Friday 9 March 2018

Miserere Nostri

My last post spoke of the need for penitence. It's a recognition of our many sins and failings, and of our utter dependence on God. At the same time, God wants people able to stand on their own two feet and face the iniquities of the world with courage and without being downcast by them. He also wants us to recognise that we have goodness and truth within ourselves. We are not simply worthless sinners. We are sons and daughters of God, children of light who, given time, can grow into gods ourselves.

But it all must start with repentance. I find this perfectly represented in music by one of Albion's greatest composers who was working in one of the times of its greatest creativity, even though it was a hard and cruel time in many ways. Thomas Tallis lived from 1505 to 1585 through a period of religious upheaval and constant change. But in these often difficult years he produced some of the best music ever made in England. This brief piece is a seven part canon and expresses the feelings of the true penitent with deep emotion. It also seems very suitable for Lent.

Repentance is like a cleansing of the soul. Of course, this is not a one off thing. We will constantly fall back, but if we are sincere in our desire to amend our lives then every failure will spur us on to greater efforts. It's an extraordinary thing but God will always forgive us as long as we recognise our shortcomings. Whenever we turn to him for help it will be forthcoming, though not necessarily in the way we might expect since God is working in the long term not just to save us in the conventional Christian sense but to bring us to a full and complete union with him in which our heart and mind are transformed into pure love and truth, and our very being is transfigured into light.

The modern person often doesn't like the idea of repentance because it seems feeble. You are passing your burdens onto someone else and admitting your weakness. You are giving up which is unmanly. I understand this. But true repentance is simply admitting that you have taken a wrong turning at a very deep level and become 'addicted' to ego. Its consequences are very far from feeble for once you have repented of your past sins it is time to 'fight the good fight' and try to change for the better. Believe me, that is the hardest fight anyone will ever undertake. To be sure, God will help you but you have to do the work yourself. God will not do it for you even if he will support you as you do it. But if you are to change who else can do it but you yourself? If God accomplished this work for you then you would just be his slave and he doesn't want slaves. He wants free spirits, but free spirits dedicated to the good and the true and the upliftment of the world.

So forget about repentance being for the weak. It is actually for the strong, those strong enough to tackle themselves and admit they are wrong.

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