Monday, 28 November 2016

Stir up thy strength O Lord and come...

We live in a world where secularism reigns, and many in the Church seem bent on a policy of appeasement rather than defence of truth.  Scripture and the Fathers offer many warnings about the consequences of such a policy, not least in the readings set for Advent, when we contemplate not just the first coming of Christ, but also his return in judgment.

Today's readings for Matins in the 1962 form of the Office are from Isaiah chapter 1, and seem to me to be particularly apposite:
Wash yourselves clean, spare me the sight of your busy wickedness, of your wrong-doing take farewell. Learn, rather, how to do good, setting your hearts on justice, righting the wrong, protecting the orphan, giving the widow redress; then come back, says the Lord, and make trial of me.
Strange, that the city once so faithful, once so upright, has turned harlot; the haunt of murderers, that was the home of right! The silver in thee turned to dross, the wine grown watery to the taste, thy law-givers wanting loyalty, so that they make common cause with thieves! None of them but takes bribe and looks for profit, none will give the orphan redress, none listen to the plaint of the widow. 
What, then, does the Lord proclaim; he, the God of hosts, he, the Prince of Israel? Out upon it, I will rid myself of these rebels, my enemies shall have their deserts.  And then I will take thee in hand again, smelting thee till thou art free from dross, purging away all that base alloy. Once more I will give thee judges like the judges of old, counsellors like the counsellors of past days, and thou shalt be called the home of right, the faithful city.  Right and justice shall be done, when Sion is redeemed, when her exiles return;  with one blow, the wayward sinner shall be overthrown, by the Lord he has forsaken doomed to perish. 
And on the subject of law-givers and princes of the Church (though they mostly disdain that title these days),  The Catholic Thing has an interesting post well worth a read called The Silence of the Lions.  It poses the question of what would have happened if all the bishops, and not just one or two had stood firm at key points in history: if more had stood with St John Fisher against Henry VIII, or with Bishop von Galen against the Nazis for example.

Pray hard this Advent, for our bishops to arise.

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