Of the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar
Today, in celebration of Corpus Christi, this martyr's poem, below, in honour of the Blessed Sacrament expresses well our catholic and orthodox Faith. And it is fitting too that just as Christ continues to give His Body and Blood to us, so we recall the saints like St Robert Southwell who gave their lives for Christ's sake; we confess with them our common belief in this great Sacrament of unity.
The stained glass window, above right, of the 'Pelican in her piety' is a medieval symbolic expression of Christ feeding us with His life's Body and Blood; it is a symbol of the sacrificial love of which we partake in the Eucharist. This particular depiction is from the Round Church in Cambridge.
"The angels’ eyes, whom veils cannot deceive,
Might best disclose that best they do discern;
Men must with sound and silent faith receive
More than they can by sense or reason learn;
God’s power our proofs, His works our wit exceed,
The doer’s might is reason of His deed.
A body is endued with ghostly rights;
And Nature’s work from Nature’s law is free;
In heavenly sun lie hid eternal lights,
Lights clear and near, yet them no eye can see;
Dead forms a never-dying life do shroud;
A boundless sea lies in a little cloud.
The God of Hosts in slender host doth dwell,
Yea, God and man with all to either due,
That God that rules the heavens and rifled hell,
That man whose death did us to life renew:
That God and man that is the angels’ bliss,
In form of bread and wine our nurture is.
Whole may His body be in smallest bread,
Whole in the whole, yea whole in every crumb;
With which be one or be ten thousand fed,
All to each one, to all but one doth come;
And though each one as much as all receive,
Not one too much, nor all too little have.
One soul in man is all in every part;
One face at once in many mirrors shines;
One fearful noise doth make a thousand start;
One eye at once of countless things defines;
If proofs of one in many Nature frame,
God may in stranger sort perform the same.
God present is at once in every place,
Yet God in every place is ever one;
So may there be by gifts of ghostly grace,
One man in many rooms, yet filling none;
Since angels may effects of bodies shew,
God angels’ gifts on bodies may bestow.
What God as author made he alter may,
No change so hard as making all of naught;
If Adam framed was of slimy clay,
Bread may to Christ's most sacred flesh be wrought.
He may do this that made with mighty hand
Of water wine, a snake of Moses' wand."
- from 'Of the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar'
"Zion, to Thy Saviour sing, to Thy Shepherd and Thy King! Let the air with praises ring!... Let us form a joyful chorus, may our lauds ascend sonorous, bursting from each loving breast."