A few weeks ago at lunch Fr. Joseph Fessio announced that he was planning to start an “anti-blog”. It would feature poetry. Of course, we were all intrigued, especially after Father recited some of the poems, first in German, then in translation. This “anti-blog” has now launched at www.AngelicPilgrim.com and features the poems of Angelus Silesius. Each poem is posted in German and English and includes audio of Fr. Fessio reading the poem in German.
Who was Angelus Silesius?
That is the literary name for Johann Scheffler, a 17th century convert from Lutheranism to the Catholic Church. He was born in Silesia in Germany and wanted to be a messenger (Latin: angelus) of God’s love. So he used that name Angelus (messenger) Silesius (from Silesia). He became very well known as a priest, poet, and mystic.
What was Hans Urs von Balthasar’s role in bringing these poems to your attention?
One of Fr. von Balthasar’s great contributions to ressourcement—retrieving the great works of the rich Catholic tradition—was to take selections from the works of important, mainly patristic, Catholic authors and arrange them in a way that showed the inner structure of the author’s thought. He did this, for instance, with St. Ireneus, St. Augustine, and Origen, producing books which were published in the publishing house he established, Johannesverlag. As part of this undertaking, he made a selection from the almost 1700 two-line poems of Angelus Silesius, whom he called “one of the greatest poets in the West” and published them originally as Sich auftun wie eine Rose (open oneself up [to God] like a rose). I read the book years ago and was very inspired by it. But I lent it to someone and it never came back. Somehow my interest was recently renewed and I obtained another copy, now published with the title Cherubinischer Wandersmann (Angelic Messenger, which is the same title as the original complete collection).
It seems that unlike prose, poetry is really still part of an oral tradition; poems don’t really come alive unless they are vocalized. Is that why you are posting these in audio format as well as text?