His Greatest Seal: Poems by the Rev. Francis Quintin-Arthur

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The Sacred Triduum

Crucify Him!
We Roses
Excruciating Pain
Divine Voice
The Voice of Humanity
Silent Days
Blank Day
Original Forgiveness
Truth Irrepressible


Lord, you warned not your disciples
That after you’d supped with them
You would also be washing their feet
Nowadays, on Holy Thursdays
The priest usually forewarns those
Who’d be so lucky
As to have their feet washed
So on this given day
All of them come prepared—
No dirty socks, feet pre-washed
But on that Thursday night
Little did they know
You’d pull such a surprise
Since you had a human nose
Lord, I can only imagine
How odoriferous were some of their feet
Might have smelt to high heaven
But all you gave was love
Even in that predicament
With your own clean hands
You washed their reeking feet
Having washed their feet,
What part of their bodies
Would you not wash?
So wash my whole body
Just as Peter demanded
But I hear you say to me also
What you said to him:
That I’m already washed
May I be clean enough
To wash other people’s feet
Till we’re all clean indeed

Crucify Him!

Judgment, judgment, judgment—
that of mortal man.
Has He who created you
not commanded you to do no work
But lie in wait for Him?
How proud you are!
Words burst forth from your lips
but you are little aware of what you say,
destroying people’s lives.
Judgment of man, how hypocritical!
You it was who insanely judged my Lord,
—who had done you no wrong—
to death, death on a cross.
As you look back on what you said,
aren’t you shamefaced?
Oh, yes, you are!
Even on that same day you did regret it,
for you were so very confused,
you knew not whom to condemn—
Barabbas or Christ the Lord,
though you claim to know it all.
Ignorance pharisaical!
Then you were shattered,
for when you’d finished your cruel acts
you realized how grossly mistaken you were,
when the earth quaked,
gifting the entombed with life,
giving enlightenment to the soldier,
your accomplice in judgment
to declare, “Indeed, this was the Son of God.”
“Indeed,” he said, for sooth.
Judgment of man, begone!
For you are akin to the proud devil!

We, Roses

We, roses, still bloom
E’en on this day
When You bow Your head.
We still stand
And lift up our heads,
For we know You well.
We have no words.
Our brightness has faded not.
However, not as prominent,
We have a meaningless glare—
Yet profound—
Which we give to passersby
Not knowing what to say
For sheer disgust and surprise
That man can try to end
The work of Him who made
Us, flowers, to bloom for same man.

Excruciating Pain

O pain excruciating
Whom I now anthropomorphize,
Pain, I surname you,
But first, Excruciating—
Excruciating Pain!

Jesus, you cried aloud that day
For someone to alleviate you.
You asked for common water—
All you got was sour wine,
Unlike the wine you drank
With your disciples
The night before
Or that which you provided
In Cana of Galilee.

O Pain, how pitiful your voice.

“Eloi, Eloi,” you yelled,
“Lama sabachthani.”
What could Elijah have done
Even if you had called his name
But to prostrate himself before you
And acclaim you Christ the Lord
E’en in your excruciating pain.

Divine Voice

Divine voice throughout the trial of Christ
So audible but falling on deaf ears
Man thought you’d been silenced
But the voice was clearly heard
Was it not divine voice
That said, “Thou hast said it”
And forgave the repentant thief?
What about the following earthquake
And the darkness that fell on earth
The splitting of the tombs
And the dead rising to life?
Were all these voices even on that Good Friday
Not divine voice?
Man, be attentive, for he speaks!
The divinity always present
Culminating in the resurrection
Gracing man with endless life
Divine voice falling on deaf ears
Because of pride

The Voice of Humanity

cries through the flesh
nailed so fast to the tree,
the flesh that lay comfortably
in its place on the body,
now forced to find a place
around a six-inch nail.
Red corpuscles and white
find their way outside the flesh—
blood meant to be within,
blood shed by mortal man,
who no right does possess
to spill another’s blood,
let alone this sacred blood
sacrificed willingly by Christ
in painful resignation
for our numerous sins
that corrupted mortal man,
to make such shameful sport
of Him whose humanity hurt
so much His body cried,
fixed fast to the heavy cross
with nails a half-foot in length.
To make His humanity cry
under the weight of our sins!

Silent Days

Our Lord rests in the tomb;
Let Him rest in peace.
After carrying His cross
He is very tired.
The thorns pierce no more;
The whips are laid to rest.
He’s enfolded in new garment
As white as white can be,
No stain of blood on it.
Marks of thorns
And spears and lashes
On this sacred entombed body,
But all is calm.
The Pharisees are back at home;
The Sadducees sit to reflect;
They all perceive the truth,
But pride silences them.
Otherwise they would speak their consciences
And portray humility in truthfulness.
They found a scapegoat
Who spoke so loud for them:
“This indeed was the Son of God.”
Now they’ve all returned home
Their consciences to deal with.
So no more noise is heard,
For they would let Him rest.
So still! All creation,
Sing a lullaby to your Lord.
But sing it not too loud;
Sing treble and alto,
No shrills, please!
You counterparts sensibly chant tenor and bass.
Again, forget not: sing not too loud.
For you’ve no need to shout—
The noisemakers are gone to their homes,
The empty barrels with the most noise.
So sing in very low tones, I say!
For He rests.

Blank Day

Holy Saturday.
Full day with the dead
Morning, noon and night.
Birds, what’s wrong with your beaks?
Agape, but not a sound.
Are you in shock or are you confused?
Earth, you’ve stopped your quaking.
The entombed rejoice in His company
For He has sanctified death.
O death, about to be restored
To the life you were meant to have!
O lucky dead:
You’re on the verge
Of sharing the spotlight with Christ the Lord
For the entire day this day.
Have you all your things packed
In readiness for ecstasy unlimited?
You’ll return here no more—
He carries you with Him
To the lovely place you were meant to be.
O blank, silent day
Of preparation for you dead,
To leave death behind you.
The Lord has rescued you.

Original Forgiveness

I see the grin on your faces,
Adam and Eve. What relief!
You’ve been in prison too long.
The owner of Paradise enters.
He has fought tooth and nail
To break down the doors
And effect your rescue,
For a better Paradise He’s made for you,
Where you can sample every fruit,
For all is divinely approved
As good for consumption.
See how He loves you.
You thought He’d forget you, eh?
He holds no grudges—
Just seeks our best effort.
You’ve suffered long enough.
See, He comes to you smiling
He enfolds you in His arms
With kisses and hugs divine.
Aren’t you glad you ate the fruit
To experience this kind of love?
O felix culpa!
He sups and dines with you
And even waits on you.
How easily you eat it up,
With due reverence, though,
For you know He loves you best,
And will love you nonetheless.
I’m happy for you, Adam and Eve,
For I feel your joy in my heart.
To have a Lord as kind as He!

Truth Irrepressible

A can
Filled with liquid
Put under pressure
Forbidden to come out
Except when desired
By manipulator
At his bidding
None may puncture
For it waits most anxiously
To take its rightful place—
Outside can.
To puncture is to explode
The Truth and only Truth
That of and from above
That was in a manger born
For salvation of man
Truth suppressed by man
Who hypocritically sought the Truth
But having found it—the Word—
On His head a thorny crown placed
And dishonorably judged the Truth
Finding Truth guilty—Truth guilty?
O Falsehood—misusing Truth for a veil
To gain enough voice
For the conviction of Truth
Helpless, so you thought
You led Him to be crucified
With heavy cross on His shoulders
You were satisfied
Having handcuffed the Truth
Truth restricted?
So His voice will no more be heard
But will can never be punctured
Or at least rot in time?
And is content not still anxious
To occupy rightful place outside?
Suppressed to the hilt
To point of death
And He lay low His head
But the thorn had pierced
And the spear had made way
And the can punctured—
O eruptious earthquake, raising high your voice
And you Lazaruses, parading from your tombs
Centurion’s mouth agape
To join speaking the Truth so glaring
Then all was still
But Truth now emancipated
Not by man
By power of Truth itself—
Still, but Truth remains in tomb
But three days later
The entire content found its way
To all the four corners of the earth
To find way into every ear
That’s wise enough to hear
For even the buried dead lend ear
And are raised incorruptible
Insuppressible Truth of God
Persisting from immemorial to endless time
Truth irrepressible!

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