“I entered myself when I entered Christ”

How is it they live for eons in such harmony—the billions of stars
when most men can barely go a minute
without declaring war in their mind
against someone they know.
There are wars where no on marches with a flag,
though that does not keep casualties from mounting.
Our hearts irrigate the earth.
We are fields before each other.
How can we live in harmony?
First we need to know
we are all madly in love
with the same God.

“Ask anything.” My Lord said to me.
And my mind and heart thought deeply
for a second, then replied
just one word, “When?”
God’s arms then opened up
and I entered Myself.
I entered myself
when I entered Christ.
And having learned compassion
I allowed my soul
to stay.

O Lord my God, make me
submissive without protest,
poor without discouragement,
chaste without regret,
patient without complaint,
humble without posturing,
cheerful without frivolity,
mature without gloom,
and quick-witted without flippancy
Grant that I may know
what You require me to do.
Bestow upon me
the power to accomplish Your will,
as is necessary and fitting
for the salvation of my soul.

Daniel Ladinsky

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9 Responses to “I entered myself when I entered Christ”

  1. Vuk Uskoković says:

    Dear Father Kimmel,

    Do you know perhaps where the poem could be found in its original (presumably Latin) form? Thanks awfully beforehand.

    Ad multos annos,

    Vuk Uskoković,
    Of Bar, Montenegro.

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    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      I’m afraid I do not. Sorry.

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    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      I sure hope the poem is authentically by Aquinas. If you should discover that it’s not, please let me know.

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      • Brayer Asprin says:

        I think this is by Daniel Ladinsky, who has put out many original poems with historical names as the heading, but they are mostly not translations; rather “in the spirit of so-and-so” at best. And confusion ensues.

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        • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

          You have persuaded me, Brayer. I cannot find any confirmation that this poem is original to Aquinas. I have therefore changed the attribution.

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  2. Jonathan says:

    Unfortunately, must agree with the commenter above. This is not likely to be by Aquinas, at least not if it’s anything approaching a direct translation. The first line is a give-away: Aquinas could not possibly have known there are billions of stars, as only a few thousand are visible from earth with the naked eye. Besides that, it doesn’t really read like a medieval poem. Close, but not quite. There are other subtle slips, such as “marching with a flag.” This, like the idea of “declaring war,” while not without cognates in the pre-modern world, is really a phenomenon of the age of nation-states and formal diplomacy. There were coats of arms in the 13th century, but not national flags exactly.

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