News from Brooklyn: Hoyas beat top-20 UCLA Bruins, advancing to the championship game of the non-tournament Legends Classic tournament. Which means we play currently-AP #1 Indiana Hoosiers tonight at 10:00 pm!
…Rooting through a few old things, I found a sonnet from last year’s parish-clustering negotiations. I think the loopy pastor may have written it:
How do I love the cluster? Let me count
the ways, like Will Shakespeare of old would do.
The first: a five-speed, four-wheel steed to mount
and burn the road between the parishes two.
The second? These two fine towns to explore:
Both Piedmont villes, of character diverse.
In one, lake and farm folk both shop the stores.
The other is the NASCAR hero’s nurse.
Throughout the rolling counties, I descry
fertile fields for the sewing of the seed,
and a band of eager discipulae,
attentive to our Church’s every need.
O Lord, how great You are in every act!
May we, like You, great many souls attract.
Which reminds me that a few ridiculous poems have appeared here. I herewith collect links for your possible amusement.
*I defy anyone to come up with a location on earth where a person can take in a more magnificent vista than can be taken in on McAfee Knob, in Roanoke County, Va. Perhaps other prospects equal it. Perhaps. P.S. FYI: More miles of the Appalachian Trail in the state of Virginia than in any other state! More than 500. No other state comes close.
The welcome rain this morning brought to mind this venerable Gerard Manley Hopkins sonnet on Jeremiah 12:
Thou art indeed just, Lord, if I contend
With thee; but, sir, so what I plead is just.
Why do sinners’ ways prosper? and why must
Disappointment all I endeavour end?
Wert thou my enemy, O thou my friend,
How wouldst thou worse, I wonder, than thou dost
Defeat, thwart me? Oh, the sots and thralls of lust
Do in spare hours more thrive than I that spend,
Sir, life upon thy cause. See, banks and brakes
Now leavèd how thick! lacèd they are again
With fretty chervil, look, and fresh wind shakes
Them; birds build—but not I build; no, but strain,
Time’s eunuch, and not breed one work that wakes.
Mine, O thou lord of life, send my roots rain.
And, speaking of us eunuchs of time, Hopkins can out-do Hamlet when it comes to identifying the quintessences of dust:
Man–we, scaffold of score brittle bones, whose breath is our memento mori.
Death awaits us all, dear friends. Have a great week!
Somewhat extensive have my studies been
of Koine distilled into English turns.
Heard many plaints a-rattling in a din:
Too hard to catch the tenor of His words.
The worst: a hamhand jumble of the prayer
our Lord spoke heavenward His final speech–
the noblest sounds ever to rend the air–
Perhaps beyond the translator’s short reach.
In supplication, the Christ expressed all:
His place, His Father, and His chosen ones.
But can these words be music on our soil?
Until today I’d never heard it done.
Now it all is real, the Messiah’s dream.
English was made for Kleist’s John 17.
Much have I travell’d in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-brow’d Homer ruled as his demesne:
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez, when with eagle eyes
He stared at the Pacific—and all his men
Look’d at each other with a wild surmise—
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.
[George Chapman was a contemporary of Shakespeare’s. Chapman was the first to translate Homer’s works into English. Chapman’s iambic-pentameter Homer had been supplanted by later, more precise translations, which were the standard fare at Keats’ time. Apollo directs the divine Muses, to whom Homer appealed for aid. Darien is a province of Panama.]
The first seventeen of them urge the poet’s young friend to get married and have many babies.
Sonnet #1, for example:
From fairest creatures we desire increase,
That thereby beauty’s rose might never die,
But as the riper should by time decease,
His tender heir might bear his memory:
But thou contracted to thine own bright eyes,
Feed’st thy light’s flame with self-substantial fuel,
Making a famine where abundance lies,
Thy self thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel:
Thou that art now the world’s fresh ornament,
And only herald to the gaudy spring,
Within thine own bud buriest thy content,
And tender churl mak’st waste in niggarding:
Pity the world, or else this glutton be,
To eat the world’s due, by the grave and thee.
Your unworthy scribe has no homily for you today. Downtown pastors do more hosting than preaching when the Catholic world comes to town.
Instead, in the hopes that you will understand my humble protestation of affection, I present you also with Sonnet #103:
Alack what poverty my muse brings forth,
That having such a scope to show her pride,
The argument all bare is of more worth
Than when it hath my added praise beside.
O blame me not if I no more can write!
Look in your glass and there appears a face,
That over-goes my blunt invention quite,
Dulling my lines, and doing me disgrace.
Were it not sinful then striving to mend,
To mar the subject that before was well?
For to no other pass my verses tend,
Than of your graces and your gifts to tell.
And more, much more than in my verse can sit,
Your own glass shows you, when you look in it.
We feared the season was a loss complete,
That hope would fade from Hoyas fans worldwide.
No tournament berth? Now that would be a feat!
–Not one in which Monroe could take much pride.
League play began on such a thrilling note:
We toppled UConn; Efejuku had to eat some cake.
Then January came. We tumbl’d in a moat.
Fans wondered if December was a fake.
Now, after countless L’s, we leap when vict’ry’s hailed.
We had a feeling Bulls would quail at Hoya D.
Sapp has awoken–some shots he finally nailed.
And the whole squad rallied for J.T. III.
A month to go–Hoyas fans will take what we can get.
But don’t go asking me to place no tournament bet.
Today was a gift which the good Lord, St. Peter, the saints of Rome throughout the ages, and Michelangelo gave to us.
So that the loving fantasy
which made of art an idol and a king for me,
I now will know with how much sin was laden,
with that which all men desire against their will
Nor painting, nor sculpture, now can calm
The soul that turns to that divine love
That in the cross opens its arms to receive us.
On our busride from Orvieto to Rome, we were treated to a brief talk by an expert on Michelangelo. The expert is Dr. Ann White, my mom. She quoted these lines from a sonnet which the great artist of Renaissance Rome wrote near the end of his life.
Michelangelo is: the sculptor of the Pieta, the painter of the Sistine Chapel, and the architect of the St. Peter’s Basilica, among other things.
We were walking across St. Peter’s Square as the sun was rising. Our Mass was in the crypt of the Basilica, just a few yards from the tomb of the Prince of the Apostles.
There is nothing like being in St. Peter’s Basilica between 7:00 and 9:00 in the morning, when the only thing going on is quiet prayer at all the altars. (There are dozens of altars in the largest church in the world.)
We had reached the final goal of our pilgrimage. Deacon Walker preached about St. Peter, about his remarkable transformation from humble fisherman to shepherd of souls.
The tomb of our dearly beloved late Pope John Paul II was just a few feet from our chapel. We were surrounded by saints and popes.
After Mass, we made our way to the Vatican Museums, the Papal Palace of former days. It is the most extensive art collection on earth. We saw sculptures, wall paintings, tapestries–not to mention the splendid architecture of the buildings themselves.
The tour of the Museums concludes with a visit to the Sistine Chapel, site of the Papal Conclaves.
Then we toured the Basilica, stopping to visit Bl. Pope John XXIII, Pope St. Leo the Great, Pope St. Pius X, and the Chair of St. Peter. We saw countless magnificent works of art, including the Pieta, Bernini’s bronze altar canopy, and his famous sculpture on Pope Urban VIII’s tomb.
Some of us braved the climb to the lantern at the top of the Basilica’s dome. From there we could see the entire city of Rome, bathed in mid-day sunlight.
After lunch, a group of us took a tour of the Vatican “Scavi,” the excavations of the cemetery in which St. Peter was buried. Scientific archaeology has determined that there is no reason to doubt that the altar on which the Pope says Mass is directly above the tomb of the Holy Apostle. We were able to lay our eyes on the original grave of St. Peter, and to see his bones, which are now kept in a plexiglass box. We recited the Creed and the Our Father.
The sun was setting when we emerged from the Basilica. We had spent the entire day in the world’s smallest sovereign state, governed by the Successor of the fisherman we had come to visit.
St. Peter saw to it that many, many graces were poured out on us humble pilgrims. Surely there are some graces in it for you, too.
Hopefully one of them will be a renewed sense of communion with the universal Church of Christ, founded two millenia ago. The Roman Catholic Church confesses the faith of the Apostles. She is given life by the power of the Holy Spirit. She embraces the entire earth.
In other words, She is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. She is shepherded by the Pope.