God Sis­ter Teresa

The Oldie - - CONTENTS -

‘Thou God seest me’ was em­bossed in bold, black, cap­i­tal let­ters on one of a pair of 19th-cen­tury Stafford­shire plates given to my mother. Lik­ing nei­ther their ap­pear­ance nor their mes­sage, she ban­ished them to a spare bed­room.

That plate haunted me all my life. Dur­ing child­hood, I was con­vinced that there was an all-know­ing in­vig­i­la­tor ob­serv­ing my ev­ery mis­de­meanour (but for some rea­son never the good in me). As an adult, for quite some time, I had the dis­agree­able sen­sa­tion that there was a su­pe­rior and dis­ap­prov­ing be­ing look­ing over my shoul­der. This is the sort of de­luded gloom that takes place if ei­ther bad the­ol­ogy, or no the­ol­ogy at all, is al­lowed the up­per hand.

As a Carmelite novice, I was in­tro­duced to a the­ol­ogy that ap­pealed to both mind and heart, wel­com­ing per­sonal en­quiries and pre­sent­ing the God whose essence is un­con­di­tional love.

Con­trary to mis­in­formed opin­ion, he of­ten ap­pears as such in the Old Tes­ta­ment. See Zepha­niah 3:17-19: ‘The Lord God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will re­joice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing… I will undo all that af­flict thee: and I will save her that hal­teth, and gather her that was driven out; and I will get them praise and fame in ev­ery land where they have been put to shame.’

Ad­vent this year be­gins on Sun­day, 2nd De­cem­ber. It is a time of year when Chris­tians should be ask­ing them­selves where they stand in re­la­tion to God. One of our cer­tain­ties is that he is al­ways with us. But are we al­ways with him, or do we only look to him when we oc­ca­sion­ally feel de­vout or have been over­taken by tragedy? We can­not see him this side of eter­nity but we are un­der an obli­ga­tion to lis­ten. The 13th-cen­tury scholar Saint Thomas Aquinas con­firms this in his Eu­charis­tic hymn Adoro Te De­vote: ‘Sight, touch and taste in thee are each de­ceived. The ear alone most safely is be­lieved.’

Ad­vent means the ar­rival of Je­sus. As well as be­ing a time of an­tic­i­pa­tion, it is also about cel­e­bra­tion and joy.

I never man­aged to re­mem­ber what was writ­ten on the other plate. When I went home for the first time in 30 years for my mother’s fu­neral, I dis­cov­ered that it was ‘O Praise Ye the Lord!’

Quite so.

‘Is it lo­cally sourced?’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.