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Issue Date:  December 24, 2004

From the Editor's Desk

An infusion of God in all

“God’s utterance of himself in himself is God the Word, outside himself is this world,” wrote the Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins. “This world then is word, expression, news of God.” The line is taken from his sermons, a statement as boundless in its implications as it is concise in its expression.

I have on occasion found Hopkins a consolation in times like these, when such terms as “faith” are stripped of meaning in the screaming matches of our partisan politics and the nervous tics of our “religious” culture. (Particularly helpful in such explorations has been a little gem of a book that I think I’ve mentioned here before, Poetry as Prayer by Maria Lichtmann, which is packed yet accessible, and far too short.)

“My life is determined by the Incarnation down to most of the details of the day,” Hopkins wrote elsewhere.

Perhaps one should seek to bar the study door, when meditating on such lines, against intrusions of the day’s headlines. But I make the concession, hardwired as I am to the headlines after too many decades in what some call the news business, and I always leave the door ajar, at least slightly welcoming such intrusions.

It is impossible, then, to read Hopkins, his understandings of the limitless nature of Incarnation, and not wonder how we sometimes arrive at such pinched and pitiable notions of God’s presence in the world as to make God a common errand boy, a cheerleader for our nationalism, an endorser of party platforms.

The “news of God” is certainly something else.

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If there is, indeed, an infusion of God in all, then even newsweeklies at times might feel called upon to hint at the reality, as Hopkins put it, that “Christ plays in ten thousand places/Lovely in limbs and lovely in eyes not his.” So accept our offering of Sadao Watanabe’s work and its lyrical treatment at the hand of Sr. Antonia Ryan (see story).

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In other moments, Incarnation brings up an image for me of the Wild Holy, that wind pressing against the limits of things, against the usual expectations. And so it is with pursuit of peace in our times. If Incarnation makes it out that study door, from meditation to the real world, it is certainly made visible by Catholic Workers such as Scott Schaeffer-Duffy, Brenna Cussen, Grace Ritter and Chris Doucot, who traveled recently to Sudan (see story), and by the likes of Fr. Bob McCahill (see story), who annually writes to us from some desperate piece of the globe where often the simple sharing of the same air is an act of peacemaking. What they do, unconventionally certainly, is live the news of God in radical ways, in ways that give credibility to the idea of God with humanity.

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Many of you have inquired about the availability of the Latin America series in an all-in-one-piece format. We will make available by Jan. 15 a 76-page booklet, 8.5 x 11 inches with photos and full text.

The price for 1-9 copies is $7 each; for 10 or more copies, the price is $5 per copy.

Prices include regular shipping. Rush orders will be charged extra for shipping.

All orders must be prepaid. We accept checks, money orders, Visa and MasterCard.

E-mail orders to or send regular mail orders to Latin America Series, P.O. Box 419281, Kansas City MO 64141.

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The entire staff of the National Catholic Reporter Publishing Co. wishes each of you a blessed Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year.

-- Tom Roberts

National Catholic Reporter, December 24, 2004

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