In 1850, Alfred Lord Tennyson published a poem entitled “In Memoriam,” written for his dear friend, Arthur Henry Hallam who died quite suddenly of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of twenty-two. The poem chronicles three years of grief at the death of his friend. Though you may never have read this very long poem, I am sure that you are familiar with at least two lines from the poem:
“ 'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.”
Some of the most famous lines of the poem are found in Canto 104. I hope you will not mind if I read some of the poem which I find particularly apt for the end of the year 2020:
Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.
Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.
Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.
Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.
Both readings for today’s liturgy are chosen because it is the last day of the year. In the First Letter of St. John, he speaks of the last hour, an hour when the truth will triumph over lies. The Gospel is the familiar opening of St. John’s Gospel wherein we are reminded that nothing in this world can ever be the same since God has become one of us. As we have lived through a year which we would all like to put behind us, a year of lies, of strife, of disease, of wars and scandal, we offer our prayer that the new year will bring us the peace and health and joy we all seek.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator