Normally, today is the Feast Day of John Donne (1572-1631)

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With the weird early date of Easter this year, Saint Jospeh is transferred to today, but today is normally John Donne's feast day and on the last day of March I always thank God for him--KSH.

Almighty God, the root and fountain of all being: Open our eyes to see, with thy servant John Donne, that whatsoever hath any being is a mirror in which we may behold thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
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Batter my heart, three-person’d God ; for you
As yet but knock ; breathe, shine, and seek to mend ;
That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp’d town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betroth’d unto your enemy ;
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

–Holy Sonnet XIV (my favorite)

“when all is done the hell of hels the torment of torments is the everlasting absence of God and the everlasting impossibility
of returning to his presence….what tophet is not paradise what brimstone is not amber what gnashing is not a comfort what gnawing
of the worme is not a tickling what torment is not a marriage bed to this damnation to be secluded eternally eternally eternally
from the sight of God”

–From his sermon Preached to the Earle of Carlile, and his Company, at Sion [? 1622]

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“The church is catholic, universal, so are all her actions; all that she does, belongs to all….All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated…As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all: but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness….No man is an island. entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

–From his Meditation XVII



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4 Comments
Posted March 31, 2008 at 5:49 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Simon Sarmiento wrote:

Whereas here in England, today is the Annunciation!

March 31, 6:33 am | [comment link]
2. Anglicanum wrote:

It is in the Catholic Church too.  Up until this year, St. Joseph would have been transferred to today and Annunciation to tomorrow, but the Vatican changed the rules just this year to move St. Joseph to a date before Holy Week and Annunciation to after the Easter Octave, to avoid the sort of ‘liturgical log jam’ that ensues.  I for one am glad ... it’s nice to spread it around a bit.  :+)

March 31, 7:29 am | [comment link]
3. Milton wrote:

Oh, how glorious and eloquent a statement of the human condition and of my heart before Jesus forclosed on its condenmed and bankrupt property, and of the Gospel of His salvation!  My favorite sonnet also!

March 31, 9:57 am | [comment link]
4. Jon wrote:

Thanks, Kendall.  Lots of folks don’t know what an important Christian thinker John Donne was, they think he was “only” a poet!  Nice of you to remind us differently.

The sonnet you chose is lovely.  It also reveals the deeply Lutheran and Pauline understanding of the bound will which characterized all the early (“classical”) Anglicans.  We don’t need coaching or assistance—we are not co-creators in our salvation—we need TOTAL help.  We are completely bound and need an invasion from without.

March 31, 10:15 am | [comment link]
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