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December 26, 2012


Art Chesters



Fr Eric
I've always found your writing interesting because you write with self-discipline, logic, and care. Unlike many other 'liberal' priests - dislike those Us and Them labels intensely but it is shorthand - you haven't succumbed to the temptation of becoming a celebrity-dissident (a baneful creation of the media, largely, and self-destructive in the longer or shorter term)
Much of what you say about older styles of religious tradition is sensible and if we take the long term view - God's time, not our human time - will no doubt morph into the mainstream teaching and practice of the universal, undivided, church against which Jesus promised, the 'gates of Hell' will not prevail. I thought I would share my own personal experience with you and perhaps others who read this. It is a very different one and shows that God's spirit works with majestic freedom despite human limitations, such as fear and conformism, provided we always look to Him, not to ourselves as the centre of things..
I was brought up in a divided Irish (read lapsed Catholic) and Welsh ( read slightly more recently lapsed Methodist) background with parents who had abandoned both Faith traditions, were progressive, socialist and thoroughly decent. But, as the Methodists would have said - and using a different rhetoric the Catholics would have concurred - God sought me out, and I became, through no decision of my own, at first, intensely atuned to the numinous. Prayer to me was my instinctive calling out to that Other whose Name and Face I had yet to see clearly. It was not formalised, though scraps of hymnology (Wesleyan) and liturgy (catholic and occasionally Anglican)as well as other bits of poetry or literature, fused with my own unspoken words to give them form.
Now, many decades later and a loyal Catholic who believes that the branch which severs itself from the Vine cannot but wither and die, I have come to love the discipline of all those time honored words which are laden with meaning and intensity. And through the Sacraments of the Church, the pilot light of Faith springs into flame when I hear, think or share them. All the dullness and boredom you and others shared, are, like the discipline that our soldiers shared before going out to fight for a just cause, or simply because they thought it was their duty, part of the unseen web of prayer and sacrifice that resulted in the revival of that flame, not just in me but in many others...
Hope this means something to you. I think you know who I am from a previous encounter. Thank you for not joining the ranks of the self-promoting and sadly self-deluding leaders of splinter groups and for suffering the fate of loyal and positive critics who stay within the fold! "Heaven and Earth will pass away but My Words will not pass away"

John Brasher

Hello Eric: I am pleased to see that the years since I last saw you at Holy Saviour have not dimmed your ability to get directly to the nub of a matter, whether religious or secular. I remember with fondness our years working for the parish, although those days now seem so far away. Hope you are enjoying good physical health (obviously your mind is still as good as ever).
John Brasher

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