Thursday, 11 April 2013


What was the most interesting time of your long life?  That was the question one of my young Dominican brethren recently asked me. Well, I could look back over 80 years and recall different periods in my life, which held a whole variety of experiences, some of them pleasant, others not so enjoyable.  As with most people, the interesting times punctuated long periods of boring monotony.

I could think back to my childhood and the time when my brothers and I were evacuated during World War II.   That period held experiences which would be alien to people growing up in peacetime.  Certainly there was the horror of war, the personal sadness of our family being scattered, with dad in the army, mother and our two youngest brothers in a 16th century cottage with no electricity or water. Peter, David and I were in ‘digs’ in the beautiful town of Ludlow.  Many were our adventures as we scaled the castle walls, ventured on the U.S. army assault course and swam in the freezing river.  I still have vivid memories of our celebrating VE Day on the Whitcliffe, with some inebriated idiot letting off rockets parallel to the ground. It’s a wonder he didn’t hit somebody.

Then there was our pre-Vatican II Dominican training –so very different from that of the present generation.  There’s the great danger of us oldies boring the youngsters with repeated anecdotes about the good or bad old days. One of my contempories has the catch phrase, ‘stop me if I’ve said this before.’ Repeatedly we’ve tried, but always failed, as he lumbers inexorably forward like a determined rhinoceros!

My brief work in the W. Indies opened up a whole new world, with people of a culture very different from mine, and living in an exotic tropical island. I was unbelievably happy and fulfilled as a country parish priest up in the mountains.  This was brought to an abrupt end by serious illness, which forced me to return to England.

After a lengthy convalescence I worked in Spode Conference Centre.  Immediately after the Vatican Council that was an exciting place to be!  There we heard experts explaining the Conciliar Documents. There was a ferment, a buzz, a clash of ideas, and many an animated discussion.  Our special vocation was to experience the Church’s growing pains; our mission was to explain the Council’s insights and give the reassurance that development was a sign of a healthy life, not a betrayal of the past or a loss of identity.  That was a good time to be alive and active!  Perceptively, someone recently remarked that for those of us of that generation the Vatican Council was an experience, but for the modern generation it is history!

And perhaps that’s how they look upon old fogeys like me –as part of history.  But not a bit of it!   Certainly the aged body does creek and protest with attempted exertion, and loss of memory is made up with creative recounting.  But in our antiquity Peter and I have found a new lease of life, full of fascinating possibilities.  These have been provided by spin-offs from computer technology.   Though separated by the Atlantic, Skype has enabled us to bounce ideas off each other and work closer than ever before.  Together we’ve been able to produce a blog with regular postings, to make recordings in our respective rooms and have them broadcast worldwide through the internet.  There’s nothing special about us in all this.  The technology is easy to master and available to all.

But our interests don’t end there.   As we approach the end of our lives here on earth we look forward to eternal happiness with God.  That is beyond our wildest dreams; the best is yet to come. That’s why St. Paul tells us, But, as it is written, ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him,’ ( I Cor. 2. 9).  Instead of living in the past Paul urges us, 2Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, 3for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  4When Christ who is your* life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory,”  (Col.3. 2-4).

Incidentally, agility is said to be one of the qualities of the glorified, risen body.  I’m looking forward to that!  
That’s what’s next...PLEASE GOD!

Isidore O.P.

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