Modern Trends

Without doubt, the Christian faith appears to have lost a lot of ground in Europe over the past fifty or so years.
For the Catholic Church, but not exclusively so, we have had a crisis point over the disgraceful behaviour of some of
its priests and a penitential posture is now rightly appropriate. Remarkably, we have not seen the rise of Communism
nor indeed the triumph of Capitalism, which has had a difficult time with the banking crisis; and the world of political
systems seems to be highly suspect. In England, and other parts of Europe, the systemic corruption that permeates
government and parliament has tarnished the respect once held by our politicians. There is also dissatisfaction being
expressed with our system of law, that so often appears to punish the innocent rather than protect them from the guilty.
More recently, we have experienced the exposure of an unhealthy symbiosis between the press in England and its influential
control of government and its payments to the police. It is a bit like living in a vacuum, is it not?


Easter Thoughts

In 1547 an Italian, called Peter Martyr Vermigli, was appointed to be the Regius Professor of Theology at Oxford.  Previously he had been an Augustinian monk at Fiesole, and had embraced the Reformation cause.  He sought refuge in England, which had by the time of his appointment seen the reformed Church of England firmly established.  His Philosophical Works make for heavy reading, but they do contain some gems, particularly when he writes about the resurrection.   Here are some of his words:
    “If one set of  qualities and affections belongs to children and another to youths and to old people, it is still the same person and the same man in childhood, youth and old age.  Thus we can define the resurrection of the dead this way: it is a new union of the soul with the body by the force or power  of God.”  “Let us talk of the seed of the vine: its body is so small that it can hardly be held between two little fingers.  Where are the roots in it, and the trunk of the roots, or the complex of tentacles?  The shade of its foliage? Where the beauty of the grape clusters?  Although that seed is very dry, from it winepresses overflow with floods of grape juice.  These things happen daily in nature, so we should reflect that whenever our bodies are sent to the tomb, the seeds of the resurrection are being committed to the furrows for a second renewal.” “Sparkling gems are commonly collected from the caves of the earth.” 
    Reading these words, I am reminded of Thomas Gray’s Elegy written in a Country Churchyard where we read the verse,
                Full many a gem of purest ray  serene
                The dark unfathom’d caves of ocean bear:
                Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
                And waste its sweetness on the desert air.

In these excerpts we are encouraged to regard people through the eyes of God, who views us as something valuable, beautiful and precious.   The resurrection speaks of God restoring us to our true worth in his sight.  So may you have a blessed and joyful Easter, and may all who we have loved and have gone before us enjoy the harvest of their lives in God’s presence.


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