After a Retreat

After a Retreat February 22, 2009

A Cambridge graduate born to a distinguished English family, Robert Hugh Benson (1871-1914) was ordained an Anglican priest in 1895 by his father, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Not long thereafter, he began to question the claims of the Church of England. Over the next several years he joined several Anglican religious communities, but he still wasn’t satisfied. In 1903, he was received into the Roman Catholic Church and was ordained a year later. In 1911 he was named a monsignor. Plagued with poor health throughout his life, Monsignor Benson was a prolific author of plays, poems, essays, devotional works, historical fiction, and even some science fiction. Several of his historical novels are still in print. This poem is one of my favorite, and it seems appropriate to share it today, having just returned from a retreat:

What hast thou learnt to-day?
Hast thou sounded awful mysteries,
Hast pierced the veilèd skies,
Climbed to the feet of God,
Trodden where saints have trod,
Fathomed the heights above?
Nay,This only have I learnt, that God is love.
What hast thou heard to-day?
Hast heard the Angel-trumpets cry,
And rippling harps reply;
Heard from the Throne of flame
Whence God incarnate came
Some thund’rous message roll?
Nay,This have I heard, His voice within my soul.
What hast thou felt to-day?
The pinions of the Angel-guide
That standeth at thy side
In rapturous ardours beat,
Glowing, from head to feet,
In ecstasy divine?
Nay,This only have I felt, Christ’s hand in mine.
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