Broken Blade and Meditations on Human Misery

As many of you know, I’m incredibly fond of a manga called Broken Blade or Break Blade.  I just finished watching the superbly animated series of OVAs based on the first part of that manga.  They follow a protagonist named Rygart, who’s considered useless for his rare inability to use magic.  Somehow, this very deficiency allows him to pilot an ancient mech discovered around this time.  This fortunate event comes of the heels of war being declared against the kingdom ruled by Rygart’s best friends from college: King Hodr and Queen Sigyn.

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The mech transforms this useless and disappointing guy into a hero.  However, even all the talent he has for piloting this mech avails naught against General Borcuse.  *Spoilers ahead!  You have fair warning!*  In the final battle of the series with everything on the line, Rygart fanatically attacks Borcuse’s larger and more powerful mech with his now ragged looking mech.  All his weapons break and Borcuse toys with him.  At last, Rygart is given a curious looking weapon–which doesn’t work!  At least at first, but through swinging it around enough times, he gains the victory.  YOU MUST WATCH THIS FIGHT!!!!  ITS AWESOMENESS DEFIES EXPLANATION!!!!

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*Ahem*  Now, that I’ve gotten that out of my system, I can begin tying the above to human misery.  Rygart’s situation in the OVAs parallels a believer’s in many ways.  We are hounded by our sense of misery, incapacity, and guilt: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, that ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy” (John 16:20).  Though we make great strides in faith and virtue, at last we find a difficult opponent who mocks us by our failure to conquer him.  We overcame large faults, but grow melancholy under nickel and dime temptations; or, we gain little virtues, but have a great fault that downs us often.  Our prayer and penance, by which we conquered our other foes, don’t eradicate this new enemy.  We get tired and frustrated.  Our hope wears thin.  Each prayer and penance seems a joke: our lower soul wishes to burst out laughing perhaps in the middle of prayer for humility, chastity, patience, peace, piety, hope, industry, or magnanimity as our higher soul mourns our infidelity.  Our efforts fall into Einstein’s definition of insanity.  Essential acts strike us as absurd.  Yet, their very absurdity is no argument for their discontinuation!

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Human misery, even if we focused on a single person, gapes as an unfathomably terrifying abyss.  We have no reason to “believe in ourselves” as the popular mantra goes, and many reasons to distrust ourselves.  These powerful foes or nickel and dime temptations I mentioned earlier cannot be escaped by dint of effort–especially the smaller temptations which attack us like annoying flies.  We need to patiently endure every hour of the day and carry these temptations even to our beds, knowing that victory is not in our hands, but in God’s.

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Yet, let not the struggle depress anyone: what more perfect edifice has God’s Infinite Mercy to build upon than unfathomable human misery?  Indeed, God’s Mercy shows its very infinitude by filling up human misery with its grace, forgiveness, and strength.  Like Rygart, we must swing the weapons of prayer and penance unceasingly.  We feel like asses in our inability to perceive the benefit of these actions, but we must also imitate the donkey in our stubbornness.  In patience, we shall possess our souls!

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I have borrowed from St. Francis de Sales for the above paragraphs, and would heartily recommend his Introduction to the Devout Life or Jean Pierre Camus’s The Spirit of St. Francis for anyone interested in learning more of his wisdom.