A Lenten Sonnet

My Dear Brethren,

Our brother, John Donne, priest and poet, prays intensely about his own experience of sin in what is traditionally titled ‘Holy Sonnet XIV.’  It is a favorite mine as a Lenten prayer and it seemed appropriate to share it with you. Many of you are already familiar with it.

Usurpt = usurped:  to forcefully and illegally seize.  His heart is like a town forcibly seized and used illegally, that is, without proper authority or right. We are children of God and sin is no longer master over us.

Viceroy = a person appointed to rule a country or province as the deputy of the sovereign.

…and would be loved faine… means something like this: He would gladly be loved by his Father who intensely loves and is merciful and compassionate.

Lenten blessings,

Fr. Wayne


BATTER my heart, three person’d God; for, you

As yet but knock, breath, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow me, ‘and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn and make me new.
I, like an usurpt towne, to’another due, 5
Labour to ‘admit you, but Oh, to no end,
Reason your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv’d, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearely ‘I love you, ‘and would be loved faine,
But am betroth’d unto your enemy: 10
Divorce me, ‘untie, or break that knot again;
Take me to you, imprison me, for I
Except you ‘enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

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