Thursday 22 July 2010

One of the Joys of Reading the Old Testament

In furtherance of my resolution to try to link a plenary indulgence work to every Holy Communion I receive, I am now working my way through the Old Testament for, I think, the third time. Tonight I finished Deuteronomy and began to read Joshua.

Some of the Old Testament is wonderful; but parts of it can sometimes be rather hard going. However, it is worth all the toil of trudging through the repetitions, and the lists of names of the tribal leaders and their descendants, and the detailed measurements; it is worth it all, to come across a phrase here and there, which is familiar and well-loved from its use in the New Testament.

There are other phrases too, which have passed into the richness of our language, and touch the heart. I thought I would share today's with you, from Deuteronomy 33:27 -

The eternal God is your dwelling place,
and underneath are the everlasting arms.

Tuesday 20 July 2010

Favourite Prayers Meme

Thank you to Athanasius of Suffering World and to Breadgirl of Last Welsh Martyr , for inviting me to join in the fun of doing a Catholic meme. I will try to follow Mulier Fortis’s rules:

Name your three favourite prayers, and explain why.

Tag five bloggers - give them a link, and then go and tell them they have been tagged.

Finally, tell the person who tagged you that you've completed the meme.

The Liturgy and the Sacraments are off limits here. MF is more interested in people's favourite devotional prayers.

I could make it more than three. If I were to do this, I would include the prayers incorporated in St Alphonsus Liguori’s meditations at the Stations of the Cross. Some are addressed to Jesus, and some to our Lady, and I find them quite haunting. I’d also include the Prayer to St Michael the Archangel, which seems to have such power within it. But these are my three, for the purposes of this meme:

The Our Father: because the Lord Himself gave it to us, therefore it is the best and most powerful prayer of all. The Holy Spirit inspires us to say it, and we speak our Lord Jesus’s own words, to our Father in Heaven. Perfect!

The prayer at the end of each Station’s meditation, which I often say as a separate prayer: “I love Thee, Jesus, my love above all things. I repent with my whole heart of having offended Thee. Never permit me to separate myself from Thee again. Grant that I may love Thee always; and then do with me what Thou wilt.”

Finally, I’d like to include a prayer that is so short and simple that it would, I suppose, be called an aspiration: simply the words, “Heavenly Father”. This is a prayer for times of extremity, as well as for those little expressions of love, those turnings toward the Lord that we make during the day. And I can attest that it’s just the thing when one is heavily sedated and being wheeled to the operating theatre; it is a lovely thing to go to sleep to.

I have managed to tag four bloggers, as follows, but I may be beaten to it:

Bob, of Bob’s Blog;

A Reluctant Sinner;

Paulinus from In Hoc Signo Vinces;

Fr Hunwicke, priest-in-charge of the Anglican church of S. Thomas the Martyr, Oxford, who has a most erudite blog. It is a joy to cheer him on, silently, from the wings, as he makes his journey in these momentous times.

Since so many bloggers have already been tagged, I think I should excuse my tag victims from finding any others, if they find they are struggling with it.

Friday 16 July 2010

The Person in the Womb

John Smeaton, the Director of SPUC, has drawn the attention of his readers to an interesting and very encouraging Zenit interview with Monsignor Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, the new head of the Pontifical Academy for Life. In the course of the interview Mgr Carrasco said the following:

One of the problems we have with regard to the embryo is that it isn't seen. Instead of embryo we should speak of a child who is in the initial phase of development. Because we cannot see him, he is in a situation of tremendous danger, at tremendous risk.

The words we use are indeed extremely important. Further on in this post I'll record a few thoughts on the word "child"; but before doing so I'd like to refer to the general use of the term "unborn".

While it is of course a statement of fact, I have always felt there was a certain insufficiency in the word. My slight discomfort arises from a phrase which occasionally used to crop up in the loftier kind of political speech, when the politician wanted to inspire his listeners with a vision of the faraway sunlit uplands to which his party’s policies would undoubtedly lead the nation. He would refer to “generations as yet unborn”.

In that example the generations did not in fact exist at the time of the speech. Might the term “unborn” convey something of that same sense of non-existence - or of not yet existing - when used in reference to the child in the womb? Not to us, of course; but does its use miss an opportunity to impress upon a wider and less informed audience the reality, the totality, the existence here and now, of an actual human being, from the instant of his or her conception?

Returning to the word "child", I’d love to hear it used, as Mgr Carrasco recommends; and used as the standard term. “Baby” would be good too; but I feel that the use of “child” emphasises even more strongly the individuality, the humanity, the personhood, the sense of continuity with all stages of a person's development and growth to adulthood. So for me, it is “the embryonic child”, “the gestating child” or "the child in the womb" which fits the bill better than any other phrase.

Friday 2 July 2010

No posts for a few weeks

This is to let my readers know that it will be a few weeks before a new post can be added to this blog. Life is extremely busy just now. Nothing bad, just a lot of hard work.