Contemplata aliis Tradere

A meagre contribution to the mission and work of the Order of Preachers: my reflections, thoughts, ideas and the occasional rant on matters mainly theological, philosophical and ecclesiastical, drawn primarily from my reading and experience of life and the world. Striving to be always Catholic, firmly Christian and essentially Dominican, flavoured with dashes of Von Balthasar.

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Location: Oxford, United Kingdom

A son of the English Province of the Order of Friars Preachers (Dominicans); born in Malaysia but have lived in the USA, Singapore, the UK & the Philippines for varying durations. A pilgrim and way-farer, a searcher for Truth on the journey of Life... "Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine, There’s always laughter and good red wine. At least I’ve always found it so. Benedicamus Domino!" - Hilaire Belloc

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Noli me tangere...

"Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father..." (Jn 20:17). Apart from being the title of the seminal work by Jose Rizal, national hero of the Philippines, those words of Christ are somewhat poignant and touchingly seen in Fra Angelico's depiction of the Resurrection. Mary Magdalene, longing to see the Lord is told that she must not cling to him because he has to return to the Father. Christ has to leave in order that the Spirit, the tremendous gift of God, may be poured upon us; something better is to be poured upon the Church.

In the account of the Lord's Ascension given in Acts (1:9-11), there is a sense of grief as the apostles stare into the (now empty) sky. The Lord has indeed been taken from their sight and they stare into the sky, as parting friends look longingly for a final glimpse of the one who is leaving; one frequently sees such scenes at airports... But the sadness that we now experience in these days after Christ's Ascension is filled with hope of Pentecost. We have come down from the marvellous event of Christ's incarnation and Resurrection into this sad moment of waiting so that we may come to an even greater joy - the life in the Spirit.

In another poignant scene - the Transfiguration (shown above in stained glass at the chapel of Caleruega, the Philippines) - Peter says: "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here..." (Mt17:4). But the Lord is transfigured in glory and then reassures Peter and the two disciples, saying "Do not be afraid". It is said that the Transfiguration was a form of encouragement for the disciples, that they be not afraid in the events of Christ's death which were to come, but rather remember the glory of the Transfiguration and be reminded of the promise and hope of the Resurrection. Again, the theme is one of not clinging to a good thing but rather to experience it and then to move on, for something better is to come. The assuring words "Do not be afraid" are particularly worth remembering in moments when we come away from a wonderful experience and find ourselves clinging to memories and wishing for more.

On a more personal note, I too am experiencing this state of transition and missing that which was. Over a month after I left Dagat-dagatan, I still miss friends and students left behind and I look on the joyful and eventful months I spent with them as a high point in my life. There is a tendency to want to cling to our happy experiences, to will them to go on and to return to them but that would prevent us (and indeed me) from living in the present moment which is also God's gift to us. I am now in that state of waiting, hoping and promise and I am confident that God has something else, something more, something better in store for me and I pray for its out-pouring on my life soon.


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