Monday, 22 May 2017

something to chew on

I'm a bit of a novice at attending the Greek-Catholic Liturgy, but I find it a profoundly moving and indeed draining experience.  As yet I have not received the Eucharist.  I am not yet ready for that.  Indeed receiving the "antidoron" after the Liturgy has such incredible significance that approaching Communion seems beyond me.  For those who don't know; several loaves of leavened bread are baked, one is chosen to be the Lamb, the rest remain on the altar, are blessed and returned to the congregation in chunks.  Some take it home to break the night fast with, the rest is consumed there and then at the end of the Liturgy.  The precept is to attend, not to receive each and every Sunday.

Chewing the antidoron I'm meditating about service in the country where I will be living; my service to the people there and God's acceptance of that service and His working of that relationship within me.  I will receive Him one day, beyond the the profound spiritual communion that is already taking place during the rite, I just don't know when. The antidoron seems to be a blessing on the future.  When the future life becomes the present, then it makes more sense to Communicate.

I was at the Greek-Catholic rite yesterday, before the anniversary of the night when one of my "holy helpers", King Henry VI was murdered and the day before the feast of my Patron, St Rita.  22nd May has a significance for me; it is about beginnings and ends and death and stuff though it isn't morose or dark in the slightest.

This year, there is simply an emptiness, a "sated" emptiness.  I do not need to know anything. I'm not searching for anything.  I have a sated exhaustion that things have indeed run their course. A friend said that I've been granted an "honourable discharge" from my fight (whatever it is/was).  However, I'm not sure it is that simple.  Every prayer is a battle, the fighting never stops.  I think I've just moved into a zone where my response is purely reflexive, I'm not having to think about what I'm doing, and I can't see the muck and bullets.

I deliberately visited the shrines of both King Henry VI and St Rita last year (imploring their help because things seem so impossibly unreal and daft and plain wrong) and they are with me, especially today and I must attribute my health to them, I've left my vocation for them to work out. I used to know what it is with certainty, but now I no longer know what it is.... but like St Rita, carried over the convent walls by her patron saints to fulfill her vocation, this is entirely in the hands of my patrons, whatever it is.

Now off to the Novus Ordo at the nearest church on my Patronal Feast ..... and receiving the Eucharist will not seem inappropriate.....

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Bad Science

I am writing about the characteristics of good and bad science because I suspect we are living in a time of unprecedentedly bad science.  The sciences have lost their way and this has far reaching consequences.  More particularly there are many unsuspecting souls who are using the methodologies of bad science to prop up their world views and this is little more than a house of cards that is getting increasingly unsteady.  Why should we care? We should care because Theology is a science and Theology is a practical science: you have to engage with God to grow in understanding of God, you can't "do God" purely from the text books. It has always been my view that it isn't so much heresy that we are seeing in the Church in these challenging times, but bad science. To be a heretic is actually quite demanding and requires a level of determination and self-justification (and consistency of thought) that is simply not present in those culprits many would deem to be heretics.  Being bad at science is as easy as s**t off a shovel because being a good scientist is nearly impossible.

Science involves "first principles" and things not open to question.  There are things whose existence you have to buy into if you are going to study science and operations they can and can't undergo within prescribed boundary conditions.  The vista then opens up as levels of complexity are introduced, boundaries and variables altered, observations made and predictions of future behaviour accurately described or refuted. Science involves elegance and beauty.  Science is dispassionate.  Science reveals herself in the doing of science. Replace the word Science with the word Theology throughout this paragraph and you will see that Theology is a science.

Bad science is passionate.  Bad science is often painfully sincere. Bad science relies heavily on experts rather than on science.  Bad science gets emotional.  Bad science thinks it has the answers.  Bad science is rigid in the wrong ways and flexible in the wrong ways.  It is rigid in its belief that it has the correct methodology and all other methodologies (historically well founded)  are wrong.  It is rigid in its belief in progress.  It is rigid in its passionate belief that it is right. It goes down rabbit holes.  It takes itself too seriously.  It is flexible with those "first principles". It likes to destroy the past rather than build on it.  It is flexible in its ideas about the truth which it sees as a movable feast rather than an eternal, ever present reality that we simply see through a glass darkly.  It is very human centred and seeks to define who we are by the challenges we face in our understanding of science. The more challenges that are thrown at us, the more we adapt to juggling increasingly contradictory ideas, the more uncomfortable it gets, the better it is for us. Bad science sees humanity in a process of "synthesis".  Bad science loathes or simply doesn't get metaphysics.  Bad science does not know the history of science. Bad science is purely atomist and constructivist.

Good science keeps its "first principles", good science is not grand or full of end-times prophecies. Good science is light, elegant and beautiful. Good science remains dispassionate. Good science isn't trying to change the world, just delight in it.  Good science knows it can't change the world though like bad science it can have a dramatic effect on the way we think about things and how we act on them.  Good science knows no human "progress".  Good science knows its limits. Good science is often not exciting.  Good science can be very dull indeed ..........   And just perhaps these are things the Church Militant should keep in mind too.... because to some extent we are all scientists.

 If you are a theologian you truly pray. If you truly pray you are a theologian- Ponticus Evagrius

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

ad Orientem

Psallite Domino, qui ascendit super coelos coelorum ad Orientem, alleluia.

It is more than a solar year but less than a liturgical year since I last heard those words.  They are the Communion Antiphon from the Feast of the Ascension (and from psalm 67, which I find a great source of strength).  Something very odd happened when I last heard them; I knew I would be going out East.  I shrugged it off and the conscious part of me laughed at the stupidity of this.  I was very sick and hiding just how sick I was.  Life was simply a struggle from day to day and beyond that there was no further reality. Death seemed far more likely than travel. I started putting my things in order, including righting the odd wrong from way back in my past, though still not sure if this constituted preparation for death or travel.  Best live every day as if it were the last..... and pray as if every prayer would be the last one said....

Now that everything is indeed set for challenging but wholesome employment in Eastern Europe, perhaps there is a little "see, I told you so" playing around my subconscious. I am grateful for the prayerful calm and complete lack of drama associated with what is happening.  It feels like the most ordinary thing in the world to be doing; getting rid of most of my stuff, leaving my routine and going to work for souls who seem so genuinely pleased to have recruited me. The "known unknown" that is leading me on is simply a somewhat abstract yet very human smile, but not one I'd dare ignore.

It seems no coincidence that so many of my friends are also heading off away from the UK.  We all feel like chess pieces being moved into position.  We know our limits, we know we will do nothing out of the ordinary, we know life will continue in a strangely familiar but uniquely uncluttered and concentrated way.  We all feel prepared, alert and humbled by God's love for us.

And as I familiarise myself with the Greek-Catholic rite, I am struck by an often repeated cry of the priest:

Înţelepciune! Să luăm aminte!
Wisdom! Be attentive! 

Indeed! God does indeed want my full attention, the spiritually refining days of passive sufferance are over for me; there is work to do. Work that is neither heroic or earth-shattering.  And the nature of this work will probably be hidden from me.  This is for the best, I work best in ignorance.  As a priest who knows me better than most said to me, "if you actually knew what you did, you'd be a menace!"...