Tuesday, 29 March 2011

"I believe": Yes, I, personally, believe

When was it that “I believe” was changed to “We believe” in the Creed? 1975, I think. Well, I have a little confession to make. Ever since then, when saying the Creed at Mass, I have never said “We believe”; I have always continued to say “I believe”.

It was a step too far for me. I just decided I wasn’t going to do it. The Latin original said “Credo”, not “Credimus”, and that first person singular was good enough for me. I remember attending a Lenten retreat that year at the Cenacle in Liverpool. One of my former teachers was there too: a woman full of character, and very forthright in her views. Her attitude to the change was of a “stuff and nonsense” pithiness.

I suppose the translators (Hah!) wanted to emphasise the sense of community at Mass. But in this instance they decided to emphasise it at the expense of accuracy.

Much more importantly and seriously, they took away from each individual in the congregation the sense of personal focus, of personal commitment to the truths professed in the Creed. I cannot possibly speak for a single other person; not one. Nor can they for me. In fact, I shouldn’t be at all surprised if many of those attending disbelieve one or more of the Creed’s statements.

But then, they can’t be said actually to be lying, can they? None of us can. After all, none of them is saying “I believe”. In a sense, “We believe” is meaningless.

Now, after all these years of staging my personal (and probably entirely unnoticed) rebellion, I look forward with joy to this coming Autumn, when each of us stands before the Lord at Mass, and says “I believe”. By the grace of God, may it send a frisson through us, in heart and mind and soul.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

A Chatty Post

I’m sorry it has been such a long time since my last post. The bronchitis which troubled me recently became so persistent that my GP referred me to a cardiologist. Between the two of them, I have undergone a range of non-surgical tests to make sure my heart is pumping properly, which I’m happy to say it is. The cardiologist is now going to hand me over to a lung specialist, so there is more fun in store for me. As the weeks progress I am gradually feeling better, and am able to get out and about with no difficulty.

We have been having glorious weather. Yesterday I went on the bus to the lovely little Cotswold town of Painswick. It was for a sad reason: the Requiem Mass of a person who was well-known and highly respected, involved in many interests and remembered with great affection by all who knew her. The small Catholic church was packed for the occasion.

As I made my way to the Catholic church, a wonderful peal of bells rang out from the nearby Anglican parish church. There is something rather magical about the musicality of English church bells. The traditional skill attracts ringers of many faiths and none. I was not surprised to learn during the Mass that the deceased had been a member of the team and that the bells had been rung specially in her honour.

Many of you may know that Painswick Church, pictured above, is one of the most famous in the Cotswolds; beautiful in itself, and famed also for the amazing number of clipped yew-trees in the churchyard. Some have grown so close to one another that they have been allowed to form arches. I seem to recall a saying that every time an attempt is made to count the yews a different total results.

After the Mass, while waiting for the return bus, I found the sun so warm that I took off my coat. I sat on the bench, listening to a blackbird singing from a tree in the churchyard, and enjoying what seemed more like a pleasant summer’s day instead of only the 25th of March, the Feast of the Annunciation, with the clocks still on winter time. An unexpected pleasure on a poignant day.

I hope to post again in a few days’ time, all being well.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

A Suggestion for Nibblers in Lent: Mini-fasts

Reluctant to commit this to the blogosphere, because I don’t know whether or when my determination will crack. Ah well, here goes.

The usual self-denials for Lent - sweets and so on - are real sacrifices for many of us, and well worth undertaking. But this year, in addition, I thought I might try another little Lenten thing: mini-fasts.

Mini-fasts are really only suitable for nibblers. It’s a very simple idea: a resolution to avoid eating between any particular meal and the next; or to avoid eating anything after the evening meal. Any permutation on this could be offered up: it doesn’t have to be for the whole of Lent, or even for an entire day. It could be, for example, from breakfast to lunch; or on this particular day and not others. It could be tailored to individual needs, and the demands of our daily lives. And each mini-fast could be offered up in its own right.

Just a thought.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

The Suffering of the People of Japan

After the bout of bronchitis I mentioned in my last post, I am making a rather slow recovery. My brain is at last starting to focus again, and I hope to post again very soon; but overwhelmingly at present my thoughts are with the poor people of Japan, and the series of calamities that have been bludgeoning them. I am filled with admiration for their dignity in the face of so much horror.

(The picture of Our Lady Of Akita has been copied from the blog of The Impractical Catholic, with my acknowledgments and thanks.)