Monday, 6 January 2014

'But all this we could bear if we knew we did not suffer in vain'

From Dorothy L Sayers' radio play The Man Born to be King,  published by Gollancz in 1943 but first broadcast by the BBC between December 1941 and October 1942:  
Caspar: Alas! The more we know, the less we understand life. Doubts make us afraid to act, and much learning dries the heart. And the riddle that torments the world is this: Shall Wisdom and Love live together at last, when the promised Kingdom comes?  
Melchior: We are rulers, and we see that what men need most is good government, with freedom and order. But order puts fetters on freedom, and freedom rebels against order, so that love and power are always at war together. And the riddle that torments the world is this: Shall power and Love dwell together at last, when the promised Kingdom comes?
Balthazar: I speak for a sorrowful people - for the ignorant and the poor. We rise up to labour and lie down to sleep, and night is only a pause between one burden and another. Fear is our daily companion - the fear of want, the fear of war, the fear of cruel death, and of still more cruel life. But all this we could bear if we knew we did not suffer in vain; that God was beside us in the struggle, sharing the miseries of His own world. For the riddle that torments the world is this: Shall Sorrow and Love be reconciled at last, when the promised kingdom comes? 
Mary:  These are very difficult questions - but with me, you see, it is like this. When the Angel's message came to me, the Lord put a song into my heart. I suddenly saw that wealth and cleverness were nothing to God - no one is too unimportant to be His friend. That was the thought that came to me, because of the thing that happened to me. I am quite humbly born, yet the Power of God came upon me; very foolish and unlearned, yet the Word of God was spoken to me; and I was in deep distress when my baby was born and filled my life with love. So I know very well that Wisdom and Power and Sorrow can live together with love; and for me, the child in my arms is the answer to all the riddles ....... 
..... Caspar: All man's learning is ignorance and all man's treasures are toys. But, you, Balthazar, you found a strange new word to speak, "Hail, King of Heaven", and again, "Mary, Mother of God", What put it into your heart to say that? 
Balthazar: Do not ask me; I spoke like a man in a dream. For I looked at the child. And all about him lay the shadow of death, and all within him was the light of life; and I knew that i stood in the presence of the Mortal-Immortal, which is the last secret of the universe .....  

Cristofaro Caresana's L'Adorazione dei Magi - I Turchini / Antonio Florio 

Fr Z [here] has posted today Evelyn Waugh's prayer to the Magi from his novel Helena (1950) - I repeat it here, particularly for all those, wherever they find themselves ecclesially, who might be tempted to identify with the ironic trans-Tiberean reappropriation,  'Self-Absorbed Promethean Neopelagians': 
“Like me, you were late in coming. The shepherds were here long before, even the cattle. They had joined the chorus of angels before you were on your way.
How laboriously you came, taking sights and calculating, where the shepherds had run barefoot! How odd you looked on the road, attended by what outlandish liveries, laden with such preposterous gifts!
You finally came to the last stage of your pilgrimage and the great star stood still above you. What did you do? You stopped to call on King Herod. Deadly exchange of compliments in which began that unended war of mobs and magistrates against the innocent!
Yet you came and were not turned away. You too found room before the manger. Your gifts were not needed, but they were accepted and put carefully by, for they were brought with love. In that new order of charity that had just come to life, there was room for you, too. You were not lower in the eyes of the holy family than the ox or the ass.
You are my especial patrons, and patrons of all late-comers, of all who have a tedious journey to make to the truth, of all who are confused with knowledge and speculation, of all who through politeness make themselves partners in guilt, of all who stand in danger by reason of their talents.
Dear cousins, pray for me, and for my poor overloaded son. May he, too, before the end find kneeling space in the straw. Pray for the great, lest they perish utterly.
For His sake who did not reject your curious gifts, pray always for the learned, the oblique, the delicate. Let them not be quite forgotten at the Throne of God when the simple come into their kingdom.”

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