To an interlocutor (a poem)

The addressee of the following verses has seen them in advance and does not object its public release; thus, I now present this heroic crown of sonnets.


To an interlocutor
(or, Apologia pro thelogia)

Commit to thine inclined and opened ear
my hortatory declamation now—
I pray my charity should seem sincere
and only kindness might these thoughts endow.
The Paraclete’s assistance I’ve implored
that scarcely should I take a tone of jest;
I only aim to shatter our discord—
perhaps a greater harmony suggest;
and if the Advocate hath heard my cry
while guiding messy, scratchy strokes of ink,
to thee, O dearest friend, these thoughts now fly,
that thou may’st understand the ways I think.
Construe this not as summons to a fight;
hear graciously my passioned, urgent plight!

Hear graciously my passioned, urgent plight;
my supplications, pray, do not reject.
I have but few disputes to set aright
and but some finer points which to correct.
My home is rigor, trying and exact,
where definitions yield a common ground
upon which base propose we or retract
our own thoughts, wrong or solid be they found.
A sine qua non is a language shared—
without it, dialogue shan’t e’er progress;
each interlocutor must be prepared
to bend unto its form, lest he regress.
With that in mind, pray, this petition hear:
assault thou not the study I revere!

Assault thou not the study I revere
for she enjoys a logos all her own;
her humble servants strive to e’er cohere
within her reign, beneath her gentle throne.
Her law is not the foe of freedom; nay,
there is no freedom worthy of the term
that does not its submission proudly say
nor its humility gladly affirm.
Precision do her subjects often seek
for serious is their service of the Truth,
while others stand dismayed by her mystique;
her high abstractions summon fear, forsooth!
Let not her methods cause thee any fright;
seek out the Queen of Sciences’ delight!

Seek out the Queen of Sciences’ delight;
her soothing yoke a lightest weight bestows.
Ne’er brutal nor ferocious is her might;
in her one finds ineffable repose.
Her handmaiden, Sophia, serves her well,
supplying the foundations for her life;
of her the brightest Saints do gladly tell
and cling to her as Christ clings to his wife.
True love surrenders not when toils arise—
a conquered mount makes triumph sweeter seem—
although a burden, pray, do not despise
theology’s sublime and joyous scheme.
Intend thou not this tract to mean I mind
exertions of a literary kind.

Exertions of a literary kind
admittedly non sunt mala in se.
Of all their merits, thee I shan’t remind;
indeed, thy work advances on that way,
but these approaches cannot cover all.
The ancient mode of teaching, while long dead,
still manifests a truth that cannot fall:
beyond the arts, our Queen still lies ahead.
She and her handmaid stand at summit’s peak;
quadrivium and trivium defer
not in the manner of the weak, yet meek,
as Majesty her kind gaze doth confer.
The lower arts, proceeding as they should,
produce useful results and yield some good.

Produce useful results and yield some good
as thou shalt tred upon thy chosen trail.
Remember, Letters function as they should
when left to our dear Majesty’s avail.
Faith’s subject matter cannot stand divorced
completely from a theo-logic speech;
the winding ways that faithful men have coursed
now render clear that goal our souls must reach.
Therefore, if any man should dare pronounce
de fide vel ex moribus some thought,
subjection to the Queen must he announce
and with the theologians cast his lot.
To Letters be not narrowly consigned;
alas, be not constrained, lest thou be blind.

Alas, be not constrained, lest thou be blind;
if thou shouldst seek the things which are above,
look, then, upon the wond’rous words enshrined
in systematic form, in wisdom’s love.
Assimilari Deo— Thomas wrote—
intendunt omnia! While this is true,
not all have sailed upon Saint Peter’s boat;
not all have flown as old Elijah flew.
An eros for the higher things doth end
not in the pleasures of amusing arts;
by rigor does the mind at last ascend
to that which vivifies our mortal hearts.
Midway upon thy walk through life’s dark wood,
depart not from the path to Holy Rood!

Depart not from the path to Holy Rood
although one should collapse three times or more,
for from the heights, ascents are understood
like life examined from beyond death’s door.
A via crucis is theology;
let not its winding ramp deter thy soul,
but be audacious as a refugee
and step by step advance despite the toll.
Proceed, I beg, upon that taxing trail
which Bonaventure’s schedule nicely planned;
and, Deo adiuvante, shan’t thou fail
but feel the steady guidance of His hand—
and when our Queen doth bless us with her grace,
upend thy bias! Cede the rightful place!

Upend thy bias! Cede the rightful place,
for over ev’ry faculty she reigns
not harshly, but with mildest an embrace—
a graciousness unshack’ling all their chains.
Lo! As she passes, Medics dip their caps;
the Bachelors and Licensed follow, too;
and finally, we witness also lapse
four-horned birettas piped with green and blue.
With deferential pleasure doth each bend
and happily the varied hoods are shed,
for all the academic hats descend
and yield supremacy to black and red!
Malign thou not that coveted reward
secured by those who witness to the Lord!

Secured by those who witness to the Lord,
our time enjoys a solace once unknown
to eras in which bitterest discord
provoked unnumbered slings and arrows flown.
The holy masters, through distinguished thought,
distilled, from easy falsehoods, truths divine
which take we now for granted but ought not;
their lasting definitions ever shine
as milestones on our doctrine’s history,
as monuments to warfare waged and won
to safeguard faith’s enduring mystery
revealed in time through the eternal Son.
A path to God their speculations trace;
none better than these know the Holy Face.

None better than these know the Holy Face:
Chrysostom, Gregory, Bernard, and Tom,
the Doc Seraphic and the Doc of Grace,
the Holy Founders Iggy, Frank, and Dom—
all knew so well our academic toil,
yet never on that path did they relent;
wherefore they too received the unctious oil
of mystical, ineffable ascent.
So if thy tortured times should count ten score,
if think’st theology shan’t be engaged,
why dost thou still engage it all the more
if never feelst thy suffering assuaged?
In Doctors’ pages, see our Christ adored;
in them shalt thou divine godly accord.

In them shalt thou divine godly accord;
by their example, walk the narrow way,
and see within their pen-stroked papers stored
the splendor of the faith on high display.
Convert thyself from clickbait tendency—
for Heidegger and Nietzsche are no saints,
and hypocrites gain no ascendency
to virtue’s heights by means of pious feints.
Before thou should object, I must remind
thee of my preferences and profess:
the Abdicator gifted me a mind
more ressourcement than Thomist, I confess;
and still I say this, for I know it true:
ad Dominum per Thomam vade tu!

Ad Dominum per Thomam vade tu
his doctrine shines with bright Angelic fire
to guide us on the path that passes through
the mausoleum of hope and desire.
I pray his many tomes shan’t thou malign,
nor tract nor summa hastily decry,
for all these works, by splendid a design,
both faith and reason well exemplify,
for he embarked on reason’s path with love;
thus, fullness of the faith did he attain,
and sure we are his soul soars as a dove
unto the heights of heaven’s vast domain.
Like Thomas, who by hard reflections grew,
know thus the good and beautiful and true.

Know thus the good and beautiful and true
with all the confidence of the elect
who died in faith, who unto heaven flew,
who wait until all flesh shall resurrect.
Give glory, then, to Him who spoke the Word
and thus hath caused that ev’rything should be;
exult the Son, reduced to the absurd,
who vanquished death upon the holy Tree;
cry blessings to that living Breath of Love
inspiring men unto eternal light;
and join angelic voices high above—
sing, “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord of Might!”
Might thou this little exhortation here
commit to thine inclined and opened ear!


 

Commit to thine inclined and opened ear;
Hear graciously my passioned, urgent plight.
Assault thou not the study I revere;
Seek out the Queen of Sciences’ delight.
Exertions of a literary kind
Produce useful results and yield some good;
Alas, be not constrained, lest thou be blind;
Depart not from the path to Holy Rood.
Upend thy bias! Cede the rightful place
Secured by those who witness to the Lord;
None better than these know the Holy Face;
In them shalt thou divine godly accord.
Ad Dominum per Thomam vade tu;
Know thus the good and beautiful and true!

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