I am soft sift
In an hourglass―at the wall
Fast, but mined with a motion, a drift,
And it crowds and it combs to the fall;
I steady as a water in a well, to a poise, to a pane,
But roped with, always, all the way down from the tall
Fells or flanks of the voel, a vein
Of the gospel proffer, a pressure, a principle, Christ’s gift.

The Wreck of the Deutschland
By Gerard Manley Hopkins




This is one of the most beautiful pieces of poetry I know. After the previous stanzas on despair and terror, this calm stanza is so restful and soothing. The characteristics of sift and of water is that both always complies and adjust to its surroundings, increasing entropy, calmly, like water in a pane. Like soft sift in an hourglass.

There are some rather unusual words in this stanza that may need to be explained: The noun “Proffer” is something like a promised offer or an offer with a promise. The word “voel” is probably used as Welsh for mountain (spells foel in modern Welsh). Speaking of mountains, “Roped with” (compare with world’s strand in stanza 1) can be seen as a metaphor for a mountain climber clinging to a rope (as we cling to God), while the body is striving downwards. Of course it could also be an image for the streams of water on the mountain side that drifts downwards.

In 1875, when the poem was written, Hopkins was a priest candidate at St. Beuno’s in Northern Wales. Very close by the college is the St Winifred Wells and perhaps he was picturing this very soothing place in the metaphor about the water in a well. One of Hopkins biographists, Norman White, has some interesting thoughts about this. He noted that Hopkins most probably heard about St Winifred’s Well the first time from Kenelm Vaughan, who had been cured from Tuberculosis by drinking its water. They met when Hopkins was received into the Catholic Church and – Martin further suggests – it may have been this day Hopkins – inspired by Vaughan – decided on his priestly vocation. The Wells was most certainly tightly linked to Hopkins impression of Catholicism and to me this stanza may be read as a metaphor for Catholic faith.


So, who was St. Winifred who gave her name to this well? According to the legend she came from a wealthy family and was taught in religious matters by her uncle St. Beuno in early seventh century. She used to sit at St. Bueno´s feet when he preached and her love for God matured over the years and she decided to become a nun. She served God in a small nunnery under the guidance of Saint Beuno. A young Welsh prince named Cradoc had fallen in love with her and when she refused to marry he one day pursued her, she tried to get refuge in a church in Holywell. Cradoc however caught up with her and cut her head of. In the place where her head fell the well sprang up. Then, it is told, the martyr was raised to life by the prayers of Saint Beuno. Ever after she bore the mark of her martyrdom by a red circle on her skin about her neck.

One should remember to read this stanza by the fond of the actual sea disaster where the five nuns met their destiny. (I will write more about them later). Perhaps Hopkins pondered the similarities of this legend about a persecuted nun who searched sanctuary but met her death and water sprang up in a well – And the five (also persecuted) nuns who searched refuge but met their death on the water of the river Thames?



During lent I will publish the stanzas from the Wreck of the Deutschland, one by one. Sometimes with a small commentary or with some aspect about the poem. Hopefully someone will be able to use this as a form of prayer during Lent.


The frown of his face
Before me, the hurtle of hell
Behind, where, where was a, where was a place?
I whirled out wings that spell
And fled with a fling of the heart to the heart of the Host.
My heart, but you were dovewinged, I can tell,
Carrier-witted, I am bold to boast,
To flash from the flame to the flame then, tower from the grace to the grace.

The Wreck of the Deutschland
By Gerard Manley Hopkins




Hopkins mentions in the same letter from August 1877 that “what refers to myself in the poem is all strictly and literally true and did all occur; nothing is added for poetical padding.” So how to interpret this stanza?

A rewarding way to read it is as a statement about his own conversion. As when one suddenly understands that there is only One Holy and Apostolic Church… But what does this say about where one is coming from? Where there a place at all? Perhaps God angels carry us in steps, from grace to deeper grace… From the heart found in the High church movement within the Anglican Church to the Church with the heart of the Host… (Isn’t this poem wonderfully Catholic?)

A common interpretation is to group this stanza together with the previous. This would work fine with the quote from an entry in his Journal as well. The entry is dated 18 September 1873, about two years earlier. He describes how he wakes up from a nightmare where something or someone leaped unto him and held him fast. He could not speak and had lost all muscular stress. Hopkins describes how he is trying to get out of this state of cataplexy until he finally “cried on the holy name and by degrees recovered myself” (Compare with “I whirled out wings that spell” from the stanza above)


Then he continues: It made me think that this was how the souls in hell would be imprisoned in their bodies as in prisons and of what St. Theresa says of the ‘little press in the wall’ where she felt herself to be in her vision.”

In St. Teresa of Avila’s horrible vision of Hell she is writing how she sees herself as the paralyzed viewer: “A long time after the Lord had already granted me many of the favors I’ve mentioned and other very lofty ones, while I was in prayer one day, I suddenly found that, without knowing how, I had seemingly been put in hell. I understood that the Lord wanted me to see the place the devils had prepared there for me and which I merited because of my sins. This experience took place within the shortest space of time, but even were I to live for many years I think it would be impossible for me to forget it. The entrance it seems to me was similar to a very long and narrow alleyway, like an oven, low and dark and confined; the floor seemed to me to consist of dirty, muddy water emitting foul stench and swarming with putrid vermin. At the end of the alleyway a hole that looked like a small cupboard was hollowed out in the wall; there I found I was placed in a cramped condition. All of this was delightful to see in comparison with what I felt there. What I have described can hardly be exaggerated.



During lent I will publish the stanzas from the Wreck of the Deutschland, one by one. Sometimes with a small commentary or with some aspect about the poem. Hopefully someone will be able to use this as a form of prayer during Lent.

Hi y’all. It’s been awhile since my last post. I had to take a break from writing and kind of think about where I was heading, or at least trying to catch up with myself. Well we all have our ups and downs so here’s a story on the upside:

In my building block we have a common laundry room. I lost my keys to this and all other common spaces of our block and I wasn’t able to get into the cellar and foremost I couldn’t wash me and my sons clothes. After about a week me and my son constantly overdressed, since we only had white shirts and costumes clean after awhile. Well, we looked really sharp there for awhile:

How my son and I dressed when
we went out to buy milk

About that time I Understood that I had to do something. I had really a lot of work and hadn’t time to do a thorough search but I still decided to ask St Anthony to intercede for me. I told my brother (who is living with me for the moment) and my son that I had done this… They are not catholics and of course thought it was a bit fun.

My brother even tried to tease me (in a friendly way) a little about it. He asked if Anthony had found the keys for me. I answered that St. Anthony only can help me finding the keys, he wont come and hand them over to me. I have to put at least some effort in finding them myself, then perhaps he will guide me a little…

After that being said, I turned around opened the cupboard where the keys where supposed to be – And there they lied openly for everyone to see!!!


Now I know I have looked in the cupboard before, not once but several times. Even my brother had checked this place twice.

I mean everybody in the household knows about the missing keys and have been aware of them. No one had seen them there before, because they where not there:

– But they where now!

I have had divine help before, but never have a Saint interceded so almost embarrassing obviously. Saint Anthony, awesome! No wonder you’re one of our most loved saints, all times.

Saint Antonio
Pray for us, blessed Anthony, that we may
be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

I haven’t posted much lately, I’m too behind in my schedules 😦

However, here are a meme which I got from Lowdenclear. (Thanks for tagging me)

If you could invite your five favorite saints to dinner, what would you serve them to eat, and why?

St Joakim, Father of Mary, are very welcome to join me for a dinner. Since we both are fathers I guess beer and sandwiches would be appreciated. Some good soccer on the television and let him just enjoy some earthly goods. I’d choose Staropramen, a light Czech lager together with “Sillamackor”, sandwiches with Swedish herring, coarse rye bread with lots of butter and different kinds of pickled herring and nice toppings.


St Barnabas, my patron saint, travelled a lot so I guess he would be tired and hungry and I would serve him something more heavy, like fried pork with onion cream sause, boiled potatoes and peas. A big glass of milk goes well together with that.

Stekt fläsk med löksåsMjölk

St Bernadette wouldn’t want anything to posh, so I’ll think she would enjoy ham with boiled potatoes and Mimosa salad. I really think she would deserve a treat though… Perhaps I could sneak in some avocados filled with “Skagenröra”, a salad of shrimps, mayonnaise and dill, as a starter? Maybe chocolate for dessert? A nice German Riesling for the salad and a glass of tawny port for the chocolate?


St Birgitta of Sweden enjoyed a good meal and was used to have large fancy dinners with kings and nobels, but she also had a wurm for simplicity and plainness: Boiled knuckles of pig, with mashed turnips and “Skånsk senap”, a roughly grained sweet mustard from Scania in the south of Sweden. A nice Swedish dish that perhaps would remind her of home. A bottle of the Swedish beer Carnegie Porter, would be nice to drink.

Fläsklägg med rotmosCarnegie Porter

I’ll guess I have to wait awhile until John Paul II recieves his sainthood, but then I would prepare a nice Pasta dish for him with a nice glass of wine. Pasta is quick and easy to make, and I wouldn’t want to stand in the kitchen cooking when I had such a great visitor. I much rather sit and listen to him. Perhaps Pasta Puttanesca and a bottle of Casillero Del Diablo would be a good conversation starter. 😉

Puttanesca rödtjut

Ok. Five people to tag: Paula from Receiving light, Marie and Ginny from View From The Pews, Brother Freddie from a A friar style?, and Joeamir11 from The dream of a voyage

Therese I will get to your Meme as soon as I can. 🙂


And since I forgot. JustMe from Oh, and… this, consider yourself tagged! 😉

Cardinal John Henry Newman

God, our father, your servant John Henry Newman
upheld the faith by his teaching and example.
May his loyalty to Christ and the Church,
his love for the Immaculate Mother of God,
and his compassion for the perplexed give guidance
to Christian people today.


We beg you to grant the favors we ask through his intercession
so that his holiness may be recognized by all
and the Church may proclaim him a Saint.


We ask this through Christ our Lord.



Prayer to obtain the beatification of John Henry Cardinal Newman composed by Archbishop G. P. Dwyer of Birmingham, England.

You can find Cardinal Newmans books and articles here: The Newman reader

This article is written by Newmans biographist Father Ian Ker:
The Mind of Newman

Two articles from The Boston Collaborative Encyclopedia of Modern Western Theology written by Derek Michaud and Philip N. LaFountain on Newman as a theologian.
Biography, Context and Theology and Biographical Sketch

On Wikipedia you can find this articles:
John Henry Newman and The Oxford Movement

John Beaumont has written this explanatory article about Newmans view on the Church:
Cardinal Newman on the Church: A Guide for the Perplexed.


In honor of the day here’s a small quote from the Spiritual Exercises by St. Ignatius of Loyola. It is the beginning of the final contemplation in the Spiritual Exercises.


The Contempaltion to gain Love
The Contemplation to gain Love
Picture from a book produced in 1673
by early fathersof the Society of Jesus.


Note. First, it is well to remark two things: the first is that love ought to be put more in deeds than in words.

The second, love consists in interchange between the two parties; that is to say in the lover’s giving and communicating to the beloved what he has or out of what he has or can; and so, on the contrary, the beloved to the lover. So that if the one has knowledge, he give to the one who has it not. The same of honors, of riches; and so the one to the other.

Prayer. The usual Prayer. (The Preparatory Prayer is to ask grace of God our Lord that all my intentions, actions and operations may be directed purely to the service and praise of His Divine Majesty.)

First Prelude. The first Prelude is a composition, which is here to see how I am standing before God our Lord, and of the Angels and of the Saints interceding for me.

Second Prelude. The second, to ask for what I want. It will be here to ask for interior knowledge of so great good received, in order that being entirely grateful, I may be able in all to love and serve His Divine Majesty.

First Point. The First Point is, to bring to memory the benefits received, of Creation, Redemption and particular gifts, pondering with much feeling how much God our Lord has done for me, and how much He has given me of what He has, and then the same Lord desires to give me Himself as much as He can, according to His Divine ordination. And with this to reflect on myself, considering with much reason and justice, what I ought on my side to offer and give to His Divine Majesty, that is to say, everything that is mine, and myself with it, as one who makes an offering with much feeling:

Take, Lord, and receive
all my liberty, my memory,
my intellect, and all my will
all that I have and possess.
Thou gavest it to me:
to Thee, Lord, I return it!
All is Thine,
dispose of it according to all Thy will.
Give me Thy love and grace,
for this is enough for me.


St Ignatius
St. Ignatius of Loyola.


You can read the online version of the spiritual excercises here

You can find the online Spiritual Exercises in pictures by Joseph MacDonnell, S.J. here.

The Jesuits arrange retreats for lay man all over the world. Contact a Jesuit house for more information.

Blessed Hemming was the bishop of Fennia or Österland – then the eastern province OF the republic of Finland.

Hemming was one of the uttermosts prominent individuals among the Catholic bishops of the medieval times in Scandinavia. St Bridget of Sweden described him as “A very courageous man – without fear of men – devoted, yes, ascetical pious; a contemplative but at the same time an active and hardworking man.

Seal of Bishop Hemming.

The Early years:
There are little known about his early years but he was born around 1290 in Pålsbo a small village in Bälinge parish north of the city of Uppsala. He came from a fortunate Swedish family and had close contacts with Swedish nobility. He attended the Cathedral school at Uppsala and continued his studies in Paris, where he first took a degree in Arts, then in Theology and in Law. In Paris he had the forthcoming pope Clemens VI as teacher.

There is a mention of a Hemming who was a kanik, a canon priest, in Åbo in 1329, and this is most probably him they are referring to. According to common belief was Hemming imprisoned by king Magnus Ladulås because of some harsh words about a Swedish duke… Later he was however said to side with the king again, saying that he “rather have Magnus as a ruler, no matter what has been, then having the German regiment.” However there is not to my knowledge any historical proof of this incidence.

Bishop of Åbo:
In 1339 he was chosen unanimously, with divina inspiriatione, to the bishop chair of Åbo. He fought against worldly interference in the churchly domains of Finland, which’s excellence he also was an advocate for. He was held in very high esteem by his contemporary. He made wise laws and built numerous churches. He was concerned with the proper celebrations of the church feast and the Scandinavian saints, but also with administration of church property and for releasing the poor from payment of stipends for dispensations or for funerals.

Hemming supervised vividly the church taxes and even contradicted a verdict from the king in benefit for the people of Nyland, a Finnish region. In 1340 he established the dean office of Åbo Cathedral. He made a grand donation of 40 very valuable books, mostly theological literature, to the Åbo Cathedral and in this way founded the first library in Finland.

By gifts and trade he also increased the wealth and the properties of the diocese which had been looted by the Russians in 1318. He founded both a Cathedral school in Åbo and a hospital. He was not particularly involved in the state affairs of Sweden/Finland but in 1343 he took part in the union between the Swedish king and the southern parts of Scandinavia (Blekinge, Småland and Skåne). In 1346, together with the archbishop of Uppsala, he also laid out the borders between the dioceses of Swedish Uppsala and Finnish Åbo. In 1352 he finished his work Statua, with rules for the responsibilities of the Finnish priests and with Finland’s first Church Ordinance.

Hemming and Bridget
Blessed Bishop Hemming of Åbo and Saint Bridget of Sweden,
from the tabernacle at a church in Finland:An angel is
placing the Bishop’s mitre on Blessed Hemming’s head and a
pilgrim is kneeling at his feet.

Friendship with St Bridget:
He had a strong friendship with St Bridget of Sweden and he went to France a second time between 1347 until 1349, this time on St Brigit’s initiative. She chose him to accompany her confessor, the Cistercian Prior Peter of Alvastra, in a mission to his former teacher, Pope Clement VI at Avignon to try to convince him to move back to Rome and to urge him to reform his own lasciviousness and to cease supporting the King of France. Hemming also paid visit to the Kings of England and France with another revelation from Bridget, in an effort to try to achieve peace between the nations. Neither of those matters succeeded but a deep friendship between him and St Bridget was established.

From the revelations of St Bridget we can read about a dinner with Hemming where Hemming thought it was peculiar that Bridget didn’t hesitated herself in enjoying the food when she was a woman gifted by the holy spirit. Bridget did not now anything about what Hemming had thought but in the evening before Vesper, she had a revelation wherein a voice spoke to her: “Look, your neighbor at the table has problems with your meal” Hemming recognized that the revelation was about him and he apologized and asked for Bridget’s forgiveness and prayers.

On the third day thereafter Virgin Mary shows her self to Bridget and says: “Tell the bishop that – although he always begins his sermons with praising me and that his judgment was not out of ill will but of love – his love still needs to be mitigated. Tell him that I want to be for him a mother, and present his spirit before God.”

His later years:
He seemed to have a great pathos on behalf of Finland and worked for that the region should be treated as an equal to the other regions of Sweden and at the king’s election on February the 15th in 1362, by the initiative of Hemming, representatives of Österland partook in the election of Håkan Magnussons as the new king after Magnus Ladulås: Österland, the eastern country was thereafter an integrated and equal part of Sweden, until the Greater and the Lesser Wrath in the 1800-century, when Russia occupied Finland.

Well over 80 years old, bishop Hemming had his heavenly birthday 1366, The 21st of May which is now celebrated as his memorial day throughout Scandinavia.

The shrine were the remains of Blessed Hemming were placed in 1514.

The canonization process:
Blessed Hemming was buried in his cathedral in Åbo, where miracles were reported at his tomb. In July 16th, 1497 pope Alexander VI gave permission for the beatification of Hemming and his relics were enshrined in 1514. He’s supposed canonization which was planned to the year 1530 was abandoned due to the reformation.

Hemming today:
During the reformation devote Catholics hid the relics in the walls of the Cathedral in Åbo. When they where found during a restoration in the twentieth century the sacred relics were confiscated by the Finnish state and are now locked in the cellar of a museum. They are not on display. The Catholic community is trying to get the relics back so they once again can be revered.

The Catholic community of Finland is also having discussions with the Vatican to revive the canonization process. However the old documents in the Vatican archives must be located, further discussions between the authorities of the Catholic community in Finland and the proper instances in Vatican must continue further. Such a Canonization would indeed be very important in bringing Finland back to Catholicism.

There was also great interest in the 2007 years Autuaan Hemmingin pyhiinvaellus, the Blessed Hemming’s pilgrimage among both local press in Finland as well as by Catholic priests and even among the Lutheran parishes we passed along the road. I have great hope that this pilgrimage will be an annual tradition until the sainthood of Blessed Hemming is officially recognized.

The blessed Hemming oilgrimage
Autuaan Hemmingin pyhiinvaellus: Modern pilgrims in the
footsteps of Blessed Bishop Hemming.

To further the canonisation of Blessed Hemming:
– Autuas Hemming, rukoile puolestamme
– Salige Hemming, bed för oss.
Blessed Hemming, pray for us.

This text was based on the Swedish nineteenth century encyclopedia Nordisk Familjebok, the revelations of St. Bridget and the wonderful book “Biskop Hemming av Åbo” from 1960, by B. Klockars. Maiju Lehmijoki has written this interesting article about St Birgitta of Sweden’s influence in Finland.

See more pictures from the Blessed Hemming Pilgrimage 2007.