Tuesday, February 22, 2005

john donne, the annunciation and good friday

It has been called to my attention that this year the feast of the Annunciation falls on Good Friday. What does this mean? Well, I suppose it means that the Annunciation is transferred. But maybe it has a more metaphysical meaning. Apparently this happened before, on March 25, 1608. Here is what blessed John Donne (my patron) had eloquently to say about it (thank you Mark and Ryan):

by John Donne

Tamely, frail body, abstain to-day; to-day My soul eats twice, Christ hither and away.

She sees Him man, so like God made in this, That of them both a circle emblem is, Whose first and last concur; this doubtful day Of feast or fast, Christ came, and went away.

She sees Him nothing, twice at once, who's all; She sees a Cedar plant itself, and fall; Her Maker put to making, and the Head Of life, at once, not yet alive, yet dead.

She sees at once the Virgin Mother stay
Reclused at home, public at Golgotha;
Sad and rejoiced she's seen at once, and seen At almost fifty, and at scarce fifteen.

At once a Son is promised her, and gone; Gabriell gives Christ to her, He her to John; Not fully a mother, She's in orbity; At once receiver and the legacy.

All this, and all between, this day hath shown, Th' abridgement of Christ's story, which makes one-- As in plain maps, the furthest west is east-- Of th' angels Ave, and Consummatum est.

How well the Church, God's Court of Faculties Deals, in sometimes, and seldom joining these!

As by the self-fix'd Pole we never do
Direct our course, but the next star thereto, Which shows where th'other is, and which we say --Because it strays not far--doth never stray; So God by His Church, nearest to Him, we know And stand firm, if we by her motion go; His Spirit, as His fiery pillar, doth Leade, and His Church, as cloud; to one end both.

This Church, by letting those days join, hath shown Death and conception in mankind is one; Or 'twas in Him the same humility, That He would be a man, and leave to be; Or as creation He hath made, as God, With the last judgement, but one period, His imitating Spouse would join in one Manhood's extremes: He shall come, He is gone; Or as though one blood drop, which thence did fall, Accepted, would have served, He yet shed all, So though the least of His pains, deeds, or words, Would busy a life, she all this day affords; This treasure then, in gross, my soul, uplay, And in my life retail it every day.

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