Friday 14 December 2012

With great regret

I have to announce that the Oasis will be closed for the next week. A really bad problem with my sight has been made worse by the fact that I lost my glasses when I was in Chalais early this week. I hope to be back in time to catch up wirh the 'O Antiphons'. God bless all here

Song of the Soul - the feast of St John of the Cross

                                                                                       O, Blessed Jesus, give me stillness of soul in You.
                                                                                                 Let Your mighty calmness reign in me.
                                                                                            Rule me, O King of Gentleness, King of Peace

There have been several translations of the works of St John of the Cross but, arguably the best and most poetically sensitive were those undertaken by the great Catholic poet, Roy Campbell.

Campbell's work is well worth reading in its own right but here is his rendering of St John's "Song of the Soul that is glad to know God by faith":

'Song of the soul that is glad to know God by faith'

How well I know that fountain’s rushing flow
Although by night

Its deathless spring is hidden. Even so
Full well I guess from whence its source flow
Though it be night.

Its origin (since it has none) none knows:
But that all origin from it arose
Although by night.

I know there is no other thing so fair
And earth and heaven drink refreshment there
Although by night.

Full well I know the depth no man can sound
And that no ford to cross it can be found
Though it be night

Its clarity unclouded still shall be:
Out of it comes the light by which we see
Though it be night.

Flush with its banks the stream so proudly swells;
I know it waters nations, heavens, and hells
Though it be night.

The current that is nourished by this source
I know to be omnipotent in force
Although by night.

Saturday 1 December 2012

The Cardinal and the love letter

Christine at A Catholic View has a post on St Edmund Campion and that prompted me to remember this episode in his brief ministry:

The beautiful Church of our Lady Queen of English Martyrs
Chideock, Dorset
In the year 1579, the exiled Cardinal Allen wrote to Father Edmund Campion, also in exile in Prague, ordering him, in accord with the wishes of the Jesuit Superior General, to return to the English Mission and to certain death.

The Cardinal’s letter is a heartfelt one, a letter of love made more acute by the fact that he was himself in agony having to send young priests back to England in the knowledge that torture and death most horrible, almost certainly awaited them.

The Cardinal wrote:-

“My father, brother, son, Edmund Campion, for to you I must use every expression of the tenderest ties of love – since the General of your order, who, to you is Christ Himself, calls you from Prague to Rome, and thence to our own England; since your brethren after the flesh call you – I, who am so closely connected with them, with you and with our common country, both in the world and in the Lord, must not keep silence when I should be first to desire you, to call you, to cry to you.
Make all haste and come, my dearest Campion………”

Fr Campion, on hearing the Cardinal’s call, heard it in silence and then blushed deeply and said:

“Indeed, the Fathers seem to suspect something about me. 
I hope their suspicions may be true.

God’s will be done, not mine”

There was already an aura surrounding Campion and talk within the group in Prague had speculated on the young priest’s future and as to when he would be despatched back to his country of birth.

Just the night before Cardinal Allen’s letter arrived, a rather fey young Silesian priest, Father James Gall, had written over Father Campion’s cell the words:

“P. Edmundus Campianus Martyr”

And, prior to that episode, that, another priest had painted an illustration of a garland of roses and lilies, symbols of martyrdom, on the wall above Edmund’s bed.

Less than seven months later, Father Campion landed in England to begin his ministry, it was to last until 1st December 1581 when he was hanged, drawn and quarterd at Tyburn, having sung the Te Deum, after his sentencing in the company of two of his fellow priests who were martyred with him, Fathers Ralph Sherwin and Alexander Bryant.

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