Tuesday, March 20, 2012

"As Kingfishers Catch Fire"

I'm borrowing a book from my mother, The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, by James Martin, SJ.  The author quotes a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889, Jesuit priest) in the context of discussing what it means to be who you are - who God has made you to be.  Although I may have read it before, I don't remember and it is like discovering a small gem.  (I might even have to memorize it!)

I think the part that speaks to me most is the second stanza.  I love the image of grace in which God sees in us - we who by that very grace are freed to be who we are meant to be - the beauty of Christ.

As Kingfishers Catch Fire 
by Gerard Manley Hopkins 
As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell's
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came. 
I say móre: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is —
Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men's faces.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

a Lenten Hymn

Baptismal Font, c.500 a.d.
"Buried with Christ in death, raised to new life in Him," the refrain is spoken with each baptism.  Although each of us who were baptized know the symbolism - we die to self as Christ died for us, we are raised to life in Christ just as Christ was raised from the dead and now sits at the right hand of the Father - how hard it is to grow in this business of dying to self and living in Christ!   (see Romans 6:3-4)

The theme of this season of Lent has been for me just that: death to self and rejoicing in the life Christ has so perfectly provided.  Lent came up suddenly this year, it seemed, and I honestly didn't expect to be deeply affected by it, but here I am, writing a post about Lent!  That's part of the beauty of this season - and of our Lord - Christ compassionately meets us where we are.  We just need to let him work on us.

I found this hymn meaningful, so I thought I'd share it.  I particularly like the third and fifth stanzas.

Lenten Hymn
Lord, who throughout these forty days
For us did fast and pray,
Teach us with thee to mourn our sins
And close by you to stay. 
As You with Satan did contend,
And did the victory win,
So give us strength in you to fight,
In you to conquer sin. 
As you bore hunger, and thirst,
So teach us, gracious Lord,
To die to self, and chiefly live
by your most holy Word. 
And through these days of penitence,
And through your Passion-tide,
Yes, evermore, in life and death,
Jesus! with us abide. 
Abide with us, that so this life
Of suffering over-past,
An Easter of unending joy
We may attain at last!

Claudia F. Hernaman, 1873