Walking through the cloisters of Canterbury Cathedral, praying in the austere, holy place of the Cathedral crypt make me aware of two things. Firstly--the mystery and holiness of God, our High King and Perfect Lord who created everything...yet chose to send His Son as a servant to mankind, desiring a relationship with each of us, as sinful and repulsive as we are. It is at once an encouraging and daunting thought. Secondly--the humility of the men who once lived, prayed, and died within those sacred walls, giving up worldly pride and comfort for a life of quiet and unassuming prayer and meditation.
I am currently waging war against the vast sin of pride in my life, and I find comfort and inspiration in the example set by those mediaeval Benedictines. As another model of mediaeval piety, Saint Augustine of Hippo, wrote, "'Pride is the commencement of all sin' because it was this which overthrew the devil, from whom arose the origin of sin; and afterwards, when his malice and envy pursued man, who was yet standing in his uprightness, it subverted him in the same way in which he himself fell. For the serpent, in fact,only sought for the door of pride whereby to enter when he said, 'Ye shall be as gods.'"
"Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: and whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." Mark 10:42-45
Sunday, January 8, 2012
Non es meravelha s'eu chan
Melhs de nul autra chantador,
Que plus me tra .l cors vas amor
E melhs sui faihz a so coman.
Cor e cors e saber e sen
E fors' e poder i ai mes.
Si .m tira vas amor lo fres
Que vas autre part no .m aten.
No marvel if my song's the best
Of any sung by troubadour;
My heart is drawn to love the more
And I more shaped to love's behest.
Toward love I've bent my self and soul,
My mind and body, heart and brain;
So tightly drawn upon love's reign,
My thoughts can seek no other goal.
Ben es mortz qui d'amor no sen
Al cor cal que dousa sabor;
E que val viure ses valor
Mas per enoi far a la gen?
Ja Domnedeus no .m azir tan
Qu'eu ja pois viva jorn ni mes
Pois que d'enoi serai mespres
Ni d'amor non aurai talan.
That man's well dead who lacks the sense
Within his heart for love's sweet taste
And, lacking prowess, life lies waste,
Useless, and only breeds offense.
May Heav'n's Lord never hate me so
To let me live my life one day
When men, disgusted, turn away
And my desire for love shall go.
Per bona fe e ses enjan
Am la plus bel' e la melhor.
Del cor sospir e dels olhs plor,
Car tan l'am eu, per que i ai dan.
Eu que .n posc mais, s'Amors me pren,
E le charcers en que m'a mes
No pot claus obrir mas merces,
E de merce no .i trop nien?
Without deceit, but true and plain,
I love the loveliest and the best;
Tears fill my eyes and sighs my breast
Since love has brought me so much pain.
What hope have I whom love has bound
Where only pity holds the key
To loose love's cell and set me free,
Yet pity's nowhere to be found.
Aquest' amors me fer tan gen
Al cor d'una dousa sabor:
Cen vetz mor lo jorn de dolor
E reviu de joi autras cen.
Ben es mos mals de bel semblan,
Que mais val mos mals qu'autre bes;
E pois mos mals aitan bos m'es,
Bos er lo bes apres l'afan.
My heart by love is gently torn
Though love's wound has a savour sweet.
Each day, a hundred deaths I meet--
Each day, a hundred times reborn.
My evils wear a face so fair,
No good is sweeter than love's ill;
Since evil's sweet, then I may still
Hope joy requites love's pain and care.
--Bernart de Ventadorn, 12th Century