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Archbishop Nichols: Worship is ‘a leap into the dark’

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Archbishop Vincent Nichols offered a rare glimpse into his own inner life last week when he spoke about silent prayer at Westminster Cathedral Hall.

The Archbishop of Westminster admitted that he felt “very diffident” discussing the mysteries of intimacy with God “for, of myself, I have little to say”.

But he suggested that “to worship God as transcendent is a kind of leap into the dark”.

He explained:

Many will tell us that the very idea of God is no more than a fantasy or a projection. In accepting that there may well be some truth in this, we run the risk that in attempting to lose our projections of God we end up with nothing at all. Indeed, the challenge of atheism and rationalism in stripping away projection leaves us with precisely nothing. In contrast, this pathway of seeking the Transcendent God, which asks us to get beyond all the names and attributes of God, leads to the slow revelation of the hidden depth and the truth of the mystery of God Himself.

So we have to strive to go beyond the external pointers to God, in the material world, in a particular form of liturgy or music, or even a particular way of devotion. We try, in this pathway, to practice a detachment from all material approaches to the ultimate mystery of God. This is not easy! It is a constant, life-long task in which I suspect we make progress very slowly.

We also need to step back from our mental and emotional religious imagery, seeing that the signs and symbols given to us, for example, by the Church are pointers and not ultimate substance. They are given to us so that we may know which way to look. But we always need to look beyond them, to search out the ultimate mystery, which will be found only in a profound stillness.

For the full text, click here.

Photo: Archbishop Vincent Nichols at prayer (M Mazur/CCN)

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Written by Luke Coppen

October 26, 2009 at 2:13 pm

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