We will begin the second series of our St. Stephen Martyr parish Mystagogy Program on October 10th and continue every Monday thereafter, concluding with an Advent Day of Recollection on December 10th. This second series is titled, “Catholic Legacy: Art, Story, Music and Poetry,” and we will be breaking open together some of the most beautiful works that have come down to us through the ages in the Church.
We will begin our journey together with the work that G.K. Chesterton called “the greatest poem ever written in modern English,” namely, Francis Thompson’s devastating piece, “The Hound of Heaven.” J.R.R. Tolkien credited this work with having a significant influence on his masterpiece trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, noting that the poem is “one of the most profound expressions of mature spiritual experience.” Dorothy Day was also strongly impacted by Thompson’s poem writing: “It is one of those poems that awakens the soul, and recalls to it the fact that God is its destiny.”
Of course, it needs to be noted that poetry is a challenging art form, and that the greater the poem, the bigger the challenge it represents. Thompson’s work is difficult to crack but very worth the effort. I suggest you read it over a few times and just let some of the phrases sink into your heart and spirit. We will then work it together in our session, and certainly come away better for what will be a worthy struggle.
Here is a copy of the poem to read: The Hound of Heaven. Or, you may prefer listening to it in an audio version. Also, here is a modern, animated adaptation that might help you into the work. As is our custom, we will begin our discussion on October 10th with a light supper at 7 pm.
Secondly, here’s a heads-up that you will want to start reading, and/or viewing, the second work we will be discussing in this series, on October 24th and 31st: Brideshead Revisited, probably the greatest Catholic novel of the last one hundred years. If you don’t have time to read the whole book – but you really should because it’s truly wonderful! – I recommend reading the first ten and the last twenty pages. Here is a link to eBook, audio, and print versions of the book: Brideshead Revisited. You could also watch the wonderful 11-part series that the BBC did of the book which you can find here.
I look forward to seeing you again. Thank you for your support of this ministry. Please do invite your friends and family members to join us in this journey!