Saturday, November 30, 2019


California "Super bloom"

I remember the first time I saw the desert in bloom. I was about 4 years old and we were on the way through the Mojave desert to see my grandmother in Colorado. For those who have not seen a cactus flower, it is hard to imagine the translucent beauty of the petals. And rarely do you find a patch here or there, but rather huge carpets- masses- of flowers carpeting the sand. This stunning beauty is not just because of its visual splendor, but also because it is so unexpected. For most of the year there is no color in the desert. Yet when conditions are right, when the rains come, color explodes into vibrant hues that can look psychedelic.

At times our living in this world is like that desert where we know pain, loneliness dryness, suffering. Knowing this, Holy Mother Church pierces our souls, heals our woundedness, with joyful reminders of why we are here and what are goal should be.  Advent is one of these times.

The season of Advent is known as one of “Joyful expectation.” In the Church we know the third Sunday of Advent is as Gaudete (Joyful) Sunday  in anticipation of the birth of Our Savor which is close at hand. Yet how many in our modern society really know this joy?  I am not speaking of that happiness bought by material goods, but a deep joy which only can be given to us as gift by the Lord Himself.

The lessons we sing at Christmas Matins are all from Isaiah (35). So each week I will present a verse from this great prophet in speaking to us, through the Church today, about the joy of the Lord, ever present to us, especially in His coming.

“The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing.”

While we see disorder in our world, our hope is that one day the Messiah will bring restoration to His creation. The desert wilderness will blossom. We will find joy where we had forgotten hope. There will be rejoicing, abundance, and exquisite beauty. No more will life wither in the chaos of drought and want, but the Living Water, which is our Savior Himself, will pour forth His bounty watering our weak and weary souls with new graces, bringing us to Himself in glory.

Now is the time, now is the hour, to slow down, look for the hidden flowers in our life and prepare for His coming!

Thursday, November 28, 2019


Yousuf Karsh

Great news for those of us who grew up in the early days of TV. ARCHBISHOP FULTON J. SHEEN  will be beatified Dec. 21 at 10 a.m. local time at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Peoria. This is the same cathedral where Archbishop Sheen was ordained a priest 100 years ago on Sept. 20, 1919.

The cathedral also is the current resting place for the archbishop, who is entombed in a marble vault next to the altar where he was ordained.

In July, Pope Francis approved a miracle attributed to the intercession of the new blessed, leading the way to his beatification.

The miracle concerns the healing of James Fulton Engstrom of Washington, Illinois, who was considered stillborn when he was delivered during a planned home birth Sept. 16, 2010. His parents immediately invoked the prayers of  Bishop Sheen and encouraged others to seek his intercession after the baby was taken to the ER.

Just as doctors were preparing to declare that he was dead, James Fulton’s tiny heart started to beat at a normal rate for a healthy newborn. He had been without a pulse for 61 minutes.

Despite dire prognoses for his future, including that he would probably be blind and never walk, talk or be able to feed himself, the child has thrived. Now a healthy 8-year-old, he likes chicken nuggets, “Star Wars” and riding his bicycle.

The decree of the miracle came about a week after Archbishop Sheen’s remains were transferred from St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York to Peoria’s cathedral.

In 2002, Peoria Bishop Daniel Jenky launched a campaign for Archbishop Sheen’s sainthood. However, the effort languished for years over legal objections by the New York Archdiocese. The Peoria Diocese said the progression to beatification and sainthood would get the Vatican’s blessing only after his remains were authenticated in the diocese of the origin of the process. Though New York repeatedly tried to block the moving of the remains to Peoria, the Diocese finally got court approval in June.

In 1952, he premiered “Life Is Worth Living,” a weekly half-hour series on the DuMont Television Network. At one point, it was rated the most popular TV program in AmericaHe will be the first American bishop to be beatified. 

Saturday, November 23, 2019


An ex-public schoolboy who fought in WW2 and cared for lepers in Zimbabwe before he was executed by Mugabe is set to become the first British martyr since the martyrs of the 16th century. (In 1970 Pope Paul VI canonized Cuthbert Mayne and 39 British companions -The 40 Martyrs of England and Wales -, who were executed for treason between 1535 and 1679, and the Scottish Catholic martyr John Ogilvie, canonized in 1976.)

JOHN BRADBURNE didn't just look like Jesus, with his long hair, beard and simple, austere clothes. He also gave his life for others.  

In September 1979, the English-born missionary, poet and warden of Mutemwa leper colony in Zimbabwe, then Rhodesia, was caught up in the country's civil war, the Rhodesian Bush War.

His friends told him to flee the imminent arrival of the bloodthirsty ZANU-PF guerillas who thought he was an informer. But he insisted on remaining with the lepers.

 When the guerillas came, they bound John's hands, took him on a forced march and humiliated him. They made him dance and sing, got him to eat excrement and dangled young women in front of him, before interrogating him and subjecting him to a rigged trial.

They offered him the chance to escape so long as he left the country and abandoned his beloved flock. He refused and, when he knelt down to pray, they shot the 58-year-old in the back, leaving him half-naked by the side of the road.

He was buried in a Franciscan habit, as he had requested, in a cemetery 11 miles outside the capital city, Salisbury, now Harare.

Born in Westmorland in 1921, he was the son of an Anglican rector and amazingly enough a relation of Lord Soames, last Governor of Southern Rhodesia, who oversaw the independence of Zimbabwe in 1980, soon after John's death.

After private schooling at Gresham's in Norfolk, he fought in World War II with the 9th Gurkha Rifles, heroically escaping Singapore when it was invaded by the Japanese in 1942.

After the war, in 1947, he converted to Catholicism after staying with the Benedictines of Buckfast Abbey.  His desire was to become a Benedictine monk,  but the Order would not accept him because he had not been in the Church for two years. (a common practice for new Catholics). He opted to travel instead, wandering the world for 16 years, trying his hand at teaching and forestry, and toiling as a stoker on a steam ship. His only worldly belonging was a single Gladstone bag.

On trips home, John stayed with Carthusian monks in England, and with other religious orders in Israel and Belgium. At one stage, he walked hundreds of miles to Rome and lived for a year in the organ loft of a church in an Italian mountain village.

Throughout this period, he wrote over 6,000 poems, covering a wide range of spiritual, natural, elegiac and narrative subject matter. As he wrote his domestic letters largely in verse, new poems from the recipients are still occasionally found.

In Rodesia in 1969, he found his calling in the rundown leper colony of Mutemwa. John had asked a Jesuit friend,  John Dove,  if he knew of any African caves where he might pray. Father Dove took him to the Mutemwa leper colony at Mutoko, 90 miles east of Salisbury.

Where others had rejected the 80 cruelly maimed lepers, John embraced them and made his home among them, eventually becoming the warden of the colony. Before he arrived, the lepers were treated as outcasts, forced to wear bags on their heads to hide their disfigurement whenever an able-bodied visitor arrived.

In contrast, John prayed with them, drank with them and slept alongside them. He bathed their wounds, cut their nails, shooed away the rats that hounded the colony and, when they died, buried them with dignity.

He built them a small church, and wrote each leper a poem. With his fine voice and classical education, he even taught them to sing Gregorian plainchant in Latin.

Before he died, John said that he had only three wishes: to help lepers, to die a martyr and to be buried in a habit of the Franciscan Order. He achieved all three.

A service is held in John’s memory at Mutemwa every year, drawing as many as 25,000 people each time. In 2009 a Mass commemorating the 30th anniversary of his death was held at Westminster Cathedral in London, England. This year in 2019, marks the 40th Anniversary of John's assassination. This was marked both in Zimbabwe at Mutemwa with the pilgrimage and then an exhibition and talks at Westminster Cathedral on 21 September 2019, where John's relics were showcased for the first time.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019


David Rooney -  Portraits & Lives

Many Irishmen confronted the dilemma of whether to take part in the struggle for independence from England, or join in the larger conflict taking place in Europe. And while much of the Irish populace looked askance at the 1916 Easter Rising, the British hardline response – especially the executions of the Rising’s leaders – changed attitudes, not just about the rebellion but also about Ireland’s participation in the Great War.

Those who went off to war being hailed as heroes, while those who fought on Irish soil were seen with hostility.

JOSEPH MARY PLUNKETT is mostly known for his involvement in the 1916 Easter Rising and his constant crusade for Irish independence. Nevertheless, he was also an accomplished poet and journalist. He came from a wealthy and privileged family, but he eventually caught a passion for Irish nationalism that was to determine the course of his short life.

His father, George Noble Plunkett, had been made a papal count.
Joseph contracted tuberculosis at a young age and spent part of his youth in the warmer climates of the Mediterranean and North Africa.

Plunkett's interest in Irish nationalism spread throughout his family, notably to his younger brothers George and John, as well as his father, who allowed his property in Kimmage, south Dublin, to be used as a training camp for young men who wished to escape conscription in Britain during the First World War.

After joining the ranks of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, Joseph Mary became embroiled in negotiations for Irish freedom, which ultimately led to the planning of the an armed insurrection, known as the Easter Rising.  He was instrumental in planning this uprising, and it was largely his plan that was followed.  Other of the rising's leaders were Patrick Pearse ( another poet and writer) and Tom Clarke and his energetic aide de camp was Michael Collins

After the rebellion was crushed, Plunkett was imprisoned in Kilmainham Gaol, and faced a court martial. Seven hours before his execution by firing squad at the age of 28, he was married in the prison chapel to his sweetheart Grace Gifford, a Protestant convert to Catholicism, whose sister, Muriel, had years before also converted and married his best friend Thomas MacDonagh, who was also executed for his role in the Easter Rising. Grace never married again.

While remembered as a revolutionary, Joseph Mary  Plunkett left a legacy of incredibly stirring poetry. A famous priest once said that other than those committed to the life of religion, the two types of persons most likely to save their souls were poets and soldiers. Joseph Mary Plunkett was both.

As a school child this is one of the poems we had to memorize- most probably not understanding the true meaning

I see His blood upon the rose
I see His blood upon the rose
And in the stars the glory of His eyes,
His body gleams amid eternal snows,

His tears fall from the skies.
I see His face in every flower;
The thunder and the singing of the birds
Are but His voice—and carven by His power

Rocks are His written words.
All pathways by His feet are worn,
His strong heart stirs the ever-beating sea,
His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn,

His cross is every tree.


I saw the Sun at midnight, rising red,
Deep-hued yet glowing, heavy with the stain
Of blood-compassion, and I saw It gain
Swiftly in size and growing till It spread
Over the stars; the heavens bowed their head
As from Its heart slow dripped a crimson rain,
Then a great tremor shook It, as of pain—
The night fell, moaning, as It hung there dead.

O Sun, O Christ, O bleeding Heart of flame!
Thou givest Thine agony as our life’s worth,
And makest it infinite, lest we have dearth
Of rights wherewith to call upon Thy Name;
Thou pawnest Heaven as a pledge for Earth

And for our glory sufferest all shame. 

Saturday, November 16, 2019


David Rooney

PADRAIG HENRY PEARSE (also known as Pádraic or Patrick) was an Irish teacher, barrister, poet, writer, nationalistrepublican political activist and revolutionary who was one of the leaders of the Easter Rising in 1916. Following his execution along with fifteen others, he  came to be seen by many as the embodiment of the rebellion.

 Padraig’s father, James Pearse, established a stonemasonry business in the 1850s, which flourished and provided the Pearses with a comfortable middle-class life. Padraig's maternal grandfather Patrick was a supporter of the 1848 Young Ireland movement, and later a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB). His maternal grand-uncle, James Savage, fought in the American Civil War. The Irish-speaking influence of Padraig's grand-aunt Margaret, together with his schooling at the CBS Westland Row, instilled in him an early love for the Irish language and culture. All of which was to have an influence on his future.

Padraig with Willie, Mary & Briget
He recalls that at the age of ten, praying to God, promising him he would dedicate his life to Irish freedom.  His early heroes were ancient Gaelic folk heroes such as Cúchulainn, though in his 30s he began to take a strong interest in the leaders of past republican movements.

Padraig became a director of the Gaelic League(founded 1893 for the preservation of the Irish language) and edited (1903–09) its weekly newspaper, An Claidheamh Soluis (“The Sword of Light”). To further promote the Irish language as a weapon against British domination, he published tales from old Irish manuscripts and a collection (1914) of his own poems in the modern Irish idiom. He founded St. Enda’s College (1908), near Dublin, as a bilingual institution with its teaching based on Irish traditions and culture.

On the formation of the Irish Volunteers (November 1913) as a counterforce against the Ulster Volunteers (militant supporters of the Anglo-Irish union), Padraig became a member of their provisional committee, and he contributed poems and articles to their newspaper, The Irish Volunteer.

In July 1914 he was made a member of the supreme council of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB). After the Irish Volunteers split (September 1914), he became a leader of the more extreme nationalist section, which opposed any support for Great Britain in World War I. He came to believe that the blood of martyrs would be required to liberate Ireland, and on that theme he delivered a famous oration in August 1915 at the burial of Jeremiah O’Donovan, known as O’Donovan Rossa, a veteran of Sinn Féin.

He was the first president of the provisional government of the Irish republic proclaimed in Dublin on April 24, 1916, and was commander in chief of the Irish forces in the anti-British Easter Rising that began on the same day.

When Eoin MacNeill, the Chief of Staff of the Volunteers, learned what was being planned without the promised arms from Germany, he countermanded the orders via newspaper, causing the IRB to issue a last-minute order to go through with the plan the following day, greatly limiting the numbers who turned out for the rising.

When the Easter Rising eventually began on Easter Monday, 24 April 1916, it was Pearse who read the Proclamation of the Irish Republic from outside the General Post Office, the headquarters of the Rising.  After six days of fighting, heavy civilian casualties and great destruction of property, Pearse issued the order to surrender.

Padraig and fourteen other leaders, including his brother Willie, were court-martialed and executed by firing squad. He was 36 years old at the time of his death.

Sir John Maxwell, the General Officer commanding the British forces in Ireland, sent a telegram to H.H. Asquith, then Prime Minister, advising him not to return the bodies of the Pearse brothers to their family, saying, "Irish sentimentality will turn these graves into martyrs' shrines to which annual processions will be made, which would cause constant irritation in this country. Maxwell also suppressed a letter from Pearse to his mother, and two poems dated 1 May 1916. He submitted copies of them also to Prime Minister Asquith, saying that some of the content was "objectionable"

Lisa Ryan artist- Ireland

Bean Sléibhe Ag Caoineadh A Mhac

(A Woman Of The Mountain Keens Her Son)
Grief on the death, it has blackened my heart:
lt has snatched my love and left me desolate,
Without friend or companion under the roof of my house
But this sorrow in the midst of me, and I keening.

As I walked the mountain in the evening
The birds spoke to me sorrowfully,
The sweet snipe spoke and the voiceful curlew
Relating to me that my darling was dead.

I called to you and your voice I heard not,
I called again and I got no answer,
I kissed your mouth, and O God how cold it was! 
Ah, cold is your bed in the, lonely churchyard.

O green-sodded grave in which my child is,
Little narrow grave, since you are his bed,
My blessing on you, and thousands of blessings
On the green sods that are over my treasure.

Grief on the death, it cannot be denied,
It lays low, green and withered together,-
And O gentle little son, what tortures me is
That your fair body should be making clay!

Tuesday, November 12, 2019


Polish Primate CARDINAL STEFAN WYSZNSKI will be beatified on June 7, 2020 in a ceremony held at the Pilsudskiego Square in Warsaw.

Cardinal Wyszynski had been the primate of Poland and one of Pope St. John Paul II’s most ardent supporters, starting when then-Karol Wojtyla was a young bishop.  Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński was often called the Primate of the Millennium.

Born in 1901, his family counted itself among the nobility of Poland, with the coat of arms of Trzywdar,  and the title of baron, although it was not materially well off. His mother died when he was nine and he was sent away to school in Lublin.

He celebrated his first Solemn High Mass of Thanksgiving, at Jasna Góra in Częstochowa, a place of special spiritual significance for many Catholic Poles. The Pauline monastery there holds the picture of the Black Madonna, or Our Lady of Częstochowa, the patron saint and guardian of Poland. Father Wyszyński spent the next four years in Lublin, where in 1929 he received a doctorate at the Faculty of Canon Law and the Social Sciences of the Catholic University of Lublin. His dissertation in Canon Law was entitled The Rights of the Family, Church and State to Schools. For several years after graduation he traveled throughout Europe, where he furthered his education.

He became a priest in 1924 and was made the bishop of Lublin in 1946 at a time when hundreds of thousands of Soviet soldiers were stationed there and communist powers took hold. In 1948, he was made archbishop of Gniezno and Warsaw, and he was named a cardinal in 1953. But he could not be installed until four years later, in 1957, after his release from a communist prison.

His 1953 arrest was one of the most dramatic events of the communist period. It followed the parallel detention of church leaders in Croatia, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. The cardinal, who was primate of Poland from 1948 until his death in 1981, spent three years under house arrest in the 1950s because of his opposition to Poland's communist government.  Even as a child I can remember this and prayers asked for all of Poland.

In 1958, he informed a 38-year-old  Karol Wojtyla that the pope had appointed him as the auxiliary bishop of Krakow.

When then-Cardinal Wojtyla was named to first world Synod of Bishops in 1968, he stayed home to protest the government's denial of a passport to Cardinal Wyszynski. When cardinals were meeting in the Sistine Chapel in October 1978, the Polish pope recalled that Cardinal Wyszynski had approached him and implored, "If they elect you, I beg you not to refuse.''

To many he was the unquestionable leader of the Polish nation (the uncrowned king of Poland), in opposition to the totalitarian government. He is also credited for the survival of Polish Christianity in the face of its repression and persecution during the reign of the 1945–1989 Communist regime. He  is considered by many to be a Polish national hero. Now he will be another saint for them.

The cardinal, who had heard of the assassination attempt on the pope, offered his own life for that of the pontiff's.

Cardinal Wyszynski died at the age of 79 in 1981.

To commemorate the twentieth anniversary of his death, the year 2001 was announced by the Sejm (Polish parliment) as the Year of Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński. The Sejm also honored the Cardinal as a "great Pole, chaplain and statesman".

Thursday, November 7, 2019


We recently had a visit from a lovely man and his parents who were visiting from Shanghai.  He does research at the University of Washington and it turns out he has an uncle who was the cousin to IGNATIUS KUNG PIN-MEI  the Catholic Bishop of ShanghaiChina, from 1950 until his death in 2000. He spent 30 years in Chinese prisons for defying attempts by China's Communist government to control Catholics in the country through the government-approved Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association. At the time of his death he was the oldest member of  the College of Cardinals.

On September 8, 1955,  Bishop Kung, along with several hundred priests and church leaders, was arrested and imprisoned. He was sentenced five years later to life imprisonment for counter-revolutionary activities. He was secretly named a Cardinal in pectore in the consistory of 1979 by by Pope  St. John Paul II. The formula in pectore is used when a pope names a cardinal without announcing it publicly in order to protect the safety of the cardinal and his congregation. 

After he was released in 1986, he was kept under house arrest until 1988. Bishop Kung learned he was a cardinal during a private meeting with the Pope in Vatican City in 1988, and his membership in the College of Cardinals was made public in 1991. By then, he had reached the age of 80, so he did not have the right to participate in a conclave.

Cardinal Kung's story is that of a faithful shepherd and a heroic witness to the faith. He refused to renounce God and the Church despite the consequences of imprisonment by communist authorities. In the months leading up to his arrest in 1955, Cardinal Kung refused offers of safe passage out of China to stay by his flock. His example of fidelity has been one of the lynchpins in the underground Catholic community in China. He has become a symbol of the fight for religious freedom.

He had only served 5 years as Bishop of Shanghai before his arrest. In that time, he had already become notorious to the authorities for the respect and devotion he received from Catholics. 

Knowing his arrest was imminent, Bishop Kung trained hundreds of catechists to pass on the faith to future generations. Months after his arrest, he was taken to the dog racing stadium of Shanghai to publicly confess his "crimes." Thousands were present in the stadium as he was pushed to a microphone, hands bound behind his back, and wearing only Chinese pijamas. Instead of a confession, though, the authorities heard, "Long live Christ the King! Long live the Pope!"

The assembled crowd responded, "Long live Christ the King! Long live Bishop Kung!" The authorities quickly removed the Bishop from the scene.

In 1960, he was sentenced to life imprisonment. The night before his trial, the Chief Prosecutor offered him his freedom in exchange for his cooperation in setting up the Chinese Catholics' Patriotic Association. He responded resolutely, "I am a Roman Catholic Bishop. If I denounce the Holy Father, not only would I not be a Bishop, I would not even be a Catholic. You can cut off my head, but you can never take away my duties."

Bishop Kung spent thirty years behind bars, much of it in solitary confinement. He was not permitted to receive visitors, letters, or money to buy essentials. In 1985, he was released from prison to serve another ten years under house arrest. After two and a half years of house arrest, he was officially released, though he was never fully exonerated. In 1988, his nephew, Joseph Kung (president of the Cardinal Kung Foundation), obtained permission to escort him to the U.S. for medical care.

Shortly before his release from prison, the Bishop was permitted to participate in a banquet in honor of Cardinal Jaime Sin of Manila. The authorities carefully separated the two so that Bishop Kung would not have direct contact with the Cardinal. However, during the dinner, Cardinal Sin invited each attendee to sing a song of celebration. Bishop Kung chose "Tu es Petrus et super hanc petram aedificabo Ecclesiam meam" [You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church] as a sign that he remained faithful to Rome.

When Pope John Paul II presented Cardinal Kung with his red hat in the Consistory on June 29, 1991 in the Vatican, the 90 year old Bishop Kung raised himself up from the wheelchair, put aside his cane and walked up the steps to kneel at the foot of the Pontiff. Visibly touched, the Holy Father lifted him up, gave him his cardinal's hat, then stood patiently as Cardinal Kung returned to his wheelchair to the sounds of a seven-minute standing ovation from 9000 guests in the Audience Hall in the Vatican.

Cardinal Kung has spent the last twelve years giving interviews and homilies to call attention to the conditions in the Catholic Church in China. As a result, in March 1998, the Chinese government officially cancelled his passport, making him an exile from his homeland.

He died in 2000, aged 98, from stomach cancer in Stamford, Connecticut.

In his "Mission" magazine in 1957, Bishop Fulton Sheen wrote: "The West has its Mindszenty, but the East has its Kung. God is glorified in his saints."

Monday, November 4, 2019


Before we get into Advent I want to present a few more of the great War poets. One of the best of the poets produced by World War I is SIEGFRIED SASSOON, who was born in 1886 to a  wealthy English family.

His father was a Jewish businessman and his mother, an Anglo-Catholic.  Much of his youth was spent in diversions like endless games of cricket. He received an excellent education, and began to write poetry at a young age.

When World War I began, he volunteered for the British Army. He was decorated for his bravery in battle, and he earned the nickname “Mad Jack” for his seemingly insane acts of valor. The war, however, left him depressed, and this tone is reflected in his poetry, which took on a bitter edge.

His poetry described the horrors of the trenches and satirized the patriotic pretensions of those who, in Siegfried's view, were responsible for a jingoism-fueled war. Sassoon became a focal point for dissent within the armed forces when he made a lone protest against the continuation of the war in his "Soldier's Declaration" of 1917, culminating in his admission to a military psychiatric hospital. This resulted in his forming a friendship with Wilfred Owen, who was greatly influenced by him. Siegfried later won acclaim for his prose work, notably his three-volume fictionalized autobiography, collectively known as the "Sherston Trilogy".

 On 1 November his younger brother Hamo was killed in the Gallipoli Campaign, and in the same month Siegfried was sent to the 1st Battalion in France. There he met Robert Graves, and they became close friends. United by their poetic vocation, they often read and discussed each other's work. Though this did not have much perceptible influence on Graves's poetry, his views on what may be called 'gritty realism' profoundly affected Siegfried's concept of what constituted poetry. Details such as rotting corpses, mangled limbs, filth, cowardice and suicide are all trademarks of his work at this time.
With W.B. Yeats
With Hester
His periods of duty on the Western Front were marked by exceptionally brave actions, including the single-handed capture of a German trench in the Hindenburg Line. Armed with grenades, he scattered sixty German soldiers.

 In 1933, he married Hester Gatty, and the couple had one child. The marriage broke down after the Second World War, and Sassoon became increasingly fond of solitude. Towards the end of his life, he converted to Roman Catholicism  due much to the influence of Msgr. Ronald Knox, a fellow literary figure and convert he admired. He paid regular visits to the nuns of the Benedictine Stanbrook Abbey.

Peter Levi wrote in Poetry Review: “One can experience in his poetry the slow, restless ripening of a very great talent; its magnitude has not yet been recognized. … He is one of the few poets of his generation we are really unable to do without.”   Much of his poetry is shrouded in beauty and mystery.

Siegfried died in 1967 from stomach cancer. His papers are held at University of Cambridge

EVERYONE suddenly burst out singing;
And I was filled with such delight
As prisoned birds must find in freedom,
Winging wildly across the white
Orchards and dark-green fields;
on—on—and out of sight.
Everyone’s voice was suddenly lifted;
And beauty came like the setting sun:
My heart was shaken with tears; and horror Drifted away … O, but Everyone

Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the singing will never be done.

The anguish of the earth absolves our eyes 
Till beauty shines in all that we can see. 
War is our scourge; yet war has made us wise, 
And, fighting for our freedom, we are free. 

Horror of wounds and anger at the foe,
And loss of things desired; all these must pass. 
We are the happy legion, for we know 
Time’s but a golden wind that shakes the grass. 

There was an hour when we were loath to part 
From life we longed to share no less than others.
Now, having claimed this heritage of heart, 

What need we more, my comrades and my brothers?