The Still Point of the Turning World

The Still Point of the Turning World April 4, 2015

The first time I went to a Catholic church on Good Friday, to celebrate the liturgy of the Lord’s passion, I was confused by the empty holy water font, the darkness, and the absence of the Mass. The next year, when I went again as a Catholic, I was unnerved by it all. “But where is He?” I whispered urgently to the Ogre. “Where is Christ, right now? If He is always here, where is He now?”

I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of time in the Mass. It’s called the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, not the Remebrance of the Holy Sacrifice. It’s the same sacrifice as the sacrifice of the Cross. It’s like the Crucifixion happened once, and never stopped happening. It happened two thousand years ago and it happened last week, and it will keep happening, again and again until the end of time.

Except not today. Today, there is silence and the world is still.

Last night as I left the church, I felt that same sort of unsettled emptiness that I did eight years ago. The candles were gone, the water was gone, the altar was bare, and Christ was not there.  He is in His tomb today, and in Hell, and here on earth time is still as we wait for His return.


Yet the enchainment of past and future
Woven in the weakness of the changing body,
Protects mankind from heaven and damnation
Which flesh cannot endure.

Time past and time future
Allow but a little consciousness.
To be conscious is not to be in time
But only in time can the moment in the rose-garden,
The moment in the arbour where the rain beat,
The moment in the draughty church at smokefall
Be remembered; involved with past and future.
Only through time time is conquered.

TS Eliot, from Burnt Norton




(Apologies for the screwy formatting in the Burnt Norton excerpt — I tried to fix it a few times but couldn’t spend any more time on it when I should be making spanakopita. It’s really bugging me too, though, so don’t feel alone in your lit-geekery.)

Image via Wikimedia Commons


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