Saturday, January 28, 2012


Fishers of men, by Rex DeLoney (b.1965) Go HERE for gallery

Over at The English Catholic Blog, Father Anthony Chadwick commented graciously on yesterday's post. He was followed up by Deborah Gyapong, who included two characteristically brilliant homilies from Brother Robert Mercer CR (former Bishop of Matabeleland, and then of the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada, who was recently received into the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham (UK) of the Roman Catholic Church).

The point I was trying to make yesterday is that the "sharing of gifts" among the Christian traditions includes our different ways of bringing people to the Lord. I said that one of these precious gifts is Anglican Evensong with its numinous beauty and healing power, and that lots of people have opened their hearts and minds to God as a result of just being there. This is so important in our time when many have either rejected what they imagine is the Christian faith, or have never thought very much about it. We have to accept that people are drawn to the Lord in a variety of ways according to their temperament and background.

Anyway, here is the first piece by Robert Mercer (go HERE for the second one):

A Homily for Trinity 5

My text is one that does not exist. “I am the Big Fisherman.” I derive it from Jesus’ words to St. Peter, “From henceforth thou shalt catch men.”

Some fish live singly, and men catch them with rods. Some fish live in vast great shoals, and men catch them with nets. The Big Fisherman means to have each and every fish that has ever swum, whether fresh water or sea. The Divine Angler knows how to watch and wait for the big old trout that has lurked in the deep dark waters of the Mare Dam. He knows how to play the marlin off Cape Point, lots and lots of reel, time, and patience. He follows the shoals of snoek in the South Atlantic.

Everyone of us is pursued and hunted by the love of Christ. He knows the method which is exactly right, whether to leave us alone, apparently to go our own way, to try this and that, until in an unsuspecting moment we are caught by His watching waitfulness. Whether to let us tire and exhaust ourselves, to struggle against surrender, until He finally pulls us in.

One by one have individuals been caught. The saintly Brother Lawrence, author of the Practice of the Presence of God, by seeing a bare tree in winter. Archbishop William Temple by hearing a piano recital. St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, by reading a book while lying in bed with a broken leg. Professor Joad by finding a country parson in cassock and surplice reading Evensong out loud, all alone in a country church on a weekday evening. Individuals have been taken in the oddest and unlikeliest of ways. In future years Jesus may have other odd tricks to play.

In vast great shoals have others been caught. At times and in places there have been enthusiastic movements which captured the hearts and minds of those particular generations. John Wesley and the 18th century revival which fired up the Church of England. The London Missionary Society and the coming of the Light to the islanders of the Torres Strait towards the end of the last century. Billy Graham and his hordes in our own times. In future years Jesus may have other trawlers with other nets.

The difficult thing for humans to remember is that God does know what He is doing. A man may be quite untouched by, repelled even, by a Graham type crusade. But this is not to say that he can’t know or doesn’t know Jesus. Trout are not caught by trawlers. A man may be quite untouched by, repelled even, by solitude and silence. But this does not mean that he can’t or doesn’t know Jesus. Capelin are not caught by rod and reel.

In the 17th century there was a devout layman who personally knew and wrote books about some of the greats of his own time. John Donne, George Herbert, Richard Hooker. But he’s most famous for his book about fishing. The title of Izaak Walton’s book is an apt description of Christ Himself, The Compleat Angler.


Fr Anthony Chadwick said...

You forgot trolling for mackerel, trailing a line and lures behind a sailing boat doing 3-4 knots. I am perhaps less passionate about fishing than when I was a lad, but it does make a difference to fish from a boat.

On the spiritual content - wonderful!

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