Wednesday, July 27, 2005

So priketh hem Nature in hir corages . . .

. . . thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages. Unlike in Chaucer's time, my pilgrimage was carried out not in the midst of an English spring but in the middle of a muggy Midwestern summer, and not by way of some direct inspiration from God but through the mediation of my religious superior. However, individual discernment led me to consider a pilgrimage to Marytown, which I'd long wanted to visit on account of its shrine to St. Maximilian Kolbe, whose name I took at my confirmation. I was also intrigued by the possibility of spending a few days living in a non-Jesuit religious house, in this case the friary of Conventual Franciscans who staff the shrine and retreat center at Marytown.

I'm pleased to report that I had a very good experience at Marytown, where I had plenty of time to pray and also pitched in to help in various and sundry ways - notably by cleaning guest rooms and making beds for retreatants and by counting donations left by visitors to the shrine. The Conventuals deserve high praise for their generous and gracious hospitality; they really treated me as one of their own, giving me a room in the friary and inviting me to share in their community meals, prayer and recreation. At the end of my stay, one of the friars gave me a very apt gift - a statue of St. Benedict of Nursia. As you may have gleaned from this post, I have something of a devotion to Benedict. In a particular way, however, I was pleased with the friar's gift because it seemed to symbolize the sense of brotherhood that I had come to feel in my time at Marytown. The Jesuit way and the Franciscan way offer two very different approaches to consecrated life; for all that divides us, however, we have much in common - including St. Benedict. If there had been no Benedict of Nursia, I doubt there would have been a Francis of Assisi or an Ignatius of Loyola. Benedict's influence touches all of Western religious life, giving all of us who seek to follow Christ according to the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience a shared history. On its face, a statue of St. Benedict seems a most unlikely gift for a Franciscan to give a Jesuit. On a deeper level, however, the friar's gift made perfect sense. Whenever I look at this small statue - perched now on the bookshelf in my room at the novitiate - I'll think of my time at Marytown, and of the bonds that tie seemingly disparate religious orders together. AMDG.


At September 28, 2008 6:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi. Im studying "The Norton Anthology Of English Literature" and have dificulty finding the meaning of some words such as "priket", can u help me plz? because english is not my 1st language i always have problems in finding the definition of some word belong to middle east. :(

At September 28, 2008 8:44 AM, Blogger Joseph Koczera, S.J. said...


I can appreciate your difficulty - a lot of native speakers have trouble with Chaucer, because the language has changed a great deal since he wrote.

"Priketh" means "pricked," in the sense of "he was pricked by a thorn." In this context, though, its used rather metaphorically - "so priketh hem Nature in hir corages" roughly translates to "nature so pricks them in their hearts," with the idea being that people are moved by nature (more specifically, by the changes that come with spring - plants growing, birds singing, etc.) to travel, i.e. to go on pilgrimages.

Hope that helps,
Joe K sj


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