Sunday, December 29, 2013

Blogday 2013: Disposal and the Disposer

Today, it being the Sunday in the Octave of Christmas is also St Thomas Becket's feast day on which we remember his martyrdom at the hands of the knights in Canterbury Cathedral. It also happens to be the 8th Blogday of this little blogling.

I had no idea that this little blog would still be going after eight years. So many things have a short life expectancy these days. We do live in a disposable society in which things are readily and rapidly got rid of when they have served their purpose. For Henry the Second, it was his legendary offhand remark that led to the disposal of the Martyr St Thomas. It seems that even lives can be seen to be disposable to human whim.

Folk of a certain age will remember the hymn "Disposer Supreme and Judge of the Earth"and we see very clearly that the word "to dispose" has two different meanings. We still say that a man has all the resources at his disposal, meaning that he has the pick-and-choose of what to use to accomplish a given task. Yet a disposable camera is designed to be disposed of - thrown away. St Thomas shows us that there is a further nuance to the word suggesting that the thing to be disposed of is deeply undesirable, like a disposable nappy.

The ACC does have the lease of Conquest House, the place where the knights who murdered St Thomas spent the afternoon before they did their disposal. It's a fascinating place and worth visiting for the architecture alone, though the refectory and the Church Shop are well worth a visit in themselves. This is how we have been disposed to use the place and we are very well aware of its place in British History.

So how is God a disposer? St Paul reminds us,
"...Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known , endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, " Romans ix.20-23
God clearly not only has the power to do with us what He will, He also has the right to do with us what He will. That's not to say that He does actually will anyone to be fitted to destruction. After all, as St Paul says to St Timothy,
" I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved , and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." (I Timothy ii.1-6)
God does not treat mankind like things to be thrown away. No-one is destined for Hell, though if anyone ends up there, it is of their own choice. St Paul is making the point that God has the whole universe at His disposal for the simple reason that He creates it all out of nothing. It's His by right and this includes our lives.

This frightens so many people because they want to be in total control of their lives. The Christian knows full well that he just does not have that level of freedom. His life may never go the way that he chooses and often there is difficulty and struggle involved. What deflects a man from his choice? Aside from the will of God, there is the will of man and the will of the Devil too. Two of these wills are in conflict and the third, the will of man, vacillates between the two to the extent that one cannot separate the good from the bad. This makes the fact that we are not saved by our own merits a VERY good thing!

God disposes us to be what He created. The devil, in his spite, outrage and sheer bloody-mindedness wants us disposed of to Gehenna (the Biblical scrapheap - putting it politely). All these forces make the actual job of living very hard at times. The Church always seems to be struggling uphill and many of us feel like Sisyphus. We have two things in our favour. First, we exist. Second, God wants us to exist. In that sense, the victory is quite clear, for nothing can upset the Devil more than something existing in the first place, because existence is the fundamental quality of God. This demonstrates quite clearly how insane the Devil really is; he hates the very fact that he exists, mainly because he does not want his existence to depend on God.

The trouble is, how often do we actually agree with the Devil?

The fact of the matter is that, although the wills of God, the Devil and Man, are very much at odds with each other, only God has the complete control over how things go. The universe holds no surprise for Him, only delight.

It's fair to say that I am aware that I am not in complete control of my life. That's actually been very comforting. If I'd had my way, I know for a fact I'd be deeply unhappy now.

Speaking on the religious front, I did not join the ACC to become a priest: I joined because I wanted ( to continue) to be a Catholic Christian. Yet, my calling to be a priest has been recognised and I find myself saying Mass and with a future distributing the other sacraments proper to my condition. This is an unexpected privilege which also comes with the concomitant costs. For St Thomas Becket, the cost was nothing less than a headsplittingly painful death. But with God, not even Death has control of how things work out and our strong belief is the St Thomas Becket is with God in Heaven.

I do not find myself in a comfortable position in the ACC because the ACC has a precarious existence, like a delicate flower in the wind. It will be God's good grace that helps us continue at His disposal. We trust Him even though things look a little dark around the edges sometimes. However, I am content to let the Disposer do the disposing - that's not to say I'm not nervous of the prospect. If God were tame, He would not be God.

I am immensely thankful for this year and for all the exciting and wonderful things that have happened. Next year, if my plans meet with Divine approval, will have some truly wonderful points (particularly midyear). If my plans do not meet with Divine approval, well, who knows? Here's to the ninth year of blogging! God bless you all, my tenacious readers!

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