Walt Whitman’s Prayer of Columbus

Happy Columbus Day! I’ve a poem to share with you on the day on which we celebrate Christopher Columbus’ completing his voyage to the New World. And though nowadays the smart money seems to be on disparaging Christopher Columbus, I’ll be taking another path, thanks.

Ignatian spirituality tries to find God in all things. Many take issue with that premise, especially when stuck knee deep in the mire of day-to-day problems. I don’t claim to be Ignatian in my outlook (nor Franciscan, Benedictine, etc) on events or things. As a Catholic, I’m a little bit of all of those charisms, and more. But I do believe God works through the secular, just as I have faith that all things work for the good.

Here’s an example for you from the Pantheist, non-Catholic, and everything else wrong with the world, pen of Walt Whitman. [Read more...]

Lines By The Forgotten Member Of The Chesterbelloc (A Few Words For Wednesday)

NPG 3654; Conversation piece (G.K. Chesterton; Maurice Baring; Hilaire Belloc) by Sir James Gunn

Conversation Piece (G. K. Chesterton; Maurice Baring; Hilaire Belloc), by Herbert James Gunn

What? There is a third person in the Chesterbelloc? George Bernard Shaw forgot someone? Exactly, dear reader.

See the portrait above? Surely you recognize the heavyset fellow on the left, and the irascible looking fellow on the right. But who is the tall guy in the center? That would be Maurice Baring, the friend G.B. Shaw forgot. [Read more...]

A Poem on St. John the Baptist’s Day

 

"St. John the Baptist Preaching Before Herod," Hans Fries, 1514.

“St. John the Baptist Preaching Before Herod,” Hans Fries, 1514.

Happy Birthday to St. John the Baptist! Here is a little poem I found written by John Keble in honor of this, the greatest of all men. [Read more...]

Thoughts from the “Tao Teh Ching” translated by the “Chinese Chesterton”

 

Amazon_Tao_Teh_Ching

My Chinese Catholic friend, John C.H. Wu wrote several works that I have enjoyed reading over the past several years. I’ve shared posts with you from several of his books, namely Beyond East and West, The Science of Love, and Interior Carmel, the Threefold Way of Love. It is not for nothing that Frank Sheed called John “the Chinese Chesterton.” [Read more...]

For All Creatures, Great and Small

Howdy fellah!

This is Reason #374 why I don’t live in “the big city.” I rumbled up the driveway in the Mustang, and as I lined her up to back into the garage, I spied “Mikey” in all his camouflaged glory crawling up the side of the other car. Sounds like a lead-in for an article in Big Backyard magazine, doesn’t it?
[Read more...]

From a Poem by George Santayana (A Few Words for Wednesday)

I think you will be surprised by this, because I know I was.Yesterday, I shared a little something that the atheist, and self-described “aesthetic Catholic,” George Santayana wrote. Today I’m going to do the same.

It seems Professor George really wanted to be known as a poet and he wrote a good number of poems and sonnets, which were published by the Herbert S. Stone & Company publishing house. I “discovered” his poem The Hermit of Carmel yesterday and I am amazed by it. I  added it to the YIMCatholic Bookshelf without hesitation.

I’m no poetry critic, because I don’t know poetry enough to criticize it. I only know what I like and can understand, and what I think is good. Below I’m sharing with you a taste of Professor George’s artistic ability from his poem Lucifer: A Theological Tragedy.

Published in 1899, this poem opened to mixed reviews. It was viewed favorably by Christian critics, and less favorably by secular ones.Tongue firmly in cheek,  I wonder why? I’ll give you a taste of his ability via two speeches. The first is by St. Peter to Hermes, and the second is The Risen Christ to Lucifer himself.

from Act IV,
Saint Peter’s Soliliquy to the pagan god Hermes,

It is a serpent tempts thee, noble youth.
Even while speaking truth he leads astray.
His eye is subtle, but his heart is blind,
And of God’s fruits he marks the spotted rind,
But not the kernel where their virtue lay.
All nature yields no meaning to his mind,
For understanding withers at its springs
Unless love guide it to the sense of things.
On faith is built the wisdom of mankind.
Mark how this age, that builds its truth on doubt,
Falters at heart and knows no certain hope,
But trusts to fate, with which it dare not cope,
To work its undeserved salvation out.
What truth have men ? The senses brief deceit.
What happiness ? The slavery to greed.
What art ? An echo and a paltry cheat.
What God ? A helpless consciousness of need.
Upon what food, then, doth this people feed
That it forgets of whom it borrows breath?
Knows it the secret of the budding grain,
Or can it conjure floods or summon rain?
Or grows it sick and amorous of death,
Or like its father, Satan, dull to pain?
Oh, men have waxed too covetous of gold
To lift their eyes up from their labour s gain;
And as each morning brings the sun again
And summer wears his splendours as of old,
They drive the ploughshare deeper in the mould
And say : There are no longer gods in heaven!
With smitten breast and penance would they crave
Their bread, if God less bountifully gave,
But they forget him now, when all is given.
Thus are the souls my Master died to save
Like earth-regarding beasts in stupor driven
Without the hope of heaven to the grave.

****
from Act IV, Christ to Lucifer

Unteachable! Is God not the Lord of Hosts?
The arms that against his bosom fly
His own strength drives, and in thy mutiny
He triumphs, and is mighty in thy boasts.
What need of sentinel to guard the shore
When he is master of the embosoming sea,
When his the wave, the bark, the sail, the oar,
And his the sinews of his enemy?
O Lucifer, couldst thou behold thy soul,
As it lies open to my Father’s sight,
The gathering clouds of pity fast would roll
Across thine eyes, to hide thy proper plight,
And rain on thy parched heart in showers light
Of sweet humility. Woe to the vain
And raging will that hugs its mortal pain.
Is it for thee to fathom wrong and right?
Tis God who spun the fibres of thy brain
And wove thy reason; had he placed awry
One thread, new dreams had turned
thy dreams to naught
And idle thought confounded idle thought
For ever, and none questioned destiny.
Now thine own tyrant, to thyself unkind,
Thou chafest at the limits of thy wit
Whose meek quietus were to live resigned
And serve the elder will that fashioned it
For in the bosom of the infinite
Thou hast thy life, and thy forsaken woes
Like foam on the false bosom of a wave,
Rise in vain fury, impotently rave
A moment only. Then thy proud will goes
Whither the billow sinks or the wind blows.

Thanks to St. John of the Cross, Master of Paradoxes

In the past, I have shared my affinity for both the writings of John C.H. Wu (the Chinese Chesterton, here with his family and Pope Pius XII) and St. John of the Cross. Do you remember when I shared my friend John’s thoughts on Thérèse of Lisieux? He compared her to Lao Tzu and Confucius.

As this is the feast day of St. John of the Cross, I would like to share with you some of John Wu’s thoughts about this Doctor of the Church as well as this diagram of St. John’s Ascent of Mt. Carmel. [Read more...]


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