Consecrated to the Heart of the Redeemer under the patronage of the Theotokos and Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.

22 February 2019

As Kingfishers Catch Fire

As Kingfishers Catch Fire is the first poem I have chosen to recite on my podcast.

It's the first Hopkins poem I remember hearing cited (in part), at the ordination of several transitional deacons. Auxiliary Bishop of Washington Gordon Bennett, S.J., the ordaining prelate, preached the last three lines of this swell sonnet: "For Christ plays in ten thousand places, / lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not His / to the Father through the features of men's faces."

Drawing upon the philosophy of Blessed John Duns Scotus, Hopkins appreciated the haecceitas, or individuality ("this-ness") of created realities. Each one of those ten thousands slays in its own way, or indeed Christ slays through them. (I know it's "plays" and not "slays"; I just wanted to use the latter term while it's still in the Youthvocabulary.)

Somewhere I read about the bell-like quality of the following:

"Like each tucked string tells, each
>bell's /

In one of his sermons, Hopkins defines grace as "any action, activity, on God's part by which, in creating or after creating, he carries the creature to or towards the end of its being, which is its selfsacrifice to God and its salvation."

The preceding definition is found in the poem notes in Gerard Manley Hopkins: The Major Works, one of the sources I shall cite frequently.

Here Hopkins echoes a saying of St. Catharine of Siena that appeals to modern ears: "Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire."

Kingfishers and dragonflies can't help but be what they are, but we can. The same grace of God impels us all, but our cooperation with that grace is necessary and noble.

21 February 2019

Time for a Podcast

I started this blog some years ago as a place to inspire, inform, and entertain. Its name, "The Shipwrack-Harvest," is a reference from Gerard Manley Hopkins' ode "The Wreck of the Deutschland."

In the worst of this 1875 disaster, five nuns exiled for their Catholic faith started crying out for Christ to come quickly to their rescue, whether as transport-to-shore or death. Hopkins wondered whether the nuns' plea could serve as an intercession for souls to return to Christ.

is the shipwrack then a harvest, does tempest carry the grain for thee? 

Incidentally that's why this blog is spelled ship"wrAck" and not "wrEck." Maybe they spelled it that way years ago. We used to hear the phrase "to rack and to ruin," so maybe there's a connection.

This past week has witnessed articles concerning problems with Catholic priests' failures in chastity (sex only within marriage). The celibate vocation is for the Latin rite the typical condition to be ordained a priest. The celibate person (priest or not) witnesses to the primacy of everyone's relationship with God over spousal relations, however good and necessary they are to the Kingdom.

Hopkins had struggles with his creed, his family loyalties, his emotions--even, it seems, with his sexuality. His poems were sallies in a well-waged spiritual campaign.

In "The Shipwrack-Harvest Podcast," I wish to narrate these poetic forays so their sacredness and whimsy can "fling out broad [the] name" of Gerard Manley Hopkins, and I hope you can join me.

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