Monday, 21 January 2013

The running of the deer...

Back a few days late due to snow and treacherously icy roads on the French side of the Channel.

A week ago, walking on the higher land above the farmhouse (I won't call them hills exactly - gently undulating with woods is a better description of the local topography) , the dog and I were surprised by four or five roe deer (chevreuil) - identifiable by the white flashes on their rumps - who moved rapidly but incredibly gracefully across the fields, vaulted the hedge and were gone.
It was a bit paradoxical, in view of the Christmas carol which speaks of 'the running of the deer,' that they should appear on the very day the Church reverted to 'Ordinary Time.' 
I've never much cared for the abruptness of the modern transition to 'tempus per annum' from the Christmas Season following the Feast of the Baptism; for one thing there are so many themes left to be explored after the great celebration of the Nativity. 
Far better was the older, more organic, gradual shift away from the celebrations of Christmas to the austerities of Lent found in the practice of the medieval Church with the season ending definitively at Candlemass.  Yet even now, in these early weeks of ordinary time, the weeks after the Epiphany,  we continue implicitly to explore the mystery of the Word made flesh and dwelling among us. Gradually we take the 'liturgical decorations' down, pondering them as we put them away for another year....

After several abortive attempts to travel to the channel ports through snow and freezing rain, I finally got away at dawn on Sunday morning across some fairly hair-raisingly slippery roads before I reached the comparative security of the autoroute. On the way I made the mistake on turning on the car radio to catch the 'Sunday Worship' slot on BBC Radio 4 [long wave, audible for a long way down the west coast of France] where I picked up a service from St Martin-in-the-Fields 'anticipating' the second inauguration of U.S. President Barack Obama. [here]  Putting on one side the wisdom of devoting three-quarters of an hour of 'worship' to the theme of the swearing in of a foreign head of state (particularly one who, domestically, is proving to be such a divisive and secularist figure)  the result was predictable, partisanly liberal (in its over-blown comparisons with the heroic figure of Abraham Lincoln) and smugly anaemic. More and more it is becoming apparent that only a searching but unashamed Christian orthodoxy  is capable of interrogating the political process and challenging those who lead it. On show, however, were the usual chaplains to an aggressively secular culture...   

Some music, sung in French, to return to. Perhaps it is only the faith of the Saints, the faith of the Incarnation, which is capable of redeeming the narcissism of the age...
'Dirait-on'  (from Les Chansons des Roses) a setting by Morten Lauridesen of words by Rilke. Performed here by the Chamber Choir of Europe, conducted by Nicol Matt and accompanied on the piano by the composer.


  1. Welcome back ... missed you; well, your posts at least! :)

  2. "partisanly liberal (in its over-blown comparisons with Abraham Lincoln)"

    Ironic, given that Lincoln was a Republican.

  3. Yes, it's the comparison being made which is 'partisanly liberal' - but you're right: the irony is lost on them.

  4. Dear Father, they reproduced your post on Virtue Online as a part of "this week's digest"!.

    + pax et bonum


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