Friday, November 02, 2007

To God the Father

Here is one of Henry Constable's Spiritual Sonnets:
Great God: within whose simple essence, we
Nothing but that which is thyself can find:
When on thyself thou did'st reflect thy mind
Thy thought was God, which took the form of thee:
And when this God thus born, thou lov'st, & he
Loved thee again, with passion of like kind,
(As lovers' sighs, which meet, become one wind)
Both breathed one spright of equal deity. [spirit]
Eternal father, whence these two do come
And wil'st the title of my father have,
As heavenly knowledge in my mind engrave,
That it thy son's true Image may become:
And sence my heart with sighs of holy Love, [incense]
That it the temple of the Spright may prove. [Spirit]

Henry Constable (1562-1613) was a contemporary of Shakespeare. He wrote a whole series of Spiritual Sonnets, which are available online here. This one, "To God the Father," was followed by "To God the Son" and "To God the Holy Ghost."

I discovered this poem in a book called Poetry and Life: An Anthology of English Catholic Poetry, compiled by F.J. Sheed and published by guess who in 1942. The volume included not only a great selection of poems, but a comprehensive study guide as well. Note, the text of Constable's poem was slightly altered in this volume because of archaic spelling. The version above is the original.

It was part of a series called "Catholic Masterpiece Tutorial Series: A Masterpiece of Month to Form a Catholic Mind." Other volumes in the series include:
  • Whom Do You Say? by J.P. Arendzen,
  • Callista, by John Henry Cardinal Newman,
  • Survivals and new Arrivals, by Hilaire Belloc.
  • Christ in the Church, by Robert Hugh Benson,
  • The Desert Fathers, compiled by Helen Waddell,
  • The Confessions of St. Augustine, and
  • What is Wrong with the World, by G.K. Chesterton.
Membership in the club cost $6.50 for 8 books bound in cloth and $5.00 for 8 books bound in paper.

We need something like this now. We also need this kind of writing now!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Sonnet 23

As a proud father, I'd like to refer my readers to my son's video debut reading Shakespeare's Sonnet 23 before the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture lecture by Ms. Clare Asquith called "Shakespeare's Dark Matter." To see Tim and the whole lecture go to this page, click on the "View" link at Ms. Asquith's entry. He begins reading at minute 4:30. The text of the sonnet is:

As an unperfect actor on the stage
Who with his fear is put besides his part,
Or some fierce thing replete with too much rage,
Whose strength's abundance weakens his own heart.
So I, for fear of trust, forget to say
The perfect ceremony of love's rite,
And in mine own love's strength seem to decay,
O'ercharged with burden of mine own love's might.
O, let my books be then the eloquence
And dumb presagers of my speaking breast,
Who plead for love and look for recompense
More than that tongue that more hath more express'd.
O, learn to read what silent love hath writ:
To hear with eyes belongs to love's fine wit.

The rest of the lecture series, including lectures by Joseph Pierce, John Finnis and Peter Holland, is also available on this website.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Encyclopedia of Catholic Social Thought

Another interesting resource Sobrino posted was an index to the new Encyclopedia of Catholic Social Thought published by Scarecrow Press. I have three articles in it: "Vatican Council, Second," "Gaudium et Spes," and "Henri de Lubac."

Fishers of Men

Here is a great and inspiring vocation video that I learned about from Oswald Sobrino. Even if you are not called to priesthood, this video helps you understand those who are. Very well produced. There is a great section about the necessity for silence in vocation discernment. This applies to all of us, not just those called to priesthood.

The body and the clear mind

Kevin Miller points to this study about the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation on the emotional life. It seems that lack of sleep shuts down an important emotion processing center in the prefrontal lob of the brain.

My sleep-deprived wife's reaction when I read this to her was "duh!"

Anyway, our Cartesian culture lives as if this is not true. One can especially see this on college campuses. Kids really think they are thinking well even though they don't get enough sleep, exercise, fresh air, and good food. If I were a young adult who was in recovery from this lifestyle I would carefully sift through all the judgments about important matters I was so certain about while I was in college, especially negative or pessimistic ones. Avery Dulles talks about his own experience of this in his college years at Harvard in his autobiography, A Testimony to Grace.

A.G. Sertillanges, O.P. (are you tired of me quoting him yet?) says:
In men of otherwise equal gifts, it is certain that sickness is a serious handicap. It lessens the output; it interferes with the freedom of the soul at the moment of its delicate operations; it sidetracks attention; it may warp the judgment by effects on the imagination and the nervous reaction that suffering brings about. A disease of the stomach changes a man's character, his character changes his thoughts. If Leopardi [a 19th century Italian agnostic poet--very influential on Msgr. Giussani] had not been delicate and deformed, would he have been among the pessimists? (Sertillanges, The Intellectual Life, p. 36)

Interestingly, Henri de Lubac suffered most of his adult life from severe headaches cause by a war injury. What might he have done had he been well?