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Letter 1 -- 1 Sept 1947

 

Octave of prayers:  Several days of prayer for Christian unity which Father Paul of Graymoor proposed in 1907.  It was tried successfully in 1908 and has been promoted annually.  January 18 is the Feast of the Confession of Peter (Matthew 16:18) and January 25 is the Feast of the Conversion of Paul.  The 8 days, bookended by these Feasts, are observed by many Christians as a time for special prayer for unity with God and one another.  Different Christian groups may be prayed for on each day, for example, Jan 18 – Eastern Orthodox, Coptic and Eastern churches; Jan 21 – Lutheran, Moravian, and Methodist; Jan 22 – Congregationalist, Presbyterian, and Reformed.

 

Letter 5 – 25 Nov 1947

 

Let us pray for each other: and for France:  the French government fell in August 1947.

 

Letter 7 – 27 Mar 1948

 

At some future time perhaps . . .”: quoting Aeneid (I:203)

 

Letter 8 – 10 Aug 1948

 

Your Leftists—your Sinisters”:  An election was held in 1948 in Italy.  If the leftist coalition won, there was fear Italy would follow Czechoslovakia (Feb 1948) and fall under Soviet influence.  Time magazine said it would be “the brink of catastrophe.”

 

beareth all things, believeth all things”:  1 Corinthians 13:7

 

no temptation has befallen you except what is common to men: 1 Corinthians 10:13

 

not yet unto blood”:  Hebrews 12:4

 

we ought to give thanks for all fortune: cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

 

Letter 9 – 14 Jan 1949

 

to dwell in the tents of Kedar:  Psalm 120:5

 

my aged mother:  refers to Janie Moore--Paddy Moore’s mother--whom Lewis took in following Paddy’s death in World War I.

 

If it should please God that I write more books:  Cf. Job 1:21; Romans 14:8; James 4:15.  In the years following this letter, Lewis would write the seven Narnia books, The Four Loves, Reflection on the Psalms, Letters to Malcolm, Till We Have Faces, and Surprised by Joy, in addition to his academic writing.

 

Letter 11 – 10 Sept 1949

 

Accidia:  sloth; one of the seven deadly sins.  In Dante, sloth is a lukewarm love.

 

Your poet:  Dante; the quote is from Inferno.

 

Ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars”:  Mark 13:7

 

Letter 12 – 18 Sept 1949

 

see our works and glorify the Father”:  Matthew 5:16

 

but our sufficiency is of God”:  2 Corinthians 3:5

 

can do all things in Him who strengthens”:  Philippians 4:13

 

Letter 13 – 19 Nov 1949

 

Sibylline:  1. Prophetic; oracular; 2. Mysterious, cryptic

 

Letter 14 – 17 Dec 1949

 

dwell together in unity”:  Psalm 133:1

 

Letter 15 – 13 Sept 1951

 

my tale:  presumably one of the first two Narnia books

 

 Letter 16 – 26 Dec 1951

 

St Mark’s Day:  aka the rosebud festival held in Venice on April 25.  Mark is Venice’s patron saint.

 

out of the mouth of babes:  Psalm 8:2; Matthew 21:16

 

Balaam:  Old Testament prophet that God spoke to through his donkey in Numbers 22:28.

 

rejoice and always rejoice”:  Philippians 4:4

 

Letter 17 – 14 Apr 1952

 

my aged confessor:  refers to Father Walter Adams of the Society of St John the Evangelist.  For nearly 12 years Lewis met with Adams weekly for spiritual direction.

 

buono fanciullo”: good boy

 

amor est ignis jugiter ardens”:  Love is a fire continuously burning.  From The Imitation of Christ, book 4, chapter 4, by Thomas à Kempis.

 

that they all may be one”:  John 17:21

 

Letter 18 – 14 July 1952

 

our redemption is now nearer:  Luke 21:28

 

Amen; come quickly, Lord Jesus”:  Revelation 22:20

 

that supreme command:  John 13:34; 15:12-13

 

peace which no one can take from us:  a combination of John 14:22 and 16:22

 

Letter 19 – 5 Jan 1953

 

trying to write a book about private prayers:  likely refers to Letters to Malcolm.  Lewis began the project in 1952, worked on it in 1953, only to set it aside in 1954.  In the 1960s the idea of constructing it as a series of letters came to him and the book moved along much faster.  It was published posthumously in 1964. 

 

tiros:  new recruits; originally new recruits in the Roman army.

 

touches the Ark:  1 Chronicles 13:7-11

 

put his hand to the plow:  Luke 9:62

 

Letter 20 – 7 Jan 1953

 

that Chinese disaster:  the article refers to the Communist persecution of missionaries and medical workers in China.  Warren Lewis was stationed in China from 1927-1931 while serving in the British Army and no doubt shared his observations with his brother, Jack.

 

Letter 21 – 9 Jan 1953

 

Poor Servants:  refers to the Poor Servants of Divine Providence, a congregation of priests and brothers founded in 1932 by Father Calabria to help with the work at the children’s home.

 

 

Letter 22 – 14 Jan 1953

 

two models of prayer:  Lewis tackled this in Letter 11 of Letters to Malcolm and also in the essay “Petitionary Prayer:  a Problem Without an Answer,” presented to the Oxford Clerical Society.

 

if it be possible . . .”:  Mark 14:35; Matthew 26:39

 

Letter 24 – 10 Aug 1953

 

know not by what Spirit they are led”:  Luke 9:55

 

covers a multitude of sins”:  1 Peter 4:8

 

Letter 26 – 15 Sept 1953

 

This letter echoes themes from C. S. Lewis’s The Abolition of Man, particularly the need to return to natural law.

 

Letter 27—5 Dec 1954

 

Logical Positivists:  refers to a group of philosophers, scientists and mathematicians in the early 20th century who exclusively used logical analysis to establish positive theses.  In their official statement, they aimed to: (1) provide a secure foundation for the sciences, and (2) show the meaninglessness of metaphysics.

 

This letter was written the day after Father Calabria died although Lewis had not yet received word.

 

Letter 29—19 Jan 1959

 

The biography referred to is Don Giovanni Calabria, Servo di Dio by Otto Foffano.

 

Letter 30—28 Mar 1959

 

preached to the souls in prison: 1 Peter 3:19

 

Flaccus:  Horace from Odes 2.1.6.  Horace warns a friend that by writing a history of events in which he was involved, he was undertaking a work “full of dangerous hazard.”

 

Letter 32—16 Apr 1960

 

This letter was written three months before Joy’s death.  The “great trouble” refers to her suffering and imminent death.