March 31, 2006

John Donne

Category: Communion of Saints — Micah @ 12:00 am

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Good day, and welcome to Communion of Saints from I’m your host, Micah Jackson. Today is March 29th, 2006: the feast of Blessed John Donne.

The biography of John Donne was in many ways one of contradictions resolving themselves into one of the most extraordinary lives of the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Born a Catholic, he nevertheless received his education at Oxford and Cambridge, and became a lawyer. His successful career in public service came to an abrupt end when it was revealed that he had secretly married the niece of the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, his employer. He accepted ordination as an Anglican priest in 1615. By 1622 he was Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, where he became known as one of the most learned and dynamic preachers in all England. Part of what made his preaching so effective and enthralling was his poetic style. Indeed, his poetry was, and is, beloved by many.

Donne’s writing and speaking cut right to the heart of what it means to be a Christian struggling to live a good life in the midst of all the temptations of the world. Perhaps that’s why we read today from Solomon’s description of Wisdom personified. He writes, “in every generation she passes into holy souls and makes them friends of God, and prophets; for God loves nothing so much as the person who lives with wisdom.” (Wisdom 7:24-8:1) Donne, like Wisdom, has made many holy souls into friends of God through his preaching and poetry. Listen to these words of his that speak so clearly of what it means to be a Christian, that is, a saint and a sinner all at the same time:

We thinke that Paradise and Calvarie,
Christs Crosse, and Adams tree, stood in one place;
Looke, Lord, and finde both Adams met in me;
As the first Adams sweat surrounds my face
May the last Adams blood my soule embrace.

So long as these words live and draw people to understanding of their own souls and of God’s love, the bell will never toll for John Donne.

Let us pray: Almighty God, the root and fountain of all being: Open our eyes to see, with your servant John Donne, that whatever has any being is a mirror in which we may behold you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Thank you for listening to Communion of Saints. Please join us on April 1st at for the feast of Blessed F.D. Maurice. I’m Micah Jackson. May God be with you.

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