Tuesday, 30 October 2007

All the Words in the English Language

This tickled my funny bone. Might be just me though.

Monday, 22 October 2007

Revelation in Hiddenness

I was at Mass last night and, after having received the Lord in Communion and in contemplating what I had just received, my mind was taken with something like an insight.

All day and every day I go through life with a deep and constant thirst, to be known, to be loved, to be appreciated (To be known AND loved, note- there are few more terrifying prospects in the world than to be known - fully and genuinely known- and despised). I go up to receive Communion. And I come away with that thirst still unquenched, still unsatisfied. Why?

My intellect knows that here, in Christ, there is love greater than any I could receive from any created being. Here is He who knows me completely (for He made me) and loves me totally and without reservation. And the sign and proof of it, indeed the reality itself, is here in the Blessed Sacrament, in His Body and Blood which I receive into my own body. Here is the end of all my desires, the goal and fulfillment of all my earthly loves, all my noblest impulses. Whatever yearning or longing I have, lying buried deep within me, it finds its object here.

And there are points in life when one gets a glimpse of it. When suddenly the reality of it hits you with such force as to overpower you. But the rest of the time, nothing. One leaves Mass unsatisfied, still longing for the love and appreciation of one's family and peers. Why?

Because these latter are concrete. The love, knowledge and appreciation of people feels more real than that of God because they are concrete. I can see people. I can hear them. I can touch them. They can look me in the eye and I can look them in theirs. And though Christ is human, I cannot do that with Him in the same way. The Blessed Sacrament is concrete but feels much less relational than looking someone in the eye.

Then another thought took me. For this reality is by no means unprecedented. I thought back to the Old Covenant. An idol is concrete. I can look at an idol. I can kneel before it. It gives me something to focus on in my prayers. Indeed, an idol would feel much more real than a nameless invisible Presence in a tent or a temple. How do you worship something invisible?

Yet it is that invisible God who is the real one. The idols might feel more real. They might satisfy the religious impulse in man in a way even Solomon's temple was powerless to do. But in the end they are just wood and stone. They are not gods at all. They are figments, concrete figments. The LORD God is reality, invisible reality but inescapably, genuinely, magnificently real.

Luther used to speak of the hiddenness of God and how, through that very hiddenness, God reveals Himself. For all my disagreements with him, I think he was right about that.

Our earthly loves do exist (unlike the gods of the ancient world) but they are shadows. True love, love that is a burning flame, more earnest and passionate than the greatest earthly love, is both revealed and hidden in the Blessed Sacrament. Though He seems to leave us lacking, no other thing will satisfy the deep longings of our hearts. Our mudpies are insufficient. We do far better to allow Him to lead us to the feast, even if we cannot always discern the food.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

St George poem- Chapter 1- Part 5

"Six months have gone since people here
Knew any touch of joy;
The gods now play a devil's game,
And we, their ill-used toy.

You do not know, O Roman man,
The horrors that we know.
The things we've seen no man must see
Nor meet with such a foe.

Our young men and our womenfolk
Have never known such fear;
You chose to seek a town of death
When you did venture here.

Six months have gone since first we saw
Persephone's deadly spawn,
Since first our sons were torn from us;
What gods we have, how treacherous
Was shown that bloody morn.

Ignorant are you, O man,
How ignorant and blind!
What have you known, what could you know
Of that which plagues our kind?"

The people wept, the soldier stood,
The chieftain grew more pale.
A dread air hung about the place
As the chief began their tale.

St Ignatius of Antioch

Today is the feast day of St Ignatius of Antioch. Who is, coincidentally, my patron and has played a key part in my spiritual life. His prayers are very powerful indeed. And St James would agree with me (James 5:16).

In fact, today, if the majority of our sources are correct, marks the 1900th anniversary of St Ignatius' martyrdom. That is an extraordinary thought.

To mark the occasion, I read over once more this morning St Ignatius' epistle to the Romans, which he wrote on his way to be martyred in the Coliseum. I was challenged yet again by the eagerness and joy with which he approached his impending death. 'Only then,' he says, 'shall I be truly a man.' 'I am God's wheat,' he writes a little further on, 'ground by the lions' teeth to become pure bread for Christ.'

Every time I read such words, every time I try to imagine what it must have been like, the concrete reality of it, to have one's flesh torn by lions, to be mauled to death in front of a crowd for their entertainment- and the deeper spiritual reality of it, to be joined to Christ in death, to spill one's blood literally (he would have seen it staining the ground with his last sight, seen it on the snouts of the lions as they continued to tear at him) for the sake of Christ, it bowls me over. I step back, awed.

That such a man exists is amazing to me. That such a man is praying for me is too wonderful for words. That Christ desires to make me into such a man is terrifying.

But He does desire it. His grace is sufficient for it. And it is precisely that that St Ignatius prays for me.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

I Want Babies!

Well, I don't. But apparently Schapelle Corby does.

Even though she's in jail, doesn't have a husband or the means to bring up a child. But in a consumerist culture, this is an acceptable sentiment. Because if I feel the urge to have children, then I darn well ought to be able to gratify it. And if nature hasn't equipped me with the means to do so, then I can enlist the aid of society. They understand my needs, after all. But of course, if I do enlist the aid of society to have children and thereby satisfy my maternal urges, society better only give me what I want, when I want and in exactly the quantity I want. Otherwise I'll sue the pants off them!

Am I the only one who weeps for the next generation?