(After The Golden Legend by Jacobus de Voragine)The historical St. Dunstan will benefit us if we study his career with an impartial love of right, and hatred of wrong, wheresoever found. But the legendary St. Dunstan? He and such as he will do us no good if, overlooking the grave lesson of self-conquest and sin-conquest, we assimilate nothing but tongs and a devil. (Christina Rossetti, Time Flies: A Reading Diary) Hear, O Church, of how On Candlemas day when, With child, his mother held a taper With all the church, and all The tapers were that night quenched, Save hers. Hear, O Church, of how The child then contained in her Was prophesied to grow Into a great and holy light Unto all England. Hear and learn. Hear, O Church, of the man Who worked with his hands When they were tired of prayer, Who shaped fiery metal with tongs Made chalices to stave off The devil of idleness. Hear, O Church, of how The devil one night came To him in likeness of a woman, Spoke unto him of vanities, and Though charming him with her speech, Could not fool Dunstan. Hear, O Church, of Dunstan who, Knowing her for what she was, Took his fiery tongs in hand, Caught the devil’s nose with them, And foiled her with righteous fire. Hear, O Church, and learn. Hear, O you who are ashamed, All of you who cannot tell
The devil from the beautiful, Who cannot by yourselves kill him With your own weak handiwork: Hear and weep; hear and learn. Hear, O Church, of broken wings, Smold’ring wicks and bruisèd reeds. Hear of spirits foiled and scolded, And of the Servant who alone Can take the devil’s nose and scold it With the fire of His only Good. Hear, O church, and learn this lesson: Hear of fire and stronger hands, Which save us in our brokenness. Learn to listen not to myths: We cannot learn from, cannot be The Golden Legend’s Dunstan.