The very best professor I ever had was Jesuit Fr. Ignatius Burrill who taught us English at Mundelein Seminary and launched me to Jesuit Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins.
To paraphrase Gale Sayers in his salute to Brian Piccolo on the finish of “Brian’s Tune” — “I really like Gerard Manley Hopkins and I might like all of you to like him, too.” Particularly this Christmastime. However first, let me introduce you.
Hopkins, an English convert to Catholicism beneath the mentorship of John Henry (later Cardinal) Newman, was born in 1844 and died of typhoid at age 44 after a futile profession as a priest and poet. At present, he’s acknowledged as the best Catholic poet since Dante Alighieri, and to many is a saint.
I really like Hopkins as a result of his poems explode with magnificence and pleasure. Like right here, the place he compares resurrection to a Heraclitan fireplace:
In a flash, at a trumpet crash,
I’m abruptly what Christ is, | since he was what I’m, and
This Jack, joke, poor potsherd, | patch, matchwood, immortal diamond,
Is immortal diamond.
I really like Hopkins as a result of his poems assist me to see everybody and every thing with the attention of my soul, to behold the “dearest freshness deep down issues,” and really feel the power of affection in a world “charged with the grandeur of God.”
Nothing is so lovely as Spring …
What’s all this juice and all this pleasure?
A pressure of the earth’s candy being at first
In Eden backyard.
What I do is me: for that I got here.
I say extra: the simply man justices;
Retains grace: that retains all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he’s —
Christ — for Christ performs in ten thousand locations,
Pretty in limbs, and wonderful in eyes not his
To the Father via the options of males’s faces.
However most of all I really like Hopkins as a result of he appeared for God in all issues, even when an inescapable melancholy tormented him like a hairshirt mounted to his pores and skin. Like his up to date, the poet Francis Thompson, who marveled “in any respect the disappointment within the candy, the sweetness within the unhappy.” Certainly, what we label medical melancholy now was referred to as melancholia then, and Hopkins suffered from it for a very good a part of his life.
He captured the disappointment of being on this world in his masterpiece “The Wreck of the Deutschland,” which he wrote at age 22. It tells the story of 5 Franciscan nuns, fleeing non secular persecution of their native Germany, on their solution to America when their ship, the Deutschland, crashed towards rocks. One of many nuns cried, “Christ, come shortly!” All of them drowned.
In language that’s as unfathomable because the tragedy itself, Hopkins is admittedly writing concerning the thriller of struggling and the mercy of God within the face of unstoppable dying.
Thou mastering me
God! giver of breath and bread;
World’s strand, sway of the ocean;
Lord of residing and lifeless;
Thou hast certain bones and veins in me, mounted me flesh,
And after it nearly unmade, what with dread,
Thy doing: and dost thou contact me afresh?
Over once more I really feel thy finger and discover thee.
The Jesuit journal The Month rejected the poem. By 1930, Hopkins’ poetry was acknowledged “as among the many most authentic, highly effective, and influential literary accomplishments of his century,” within the phrases of Encyclopedia Brittanica.
And so it went. Hopkins continued to jot down poetry, but it surely was learn solely by associates and different poets. Like Robert Bridges, who would later change into poet laureate of England. Bridges revealed an anthology of Hopkins’ poems 29 years after his dying. At present there are 22 separate editions of the poems of Hopkins, and greater than 500 books about him.
Hopkins wrote many Easter poems throughout his life however only one Christmas poem that we all know of. It’s referred to as “Moonless Darkness“:
Moonless darkness stands between.
Previous, the Previous, no extra be seen!
However the Bethlehem-star could lead me
To the sight of Him Who freed me
From the self that I’ve been.
Make me pure, Lord: Thou artwork holy;
Make me meek, Lord: Thou wert lowly;
Now starting, and alway:
Now start, on Christmas day.
And that’s the reason I would like you to like Gerard Manley Hopkins, particularly this Christmastime. He was “a person of sorrows” (Isaiah 53:3) who appeared for love in all the correct locations. He bowed to a God who went from “infinity to infancy” on Christmas Day, and prayed for a style of eternity in God’s creation. It is a unhappy, candy world we reside in, and solely a poet in ache can present us the sweetness.
Hopkins, not not like the struggling servant, was properly acquainted with grief, and the world turned its again on him. A slight man, barely over 5 toes, “he had no stately kind or majesty to draw us, no magnificence that we must always want him,” and but his face reveals a young gravity that pulls in and embraces all of the sufferings of the world with compassion and understanding.
And — great thing about beauties — within the midst of his distress, Hopkins continued to hunt God in all issues, and sing syllables of reward in what he noticed. Even his poems of despair close to the tip of his life reveal a love and craving for God, burning in his pain:
… birds construct — however not I construct; no, however pressure,
Time’s eunuch, and never breed one work that wakes.
Mine, O thou lord of life, ship my roots rain.
Christmastime is a tragic time for many people, for a lot of causes, even with out a pandemic. We’re alone — once more — or not alone and have one other battle with our sister, or our expectations — once more — do not come near the true. This yr, Christmas blues splash wider.
Hopkins says to us: do not give in to gloom, carry on on the lookout for magnificence, and “give magnificence again, magnificence, magnificence, magnificence, again to God, magnificence’s self and sweetness’s giver.” I used to be as soon as the place you might be, carry on, and the lord of life will ship your roots rain. After all,
There lives the dearest freshness deep down issues;
And although the final lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, on the brown brink eastward, springs —
As a result of the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with heat breast and with ah! vibrant wings.
And so it was. On his deathbed, Hopkins mentioned, “I’m so glad. I’m so glad.”