I have been tasked to write somesthing profound every day as a Lenten exercise. It is charitable of Seraphic to suppose I am capable of that, but where does she think I have the profondity from which such profound things could flow?
Up to this morning the only thing I felt capable of writing was No. 231 of the Mysteries of Everyday Life, namely, how a flat can become most nauseatingly dirty in two weeks during which nobody has been living in it to speek of. Or to elaborately describe the rather affable lady in an enormous fur coat sitting close to me last night in the tram, who was most kindly familiar and condescending to everyone who was unlucky enough to take the seat opposite to her, and then was going on about the straits in which “the man in the street” was finding himself right now, what things he could no longer afford, exhibiting considerable sympathy and even more considerable ignorance of the realities in “then man in the streets life”, until I was cringing in vicarious embaressment and prayed for her to get out the next stop, which eventually she did. Phew!
Today, however, I betook myself grumblingly to the Catholic church on the verge of our University Campus, not really wishing to go there but unable to get that stance out of my conscience about “praying” in Lent (more than usual, or at all, as the case may be). Said church is just moderately ugly bordering on agreeable for anyone who did not know it before it was “modernised”. Unluckily, as a penitential exercise, I think, they move all the chairs to face each other so that you have to kneel diagonally to face the tabernacle.
As I was leaving I met with a couple I know from my present parish. We walked through the park together in the current outbreak of spring, and I was asked if I lived here – no, but I had lived here – and if this had been my parish then. Now this parish is run by Nasty Liberals, so that I never went there unless I was too ill to drag myself anywhere else. I tried to indicate that state of things by saying that they had rather creative liturgies there, assuming that was enough in the way of explanation. (My present parish is liturgically and doctrinally very correct, so I always assume youngish people who go there agree with that outlook.”
“Creative? What do you mean?”, the husband asked me.
“Well, the sermon always being held by lay people. A lot of ‘action’. Children acting a play instead of a sermon, that kind of stuff”, I said, in the hope of making myself sufficiently clear. “Often no one sticking to the Mass texts at all”, I added, seeing with dread that my representation had so far failed to convince him of the awfulness.
“And you didn’t try to learn and appreciate that more creative way?”
I hid my shock, and said, beeming: “No. You see, I am a conservative.”
“But you might wish to get over that.”
“No. Indeed not!”
That was the end of this strain of conversation. We came to talk about my job here, about the uncertainties I was facing in the future, which prompted me to say, as a conclusion “Now, I don’t worry too much. Much can happen in three or four years. The world could come to an end, for one thing, and all the worrying would have been for nothing.”
He seemed quite taken aback. “I don’t think there is the need to be that pessimistic!”, he said.
“Pessimistic? But no! It’s what we’re praying for all the time”, I said, gleefully.
It seemed he considered the kingdom of God as now present in us quite sufficient already and saw no need of any Apocalypse, Judgement and New Jerusalem. I promised to send him a link to Newman’s wonderful sermon on how we can pray for the end of the world to come, and went of though the brightest sunshine in a very satisfied mood. Given what a lukewarm Christian I am myself, I find it amazing how I always manage to give my brethren in the Faith very edifying sermons on the existence of hell, Predestination, the end of the world and other cheerful subjects to foster Christian Hope.