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New but Not Improved

A number of years ago a parishioner asked me, "Why are some parts of the Mass always the same? Wouldn't it be nice to change things up once in a while?" I tried to explain to him the beauty of having something stay constant and consistent, and the dangers of always wanting the "new thing". It is a plague on our modern society that people seem to believe that the new and different things are always better than the old things that are the same as before. It is partly a result of industrialism in society, but it also stems from the seat of rebellion that everyone of us struggles with at times. The rebellion that says, "I must turn away from what is established and overturn it with something of my own invention".

We all know the comfort and security of stability. Most people can say "there is no place like home" and can laud a couple who has stayed married for 50 years. We know it, but do not always let it impact our daily decisions, nor do most people allow it to overcome their lust for newness. The great impact of stability and "oldness" is that those things can impact us more deeply over time, as opposed to the superficial impact of new things. This is why there is the phenomenon of a "one hit wonder". Newness wears off and we need a "new newness" to satisfy the inordinate desires that exist within us.

Back when I spoke with that parishioner, I wish I had been able to pull out a great quote from a Saint or a theologian who could point to this problem. In G.K. Chesterton, we do not have a Saint (yet), but we do have a brilliant theologian, and one who is able to speak long before our modern obsessions with the "new and improved" stuff. Read this powerful and profound statement:

Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.

― G.K. Chesterton


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