4th December

Yesterday I was talking about Malawi, and earlier today I was reflecting that one of the things that attracts me to Catholicism is the understanding that God is present in everything and everyone good and natural in this world. The mystery for us is that God is so close and so definitely with us. God continues the work of creation. In some ways, at the Reformation and during the Enlightenment a clearer line was drawn between this world and the next. The relationship of God’s world to ‘ours’ became more starkly delineated by our desire to reject anything in this world that could not be explained. At that point the idea of miracles, or praying for the dead or asking the saints for their help, died as well. The boundary between the Church here on earth and the Church in heaven was too much to cross. Not totally of course, but it became harder to see the power of God flowing though everything, to see the world as mysterious and wonderful. Wonder is not a rational concept. In the little church in the parish I stayed at in Malawi the decoration came straight from the everyday lives of the people. Here in the pictures you see Christ rising from the cross, depicted as part of a ripe maize cob, from the maize plant, whose cycle of life is vital to the lives of the people. The tabernacle is a maize store, as it is the maize store that protects what feeds the people. The lectern, from which the word nourishes the people, is a flourishing maize plant. God reaching out to us in the everyday things of this life.

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