Friday, 20 November 2009

'The Same Catholic Thing'

Here is some of the text of the Archbishop of Canterbury's address yesterday in Rome, the full version of which is available here. I've taken out three paragraphs which I find particularly interesting, because in them, the Archbishop cuts to the chase and asks the questions we ought to be able to answer. As for the sections that I have highlighted, I ask readers to ponder them in the light of the Gospel wisdom of Luke 6:44 "For each tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush."

I don't want here to rehearse the arguments for and against the ordination of women, only to ask how recent determinations on the Roman Catholic side fit with the general pattern of theological convergence outlined. The claim of certain Anglican provinces is that the ordination of women explicitly looks to an agreed historic theology of ordained ministry as set out in the ARCIC report and other sources. Beyond that, many Anglicans have been wary of accepting a determination of who can be ordained that might appear to compromise the some of the agreed principles about how ordination relates to the whole body of the baptised. This, by the way, would hold for at least some who believe that a decision within a divided Church about a matter affecting the universal ministry should not be taken by a single province or group of provinces. But for many Anglicans, not ordaining women has a possible unwelcome implication about the difference between baptised men and baptised women, which in their view threatens to undermine the coherence of the ecclesiology in question.

And the challenge to recent Roman Catholic thinking on this would have to be: in what way does the prohibition against ordaining women so 'enhance the life of communion', reinforcing the essential character of filial and communal holiness as set out in Scripture and tradition and ecumenical agreement, that its breach would compromise the purposes of the Church as so defined? And do the arguments advanced about the "essence" of male and female vocations and capacities stand on the same level as a theology derived more directly from scripture and the common theological heritage such as we find in these ecumenical texts?

Let us take this a stage further. All ordained ministers are ordained into the shared richness of the apostolic ministerial order – or perhaps we could say ministerial 'communion' yet again. None ministers as a solitary individual. Thus if the ministerial collective is understood strictly in terms of the ecclesiology we have been considering, as serving the goal of filial and communal holiness as the character of restored humanity, how much is that undermined if individuals within the ministerial communion are of different genders? Even if there remains uncertainty in the minds of some about the rightness of ordaining women, is there a way of recognising that somehow the corporate exercise of a Catholic and evangelical ministry remains intact even when there is dispute about the standing of female individuals? In terms of the relation of local to universal, what we are saying here is that a degree of recognizability of 'the same Catholic thing' has survived: Anglican provinces ordaining women to some or all of the three orders have not become so obviously diverse in their understanding of filial holiness and sacramental transformation that they cannot act together, serve one another and allow some real collaboration.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Civil Unions

I was following a train of thought this morning on public transport, and decided to note down my feelings on the back of a shop receipt for bagels and plant food, when I suddenly realised I'd inadvertently composed a Haiku. Here it is:

Civil Unions,
For Heterosexuals;
Why would you bother?

Tuesday, 17 November 2009


One quote from the brilliant book "Martin Travers: an appreciation" has always stuck in my mind, something about the interior of S. Magnus the Martyr looking, after it had been restored by Travers (and I'm paraphrasing) something like an Austrian country parish church that has been washed over by the counter-reformation. Well, in an idle moment today I got to looking at Austrian and Bavarian parish churches, and so compare the image of S. Magnus at the head of this page which the above image of the church in Traunstein, Bavaria, where a certain Fr. Ratzinger said his first Mass........

The Monarchy

I always seem to be shooting my mouth off about something or other these days; Anglican Controversial. Well I just read something very interesting the news. A Labour candidate has apologised after calling Queen Elizabeth II “vermin” and “a parasite”. It’s very fun and lefty, undergraduate PPS etc to be either virulently anti-Monarchist or to talk affectionately but patronisingly about the British monarch. The arguments against maintaining our monarchy normally centre on their finances, and the details of their “cost” to the nation. They often also moan about the sexist system of succession, and the fact that the monarchy is hereditary, not meritocratic.

Against those charges, backed up with facts and figures and the constant demands on public finances, the arguments in favour of the monarchy often fall down, because they centre on the unquantifiable: the sense of continuity the monarchy offers, the tourist draw. Things that are almost impossible to express with statistics, but which nonetheless, parts of society maintain are important for our national life.

It is precisely this unquantifiable benefit of the monarchy that interests me, partly because it reminds me of the situation in the church. Those who support the monarchy would openly concede that the Queen’s role is almost entirely ceremonial, but they would also argue that this is ceremonial is an integral part of our nation. It’s what makes Britain what is really is. To me, the monarchy is about maintaining a particular historical discourse of statehood which is the authentic expression of the historical, national and cultural character of the United Kingdom. Britain is not a republic, and the day that we start swearing-in a President on the fume-choked lawns outside the Houses of Parliament with music by a veteran soul singer is the day we stop being British. By contrast, Venezuela is a Republic founded by “the Liberator” Simon Bolivar, and as such, the ceremonial life of the Republic revolves around the struggle against the Spanish and the symbolism of Bolivar’s public persona. They celebrate the victory of the Battle of Carabobo, not Waterloo, and when their leaders wander around in tri-colour sashes in military parades, they are continuing the authentic ceremonial of statehood appropriate to a young nation, forged during the high-tide of Republicanism by a military figure. If president Chavez were to declare himself Emperor of Greater Bolivaria (something he would probably quite like to do), he would be rupturing the ties of continuity with how a nation, and those who feel they belong to it, perceive themselves, and have continued to perceive themselves throughout history. He would be doing something inauthentic and inappropriate to Venezuela as she is, and has been for two hundred years.

All of this reminds me of those in the church who do not recognise the value of ceremonial and ritual, the ephemeral and unquantifiably beneficial aspects of the visible life of the church. There is such an urge to re-form, to re-shape the church in a way which is subjectively deemed more appropriate, and this tendency reached a tragic zenith in the Reformation. Even now we have a Bishop in Peterborough who has written that the Eucharistic services of the church should not be treated any differently from Mattins and Evensong, and as such could be “presided over” by laypeople. Orthodox Anglicanism, which teaches the Real Presence and the role of the Sacraments in Salvation, is viewed as too “superstitious” by such extremists and must be brought up to date. I don’t believe this teaching has any place in the Church of England, when it owes no loyalty whatsoever to the Church of S. Augustine, and defiles the precious continuity which the Church of England has claimed with the pre-Reformation church.

The word “heresy” comes from the Greek word that describes a “choice” of beliefs particular to a faction opposed to Orthodoxy, and it has been used over the centuries to refer to those who have willingly cut themselves off from the family of the faithful. Whether it’s the Sacraments or the Monarchy, we would be making a huge mistake if we gave ourselves over to the “heresy” of innovation. Those who love the Church, love Her Sacraments, the “mysteries of Salvation” which we can’t quantify or put into statistics to justify their role in our lives. Likewise, those who love Britain should think twice before resigning the monarchy to history. Let us not forget what the monarchy means, and has meant to generations, and reflecting on the prospects of Britain in the coming years, we might realise that we need Queen Elizabeth now as much as we ever did.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

What I didn't get from the Apostolic Constitution

Call me a closet Protestant, attack me if you will, but there is one important hurdle that I don't think I'm ready or willing to jump in order to swallow whole the Apostolic Constitution, as some clergy and laity have evidently already done, and that is the absence of any recognition from Rome that Anglican orders may be valid.

The Holy Father's generosity is abundantly obvious to anybody who has read the document, and only serves to increase my fondness for a man I regard as my Pope and the legitimate successor of Peter. But generosity alone, however well intentioned, cannot completely plaster over the cracks of five hundred years of schism, and I am a little disappointed in those who rush to proclaim that it can.

My problem is this, and I'll phrase it as a question: Can those priests and bishops who have already accepted the AC in its entirety, and who desire to be reordained unconditionally as priests and bishops in the new Ordinariate, really do so with integrity? For I believe that to do so would be to turn their backs on me, and other faithful who have looked to them for guidance through our journey of faith, a journy that we have so far made together. To accept "conversion" to Catholicism, which is the faith they have been preaching from our pulpits for years, and to accept unconditional ordination, which is thereby to accept that their orders were invalid, is to say that every confession I have ever made, every Holy Communion I have ever received from their blessed hands, every confirmation and every Holy Matrimony was, all along, no more than a charade: "absolutely null and utterly void".

I hope you will pardon me for expecting something more from the phrase "Anglican patrimony" than merely the permission to use certain Elizabethan phrases in our Liturgy. To me, Anglican Patrimony in the Catholic Church means sanctioning our faith journey, which so far has been long, arduous and never for one moment without controversy or crisis. I do not want to beg the Holy See for permission to use, say, the English Missal, because I think it makes for a nice Sunday Service, but because the heroes of our Faith - Hope Patten, Frank Weston, Dom Gregory and countless others - have sanctified that particular Anglican liturgical text, and others besides, with their golden lips. To take those three as examples, Hope Patten restored Walsingham as England's Nazareth; one of the most inspired and successful initiatives of the Church of England in the 20th century. Frank Weston fought tooth and nail in Kikuyu against inter-Communion between Anglicans and Protestant non-Conformists, and he set thousands of hearts on fire at the Anglo-Catholic Congress of 1923 with his powerful words about Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament (do I even need to quote his?). Dom Gregory Dix "shaped" so much of our thoughts about the Liturgy and the Sacraments, and his influence extended far beyond the Anglican Communion. So convinced was he of the validity of Anglican Orders that he died almost with the defense of them on his lips. All of these men lived as believing Catholics, and died out of Communion with Rome, but the legacy of these "Saints" who will never be canonised is powerful, and their witness reaches beyond time from their shrines and speeches and touches every one of us who dares call himself a Catholic in the Anglican Communion.

So what am I to do? Accept that I am not Catholic and follow my Protestant ministers to the Ordinariate where we will suddenly and magically become Catholics? Should I forgot about those heroes I hold so dear, who I know can never be called Saints of the Catholic Church, but to whose memories I cling to so dearly, and whose example inspires me? Forgive me for what seems like ingratitude or a lack of understanding, but when someone makes a journey, you can only expect them to arrive at their destination with baggage!

Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts

For almost 55 years, the Western Church has been largely bereft of a Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified gifts, a service which our brethren in the East celebrate during weekdays of Great Lent, and which in the Latin Church has long been restricted to Good Friday. Instead of the Celebration of Mass, a service in which Communion is received from a Host consecrated at a previous Mass still forms part of the Liturgy of Good Friday, but the reformed rites of Holy Week introduced by Pope Pius XII altered the Liturgy so radically as to make it something else entirely, and not a genuine Mass of the Pre-Sanctified, but rather similar to an order for Holy Communion outside of Mass.

In the pre-1955 rite, the Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified begins after the adoration of the Cross, when the Blessed Sacrament is taken in procession from the Altar of Repose to the main altar carried by the Priest, and is censed by two acolytes. Although the origins are of course different, this procession mirrors the Byzantine Great Entrance procession, and it is worth noting that in the Eastern Pre-Sanctified services, on this occasion the priest, rather than the deacon carries the diskos holding the lamb. When the procession arrives at the altar, the deacon arranges the chalice. In the pre-1955 rite, a large second Host consecrated at the previous night’s liturgy is placed in a chalice, and covered by a pall, upturned paten and finally a soft, white veil, which is tied at the node of the chalice. The deacon leaves the chalice covered and arranges the veil over the chalice as at Mass. Indeed, the whole rite of the Pre-Sanctifies points to the celebration of a genuine Mass in structure and symbolism, whilst also quite clearly being something other than the Eucharistic Sacrifice. The priest at this stage censes the Sanctissimum.

The priest then slides the Host from the chalice, onto the paten which is held by the Deacon, and is then placed, with the chalice onto the corporal. The Deacon then fills the chalice with wine, and a drop of water is added by the Subdeacon, and it is placed on the corporal and covered with the pall, all as at Mass, except that all of the gestures and prayers of the Offertory are omitted. The Gifts are then censed as at Mass, as the cross and altar. However, nothing else, including the celebrant is censed. The presence of this chalice of unconsecrated wine is one of the most obvious analogies to the Byzantine rite, where a chalice is also prepared, veiled and censed at the prothesis, and at Communion, the Consecrated Lamb is placed in the unconsecrated wine in the chalice.

The priest says the prayer “In spiritu humilitatis”, then kisses the altar and says the “Orate frates”. The response “suscipiat” is, however, not said and the priest does not make a full turn at the altar as at Mass. This prayer makes the same plea for acceptance that marks the end of the Offertory at Mass, but without its response, the rite is altered markedly: the people do not pray for acceptance from "thy hands", seen as no Mass is being celebrated, and the references to "praise and glory" are absent. The central parts of the Sacrifice, the secret, preface, sanctus and canon are not said and the priest passes directly to “Oremus. Praeceptis salutaribus” and the Lord’s prayer, sung in the ferial tone. With the Sanctus go the words "pleni sunt caeli et terra gloria tua", on the very day when God divested himself of glory. The embolism is sung out loud and its accompanying gestures are omitted. This mimicry of the structure of Mass is not perculiar to Good Friday, but also appears in the Blessing of the Palms on Palm Sunday, which has a "Liturgy of the Word" and a "Canon" of blessings over the palms so laid on the altar. In both cases, these ancient rites were divested of this unique identity and made to represent the rites of blessings and communion respectively from ceremonies outside of Holy Week. The reference to the Paschal Mystery, the very pivot of these observances, is lost.

Then comes the elevation, and the Deacon and Subdeacon, who kneel on either side of the priest but slightly back, lift his chasuble. In place of the bell, the crepitaculum or clapper is used. The ministers rise, the chalice is uncovered and the fraction is performed, saying nothing and not making the sign of the cross. Then bowing, he says “Perceptio corporis tua” following the normal rite of his Communion at Mass and then communicates himself. He then consumes the unconsecrated chalice, but without the usual prayers or rites, as this is not the Blood of Christ. After his communion, the Priest makes the normal ablutions of the chalice and his hands and the Deacon re-builds the chalice as at Mass. It has been a long custom of the Roman Church for only the Priest to receive communion on this day, but in the Eastern Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified, the people would also receive Holy Communion. The Church building itself is now empty of the Blessed Sacrament (Hosts for Viaticum being reserved in the Sacristy or another Altar or Building) which emphasises the sense of mourning at the Death of the Saviour on this day.

In the reformed rite of 1955, the Sacrament, in the form of a Ciborium of small Hosts, is brought to the Altar in Violet Mass vestments, by the Deacon (loosing the parallel with the Eastern Great Entrance), and incense is not used. The preparation of the Host on the corporal and the preparation of the chalice, incensation and washing of hands, as well as the prayers from the offertory are not performed. The introduction to the Lord’s prayer is said immediately, not sung as before, the Libera Nos is said by the Priest and then Perceptio is said silently. The priest communicates with a Small Host, and then Communion is given to all with the usual ceremonies of Mass. After Communion the priest makes his ablutions with vessels which were placed on the Altar for this purpose before the procession.

The simplification of the Communion rite of Good Friday eliminates both the parallels with the rite of Mass, and the analogies with the Byzantine Liturgy, both of which are integral to the identity of this rite. The reformed Holy Week makes the Communion no different from the distribution of Communion outside of Mass, such as would be given at a Wedding or for some other cause. With the reformed rite of 1955, the Western Church loses its one true Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified. I wonder if the Communion rite was deliberately “rationalised” to bring it into line with other forms for Distribution of Communion, or whether it was simply intended to be shortened to make room for the prayers which follow afterwards. I wonder also if we will ever see aspects of the older rite re-emerge with the reform of the reform. Let’s wait and see.

Monday, 9 November 2009

The Sacristan's Supper

Talk about a variety performance, this blog has everything! Ever wondered what an Anglo-Catholic Sacristan eats for supper on weeknights? Well, this time of year, before the Christmas spend, I can tell you that I'm looking for economy, as well as something hearty to warm my cockles (actually I don't eat cockles). So I came home today from work puzzling over a cheap joint I picked up over the weekend: breast of lamb. What? Lambs don't have breasts! Well, this is the lamby equivalent of the pork belly, which is so IN right now. Lambs, of course, being gamblers, haven't got much meat down there on the "breast" so hardly anyone actually wants or buys it. This cut is a give away, literally in some places, because it's virtually inedible without long, slow cooking. Whatever you do with it, you'll probably be wanting to pick most of the fat away from the flesh on your plate, but during the long cooking process, the meat will become so soft and juicy that it just about makes it worth the effort.

So I decided to improvise a roasted lamb breast with herby stuffing with roast vegetables and braised red cabbage, a meal assembled from hallucinations of Saturday Kitchen and endless googling.

So start with your rolled breast joint. This one weighs aroung half a kilo and cost me £2.50 in Sainos. To make the stuffing, mix the chopped leaves of two or three sprigs each of rosemary and thyme with a few slices worth of breadcrumbs (here I've just mashed up some old baguette, but it's better if it's finer than this) with an egg, a small onion and three cloves of garlic. Mix and mash thoroughly. Keep the stems of your herbs to one side.

Untie your breast and season well with salt and pepper. Don't throw the strings away, as you will need them shortly. My joint came with some extra pieces in the middle. I trimmed these down, as there was enough fat on the joint, but take off any meat and keep it to one side.

Next, impose dabs of garlic butter and a generous helping of fresh sage leaves onto your breast joint. Try to cover as much of the surface as possible with your leaves.

Next spread your stuffing over the joint, and place your extra pieces of breast meat somewhere near the middle.

Roll the joint carefully to keep as much as the stuffing in as possible, and tie with the strings. Place the joint in an appropriate tin and put into the oven at gas mark three or four.

You will want something tart with this breast cut, because of the unseemly amounts of fat in it. I went for braised red cabbage because it's very seasonal. Gently fry some onions in garlic butter and olive oil, or plain butter and add some garlic to taste.

Finely shred half a red cabbage. Don't forget to check your lamb. Baste regularly with the fat to keep the exposed edges moist but drain off any that collects and keep to one side.

When the onions are translucent, add the cabbage, along with a glug of red wine vinegar and a little vegetable stock. I also added a dried lime as an experiments, but to be honest you could do without. You could add raisins or another dried fruit soaked in brandy to further develop this contorno. Set your cabbage on a low heat and cover tightly, stirring occassionally until soft all the way through.

Meanwhile, boil your vegetables. I used a sweet potato, normal potato and some carrots because I had things to use up. Drain them and place them in the roasting tin with the lamb, adding any extra fat you might need to coat them.

When you drain your vegetables, keep the water for gravy. Add some quality powdered stock to the vegetable water and immerse your herb stalks in the stock to infuse.

A joint this size will need at least two and a half hours in the oven to cook through properly. When it's ready, rest and then carve, taking care not to let the stuffing fall out of the slices, as I have done.

Drain all the fat from the roasting tin and add your stock, stalks and a crushed clove of garlic, placing the roasting tin on a medium heat. This cut won't give you much juice at the bottom of the tin, but scrape off what is there and bring it to a boil, adding flour slowly to thicken. Strain the gracy through a sieve or similar and keep it warm.

Pour your gravy generously over your meat and vegetables and serve with Nurofen.

Benedicamus Domino.

Remembrance Sunday at the Resurrection, New York

A few photos from Sunday at our sister parish, the Resurrection, New York. Fr. Swain tells me that the Music was Cristobal de Morales and greatly appreciated. The pall is by Comper (and matches a black Low Mass set of his), as also are the Lectern Fall and the Parish Banner, which can be seen at the Epistle side of the High Altar. Thanks to Fr. Swain for these photos.

This image will be instantly recognisable to most readers. I wonder if anyone could tell me what the recommended height or dimensions are for this sort of bier/catafalque or which term is correct. I remember someone once commented on the set of Travers prints above that "everything has been enlarged for the viewer's gratification", and it certainly seems to feature recklessly high candles. Also, how would such an enormous catafalque be fittingly arranged over/under a coffin? How would that work? I've seen pictures of enormous catafalques in Italy, but most these days seem to be of more modest proportions. I quite like the symbolism of a giant catafalque, but if it gets in the way of the action at the Altar then it's quite inconvenient. Readers let me know your thoughts.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

The only catafalque in the City...

...apparently.....After Mass, the church was live with comment that ours was the only catafalque in the City. Whether that's true, and I'm sure it is, our usual shedloads of tourists and hangers-on filed into S. Magnus in the early afternoon and were offered, in the simple outline of the catafalque with its wreath of poppies, a true memorial, a real shrine at which to take time out and pray for the wartime fallen.

A Solemn Requiem was celebrated this morning for Remembrance Sunday. As Subdeacon, I ventured into the new territory of chanting the Epistle. Luckily for me, the epistle at a Requiem is sung on one note. The Rites of Absolution at the Catafalque followed Mass.

There are many ways to profane a public day of memorial, but few more brutal than the shocking behaviour of the public that voted Jedward through on X Factor. Please continue to pray for the conversion of Louis Walsh.

Monday, 2 November 2009

All Souls Day

I grew up with a very simplistic idea of what happens to us when we die. As a child, heaven was something to hope for; a mystical realm where I would live on a cloud and eat sherbet dibdabs forever, chatting to my dead pets and meeting relatives I’d only ever seen in photos. I had a vaguer, more cautious idea of hell as a large room underneath the church hall, where naughty children were locked away with the devil, thanks to the frustrated attempts of our Sunday School teacher to explain such things to children. What I grew into, as a teenager and a young adult, was the idea that actually nothing happens to us when we die. The assault on my childhood fantasies as I moved into a secularised society was so severe that I, like almost everyone in my generation, came to regard even the possibility of believing in some form of continuation of life after bodily death as so outlandish, unrealistic and idiotic that even those who maintained that a soul can join God in His Kingdom was worthy to be held in contempt.

Not every belief, though, was so ardently attacked. I remember going to a Buddhist meditation class while I was at university, and telling friends that I thought I might believe in the transmigration of souls. That was fine by them. It marked me out as a little quaint but, they said, if it floats your boat then it’s ok if you “buy it”. It’s not surprising that the vocabulary of purchase is applied to the believability of different systems in such a group of young adults. In a way, it sometimes seems that ideologies, beliefs and religions are arranged in a spiritual market place, like poloshirts in Uniqlo, to be looked over, assessed and eventually, invested in. These days, Atheism is flying off the shelves, and to buy into anything else, while not a heinous crime will definitely mark you out as a bit nerdy. To chose the Christian faith, particularly in its Catholic colours, makes you an irredeemable spod.

I sometimes think that a particular culture is capable, at certain points in history, of falling back into a kind of spiritual adolescence or early adulthood. It’s the mid-life crisis of a society that, unlike the human version of the condition, repeats itself at various junctures. I don’t believe that it’s linked to a particular time or place, such as secular Western Europe in the 21st century or Pagan Rome. It happens whenever a community or society allows doubt, fear and prejudice to prevail, and as a result feels the need to reject and trample on its own collective memory. I believe that the hostility and ridicule that Christians suffer for their hope in the Resurrection of the Dead, as also their belief in damnation, is a symptom of that condition.

However, I am just as much a product of my generation and its culture as anyone. My route to the Faith has taken me through all of that posturing and sneering, and that is why to me, Christianity is so unlike anything that came before it. But my thoughts are still, in some way, conditioned by that mindset, I am still partly burdened by the “critical skills” and keenness for a witty jibe that is the baggage of a Cambridge education. How on earth am I supposed to believe, like I say I do, in the “resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come”, in the punishing fires of Hell, or in the purification of Purgatory, when none of it is universally accepted by the world scientific community, let alone my friends? It isn’t easy. In the darkest moments, I feel trapped between the terrifying prospect that “this is it”, and incredulity at the florid accounts sometimes preached about what happens after this life is over.

Perhaps one way to begin the process of reconciling ourselves with the afterlife is to go back to a turning point in the narrative of salvation: the Incarnation. The resounding YES of Mary to God’s call gives way to the unintelligible NO of the Incarnation. I call it a NO, because in a way that we cannot hope to understand, God said NO to Himself, and divested Himself of the glory of omnipotence to be clothed in our own humble flesh, constrained by hunger, thirst, weakness, vulnerable to extreme cold or heat and ultimately to the cruelty of other men. In the resurrection, he rose again and was taken into heaven, body and soul, taking the flesh right into the Godhead, and he promised us that one day, we who love Him will join Him there too in the Father’s Kingdom.

For perhaps the first time in history, the flesh was not despised for the soul to be exalted. When God invited the Apostle to place his hand inside His wounded side, we saw God for who he truly is. In the mystery of the Incarnation, our human world of skin, bones, blood and guts begins to own the possibility of making sense, and in the Resurrection, that process of “making sense” will be complete.

Sometimes, we’ll find it difficult, even impossible, to believe fully in either the Resurrection or the Incarnation. Sometimes, we won’t even want to pray. Sometimes the wickedness of this world will turn us in on ourselves so much so that we lose interest in even thinking about God and resign ourselves to another option; crippling depression, or callow selfishness. However, bringing the thought of our Incarnate God, of our Risen Lord with us as we confront the terrible silence of death might help us grasp the precious thread of our faith and dare to open our eyes on the glory of God.