Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Better late than never!
Just a thought about today's first reading: the (abbreviated) story of Noah and the ark. It's one of those omnipresent symbols--how many birth announcements have you received that depicted a whimsical Noah's ark full of oh-so-precious animals? But I am beginning to wonder how many people who use the image could tell you the story. (Not that I have anything against Noah's ark birth announcements; the more the merrier. Noah's ark is all about life!)
It's like the Adam and Eve temptation story: you find it suggested in all sorts of commercials. Even the word "temptation" in a food context is really a reference to the Garden of Eden. But I have a strong suspicion that the reference is lost on a good many people.
As the week goes by, we will get to the  point when God symbolically lays down his weapon (his crossbow, with which he shot his lightning-bolt arrows) and says that from now on, the bow in the sky will remind him that the waters of a flood will never again cover the whole earth. It's the Covenant with Noah. I just love that whenever an observant Jew sees a rainbow, he or she says a little prayer praising God for remembering and keeping the covenant. This custom of blessing-prayers for every occasion is one of the best things we inherited from the Jewish culture. The "eternal rest"; the "angel of God'; the "Jesus, Mary and Joseph" are among the Catholic forms of everyday short prayers, along with a whole litany of invocations that end in "have mercy on us" or "pray for us" (depending on who is invoked). But the Jewish tradition focuses most intently on praise, and that is something we need to relearn from them.
How can we recover and spread that custom of "pious aspirations" in a contemporary manner?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't have a clue, but whatever happened to the pactice of making the sign of the cross when passing a Catholic Church or just saying Hi to Jesus. I have a friend who commented that such a deed was flamboyant. I often wonder if she still thinks that way after many years. I hope not. Deedleoo.