LIBERA ME, Domine, Iesu Christe, ab omnibus iniquitatis meis et universis malis,
fac me tuis semper inhærere mandatis et a te numquam separari permittas. Amen.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Toppers & Tails

I always enjoy reading ‘My Way, God’s Way’; the blog of two Dominican brothers, frs Peter & Isidore Clarke OP, who live, respectively, in Grenada and Leicester, but who run a joint blog to share with us their own fascinating insights into life, and how they find God in it, and understand more of Him through the minutiæ of everyday life.

Recently there was a post titled ‘In Old People’ in which fr Isidore considered the question of ageing, and also commented on the speed with which life has changed in recent years; and that post came back to me today, which is the first day of the Royal Ascot meeting.

To look at the photo above, you could be forgiven for thinking that nothing has changed at Royal Ascot in a century; and yet a tremendous amount has changed even in the last five years.

‘Fascinating’, I hear you say; ‘but precisely what has this got to do with the Catholic Faith’ ?

Well, one of the points which fr Isidore makes is that the elderly are a link with our past; and that their memories are the repositories of our cultural histories – which means, of course, that unless we are to find ourselves trying to ‘re-invent the wheel’ in each generation, we need to learn from them.

fr Isidore tells of his mother, who lived to be 93, and saw a tremendous amount in her long life : my own grandfather, though not so long-lived, was at Dover Castle when Bleriot landed there after becoming the first man to fly across the English Channel, and lived to watch Neil Armstrong land on the moon.

The Catholic Faith is, in one sense, utterly unchanging; the Deposit of Faith cannot change because it is the truth of God . . . yet it has to relate to the God’s world afresh in every generation. How it does that is, necessarily, by developing : but the development must be based on history, and relates only to how the Faith is proclaimed – never to what is proclaimed.

The Holy Father has spoken of ‘the hermeneutic of continuity’; but this is not, as some seem to think, a new thing – it’s a very old one; it's just that until recently no-one ever even thought of it, because it was so much part of the Church's mindset. It was only recognition of the effects of the idea (which arose in the minds of some people in the mid-Twentieth Century) that development necessarily required abandonment of tradition that made people realize that such an approach is inimical to the good order and life of the Church.

So; in an odd way, as we see the anachronistic toppers on TV this week as they talk about Royal Ascot, let us recognize that in a tiny way this is a reminder of something important; the principal of building on tradition, not abandoning it on the basis of ‘change for the sake of change’. Of course change can be fun; but when the stability of people’s lives is involved, let us acknowledge that there is also merit in the principle of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ !

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