Third Sunday in Easter
Now we are back on the glorious road to Emmaus. And the Sunday Mass echoes its every word. All Gospels are great but is this the greatest.
On a clear bright summers morning I walked to our local church and looked up the twenty-fifth psalm, Ad te Domine, levavi. Unto thee oh lord will I lift up my soul.
The people ask for a sign from Jesus “What sign will you give us to show that we should believe in you” (John 6:30-35).
We too always ask for a sign and grumble that it is not given to us, but perhaps they are all around us.
After the Mass in the crypt I could not remember any of the readings, just the drawing of the risen Christ on the front of the mass sheet, but perhaps this is instructive. Images, sensations are more important and cleave closer to the brain.
“You can see me and still not believe.” (John 6:35)
I went to Mass in the Cathedral and in front of me the missionary fathers were packed in to the choir. In a receding row they looked like angels in heaven. Perhaps some of them in reality were not so angelic?
After, they prayed in the chantry chapel to Cardinal Vaughan who founded the Mill Hill Seminary. I often pray to him in the hope that unlike the Saints, he has got more time to listen, and after all I pass by his tomb most days. St John Southwell is also around but he comes from a more remote, more sure age, whereas Vaughan – a modern in a time of disbelief, educated at Stonyhurst and Downside – seems more likely to understand.
The reading today is all about Philip’s journey to baptise the Ethiopian in his chariot. We are also in our chariot trundling along through life, but perhaps we are not reading Isaiah like the Ethiopian. If we did, we might notice more things.
I was reading Thomas Merton’s Contemplative Prayer, a marvellous book. He describes the prayer of the early desert mystics as being based on psalmodia, lectionaries, oratio and contemplatio. It is a continuous turning from the World to God. A prayer of watchful listening of the heart. It is a wordless and total surrender of the heart to silence. Early mystics call this prayer of the heart. A prayer that seeks its centre in the ground of our being.
There was stress in in the early monasteries on simple prayer such as Deus in adjutorium meum intende, O god come to my aid. The mystics did not look for extraordinary experiences. They forgot themselves and applied themselves just to love of God. They very much looked to the Psalter as a compendium of the Bible.
Full of thoughts of Thomas Merton, I had had a happy sleep. I got up for Vigils in the monastery at twenty to six. I rarely do this. I don’t have the energy. Between Vigils and Lauds I lay down on my bed. I was tired. I had one of those rare moments of real mindfulness, of a grounding in the eternal and a separation from worry.