Wednesday, March 02, 2016

"The journey to Rome ... as impediments multiply, and the flesh weakens."

William F. Buckley, Jr., published a piece in the April 10, 1971 issue of the National Review, entitled "Path to Rome" (reprinted, National Review, February 27, 2016). It begins with Buckley and his wife catching a sleeping-car from Montreux, Switzerland, to Rome; and ends with a Papal audience with a crowd of some 50,000 pilgrims, and Buckley reflecting:
I do not know what he said, not knowing Italian, but I must suppose that he acknowledged the sacrifices that some of those, pressed into the square, had made in coming there; and I recalled that Hilaire Belloc walked all the way to Rome from Paris during my lifetime, and that not so many lifetimes ago, a journey to Rome consumed a major part of the lifetime of many pilgrims; and now, the journey, in modern times, takes longer and longer, as the impediments multiply, and the flesh weakens.
Guy Noir then comments:
The sublety is effective, but as is my way, let me ham-fistedly appropriate and clobber the allusion home:

"[Way back when,] a journey to Rome consumed a major part of the lifetime of many pilgrims; [but today], the journey, [though physically easier, might ironically seem harder,] as the impediments multiply, and the flesh weakens."
Indeed.


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