There Has Been No Loss of Wonders, Only a Loss of Wonder – A Brief Summons to Awe

A big problem today is that of widespread boredom. With all the diversions available to us, one would think we would be one of the least bored generations in history. There are various forms of entertainment available to us quite literally at our fingertips: television, streaming video, radio, the Internet, video games, and more.

Yet still it seems that we are often bored. The reason for this, I think, is that we are overstimulated.

The frantic pace of even our recreational activities leaves most of us incapable of appreciating the subtler, gentler, and more hidden things of life.

Dale Ahlquist, the great commentator on G.K. Chesterton, writes,

There is no excuse for being bored. … And yet the modern world is bored. … Our entertainment grows louder, flashier, and more bizarre in ever more desperate attempts just to keep our attention.

As G.K. Chesterton proclaims (Tremendous Trifles, p.7): “The world will never starve for want of wonders; but only for want of wonder.” There are no dreary sites, he declares, only dreary sightseers (Common Sense 101, p. 27).

Boredom is a problem on the inside; happiness, too, is an “inside job.” We should all seek the great gifts of wonder and awe. We should strive to appreciate God’s glories and wonders, which are on display at every moment: in everything we see and in everyone we encounter.

The gift of wonder also depends on other gifts: humility and gratitude.

Ahlquist continues,

The key to happiness and the key to wonder is humility. … Humility means being small enough to see the greatness of something and to feel unworthy of it, and privileged to be able to enjoy it (Common Sense 101, p. 33).

Consider well the meaning of this wonderful yet simple reflection and the relationship between humility, wonder, and gratitude. Yes, to be humble is to feel unworthy of the glories that are always before us, to wonder at them and to feel privileged just to be permitted to enjoy them.

Indeed, even the word “consider” invites us to a kind of awestruck and grateful mysticism. The word comes from the Latin cum (with) and sidera (stars), so that its literal roots convey “with the stars.” In other words, to consider something is to think upon it, regard it, and gaze upon it with the wonder with which one would look at the night sky filled with stars.

So, “consider” well the glories that are on display for us every moment and behold them with humility, wonder, and gratitude.

6 Replies to “There Has Been No Loss of Wonders, Only a Loss of Wonder – A Brief Summons to Awe”

  1. Why settle for the counterfeit, a facade, when you can know the real thing, you can know God and in endless wonder and awe. I read about a man who was deeply involved in a destructive culture of drugs, women and rock and roll. He fell deeper into anger and depression but encountered a man who told him God wanted to heal him. He cried out to God for help and God lifted the weight of the world away from him, he was given “eyes to see and ears to hear”. He said he went outside the next morning and the grass was greener and the sky bluer and the birds sang so beautifully. That is the wonder, the awe, the healing of our hearts and minds that God wants for us, that He always intends for us to have.

  2. Thank you Msgr. Pope! Let’s start a movement:
    Just say yes to AWE, Moses style: “Show Me Your GLORY, Lord God!”

  3. Too bad there is no awe and wonder in the Eucharist for Protestants.

  4. My recollection is that St. Thomas Aquinas says that wonder arises from the desire to know the cause upon observing the effect. Some noted philosophers, for example David Hume, have denied the validity of the idea of cause and effect. My reply to any of them is: “You, sir, then, live in a world without wonder.”

    In my opinion, the acceptance of the idea of substance, that a a tree is a tree, along with the validity of cause and effect, is enough to come to the existence God.

    I wonder if I will get my taxes done on time.

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