Saturday, 10 November 2012

For November 11th: "our imaginations are broken against the obstacle of a hideous arithmetic"

Another excerpt from Austin Farrer's sermon, 'The Villages of Heaven,'  preached in the Chapel of All Soul's, Oxford, 'not long after the war of 1939' 
Note the heavy irony at the beginning.....
"Your foundation in the days of superstition was to offer prayers and sacrifices for men fallen in the wars. How happy for you that reformation has relieved you of the burden, or your present commitments would be formidable. In those days the fallen in a war made up a company of persons able to be individually known. A village here, a village there would mourn a fallen soldier, and the priest would offer sacrifice for his repose. Now the lists are too much even to run one's eyes through, and our imaginations are broken against the obstacle of a hideous arithmetic, where no significant difference seems to be made by the addition of a nought or two to the right hand side of the row. And these men are to be mourned, if mourned, by cities, not villages; cities which can hold public parades and make gestures of homage, but can neither love nor know their dead. a general and somewhat spurious sentiment of respect has to do duty for the love of Christians to fellow Christians, and a sinner, gone to face his everlasting account by the road of sudden and violent death.
May they rest in peace, may light perpetual shine upon them, those millions for whom we cannot choose but pray; because prayer is a sharing in the love of the heart of God, and the love of God is earnestly set towards the salvation of his spiritual creatures by, through and out of the fire that purifies them...."

Ravel's Piano Concerto for the left hand: 
Andrei Gavrilov, the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Simon Rattle

Tomorrow morning at our requiem mass we will be be praying for and remembering those from our own parishes who died in the two world wars of the last century, including the man thought to be the last British serviceman to die in the Great War, Able Seaman Richard Morgan, whose grave is in the churchyard at Holy Cross, Kilgwrrwg. [see here]

1 comment:

  1. Many thanks Father for the quote from Austin Farrer's sermon. Where are the preachers today who can in any way compare with the likes of him.


Anonymous comments will not be published