The help of God is closer than the door.

Note: This week’s seanfhocal is a reminder of the nearness of God and his mercy. He is the loving father, always ready to help his children, if only they would but ask Him. In cotrast is the stern English proverb, “God helps those who help themselves.”

Many have helped themselves to its authorship. Benjamin Franklin published this adage in 1735 in Poor Richard’s Almanac. In 1689, Algernon Sidney published it in his Discourses on Government. George Herbert wrote “Help thyself, and God will help thee.” (Jacula Prudentum 1651) Perhaps, each borrowed the idea from Aesop’s Hercules and the Wagoner, written around 550 B.C. He may have borrowed the idea from Aeschylus who wrote, “God loves to help him who strives to help himself.” Euripides wrote, “Try first thyself, and after call in God; For to the worker God himself lends aid.” Sophocles wrote “Heaven helps not the men who will not act.” While this proverb was lifted from one pen to another in the Greco-Roman-English tradition, the Celtic tradition passed this week’s seanfhocal from one voice to another without any concern about authorship.

Note also: The native speaker this week talks at a coversational pace. So you hear in this proverb how Irish words get fused together in normal discourse. Here the words ‘ná’ and ‘an’ get fused together in speech as if they were spelled ‘nán.’ The rule concerns consecutive words where the first ends in a vowel and the second begins with a vowel. If either of them is the neutral vowel, represented above as an upside-down ‘e’, then that vowel is ‘swallowed up’ in pronunciation. In this case, the article ‘an’ begins with a neutral vowel, so it is not heard.

Daltaí na Gaeilge