Monday, February 29, 2016

The Terror of the Cute

I notice among some folk that there is an apparently strange reaction to things that are cute. We can be presented with a playful puppy or kitten, or be given a baby to hold who just smiles and smiles at us. It is as we get overwhelmed by the happy feelings that these wonderful things that a certain negativity arises in us. We suddenly want the cuteness or beauty to end. We seek to push it away, even crush it, destroy it. Somehow we just cannot cope with this wonderful thing. Cuteness hurts.

Yet, this is actually very normal, if rather unwelcome or disturbing. It seems we have a limit to the sheer joy that we can feel before it becomes too difficult to endure. We see this in St Peter's reaction to Our Lord. The sheer greatness of God, even as a human being is too much for us that, like St Peter, we say "away from me, Lord, for I am a sinner." We are so used to the sin in our lives, the darkness of the World and the blind indifference of the universe to the needs of its inhabitants, that we cannot cope with the beauty with which we are all created.

Cute things come with the label, "please take care of me". The purity and innocence they convey shows up in us the filth and wretchedness within our own selves giving us the the dreadful realisation that, actually, we cannot take care of them. Yet, the cuteness is insistent to the extent that the vision of ourselves causes the feelings of affection to cloy and corrupt. We know that we cannot adequately meet their demands, and so try to obliterate the demand that cuteness infallibly makes.

To recognise that our love and ability to take care of lovely things is limited is always a shock. Yet it points to the fact that we need taking care of too. We need help and kindness and warmth if we are to function. We too bear a label that says "please take care of me". Although we may not present the same cuteness as a kitten or baby, we still have it. God beholds us as being adorable. That's the terrible fact and it is unavoidable. We are loved and cannot fail to be loved.

Worms might never get the same press as kittens, but God rejoices in creating them. Even more does He rejoice in us so much as to send His Son, Our Lord, to burst the prison of our own making. And that's the scandal.

We seek to be in control. We seek always to meet the challenge that is thrown at us. We seek to repel the invader and protect all that is vulnerable and all that we cherish. We try to possess the cute things in life and give them unwavering and absolute nurture. The fact is that we can't and it hurts us.

Dealing with these feelings and fears is the work of humility. It can only be done with God's help. We have to learn to walk away from cute things with a spirit of thankfulness to God and recognition of our inability to provide what He alone can provide.

Kittens and babies grow up and become their own selves. We can only do our best for them in the love of God.

The Lie of Deliberate Obstruction

Occasionally in our prayers and reflections, we human beings can suddenly get a sense of clarity, and we realise that we have been lied to. Thus has happened to me a few times and I  have tried to blog the results. Given that we should always be seeking the truth, indeed our family motto is veritas omnia vincit, I do intend to record these moments of clarity as they occur. We are being lied to, but not necessarily by other folk. Thus here begin reflections on The Lie.

You know the sort of situation. You turn onto a single lane road, only to see another car coming towards you. Someone has to back up.

Or you're in a hurry at the bank, and you're behind the little old lady who has decided to take out £100 in 10 pence pieces and the clerk is counting every wretched one.

All too often, we blame the other driver, or the old lady, or the bank clerk for our inconvenience as if they were acting with the express purpose of inconveniencing us, or at least blaming them for their selfish behaviour. Have we really thought about what is actually going on here?

One might say that everyone is naturally selfish. That's not quite true. Everyone is naturally looking out for their own ends and both society and religious practice can help train us to look out for others. Wilfully being self-serving is true selfishness having its expression in Lust, Avarice, and Gluttony. The old lady may need those 10p pieces to feed an antiquated gas meter that her stingy landlord hasn't bothered to replace. The bank clerk may be driven by professional courtesy to ensure that the old lady isn't diddled out of a single coin. The other driver may be just visiting his mother. Or they may all just be out to ruin your day. Which is most likely?

The real thing to blame is the timing. Human beings interact chaotically. Simple social rules and conventions create complex and colourful behaviour, allowing us to express ourselves and live our lives. But the complexity of living mean that we do get in each others' ways albeit for the most part unwittingly and ignorantly. Indeed, we can be at our most obstructive to others when we are actually trying to help.

We have to see the clear thing here. Unless we actually have the information in front of us, we can assume nothing about the other's motives or intentions. Any obstruction is most likely to be bad timing more than anything else.

This does mean that we have to learn to relinquish the illusion that things are deliberately out to get in our way. This illusion is born of another illusion which is more pernicious, namely the illusion that we can control every aspect of our lives. If we live with others, then the Divine mandate to love one another as ourselves compels us not just to allow those obstacles but to rejoice in them as an aspect of our and the other's shared humanity in the sight of God.

Of course, we ought not seek to obstruct others deliberately, but perhaps we should cut ourselves a little slack when we do.

There is nothing to blame here save our own propensity to be impatient and intolerant. Yet we must recognise that while our patience and tolerance are limited, God's is not.

Let us see the Lie of Deliberate Obstruction for what it is, and seek to see in others not an obstacle but an ikon of God's love.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Growth upon the Rock?

Sermon preached at Our Lady of Walsingham and St Francis on the Third Sunday in Lent

Rocks have a bit of a mixed press biblically. It is upon the Rock of Christ that the Church is built, and St Peter is so named because the Church will be built on him too.

Yet, it is the rocky ground that yields a shallow faith. The seed of the word of God can only grow a little before it withers and dies because it has no root. Thus here we have a bit of a problem  Rocks are good for building,  but not for growing. Which should we be?

Rocks build temples, but rocks stone St Stephen to death. How can we be rocks and grow?

Remember that it takes time for rocks to form - a long time. Some rocks are born out of the furnace of a volcano, forming as the lava cools and hardens. Other rocks form by compression with the weight of ages of material crushing them into hard rock. You already know that coal and even diamond are the result of prehistoric trees being crushed under millions of millions of years of earth. There was a time when rocks were soft and able to support growth. When a rock is finally hard, it can't grow any more.

This is what happened to Pharaoh as he tried to prevent the Israelites from leaving Egypt. We are told that first of all he hardened his heart against Moses and Israel and wouldn't let them go. Then after more and more plagues, he still hardened his heart.

It comes to a point when God hardens the heart of Pharaoh. This is important. At first Pharaoh hardens his own heart, then God hardens it for him. He has lost the ability to choose because he can no longer see the goodness of God through his own pride. His heart has hardened against God.
This is frightening because it could happen to us if we decide to walk away from God. Growth on rocks is shallow because the seed cannot take root. If we want to make sure that we harden into a rock for the service of God, like St Peter, then we have to work at allowing our faith to deepen and develop.

St Peter hardens into rock for the love of Christ. Although he makes errors, he never allows himself to completely lose sight of God. See how he weeps bitterly when he realises that he has betrayed Jesus. His hardening into rock happens as a result of his perfection by God.

We, too, must harden into rock, and we have to do so for the love of Christ. How do we do this? We are already engaged on studying the Bible and praying to God. Any deepening of our faith must come from living what we believe. Do we know the fourteen works of Mercy? Do we practise them?
Our lives are spent slowly becoming what we live them to be. If we live for Christ and then we become the precious stones in the walls of Heaven.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Biblical Balderdash

"If the bible said that two and two were five, I'd believe it. It would take me a while to think through what it means, but I'd believe it."

So says one "bible-believing" Christian, and he's not alone. This actually upsets me a great deal because it shows not only a misunderstanding of what the Bible really is, but that human beings are essentially trying to live lives as "brains in vats" with everything around them being pure illusion save that which is literally printed in the Bible.

Let me be clear, I am not saying that Science holds all the answers, nor am I intending to pour scorn on those who believe the literal interpretation of Genesis, but I am concerned that people believe that the Bible is to be accepted uncritically.

I am not going to be able to find a general solution of the Navier-Stokes equations in Holy Scripture. Nor should I think that I should. If the solution there, then I trust the Holy Ghost to lead me. Until then, I will rely on mathematical sources to aid me in this Quixotic quest.

My point us that, although I believe that Science and Mathematics are not capable of obtaining a monopoly on the truth, they do indeed bear witness to the truth. "The Heavens are telling the glory of God". Mathematics is infallible in the truth that it can tell, but this truth can never be complete - indeed the incompleteness of mathematics has been proved mathematically!

This incompleteness is no reason to doubt the truths uncovered by Science. Religion is impregnable to any attempts by atheists to use Science to dismiss it as false. It can't be done, and as of today, I have seen not one single coherent argument for the non-existence of God.

Yet Science does tell the truth. If you drop a vase, it will fall unless there are external entities that prevent that failure. Two and two are four and that is obvious though surprisingly not self-evident. The fact that we have observed gravitational waves almost a century after Einstein predicted them gladdens my heart, and I do thank God for the beauty of Mathematics.

The Bible says that pi is three, but if you read I Kings vii.23 & 26 carefully, this is not a collection of blueprints but a description of the glories of Solomon's temple. Even then, there are interesting features of Phoenician mathematics and mensuration that make it closer to the truth than is apparent. Again, the exact value of pi is not the point: the glory of God is.

The Cappadocian Fathers tell us to revere every word of Scripture carefully, not because it has a literal point, but rather it points to that which is deeper. St Thomas Aquinas would ensure that, following Holy Tradition, we make use of all the senses of Scripture to find the word of God.

Yet Christians must learn not to be so simple-minded as to drive people away from them sniggering at our stupidity for accepting what is manifestly incorrect. To believe that two and two are five based on Scripture really would make a mockery of Scripture. It would make God out to be a liar or at best, inconsistent. Too often, the Bible is carved up into proof-texts to prove a point as to deprive it of any context or depth, or insightful vision of the deep truths of God. We are to be as shrewd as vipers as well as being innocent as doves. This means that, in order to talk with people, to help them find the God we love, we cannot pay for two drinks each worth two pound and expect not to get a pound in change. We are already counted as fools for Christ, why be counted as a fool for oneself?

I am deeply saddened by those Christians who are anti-science, or those who do not think beyond the confines of the Textus Receptus. The integrity of Christian thought starts with Holy Scripture and ends with God. There's a massive distance there and this gap can only be bridged by living the Christian Faith in the world that God made!

While I remain a sceptic on many of the claims of Science on non - scientific issues, I find myself drawn evermore closer to God by the sheer complexity of the world around me, and the fascinating theories that lie behind that complexity.

Of course if two and two were five, then that really would prove that I am the Pope!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Ritual Ridicule Noted

As you can imagine, I am a member of a few online groups dedicated to the practice of ritual and ceremony. I often find that occasionally, these groups have a season of some quite unpleasant interchanges. It usually goes like this :

A: O foolish *insert denomination/jurisdiction here*! The Bishop Ordinary is present and you haven't put a seventh candle behind the crucifix. The vimpa is of the wrong colour, and the MC should not be wielding a flame - thrower outside of Ash Wednesday.

B: Who cares? It's our intention to worship God that counts, not all this pedantic obsession with ornaments and rubrics.

A: Surely sir, you have read the raison d'etre of this group. It is our intention to bring to light abuses of ritual.

B: But you ridicule them as well! That is just not the spirit of Christianity!

A: We only do so in a spirit of lightheartedness. If you're such a prissy hater of ritual, please leave the group.

B: I'M prissy? You're the bunch of lace loving losers who faint when it's half an inch too short....

...and so it continues into sarcasm, snipery, and snotty parting shots.

It's an unfortunate interchange which shows all kinds of Christians up as unpleasant and unkind and thus tars us all with the same brush. It is very difficult to see the person of Christ there in the argument. Yet He is, but you would be hard pushed to see where. Human nature is operating at its best to obscure the Love of God which fuels it.

Let us withdraw from the smoke of competing incense and try and understand A and B and why they are posting as they are.

A is clearly a ritualist following one of the great texts on the practice of ritual and ceremony like Ritual Notes, or the Anglican Directorium, or Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Explained. He subscribes to a standard, presumably the same standard that everyone else is interested in in the group.

There is nothing wrong with this. Ritual is an essential part of the worship of God right back to the beginning of our conversation with Him. In each of the texts I've mentioned, there is an integrity of theology - lex orandi lex credendi - which surrounds all the tiny details ranging from numbers of candles to whether the water of the lavabo should be from the blessed cruet of water or not. The paten is hidden from view until the fraction when it becomes the Tomb in which the Body of Christ rests after it is broken on the Cross.

All this gives colour and meaning - indeed a very precise meaning to what we do. It is this zeal for God's house that has consumed A.

In the confines of this group, A hopes to release some of the frustration he feels when he sees what he perceives as deviations from his standard. He complains with the same attitude as you might complain to your friends about the little old lady dithering about in front of them in the queue at the Post Office.

B, on the other hand, is concerned that such an overemphasis on details will detract people from living the life that Christ would want us to live. He fears an idolatry of things that Our Lord Himself cast out of the temple for clouding the sincerity and worship of God. In this, what gets done, or does not get done, is subordinate to the intentions of the heart.

For B, complaints about what he perceives to be the minutiae of ritual are evidence of that idolatry representing the traditions of men censured by Our Lord. He has probably joined the group out of a genuine interest for how things could be done, but does not hold the standards of ritual to be as authoritative as A.

In my parish, we try to follow the English Missal with our ritual guided by Ritual Notes. That is the standard of our ritual to which we subscribe subject to the approval of my jurisdiction - the Anglican Catholic Church. However, with my limited resources and relative inexperience, I doubt that I have ever said a Ritual Notes perfect Mass. My Archdeacon is always ready to instruct and I am so grateful for his pointing out my errors. It means that I can improve and seek to make my Mass better and more integrated into the Catholic Faith. For my sins and omissions, I have to rely on God to supply what is lacking and correct what is done amiss and pray for a better approach to excellence in Worship. The problem is, does this set me up for A's ridicule?

Probably, yes. I wonder how much he would complain if he knew my intentions. If he did ridicule me, would he do so according to the basic premise of joke-telling? You should only say something light-hearted if you can be sure that everyone who hears it would consider it as light-hearted. I am open to be ridiculed as much as anyone else. Does that mean that I should be ridiculed?

Out of my earshot, I guess that I am the target of much criticism and ridicule. The CofE Parish that I left painted me as autistic, crackers, and mad, and the priest did nothing to stand up for me but rather allowed the criticism to continue. I was the one standing up for high standards of ritual because I knew that it reflected our theology. I too employed ridicule of such a laissez faire attitude which, to my mind, showed full well the deterioration of belief in my old parish. I still believe that, and while my sense if humour is still as wicked as ever, I do try to make my humour appropriate to my listeners. As a Benedictine, however, I should strive to get away from complaining and murmuring. It does damage communities, especially online communities where the non-verbal nuances are missing.

While I sit with B on his concern about the tone of the comment, I must side in spirit with A. There have to be high standards of liturgy which reflect the theology of the church and for which one can strive so that one can approach God in the Catholic Faith. Chopping and changing according to whim follows only the individual subjective and reactionary view, rather than the comprehensive and universal standard set by the Catholic Faith.

I have no concern about Anglicans of the Strict Observance - this is my little joke about Prayerbook Anglicans who hold to the entirety of the Book of Common Prayer : it is intended as affectionate and respectful of their position. They have their integrity written in, for example, The Parson's Handbook. It's there and they respect it. Thus they have my respect. I do have concern, and this was one of the causes of my ejection, with those ministers who believe that the heart is the source of liturgy. They are pushing a personal theology which may or may not be true.

For me, the conversation should have gone something like

A: O foolish *insert denomination/ jurisdiction here*! The Bishop Ordinary is present and you haven't put a seventh candle behind the crucifix. The vimpa is of the wrong colour, and the MC should not be wielding a flame - thrower outside of Ash Wednesday.

B: I appreciate that this group is for those who subscribe to the liturgical standards in the description of this group, however, I am concerned about the depth of adhering to the rubrics in such detail, and feel that it is wrong to describe that denomination as foolish.

A: My apologies. I was blowing off some steam. Was there anything that you particularly object to?

B: Please do instruct me on the liturgical use of flame - throwers and explain to me the theology behind them.

A: Well....

Yes, I  know that's a little stilted. However, before we post, we really should try to see the person we're addressing and see their motivation. To seek to respect the other where they are is a sign of God's love in us.

Hmm. Maybe one day even I will give that a try!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Devil take you?

Sermon preached at Our Lady of Walsingham and St Francis on the First Sunday in Lent

The first place that receives the seed is the wayside, the pathway where the birds swoop down and take the seed away. Our Lord explains that this is those who receive the word of God, but the Devil takes it from them. Well, whose fault is that?

As we have already seen, if we allow the Devil to influence us, he can lead us by the wayside where we can lose God completely. We know that this is something that he wants to do. Look at the lengths he goes to to take the Word of God away! Had Jesus succumbed to temptation,  then the Word of God would have been lost to us all!

So what do we do? We need to protect the seed that we have received. We protect it by arming ourselves as St Paul would have us do.

By pureness, by knowledge, by long suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left.
We need to be pure in our intent to love and serve God. We have to read our bibles and know what it is to be Christian. We need to stick with it through thick and thin. We need to see God in our neighbours and be kind. We need to pray to the Holy Ghost for His presence and continual influence to drive away the lies of the Devil. This is how we protect the seed that we want to grow in us.

We will suffer for it, there is no doubt. The Devil will give us a hard ride through Earthly things, but not through heavenly things. We will fall so many times in so many sad and terrible ways. We will fail, but the Holy Trinity gives us an Eternal Hope!  If we pray for help, it will come and it will bring us closer to God through Christ. We just need to cling on to what we have, and allow it to grow. Then the word of God will truly grow in us.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Springtime in the Wilderness

Many people confuse the wilderness with a desert. This isn't really that true. While the wilderness is by definition a challenging place to live, it does not challenge one's actual survival.

We go into the wilderness to think, reflect, listen, or simply realise who we are as opposed to who we think we are. It is not exactly clear how this can be accomplished if we spending the energy fighting for our lives. We know that shepherds took their flocks a way into the  wilderness for them to graze. We also know that they would have to be on the lookout for the beasts like lions, which is why shepherds had to be sober and vigilant.

However, in this challenging landscape there are many places where the vegetation is lush and green, where the water runs as clear as crystal, and where the native animals live their simple little lives unencumbered by the shackles of reason, law, order, and politics. Here in the wilderness we can truly meet God being who we are, as we were created. Here is an opportunity to sit down and allow ourselves to be known by God.

As we enter the season of Lent, we embrace the challenges of asceticism in which we seek not to make ourselves uncomfortable as if to atone for the lives that God has given us, but rather to step back from ourselves as we believe ourselves to be. We allow ourselves to see beauty in the simple things in the artificial aridity of a life forgetful of God. Like the Pharisees, we can do all the right things but in forgetting the presence of God, our efforts are vain because we forget the presence of Love.

We do not fast in order to make ourselves miserable - carrying the Cross will do that for us. We do not give things up for the challenge - the testing of our faith by Sin, the World, and the Devil will do that. We do these things to strip away the encumbrances of worldly living to find freedom to be what God created, to explore God and how He has both created and redeemed us, and to do so in the presence of that loving Creator and Redeemer!

I wish you all a blessed, happy, and fulfilling Lent!

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Loving substance

It's a bit of an eye-opener when you see the question,  "what is love?" in an RS exam and see that they've only allowed two marks for the answer. Can we really sum up Love in a sentence where saints, poets and novelists have written libraries? Students are encouraged to be succinct, in which case you could say with St Thomas Aquinas that "to love is to will the good of the other". This still does not say explicitly what love is: we still have to understand what "will" and "good" are.

First, we have to see that Our Lord shows us that "to will" is not passive. We cannot sit down at a desk and say that we love our enemies because we will them nothing but good. This isn't what "will" means. It is a confusion with the word "wish". Our will consists in the capacity to choose between options the result of which usually is a clear outcome. We can wish someone well but that needs no further action on our part. Think of how decisive we are when we respond with "I will do this"!

Human beings are interesting in that it is in our nature both to love and to hate. Humanity possesses a peculiar rationality in which we can choose to act reasonably or unreasonably. Only a truly rational being can be foolish. We can choose what is truly bad over what is truly good. We can even choose to define what "good" and "bad" mean for us irrespective of how else they might be defined. And that's a problem. It's a problem that we face in this very day and age. How can we will the good of others if we don't know what "good" is?

Often what we mean by good is whatever makes life most pleasant for ourselves. This cannot be right. Whatever is truly good must be outside of our own point of view. It must be outside of everyone's point of view.

In that famous chapter by St Paul, we read:
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Look at how all of these attributes of charity look beyond anyone's point of view. True love lies not in the emotions but outside in the very being of other people. And that very being is the image of God Himself. God is love because God is what it means to be good. Whatever God does is good because He does whatever is consistent with Himself. We have our being within the substance of God because our creation is good. We do not deserve love because of what we do but because we are human beings and possess the ultimate dignity of being a child of God.

It is in our nature to hate others because we have lost the sight of God in others. We are fallen from the grace of union with God and we can only have our sight restored in Our Lord Jesus whose flesh given in love restores our substance. Let us pray continually for the grace to see the image of God in others and thus will their good that divine image determines.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Hierarchy by Candlelight

When I was ordained a priest, I knew that the age of deference to the parish clerk had passed. Very occasionally, I  will hear, "mornin' Vicar" or, "thank you, Father " but more often than not I am not recognised as a priest. I get the odd look, but nothing more than that.

In many ways this is good. No-one should be compelled to recognise or defer to a priest as part of social mores. I am a human being among others, worthy of no greater nor lesser respect than anyone else. This is exactly what Our Lord wants when he upbraids the Pharisees for wanting all the honorific titles and places of honour for very little. Earthly honors and titles are worth nothing.

In a previous post, I alluded to Boethius and his view on honours. I used to rate the Oxford DD as the most prestigious academic degree. Then Oxford University awarded that very degree to Katherine Jefferts Schori, the woman who has done most to destroy Anglicanism in America as well as besmirch the reputation of Christianity in that country. This is the essence of Boethius' proof that honour and title are not worth seeking. If that title can be given to anyone, deserving or undeserving alike, what can it really be worth? Honours are purely subjective and can have no objective existence.

Time and again do we see bishops, priests, and pastors fat with their own self - satisfaction insist that their message be heard by everyone because they are the bishop, priest, or pastor while, at the same time, either quietly hiding their hypocrisy or justifying it loudly and proudly. This was true in medieval times, and it's true now.

Yet, the priesthood is a gift of God to His people. The existence of the sacerdotal ministry is like a computer's installer. It exists in order to download and install software onto a computer. Likewise a priest is one called by God to give to His people the objective and efficient grace of His Being.

A priest is an alter Christus in that he participates in the single priesthood of Christ making real Christ in the Mass. I was once asked the question, if you meet an angel and a priest walking together down the street whom should you honour most? The answer is the priest who bears Christ in himself and makes Him present at Mass.

Like many people, I rather balked at this. It makes the priest seem superior to angelic beings, more glorious than the Cherubim. But man is lower than the angels, and in the Incarnation, Our Lord was indeed made lower than the angels. The point is that it is the presence of Christ in the priest that His people will recognise. It is His presence that is called "Father" not of the fallible little person that bears Him.

This cuts two ways. If a priest or bishop seeks the accolades proper to Christ for himself, then not only is he defrauding his congregation, he is also committing self-idolatry. That's just what the Devil did!

This, then, is where the priesthood meets Candlemas. The aged Simeon departs in peace after presenting the Christ child to God and thus to the world. Like St John the Baptist, Simeon seeks only his decrease in the light of Christ. In the ritual purification of Our Lady, Simeon's Old Testament is purified in the light of Christ. As Christ becomes the only true high priest at the altar of the Cross, so is this light shone out to the world.

This means that each priest, and more so each bishop, has a truly onerous duty. Every day the priest is confronted with, "how have you presented Christ to the world today? How have you made Him present in this dark some world?" This should terrify each cleric. If it doesn't, then he has forgotten the enormity of his orders. He is under orders, lesser than his congregation whom he serves, lesser than the society he inhabits, because he is always beneath the shadow of the cross that he bears but, by virtue of his sins, he is unworthy to bear. Thanks be to God for the grace that a priest receives in order to do this at his ordination!

The more that a priest shows the light of Christ, the more will people show the honour due not to him but to the One he bears. If people can recognise the presence of Christ, then and only then will the priest be able to depart in peace according to His Word.