The Forsaken Merman

I was looking at poems about Easter and sure there were a bunch that were classic and about the Resurrection but then there was this one. It seemed to be on every list that I looked at. This poem is by Matthew Arnold, the so called third greatest Victorian poet behind Tennyson and Browning. In college I took a Victorian poetry class and this was the poem that we read from Arnold and it is fairly long.

The Forsaken Merman by Matthew Arnold

Come, dear children, let us away;
Down and away below!
Now my brothers call from the bay,
Now the great winds shoreward blow,
Now the salt tides seaward flow;
Now the wild white horses play,
Champ and chafe and toss in the spray.
Children dear, let us away!
This way, this way!
Call her once before you go—
Call once yet!
In a voice that she will know:
“Margaret! Margaret!”
Children’s voices should be dear
(Call once more) to a mother’s ear;
Children’s voices, wild with pain—
Surely she will come again!
Call her once and come away;
This way, this way!
“Mother dear, we cannot stay!
The wild white horses foam and fret.”
Margaret! Margaret!
Come, dear children, come away down;
Call no more!
One last look at the white-wall’d town
And the little grey church on the windy shore,
Then come down!
She will not come though you call all day;
Come away, come away!
Children dear, was it yesterday
We heard the sweet bells over the bay?
In the caverns where we lay,
Through the surf and through the swell,
The far-off sound of a silver bell?
Sand-strewn caverns, cool and deep,
Where the winds are all asleep;
Where the spent lights quiver and gleam,
Where the salt weed sways in the stream,
Where the sea-beasts, ranged all round,
Feed in the ooze of their pasture-ground;
Where the sea-snakes coil and twine,
Dry their mail and bask in the brine;
Where great whales come sailing by,
Sail and sail, with unshut eye,
Round the world for ever and aye?
When did music come this way?
Children dear, was it yesterday?
Children dear, was it yesterday
(Call yet once) that she went away?
Once she sate with you and me,
On a red gold throne in the heart of the sea,
And the youngest sate on her knee.
She comb’d its bright hair, and she tended it well,
When down swung the sound of a far-off bell.
She sigh’d, she look’d up through the clear green sea;
She said: “I must go, to my kinsfolk pray
In the little grey church on the shore to-day.
‘T will be Easter-time in the world—ah me!
And I lose my poor soul, Merman! here with thee.”
I said: “Go up, dear heart, through the waves;
Say thy prayer, and come back to the kind sea-caves!”
She smiled, she went up through the surf in the bay.
Children dear, was it yesterday?
Children dear, were we long alone?
“The sea grows stormy, the little ones moan;
Long prayers,” I said, “in the world they say;
Come!” I said; and we rose through the surf in the bay.
We went up the beach, by the sandy down
Where the sea-stocks bloom, to the white-wall’d town;
Through the narrow paved streets, where all was still,
To the little grey church on the windy hill.
From the church came a murmur of folk at their prayers,
But we stood without in the cold blowing airs.
We climb’d on the graves, on the stones worn with rains,
And we gazed up the aisle through the small leaded panes.
She sate by the pillar; we saw her clear:
“Margaret, hist! come quick, we are here!
Dear heart,” I said, “we are long alone;
The sea grows stormy, the little ones moan.”
But, ah, she gave me never a look,
For her eyes were seal’d to the holy book!
Loud prays the priest; shut stands the door.
Come away, children, call no more!
Come away, come down, call no more!
Down, down, down!
Down to the depths of the sea!
She sits at her wheel in the humming town,
Singing most joyfully.
Hark what she sings: “O joy, O joy,
For the humming street, and the child with its toy!
For the priest, and the bell, and the holy well;
For the wheel where I spun,
And the blessed light of the sun!”
And so she sings her fill,
Singing most joyfully,
Till the spindle drops from her hand,
And the whizzing wheel stands still.
She steals to the window, and looks at the sand,
And over the sand at the sea;
And her eyes are set in a stare;
And anon there breaks a sigh,
And anon there drops a tear,
From a sorrow-clouded eye,
And a heart sorrow-laden,
A long, long sigh;
For the cold strange eyes of a little Mermaiden
And the gleam of her golden hair.
Come away, away children
Come children, come down!
The hoarse wind blows coldly;
Lights shine in the town.
She will start from her slumber
When gusts shake the door;
She will hear the winds howling,
Will hear the waves roar.
We shall see, while above us
The waves roar and whirl,
A ceiling of amber,
A pavement of pearl.
Singing: “Here came a mortal,
But faithless was she!
And alone dwell for ever
The kings of the sea.”
But, children, at midnight,
When soft the winds blow,
When clear falls the moonlight,
When spring-tides are low;
When sweet airs come seaward
From heaths starr’d with broom,
And high rocks throw mildly
On the blanch’d sands a gloom;
Up the still, glistening beaches,
Up the creeks we will hie,
Over banks of bright seaweed
The ebb-tide leaves dry.
We will gaze, from the sand-hills,
At the white, sleeping town;
At the church on the hill-side—
And then come back down.
Singing: “There dwells a loved one,
But cruel is she!
She left lonely for ever
The kings of the sea.”
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Bright Week

This week in the Eastern Church is known as Bright Week. It’s a continuation of the celebration of the Resurrection and according to the Quinsext Council (Council in Trullo), that one between the third Constantinople and second Nicean, “for a whole week the faithful in the holy churches should continually be repeating psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, rejoicing and celebrating Christ, and attending to the reading of the Divine Scriptures and delighting in the Holy Mysteries. For in this way shall we be exalted with Christ; raised up together with Him. For this reason on the aforesaid days that by no means there be any horse races or any other public spectacle”

The week itself liturgically is considered like a single day. Bright Week ends on Thomas Sunday when the story of the apostle Thomas is read. Now this in itself is a rather interesting idea that Easter last more than one day it is just the beginning of a larger season of the liturgical year. In most of the Western world Easter is celebrated and then quickly forgotten about, sure in some places Easter Monday is a big to do as well, with like the Easter Egg Roll at the White House, Dyngus Day or Wet Monday. However this is a more commonly low key event and secular. Sure a week later we arrive on Divine Mercy Sunday but Easter is 50 days long not only seven Sundays. So if we could do little more to celebrate the season that would be great, crack open some of the Post-Resurrection Gospel stories and reflect on them in these next 49 or so days.

The Ascension

This week the readings come from the beginning of Acts 1: 1-11, Psalm 47, Paul’s letter to the Ephesians 1:17-23 or Letter to the Hebrews 9:24-28, 10:19-23; and Luke’s Gospel 24:46-53.

We’ve got options but the main deal this week is the Ascension. If you forget that’s what’s being celebrated this week it’s when Jesus ascends into heaven. We get a double dose of Luke this week, with Acts and the gospel reading. The message of the two men dressed in white is something we need to remember and live by. The men in white ask “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky?” Sure we can remember Jesus but he will be coming back someday but we don’t know when. All too often we live our lives looking up at the sky reacting to events out of our control or just shut down when things aren’t going our way, these angels are reminders to us to not be stuck in our head but to focus on the world around us and what we can do in it so as to make it a better place for Jesus to return to.

Fifth Sunday of Easter

This week the readings come from Acts 14:21-27, Psalm 145, Revelation 21:1-5a, and John’s Gospel 13:31-33a, 34-35.

The big focus this week is what Jesus says in the Gospel, where he issues a New Commandment. It isn’t that ground breaking it is to love one another, as in the Golden rule.  “Just as I have loved you, you should also love one another.”  It’s a simple idea but so hard in practice since this is talking about everyone and there are some people that we hate in the world. However, Jesus is here telling us to love one another. If we just followed this advice just imagine what the world would be like.  Pope Benedict XVI reminded us that the foundation of the world is love and in a homily that “Love is the only force capable of changing the heart of the human person and of all humanity, by making fruitful the relations between men and women, between rich and poor, between cultures and civilizations.” Let us go out and try to live this “New Commandment” loving one another as the Lord has loved us.

Fourth Sunday of Easter

This week the readings come from Acts 13:14, 43-52; Psalm 100; Revelation 7:9, 14b-17; and John’s Gospel 10:27-30.

This week we hear about the Good Shepherd it is sort of a continuation of Paul and Jesus “Feed my sheep” from last week although it come from earlier in the Gospel. Sure the metaphor is rough today as not many of us know shepherd but they were rough around the edges and as Pope Francis has said they would smell of their sheep. Being like the Good Shepherd is a goal that we should all be willing to attain. We need to go out into the world and work with others for the betterment of the world. Priests and Bishops need to listen to the words of Pope Francis and take on the character of the people that they serve.

Third Sunday of Easter

This week before getting to the readings Pope Francis released his second Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love) I will be following His Holiness advice and taking my time to read through the whole thing and will offer some comment about it soon.

The readings the week come from Acts 5:27-32, 40b-41; Psalm 30; Revelation 5:11-14; and John’s Gospel 21:1-19.

It seems to me that the common thread of the readings this week is vocation.  This is clearly seen in the Gospel where we have the part where Jesus asks Peter “Do you love me?” Peter replies “Yes, Lord you know I do” Jesus answers back “Feed my sheep” and asks Peter again “Do you Love me?” Peter answers the same Jesus replies “Tend my sheep” then asks Peter a third time “Do you Love me?”. Peter is livid at begin asked a third time and says “Lord you know everything, you know that I love you” Jesus replies “Feed my sheep” then this reading end with Jesus telling Peter to “Follow me.” This is an experience that we all have when we go to Mass we encounter Christ and he asks us “Do you love me?” and tells us to Follow Him. Let us go out to feed and tend the sheep out in the world and follow in the footsteps of Jesus.

Divine Mercy Sunday

This week the readings come from Acts 5:12-16; Psalm 118; Revelation 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19; and John’s Gospel 20:19-31.

In case you missed it this is the Second Sunday in Easter or more commonly known as Divine Mercy Sunday, your church might be praying the Chaplet today at 3pm, they are go and pray it. Today the readings focus on Faith with the story of Doubting Thomas in the Gospel. “Blessed are those who have not seen and have still believed.” This gospel reading is the only one across all three years of the cycle. If you look at the Divine Mercy image you understand it right away, as in the image Jesus is blessing us with his left hand pointing toward his chest with red and pale (white) rays coming from his heart. Just like at the Crucifixion blood and water flow from Jesus, below the image is usually the phrase “Jesus, I Trust in You.”  We need to put our trust in Jesus, we don’t get to be like Thomas and ask to see his hand and feet and side to prove that it is actually Jesus but we will know it is him through love.

Easter Thursday, Divine Mercy Novena Day 7

Today bring to Me the Souls who especially venerate and glorify My Mercy, and immerse them in My mercy. These souls sorrowed most over my Passion and entered most deeply into My spirit. They are living images of My Compassionate Heart. These souls will shine with a special brightness in the next life. Not one of them will go into the fire of hell. I shall particularly defend each one of them at the hour of death.”

Most Merciful Jesus, whose Heart is Love Itself, receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who particularly extol and venerate the greatness of Your mercy. These souls are mighty with the very power of God Himself. In the midst of all afflictions and adversities they go forward, confident of Your mercy; and united to You, O Jesus, they carry all mankind on their shoulders. These souls will not be judged severely, but Your mercy will embrace them as they depart from this life.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls who glorify and venerate Your greatest attribute, that of Your fathomless mercy, and who are enclosed in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. These souls are a living Gospel; their hands are full of deeds of mercy, and their hearts, overflowing with joy, sing a canticle of mercy to You, O Most High! I beg You O God:

Show them Your mercy according to the hope and trust they have placed in You. Let there be accomplished in them the promise of Jesus, who said to them that during their life, but especially at the hour of death, the souls who will venerate this fathomless mercy of His, He, Himself, will defend as His glory. Amen.

This should be all individuals especially this year as we celebrate the Year of Mercy. We are constantly focusing on the suffering, death and resurrection of the Lord that mercy should become second nature for us all. On Easter, Pope Francis in his Urbi et Orbi said that “Before the spiritual and moral abysses of mankind, before the chasms that open up in hearts and provoke hatred and death, only an infinite mercy can bring us salvation. Only God can fill those chasms with his love, prevent us from falling into them and help us to continue our journey together towards the land of freedom and life.” We all need mercy in our lives and should be willing to show mercy to others and the same is true with love.

Easter Sunday, Divine Mercy Novena Day 3

“Today bring to Me all Devout and Faithful Souls, and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy. These souls brought me consolation on the Way of the Cross. They were a drop of consolation in the midst of an ocean of bitterness.”

Most Merciful Jesus, from the treasury of Your mercy, You impart Your graces in great abundance to each and all. Receive us into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart and never let us escape from It. We beg this grace of You by that most wondrous love for the heavenly Father with which Your Heart burns so fiercely.
Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon faithful souls, as upon the inheritance of Your Son. For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, grant them Your blessing and surround them with Your constant protection. Thus may they never fail in love or lose the treasure of the holy faith, but rather, with all the hosts of Angels and Saints, may they glorify Your boundless mercy for endless ages. Amen.

On this Blessed Easter day we focus on all faithful souls living and dead as humankind is linked with the life of Christ. Let us try in these next fifty days to be different from the bitterness that the world has become all around us and in doing so inspire the world to become a better place.

Pentecost

This week is the birthday of the Church, as it is the first time that people other than the apostles joined the group, so we should all have some cake and ice cream this weekend. The readings this week may be the readings used in “year A” but there are some derivations with this in the epistle and the gospel, I will be reflecting on these different readings.

The first reading is the same every year, the account of the descent of the Holy Spirit from Acts. When Pentecost came, fifty days after Passover, they were all gathered in one place together and a strong wind (a breath of God) came into the room and tongues of fire came to rest on them. They were able to speak in different languages or the crowds of people from all over the place were able to hear what the apostles were saying in their own language. The Bible doesn’t offer a good explanation as to what happened or how close the languages were to each other it’s one of the mysteries that I would like to try and figure out. This is one of the things that you can say points toward having Mass being said in the vernacular.

Turning to the second reading we open up to Paul’s letter to the Galatians. It is a portion of the “flesh\spirit” or “sarx/pneuma” debate that Paul has going on in the Galatians. Paul calls us to live by the spirit and we should abhor the flesh. Although the works of the flesh sound so fun; orgies, drunken bouts, sorcery and acts of selfishness to name a few. Paul gives us a list of the fruits of the Spirit. Those things you memorize to be confirmed and then promptly forget. Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Generosity, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-control are the ones listed in the reading, the Catholic Church adds modesty and chastity to this list as well. Which ever list we decide to follow it would be a better world if more people were living in the fruits of the Spirit instead of the flesh. Perhaps it is time that we started glamorizing the fruits as much as we do the works of the flesh. This reading is followed by a sequence (Come Holy Spirit) this is a poem set to music. This is the second sequence in the liturgical year. We have one more on Corpus Christi.

After this musical interlude we hear from the Gospel of John. This reading comes before the Crucifixion, Jesus tells his disciples that he will send an Advocate, for he has much more to tell them but they cannot hear it now. Jesus continues saying that when the spirit does comes it will guide them to all truth. This sounds nice and it would be a good reminder that this same Spirit is with us today although we hardly recognize it. I hope that this week we can all try to live in the fruits and recognize the Spirit in the world around us.