Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Lenten plans

I recently heard a sermon in which the visiting priest, from Opus Dei, challenged his hearers to make this the "best Lent yet." I always hope to do that, and took his idea as a pointer to what to aim for.

Last year I said I hoped or, indeed, intended to read in Lent some of the thought and spirituality of St Teresa of Avila - and failed to do so at all. Which, of course, told me something about myself. Last night, when we were having our Shrove Tuesday dinner, the Brothers of the Oratory decided amongst ourselves to read The Interior Castle as our Lenten book. So maybe this year St Teresa will get another chance to influence my formation. It is many years since I read The Interior Castle, so it will be a case of reacquainting myself with the text.

I have some other books in my sights for reading this Lent - theology merging with history rather than spirituality. I tend to use the former rather like layng down individual paving stones in the garden of my soul and letting the flowers of spirituality grow up around them - now there's a clever image I tell myself in a lack of humility...

Continuing the metaphor, I have marked down certain areas of my personality for some spiritual weeding and pruning - and I realise it is a pretty overgrown garden I am dealing with.

I think I have come up with a reasonably practicable regime to enable me to fast or abstain - and when that has worked in the past it has usually brought both spiritual and physical benefits - so losing some weight may well be an additional benefit.

A suitable restrained and spiritually profitable Lent to you all.

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