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Preface to Merikakis Leiva

Preface to Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word, Vol. 4 by Erasmo (Simeon) Leiva-Merikakis.

In his introduction, the author of this work remarks that he has ‘grown old’ in the writing of it. The 37 years that have passed since he first put pen to paper admittedly add up to a good chunk of time; he is, by his own admission, beyond the Scriptural threescore and ten. Yet I doubt whether anyone who knows Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis would describe him as ‘old’. His capacity for enthusiastic and contemplative attention affords him an eagle’s perspective, broadening with increasing degrees of altitude. It also seems to fulfil the Psalmist’s promise that, if our lives are turned towards God in openness, gratitude and worship our youth ‘is renewed like the eagle’s’ (Psalm 102:5).   

In a time when much academic writing is rushed, polished off quickly to meet the requirements of research assessments, it is good to encounter a text of patient gestation, in which words are weighed and in which, above all, the Word who is the object, not only of enquiry but of desire, is heard. 

In a footnote to his edition of Origen’s Homilies on Exodus, Fr Henri de Lubac wrote, with regard to the Alexandrine exegete’s reading of the verse, ‘In the morning you will eat bread’ (Exodus 16:8):

[In Origen’s view] Christ restores to an ageing world perpetual youth. He thereby conveys the sense of gladness that fermented the first Christian communities, conscious of being heirs to a most ancient tradition and yet of inaugurating a new world. It still depends on the Christians of today whether Christianity will appear as our world’s youth, its hope.

Is this not our mission in a nutshell? May this book, focused on the Paschal mystery, be a source of inspiration for all who, oppressed perhaps by darkness, await the rising of the Morning Star in their hearts, that they may know the joy of God’s gift in Christ Jesus and so discover a youth forever new, to the praise of his glory.

+fr Erik Varden ocso
Bishop of Trondheim 

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