Monday, May 14, 2012

The Fighting Man

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Matthias, the first of the twelve not to be chosen by Christ Himself. Saint Hildegard of Bingen wrote the "Hymn to Saint Matthias," which is a beautiful tribute to this great Saint:

Hymn to Saint Matthias 
From Symphonia: A Critical Edition of the Symphonia Armonie Celestum, by Barbara Newman

Matthias the fighting man
won this victory; he became a saint
by lot.
Before the Lamb died
he had no call; he came late
to his knowledge
like one half-sleeping.

God's gift aroused him!
He leapt for joy like a giant
in his prime-
for Providence knew him well-
waking just like Adam
from the slime
when the angel of denial fell.

The one God elected then-
alas! he had oxen
and rams for sacrifice
yet he turned his face
from the altar and fell.

Instead of God he embraced
his desires, made
his wishes his idols. There
in a coalpit, he raised
his Olympus.

It was then that Matthias,
God's choice, rose like a giant.
God gave him the place
the lost one voided - and there
(O amazement!) his grace
dazzled our eyes.

For the God of wonders
saw his worth before he earned it.
In him the Mysterious One
took joy, not in Judas.

Oh joy of all joys that our God
gives grace to the ignorant!
The babe has no notion
where the mighty man flies -
yet God grants him wings.

That man pleases God
who forgets himself.
who cries like Matthias:
Oh God, my God, you who made me -
all my works are yours.

Let Matthias, God's choice,
be a joy to his Church, be a dove
in the clefts of His holy mountain.

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