May 2007 Archives

A Joyce Kilmer Poem


The Annunciation
(For Helen Parry Eden)

“Hail Mary, full of grace,” the Angel saith.
Our Lady bows her head, and is ashamed;
She has a Bridegroom Who may not be named,
Her mortal flesh bears Him Who conquers death.
Now in the dust her spirit grovelleth;
Too bright a Sun before her eyes has flamed,
Too fair a herald joy too high proclaimed,
And human lips have trembled in God’s breath.

O Mother-Maid, thou art ashamed to cover
With thy white self, whereon no stain can be,
Thy God, Who came from Heaven to be thy Lover,
Thy God, Who came from Heaven to dwell in thee.
About thy head celestial legions hover,
Chanting the praise of thy humility.

A Complicated, Simple Prayer


I mentioned that reminders of the beauty and efficacy of the Rosary have been coming to my attention lately. First, learning that my wife, more or less out of the blue, had ordered a little book just published on the Rosary, then that I had discovered a blog by Fr Marc, a Trappist monk living in Rome – Vultus Christi.

I’m a firm believer in heeding such signs. I’m not superstitious about it, but I believe the Spirit can and does send us messages now and then when deemed necessary. I am thinking this might be such a sign.

I have not prayed the Rosary in a year or more, not that I made a conscious choice about it, but just lost focus. I was praying the Rosary regularly at lunch time while taking a walk on a nearby trail, but my attention was so divided by the things going on around me that I lost concentration on the prayer. I felt uncomfortable about that and decided to put the Rosary off to a better time of day. Of course, I never found the time and just got out of the habit both of praying and walking. I shouldn’t have done either, and view these recent reminders as little notes from the Spirit that I have strayed a bit from the path.

This point was made especially clear in the little book delivered in the mail the other day. It is called The Rosary, A Journey to the Beloved and written by Gary Jansen.
One point Jensen makes about the benefits of the repetitive form of prayer that is the Rosary, is that it tends to ground us in the moment. I know I have a strong tendency to worry about events in two timeframes, one the past, the other, the future. It should be obvious, even to me, that these are two sets of events I have absolutely no control over. Yet, I find it almost impossible to avoid this kind of useless worry. The Rosary focuses our attention on the meditations on the Gospel story, we tend to slow down and focus on what we are doing. I found this thought especially helpful.

But there are other good things as well. Fr. Marc emphasizes that the Rosary is a power against evil. He takes literally the Scriptural truth that the woman will “bruise” the head of the evil one; in fact, he points out that devotion to our Blessed Mother causes the great liar a good deal of torment. The devil rejoices that so few people bother to pray in union with Mary and meditate on the life of her son. I think it good to heed his words here.

The Rosary seems such a simple prayer, yet the effects of praying it, both on the lives of the saints and the great sinner, are beyond our understanding.

There has been much written in the local paper about the outstanding high school graduates this year. These stories carry the obligatory write ups about hopes and dreams, including great ambitions to achievements that will change the world. It is all charmingly naïve to those of us who are older and, I hope, wiser and not more jaded. Yet, it is easy to remember a graduating class many years ago with the same dreams and ambitions and feel disappointed and I look around and see the results. But, there is a way to change, not just the world, but worlds; it’s simple, really, just pull out your beads and start praying.

Travel Plans


I will be traveling on business for about 10 days, starting today. I hope to have regular internet access and to post some observations on the trip, and maybe even a few photos. I ask for your prayers while I am gone.

A Beautiful Poem by Robert Herrick


The Argument of His Book

I sing of books, of blossoms, birds, and bowers,
Of April, May, of June, and July flowers.
I sing of Maypoles, hock carts, wassails, wakes,
Of bridegrooms, brides, and of their bridal cakes.
I write of youth, of love, and have access
By these to sing of cleanly wantonness.
I sing of dews, of rains, and, piece by piece,
Of balm, of oil, of spice, and ambergris.
I sing of times trans-shifting, and I write
How roses first came red and lilies white.
I write of groves, of twilights, and I sing
The court of Mab and of the fairy king.
I write of hell; I sing (and ever shall)
Of heaven, and hope to have it after all.

Robert Herrick

A New Blog


Vultus Christi

I must call your attention to a relatively new blog to St. Blogs done by a Cistercian monk in Rome. It is titled Vultus Christi and I think it is one of the best, certainly one of the most beautiful, blogs I have seen in a long time. Fr. Mark’s choice of art work, and its sheer profusion on his site is remarkable creates a virtual feast for the eyes. Fr. Mark also seems to have a knack for posting on things that I happen to be thinking about and questioning. One of his first posts was on lectio divina, Holy Reading, and the appropriate use of Scripture when engaged in this form of prayer; he was kind enough to provide a very helpful post when I questioned his insistence of following the daily lectionary during daily lectio, rather than having a focus on, say, an entire book. Then, recently, he has done at least two posts on the Rosary, this last really got my attention.

I have to admit to being a little surprised at Fr. Mark’s very evident Marian devotion; I didn’t think that Cistercians were big into Mary and the Rosary. Then I remembered that Thomas Merton’s monastic name was “Father Mary Louis”, so perhaps this is not so unexpected.

I must also note that a number of “reminders” of the Rosary have crossed my path in recent days. First of all, there was Fr. Mark’s first post. Then my wife, a fellow convert who has never really shown much interest in this prayer, received a very nice little book on the Rosary in the mail, ordered from a totally unexpected source, something of a surprise. Then Fr. Mark posted again today. I find this too much of a coincidence for a person who has greatly neglected telling his beads over the past several months and have decided to devote time each day this month to Mary in the hope of making the Rosary a daily habit.

In any case, I hope you will stop by and spend some time at Vultus Christi. I urge you to explore the archives and take time to learn from all that this Roman monk has written; I think you will find it time well spent.

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This page is an archive of entries from May 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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