There was a time when all Jesuits were enamored of the writings of Gerard Manley Hopkins. One of our own with extreme sensitivity and of a mind to commend his thoughts to poetry. He did so many beautiful poems.

Like the others I find an inspiration in this gentle, educated, and expressively intense man. Like van Gogh, he speaks of the value of recognizing the inner poet, connected to God, yet unknown to men and women in any tangible way during his lifetime.

His poem about St. Alophonsus Rodriguez, lay Brother of the Society of Jesus, makes the ancient principles of Graeco-Jewish relationships with strangers seem so modern. Treating others like angels because they might be was countered by St. Benedict when he recommended “venit hospis, venit Christus;” “comes the stranger/guest, comes the Chris,” or by St, Francis of Assisi’s kissing the hobo outside the city walls, or by Ignatius’ own principles as practised by Alphonsus. Hopkins made the brother seem the essence of hospitality, in accord with all the biographical evidence. The saint inspired the young men of his own day (like St. Peter Claver, apostle to the slaves of Cartagena Colombia) and they inspire so many today, through the poetry of the latter day sainted Hopkins.

I did a number of paintings inspired by his writings during the centennial commemorations of his death in the 1990’s. I hope my paintings remind you of those wonderful poems and inspire you to re-read them.

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