has the second highest death rate per capita, in part because he signed an executive order putting COVID patients in nursing…Continue Reading

Prayers For Cardinal Burke . . . U.S. Cardinal Burke says he has tested positive for COVID-19

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke said he has tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. In an Aug. 10 tweet, he wrote: “Praised be Jesus Christ! I wish to inform you that I have recently…Continue Reading

Democrats Block Amendment Banning Late-Term Abortions, Stopping Abortions Up to Birth

Senate Democrats have blocked an amendment that would ban abortions on babies older than 20 weeks. During consideration of the multi-trillion spending package, pro-life Louisiana Senator John Kennedy filed an amendment to ban late-term abortions, but Democrats steadfastly support killing…Continue Reading

Transgender student wins as U.S. Supreme Court rebuffs bathroom appeal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory to a transgender former public high school student who waged a six-year legal battle against a Virginia county school board that had barred him from using the bathroom corresponding…Continue Reading

New York priest accused by security guard of assault confirms charges have now been dropped

NEW YORK, June 17, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — A New York priest has made his first public statement regarding the dismissal of charges against him.  Today Father George W. Rutler reached out to LifeSiteNews and other media today with the following…Continue Reading

21,000 sign petition protesting US Catholic bishops vote on Biden, abortion

More than 21,000 people have signed a letter calling for U.S. Catholic bishops to cancel a planned vote on whether President Biden should receive communion.  Biden, a Catholic, supports abortion rights and has long come under attack from some Catholics over that…Continue Reading

Bishop Gorman seeks candidates to fill two full time AP level teaching positions for the 2021-2022 school year in the subject areas of Calculus/Statistics and Physics

Bishop Thomas K. Gorman Regional Catholic School is a college preparatory school located in Tyler, Texas. It is an educational ministry of the Catholic Diocese of Tyler led by Bishop Joseph Strickland. The sixth through twelfth grade school provides a…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.

  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1


Today . . .

Catholic journalist George Neumayr dies in Africa

COTE D’IVOIRE (LifeSiteNews) – George Neumayr, an author and journalist who fearlessly exposed corruption in the Catholic Church, died of malaria last night. He was 50. He had been in Africa since December 26, 2022, studying Christianity there and “what the Church in the West could learn from it, both good and bad,” according to his journalism fund updates and several articles he wrote from the former French colony.

Cardinal Müller slams Pope Francis’ ‘political’ laicization of Fr. Pavone

ROME (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Gerhard Müller strongly defended Fr. Frank Pavone and slammed Pope Francis’ laicization of the renowned pro-life priest in an exclusive interview with LifeSiteNews. Cardinal Müller, the former head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the top Vatica

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI dies at Age 95

Funeral Mass to be held January 5.

Cardinals block appointment of Heiner Wilmer as Prefect of the DDF

Cardinal Luis Ladaria Ferrer, the prefect for the Doctrine of the Faith who was still in office, had received his mandate in an unexpected way in the summer of 2017. Until then, the Spanish Jesuit had been secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, i.e. the right hand of the prefect. At the time, the prefect was still Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the former bishop of Regensburg, whom Pope Benedict XVI had appointed…Continue Reading

Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!

Neither Left Nor Right, But Catholic . . . Bold Steps Needed To Address Illegal Immigration

By STEPHEN M. KRASON One of the ways in which the rule of law has been utterly flouted by the Biden administration has been its unwillingness to seriously enforce U.S. immigration law. In fact, the current crisis at the southern border is largely due to Biden’s signaling, as soon as he took office, that people…Continue Reading

McCarrick’s Lawyers Say He’s Not Competent To Stand Trial

By JOE BUKURAS MDEDHAM, Mass. (CNA) — Former cardinal Theodore McCarrick is in “significant” mental decline and may not be fit to stand trial for allegedly sexually abusing a 16-year-old boy, his attorneys say in a new court filing. The legal team for the 92-year-old ex-prelate said it plans to file a motion to dismiss…Continue Reading

Pregnancy Is Not A Disease… No One Could Observe This In Contemporary America

By R.T. NEARY “Follow the science” has been the mandate since 2019 in this once-united nation that is still officially entitled The United States of America. “Experts” have been featured on TV screens voicing this as Gospel.Public dialogue has centered on the reality of a threat posed by a living organism present in our environment.…Continue Reading

Death Of Cardinal George Pell

By RAYMOND CARDINAL BURKE With the sudden death of Cardinal George Pell, the Church has lost the earthly company of a wise, loving, joyful, and courageous shepherd. I have lost the earthly company of a good friend and example in the Sacred College of Cardinals. Having visited at length with Cardinal Pell on the afternoon…Continue Reading

Joining The Communion Of Saints

By DONALD DeMARCO Clare Boothe Luce (1903-1987) was truly a Renaissance woman. She won a seat in Congress and held an ambassadorship. She was the managing editor of Vanity Fair. As an author, her writings extended from drama and screen scenarios to fiction, journalism, and war reportage. As a pro-life stalwart, she wrote for The…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Q. When Joseph and Mary came to the inn in Bethlehem, the innkeeper said that there was no room and told them to “go on.” That night an angel of the Lord came to Joseph in his dream and said, “It is you who shall go on and on.” Is this true? — J.B., Pennsylvania.A. Not according to the Gospel…Continue Reading

New Book By Ganswein On BXVI

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Part 2 Upon his death we shared the witness that Pope Benedict lived in the words he uttered. Archbishop Georg Ganswein’s book Nothing But the Truth recounting his life with the great Pope is now out in bookstores. Here I share some vignettes of that volume from an advance unofficial English translation.In October 1978 the…Continue Reading

Basics Of Christian Anthropology

By MSGR. CHARLES POPE Part 1 (Editor’s Note: Msgr. Charles Pope posted this article on January 13 and it is reprinted here with permission.) + + Anthropology is, most simply, the science or study of human beings through time and space. Different specialties focus on the analysis of biological/physiological characteristics and the examination of societies/cultures. In the religious sense, anthropology…Continue Reading

Grace And Humility

BY FR. ROBERT ALTIER Fourth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR A) Readings: Zeph. 2:3, 3:12-131 Cor. 1:26-31Matt. 5:1-12a In the first reading today, the Lord calls all the humble of the Earth to seek Him. Interestingly, He then calls them to seek justice and humility with the hope that they would be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger.…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: This series on the Bible is from the book Catholicism & Scripture. Please feel free to use the series for high schoolers or adults. We will continue to welcome your questions for the column as well. See the contact information at the end of this column. Special Course On Catholicism And Scripture (Chapter 11) Following the path of…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Peter Damian

By DEB PIROCH For those in search of a night free of insomnia, it’s said those with a clean conscience sleep blissfully. Yet, many of us know it is not quite that easy to vanquish insomnia and in truth, the longer one tries, the less one is inclined to fall sleep. At the least it can be exhausting, at the…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Dunstan

By DEB PIROCH Before St. Thomas Becket, the saint most likely to be invoked by an Englishman was St. Dunstan. He was successively appointed the abbot of Glastonbury, the bishop of Worcester, the bishop of London, archbishop of Canterbury and later, the bishop of Winchester. Additionally, he was related to at least one archbishop and three bishops; perhaps being a…Continue Reading