Fr. Joseph Fessio, SJ, starts “anti-blog”,


Fr. Joseph Fessio, SJ, founder and editor of Ignatius Press, has started a blog.

However, he describes it as a kind of “anti-blog”, Frfessio_angelussilesius2or even an “anti-Tweet” site. The blog is not about him, but about a 17th century priest-mystic-poet whom the great Catholic theologian and humanist Hans Urs von Balthasar has called “one of the greatest poets of the west”, ranking him with Homer, Virgil, Dante, and Shakespeare. His name was Johann Scheffler, but he went by the name of Angelus Silesius. 

The blog is, after Angelus Silesius’ great work “The Angelic Pilgrim”, and is solely focused on the nearly 1700 two-line poems composed by the German.

In the “About” section of the blog, Fr. Fessio explains the motivation for creating the site:

I have found these poems so rich, so deeply theological, and so inspiring, that I decided to create a blog as a kind of “anti-blog”, and even more as an “anti-Tweet” site.  Cyberspace overflows with trivialities. And they are often “pushed” onto our smartphones or computers. (Often enough people seek this.) These poems take you into the depths and up to the heights. They are solid and nourishing. But they won’t come to you. You have to come to them.

I will post poems frequently. And when all the poems from Fr. von Balthasar’s little book have been posted, Ignatius Press will publish them together.

The beautiful, concise, German poetry cannot be reproduced in English without more losses than any possible gains. So I have posted the German original with a very literal English, word for word, translation. This translation is meant to help the reader read and understand the poems in German, enjoying the sonority, rhythm, and rhyme of the original.

Some of the words are archaic. And there are poetic contractions.  But the German is quite simple. It is the content which is profound.

Fr. Fessio also provides a sound clip for each poem, writing that he makes “no pretense of having a perfect German accent. But you will be able to experience the poetry of the original German.”

The blog also contains an “Epilogue” by von Balthasar, who wrote of Angelus Silesius:

This selection from Scheffler’s almost 1700 two-line poems is meant first of all as a gift and a help for prayerful reflection and contemplation. Certainly Scheffler is in this work one of the greatest poets of the West; but he writes poetry because he loves God and is enthralled and enraptured by God. Thinking about God and the divine takes him out of himself. God is for him the eternally new wonder. Every grain of divine truth blossoms for him and becomes a tree that reaches to heaven and grows into a magic garden in whose beauty he wanders like a child in a fairy tale.

He is not a melancholic but a troubadour consumed by love. This love is the spark that ignites his art that is all the more amazing in that it doesn’t portray the song of the heart in its endless outpouring, but only again and again in sudden flashes. The beloved truth overwhelms anew as if for the first time. The heart stops and is exposed to love that is stronger than death.

Visit to learn more about Angelus Silesius and to read his poems.

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About Carl E. Olson 1190 Articles
Carl E. Olson is editor of Catholic World Report and Ignatius Insight. He is the author of Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?, Will Catholics Be "Left Behind"?, co-editor/contributor to Called To Be the Children of God, co-author of The Da Vinci Hoax (Ignatius), and author of the "Catholicism" and "Priest Prophet King" Study Guides for Bishop Robert Barron/Word on Fire. His recent books on Lent and Advent—Praying the Our Father in Lent (2021) and Prepare the Way of the Lord (2021)—are published by Catholic Truth Society. He is also a contributor to "Our Sunday Visitor" newspaper, "The Catholic Answer" magazine, "The Imaginative Conservative", "The Catholic Herald", "National Catholic Register", "Chronicles", and other publications. Follow him on Twitter @carleolson.

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