Wednesday, November 02, 2005

For All Souls

Newman's vision is of a soul who desires purgation in order to be made worthy & capable of the vision of God: it is a beautiful vision. It roots our relationship with God, even our relationship through death on such a celebration as All Souls Day, in Love, in Eros even, indeed in our longing and desire for God, a longing God has put in us. Thus Purgatory, for Newman, as for Dante, is Love.

Of course, Edward Elgar famously set this all to exquisite music:

I go before my Judge. Ah! ….

…. Praise to His Name!
The eager spirit has darted from my hold,
And, with the intemperate energy of love,
Flies to the dear feet of Emmanuel;
But, ere it reach them, the keen sanctity,
Which with its effluence, like a glory, clothes
And circles round the Crucified, has seized,
And scorch'd, and shrivell'd it; and now it lies
Passive and still before the awful Throne.
O happy, suffering soul! for it is safe,
Consumed, yet quicken'd, by the glance of God.

Take me away, and in the lowest deep
There let me be,
And there in hope the lone night-watches keep,
Told out for me.
There, motionless and happy in my pain,
Lone, not forlorn,—
There will I sing my sad perpetual strain,
Until the morn.
There will I sing, and soothe my stricken breast,
Which ne'er can cease
To throb, and pine, and languish, till possest
Of its Sole Peace.
There will I sing my absent Lord and Love:—
Take me away,
That sooner I may rise, and go above,
And see Him in the truth of everlasting day.

--from John Henry Cardinal Newman, The Dream of Gerontius

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