The happiest news

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Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. (John 20:17)

At the tomb, on that greatest of all days, Jesus says this to Mary Magdalene. If many found it hard to believe that He had risen, how much harder did they find it to understand what He meant by “ascend” and “ascended.” Today the Church celebrates the feast of the Ascension when, at last, the meaning of those words was unfolded.

By His rising the gates of death and hell were unlocked, and salvation was brought to us poor banished children of Eve. But the gates of Heaven were also to be opened for us, and this is part of the symbolism of the Ascension. Our great High Priest has ascended. Before any ascent there has to be a descent. The Word who made the world became an infant without words. He who was with the Father before all worlds “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.” He who was sinless took upon Himself the sins of mankind. He who was eternal died for us. Then He rose in glorious victory over death. As Paul triumphantly told the Corinthians:

But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.

21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.

22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming

Lancelot Andrewes draws a line from here for us to the Ascension:

For His being above before He went below, is nothing to us. But being below first, and then that He went up, that is it we hold by. As the Son of God He came down, as the Son of Man He went up. If as the Son of man, there is hope that the sons of men may do the like.

However low we have descended, we can be lifted high by Him.

But He has not left us, even though “the cloud from sight received Him, when the forty days were o’re.” As St Matthew tells us, He left the Apostles with a Great Commission and a promise:

 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.

The full meaning of that would not become clear until the day of Pentecost, but we have His promise and He is with us.

In 2016 the Archbishops of Canterbury and York launched an initiative, Thy Kingdom Come, which was designed to draw Christians to using the period between Ascension and Pentecost to deepen our faith. It has grown into an international phenomenon, and the Catholic Church plays its part in this. For myself, I find journeying with Our Lady during this period especially fruitful.

This Sunday, those following that journey, are asked to pray for forgiveness. The fact that we are forgiven never ceases to astonish me. As a human being, I feel that I somehow have to be worthy of it, and yet it is given freely as an act of love; only my pride and need to feel that I am in some way worthy can get in the way of that. But if I accept His forgiveness as it is given to me, as an act of love, then that frees me up; it liberates me to do likewise.

Bishop Andrewes reminds us that “as He ascended into Heaven, Heaven is to ascended to by the new and living way that is prepared through the veil of His flesh.” And I shall finish this, as he finished his sermin at Greenwich on 12 June 1614: “Christ being there for us, and the Spirit here for God; either agent for the other. It is the happiest news this, that ever came to mankind.:

The importance of love

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To some, even the use of the word “love” induces a visceral reaction, such, perhaps, has been its over-use. But as the Beloved Disciple reminds us:

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

In Christ, God reveals His purpose to us. He did not write a manifesto or send us a list of things we must and must not do, He spoke to us in the only language we can understand – that is through another human life. Jesus tells us what God wants for us, but more, much more than that, He shows us what love means. We can understand love only through relationships, and that is what Jesus shows us – the true meaning of love.

That love is a manifestation of the eternal love that is the Holy Trinity. The sanctifying love of the Spirit and of the Son are poured forth for our salvation. it is through Jesus that we receive the gift of eternal life, not because we first love God, but because He first loves us.

If we love others, and He loves us, then, as the Catechism tells us, in this way the Trinitarian love is reflected here on earth as it is in Heaven. Human love is not the cause of our love, it is a manifestation of God’s love. It follows, as St John tells us, that those who claim to know God but do not manifest love speak under the influence of a false spirit. And yet how very hard it is for us to show love for one another.

St John outlines four ways in which God lives is us: if we love one another; if we have been given His Spirit: if we can confess that Jesus is the Son of God; and finally, if we abide in the love of God. If this is so, then keeping God’s commandments isno more burdensome than love itself. Love is not, as we know, without its difficulties. It is far from saccharine and always sweetness and light; but what we suffer when we love we do because we know that in this fallen world it must be so.

St Anselm of Canterbury prayed:

Lord, let me seek you in desiring you:

and desire you in seeking you.

Let me find you by loving you,

and love you in finding you.

As so often when it comes to love, let us leave St Isaac the Syrian to have the final word:

In love did God bring the world into existence;

in love is God going to bring it to that wondrous transformed state,

and in love will the world be swallowed up in the great mystery of the One who has performed all these things;

in love will the whole course of the governance of creation be finally comprised.

Fr Aiden Kimel has some wiser and deeper reflections on this theme here.

 

 

Never the same again?

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Last Sunday we were treated to messages from Christian leaders. Their message amounted to stating that things would “never be the same” after this pandemic. The one thing upon which one can rely is that time changes things; things are “never the same,” anyway. What is lacking in them is a sense of agency; what part are Christians to play in this change that “must” come? When the Archbishop of Canterbury writes:

“After so much suffering, so much heroism from key workers and the NHS, so much effort, once this epidemic is conquered here and round the world, we cannot be content to go back to what was before as if all is normal.

“There needs to be a resurrection of our common life, something that links to the old, but is different and more beautiful.”

He speaks in hope, but in terms of that “something” that will link to the old, he is coy. By far the most useful commentary I read came from the Bishop of London, Rt Revd Sarah Mullally who wrote on her blog:

 Easter reminds us that God has touched the world in Jesus Christ.

Touch is central to Jesus relationships.  Filled with compassion Jesus reached out his hand and touched the leper, a women who has suffered a great deal with a bleeding disorder, came up behind Jesus and touched his cloak, Jesus took Jiraus’ daughter by the hand and said to their little girl get up, he took the man who could not speak or talk and put his figures into his mouth, he took the blind man by the hand and put his hands on him,  people brought little children to him for him to touch, the betrayer kissed him, and there on the road to Emmaus in the breaking of bread the touch of the presence of Jesus made their hearts burn.

Touch brings reconciliation, reconciliation to a community and to God, it brings restoration of relationships and healing.

At a time when we are “social distancing” it is good to be reminded of this. The “something” in the Archbishop’s statement becomes the “someone” in the Bishop’s commentary. It is the Risen Christ who touches us. In Eliot’s words:

And glow more intense than blaze of branch, or brazier,
Stirs the dumb spirit: no wind, but pentecostal fire
In the dark time of the year.Between melting and freezing
The soul’s sap quivers. There is no earth smell
Or smell of living thing. This is the spring time
But not in time’s covenant. 

As the Bishop put it:

In a sense we have no more or less than Mary for we like her have glimpsed the hopes of Easter – death does not have the last word. The promise of a new creation without pain and suffering.

Now hope is not blind optimism.  It is with hope that we can with eyes open to see the suffering and yet believe in the future.

How to convey the message that that “hope” lies in Jesus is the question?

Perhaps the answer lies in the gaps? For the better part of half a century, mankind in the West has pursued pleasure and consumption as its goals, convinced that “happiness” lay down those routes. It has not proven to be the case. Happiness is always just over the next hill, and the grass is always greener on the side we have not yet trodden.

The promises set out by politicians have always been recognised as illusory by those of a conservative disposition; but even those on the left who have been looking for the next utopian visionary, seem to despair. Many young people, convinced that societies based on mass consumption are destroying the natural environment, protest on their hand-held devices and travel to demonstrate on the means of transport which exist to expedite mass consumption.

Down all these roads lies disillusion. Hope lies only in Christ. In the words of the Anglican General Confession:

ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father; We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against thy holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; And there is no health in us. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders. Spare thou those, O God, who confess their faults. Restore thou those who are penitent; According to thy promises declared unto mankind In Christ Jesus our Lord. And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake; That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, To the glory of thy holy Name. Amen.

It begins with penitence, it begins with the realisation that He loved us first. What follows will follow. Only then will we never be the same again. And until we are changed, things will stay the same.

The Empty Tomb

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O blessed day of the Resurrection, which of old time was called the Queen of Festivals, and raised among Christians an anxious, nay contentious diligence duly to honour it! Blessed day, once only passed in sorrow, when the Lord actually rose, and the disciples believed not; but ever since a day of joy to the faith and love of the Church! In ancient times, Christians all over the world began it with a morning salutation. Each man said to his neighbour, “Christ is risen;” and his neighbour answered him, “Christ is risen indeed, and hath appeared unto Simon.”

(St John Henry Newman)

Christ is Risen!

He had said He would rise, but not one of those who went to the tomb that first Easter morning expected it. When they found the stone rolled away, they all sought for other, worldly explanations. Even the devoted Magdalene  thought “they” had taken the body. The explanation had been given to them all in advance; none had believed. They had been blind. Even as Mary Magdalen explained to the “gardener” their plight, she could not see Him. Then He called her by her name – and she knew, calling him “Rabboni.” Then she went and told the disciples.

In Jewish law the unsupported word of a woman was not admissable as proof, and yet it was Mary to whom Jesus first revealed the miracle of His resurrection, and even she knew it first only when He spoke her name. Her darkness, and then that of the Disciples was banished by the Light of the World. The world would never be the same again. Those same men and women who had been fearful for their own lives would go out and many would lose them in the service of the Risen Christ.

As Saul of Tarsus, who after encountering the Risen Lord became Paul, the last of the Apostles reminded the Corinthians:

By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas,[b] and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

So vital is this message that St Paul declares: “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” The whole of our faith rests upon the events of that first Easter Sunday.

Today is an Easter Sunday like no other most of us will have experienced. Deprived of the comforts of the Easter Vigil, and of the community of others this Sunday morning, we can, instead, contemplate the Risen Lord and feed on Him in our hearts with thanksgiving. The chains of death are broken.

On this day of days, when the darkness of sin was banished and the light of God has triumphed over it, may we be renewed in Him, and He in us, and may we bear witness to the hope we have been given. We are saved through His blood. We have followed Him through the path to Calvary, and we have stood with Him watching from afar at Golgotha, now may we rise with Him. He is Risen – He is Risen Indeed!

The silence of the tomb

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It is the darkest time of the Christian Year. The silence of the tomb envelopes the crucified Jesus. The spear that pierced His side also pierced the heart of His mother; it was not just Jesus on the Cross who felt the pain of abandonment. To those who had watched and who had taken his broken body to the tomb, He was now beyond human emotions; but they were not.

Their loss was total: the hopes invested in His words and His person were dashed; it was over. We cannot reconstruct their state of mind, but from what the Bible tells us of the Disciples hiding away, we know they were afraid. Grief, mixed with fear, are bad partners. The death of Jesus was the death of hope. Peter, who had denied his Master after Gethsemene, John, to whom the Blessed Virgin had been entrusted, and the rest of the Disciples went into hiding; the one exception, Judas, hanged himself. It was over. There was only the silence of the tomb. Hope had dwindled. To get out of Jerusalem alive would have to suffice.

The grief of Mary can hardly be imagined. To have watched her beloved Son die in the cruellest manner was the latest of the sacrifices demanded of her by God; always she had abided by His will; but this was asking all she had. As she heard those words asking why God had abandoned Him, it is not fanciful to suppose that she must have empathised with her Son’s anguish. Silence was a relief from the tears and the fears; but every knock at the door, every hurried footstep would have reignited both.

For us, this year, there was neither a chance to kiss the Cross on Good Friday, nor any leaving the Church in silence. But there was plenty of fear, and being confined to the house. The usual rythmns of that day were absent. In that absence we were forced to find our own way of marking the day that hope seemed to die.

For my own part, I found the Stations of the Cross at Shrewsbury moving, as I did the service at St Bartholemew the Great in London, where Fr Marcus Walker had had the foresight to prepare something for the eventuality that the Church would be closed on Good Friday. The reflections offered by the Bishop of Oxford, Stephen Croft, I found especially useful in meditating on the mysteries of this time, not least these words from his reflection on Peter’s denial:

We come with our doubts and our betrayals and our denials. We come conscious that we may be tested and found wanting in the present crisis. We bring the darkness in our hearts and our love of darkness. We do our best to bring these things into the light: to open our lives afresh to the deep grace of God. We come remembering this Jesus who invites us into the light, offers his life that we might be forgiven, loves us beyond our understanding and longs to restore us in his service, however far we have fallen.

For we know, as Mary and the Disciples did not, what comes next. We know that the darkness did not extinguish the Light of the world; we know that if Hope had died, it was so He would rise again on the third day. He died that we might be forgiven. We are not commanded to believe. We are invited to believe. The choice is ours, and we can behave as Judas did, or we can follow the example of Peter. Both men betrayed their Lord; only one repented and believed.

Our failures and shortcomings can be laid at the foot of the Cross in the sure knowledge that God forgives those who confess their sins and restores those who are penitent. May our sins lie in the silence of that tomb, and may they die that we might rise with Him and be made whole.

Not fear but love

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I was struck, watching the Stations of the Cross live-streamed from Shrewsbury Cathedral by the reflection that it is not fear of Hell but love of Christ which makes me repent of my sins. The horrors and agonies of crucifixion are things on which few of us wish to reflect. As Fr Marcus Walker reminds us, most of the art depicting the pivotal event of this Friday erases the darkness and the pain. Crucifixion was a punishment reserved for rebels and slaves, and the portrayal of it in Richard Harrison’s Golgotha is gruesome; it is a picture of pain; as Fr Marcus puts it, “there is nothing else there.” It is not a painting one could “like,” but it is one which commands attention because it recalls to us the love that God has for us.

I pray, daily, that God may “spare us from the fires of hell,” but those “fires,” and the fear they engender, would be a poor foundation of faith. They would not help in those moments when one finally imitates Jesus and asks “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” What helps draw me to repentance is the knowledge of God’s love. What hurts most is the knowledge that He hung and suffered there because of my sins. What makes me rejoice most is that He did it for love of me, and that through that love He set me free. I am free. I am free to worship Him – or not. And why should I not?

Though there are times when the darkness hides Him, the Light is never extinguished. Though I cannot always hear Him, His voice is never silent. Though there are times He seems hidden, that is as it should and must be. We take from our society an impatience and a desire to have what we want and to have it now. So, when we make God in our image and mutter that He is not there, it is we who are not there. We are not there attending to the message of the silence or the mystery of what we see only as through a glass darkly.

But He is there. He is there, not least today. Not least when we pray the Stations of the Cross. Not least when we contemplate the Tree on which the Prince of Glory died. Our richest gain, we count but loss, and we pour contempt on all our pride. What are we that He should have gone through this pain for us? Yet He did so. Whatever we suffer, He has suffered. In the spaces and the silences we should reflect on that fact and upon the message of the Cross.

This day is “Good” because it witnesses, as nothing else could, to what draws us to God. St John, as ever, said it best In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

I wish all our readers and commentators a holy Easter, and as today, we enter into the darkness, let us travel towards the light of Sunday together in hope and prayer.

Closed for business?

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Britain is in lockdown except for “essential services;” these, apparently, do not include those of the Church of England and the Catholic Church. For many this is not only counter-intuitive, it runs contrary to the priestly duty to be with those in need; the result has been a good deal of criticism of the “leadership.” Knowing, in my own limited sphere, how easy it is to criticise “leadership,” I pause for thought before going in that direction.

I can imagine how hedged about with caution from “legal” and “HR” the Archbishop of Canterbury and Cardinal Nichols are. Imagine the outcry if a Church service led to the spreading of the Coronavirus, or even if a Church left open for private prayer were to do so? Unlikely? Perhaps. Impossible? Would you bet your life and reputation on it? Hence, I am sure, the advice offered to priests. But, even if one takes the harsh view that Church leaders have failed to lead, nothing should be allowed to detract from the efforts they, and all bishops, are making to ensure that the Churches are there, virtually, for people.

The former editor of the Catholic Herald, Luke Coppen, has a piece in the current edition of the Spectator on the subject of whether the closure of Churches will have an adverse effect on Christianity in this country. It is easy enough to imagine why it might.

Once out of the habit of going to Church, will people go back to it? Catholics, who have always been told that missing Mass is a sin may, seeing a dispensation granted so readily, decide that it can continue post Coronavirus. But, on the other hand, there has been an upsurge in online searches for “prayer,” and, not that you’d know it from the press, but the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Facebook page has an excellent series of talks on the subject, whilst he, Cardinal Nichols and Rabbi Mirvis have an excellent and thought-provoking discussion here. No doubt there will be those who will reach for the smelling salts at such news, but if they would stop and listen, they might learn something.

On this, a Maundy Thursday like no other, when we commemorate the institution of the Holy Eucharist, and when we remember Jesus washing the feet of the Apostles, we are drawn, ineluctably to His command of love and service. At this time, when our Churches are closed, we can still come together in prayer and remember, that for all Catholics, where Mass is celebrated Christ is present, and so is the community of believers.

So let us pray for all priests and religious, not least for our leaders whom it is easy to criticise. All do God’s work as they can. And I hope that a former Anglican might be forgiven for invoking the General Confession from the Book of Common Prayer:

ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father;
We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep.
We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts.
We have offended against thy holy laws.
We have left undone those things which we ought to have done;
And we have done those things which we ought not to have done;
And there is no health in us.
But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders.
Spare thou them, O God, who confess their faults.
Restore thou those who are penitent; According to thy promises declared unto mankind in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake; That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, To the glory of thy holy Name. Amen.

Blindness in the early afternoon

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In Little Gidding, Eliot describes the way in which the “brief sun flames the ice, on ponds and ditches, /in windless cold that is the heart’s heat/ reflecting in a watery mirror/ A glare that is blindness in the early afternoon.” The season is “midwinter spring,” one well-known to Englishmen and women, where time is suspended “between pole and tropic.” But the poet is also referring to something else with which we are all familiar – that spiritual lukewarmness from which many of us suffer

Yesterday we considered our deafness to God; today I want to consider our blindness. In this time of trial how many of us have our eyes focussed on the news, and on each other? There is, at least to me, something shocking in the rush so many make to judgment. From the policeman telling people sitting in the park that they cannot do so, to those people themselves, congregating in numbers which rightly give cause for concern, from the person doing his or her best to comply with regulations thinly sketched, to those twitching their curtains and reporting their neighbours for going out “uneccessarily.” The cry to close down open spaces is easily made by thosen notn occupying small apartments with young children. All around we can see a rush to judgment.

We are not told that God is mercy or judgment, we are told that He is “love.”  Indeed, St Johngoes as far as saying that the identifying feature of the Christian is the love we have for each other. This is sometimes interpreted as meaning that Christians have love for other Christians, but frankly, even if one accepts this narrower definition, we have to ask how many of us would be found guilty if such love were a crime; would there be enough evidence against us? There would if it were a matter of our rush to judgement; there would if it were a mater of preferring our own view to those of others; there would if it were a matter of virtue-signalling (at least in our own judgement of virtue. Yet, as Eliot reminds us, the “heart’s heat” is “windless cold.” It is that “glare” which blinds us.

We see not through agape, that love God has for all His creation, but through our own eyes. Little Gidding was where the proud Stuart, King Charles I, fled after his defeat at Naseby by the Puritans. It was, for him, a moment of humiliation to which a mixture of stubborn pride and principal had brought him. It was significant that he retreated to the religious community at Little Gidding.

Often accused of being a closet Romanist (enough to endear him to some of us), Charles I was an avowed Arminian, that is he supported those within the Church of England who emphasised continuity with its Catholic past, exemplified in particular by the episcopate. Had Charles been willing to compromise on this point, he might have saved his own life. That he did not do so is one reason why the Church of England recognises him as a Saint and Martyr. Like so many saints and martyrs, his career was one marred by sin, not least the sin of pride; but at his end, he died for something greater than himself. At the last, his blindess was lifted.

It took a greater trial than most of us have to bear to open King Charles’ eyes, but a crisis is an opportunity to turn our eyes toward God. On this, strangest of Palm Sundays, let us ponder what acts of love we might perform which would mark us as God’s. We know from the history of Christianity that it has often been the Christian response to such crises which has, indeed, convinced many of the truth that God is love. Can we, in our time, imitate what our forebears did?

 

 

The silent God?

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“Thus religious truth is neither light nor darkness, but both together; it is like the dim view of a country seen in the twilight, which forms half extricated from the darkness, with broken lines and isolated masses.”

Religion without dogma made no sense to Newman; without that it was “mere sentiment” – and that was a foundation of sand. But he was well aware of the limits of humanity and acknowledged that the application of the intellect to religious matters might well produce a diminution of faith. It was, he commented, as though it was assumed that theologians were “too intellectual to be spiritual” and thus “more occupied with the truths of doctrine than with its reality.”

For Catholics the Church is the rock upon which dogma rests; we accept the historical reality of the Revelation it transmits to us. But intellect alone will not suffice; that is where prayer and devotional practices are needed; we do not worship by brain-power. For Newman,“Revealed religion should be especially poetical – and it is so in fact.” Prose was inadequate to convey the Truth of revealed religion, but, without an Authority to pronounce on revelation and tradition, private judgement would simply lead to the sort of chaos he came to discern within the Church of England in his own day. Thus, the mixture of light and dark in the quotation which heads up this essay.

Although we are each the subject of our own experiences, and whilst Christ came to save each of us, our egos are but a vehicle when it comes to understanding that Christ Himself is at the centre of our Faith. The central truth of the Christian Faith is the Incarnation. God became man and died that we should have eternal life. And yet knowing this, we can, nonetheless, in times such as this lose sight of this and, in despair, wonder why God is silent in the face of our prayers for healing and safety.

Much prose has been given over to the problem of why God allows mankind to suffer – the technical term is theodicy. But the intervention which speaks most to my heart is the poem, “Denaill” by George Herbert:

When my devotions could not pierce
Thy silent ears;
Then was my heart broken, as was my verse:
My breast was full of fears
And disorder

This is no intellectual exercise, it is the heart-felt anguish of the poet who agonises at what he feels is God’s refusal of his prayerful requests. He feels abandoned, as though his soul has no mooring. It is only in close reading that we see that the poet is, himself, in “denial”. Each stanza concludes with a last line which does not rhyme – except for the last one which concludes:

 O cheer and tune my heartless breast,
Defer no time;
That so thy favours granting my request,
They and my mind may chime,
And mend my rhym

Which, of course, is a rhyme. God has answered, it is the poet who has been in denial. God’s answer may not be the one we expect; it maybe that we are not listening.

We are made in God’s image; but we are not God. How much we long for a God whom we can understand, as well as worship, how often we think that God is absent; but how often to we think that it is we who are absent, we who are deaf?

T.S. Eliot, as so often, expresses it best in the first part of Little Gidding:

If you came this way,
Taking any route, starting from anywhere,
At any time or at any season,
It would always be the same: you would have to put off
Sense and notion. You are not here to verify,
Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity
Or carry report. You are here to kneel
Where prayer has been valid. And prayer is more
Than an order of words, the conscious occupation
Of the praying mind, or the sound of the voice praying.
And what the dead had no speech for, when living,
They can tell you, being dead: the communication
Of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living.
Here, the intersection of the timeless moment
Is England and nowhere. Never and always.

We have to put away our worldly concerns. Our intellects can rest secure on the rock of the dogma proclaimed by the Church. What should concern us is prayer, and even the best of prayers is but the antechamber to our encounter with God. We intersect with the past and the present, the living and dead, and above all with Him whose Kingdom shall have no end.

God is not silent; we lack the ears with which to hear Him if we think so.