Sunday, 3 May 2009

musings of a half educated halfwit

I'm determined to get back to blogging. I miss it. However, without going into details, things are a little tough at the moment. My Lenten illness did ease somewhat after Easter, but I'm uncommonly tired and my GP is a little concerned about some of my test results. But enough of this, I'm sick of being asked how I am, I don't want to become my illness. There is still the arrogant, idealistic, headstrong nearly-fortysomething in there with a head full of thoughts that need ordering and perspectives that need straightening.

One of the big issues for me at the moment is that everything is taking me so much longer to do that my prayer-life has taken a bit of a tumble. One day, while driving, feeling guilty about my curtailed prayer routine, I said a quick Our Father on the dual carriageway stretch of my route home. It got me thinking. I've always had a problem with the "Our Father", yet another thing that causes a chasm to open up between me and the Incarnate Word whom I desire so much. I'd love, like St Teresa of Avila, to be able to dwell on it for hours a line at a time, but this has evaded me.

In my twenties, I even, shamefully arrogantly, thought there might be something wrong with the the prayer (something missing from it), until it occurred to me that it is actually something wrong with me, not the prayer. I was finding it disjointed and more of a list than a prayer, I didn't feel I was engaging with God the Father when saying it.....This never really left me till quite recently.

Whilst most of my schooling was empty, I'm glad I studied my Latin and got an A for my O'Level (one of only a few, I'm too lazy to be a grade chaser).

Anyway, I decided to meditate on the Lord's Prayer in Latin rather than English. This has been a real blessing. There is a poetry about the Latin and a subtlty that seems to be missing in the English. No, there isn't some hidden, esoteric meaning to the prayer that only Latin scholars (albeit shabby ones) can grasp. It is that I've found a wholeness to the prayer that does allow me to meditate very gently and slowly on what it contains.

"Forgive us our trespasses" seems a long way from "demitte nobis debita nostra". For a start, demitte is quite passive, like dismiss or loosen, and therin lies the key for me to the next line, we are also asked to "dismiss", "not hang on to" all those transgressions that have been committed against us. We can burn ourselves up into a seething, mean spirited and nasty mess by constantly going over all those things that have been done against us. We have to let go or we will not let God enter our hearts for our own sins to be forgiven.

When David cries out to God in the Psalm "Against you alone have I sinned", I used to want to answer back, "I wonder if Uriah the Hittite would agree with that?". But then I didn't understand sin. Sin is a willful separation from God, sin is only committed against God, those transgressions against us by our fellow humans are opportunities for sin by the transgressors, the frightening thing is how they can make us sin too if we hold onto them and hold onto any malice for the transgressor.

Then today at Mass the contrast between the Lord's prayer and Agnus Dei had me weak and tearful. "Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi", "Lamb of God you take away the sins of the world", only "tollis" is a lot more physical than "take away", it suggests carry, raise up, it suggests heaviness.

Only the Lamb of God can physically take on the burden of our sin and raise it up. What a contrast to that "letting go" that we in our humility must do.

4 comments:

christopher said...

This is a beautiful post. Thanks.

Kirk and Sir George said...

I agree. It is a beautiful post. I love the Our Father but sometimes I think that I say it so often that I am only half conscious of it and always seem to 'reconnect' when I am saying 'as we forgive those who trespass against us'... which begs the question: do I?
Anyway, I am pleased that you are back in blog land - I like reading your posts!
Kirk

Mrs.Pogle said...

Well I for one am so glad you are back Rita! That post was wonderful!
Praying for you and your health concerns (I know how that feels, I feel like an old car from which bits keep falling off!)
God bless and keep you,
Mrs.P xx

irene said...

Good to have you back, Rita! Count me as one who missed your posts.

About the "Our Father". I wonder if the problem is not that English is such a commercial language -- difficult to express any subtlety of feeling with it. Other languages possess so many nuances of feeling that English simply lacks the resources to express.

But in a way it is strange that you pick on Latin as more expressive. True, it is more nuanced than English, but it too is a very commercial "practical" language. If your goal is to tap the inner meaning of the Lord's words, then the ideal is to learn Greek (go ahead, you are still young) -- far more poetic than either English or Latin. And it has the obvious bonus that it is the language in which the NT was written -- you can't get closer than that.

Try it, you'll like it. It is not difficult to pick up a reading knowledge of koine (that is, NT) Greek -- I know, I did so when I was a lot older than you.

But then, it's not about intellectual understanding....