Find Franciscan Spirit in Gerard Manley Hopkins

by Sister Kathleen on July 24, 2011

 Explore aspects of St. Francis’ spirit contained in the nature poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins through Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Kathleen Murphy’s reflection on a recent class.  Next ‘inscape‘ (enjoy a glimpse of why God created something) Hopkins-esque images of photographers Fred Gaber, Mark Kolter, Priscilla Thomas, Sister Elena Gonzales and  Hubblesite Gallery.

What do birds, unconventional words and metaphors in herds have in common?  Gerard Manley Hopkins!  Several of us were guided through the treasures of this Jesuit poet during a 2 week course on the Franciscan influence present in Hopkins’ poems.  Sister Renita Tadych did a masterful job of bringing together the theology and poetry of Francis, the labyrinthian philosophy of Duns Scotus and the faith-faceted poetry of Hopkins.  Discussing, analyzing and sharing insights on various poems was a truly enriching experience.  As Sister Regina Rose Pearson said, “You can’t just read Hopkins.  You have to pray Hopkins.”  So true! 

We often hear bits of his work or find it on greeting cards, but the depth of his expression as he journeyed with the Lord holds inspiration that’s often overlooked.  What was the best poem?  Who could choose?  I love his nature images, but I think one of my new favorite lines comes from “The Wreck of the Deutschland“, saying of God, “…For I greet him the days I meet him, and bless when I understand.”  What a thought to carry into each day marked with prayer!  Thank you Sister Renita and class members for such an enriching class!

View these Hopkins-esque images:

Fred Gaber shares this time lapse image:

Gallery: Mark Kolter, Priscilla Thomas,  Hubble images

Note: Holy Spirit window from Sacred Heart Parish in Reedsburg, WI,is cropped from a larger frame of the Holy Spirit showing up above Noah’s ark.  Rainbow is visible on the side.

Any Hopkins-esque thoughts?

7 thoughts on “Find Franciscan Spirit in Gerard Manley Hopkins”

  1. Scaritas says:

    I wish I could have taken the course. Before I entered the Community. I had a small prayer book and one of his poems always did, ever will, “sing to me”: First verse to    The Habit of Perfection: ELECTED Silence, sing to meAnd beat upon my whorlèd ear,Pipe me to pastures still and beThe music that I care to hear. Those 4 lines are just the first verse…but in the quiet of prayer and silence…God speaks. Sr. Caritas

  2. sannette says:

    It sounds like the Hopkins class was wonderful. I knew it would be. His words are “packed' and need to be 'unwraped”. I am so happy for teacher and students that it was so enriching. Thanks for sharing the wonder of it.

  3. I recently reread Thomas Merton's 'Seven Storey Mountain'. There are 5 references to Gerard Manley Hopkins in this classic vocation narrative. Anyone seriously discerning his or her call or looking to deepen their relationship with God may find great consolation from both these writers' works.

  4. Sr. Carol Seidl says:

    I remember Gerard Manley Hopkins from Sr. St. Thomas. As Junior Sisters we would walk through the woods with Sr. St. Thomas  and she would quote him with so much expression in her voice.  She made him come alive and nature took on a total different look, feeling and sound. God was so near and I really came to love poetry. Sr. St. Thomas was an excellent English teacher.

  5. Sr. Leslie says:

    This was a wonderful class. Sr. Renita really gave us a window into a, new for me, spiritual expression. This course offered so much more than I had imagined. I expected to learn about poetry with Franciscan perspectives and we learned about vastly more than that; poetry, philosophy, history, Franciscan-ism, and how to pray a poem. Poetry was Hopkins best spiritual expression and the depths of his soul can be found in his poems. Sometimes in the dark days of life when “Hope has grown grey hairs” people need something to hold onto and an avenue to get to God. Maybe a poem could be the window that opens to God.

  6. Sister Anne Marie Lom says:

    This posting is a multi-media feast. The images, the snippets of verse and the comments of the bloggers provide a great banquet for the spirit. Thank you for sharing the wonders of the course.

  7. Nkinate says:

    Ah!  Awesome words and images! Thank you, Sister Nancy

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