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Letters from an Ancient Mind

My dear young friend,

So your bishop is of long wind and of little sense. It amuses me to hear you complain of his repetition; did you not know that he repeats because you do not hear?

The man must repeat himself; most of what we need to hear is reminder, not new wisdom. Consider it this way: do you not partake of the Lord’s Supper each week? You do not complain of the repetition of that, and with good reason. It is of first importance. Therefore it needs repetition to be placed firmly between your ears. The center of the worship is Christ; the center of the memory is the Cross; the two combine in Communion.

Now if this be repeated, can you fault your bishop for his repetition of the faith? It too is of first importance. You think him over long in his speech. In most men this is a sign that they have more breath than sense. But in the matter of the bishop, it may be that he is holding the gem to the light, twisting it round so that you may see its full glory.

Consider that your task is not to be one who finds fault with the homily as one might find fault with fruit in the market. Your task is to hear and understand. He would be a poor bishop indeed if the entire sermon passed without something which you needed to hear. Indeed, it is the major cause of sleep during the sermon: the fear of something which will rouse the conscience.

If he is truly as poor in speech as you think, then do not complain. Rather, lift him up in prayer. Is he not the voice of the church? Would you have such a voice be silent before the world? Then ask God to give him a voice with which to be heard indeed.

Prayer, however, has its effects unintended. As you pray for his eloquence and knowledge, remain aware. Prayer will change your heart. You may find that his words are worthy even now.

I cannot forbear to add this. If you pray that his words might be heard by the world, then pray also for his protection. If his speech is ignored, Satan will pay him no mind. But if his words bring salvation, Satan will surely attack. Go to God for his protection; the more it is needed, the greater the bishop will be.

As ever,

Isaac the Alchemist

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