Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Parable of the Two Plumbers

'Childhood of Christ,' Gerard van Honthorst, 1620.

Written for the memoria of St. Joseph the Workman

There were two plumbers who had worked together for many years. One day a house they were working on collapsed from water damage. They both died. Presented before the throne of God the first was summoned. “My son, you have lived well, go and take your place in paradise alongside the angels and saints.” Then the second plumber was summoned. “My son, you have lived decently, but void of much love. Take your place in purgatory and in a dozen years you will be ready for paradise.”

The Lord as yet had withheld the light of knowledge from the plumber and so the plumber was surprised. “Lord, Lord, how can this be? I was a plumber like my companion. I went to Mass like my companion. I tried my best as a father and husband—granted my mistakes—just as my companion. I was honest in my work, I never cheated anyone. In outer form my life was near identical to my workmate and yet he goes directly to heaven and I to purgatory for so long?”

“Yes, what you say is true. Your outer life was hardly any different to your companion. Yet know this—he was a man of prayer. During the day, he would unite Himself with my Son, offering the work he did as a plumber as a sacrifice of love. Due to this good habit, do you know what his final deed in life was? Yes, my son, fixing a broken sewage pipe as were you; but more than this, this menial deed was offered to me in love in reparation for sinful souls, broken souls, and so he died in love, just as your companion lived and worked in love. Heaven is nothing but love, and so my son, he was ready to enter heaven. In him I saw the life of my Son as Workman and of Blessed Joseph repeated in a tiny but real way.

You however, you lived a life decent to the eye but where was your heart? It was with me on Sunday and when you prayed now and then, but during the day? No, your heart was not with me. Where were your works of love? I was ever beside you, a plumber at the ready, but you left me to work alone. How many acts, how many hours did you thus work almost in vain? Your honesty and wholesome desire to provide for your family rendered your work void of sin, clean in my sight as a basin new and polished. Yet love for me did not excite your work, it did not fill your deeds—your basin was clean, but empty in my sight. What you lack in love—a whole lifetime—you will gain in the purging flames of love my son.

Pray for workmen beneath that they might not repeat your mistakes and I will see to it that there will arise men and women who repair for your voids of love to hasten your purgation.”

Whatever you do, work from the soul, as if for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of inheritance. For the Lord Christ is the real master you serve. (Col 3:23-24).

May the Lord grant us the grace to work in love.

May all men and women discover in their work, the will of God and His abiding presence of love. 

May all those whose work is contrary to God's will, find pardon in God's mercy, be delivered from such works of darkness, and find wholesome employment that fosters their human dignity, that of others, and gives glory to God.

St. Joseph, Model of Workmen, pray for us.

Monday, 22 April 2019

Resurrection Hare Melts Winter to Spring

Medieval Illumination.

An Easter poem.
Christ symbolised by the Hare,
the Virgin Mary by the White Rabbit,
and St. Joseph by the Stag.

Dark the winter long,
Begun when Adam fell;
The frosted globe shivered without a robe,
The naked shame bit blue by polar prince—
For Pluto held with chains, enslaved the lands:
Cold and brutal steel, slippery icy sin,
A sepulchre the cosmos,
The cosmos couldn’t grin.

The deer, the elk, their little fawns,
No foliage for the plate;
For dry the bones, not green but white,
Antarctic earth—the snowy fields made muddy
            from the diggings vain.
And pain and pain the sombre world,
The springtime lute and laugh forgotten now,
Its echoes stilled against the ice.
The howl of wolf and hoot of owl
And mixed with hade’s tanning stench,
Made blanket of the moose’s cowl.

So long that moonless night,
            far gone the light,
But O happy night
That won for us so great, so glorious a sight:

First bright the fullest moon appeared
Mirrored ‘neath in rabbit white—
            spotless like the snow—
She burrowed through the drifts and soil,
Making up a hearth on earth.
The Stag kept guard and couched beside,
A coal within his mouth he dropped inside.
The Rabbit laid an egg, a Hare crawled out;
Thirty days on emerged, hopping through the woods,
Snow gave way to green each step;
            flowers shooting up,
                        birds gathering ‘round.
Winter knocked, Boreas blown,
And angry Pluto groaned—his shackles shook,
            for Hare thumped upon his home.

So Hades, Mighty Og, barked order at Cerberus,
Hell’s ugly bear who prowled the frosted plains;
three-headed beast nicknamed Pride:
one head, lust of flesh, lust of eyes, third, pride of life—
And calling to its pups its litter yelped,
            fierce Bashanite dogs,
Tearing through mountain pass, frightfully fast,
And set upon the Hare:
            ravaged, tore, ripped and mauled,
Slew, scarlet snow, north wind blew,
            flew the birds, dark returned,
Moon was covered over,
As Rabbit and the eagle placed lifeless Hare
Within the cold and damp, dark den.

Hades poured a glass, victory on his mind,
When drip, drip from ceiling top was felt in hellish blaze.
For enkindled was the earth,
the cold den a warm hearth;
Until the snows of sin made melted by a warmly wind
            flooded Pluto’s realm—
leaving deepest pit,
But filling the void between.
The serpents, the scorpions, the lions stayed,
            at home therein,
But long-paddling oxen, buffalo and caribou
rose as water rose
‘til out of Hade’s spot.

Since all the while the second sight, justified the night;
Moon in place with sun beside,
the dawning light at last,
As down beneath in mirrored form the burrow closed did yawn—
down the soil and up the soil,
down and up, down and up;
Breathing as it were,
Then burst the leaping Hare victoriously from the earth—
His burial plot a place of birth—
Springing from the burrow,
Spring returned with sun yellow
that gleamed on His red coat.
The fierce dogs whimpered at the sight,
            teeth falling to the ground they died
And from their fangs new pups sprang
and tamed by Hare
they chased away the bear
who slinking back lay dying in its lair.

To and fro the Hare sped round, all across the globe,
            breathing fire as He went,
Awakening the nymphs, defrosted from their lent,
And so their rivers flowed, colours rose,
and helped Him find the eggs,
Incubating first, and then the first born rabbits He had sent.
For a myriad myriad eggs the White Rabbit laid
when Hare was torn and slain—
These all cracked at Hares warm breath
And hatched, still hatching,
            Hare out of sight
but traced in scent of rose.

O what strangeness—a flock of rabbits
            hatching from their eggs;
Multiplied they filled and fill the once sombre empty earth,
And as Adam first named the first rabbit
            in the season in which he fell;
This Hare called Adam-Two named the rabbits too:
Peter Rabbit first,
Then the rest He called by name new,
Wrote down by Stag on white pebbles,
taken from spring’s water
            which was once winter’s slough.

 22nd April, 2019.