A feast of assumptions

We all come to judgments with a bundle of assumptions which we have learned from past experience. It is an assumption that someone who has been dishonest once will be dishonest again; it is an assumption that someone who has cheated on their spouse is untrustworthy in politics. It is an assumption that shareholders should always be considered before employees; it is an assumption that employees should be considered before shareholders. It is an assumption that men are naturally promiscuous; it is an assumption that women are naturally faithful. It is assumption that men are unable to recognize and express their feelings. It is an assumption that a rebellious teenager is acting from malice, or, for that matter, that his upbringing or environment relieve him of all responsibility.

Some of our assumptions may have been learnt from our parents or peer groups, others may be a reasonable deduction from experience, others may be the result of prejudice. Stereotyping is a common form of assumption – students are unreliable, Asians are hard workers, men are emotionally illiterate etc.

We cannot operate without assumptions because we simply do not have time to think out every situation we encounter from scratch. We all have a series of pre-packed judgments in our mind, and we reach up into our mental shelves to bring down the packages which we think apply to the situation in hand. And to a large extent our assumptions define us: “our prejudices far more than our judgments constitute our historical existence” – as one authority argued. But it is possible to review our assumptions and test them for truth, as well as their applicability to a specific situation. We might compare the assumptions we made as teenagers with those we make in maturity because life can change assumptions. Similarly our practice of the habits of virtue can change our assumptions and make them more reliable. But at the point of decision – whether this is a conclusion about truth or a moral decision – we should be clear about the assumptions we are making, just as we need to be clear about our feelings. At the very least we can then judge with our reason what weight they should be given in our deliberation.

How aware are we, in real life, of the assumptions we employ – both in our decisions and in the opinions we express, even in this Blog? Perhaps some of us find that a fellow contributor is predictable and, perhaps rightly, that he or she is reacting rather than thinking. But we must be on guard: perhaps we are seen as predictable to others. Are we responsible for our assumptions?

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63 Responses to A feast of assumptions

  1. St.Joseph says:

    I don’t like red peppers,so I assume I dont like green or yellow ones even though I have not tasted them!!

    • pnyikos says:

      There are many foods that I simply assumed I would not like, and never tasted. I have overcome this as far as foods generally available in the USA or Europe are concerned, but a lot of foods in other cultures (especially insects) are still on the “don’t taste” list. In Japan, for instance, I had no trouble eating flowers or raw fish, but I was afraid to try raw sea cucumbers.

      • St.Joseph says:

        A saying of my mother’s was, ‘Hunger is good sauce’, if you were starving you would eat anything! A case for assumption on her part, I dont eat mea-t tripe nor sea food- only hadock -fish..I could never eat humans, I think I would sooner die first!

  2. Galerimo says:

    I was summarising for my adult class one day how the Gospel in a nutshell is a story of the words and deeds of Jesus initiating the Kingdom of God. At the end of the class I asked these very reluctant “Theologians” for questions and a guy from Afganistan put up his hand and asked “Please what is nutshell”. Big assumption on my part.

    • Brendan says:

      Classic ! Thanks for that Galerimo.

      We live by assumptions – particularly of other people. Inexorably they emerge in the tangle of our thoughts. Painfully, one wades through life ( at least from the age of reason ) making fools of oneself with mixed assumptions because we are imperfect beings in the sight of God.
      In our imperfections we fill life’s blank slate , for better for worse. We are .. ” responsible for our assumptions ”…. They can be ‘ good ‘ or ‘ bad ‘, and the path to holiness ( justification in Gods eyes ) lies in separating the wheat from the tares through this journey in life ; where assumptions are dropped/unnecessary and complete faith in Divine Providence ensues. In this state , Jesus describes the reward starting right here…. ” In truth I tell you, unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven .” Matthew 18:3 (NJB)
      I believe the secular film ” Forrest Gump ” where the films subject as played by Tom Hanks, is portrayed beautifully throughout by a childlike innocence – making no assumptions about people – but inspiring them to realise the ‘ good ‘ in themselves out of their own self-depredations This film is a paradigm for Christian living where the ‘ Christ-like ‘ Forrest Gump is the ‘ mystical body of Christ ‘ feeding our world metamorphosing into The Kingdom of God.
      And for the individual … ” it is no longer I , but Christ living in me .” [ St.Paul ] Gal. 2:20

      • St.Joseph says:

        Bigotry is ofen caused by assumptions.
        No blacks, no dogs, no Irish, in boarding house windows, years ago..
        The time I met my late husband at a dance in London 1958 and mentioned I was a catholic,his reply was,’.Oh not one of those’,then went on to say what his mother thinks of catholics who lived next door to them in ‘Harrogate’ as if Harrogate was a place for normal people!!!

  3. Brendan says:

    Yes St.Joseph – …” let them grow together for the time being ,..until the harvest ,” Matt.30;13 (NJB)
    A little younger than you perhaps , but I have similar memories. The great surprise and joy to me is that in among’st seemingly universal indifference by our fellow citizens ; I believe there to be a healthy respect for ‘ Catholics ‘ if not the ‘ institution’ itself . Perhaps that’s the way it should be , given we are all sinners facing each other.
    I would say that there are less ‘ bad ‘ assumptions concerning the PRACTICE of Catholicism today than ever ; although often actual knowledge of the ‘Faith ‘ is woefully lacking. The last three ‘ great ‘ Popes up to the present have had an influence in that direction . The Catholic Church has that mysterious charism of prophesy which seems to somehow defy/ pre-empt any worldly assumptions. This is despite of and not because of a sometimes rabid media having contrary agendas , whose huge influence ( with ‘ bad ‘ assumptions ) permeate daily living.

  4. G.D. says:

    Assumptions (as i understand the term) are mere reference points for evaluating. A mental tool. Indeed ‘We can not live without them’.

    The acceptance (individually &/or collectively) of harmful ideas/beliefs comes from personal self serving dictates.

    Assumptions are not an assertion of negative or positive qualities, and are a neutral process of discernment. Assumptions do not exonerate or condemn ………….. I assume.

    I do not assert, only conjecture.

    • Brendan says:

      However, assumptions must not be left untested/ unchallenged.
      By Catholic tradition and doctrine , The Mother God was ‘ assumed’ into Heaven – the ‘ Dormition ‘ in Orthodox Christianity. Nektarios , are you there ?

      • G.D. says:

        Indeed, that is where the process of discernment happens.
        I assume (not sure about this) once a definitive judgement/ruling is passed on the content the assumption becomes a dictate of ones belief?

        Bad analogy but the only one i can come up with …… I see an assumption as a piece of a puzzle that, once fitted, becomes part of the whole.

        Further assumptions, after discernment, may change the picture of course. Some pieces added some removed, some placed in a different place.

        It seems to me, the whole ‘equality’ culture is forming a global society in the West where regulatory dictates that are immovable by ‘the legislators’ according to their selfish needs and wants – and so true assumptions & processes of discernment are becoming outlawed, and seen as ‘prejudice’ & ‘bigotry’ ‘Subversive Fascism’ subtly instigated upon everyone.

      • G.D. says:

        There should be a full stop after ‘bigotry’.

      • Nektarios says:

        Yes, Brendan, I am here.
        The Mother of God being assumed into Heaven is part of Tradition, but it is not a doctrine as such.
        Assumption is drawing a conclusion about some one or issue with limited information.
        I notice for example many assumptions made by Science. On such assumptions they extrapolate their theories. The same is true with Psychology, and Politics and Religion.

        Let me tease you a little: In John’s Gospel 4, the story of the woman at the well in Samaria. The woman certainly was drawing assumptions about Jesus. Was Jesus drawing assumptions about her or what?

    • Horace says:

      assume = ass – you / me
      This, rather simple, summary was brought to my wife’s attention when she was discussing (I can’t remember what) with our Parish Priest.

  5. Martha says:

    I recall a priest making gossip and unfounded assumptions the subject of a sermon in the 1950’s when I was a student, and using the example of a widow moving into the parish with several children. It was not long before the possibility of her being an unmarried mother was going the rounds and adding further distress to the many problems she already faced. He used this example to speak very powerfully about the care we should take in thinking and speaking of others, which I at least have remembered all this time. I suppose this might be better described as speculation, but it can be very close sometimes.

    Very often it can be quite harmless, as when people thought my sisters and I, as children, were triplets because for some time we were all the same height, or even, perhaps, when I was sometimes mistaken for our daughter’s Grandma! it is often humorous as in tales of the noble lord of the estate being mistaken for the gardener on account of his less than smart appearance, or it being assumed that the woman parking her battered old car outside has come to do the cleaning. These sort of situations are the basis of many detective stories, and demonstrate the wisdom of the sleuth who takes nothing for granted.

    In technical matters of course it is vital that nothing is assumed. The precise checking and measurements involved in computers and cars, and everything we depend upon, and still more in space exploration, are an absolute necessity, and major tragedy can result from the tiniest flaw or mistake.

    Even in daily life where a vivid imagination can picture the tragic results of overlooking the lighting of a cooker, or leaving a door unlocked, it can be dangerous to assume that it is all right, we must have done. Unfortunately this can tip over into too much checking, and perhaps to OCD, though other factors are involved in the full medical condition

  6. Vincent says:

    I find that my greatest danger is incorporating assumptions in my decisions or conclusions. I rarely reflect on the assumptions I have used — let alone testing them for validity. Take Quentin’s example ‘an assumption that someone who has been dishonest once will be dishonest again’. It is probably true that a person who has been dishonest may be dishonest again. But how true is this in a particular case I have to decide? It would seem that the assumptions I use unconsciously are the most dangerous of all.

  7. Brendan says:

    Nektarios – Yes, let’s have a look at the Samaritan woman at ‘ Jacob’s Well ‘.
    God being all-knowing does not make assumptions , He only deals in life-giving fact. The Word , Jesus , The God-man is of course for us THE great mystery of Christian Faith. There is no ‘problem ‘ then with having ‘faith ‘ ,as coming from an omniscient God it is all ‘ fact’. He could read this woman inside out and then gave her … ” the message of eternal life .” ( Simon Peter )….as He offers it to all today. These worldly ‘ assumptions ‘ about Christ and His Church are tested / challenged overtime , and by reason are found to be valid….. hence growth in ones ‘ faith ‘ ?
    For Catholics of Course , Tradition is valid through the centuries ; and it is there that ‘ history ‘ is important to The Faith , and where God works through The Church and Christs Vicar on Earth , that line of faith then presents assumption as fact. Something I fear, which does not go down well with a skeptical world – ‘ modernity ‘..

    • Nektarios says:

      Quite so. Not only the world and modernity. Have you yet to grasp that so much that passes for Christianity today, is little more than liberal modernity, humanistic and secular? It is just the same old nature modified religiously. Being so, it is full of assumptions, and bears little or no relation to true Christianity.
      The issue of Christ’s Vicar on Earth, is a RCC invention. A Vicarate is only possible or necessary when that High Priest is dead, or the position vacant. In the case of Christ our Lord, He is our High Priest before God, He is very much alive and lives forevermore. Therefore, there is no need for a Vicar of Christ as an intermediary?
      Calling oneself the Vicar of Christ, is arguably the greatest assumption there has ever been, creating also so many assumptions about him.

      • Brendan says:

        Leaving aside our respective interpretations arising from ‘ the successor of Peter ‘ for fear of getting bogged down in inconclusive debate ; I return to the subject at hand.
        You in turn assume that I do not ” grasp ” the presence of , to put in a nutshell , what often
        passes for ‘ counterfeit ‘ Christianity ‘ in today’s world. Not so Nektarios. I assume here you mean ‘ Christianity ( Catholic ) lived ‘ and not ‘ christian ( Catholic ) doctrine ‘. Neither of us then , can be held responsible for world Christian Practice ‘per se ‘. However, I do perceive … ” the smoke of Satan ”…. menacing The Church today.
        For my own beliefs , I hold no reservations about the Faith I follow. I may have doubts from time time …. because I am imperfect still and in need of Gods Grace to keep me firm in that Faith. I no longer push at the door of ‘ my world ‘ , which I like ‘ your world ‘ seems far from ” true Christianity.”
        I do not assume this in my life I believe it, and in doing so I try to live in The Faith as best I can. It is for others to determine ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in my Christian living . God will judge us all.

      • Nektarios says:

        `I no longer push at the door of ‘ my world ‘ , which I like ‘ your world ‘ seems far from ” true Christianity.”
        Could you please qualify how you reach the assumption you make of `my world’ you make above?

      • pnyikos says:

        Nektarios– Here in the United States we have lots of Vicars of various shades and stripes in our diocese alone, so I can’t see the fuss you are making about that word. Surely, St. Peter merited the title Vicar of Christ after what Christ said to him about being the Rock on which he was building his Church. It’s not as though anyone was suggesting that the Pope be called the Vicar of God, a title that I agree belongs to Jesus Christ.

  8. Nektarios says:

    Nice to hear from you in the USA and welcome to the SSblog, though I see you have contributed a few times before.
    Peter like all the other Apostles were no mere Vicars. The Apostles were much more than that.
    I have made the comment to Brendan, concerning this terminology, which would have been utterly alien to the Apostle Peter or other Apostles.
    Reading Scripture what we have here is the sole authority. It is the Gospel to man in every generation. What that has to say concerning God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, Salvation and us is vital.
    As a semi- retired Preacher and Pastor, I am not at liberty to invent such terms. Make no mistake, it is a loaded term, to appear that one referring to themselves as the Vicar of Christ to have authority given by God. It is a term that came in in recent times as you probably know.

  9. Brendan says:

    Nektarios – While assumptions are not definitive , you give at least a hint to me that you think
    so called Christian society has strayed somewhat from the vision of its Divine founder….” It’s just the same old nature modified religiously. ” While I do not presume to tell you how to live your life ; I believe I have enough evidence from you to make a fair assumption on how current Christianity , as you see it , is playing out today.
    Pnykos has made good evidential points on the Papacy arising from Holy Scripture , and as Catholic , it speaks to me on its own merits. Doctrine does not change , but its better understanding does through the use of language in every period of time. While this understanding may raise questions about the range/area of Papal Authority overtime – Catholic Doctrine stands firm on one thing …The Pope is ‘Peter ‘ as Our Lord envisaged the OFFICE.
    The Living Word ( The Gospel of Jesus Christ ) is not in dispute here. A ‘ fundamentalist ‘ reading of Holy Scripture may well come to a different opinion on other matters.

    • Nektarios says:

      You say, `Nektarios – While assumptions are not definitive , you give at least a hint to me that you think
      so called Christian society has strayed somewhat from the vision of its Divine founder….” It’s just the same old nature modified religiously. ” While I do not presume to tell you how to live your life ; I believe I have enough evidence from you to make a fair assumption on how current Christianity , as you see it , is playing out today.’

      Firstly, I am not presuming or assuming anything. I would simply ask the readers and your good self, to look at Church history, and especially the early Christian Church history.
      That will tell you enough to demonstrate just how far the Church, no matter what denomination one is in as strayed from Christ’s and Apostolic teaching. Let me help you a little by providing a few pointers.

      Is our view of Holy Scriptures held in the same way as those early Christians?
      Do we sit in judgement with our petty ideas, opinions, philosophy on The Bible?
      No, That is unfortunately what most do, if they really prayerfully read it at all.

      Prior to the Reformation in Europe: take a historical look at the RCC at that time. Strayed from the path, is far from explaning what they did – deliberately!
      The Word of God was hidden from the people, the Apostolic teaching was not taught, but buried. Yes, take a look at Church History and tell me this wicked and perverse generation has not wandered off from the truth?

      The view of Scripture is called into question nowadays and supplanted with philosophy, liberal theology and humanism, and again, hiding and burying the truth – such are the modern day Philistines, who block up the wells of live-giving water. Without the living water, we can have no spiritual life.
      We have to do what Isaac did, dig up those wells of Salvation that these modern day
      Philistines have buried. Unblock them, digging down, clearing out all the rubbish they have placed there, till we come upon again that life giving water.

      I tell you in truth, Brendan, the Church is a far worse state now, than it was shortly before the Reformation in Europe and it was in a dire state then.

  10. Martha says:

    Assumptions were made about Christ, the Messiah, long before His incarnation took place, and continued during His teaching mission, a belief that He would liberate His people, the Jews, from Roman occupation, and establish them as a powerful earthly nation to rule the world.
    His neighbours and fellow townsmen assumed that He could not be any one special, “Can any good come out of Nazareth?”
    It seems to be a difficulty which will always beset us. Things which we take for granted, and think are obvious, have to be carefully evaluated for their credibility, and we sometimes have to be prepared to change our preconceptions when they are validly challenged.

    • Nektarios says:

      Absolutely. However, Martha, Life in Christ is not a conception thought up by men. Life in Christ is an active principle that gives to those who have it, a spiritually alive life, whereas before they were spiritually dead.
      Ah, the works of the Holy Spirit are not in our words, in our conceptualizations and theologizing, but in POWER. The transformation speaks for itself, does it not, and usually leaves one speechless and full of awe and wonder. Changed lives indeed.

      • Vincent says:

        Nektarios, I think you are very fortunate in being left “speechless and full of awe and wonder” from your experience of the Holy Spirit. I am afraid that I find it rather hard going. But I am consoled by people such as Mother Teresa, who apparently had little or no consolation. But then of course she was heroic and it may be that Christ knew she could cope with it. In the end, we will not be judged by our feelings but by our actions.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Also the Woman who would crush the head of the Serpent with Her heel.
      Especially when Our Blessed Mother has been appearing all over the world for centuries..A continuation of the mission of Holy Mother Church who She is.

  11. St.Joseph says:

    I have just been watching on EWTN a discussion with regards to Angels.also our Guardian Angel.
    Very interesting and illuminating with 2 priests speaking with testimonies and Church teaching.
    The Bible speaks plenty of Angels, also the CCC..
    How are we to believe in Angels within the teaching of the church.are they assumptions? it would be interesting to hear some thoughts. Or if anyone has had visions of them.

    • Martha says:

      Happy feast St. Joseph, and to all, on Michaelmas Day, which we always celebrate, with two archangel namesakes in the family. I am sure they are not assumptions, as you say, there are so many biblical references. It would be wonderful to have a vision of my guardian angel, and I can’t claim to have had one, but I am sure he has helped me on numerous occasions, both physically and spiritually. I do wonder sometimes, why I might have been saved from drowning and other serious accidents, several times, but others are not rescued in similar circumstances. I also wonder why angels are so revered by many people who profess to be spiritual but not religious, and often are unsure about belief in God.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Thank you also happy Feast Day to all .
        I had 2 experience s of being saved from a car accident years ago.it could only.be a miracle.One with.st Pio and I put the other down to.my Guardian Angel.I will never know how many more times unknown to.me .
        Thank God for them. The Lord has done Wonders for us,Our mind can not visualise it all!

  12. Brendan says:

    Trading assumptions with each other can be very useful in generating better understanding and acceptance of each others position . Particularly useful in the ecumenical field ; as long as it does not end up in sterile ‘ point -scoring ‘ !
    Pope Francis in his seemingly chaotic ( ? deliberate ) way – according to the ‘ vaticanista ‘/vat-pack ( journalists ) – intends to oversee the Synod on the Family with the worlds Bishops etc. starting next week , by allowing as much expression of opposing voices to be heard . What is he doing ? ….observers shriek.
    Like Blessed Pope John xxiii , he seems to be shifting the Catholic Church / Papacy , by this and his other actions – ‘ synodos ‘ ( journeying together ) – away from the centralist, lumbering burearocracy it has become by letting the full measure of The spirit of God hold sway. While much of the Catholic world is confused about this ‘ risky ‘ venture , the pope sails into this , seemingly supremely confident !
    Father Mark Drew in this weeks Catholic Herald gives a clue as to the Holy Fathers ‘ strategy ‘ ( if such exists ).
    ” The Orthodox insistence that the Church is a living organism animated by the faith as handed down, meanwhile , can help preserve us from temptations which have sometimes beset Catholicism : to make the institution an end in itself and to forget that Church authorities are the guardians and not masters of that faith. ”
    There is more ; the article is well-worth reading as a whole.

  13. ignatius says:


    “Is our view of Holy Scriptures held in the same way as those early Christians?..”

    No of course it isn’t!! Nor is yours and you should stop pretending it is, are you honestly and truthfully expecting the end and Jesus Christ to return in your lifetime?..are you sure? …Sometimes this nostalgia of yours sounds like a death wish for the church and its mission of mercy Nektarios. Did the early Christians supply practically all the health care and education to sub Saharan Africa? Do you?

    • Nektarios says:

      As I said to Brendan, ` I am not assuming or presuming anything.’
      I am well aware how far people have strayed from the teaching of Christ and the Apostolic teaching.
      Our time is anytime!! I do not know whether Christ will return in my lifetime or not, but I live as though it was.
      To attribute to the Apostles doctrine and teaching and that of Christ as we follow what has been given by them, as nostalgia is sad to say the least.
      No, I do not have a death wish for the Church, God’s regenerated people, they shall never die. What concerns me, Ignatius, is the outward aspects of the Church is dying on its feet.

      I notice you diverted from the questions I posed, Brendan, to the RCC’s mission of mercy. Another red-herring.But then again you and I were not early Christians, most of whom would not have earned anything, being slaves. Governments in the West and elsewhere pour in much more finance and health care etc, etc, than the combined Churches are capable of and have done for centuries.
      Believers in Christ have always done good works, only difference is, they did not use it as a PR exercise.

  14. ignatius says:


    “Believers in Christ have always done good works, only difference is, they did not use it as a PR exercise”

    How do you know? Where you there? are you mates with any of them? Do you think they were pure as driven snow without self interest? Do you think they had different hearts than us?

    “Our time is anytime!! I do not know whether Christ will return in my lifetime or not, but I live as though it was.”
    Do you have a pension? Do you have life insurance? have you given everything away? Have you forsaken your friends and family for the Gospel? Have you held all things in common with your peers? Are you a home owner?
    No you don’t live as if Christ was coming back tomorrow Nektarios, you just like to think you do.

    “We have to do what Isaac did, dig up those wells of Salvation that these modern day
    Philistines have buried. Unblock them, digging down, clearing out all the rubbish they have placed there, till we come upon again that life giving water.”

    Would you care to put at least a morsel of flesh on the bones of these tired religious platitudes, would you indeed care to tackle any of these underlying assumptions and relate them to human life as it is lived by any real person or do you prefer to spout abstract philosophy in the manner which you are now doing?

    • Nektarios says:

      Ah, one who is so modern, with it, up-to-date eh,
      As far as tackling the modern day assumptions,I have already done so, but it seems to be consigned to `tired religious platitudes’ in your book. Well, it seems you know it all, but it is very clear from the manner in which you convey your strident views, you articulate much, but little light.

      You ask me, `Do you have a pension? Do you have life insurance? have you given everything away? Have you forsaken your friends and family for the Gospel? Have you held all things in common with your peers? Are you a home owner?
      No you don’t live as if Christ was coming back tomorrow Nektarios, you just like to think you do.

      How arrogant to ask me such questions, not knowing me at all. The spiritual journey the Lord has seen fit to lead me in this world is between Him and me.
      Who do you think you are to ask me such questions. Your bullish tactics show up more the sort of person you are inwardly than anything else.

      • ignatius says:

        But this is how it always ends isn’t it Nektarios? Whenever anyone asks you for a bit of clarity, or sense, or relevance. .or,..dare I say it, accountability. Suddenly we are away from platitudes/ assumptions/ sweeping generalisations and directly into self righteous ‘ outrage’ mode. Ok for you to parade your tired historical scripts and prejudices clothed in spiritual jargon as if we had never heard them before, but not ok for anyone to call time on your boorish dull and repetitive anti catholic diatribes. What do you think you gain from them ?

      • RAHNER says:

        A brave attempt Ignatius, but in the end discussions with a fundamentalist are probably a waste of time…….

      • Nektarios says:

        Ignatuis, Brendan & Rahner,
        Was the topic not, `a feast of assumptions’. I was seeking to bring clarity. In so-doing, it seems I have ruffled a few feather in the process, especially among the more liberal, philosophical, and psychological minded among you.

        All that you got from me essentially, was sound biblical exegisis directly of the teachings of Christ and His Apostles. Your rant below indicates a view that the Gospels and Apostolic teaching has to be taught (as if it could) in the light of modern day Humanistic
        Philosophical and Psychological thinking.
        I for one do not mix up spirituality we have in Christ, with man-centred humanism, philosophy and psychology. They are not the same thing at all. In certain situations and conditions I can see it can be of benefit of course.
        If that amounts to the squeek from Rahner on the side-lines as usual, saying, I am a fundamentalist, well so be it, I can be fundamental about the Cardinal things of the faith.

        I could write much more, but it would be too long. The wider picture for the whole Church, not just the RCCs is so weak today, so much of it, living a dead orthodoxy. The onslaught of humanism. psychology and philosophy on the Church cannot underestimated, and the antidote to it is a return to the Holy Scriptures and the teaching of Christ and His holy Apostles.
        So you see, Ignatuis, Brendan, and Rahner, some of your assumptions are way of the mark concerning my views. But assumptions are like that, are they not?

  15. Brendan says:

    Nektarios – I’m assuming most commenting on this blog have a fair idea of the ‘warp and weft ‘ of ecclesiastical history. A big subject is complicated by one thing – sinful human beings .You for one remind us enough of its ubiquitous nature. The Devil never sleeps around us ; and while he doesn’t there remains a ‘ restlessness ‘ in us – a tension between inertia and action. The answer to sins’ ( the Devils ) attraction ( this tension ) is the redeeming action of God -Through -Christ ,saving the world ( mankind ) from interminable death , into eternal life.
    The balance then is between a demoralising ‘ fear ‘ of the world resulting in inertia and the taking up of the life-giving action of The Spirit of God through the dynamic of this world ( history ).This is the choice inevitably facing human nature at every stage. You make sweeping statements with a predisposition to an inertia of the mind ; but where is the specific detail for action ?

  16. Brendan says:

    Martha – I think ‘ angels ‘ or some form of belief in a protective ‘ spirit ‘ has been about since we embraced Animism ( ? earliest religious belief ) ; that there were spirits/souls outside of our world such as fairies , elves ( some living in nature , plants etc. ) who impacted on our existence and had an appropriate influence on events good or bad . Humans are naturally spiritual , so why not angels?

  17. ignatius says:

    I don’t have a name for my guardian angel but I have been aware and grateful for his presence ever since I became a Christian 30 years ago. I may have said before but I really like CS Lewis’ account of angelic presence. He recounts them as a presence which has discernible shape and form but which yet remains invisible in the ordinary sense, this accords with my own perception of angels. Though I suspect the sense I get of angels is largely their benign ‘face’ when being solicitious of us in their care.

    Once, for about 5 minutes 25 years ago I had a different sense of angels. I was sitting up on a high hill of Hong Kong Island one morning looking up to the border with China and praying for that great nation. I remember very clearly having this impression of something like a lightning storm going on all along the border as if there were sheets of flame which was not ‘flame’. The phrase that came into my mind was ‘the horses and chariots of Israell’ that accompanied Elijah..(or was it Elisha) on the way to heaven.

  18. Brendan says:

    I can’t say I’ve thought that deeply if at all about ‘angels ‘, except that they were at times messengers from God – that has been comforting enough . Nevertheless mam and dads prayer taught to me springs to mind.
    O my good Angel whom God has appointed to be my guardian,
    Watch over me and take care of me during this night. Amen…. I still occasionally recite it.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Another prayer is Angel of God my guardian dear, to whom God,s love commits me here, ever this day be at my side to light and guard and be my guide.

      There are four corners on my bed, there are four Angels there to spread,
      St Matthew St Mark St Luke St John God bless this bed that I lie on.If any evil should come to.me.I shall get up and pray to Thee!

      Angel brooches and necklaces are very popular I see with children especially with their names on them.

  19. Brendan says:

    You have a better grasp of the ‘theology ‘ that myself ,St. Joseph. I recall that same prayer from somewhere. My wife and I in our ‘shop’ days used to sell plenty of ‘ angel ‘ bangles/bracelets and necklaces . Good formation for early childlike trust in Gods Providence, don’t you think ?

  20. Martha says:

    We say, “May God’s holy angels watch over us this night, to keep us from all harm. May He give us a quiet night and a peaceful sleep,” which is adapted from one of the Compline prayers.

  21. Brendan says:

    Coming to ” judgments with a bundle of assumptions ”; if all on the blog met up together , I bet we would all be different to what we expected each other to be !

  22. St.Joseph says:

    Yes lets have a party.and give each.other a.big.hug.Although.hopefully.it.would.not.end in a bun fight.

  23. ignatius says:

    I say the prayer to St Michael archangel every day, and I mean it. Especially since I’ve been ordained and mix more with ordained people. The sickness, the misfortune that strikes clergy is I would say quite disproportionate to the general population. Partly because most deacons are in mid 50’s or above and therefore in the approach zone of illness; but partly I think of direct spiritual warfare which is why we have to pray for priests and bishops.
    As to angels having characters, I think there is an angelic character. Angels are fundamentally warriors, they do Gods bidding; each of us has one caring for us; not mollycoddling but protecting and solicitous towards our precarious state being placed a little above the beasts and a little below them in the current order of things.

    • Martha says:

      Indeed, yes, Ignatius, this is a very powerful prayer which we pray also, and which the world badly needs, and all clergy especially as you say. And you are right about mollycoddling. When Christ was suffering His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, angels were sent to strengthen Him, not to kiss it better.

    • Brendan says:

      Thank you for that Ignatius….. ” the misfortune that strikes clergy..”. Something the laity gives little if any thought about ……’ father ‘ always appearing ‘ in control ‘.

  24. John Nolan says:

    What is the point in arguing about the meaning of ‘assume’ and ‘assumption’ in English when it has different meanings even in that language (some of them neutral, some pejorative). We all know the etymology (assumere from ad-sumere and it doesn’t take a Latinist to work out what that means).

    English certainly enriched itself from the 15th century onwards by borrowing wholesale from Latin but even in my lifetime I have seen words change in meaning, sometimes from ignorance, sometimes by design. Literature can to a certain extent fix language (for those who can be bothered to read it) but in 200 years’ time vernacular English will probably be incomprehensible to us. Fortunately by then the liturgical language of the Western Church will be once again Latin, since the 20th century flirtation with pseudo-historical liturgical assumptions (that word again!) clothed in a babel of vulgar tongues will be seen to be the utter disaster that it has turned out to be.

  25. ignatius says:

    “All that you got from me essentially, was sound biblical exegisis directly of the teachings of Christ and His Apostles…”

    Sorry Nektarios, I’ve just been through your posts, no sign of any exegesis at all I’m afraid. Plenty of character assassination (remarks about ones personality and inner man etc)..plenty of rambling but no clear exegesis at all. Why is it may I ask that you seem ever inclined to behave like a rude child invited to lunch?…instead of sitting in around the table for a decent chat you cannot resist rushing outside to tromp around in some old muddy patch or another then march back in with a frown and tramp it all over the carpet. Puzzles me I must admit.

    • Nektarios says:

      You may have been newly ordained, but you are somewhat lower on the pecking order than I. So muzzle it.

      • ignatius says:


        So there we have it, plain as day at last. Thanks Nektarios.

      • Nektarios says:

        I apologize for being somewhat rude to you in my posting above. What I was doing in what I posted was exegisis applied to today, that is all.

  26. ignatius says:

    Thats ok, I’m not always sweetness and light myself.

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