When We Pray–Hound of Heaven

August 6, 2015 |

WhenWePray_HoundRabbi Heschel says: Meaning is in search of man. He (God) comes looking, searching, and finds us, searching every path where we might be hiding, and calling us more and more to God’s self so that we might drink from the well of life. “Rise, clasp my hand and come,” says the poem ‘Hound of Heaven’ by Francis Thompson. And again God speaks in the poem: “I am He Whom thou seekest.” We seek in earnest, God finds. One can definitely find this in the Old Testament Book Songs of Songs. In the entire book God is in search of us, and we are in search of God. More beautiful than the ‘Hound of Heaven’ poem, this small book in scripture carries a large message. It is seen, at first, the best example of the pursuit of love by one person for another. This, for me, is its first meaning, but it can be said that it is ultimately God in search of us, and we in search of Him. On one level, it is two lovers in hot pursuit of each other, often eluding each other, missing the presence of each other. Still, on another level, it can be said that God searches the soul and the Church as well, to keep the soul and the Church longing for the Parousia, for eternal life with Him. This book reveals a marriage between God and His Church; at least that has been the interpretation for centuries by theologians and spiritual writers in the Church. It is also a marriage of God with the Carmelite. Over the centuries, beginning with Teresa of Avila, Carmelites have placed great emphasis on this book from scripture. It is an important key to their formation in prayer. God is always in search, even before we begin the search. For the Christian, God is first found in sacred scripture, the primary point of entry toward reaching God in Christ.

1. Meditate on the poem: The Hound of Heaven. Have you ever experienced yourself in this poem?
2. How do you see yourself in this poem? When? Where?
3. Does God still pursue you and search you out? When? Where?
4. Meditate on the book: Song of Songs (Canticle of Canticle): What do you experience as you spend time in prayer with this text?

After your reflection, how will you make your meditation fruitful in your personal life?

Ivan Cormac Marsh
Fr. Ivan Cormac Marsh has worked extensively in ministry on the parish, university, retreat center and seminary levels. He has a doctorate in the area of spirituality and ministry and lectures on spiritual direction in the United States and Canada. He lives in Tucson, AZ.
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