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Walsingham! O Farewell!


The world will not give you what you want.

Stop trying to please it.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

Matthew Arnold


This piece by Jonathan van Maren tells of England’s loss of faith. But that loss has been coming on, in full view, for nearly five centuries. I am reading an interesting book a friend gave me for my birthday, the Records of Romsey Abbey, the long story told from original sources, of the life of a Benedictine house near Salisbury – where my mother was born – from its ancient founding in the time of Alfred the Great, to its dissolution by the dissolute king and it has gripped me again, that almost choking sadness. The sense of loss so great that I couldn’t stand to live there in the mother country. Now when I go to visit, the godlessness, the hatred of God in fact, is like a slap in the face.

England didn’t lose the Faith. She had it ripped from her. And she has been naked and afraid in the dark ever since.

Bitter, bitter, O to behold
The grass to grow
Where the walls of Walsingham
So stately did show.

Such were the worth of Walsingham
While she did stand,
Such are the wracks as now do show
Of that Holy Land.

Level, level, with the ground
The towers do lie,
Which, with their golden glittering tops,
Pierced once to the sky.

Where were gates are no gates now,
The ways unknown
Where the press of peers did pass
While her fame was blown.

Owls do scrike where the sweetest hymns
Lately were sung,
Toads and serpents hold their dens
Where the palmers did throng.

Weep, weep, O Walsingham,
Whose days are nights,
Blessings turned to blasphemies,
Holy deeds to despites.

Sin is where Our Lady sat,
Heaven is turned to hell,
Satan sits where Our Lord did sway —
Walsingham, O farewell!

attributed to the Earl of Arundel, Philip Howard.


7 thoughts on “Walsingham! O Farewell!”

  1. RaghnMacConchrú says:

    I feel that way wandering about Ireland. The hatred of the Church among the young (not all of them, but a good number) is like a slap in the face. And the ruins of the churches and abbeys.

    But we’re called to keep the Faith and fight on. And so we do. But for us who loved what was, the Lord Christ’s words about taking up you cross and folling Him take on a sharp-edged meaning, do they not?

  2. louiseyvette says:

    Martha: “Do you ever wonder why we were chosen to be born in this time? I do. It’s a rather horrid era, really, despite what people in general seem to think.”

    I never wonder. I grieve the sense of the loss of Christendom, but I know that I was born for this time and so were my children. We all were, and we must stick together and to Holy Mother Church. Our Lord Jesus, save us!

  3. Hrodgar says:

    Re: Martha
    Somebody had to be. Why NOT us?

  4. Linda says:

    Tolkein’s Lay of the Passing Ages

    What has become of the Firstborn?
    What has become of the King?
    What has become of the seats of banquet?
    Where are the joys of the hall?
    O for the bright cup!
    O for the White Towers!
    O for the glory of the Prince!
    How that time has passed away
    And grown dark under cover of night
    As if it never had been…

  5. Yorkiana says:

    What causes me profound distress is that King Richard III, a Catholic man, was denied a Catholic funeral Mass and burial. How unjust! God have mercy on those responsible. English Martyrs, pray for the Godless Brits.

  6. Martha says:

    Choking sadness, indeed. That picture is a very apropos ‘thousand words.’ Very moving poetry (except, perhaps, for the bit about signing up for the newsletter… )

    Do you ever wonder why we were chosen to be born in this time? I do. It’s a rather horrid era, really, despite what people in general seem to think.

  7. louiseyvette says:

    Breaks my heart into a million pieces

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