The concept is hardly original. One of the better episodes of the last Star Trek series explored the premise of a person who wakes up every morning with no memories of the days and years before. I picked up S. J. Watson’s Before I Go To Sleep hoping I wasn’t going to be reading a derivative work. I was unaware the book has been a bestseller, and widely (though not unanimously) praised. I read this book in three nights. It was engaging, believable, and extremely well-paced. As one might expect from a quality author, it explored a good number of concepts while keeping the reader (and main character) off-guard with a gradual development of information, misinformation, and menace. The key idea emerges very near the end, and was hidden to me until about a page before the main character finally uncovers it herself. I had to intentionally slow down my reading pace to make sure I was catching the last drops of how the novel resolves itself.
This was one of my more enjoyable reads this year. After I finished it last night, I checked various reviews, and I have to say I disagreed with some points of the book’s critics. The 350 pages are more than boring repetitions–the author handles the dribbling of information quite well and logically. A thoughtful reader won’t find it tedious, but I can see how a skimming of the text would produce a yawn or two. It’s actually quite difficult to portray with interest a main character who wakes up every morning with no memories. For a first-time author, this is an impressive feat.
Also challenging is a man writing a woman–he seems to pull this off. (But I’m a guy; so what do I know?) Is amnesia like this a possibility outside of science fiction? I don’t know that, either. But as an sf fan, I was well-prepared to accept the premise, though this is far from being a science fiction work. Then again, I don’t really count Star Trek as science fiction, but that’s fodder for another discussion.
I would recommend this book. It’s a very good read. If I ever write a first novel, I’d be over the moon if it were this good.
Part Two, Chapter I (GDC 94-118) is titled “Norms and criteria for presenting the Gospel message in catechesis”
This chapter leads off with two timely quotes, the Sh’ma Yisrael passage and a short excerpt from the incarnation narrative of John’s Gospel:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Dt 6:4-9).
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1:14).
94. The source from which catechesis draws its message is the word of God:
“Catechesis will always draw its content from the living source of the word of God transmitted in Tradition and the Scriptures, for sacred Tradition and sacred Scripture make up a single sacred deposit of the word of God, which is entrusted to the Church”. (Catechesi Tradendae 27)
This “deposit of faith” (Cf. Dei Verbum 10 a e b; cf. 1 Tim 6:20 and 2 Tim 1:14) is like the treasure of a householder; it is entrusted to the Church, the family of God, and she continuously draws from it things new and old. (cf. Mt 13:52) All God’s children, animated by his Spirit, are nourished by this treasure of the Word. They know that the Word is Jesus Christ, the Word made man and that his voice continues to resound in the Church and in the world through the Holy Spirit. The Word of God, by wondrous divine “condescension” (Dei Verbum 13) is directed toward us and reaches us by means of human “deeds and words”, “just as the Word of the eternal Father, when he took on himself the flesh of human weakness, became like men”. (Dei Verbum 13) And so without ceasing to be the word of God, it is expressed in human words. Although close to us, it still remains veiled, in a “kenotic” state. Thus the Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, has to interpret the word continually. She contemplates the word with a profound spirit of faith, “listens to [it] devotedly, guards it with dedication and expounds it faithfully”. (Dei Verbum 10)
Drawing heavily on Vatican II and the New Testament, the GDC lays the foundation for what is to come, namely, that catechesis is based on the living Word of God. Not human traditions. Not human documents. What counts is the grace of God, God’s gift of self-revelation and how that is communicated by human words, but also human deeds.
Catechesis is also not a discipline of human history. The Holy Spirit guides us to “continual” interpretation and discernment. To say, “The Church has always taught …” is not precisely grace–it is human history. The Word is meant to be contemplated, to be heard, to be guarded, and to be expounded upon in the situations of the times in which we find ourselves.
Bishops, priests, and deacons each have a distinct role in the liturgy. Here’s what the GIRM has to say about them:
92. Every legitimate celebration of the Eucharist is directed by the Bishop, either in person or through Priests who are his helpers.[cf. Lumen gentium 26, 28; Sacrosanctum Concilium 42]
When the Bishop is present at a Mass where the people are gathered, it is most fitting that he himself celebrate the Eucharist and associate Priests with himself in the sacred action as concelebrants. This is done not for the sake of adding outward solemnity to the rite, but to signify more vividly the mystery of the Church, “the sacrament of unity.”[cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium 26]
If, on the other hand, the Bishop does not celebrate the Eucharist but has assigned it to someone else to do this, then it is appropriate that he should preside over the Liturgy of the Word, wearing the pectoral cross, stole, and cope over an alb, and that he should give the blessing at the end of Mass.[cf. Caeremoniale Episcoporum 175-186]
93. A Priest, also, who possesses within the Church the sacred power of Orders to offer sacrifice in the person of Christ,[cf. Lumen Gentium 28; Presbyterorum Ordinis 2] presides by this fact over the faithful people gathered here and now, presides over their prayer, proclaims to them the message of salvation, associates the people with himself in the offering of sacrifice through Christ in the Holy Spirit to God the Father, and gives his brothers and sisters the Bread of eternal life and partakes of it with them. Therefore, when he celebrates the Eucharist, he must serve God and the people with dignity and humility, and by his bearing and by the way he pronounces the divine words he must convey to the faithful the living presence of Christ.
94. After the Priest, the Deacon, in virtue of the sacred Ordination he has received, holds first place among those who minister in the celebration of the Eucharist. For the sacred Order of the Diaconate has been held in high honor in the Church even from the early time of the Apostles.[Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem; Pontificale Romanum, De Ordinatione Episcopi, presbyterorum et diaconorum, 173] At Mass the Deacon has his own part in proclaiming the Gospel, from time to time in preaching God’s Word, in announcing the intentions of the Universal Prayer, in ministering to the Priest, in preparing the altar and in serving the celebration of the Sacrifice, in distributing the Eucharist to the faithful, especially under the species of wine, and from time to time in giving instructions regarding the people’s gestures and posture.
Even in a cathedral parish, the bishop is not a weekly presider for parishioners. The challenge is that the bishop’s “direction” is largely a theoretical experience for most Catholics. And when they do see the bishop at liturgy, it’s usually in a situation in which the “outward solemnity” is part of the worship experience. The association is undeniable.
GIRM 93 is a good reminder for parish priests, especially the importance given to the “bearing” of his leadership style, and that conveying “the living presence of Christ” is as much about actions as it is about words. The hope that MR3 will be an occasion of renewal will fall flat on its face if clergy do not attend to what is beyond the words.
GIRM 94 on the liturgical ministry of the deacon: good reminders here, too. It should be one of the guideposts for discerning a vocation to the diaconate. Indeed, all three of these sections should be required for the files of every seminarian and deacon candidate. Authentic vocations for Holy Orders must take into account these listed qualities and responsibilities; they would be minimum requirements to serve.