Memorize This Sonnet

When you need strength in your daily spiritual warfare, remember this Spanish saint’s quiet and heroic life, and this beautiful sonnet about him:

49. St. Alphonsus Rodriguez–Laybrother of the Society of Jesus

Honour is flashed off exploit, so we say;

And those strokes once that gashed flesh or galled shield

Should tongue that time now, trumpet now that field,

And, on the fighter, forge his glorious day.

On Christ they do and on the martyr may;

But be the war within, the brand we wield

Unseen, the heroic breast not outward-steeled,

Earth hears no hurtle then from fiercest fray.


Yet God (that hews mountain and continent,

Earth, all, out; who, with trickling increment,

Veins violets and tall trees makes more and more)

Could crowd career with conquest while there went

Those years and years by of world without event

That in Majorca Alfonso watched the door.

Sword of st.Ferdinand.jpg–Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins

Read it once, then read it again. Sit with it. Read it every day until you have it memorized. I am serious. You will appreciate its many layers more and more as time goes on.

Whatever theĀ  daily tasks of your vocation, your Christian vocation is an inward battle, as described above. To remember this in times when your strength and courage and patience are tested, go over these lines in your heart. Along with prayers, it will help so much.


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