Inner Life David Torkington
IN THE Old Testament the Jews knew that if God accepted an offering that they made, like a new spring lamb, he would penetrate it with his Holy Spirit. Then what had been Jacob's lamb, for instance, became "God's lamb" or "the lamb of God". When he and his family took and ate "the lamb of God" they would enter into a profound Communion with him and in him with each other.
When Jesus said therefore, that he was the "lamb of God", everyone knew exactly what he meant. They knew that he was not only the means through which they would in future offer themselves to God, but the means by which they could enter into the most profound union possible. That's why whenever they celebrated the "Supper of the Lord", as it was called in those days, the offering of themselves was completed by eating and drinking the bread and wine, which was the "Lamb of God" penetrated through and through with the very life of God. It was in this Holy Communion that they received the help and strength that Jesus had received to enable them to go out and continually offer themselves throughout every moment of every day.
This Holy Communion was so important to them that they didn't want to restrict it to the weekly Eucharist, and so a practice grew up that was later called "spiritual Communion" when they would set aside time to receive spiritually what they had receive physically at the Sunday celebrations. In this way their "morning offerings" and their "spiritual Communions" would help them to extend what had been celebrated at Mass in such a way that it would transform their whole lives into a continual sacrifice for God and for others. It would enable them to be caught up in Christ into an endless cycle of giving and receiving that would encompass every moment of their lives.
In order to try and follow their example and do likewise I've made the next letter, "S", in my memory-jog "noster", stand for "spiritual Communion" followed by the letter 'T' for "transformation". You see, after we've been still for a while to savour and give thanks for what, or rather for whom we have received, it's time to pray for what we desire more than anything else, that is to be transformed into evermore perfect Christ-like people. Then gradually, as this is being brought about we will begin to love God as he did, with our whole hearts and minds and with our whole being and then our neighbours as ourselves.
The next letter, "E", is a reminder to "examine" the forthcoming day to see how we can to do all and everything in the most Christ-like manner possible. This is the moment to preview the day ahead with all the jobs that we have to do and to anticipate the people we have to meet so that we can try to meet them as Christ would have done, and serve them as he did.
The letter "R" is a reminder to end the memory jog by making a few "resolutions". It might be to do humdrum tasks that we keep putting off, like changing the sheets on the bed, putting air into the car tyres, defrosting the freezer, or something more important. There's always that friend or relative who is sick or in need who we should phone, or write to, or even visit for a few minutes. Alternatively, perhaps we might need to make a resolution to apologise to one of the family, a friend, or someone at work for the way we behaved towards them the previous day. It's very difficult to stand up for someone who's been abused by authority at work, or elsewhere, or to speak the truth when no one wants to hear it or to make a stand for what we know is right. Nevertheless these are some of the more important things that could occupy our minds as part of morning prayer.
Perhaps we could end with the most important resolution of all. That is to make the forthcoming day a day when we try as best we can to enable God's love to draw us up not just into the life of Christ but into his action. You see it is only in him and through him that we will be able to love God as we should. There is no more perfect way of doing this than by offering him all that we are and all that we do but most of all by offering him the way we have tried to serve him through the neighbour in need, with whom he identifies himself.
A far fuller explanation of the theory and practice of prayer that time prevents me from explaining here, as this is my last letter in the series, is explained in two audio cassettes, The Prayer of Christ and Praying Made Simple, obtainable from Inner Life Tapes on 023 80 292752. Of course I will continue to write and do what I can to be of help to you, as you have helped me far more that you'll ever realise.
David Torkington will give a lecture to launch his book "Dear Susanna" in Westminster Cathedral Hall on Thursday October 7 at 7pm admission free.