Mgr. Knox: 'Land of pasteurised milk and synthetic honey'
THE passage " in which the frantic struggles of mankind are contrasted with the tmhurrying beneficence of Almighty God " has appeared in the Gospel for the day on each of the two occasions when Mgr. Ronald Knox has addressed Catholic scientists during British Association
Mgr. Knox told us this on Sunday when he preached to Catholic delegates atending the Pontifical High Mass celebrated in Clifton Pro-Cathedral by Bishop Rudderham.
".lust when we arc met to applaud the triumphs of human research," he said, " we are reminded that the wisest man of antiquity could not learn how to match the lilies of the field.
.,Just when we are contemplating the dangers threatening the future of humanity and even of the world, that calm voice comes to us from the mountain of the beatitudes : Do not fret over tomorrow . . . for to-day's troubles are enough.'" We have to thank God, said Mgr. Knox, for the " conspiracy of human skill and enterprise" in scientific discovery as a result of which " life lasts longer and is more comfortable, working hours are shorter, disease and pain are
more tolerable. . "
But. he went on, " this cushioned existence of ours in the modern world—does it make it easier or harder for us to live by the spirit of the Sermon on the Mount ?
Superficially it would seem easier. "Surely the modern man . is in a better position than his forefathers to take the world's problems in his stride and devote himself wholly to life's real business: the finding of the Kingdom of God." But experience shows otherwise. In primitive surroundings, living close to nature, man is reminded at every turn of his dependence on God. In a more elaborate civilisation he still admits that dependence, but the thought of it is no longer vivid to him. " When the harvest fails, we fall to our knees. When the electric light fails, we ring up the power station." Because, said Mgr. Knox, " our promised land flows with pasteurised milk and synthetic honey, we forget where the raw materials came from, and so we are in danger of forgetting Who it was that gave them, and what He asks of us."
The men of science are not to blame for this. " They only set out very humbly to read the book of Clod's creation—read between the lines of it, and piece together if they could something of its marvellous pattern."
Solomon was given wisdom and so much else he did not need to ask for. These " patient brethren of ours," the modern scientists. sought knowledge; and with knowledge, wealth has come to mankind, but not peace. Our Lord says : " Make it your first care to find the k ingdom of God, and His approval, and all these things shall be yours without the asking." The science of the saints, said Mgr. Knox, has made so little headway. " To find God—no telescope will help you there; you must ,find God in yourself. To find yourself—no microscope will help you there; humility is the solvent you need." Only by realising our own insufficiency do we realise what God is to us and everything . . . " the persistent sap of things, lending them their existence.
"All that physical science could not tell us, because that does not lie within its terms of reference, all that we really mean, and the world really means, why we are here in the world and the world is here in us—we learn only in proportion as we make a surrender of ourselves to God.
" If we can get that right," Mgr. Knox concluded, " then the Kingdom of God will be ours-and all things, even the innermost secret of the uttermost star, will be ours without asking."