Weekly Newsletter(click to download PDF)
The Rector writes ...
The Psalmist could write: “the years of our life are three-score and ten, or even by reason of strength fourscore” but some revision of that observation would seem necessary now that the present generation is projected to live to be one hundred and five. Increasing human longevity was brought home to me by a recent article in the "Catholic Herald". It contained an interview with someone it claimed to be the oldest nun in the world. Sister Anne was born in Belgium, but most of her life as a religious has been spent just the other side of Regents Park, in Camden Town, where her vocation has been fuliflled in catechetics. As I read the article, I realised that Sister Anne is a figure from my own past (I had thought her long dead) who is now one hundred and ten and as mentally alert and sharp as ever. Sister Romain, as she then was before reverting to her baptismal name, was present at my Anglican ordination in St Paul’s Cathedral – she was then already sixty five, and would have been ten at the beginning of the First World War. What a wonderful life-span.
We have come to that part of the year when the theme of the Scriptures consistently challenges us to face up to the reality of judgement. No matter how many years may be added to life expectancy, the simple truth is that there must be a terminus ad quem, that dying cannot be postponed indefinitely, but to quote Therese of Lisieux “not death, but God will take me”. To think of God imposing judgement is perhaps to have turned a truth on its head and to have fallen into the fundamental error of creating the Divine according to our own logic. Rather, when we come face to face with ultimate Truth and Love and Goodness, we shall see ourselves for the first time as we are - we shall judge ourselves in the light emanating from God which will illuminate every part of our character and history. YOUCAT offers a chilling assessment of these moments: “even Christ cannot help someone who does not want to know anything about love: such people judge themselves”.
Christian faith teaches that the whole world stands under judgement and that there will come a moment when Christ is seen in his absolute glory. The Second Coming, in which the Kingdom of “truth and life, holiness and grace, justice, love and peace” (to which the Preface of today’s Mass testifies) will be finally established, is an event whose timing is known only to the Father. “As for that day and hour, nobody knows it, neither the angels or heaven, nor the Son, no one but the Father only” (Matthew 24:36). Jesus’ teaching is consistent: we must be ready at all times so that when the summons comes, whether it be personal or universal, we are prepared for what must be. “Manana” is an understandable human disposition, but it has no part in the Christian journey! It could be when we are one hundred and five, or even one hundred and ten, but the call home to God might also come tonight or tomorrow.
Are we ready to meet God? Have we yet begun to understand the meaning of love as defined by Saint John? (it would do us all well to read his First Letter during Advent). C.S Lewis looks beyond judgment to what awaits: let us pray that his vison is realised in each one of us: “your place in heaven will seem to be made for you and you alone, because you were made for it – made for it, stitch by stitch, as a glove is made for a hand”