The Feast of the Holy Family
It was nice to persuade my children to go to mass today and hear the readings about the Holy Family. People can complain if they want that the readings are gooey or old-fashioned but they are beautiful and loving and right too.
I was trying to think of a more personal prayer. I thought of this.
May my thoughts be beside you, God Creator, whoever you are, wherever you are, however you are. Who are you? Who am I? You are all that creates and is created. You are all of humanity and all of every life in the universe. You are not just in Heaven. You are here in this room, beside me. You walk in the fields. You are sky and forest and sea: unchanged, mover yet unmoved.
I was late for Mass because they put the time forward but to arrive in time for communion is something. I saw unexpectedly that there was a midnight mass at 11:30. I should have gone. I went instead to the fireworks on the river. A mistake. There is something depressing about tens of thousands of people seeing thousands of pounds of fireworks go up in smoke in ten minutes. A sort of fatuous municipal bread and circuses. But they are beautiful.
WEDNESDAY – New Year’s Day
Mass at the Carmelites was cancelled so I missed it. I listened as always to the New Year’s Day concert from Vienna: it’s not the same in London as it is looking at the winter sun in Lincolnshire. So I rely on my notes for the previous year and Psalm 66 still resonates.
Feast of Sts Basil and Gregory
I was listening to the sermon about how these gentlemen fought the Arian heresy. I suspect I have been prone to Arianism. Perhaps I still am. I am attracted to a vague Godness in the universe. I wonder how a man who walked in Palestine could have made all this. But curiously as I listened to the sermon about how we should reject this very unworldliness and accept God’s willingness to share this world with us I saw the logic of Christ’s divinity too.
A watery day. We went to the film ‘All is Lost’ with Robert Redford.
No word is spoken for one hundred and eighty minutes. An epic of survival as everything goes wrong. What I like about the film is that Redford is old, the yacht is old. He lives for the present and never til the end despairs and is given survival from death in the end.
We went to the Pearl exhibition in the V&A. Pearls are mass produced by the hundreds of thousands now but up to the 1910s were only caught naturally in the sea. A pearl diver had to open on average 2,000 oysters for every pearl he found.
And on they fished, on they were brought up, they prayed.
We went to a talk by Jean Vanier, founder of l’Arche communities for the disabled. He is 85 now, still a truly inspiring teacher. He tells the tale of Pauline, multiply disabled, and Eric, blind and deaf. Their anger comes from not having been loved and having been humiliated. Anger comes from humiliation, in being disregarded. He was asked, Jean, if he meets politicians. No, he doesn’t debate he says, he just listens. He says we must put conformity to conscience above all things. Go where your conscience decrees: him to join the navy as a youth and then out of no resources to create the first l’Arche house.