The English Martyrs

The English Martyrs

The English Martyrs, 4th May 2020

Softly this Sunday morning
of sunlight and daffodils
The thought comes to me
That with malign intent somewhere
At this particular moment
Prising the sealed edges of integrity
Man tortures man.

I should like to pretend otherwise
Bury my head in the sand
of my Sunday complacency
(the daffodils sing in my heart)
Yet resurrection is timeless
And Calvary can be anywhere
And darkness light.

Ann Dover.  (Sr. Giles of the Poor Clares)

This beautiful and disturbing poem has sat in my in-tray for some forty years and is as relevant today as ever. ‘Man tortures man’ seems almost part of our definition; how to disagree dishonourably. We remember the English martyrs, now, in this light rather than in any sense of triumphalist ‘we’re right and you’re wrong’, knowing that we are as likely to inflict martyrdom on others as to endure it ourselves. But their witness gives us hope that darkness can indeed be overcome by light, that, our weaknesses not withstanding, the courage not to inflict suffering on others and to endure it for ourselves, is possible, and can come to us from without, is a sign that resurrection is timeless and Christ lives.