When we pray regularly at home, in communities or a liturgical setting, we use certain prescribed forms of prayer such as the memorials or feast days of holy men and women. The selection of people recalled in this way may be fairly small. Some people like to attend a liturgy on the day when a favourite saint will be mentioned. Yet the account summarised may be just a couple of lines: where they lived, the year of their death and some key event in their life. If the event was a doctrinal debate, we might hear few details, and come away with no understanding of the hotly-argued faith issues, so prominent in that person’s experience.
Next Sunday can be an opportunity to learn about St. Anthony of Egypt, and ways in which he possibly resisted doctrinal views of the Alexandrian priest Arius. It being a Sunday, however, he will not be mentioned in churches. Then, on Wednesday 13th January, we might hear about Hilary of Poitiers, living in France (called Gaul) fifty years after Anthony, who also spoke and wrote passionately about problems relating to followers of Arius. Would our own sense of God benefit from more input? For monastic communities, the week includes more than just morning and evening prayer. 11th January offers a reading from the vivid fourth century preacher, Maximus of Turin.
How can we rejoice in dissimilar patterns, then, of discovering how faith has been put into words? What resources will deepen our attentiveness to God?