Crashaw on the Holy Cross

The Amish Catholic

ExaltationoftheHolyCrossBaroque The veritable Tree of Life. (Source)

Today’s feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross deserves some poetic note…as will tomorrow’s Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. Richard Crashaw, whose deeply somatic, extravagantly Baroque spirituality made him somewhat distasteful to an older generation of critics, fits our purpose for both days admirably. My source is the 2013 University of Minnesota Edition of The English Poems of Richard Crashaw, pages 204-05.

Here is his “Upon the Bleeding Crucifix, a Song.” I’d like to add as accompaniment my favorite English rendition of the Vexilla Regis.

Upon the Bleeding Crucifix, a Song

Jesu, no more! It is full tide.
From thy head and from thy feet,
From thy hands and from thy side
All the purple rivers meet.

What need thy fair head bear a part
In show’rs, as if thine eyes had none?
What need they…

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A Benediction Upon 21st Century America

America Black and White

God is dead, and we killed Him, or so they said, and willed the whim,

for disbelief is the opiate of the masses, who wander around the country wondering, “Will you marry me?”

as the blue grey shades of dusk draw her veil over the cozy streets in the hilly valleys of America,

the inlets into her wholesome secret heart.

I have seen Lady Liberty, Our Lady, the American Mary, and she is sweet.

We search for her torch in the law courts, and the food courts, and the basketball courts of America.

We search for her torch in the empty churches, in the lonely lurches, in the blustery Midwestern birches of America.

We search for her torch in the houses of broken families, in the houses of forgotten worship, in the houses of ill-repute, all throughout America.

I have heard the squeals of man and woman in fornication.

I have heard the shrieks of man and man in copulation.

I have heard the sounds of sex sweeping across the nation in denigration and desecration.

We do not have a surplus population.

I have seen the best of my generation, mauled limb from limb, their minds sucked out of their skulls before they were even born, before they got a chance to open the womb and to attain citizenship in America.

I have seen the towers fall all around us in a heap of ash and rubble in the shape of a cross, casting its shadow across America.

I have seen the faces of the living lost in a vast morass of morphine dreams and the ghastly phantasmagoria of erotica from America.

Yet, I have seen her heart keep beating, beating, beating, and her eyes keep weeping, weeping, weeping, for you, and for me, and for America.

For her torch cannot be quenched!

She bears her torch to the dry lands of the parched brush of the tinderbox that is America.

She bears her torch to the smoky cities of the dessicated coasts of America.

She bears her torch before the darkness of the waters and the deep night skies of the plains and mountains of America.

She bears her torch to the hearts of the hopeless and the minds of the foolish of America, yearning for a mantle full of stars and a tilma full of roses.

Will you let her bear her torch to you?

For hers is the torch of the memory of liberty.

The Prince of Papist Purple Prose

The Amish Catholic

SacredHeartRoses Faberesque religious art. (Source)

The Church offers us the way of salvation. She declares the destination, Heaven; she notes our provenance, the bondage of our sinful nature. And she furnishes a route from the latter up to the former. Or, I might say, “routes.” For while the Cruciform road to Heaven may appear singular from afar, anyone who enters the Journey will find that it is in fact composed of many different paths. The holy diversity of the Church is one testament of its Catholicity. Like a great Cathedral or Basilica that appears as one massive edifice from the street but harbors dozens of little side-altars within, each distinctly the Table of the Lord, the Church offers more streams of spirituality than we can discern. Some flow still in our midst, giving life to multitudes. Others run dry. And some thought long-extinct may suddenly spring forth in new…

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