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It’s Friday, folks, so here’s a story that should warm the heart of anyone who supports ecumenical dialogue.  Credit for the breaking news goes to Newsbiscuit.

In a surprise twist to the search to discover the origins of he universe Pope Benedict and the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams are to be fired at one another at the speed of light in the Large Hadron Collider at Cern.

James Gillies, Cern’s Director of Communications, told reporters that the two church leaders were almost ready to travel to the French-Swiss border. ‘They have been praying together and wishing each other a safe journey before they meet again head-on in the middle of the 27km-long circular tunnel.’

Cern’s director-general Rolf Heuer said ‘Both His Holiness and the Archbishop claim to know something of how our universe began, so by smashing their heads together at a tremendous speed we hope that we will at long last get a final answer.’

He said that the toss of a coin would decide which end of the tunnel each would be fired from. Steve Myers, Cern’s director of accelerators, said he was optimistic the two church leaders would reach the speed of light. ‘Although the two are rather bulky and not the idea shape for this, I hope that the 1.2 trillion electron volts and the 1,200 superconducting magnets will do the trick. We shall just hope and pray and increase the voltage until we get the required acceleration.’

Rolf Heuer said that though the two human projectiles would be smashed into billions of particles, he expected them to re-appear for services and mass the following day. ‘They have both spoken with certainty about the existence of God, and so we are giving them this chance to prove it scientifically. The experiment is in essence quite simple. We shall just be asking Dr Williams to remove his glasses.’

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Is there any happiness more jubilant than the conception of a much-longed for baby?  I don’t think so.  And that’s why I want to share this poem with you, one written by a dear friend, Rebecca Christian, about her newest grandchild.  The baby is yet to be born, but oh, how much happiness this little one has already brought!

Six Sonograms

There’s an eerie beauty
in the way you float
features Picasso-esque
in grainy black and white

 

a determined kick in one
a playful wave in another
your ear cocked to water music
the glub of hearts, hers and yours

 

already such a journey—
from beyond the beyonds
to this oceanic purgatory
of yawns and sighs and stretches

 

between forelife and life
let us not muse now of after
for by the sucking of your thumbs
something lovely this way comes

 

 

St. Augustine, Worcester College Chapel at Oxford

Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you!  You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you.  In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created.  You were with me, but I was not with you.  Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all.  You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness.  You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness.  You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you.  I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more.  You touched me, and I burned for your peace.

                      St. Augustine, The Confessions

Gandhi Rap

Gandhi and Rap:  They just don’t go together, do they?  Or maybe they do.  Watch this video and decide:

Light a Candle

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Chartres Cathedral, France

Today and tomorrow mark holy days on the Christian calendar:  November 1 is All Saints Day, and tomorrow is the Commemoration of All Faithful Departed.  I was going to write something new for this year, but last year’s musings still express what I’d like to say about these quiet, underappreciated holidays.  So here ’tis:

The connection between All Saints Day and Halloween is not coincidental.  Originally celebrated in May, All Saints Day was moved to November 1 in the eighth century as a way to compete with the pagan celebration that also honored the dead.

All Saints doesn’t have the dazzle and bling of Halloween.  We don’t serve candy, dress up in costumes, or play scary music to celebrate it.  But to me it’s one of the most meaningful holidays of the year, a time to recall those we love who are no longer with us.

The heart of the remembrance is very simple:  we are invited to come to the altar to light a candle in memory of someone.  It’s a simple act with profound symbolic meaning.  Candles are one of those inherently sacred objects, I think, in the same category as bells and incense.  In the simple strike of a match, they create an opening for the holy to enter.

One of the things about candles, you see, is that they are most beautiful in the darkness.  Light one on a sunny day and it’s easy to overlook.  Light one on a dark night and the flickering, beautiful glow becomes a magnetic focus.  A candle, like many sacred objects, becomes most valuable to us when we cannot see our way.  And it’s especially appropriate to light a candle to honor the dead, who have gone into the great darkness of the grave. 

Sometime ago I discovered a website on the Internet where you can light a candle.  It’s a digital candle, of course, which isn’t nearly as good as a real one.  On the other hand, you can light one at this site and not have to worry about it setting your office or house on fire.  I click on this link when I’m at my computer but unable to work because of a worry that is stuck in my mind.  Something about it is very comforting.

On the site, it explains that from time immemorial, people have lit candles in sacred places.  And then it asks, “Why should cyberspace not be sacred?”  Why, indeed?

Today I invite you to light a candle for someone you love who has died, as a symbol of the light they brought into your life. (Here’s the link again.) And if your computer becomes a holy place as a result, well, so be it.

Luther statue in Leipzig

Today The Holy Rover bids auf wiedersehen to Martin Luther and Katharina von Bora, as well as to Germany.  I hope you’ve enjoyed the digital journey of this past week.  It seems appropriate to end with another piece by Bach, that admirer of Luther and lover of music and of God.  Click on the link below for a little music to send you into the weekend.

My Lord Katie

Katharina von Bora

Before we leave Martin Luther behind, I want to tell you just a little bit about his better half, his wife Katharina von Bora.  Martin would likely not disagree about the “better half” reference.  He referred to her, in fact, as “My Lord Katie.”  If one can judge a man by his choice in wives, Martin Luther deserves high marks, for Katharina was a most remarkable woman.

The daughter of an impoverished nobleman, Katharina was sent to a convent at the age of five.  She took her nun’s vows at sixteen but later grew dissatisfied with the cloistered life after hearing about the reformation movement led by the monk Martin Luther.  Along with 11 other nuns, she escaped from the convent by hiding in the wagon of a fish merchant.

Katharina came to Wittenberg, where she met the notorious monk who was causing such a ruckus.  The two were married when she was 26 and Martin was 42 (by then he, too, had renounced his vows as a monk).  By all accounts they had a warm and loving marriage.  While Martin lived the life of a scholar, Katharina was a whirlwind of industry.  She kept the family afloat while the impractical Martin devoted himself to his books.  She ran a farm and brewery, bred and raised cattle, fed the 20 or so students who lived with the family, gave birth to six children, and during times of sickness ran a hospital.  “She is the Morning Star of Wittenberg,” Martin said, referring to her habit of rising at 4:00 a.m.—no doubt in order to get everything done on her long list for the day.

Katharina in Wittenberg

In Wittenberg there stands a statue of Katharina von Bora.  On her hand is a wedding ring that is burnished by the touch of many hands, for it is said that rubbing it will bring one a happy marriage.  (Of course I rubbed it while I was there.)  It made me quite happy to see her there, caught in mid-stride.  She looks like a woman who would be very good at running a household, a state, or a country.  In another age, perhaps she would have.  And one wonders:  would Martin Luther have accomplished what he did, if Katharina von Bora hadn’t been at his side?