Friday, April 27, 2018
“You are not here to verify,
Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity
Or carry report. You are here to kneel
Where prayer has been valid…
Here, the intersection of the timeless moment
Is England and nowhere. Never and always.”
—Lines from by T. S. Eliot in his poem Little Gidding, the last of his Four Quartets, written between 1935 and 1942, published in 1943, while the Second World War was raging.
The intersection of time and the timeless
Little Gidding is the fourth and final poem of T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets, a series of poems that discuss time, humanity, and salvation.
It was first published in September 1942 after being delayed for over a year because of the air-raids on Great Britain during World War II, and Eliot’s declining health.
The title refers to a small Anglican community at Little Gidding in Huntingdonshire, established by Nicholas Ferrar in the early 1600s and scattered during the terrible English Civil War in the mid-1600s.
The poem emphasizes the need for purification and purgation through prayer.
According to the poet, humanity’s flawed understanding of life and our turning away from the eternal, holy God, leads to a cycle of misery, self-centeredness and war — but this can be overcome through deep prayer and through recognizing the sorrowful lessons of our past.
Little Gidding focuses on the unity of past, present, and future, under the redemptive hand of God, and claims that understanding this unity is necessary for spiritual healing and ultimate salvation.
Tonight, Friday, April 27
As Alfie lies breathing quietly in his hospital bed, now four days after his breathing machinery was removed….
As many other children also lie in various places, in various conditions of health and sickness, in various countries…
As the world’s eyes turn toward England, and the choice the English authorities will make in this case…
…many are also turning inward, in prayer, to construct the ramparts of an impregnable interior castle…
…an impregnable interior castle, against any world order or legal system which will diminish or deny the primary right of parents to care for their children…
…and, with the help of expert doctors, provide them the best possible, loving care, until they are called from this life by God, not man…
To this end, a rosary will be prayed tonight in St. Peter’s Square, as last night, and the night before, and will be prayed for another six days, making a nine-day novena.
The prayer, though obviously for young Alfie, is also for Asia Bibi, a 51-year-old Pakistani Christian who was wrongly sentenced to death by hanging for blasphemy in 2010, and has been in prison ever since while her sentence is appealed (link), and for all who suffer attacks against their human dignity and human rights.
It is also for own interior conversion, that our actions may not fall short of the high ideal set for us in the Beatitudes, to support those who mourn, to be meek, to be peace-makers…
People will gather at 10 p.m., and the prayer will begin at 10:17 p.m.
Please bring candles…
What is the glory of God?
“The glory of God is man alive; but the life of man is the vision of God.” —St. Irenaeus of Lyons, in the territory of France, in his great work Against All Heresies, written c. 180 A.D.