Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
One of the notable features of Salvation History is that remarkable things often emerge from unremarkable places or, more precisely, from unlikely places. Think: Fatima, Lourdes, Lisieux, Avila, Assisi, all the way back to Nazareth in the first century. You could add to that list the English city of Oxford in the 19th century. At the beginning of the century, the city’s ancient university was closed to all but Anglicans. However, by the middle of the 1800’s – and despite such religious restrictions still being in place – Oxford was blossoming with a startling number of significant Catholics converts who were all, more or less, inspired by the work and life Saint John Henry Newman who was, of course, a convert himself.
Among these notable new Catholics was the priest and poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins. Born into a family of high Anglicans, it was while studying classics at Balliol College in Oxford that Hopkins had decided to become Catholic. He travelled to Birmingham to consult John Henry Newman, now a priest of the Congregation of the Oratory, and was received into the Church on October 21st, 1866. Initially, Hopkins had eschewed his poetic talent as being unworthy of religious life. But upon reading the medieval Scottish philosopher, Blessed John Duns Scotus, Hopkins realized that the priesthood and poetry could, in theory, happily co-exist.
Hopkins' works often dwell upon the reality of Christ presence in the Eucharist. The first two lines of his poem “Easter Communion”, written just prior to his conversion, read thus: “Pure fasted faces draw unto this feast: God comes all sweetness to your Lenten lips.”
This week On the Road to Emmaus, however, I’d like to put before you Hopkin’s translation of Saint Thomas Aquinas’ great mediation upon the Eucharist: Adoro Te Devote. Aquinas wrote his Eucharistic hymn in the 13th century to honor the new feast of Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Christ. As we now know, Gerard Manley Hopkins poetically translated it in the 19th century. And, now, in the 21st century, my challenge to you is to read Hopkin’s translation of Adoro Te Devote over the next week. In fact, don’t just read it, pray it. To read the text, click here.
So what difference will praying this prayer make to your life? Here are the reflections of two of our fellow pilgrims who are currently traveling with us On the Road to Emmaus: Deacon Joshua Fons and Deacon Riley O'Shea, both Diocese of Lansing seminarians who are due to be ordained to the sacred priesthood this summer. Watch and enjoy!
+ Earl Boyea
Bishop of Lansing