Thursday, November 1
“Could crowd career with conquest”
I’m posting All Saints Day like a Jesuit Homie – three Jesuits: one with whom I lived here in Detroit for years before he died, Art McGovern. The second, St. Alphonsus Rodriquez, lived a barely noticed life in the 1500s and was named a Saint according to Catholic practice in 1888. The third saint is familiar to the list’s readers: Gerard Manley Hopkins, another non-famous person during his life. Hopkins’ poem in honor of Alphonsus, whose feast was yesterday, is a tribute to a compelling human being and the wonder of his seemingly un-noteworthy life as a college door-keeper hundreds of years ago.
I’ll begin my annual retreat tomorrow with some airport help, so the ordinary Friday post stepped ahead by a day.
November chills and strong leaf colors, blessings as you go.
1) Monday November 2 – a saint who lived with us, Art McGovern, sj
On All Saints Day Art McGovern seems to come and find me. Yesterday was, in the R Catholic calendar, the feast of all the saints. He who died at 70 in May of 2000. Art lived close to the ground — at home with play (“health food is the kind you like so much you feel good while eating it: my 3 are pretzels, ice cream, and bacon.”) and grief, at home with losses and wins, at home leading difficult committees, at home with impeccably prepared classes laced with kind teasing and learning (“Fr. McGovern is like feathers; he makes you laugh while you think hard.” said a student one time). If someone can be a world class scholar, a beloved teacher, a rabid Ohio State football fan and a kinsman day in and day out . . . . well, no surprise he came to mind this morning.
2 & 3) Gerard Manley Hopkins has never lost his capacity to knock me flat when I read him out loud, with pauses. His encomium for Alphonsus Rodriquez whose feast was yesterday, is no exception. Sure, on this gray November day, out loud with pauses can bless us with surprises.
G. M. Hopkins
“In honour of St. Alphonsus Rodriquez,
Laybrother of the Society of Jesus”
HONOUR is flashed off exploit, so we say;
And those strokes once that gashed flesh or galled shield
Should tongue that time now, trumpet now that field,
And, on the fighter, forge his glorious day.
On Christ they do and on the martyr may;
But be the war within, the brand we wield
Unseen, the heroic breast not outward-steeled,
Earth hears no hurtle then from fiercest fray.
Yet God (that hews mountain and continent,
Earth, all, out; who, with trickling increment,
Veins violets and tall trees makes more and more)
Could crowd career with conquest while there went
Those years and years by of world without event
That in Majorca Alfonso watched the door.
Hopkins, painted 24 July 1866
Gerard Manley Hopkins 28 July 1844 – 8 June, 1889 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerard_Manley_Hopkins