18 March 2020, The Tablet

Our behaviour would puzzle the angels, were they not so intelligent


Our behaviour would  puzzle the angels, were  they not so intelligent
 

I gave up pudding for Lent, but I never thought I should have to give up going to Mass. Both the Lenten resolution and the prohibition of “mass gatherings” (a government term intended without irony) stem from our being animals.

Our behaviour would puzzle the angels, were they not so intelligent. Even so, they might be surprised at little scenes like the one in my local Sainsbury’s the other morning. Staff were putting out packets of pasta and, as fast as they unloaded them from cardboard boxes, customers snatched them up and clutched them to their bosoms. It was like feeding time at the Penguin Pool with a bucket of sprats.

I was thinking about angels in this pandemic because a snatch of an ancient prayer had been going through my head. “May the choir of angels welcome you, and, with Lazarus, once a poor man, may you have eternal rest,” says the antiphon In Paradisum.

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