Electric Prayer

The Liturgy of the Hours, the Mass, and other things.

Archive for April, 2006

Wallowing in the Fathers

Posted by universalis on 30 April 2006

The Office of Readings has two big readings each day. The first is from the Bible and the second is from more or less anywhere else – but often from the Christian writers of the earliest centuries, the “Fathers of the Church”.

Filling in the gaps in the collection of Second Readings, I’ve been (re)translating some of the very earliest Fathers from around 100AD – Pope Clement I, Ignatius of Antioch (who was sent from Smyrna to Rome to be killed by the beasts in the amphitheatre and spent the journey firing off letters to half a dozen Christian churches), and others. Some of these Apostolic Fathers were treated more or less as Scripture in the first few centuries.

What stands out for me – getting all of them in one dose like this, rather than the steady drip-by-drip daily readings that you will see – is the way that everything has been turned upside down for these people by the Incarnation and the Resurrection. They are still overwhelmed by what God did and still coming to terms with it, and you can see them thinking out what it all means. It’s like looking like an Old Master’s drawings rather than just his finished, polished final painting. You see the ideas that didn’t make it as well as the ones that did; and even the most familiar phrases gain freshness and power when you watch someone working them out for the first time.

On Universalis the Second Readings are now complete until early June. The first missing one is for the Wednesday after Pentecost, when the first reading is from the book of Job and the second is from meditations on the book of Job by St Gregory the Great. At least I can rest for a few weeks first…

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