Saturday, November 29, 2014

Long Time No Write

Apologies for the lack of posting recently. There are lots of reasons for it but partly it's because I feel like I am at a cross-roads in terms of my writing. I've still been writing my Catholic Voice articles, and my little weekly articles on Chesterton in The Open Door magazine. I also post a lot of thoughts on Facebook (which is very tempting, since it provides an immediate outlet and feedback) and on the Irish Catholic Forum.

I have to admit that, right now, the thing I'm most excited about is hymn-writing. I have a lifetime's experience of how heart-breakingly indifferent the world is to verse of any kind, for the most part. (The kind reception my poetry has received amongst readers of this blog being the solitary and glorious exception.) But when verse of any kind does gain an audience, it seems to mean so much more to people than does prose.

I attended my cousin's funeral yesterday. He was not religious, so it was a secular service, but it included several poems-- Longellow's 'Hymn to Life" and Shakespeare's sonnet that begins "That time of life thou dost in me behold..." It also included the songs Fortunate Son by Creedence Clearwater Revival and Days by The Kinks (the latter being one of my own favourites), which are also a form of verse.

The experience also made me more conscious than ever of how brief our lives are-- even when we attain old age, which my poor cousin tragically did not-- and how little time we have to use whatever talents we possess for the glory of God. Eternal rest grant unto Him, oh Lord. May perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace.

The hymn that I posted below has actually been put to music, by a lady who came up with a very beautiful air. I haven't had permission to make it public, though. But the experience of having my words set to music was very encouraging in itself.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

I Saw Twelve Candles Shining

(If you like the words of this hymn, and you are a musician and would like to try putting an air to it, please contact me.)

I saw twelve candles shining by Our Blessed Lady's Shrine
Twelve candles shining in the gloom, and one of them was mine,
And I knew that in God's Heaven they would still more brightly shine
And I knelt and prayed beside their holy light.

I knelt before that holy light, I looked into that holy light
I felt God's grace upon me by those candles' holy light.
Outside the evening gathered in, and I was tired from woe and sin,
But Jesus came to meet me in those candles' holy light.

I saw twelve angels carrying twelve prayers before the throne
Twelve prayers made to the Triune God, and one prayer was my own.
I looked into Our Lady's face, our Saviour's flesh and bone,
And her smile was gentle in that holy light.

Her smile was gentle in the light, her eyes were shining in the light
Mary our Mother held me by those candles' holy light.
The rain began to fall outside, and I was cold from all my pride
But the Holy Spirit warmed me in those candles' holy light.

I saw twelve candles flickering, so sad a sight to see,
Twelve spirits troubled by the world, and one of them was me.
But our Blessed Mother whispered: "There is peace eternally
In the land that lies beyond this holy light."

"The way is lit by holy light, the beacon is this holy light,
God's Kingdom is more peaceful than these holy candles' light.
This world is passing like a dream, but look and see the dawn's first gleam,
Your Father's Kingdom shining from these candles' holy light."

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Thoughts on All Saints' Day

Here is a piece I wrote last All Saints' Day, and which got a better reception than almost anything else I've written.

And today, on All Saints Day, I pray for all my intentions, and all my readers' intentions, to my usual roll-call of saints; Saint Patrick, who is (believe it or not) rather neglected by the Irish except on one day of the year; Saint John Paul the Second, who shines all the brighter the more time goes by since his pontificate; Saint Athanasius of Alexandria, the great lion of orthodoxy; Blessed John Henry Newman, not officially a saint yet but one in my eyes; St. Secundius, first bishop of Armagh (Maolsheachlann means 'follower of St. Secundius'); St. Padre Pio, of course; Our Lady, the greatest of all the saints; the twelve disciples; St. Augustine; St. Oliver Plunkett, another Bishop of Armagh, and the last Catholic martyr in Britain or Ireland.

And there are others, too. That's the great thing about the saints. There are so many!

I have often asked my readers to pray for me, or for particular intentions. Today (and indeed every day), if there are any intentions you would like me to pray for, or would like to ask other readers of this blog to pray for, you are welcome to leave them in the comments.

(Incidentally, I've heard that some comments get 'eaten' when readers try to submit them. This also happens to me on other blogs. I don't know how to correct it, but I've taken to copying my comment before I submit it, in case it goes into the the great digital limbo.)