Friars’ Passions – 5 An enduring interest in History

Friars’ Passions – 5 An enduring interest in History

‘What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.’ So the book of Ecclesiastes reminds us with something of a weary tone. One of my interests over the years has been the study of history. I particularly like the biographies of people who over the centuries have had the courage to live out their principles and struggle towards their vision, sometimes against great odds. I believe that to understand our past with all it achievements and victories, setbacks and defeats, joys and horrors, we must seek to understand better the people who were involved in shaping those moments with all their motivations, dreams and ideas.

Although our world has changed beyond recognition in the last two decades, I think we can be sure that human nature has not changed. There is nothing new under the sun. Therefore a study of history and its characters will help us understand better our world as it is today and make us wiser is trying to avoid the mistakes of our past. It can give us a fascinating insight into human nature in all its complexity. It should also give each of us the knowledge that, with God’s help, and if only in a small way, one person can make a real difference for the better in the lives of others. In the words of the great Irishman Edmund Burke, ‘nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little’.

David Barrins OP

fr. David Barrins is a son of the Irish Province who studied for ordination at Blackfriars, Oxford.