Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Why this blog and why its title?

The second question is the easier to answer!  The words are a favourite phrase of mine; they come from a prayer written by the writer, theologian, priest and cardinal John Henry Newman (1801-1890).  I think it is worth reproducing in full:
 'God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons.
He has not created me for naught. I shall do good; I shall do His work.  I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it if I do but keep His commandments.  Therefore, I will trust Him, whatever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him, in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him. If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me. Still, He knows what He is about.' 
Bl. John Henry Newman: Meditations on Christian Doctrine, Meditations and Devotions,  March 7, 1848.
These are wise enough words in themselves, but I have another reason to cherish them.  I heard them repeated by one of my heroes, Pope Benedict XVI (now Pope Emeritus), at the vigil held in Hyde Park before Newman's beatification.
'Here I wish to say a special word to the many young people present. Dear young friends: only Jesus knows what “definite service” he has in mind for you. Be open to his voice resounding in the depths of your heart: even now his heart is speaking to your heart. Christ has need of families to remind the world of the dignity of human love and the beauty of family life. He needs men and women who devote their lives to the noble task of education, tending the young and forming them in the ways of the Gospel. He needs those who will consecrate their lives to the pursuit of perfect charity, following him in chastity, poverty and obedience, and serving him in the least of our brothers and sisters. He needs the powerful love of contemplative religious, who sustain the Church’s witness and activity through their constant prayer. And he needs priests, good and holy priests, men who are willing to lay down their lives for their sheep. Ask our Lord what he has in mind for you! Ask him for the generosity to say “yes!” Do not be afraid to give yourself totally to Jesus. He will give you the grace you need to fulfil your vocation.'
 Benedict XVI addressing young people at Hyde Park, in London, 18th September, 2010.


If it is good enough an idea for these two men, it is good enough for me: that even the hardest  and humblest deed can be done in 'some definite service' (a paradox in the best tradition of Christianity, as Chesterton might have pointed out), and is never in vain.

Now I may be misguided in believing that this could apply specifically to my writing a blog about (I imagine) all sorts of things like poetry, culture, music and so on, and I may very much doubt that anyone else's 'definite service' extends to having to read it, but it ought to be good writing practice and a bit of fun.
'I too shall something make,
And joy in the making...'

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