Fr Blake over at St Mary Magdalen has a fun post up about Seven things we like. Eventhough I haven't been tagged myself (not being famous enough!) I shall endeavour to take part too, since I think it is fun. Here goes (they are in no particular order):
I. High Mass (in a beautiful church like the London Oratory, or St James', Spanish Place or the Saint Chapelle in Paris, sung exceptionally well by a professional choir, such as they have at Westminster Cathedral, celebrated by a visibly holy and venerable priest, under the expert direction of a superlative Master of Ceremonies, overflowing liturgical choir, massive, albeit devout and decorous, congregation), I know, I know...I could have said Pontifical High Mass at the Throne, or even a Papal High Mass in the Old Rite (like you would have had at the Canonization of a Saint, or the solemn proclamation of a Dogma of Faith), but I can only dimly imagine such a precious and majestic jewel in the crown of Mother Church...
II. The Lord of the Rings. I could have picked any great work by my hero J.R.R Tolkien, such as the high prose styles of The Lay of Leithian, in octo-syllabic couplets, or the strong and very English alliterative verse of the Narn i Chîn Húrin, or the theological lucidity and truism of the Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth (I could go on endlessly), but The Lord of the Rings, his magnus opus, is so thoroughly complete, inherently Catholic and beautiful that I marvel at its genius. At the moment, I am thinking of only a small aspect of the whole, namely, the almost ''sanctoral'' cycle of its history (ie: the history of Middle-earth). The ''good guys'' (sorry!) live in a world where, although doomed to inevitable darkness under the inexorable duress of Sauron, there is bright hope (like estel - ''high hope,'' the name the Elves of Beleriand gave to Eärendil, the Morning Star, when he first arose flaming in the West, a sign of the downfall of the Dark Lord), because they live in the shadow of venerable kings and saintly men. Life for them is not merely tolerable, but exuberant. This isn't the right post to go into great detail, but the book makes me laugh (especially at those absurd, simple but fundamentally very good - good in the most profound theological sense - Hobbits), makes me cry - tears of sadness (at the miserable creature Gollum, particularly upon the Stairs of Cirith Ungol, where he came so very near to repentance, and on the slopes of Mount Doom where Sam finally caught a glimpse of the internal agony of his shrivelled mind, enslaved to the Ring), tears of great joy (the Field of Cormallen); the book just leaves me with an odd, ineffable, unexplainable feeling of ''fulfillment'' - well, there are not superlatives enough to do the work justice.
III. Glendalough. Shortly after my grandfather died, in September 2002, we visited Ireland for a week. We went to Wexford, and spent the days doing lots of good and wholesome things. On our way back to Dublin on the last day, I suggested that we take the ''scenic route'' through the Wicklow Mountains - well worth it - and at the behest of my then parish priest, the late Fr Fox, we visited Glendalough, a valley in the mountains of surpassing beauty. The ruins of an old Celtic monastery, founded by St Kevin, are there. We arrived there early in the morning - undoubtedly the best time to visit the area - and we were all of us moved by the profundity of its beauty. Imagine, it is October, it is not really ''cold,'' but you're wearing a coat to keep out the wind, you walk along the banks of the river, and you see mists coiled about the rocks. You walk among the ruins, the gravestones, and the old church with its tower, and you look down into the valley, the newly risen Sun, glad of the Morning, is reflected upon the lake, warming your face, and casting shadows among the old stones. It is an old place, and the stones contain the memory of holiness, and it is brought to life by the light of the new Sun. Even my agnostic father, on that day seven years ago, felt something of the immensity of God's majesty - revealed most clearly in the mixture of his keen and new grief mixed with wonder at the newness of Creation.
IV. The Latin language. Quid plura dicam?
V. My dying meal would probably be Sausage and Mash, with a pint of Murphy's. Generous portion of mashed potato, with real thick onion gravy, lots of good meaty sausages. There'd have to be something else with it too, like mushrooms. I adore mushrooms (I am, afterall, a Hobbit!). For dessert, ermmmmmm, probably Chocolate cheesecake (a generous portion) with thick cream and a cappuccino, with a chocolate mint.
VI. Walking my two dogs. Not round the block (that is boring) but somewhere isolated and peaceful, like a great moor, or in the hills, or woods. When my grandmother lived in Cornwall, we used to go and visit her (and sometimes we'd take the dogs). We'd take them for walks in the country, across fields, by small rivers. Has to be early in the morning, and we'd finish up by breakfast back home (consisting of an Ulster fry with lashings of tea) or a teacake, depending upon whether I were sick of fry-ups! I wish she still lived in Cornwall...I like walking, the only trouble is that there is nowhere interesting to walk around here, and you'd really need to take the car out for several miles to have a proper decent walk. Where is best to walk I wonder? Woods or along a long beach (provided there are no people about to spoil it)...
VII. I can't really think of a seventh thing...I know there are many things I love, or love to do, but this sort of thing is harder to do than you might think! Perhaps reading in general is something I particularly enjoy doing. I already said Tolkien, but my reading is, of course, not solely limited to his work.
Perhaps I have taken this ''tagging'' business a bit too seriously, but it was certainly nice to write this post. Can I suggest that we now do one of the Seven Things we detest?!
The above photo is of Glendalough. The photo does not encapsulate my feelings about the place, nor does it do justice to the beauty of it, a place where the glory of God is revealed in a very poignant way (I wonder if my new grief at the death of my most-beloved grandfather added to my first impressions of Glendalough? If so, it calls to mind Tolkien's concept of the eucatastrophe does it not?) Feast your eyes on it!