Brother Michael Flanigan, FMS, Campus Ministry
"Batter my heart, three-person'd God"
by John Donne
Batter my heart, three-person'd God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, 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 usurp'd town to another due,
Labor 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 dearly I love you, and would be lov'd fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy;
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.
During the course of my life as a Marist Brother, I have prayed this poem more often than I can say. Its words speak to me about the duality that exists inside of me--inside all of us really: on the one hand, being called to, and longing for, an intimate relationship with God, while on the other having to face the reality of my everyday life, where what I am often drawn to is not about God. At those times of struggle and trial, as the poem states, I yearn for God to overpower me and to take me to himself. Donne has captured in a few words the sensual intimacy with God that is at the heart of spirituality.