In the Middle Ages men had much more freedom than today. Work was considered a vocation and not just a money making "career." While men worked they had time for reflection and even prayer since the pace was more in harmony with the internal pace of men's souls.
The industrial revolution has been rightly criticized for the harm that was done to the souls and minds of men. Factories that concentrated only on rapid and efficient production turned the men and women in their employment into machines as well. Of course not all owners treated their employees as such, however it is difficult to compete if efficiency is not high enough.
Now today, we have the digital age where everything is a whirlwind of overwhelming amounts of information that bombard us each and every day. Information that used to be able to wait, now, must be relayed immediately, through email, cell phones, text messaging etc. Sadly, these tools have become necessary, this is after all, a blog. It is good however, to reflect on how life once was and perhaps how life should be again some day.
Let us look at the quill pen. The quill pen necessitates reflection. One dips the pen into the ink well and then writes. Since each written phrase necessitates another dipping of the pen, one is careful to write what one really intends to write. Plus, while one is in the act of dipping the pen, there is added time for reflection. Men of today probably would not have the patience to write in such a manner. If one examines the great theological works and the great literature of the past, one should remember that these works were written with a quill pen. In fact, the Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas is often portrayed with a quill pen in his hand.
The great civil war historian, Shelby Foote who died a few years ago, used a quill pen to write not only his correspondence, but also his books. He admitted once, that it helped him to reflect more as he composed in his mind each phrase.
Now let's look at the text message. The text message is a rapid fire device that violates not only reflection but also spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Good use of these increasingly lost arts has led to illiteracy and the increasing ignorance of mankind. Yes, men of the digital age can figure out every electronic gadget in existence, but some will not even know what a quill pen is, or how to read well. People who live at such a fast pace find books and listening to things such as classical music incredibly boring. Prayer and Mass also are not capable of holding the attention of those immersed deeply enough into the digital world.
While most of us are forced to make use of the tools available today, let us not forget how calm life once was, and if we can, let us even take the time to reflect on what it might have been like to share our thoughts and reflections with a quill pen.
By Francis Slobodnik
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