Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Spirit-Soaked Fertility

Here is born in Spirit-soaked fertility
a brood predestined to Another City,
begotten by God's blowing
and borne upon this torrent
by the Church their Virgin Mother.

Reborn in these depths they reach for Heaven's kingdom,
the born but once unrecognizable by felicity.

This pool is life that floods the world;
the wounds of Christ its awesome source.

Sinner sink beneath this sacred surf
that swallows age and spits up youth.

Sinner here scour sin away down to innocence,
for they know no enmity who are by
one Font, one Spirit, one Faith made one.

Sinner shudder not at sin's kinds and number:
for those born here are holy.

5th Century inscription in the Lateran baptistery attributed to Leo the Great.

Translated by Aidan Kavanagh, OSB in The Shape of Baptism: The Rite of Christian Initiation.


Joe Rawls said...

At first I thought this was by Gerard Manley Hopkins. Leo the Great, huh?

Bryan Owen said...

That's what my seminary notes from Neal Alexander's liturgics class say. However, searching on-line, I found the chapter from Kavangah's book from which the translation of this inscription comes and discovered several discrepancies between my notes and the book (I've corrected the posting to reflect the book). Kavanagh doesn't mention Leo the Great, so who knows ...