The Duty of Delight

Christians often get a bad press, and no wonder. Our ambition is vast, eternal life and participation in the redemption of mankind no less, yet our achievement is not exactly commensurate. Everyone knows Nietzsche’s remark, ‘I might believe in the Redeemer if his followers looked more redeemed.’ Few of us would dispute that many Christians have a tendency to look glum and some seem to take special delight in castigating the shortcomings and sins of others. If you don’t believe me, take a look at social media. Even I have been taken aback by some of the things written by people I like to think of as my friends. But why should the nasties have the last word, especially on a great feast such as today’s, when we celebrate St Gregory the Great, apostle of the English? To Nietzsche I would oppose Dorothy Day and her championing of what she called ‘the duty of delight’. It is a phrase I think Gregory might have liked, for he was a master of the pithy expression, and although he was undoubtedly unenthusiastic about some things, Greeks and sailing ships, for example, he had a largeness of heart and mind I personally find very attractive.

From 1 September until 4 October the Christian Churches are marking the Season of Creation during which we give thanks for the world in which we live and seek to increase our love and reverence for everything in it. One of the best ways of doing that is also the simplest: to take delight in it. No matter how busy you are today — and Gregory often complained that he was so busy his soul was in danger of shipwreck, so you are in good company — no matter how ill or tired or just plain crotchety, take a moment to look at the sky, listen to the sounds outside your window or touch some living thing, even that half-dead houseplant you regularly forget to water, and give thanks. Just as grace grows in the spirit of gratitude, so does delight. I guarantee that will put a smile on the glummest of faces. It would be nice to prove Nietzsche wrong, wouldn’t it?

Note: if you are interested in previous posts more specifically about Gregory, please do a search in the sidebar. Here is one which may be of interest as it carries on from yesterday’s consideration of the prologue and deals with today’s section:


6 thoughts on “The Duty of Delight”

  1. The view from your cell that you posted yesterday was a delight. I too am very lucky as I say my office, with Mitzi on my lap, I can see raindrops falling in the bird bath and birds feeding – Wood and Feral Pigeons, Goldfinches, Blue Tits, House Sparrows and our resident Robin.

    I pray for those who cannot walk into the country as I do, or have no garden to delight the mind and senses and no space for a pet or even a plant.

  2. I shall be walking from Perranporth to Penzance, on part of the South West Coastal Path, next week. I shall think about this post and revel in the sight of creation all around me. So long as the wind is not trying to blow me off into the sea! Will be with two wonderful friends who are confirmed atheists /humanists.

  3. Our dear Lord created a beautiful world for us and all its other inhabitants. This timely reminder is most apposite. Living on the coast, l get to see a myriad of seabirds, waves, cloudscapes, sun rises and sunsets. Inland, there are beautiful trees, flowers and wild animals. I am thankful to the Lord that l can still see these marvels, being blind in one eye and part sighted in the other. I never take anything for granted. I also try to be joyful of life and am grateful for each day.
    God bless and care for you, dear Sister Catherine. Peace and love be with you now and always.

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