Friday, March 7, 2014


The Sacrifice of Noah

I hope to continue to post chapters from Ronald Knox's 'A Retreat For Priests' during Lent. The previous post - Creation - was Chapter 1. Here is Chapter 2, The Flood:

I have spoken of man’s creation and his fall; it is natural to pass on from that to an incident
which follows at a very short interval in the sacred writings, the Flood. It has been pointed out
that almost every people retains the memory, or has preserved the legend, of a great deluge at
some remote period, which made a clean sweep of living creation and involved, as it were, a
fresh start. Whatever else the Flood was or did, it seems quite certain that the memory of it is
branded on our race-consciousness; the details of it may be dimly remembered, like a child’s
nightmare, but the tradition is there – that the world God had made needed to be remade, for all
practical purposes, after being buried under a flood.
What is the lesson which this tradition teaches us? Why, first and foremost the lesson of our
conservation. We might have been tempted to suppose, indeed, people often have supposed, that
God simply created the world and then lost interest in it; left it to go its own way, according to
some automatic principle of control which he had devised for it, without interfering in its
destinies further, or busying himself about its welfare. Well, we all know that such a conception
is wholly unsatisfactory as a matter of philosophy; that it is not enough for God to have created
us; he must needs hold us in being by a continuous exercise of his power, lest we should slip
back into the nothingness from which we came.