All posts tagged: John Donne

Meditations for Good Friday, 2016

Editorial Note: The following piece was written when the feast of the Annunciation and Good Friday fell on March 25, 2016. Since this will not happen again until 2157 (when the Internet will be replaced by telepathy) we’re publishing it this year since the themes of the essay are essential to Passiontide.  Today is Good Friday, March 25, 2016. It is also the feast of the Annunciation, the Conception of Our Lord Jesus Christ—celebrated on 25 March because that date is precisely nine months before the Feast of the Nativity on December 25. Good Friday also fell on March 25th four hundred and eight years ago, in the year 1608. Not surprisingly, John Donne wrote a poem to commemorate the paradox of the day’s liturgical significance. And thanks to my friends Kirsten Stirling and Greg Kneidel of the John Donne Society, who reminded the rest of us via email, I was not allowed to forget! Here is Donne’s poem: Vppon the Annunciation, when Good-friday fell vppon the same daye [1608] Tamely fraile body, abstaine to …

The First Work of Mercy

Every year in late fall, our local Christian Aid Center has a “Coats for Kids” campaign to help parents outfit their little ones in preparation for the cold of winter. Last year, our Catholic school sponsored a sock drive during the week of St. Nicholas’ feast: a different size each day—from baby booties through toddler, youth, and adult sizes. We learned that, while warm socks are of course one of the most essential kinds of clothing, they are often the last things people think to give. Clothing the naked was the first work of mercy, performed by God in covering the naked shame of Adam and Eve after the fall (Gen 3:21). Christian poets—Catholic and Protestant—have often pondered this covering over the centuries, finding in it the very essence of the fallen human condition and of Christ’s redemptive power. In Paradise Lost, John Milton writes movingly of how the nakedness of the first man and woman before the fall signifies their perfect innocence and dignity: Nor those mysterious parts were then concealed, Then was not …