La fornace d'Amore

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Dom Eugène Vandeur, O.S.B. gives this prose in his meditations entitled, Les voies à la fournaise d'amour, and attributes it to the seraphic Saint Francis. I rather suspect it came from the pen of Jacopone da Todi. It puts me in mind of Saint John of the Cross and, even more, of the words of Our Lord sung at First Vespers of the Sacred Heart: "I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled" (Luke 12, 49). The translation from the French is my own.


The Canticle of Saint Francis

Love put me
in a furnace.
Love put me
in the furnace.
He put me
in the furnace of Love.

I

In a furnace of Love He put me
my new Spouse, my very own
when He slipped the ring onto my finger,
this loving little Lamb.
And then, He cast me into prison
and struck me with a blade,
splitting my heart wide open;
Love put me in a furnace.

II

He split my heart in two,
and my body fell to the ground.
The bolt of Love
ripping from its crossbow,
struck me, as it embraced me.
Out of peace He has made war;
I am dying of the sweetness.
Love put me in a furnace.

III

I am dying of the sweetness,
be not astonished.
Such a blow was dealt me
by love's lance.
Its point of iron is long and wide
as a hundred arms' lengths. Know this:
it went right through me .
Love put me in a furnace.

IV

And then, the arrows rained down tightly
and the crossbows thrust me down.
So, did I take up a shield,
and the blows came fast and heavy,
until nothing more could defend me.
They broke me into pieces,
so strong was the arm delivering them.
Love put me in a furnace.

V

He shot them with such force;
I despaired of fending them off.
And to escape death,
I cried out with all my strength:
"You are breaking the laws of combat."
But then, He raises an instrument of warfare
that overwhelms me with fresh blows.
Love put me in a furnace.


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VI

The arrows that He aimed at me
were of stone set in lead;
each of them weighed at least a thousand pounds.
He launched them in a hailstorm so thick
that I could not count them.
Not one of them missed me.
Love put me in a furnace.

VII

He could not have missed me, never,
so perfect was His aim.
I was lying on the earth,
unable to move; my members failed me.
My whole being was utterly smashed.
Like a man already dead
I no longer felt anything.
Love put me in a furnace.

VIII

Dead, not by mortal death,
but by intoxication with the Beloved.
Then, I awoke so strong,
again taking possession of my heart,
and I was able to follow the guides
who led me on
even to the gate of heaven.
Love put me in a furnace.

IX

After I regained consciousness,
I waged war against Christ.
Straightaway, I took up arms,
and rode my steed into His terrain.
And having come face to face with Him,
without delay, I came to blows,
and avenged myself on Him.
Love put me in a furnace.

X

When I had sated my vengeance,
I made my peace with Him;
For, from the very beginning
this Love had been true love.
Now, of Christ, the Lover,
I have become capable.
Ever and always does my heart carry Him.
Love put me in a furnace.

Love put me
in a furnace.
Love put me
in the furnace.
He put me
in the furnace of Love.

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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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