Friday, March 28, 2014

Christ Is Greater Than Ourselves
The Parable of the Precious Pearl or the Pearl of Great Price by Domenico Fetti (1589-1623)

We are never as great as we often think ourselves to be: this is the message of humility, the message of the Publican who we remember so often throughout Lent.  We are to strive for what is greater than ourselves, Christ, that He may lead us to be greater than ourselves.  By seeing how little we are in ourselves, we see how much we have to gain in the Lord.  For this we pray, "O Lord and King, grant me the grace to see my own sins."  Whenever we call out to the Lord for help, we are recognizing that we need help, that we are not enough in ourselves, and that He can help us.  We must remember always that He is the greater one; He is the summit of what we search for, the pearl of great price, and knowledge of Him is the greatest knowledge, and fear of Him is the beginning of wisdom.  Thus the following poem, "Christ and Our Selves" by Francis Quarles, can hopefully assist us in calling to mind all of these things:

"I wish a greater knowledge, than t'attaine
The knowledge of my selfe: A greater Gaine 
Then to augment my selfe; A greater Treasure 
Then to enjoy my selfe: A greater Pleasure 
Then to content my selfe; How slight, and vaine 
Is all self-Knowledge, Pleasure, Treasure, Gaine; 
Unlesse my better knowledge could retrieve 
My Christ; unles my better Gaine could thrive 
In Christ; unles my better Wealth grow rich 
In Christ; unles my better Pleasure pitch 
On Christ; Or else my Knowledge will proclaime 
To my owne heart how ignorant I am: 
Or else my Gaine, so ill improv'd, will shame 
My Trade, and shew how much declin'd I am; 
Or else my Treasure will but blurre my name 
With Bankrupt, and divulge how poore I am; 
Or else my Pleasures, that so much inflame 
My Thoughts, will blabb how full of sores I am: 
Lord, keepe me from my Selfe; 'Tis best for me, 
Never to owne my Selfe, if not in Thee."
Francis Quarles (1592-1644)

Nota Bene: The original text is taken from The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse, compiled by D.H.S. Nicholson and A.H.E. Lee (published by the Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1969 reprint of the 1917 original), p. 21.

No comments:

Post a Comment