Worship Moments September 16

Dear friends, 

Yesterday, for the first time in six months, with a sensation of being personally betrayed by nature, I put on my fall jacket. In the left pocket of the jacket I found an old mask...

Without further ado, I went on to complain to my wife about the obvious travails of quarantine and exhort her to reveal to me "when this whole thing will be over". With her habitual "there, there, Vlad" that usually addresses most of my issues, she calmly went on about her day. I found her contentment infuriating. How can anyone be happy while waiting for happiness to return from somewhere? And how long must one wait?  As is my custom, I went on to have long philosophical deliberations with myself, for which my wife has neither the time nor the patience. Thankfully, I was blessed with a duty to keep a blog page at Trinity United Church. Armed with this platform, I have embarked on a mission to share my thoughts with you with redoubled enthusiasm (perhaps I am destined to either be a lecturer or a preacher). 

While I hope to spare you the cliches to the effect of "I've been looking for something that's been there all along", it is worth pointing out that I felt cheated out of the summer. Having spent most of it inside, it seems like it has never arrived at all. I am still waiting for it now. And yet, the summer did come - it has been coming every day. I just did not see it. 

The lense through which we look at the world matters. This week, I found the perspective of the pantheists sympathetic. Pantheism is a belief that reality is identical with divinity, or that all things compose an all-encompassing, immanent deity. The most original and brilliant of Christian pantheists was John the Scot (c.815-877). He maintains that creation is an eternal process; it is indistinguishable from God, who is both the source and substance of the universe. Salvation, thus, is also eternal and all-encompassing. It will not come in the future; rather, it comes every day. 

This view of creation as timeless was, of course, deemed heretical. Like all pantheists, John the Scot had difficulties with the presence of sin and evil in the world, which compelled him to interpret the account of Genesis allegorically. Paradise and the Fall are, likewise, not literal for him. He holds that man was, originally, without sin; sin consists in misdirected will, in falsely supposing something to be good that is not so; or, as it was in my case this summer, in looking away from something that is good. Punishment for this is natural, but is not eternal. Like Origen, John maintains that even Satan will eventually be saved. All of this John describes in his magnum opus on the division of Nature. It was repeatedly condemned, and at last, in 1225, Pope Honorius III ordered all copies of it to be burnt. Fortunately, this order was not sufficiently carried out. 

The piece I wanted to share with you is one by Patrick Hawes (1958-), and is entitled "Quanta qualia". The translation from the Latin is as follows: 

O anima mea Mane! O quanta qualia Conventus gaudia Erunt. 

O my soul Wait! O how great and how wonderful the joys of meeting will be.

Words: Andrew Hawes (1954-)

Hope you enjoy, dear friends! And hope you are well these days, 

Vlad S.

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