The Weight of Glory

The pulpit, St Mary the Virgin, Oxford

Honor C.S.Lewis today on the fiftieth anniversary of his death–and a service in Westminster Abbey where a plaque in Poet’s Corner will be unveiled–by reading his most famous sermon–The Weight of Glory. Here’s an excerpt:

In speaking of this desire for our own far- off country, which we find in ourselves even now, I feel a certain shyness. I am almost committing an indecency. I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you—the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence; the secret also which pierces with such sweetness that when, in very intimate conversation, the mention of it becomes imminent, we grow awkward and affect to laugh at ourselves; the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell, though we desire to do both. We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it, and we betray ourselves like lovers at the mention of a name. Our commonest expedient is to call it beauty and behave as if that had settled the matter.

The sermon was preached in St Mary the Virgin, Oxford–the University Church. It was preached from the same pulpit where John Keble preached and where Bl. John Henry Newman preached when Vicar of St Mary’s, Oxford before he resigned to become Catholic. This is also the church where the Anglican reformers–Cranmer, Latimer and Ridley were tried for heresy and where John Wesley preached many times.