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Monday, 6 October 2014

'Martyrs to the Catholic Faith' by Bishop Challoner


Extract from ‘Martyrs to the Catholic Faith’, Memoirs of Missionary Priests and other Catholics of both Sexes’ by Bishop Challoner V.A.L. (first published in 1741)
 
 
 
                                                             Bishop Richard Challoner
 
         ‘Our memoirs of the sufferings of our English Catholics begin with the year 1577, the nineteenth of Queen Elizabeth; because from this year  may properly date the beginning of the great persecution, but little blood having been shed by her before, at least for matters purely religious. 
         
          And it is very remarkable that this same year, a few months before the execution of the proto-martyr of the seminaries, Mr Cuthbert Maine, God Almighty seems to have warned the nation against this spirit of persecution, by a judgment (for I can call it nothing else) which can scarce be paralleled in all history; and as to the substance of the matter of fact, is attested by all kinds of records, and acknowledged by Protestants as well as Catholics.

           This was in the case of the memorable trial of Roland Jenks, a Catholic bookseller in Oxford, who, for speaking some words against the Queen’s religion, was condemned, in the Assizes held at Oxford in July 1577, to have his ears nailed to the pillory, and to deliver himself by cutting them off with his own hands.  Which sentence was no sooner passed, when immediately upon the spot, a strange mortal distemper, the like of which, as to symptoms, has never been heard of before or since, seized upon the judges, justices on the bench, sheriffs, jurymen, and hundreds of others that were present at the trial, and carried them off in a very short time. Let us hear Mr Wood, the Protestant historian of the University of Oxford, in his account of this history, in his ‘Historia et Antiquitates Universitatis Oxoniensis'.

His words translated from the Latin, are as follows:-
           

          ‘It was ordered therefore, in the convocation held on 1st of May 1577, that the criminal Roland Jenks, should immediately be apprehended, and being put into irons, should be sent up in order to be examined before the Chancellor of the University and the Queen’s Council. In the meantime, all his goods are seized, and in his house are found bulls of Popes and libels reflecting upon her Majesty.
          He was examined at London, in presence of the persons aforesaid, and then was sent back to Oxford, there to be kept in prison until the next assizes, which began on the 4th of July, in the Old Hall in the Castle Yard, and lasted for two days.
          ‘He was brought to the bar, and was arraigned for high crimes and misdemeanours; and being found guilty, was condemned by a sentence in some manner
capital; for he was to lose his ears. 
          At which time (though my soul dreads almost to relate it), so sudden a plague invaded the men that were present (the great crowd of people, the violent heat of the summer, and the stench of the prisoners all conspiring together, and perhaps also a poisonous exhalation breaking suddenly at the same time out of the earth), that you might say Death itself sat on the Bench, and, by her definitive sentence, put an end to all the causes. For great numbers immediately died in the spot; others, struck with death, hastened out of the Court as fast as they could, to die within a very few hours. 
       

          It may not be amiss to set down the names of the persons of greatest note who were seized by that plague, and breathed out their souls. These were Sir Robert Bell, Chief Baron of the Exchequer, and Nicholas Barham, sergeant-at-law, both great enemies of the Popish religion; which perhaps the Romanists will lay hold on as an argument for their cause; but I desire them to remember not to search too narrowly into the secret judgments of God, when we are at a loss to account even for those things which the Almighty has revealed in Holy Writ. 
          To the above named must be added Sir Robert Doyley, the High Sheriff of Oxford, Mr Hart his deputy; Sir William Babington; Messieurs Doyley, Wenman, Danvers, Fettyplace, and Harcourt, Justices of the Peace; Kirley, Greenwood, Nash, and Foster, gentlemen: to whom are to be joined, to say nothing of others, almost all the jurymen, who died within two days.’
         

          He adds out of the register of Merton College, the following account of the symptoms of this strange disease:-
         

          ‘Some getting out of bed (agitated with I know not what fury from their distemper and pain), beat and drive from them their keepers with sticks; others run about the yards and streets like madmen; others jump head foremost into deep waters.  The sick labour with a most violent pain, both of the head and stomach; they are taken
with a phrenzy; are deprived of their understanding, memory, sight, hearing, and other senses. As the disease increases, they take nothing; they get no sleep; they suffer none to tend or keep them; they are always wonderfully strong and robust, even in death itself. No complexion or constitution is spared, but the choleric are more
particularly attacked by this evil, of which the physicians can neither find the cause nor cure. The stronger the person is, the sooner he dies. Women are not seized by it, nor the poor, neither does any one catch it that takes care of the sick or visits them.  But as this disease was strangely violent, so it was but of a short continuance; for within a month it was over.’
               


                                       Oxford Castle and Prison in 15th century.

The substance of this history may be found also in Sir Richard Baker’s ‘Chronicle’, and in Fuller’s ‘Church History’, as well as reports by Catholic writers.  Ypez, Bishop of Taracona, in his ‘Spanish History of the Persecution’ relates similar examples of like judgements upon the persecutors.
              

           Mr Jenks himself survived his punishment many years, for I find by the same diary he was at Rheims in 1587. But neither this remarkable warning, nor any other ensuing judgements, hindered the unhappy politicians of those days from beginning and carrying on the intended tragedy, which afforded the nation so many scenes of blood for the remaining years of that long reign; and all for fear lest ‘the Romans should come and take away their place and nation’.                                                    
                                                       ****************


                                  
                                                           Queen Elizabeth (c.1575)

It seems appropriate to remind ourselves of just a few of those many Catholic martyrs who gave their lives for their faith. These mentioned were all executed in early October, 1588, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, at different locations throughout England.  Although occurring over four hundred and twenty years ago, reading of these events has the curious effect of minimising the time scale to the extent that we could be reading of contemporary events. Human nature does not change, only the scenario.

Further extracts from ‘Martyrs to the Catholic Faith’ by Bishop Challoner  V.A.L.
 
         ‘Ralph Crokett was born at Barton-upon-the-Hill, in Cheshire, performed his studies at Rheims, and was an aluminus and Priest of the College then residing in that city, from whence he was sent upon the English mission in 1585. The particulars of his missionary labours, or of his apprehension and trial, I have not found, only that he was prosecuted and condemned upon the penal statute of 27th Elizabeth, and had sentence to die as in cases of high treason, barely upon account of his priestly character and functions. He was drawn, hanged, bowelled, and quartered at Chichester, October 1, 1588.'
           

           'Edward James was born at Braiston, in Derbyshire, and was for some time student in the college of Rheims, from whence he was sent to Rome, 1588.  Here he was made priest, and from hence he was sent upon the English mission. He was apprehended, prosecuted, and condemned, barely upon account of his priestly
character, and was hanged, bowelled, and quartered on the same day and at the same place with Mr Crokett.'
          
          Their quarters were set upon poles over the gates of the city, through one of which a Catholic man passing early in the morning, found one of these quarters which had fallen down, which, by the size, was judged to be Mr Crockett’s (he having been a tall man, whereas Mr James was of low stature). This quarter was carried off
and sent over to Douay, where I have seen it.’
                                                                                                   
           Mr Robinson was born at Fernsby, in the North Riding of Yorkshire.  His character in  Dr Champney, is that he was a man of extraordinary Christian simplicity and sincerity; in a word, a true Israelite, in whom there was no guile. After having lived some time in the world in a married state, becoming a widower by the death of his wife, he went over to Rheims, where the College then was; and thereto applying himself to his studies, was at length made priest, and sent upon the mission.
              He no sooner came to England than he was apprehended in the very port, and sent up to London, where, after some months imprisonment, he was brought to the bar, and condemned to die upon account of his priestly character.  Dr Champney relates of him that he was used to say that if he could not dispute for his faith as well as some others, he could die for it as well as the best. 
            He was sent down to suffer at Ipswich in Suffolk, where he was hanged, bowelled, and quartered, October 1, 1588.
          

           Concerning him thus writes the Rev Mr Haynes:-  ‘Mr John Robinson, a secular priest, being in the year 1588 prisoner in the Clink at London, when the rest that had been there prisoners with him (whom he called his bairns, and they, for his age and sincerity, called him father) were for the Catholic faith sent into divers parts of the kingdom to be executed, the good old man, being left alone, lamented for divers days together exceedingly, until at last a warrant was sent from the Council to execute him also;  the news whereof did much revive him and to him that brought the warrant he gave his purse and all his money, and fell down on his knees and gave God thanks. 
            Being to set forward in his journey, they willed him to put on boots, for it was in winter, and as far as Ipswich in Suffolk where he was to suffer.  ‘Nay’, said the good man, ‘these legs had never boot on yet since they were mine, and now surely they shall perform this journey without boots, for they shall be well paid for their pains.’ 
          He left behind him a son, Francis Robinson, who was also a priest, and a true heir of his father’s virtue.
       
                                             ***********


                                        ......to be hanged, bowelled, and quartered

The next that occur in the catalogues of those that suffered this year, 1588, are Mr Hartley and Mr Weldon, of whom Mr Stow in his Chronicle writes thus:- ‘The 5th October, J Weldon and W Hartley, made priests at Paris, and remaining here contrary to the Statute, were hanged, the one at the Mile’s End, the other nigh the theatre; and Robert Sutton, for being reconciled to the See of Rome, was hanged at Clerkenwell.’
           

          William Hartley was born in the diocese of Lichfield, performed his higher studies in the College of Rheims, from whence he was sent priest upon the English mission, anno 1580.  Mr Stow says he was ordained at Paris, which may very well be, for the superiors at the College had an indult from the Pope to present their alumni for holy-orders to any of the bishops of the province of Rheims or Sens, one of which the Bishop of Paris was at that time.
          Mr Hartley had not laboured above a twelvemonth in the vineyard of his Lord before he was apprehended in the house of the Lady Stonor, and carried prisoner to the Tower, the 13th August 1581, together with Mr John Stonor and Mr Steven Brinkley, lay gentlemen. Here he was confined till September 16, 1582, and then was translated from the Tower to another prison, where he remained till January 1585, when with about twenty other priests, he was shipped off into banishment.
          Upon this occasion he returned to Rheims to the College; but after some short stay there, set out again for England, being more afraid of being wanting to the cause of God and the salvation of souls than of a cruel death, which he was certain to look for if he fell again, as most probably he would, into the hands of the persecutors. In effect, he was again apprehended some time in or before the year 1588, and then brought upon his trial, and condemned to die upon account of his priestly character. 
          He was executed near the theatre, October 5, 1588, his mother looking on, as Raissius relates, and rejoicing exceedingly that she had brought forth a son to glorify God by such a death.
          

          On the same day John Weldon, priest of the College of Douay, according to Champney and Molanus, condemned for the same cause, was drawn to Mile’s End Green, and there executed.          
         
          About the same time, some say the same day, Richard Williams, a venerable priest who had been ordained in England before the change of religion, was also for religious matters hanged at Holloway, near London.
          

          Robert Sutton, layman, suffered on the same day at Clerkenwell. The cause of his death was purely his religion, viz. because he had been reconciled to the Church of Rome. His life was offered him at the gallows if he would acknowledge the Queen’s ecclesiastical supremacy, as I learn from the copy of a letter which I have in my hands, written by Mr William Naylor, who was an eye-witness of his death. ‘I saw’ says he, ‘one Mr Sutton, a layman and a schoolmaster, put to death at Clerkenwell
in London, to whom the Sheriff promised to procure his pardon if he would but pronounce absolutely the word all; for he would that he should acknowledge the Queen to be supreme head in all causes without any restriction; but he, ‘Mr Sutton’ would acknowledge her to be supreme head only in all causes temporal; and for that he would not pronounce the word all without any restriction, he was executed. This I heard and saw.’
 
Ack. ‘Martyrs to the Catholic Faith’ by Bishop Challoner V.A.L.

 

               Execution of Fr Garnett S.J.(1606) at St Paul's, London.

‘Holy English Martyrs pray for us, and for the conversion of England’

'Holy Mary, Seat of Wisdom, guide and protect our Holy Father, Pope Francis.'


Sunday, 31 August 2014

'Letter to Charles Peguy' from Cardinal Albino Luciani, Patriarch of Venice, on the subject of Hope.


Charles Peguy, French author, born 1873 died 1914 fighting at Villeroy in the Great War. A fervent Catholic, he was editor of the 'Cahiers de la Quinzaine', and wrote long religious poems, among them 'Le Mystere de la Charite de Jeanne d'Arc' and 'The portal of the Mystery of Hope'. One of the foremost Catholic writers, he took the part of Dreyfus in the Dreyfus affair and was outspoken against social injustice.

                                         

      Charles Peguy

Letter from Cardinal Albino Luciani, Patriarch of Venice, to Charles Peguy, published in the popular Christian paper 'Messaggero di S.Antonio'. One of a collection of letters written to all kinds of persons, historical and mythical, from all sorts of places and periods, reproduced in book form as 'Illustrissimi' after the author's death in September 1978. Cardinal Luciani was elected Pope in August 1978, choosing the name of Pope John Paul 1.  After only 33 days in office, he died suddenly of a heart attack during the evening of 28 September, 1978.

To Charles Peguy.

Dear Peguy,
I’ve always liked your enthusiastic spirit, and your passion for arousing and leading souls.  But I
like rather less your literary outbursts, which are sometimes bitter, sometimes ironic, and sometimes too ardent in the fight against the mistaken men of your time. Your religious writings contain some poetically successful passages (this is not to say that they are religiously successful). Here is one in which you have God talking of hope:-
 
‘The faith of men does not surprise me, God says, it is not a surprising thing; in my creation I am so dazzling that these poor people would have to be blind in order not to see me. The charity of men does not surprise me, says God, it is not a surprising thing; these poor people are so unhappy that unless they had a heart of stone they could not help loving one another. Hope – that is what surprises me!’
I agree with you, dear Peguy, that hope is surprising. I agree with Dante that it means waiting in certainty. I agree with what the Bible says about those who hope.
Abraham didn’t know why God had ordered him to kill his only child; he didn’t see from where the many descendants he had been promised would come, if Isaac were dead, and yet he waited with certainty.
David, going towards Goliath, knew perfectly well that five pebbles, even when flung by someone as
expert as he was with the sling, were not enough in the face of an iron-clad giant. And yet he waited with certainty and told the huge man in armour: ‘I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. This day will the Lord deliver thee into my hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee.’
Praying with the Psalms, I also feel transformed into a man who waits with certainty, dear Peguy:-
‘The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear ……Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war should rise against me, in this shall I be confident.’
                                               
                                                    

                  Cardinal Albino Luciani, Patriarch of Venice

How wrong are those who do not hope, dear Peguy! Judas was terribly wrong the day he sold Christ for thirty pieces of silver, but he was much more wrong when he thought his sin too great to be forgiven. No sin is too great: a finite wretchedness, however enormous, can always be covered by an infinite mercy.
And it is never too late; God calls himself not only Father, but Father of the prodigal son.  He sees
us when we are still far away, he is moved, and runs to us, throwing his arms around our neck and kissing us tenderly.
The fact that we may have had a stormy past should not frighten us. Storms that were bad in the past
become good in the present if they encourage us to reform and to change; they become jewels if they are given to God, so that he may have the consolation of forgiving them.
The Gospel records four women among Christ’s ancestors, three of them not entirely commendable: Rehab was a courtesan; Tamar bore a son, Perez, by her father-in-law Judah; and Bathsheba committed adultery with David.  With mysterious humility Christ accepted these relations into his family, but also, I believe, into the hand of God, as a way of saying to us: you may become saints, whatever your family history, your temperament, your heredity and your past.
Dear Peguy, it would be wrong to wait and keep putting things off continually. ‘Later’ is very often another way of saying ‘never’. I know some people who seem to make life into a perpetual station waiting-room. The trains come and go and they say; ‘I’ll leave another time! I’ll confess at the end of my life!’
Visconti-Venosta used to say of brave Anselmo, ‘A day goes by and then another, but brave Anselmo never returns.’ Here we have the opposite: an Anselmo who never leaves. It is a risky business. Just suppose, dear Peguy, that the Chinese were invading Italy, advancing destroying and killing. Everyone would run away; aeroplanes, trains and cars would be seized. ‘Come along!’ I’d shout to Anselmo, ‘there’s still room on the train, get on quickly!’ ‘Are you really sure the Chinese will kill me, if I stay here? he’d reply. ‘Well, I’m not absolutely sure, they might just spare you, and before they come another train might just go by, but these are outside chances and it’s a matter of life and death. It would be crazily risky to wait!’
‘Can’t I be converted later?’ ‘Of course, but it may be harder than it will be now. Repeated sins
become a habit, they become chains that are harder to break. Do it now, at once, I beg you!’
                                       
                                               ************************
You know this, Peguy. Waiting is based on the goodness of God, which appears especially in the behaviour of Christ, who in the Gospel was called the friend of sinners. The extent of this friendship was well known: when he has lost a sheep, our Lord goes looking for it until he finds it: having found it, he puts it happily onto his shoulders, carries it home, and says to everyone; ‘Joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons which need no repentance.’
The Samaritan woman, the woman taken in adultery, Zaccheus, the thief crucified on His right, the
paralytic and we ourselves, have been sought, found and treated like that. There’s another astonishing thing!
                                                      
                                              *****************
And there’s another one again: the waiting with certainty for future glory, as Dante puts it.  What is surprising is certainty set in the future, that is, in a dim distance. And yet this, Peguy, is the situation of those of us who hope.
We are like Abraham, who, having been promised a very fertile country by God, obeyed and left, the
Bible tells us, not knowing where he was going, yet certain and in the hands of God. We are like those John the Evangelist described: ‘We are now the sons of God, but what we shall be has not yet been shown.’ We find ourselves with Manzoni’s Napoleon, ‘carried along the flowery paths of hope’, even if we have little idea of where the paths will emerge.
Do we know it, at least vaguely? Or was Dante mad when he tried to describe it as light, love, and
happiness?
Intellectual light’, because our minds up there will see perfectly clearly what down here they have scarcely glimpsed: God
Love of true goodness’, because the good we love here is a single form of goodness, drops and crumbs and fragments of it, whereas God is the good.
 Joy that transcends all pain’, because there is no comparison between it and the sweetness of this world. 
 
 

                           'Allegory of Hope'  -  Francesco Guardi (1747)

Augustine agrees when he calls God, ‘beauty that is always old and is always new’. Manzoni agrees: 'up there former glory is silence and darkness’. Isaiah agrees in the famous dialogue: ‘The voice said, cry. And he said, what shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: the grass withereth, the flower fadeth.’
 
We agree with these great men, dear Peguy. Some may call us ‘alienated’, poetic and impractical. We shall reply, ‘We are the sons of hope, the surprise of God’.

Ack.  ‘Illustrissimi’ by Albino Luciani – ‘The letters of Pope John Paul 1’ published by Collins ‘Fount
Paperbacks’.

                                                   *********************
 
The Portal of the Mystery of Hope’ was one of Peguy’s greatest but, at the time of writing, most neglected poems. For Péguy, fidelity and hope are dynamic, living forces, and not merely static habits or concepts. By contrast real hope is the forward thrust of life; someone who is in despair, literally without hope, cannot be argued back into another attitude. Hope can only be received from God; it reconnects the hopeless person “to the source, to a reawakening in him of the child.”
 
 
 
 Coronation of the Virgin Mary- Ridolfo Ghirlandaio (1483-1561)
                 
                 ('Hail holy Queen, our life, our sweetness, and our hope')
 
In the poem itself, hope is portrayed as a little child, but a child of greater immediate urgency than her serious older sisters, faith and charity. Besides, says Péguy (or rather, says God: Péguy is not afraid to put words in the Deity’s mouth), hope is one of the most remarkable things in the world: -

‘A Better Tomorrow’
‘The faith that I love best, says God, is hope.
Faith doesn’t surprise Me.
It’s not surprising.
I am so resplendent in my creation. . . .
That in order really not to see Me, these poor people would have to be blind.
Charity, says God, that doesn’t surprise Me.
It’s not surprising.
These poor creatures are so miserable that unless they had a heart of stone, how could they not have love for one another?
How could they not love their brothers?
How could they not take the bread from their own mouth, their daily bread, in order to give it to the unhappy children who pass by.
And my Son had such love for them. . . .
But Hope, says God, that is something that surprises Me.
Even Me.
That is surprising.
That these poor children see how things are going and believe that tomorrow things will go better.
That they see how things are going today and believe that they will go better tomorrow morning.
That is surprising and it’s by far the greatest marvel of our grace.
And I’m surprised by it myself.
And my grace must indeed be an incredible force.’
   
 (taken from the poem 'the Portal of the Mystery of Hope')

Ack. 'The mystery of the Passion of Charles Peguy' by Robert Royal  -  ‘Catholic Education Resource Centre’  
                                              
                                                ************
 
 Thoughts from St Alphonsus
 
'Many Christians submit to great fatigue, and expose themselves to many dangers to visit the Holy Land, where our Saviour was born, suffered, and died.  We need not undertake so long a journey, or expose ourselves to so many dangers; the same Lord is near us, and dwells in the church, only a few steps distant from our houses.'
                                              
                                                   ***********
    'Mary, Mother of God and mother of mercy, pray for us and for the faithful departed, and guide and protect our Holy Father Pope Francis. Amen.'            

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Caryll Houselander (1901-1954) - three short poems

 
 Three short poems by the English Catholic writer, artist, and mystic, Caryll Houselander (1901-1954) 
 
 The Parish First Communion
 
In the church,
there is a smell of flowers,
there are white veils,
and the banners and the vestments are white.
 
Why are there tears
 in the eyes of the grown-up people?              
                                                                                                  
 
 
Children receiving 1st Holy Communion at Bethlehem (2013)

Had we forgotten
the fragrance of Christ’s first coming?
or the stainless hearts
of our little sons and daughters?
 
Or is it that we remember,
that we too were young,
and once had a secret with him?
 
I am back again in the French convent
and the austere lovely morning,
thrilled with the mute mystery
of the day of the First Communions.
 
The touch of cold water,
the curtains around the beds,
and the clean bare boards
of the floor in the dormitory.
 


Madonna with Sleeping Child (1465-70) by Andrea Mantegna


I know that sin is something
to be resisted strongly,
with all my heart.
I have the knowledge of innocence,
learned by watching the flame
in the pale-faced nun,
who taught me
the lesson of sacrifice.
 
She smells of lemon and soap, and linen,
her smile is an inward smile,
and her eyes of radiance,
teach the innocent heart,
beating with austere joy,
that sin is a terrible thing,
redeemed by a passion of love.

                                                                                                                         
               
1935, Joseph Ratzinger (8 years old) -6th from left front row, with other children during 1st Holy Communion at Aschau Im Bavaria, where he went to school.

There is a smell of flowers                        
filling the cloister.
We are moving slowly in ranks.
We are wearing long white veils,
And  brides’ dresses, down to our feet.
The thin melodious singing,
is the singing of angels,
in the green Paradise
of children in love.
 
Afterwards there is breakfast,
the breakfast for feasts,
with roses on the table,
and the crimson may outside,
and a bird whose singing
fills my heart.
 
I think my heart would break,
for joy of that bird singing,
right inside it
were it not that the nun,
restrains it with recollection,
and we must have perfect manners,
and sit up straight at table.
 
There is a smell of coffee,
and warm new rolls,
and each of us will have a banana,
because of the feast.
 
I am back again in the French convent,
and the austere lovely morning,
thrilled with the mute mystery
of the day of the First Communions.

*****

The Old Woman
 
The old woman, who nods by the Altar,
Is plain and ill shapen
and her clothes musty.
She thinks her life useless.
She has scrubbed many floors,
And always she did it, mostly
for God’s glory;
           
but never with the vision                                                   
that makes the work easy.
 
 
 
Old Woman Praying by Mathias Stom (1600-1649)
               
                  She is changed to dull copper              
by the light of the candles,
lit at the feet of the saints
by the children.
She is twisted and ugly,
like an old apple tree
that long has forgotten
the sweetness of blossom,
and fruit in the sunlight.
Old black bark
of a tree that is leafless.
 
She knows that the priest,
with eyes averted,
thinks her a nuisance;
garrulous, tedious,
talking of rheumatics.
The middle-aged mystics pass her with pity.
She fumbles her Rosary and mumbles “Hail Marys”
with tongue that is garrulous
and mind that is drowsy.
“What shall I do?”
She thinks very dully,
“When my rheumatics keep me indoors?
never any more in the kind courts of Heaven
to sit in a corner, content to be nothing.”
 
 
Old Woman Praying by Aert de Gelder (1645-1727)
 
And Christ, in the silence
in the silence of twilight,
with still voice of silver
unheeded answers:
“I will find my Beloved,
the whiteness of blossom,
                          
 the young boughs laden.                                 
Sap in the branches,
The azure above her.
 


I will find my beloved
when all the leaves singing,
are voices of birds
In my Father’s keeping.

The sap in the branches,
the young boughs laden,
and my hand beneath her,
and my heart above her.”
 
***** 

Bruges
 
Bruges!
Oh, my Beloved!
Nest of the Pelican.
 
 
Basilica of the Most Precious Blood, Bruges
 
Here are still waters,
And bells
Weaving my thoughts
With the solemn joy
Of the carrilon.
Here are birds
In dark orderly flocks
Crossing the steeple,
                                  Here is The Host,                                              
Nourishing Bread,
Of a devout people


Steeple of Our Lady's Church, Bruges

All-mothering Christ,
Patient Love!
Water and birds and bells,
And flowering steeple,
Shrine of the Gentle God,
Intimate here with man.
 
Oh, Bruges!
Oh, my Beloved,
Nest of the Pelican!
 
When I am far from here,
Bruges,
Little city of bells,
Keep my heart
In the shrine
With the Sacrament.
When I have gone,
Keep my heart,
In the peace of the still water.
And my desire Heavenward,
Growing up from the Altar,
With your flowering spires.
 
 
Relic of the Precious Blood, housed in the Basilica.
 
When I am far from here
Bruges,
                                    Little city of love,                                           
Keep my heart
In the measured beauty
Of bells,
Ringing their carillon
In the grey steeple.
 
Keep my heart in the shrine
With the Sacrament.
In communion
With your gentle,
Devout people.


Ack. 'The Flowering Tree' -selected poems of Caryll Houselander, published by Sheed and Ward.

For a fuller account of the life of Caryll Houselander please see here:-      http://umblepie-northernterritory.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/rosary-by-frances-caryll-houselander.html
 
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"How important is the last moment, the last closing of the scene! St Bernadine of Siena relates that at death a certain prince exclaimed, with trembling and dismay: "Behold, I have so many kingdoms and palaces in this world; but if I die this night I know not what lodging will be assigned to me."  (July 21)

'Thoughts from St Alphonsus for every day of the year'

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'Mary, Mother of God and Mother of Mercy, pray for us and for all the faithful departed, and guide and protect our Holy Father, Pope Francis. Amen.'

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