Readings for the Feast of Gilbert Keith Chesterton

1. JOB 19:23-27

Oh, that my words were now written! Oh, that they were printed in a book! That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever! For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another … How my heart yearns within me!

2. PSALM 8

O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger. When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas. O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!

3. REV. 10:8 – 11:4

And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth. And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter. And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings. And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it i s given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months. And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.


For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.)

4. MARK 10:13-16

And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.

The Prophet Chesterton died 76 years ago today.

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  • brian

    For those who have not read GKC’s works, is there anything in the way of a primer or other survey work that you (or any other GKC experts who read this posting) would recommend? Related to this question, what works and in what order would you (or, again, anyone else) recommend a candidate GKC-initiate read GKC’s titles?

  • kmk

    I am so glad yo reminded us–thank you!

  • kmk

    “you” not “yo”

  • Tim Jones

    Well posted, sir! Thank you.

  • TCM

    I started my kids out with a book called Chesterton 101

  • j. blum

    And like the canonical prophets, you can read Chesterton for free! Which leaves you more cash for nice editions of Mr. Ahlquist’s book, and the Shea corpus of course. mmmmm…free books…..

    • Jason C.

      Shea corpus. Admit it, you lol’d. 🙂 Man, I love this site.

  • Ted Seeber

    Brian, the two best works summing up the theological side of Chesterton are Against Heresies and Orthodoxy.

    • Ted Seeber

      Oh, and after those two- take a break from the heavy stuff and read the Fr. Brown Mysteries. All of the above are available at Project Gutenberg, and if you don’t have enough time or eyesight to read, can be downloaded in mp3 form from Librivox.

      • Don’t do Librivox. You get what you pay for in audio books. My audio book performance of “The Innocence of Father Brown” won a ForeWord award as best audio book of 2009 (Dale Ahlquist wrote and narrates introductions to each short story in the volume). Also, Dale’s reading of “Orthodoxy” is bound to be a better audio book version than anything on Librivox, as is my reading of “Manalive”. Most of these professionally performed audio verisons of Chesterton are available from my website – .

        • Maureen

          I have you guys (for which I paid with a cheerful heart) and I have plenty of Librivox editions. Heck, I’ve done Librivox editions. There’s a lot of fun in both.

          Actors have great gifts to do something exactly right, and audiobook narration, or full cast audio voice acting, is truly a wonderful skill that can be brought to high levels of perfection. It can be artistry to make you shiver. (And since you are of the same clan as me, albeit distantly, and a very good actor too, I obviously have to support you!)

          But of course, there are professional audiobooks out there which are not nearly as good as yours, and professional audiobook narrators with constant employment who have horrible, horrible reading tics, worse than most free people.

          On the other hand, an amateur reader with a pleasant friendly voice is like being read to by a friend or a family member. It is all very ad hoc, but that isn’t bad.

          It’s a different sort of game or art. Having and enjoying both is very Chestertonian.

          You know what’s awesome as an audiobook, though? Aristotle and Plato. Couldn’t stand much philosophy in book form, but audio form brings out the orality of Greek literature and exploits the dialogue and questioning stuff. Chesterton is awesome in any form.

        • Ted Seeber

          It’s true- you do get what you pay for. Many librivox authors seem to be using the “volunteering” to learn to speak english.

          And while I have yet to invest in your MP3s (now that I know about them, I will next time I’m ahead of the game a bit)- the ONLY thing librivox has going for it is that their MP3s are public domain and free.

    • Mark Shea

      “Heretics”, not “Against Heresies”. Also, The Everlasting Man, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Francis of Assisi are three great works.

    • ivan_the_mad

      Manalive will make you laugh aloud a lot 🙂

  • Jan

    My intro to Chesterton was The Flying Inn. Funny, thought-provoking, and prescient.

  • My first “Chesterton experience” was the Father Brown short story, “The Blue Cross”… Which I chose at random. A short story is nice because you don’t feel like you’re making a great commitment. In fact, I knocked it out while eating a plate of hash browns at Waffle House. (Which is precisely how I think Chesterton would have wanted it.)

    And Kevin O’Brien is right… I’d avoid the Librivox recordings if you value such things as zeal or inflection. It’s like listening to, “The Shane Company does Chesterton.” Even the battle sequences in “The Napoleon of Notting Hill” had a lullaby effect.

  • Imrahil

    A solemnity?

    Not that he wouldn’t deserve one… But then not even the canonical Prophets, save St. John to come soon, have one…