From Mr Michael Shutzer-Weissmann Sir, I am sure that Fr Richard Barrett was not really recommending the hero of Gladiator as a better model of non-Christian belief in immortality than the patriarchs and the prophets of the Old Testament, but his answer (November 10th.) to your reader's question on scriptural evidence outside the Gospels for the after life may have surprised other convert Jews. Like many of us at this time of the year, Fr Barrett is probably praying for the souls in Purgatory, who suffer in the hope expressed by the Psalmist's words, From the morning watch even unto night, let Israel hope in the Lord, Because with the Lord there is mercy, and with him there is plentiful redemption.
Indeed, the Psalms are full of prophetic faith in the great mystery of our Lord's salvation: Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: My flesh also shall rest in hope.
For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; Neither will thou suffer thine Holy One to see corrup Lion, Or: My soul thirsteth for thee, My flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, To see thy power and thy glory, so as 1 have seen thee in the sanctuary.
Both passages quoted above are to be found, I believe, in our Catholic liturgy.
May I also draw Fr Barrett's attention to a passage in City of God, where St Augustine explains that Abraham had faith in the resurrection from the dead: "However, Abraham is to be praised in that he believed, without hesitation, that his son would rise again when he had been sacrificed. He did not doubt that a son who could be granted to him when he had ceased to hope could also be restored to him after he had been sacrificed."
(City of God, Book XVI, 32) Perhaps the Bishop of Hippo had been reading the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius.
Yours faithfully, MICHAEL SCHUTZER-WEISSMANN Shrewsbury SY3 7AD