The Greatness Of Man Is That He Knows Himself To Be Miserable

by Faith & Life, Self-Knowledge, Value of Human Life

Paschal once reflected on the greatness and smallness of man, saying:

The greatness of man is great in that he knows himself to be miserable. A tree does not know itself to be miserable. It is then being miserable to know oneself to be miserable; but it is also being great to know that one is miserable.”

– Paschal

While such a vision might be considered pessimistic and overly negative with regards to the human being, it bears forth profound wisdom. For, in today’s world, most of us dream of greatness, yet we have no idea what to do with our smallness, with our wretchedness. So much so, that when we speak of fragility, weakness, sickness, or the like, we tend to speak about it in others. We might witness on the news an endless display of human wretchedness; however, I have never heard an anchor talk about his or her own.

Reflecting on our smallness, our dependent character, our weakness, and our sin, at first appears to be an overly gloomy exercise. Yet, many times we must penetrate into the darkness to discover the light. Allow Christ to guide you and others to accept your proper reality and you might be surprised by the result.

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