A Catechism

What is thy name?

ROBERT B UCHANAN .

Who

Gave thee that name?

Those from whose seed I grew,
He from whose loins I sprang, she in whose warm
Womb I grew shapen into flesh and form, —
Whereby I first did crawl, then walked upright
A child, inheritor of Life and Light.

What did thy Father and Mother then for thee?

Three things they swore: firstly, to shelter me
From all things evil, teaching me to find,
Through love for them, due love for all Mankind;
Next, that through that first faith, made ripe and good
Through human motherhood and fatherhood,
My soul should learn to apprehend and know
The Parentage Divine whence all things flow;
Lastly, that, walking all my nights and days
In love and reverence, I should learn God's ways
And His commandments. These things in my name,
They promised and fulfill'd, until I came
To full estate of all Life's joys and woes;
And as the measure of my love for those
Who first made Earth a happy dwelling-place,
And ring'd me round with offices of grace,
So may my love for all things measured be
Now and for ever, through Eternity.

Dost thou still think that thou art bound in right
To keep those pledges?

Yea, and morn and night
I keep them; if I stumble unawares,
The fault is on my head, and not on theirs
Who hold me dear for ever in their sight,
And turn'd my face to Heaven, to feel the Light.

Rehearse the articles of thy belief.

I do believe in God, supreme and chief
Of all things, first and last; — whose works proclaim
His glory, and the glories of His name;
I do believe in all the gods that shine
Beneath Him, humanised for eyes like mine
To images of loveliness divine;
I do believe that through my Father in Heaven
My sins (if Sin could be) would be forgiven,
And that, though Death for ever passes by,
Whate'er hath come to life can never die.

Thou saidst " If Sin could be"?

If Sin be blent
Into my nature as its element,
Then 'tis my God's as surely as 'tis mine;
But since I know my Father is Divine,
I know that all which seemeth Sin in me
Is but an image and a mystery.

Who is the God of Earth and Sea and Sky
All-living and all-knowing?

He is I;
Impersonal in all that seems to be,
He first and last grew personal in me;
His inward essence shines behind these eyes;
His outer form in all they recognise.

Hath He no Being, then, apart from thee?

None.
Yet abideth through Eternity?

As I abide.

Yet is He Lord of Death?

Yea, and if I should perish, perisheth.

Is He not more than thou?

He is the Whole

Of which I am the part, yet this my Soul
Is He, and surely through this sight of mine
He sees Himself and knows Himself Divine.

Now, name His attributes?

They have but one name, —
Love, which embracing all things grows the same
As that it contemplates.

Lov'st thou the Lord?

Nay; tho' I bow before His will and word.

How doth He manifest Himself?

In me,
And in mine other self, Humanity.

Name the Commandments!

Ten. Thou shalt have one
God, and one only (may His will be done!)
Thou shalt not fashion graven images
Of Him, or any other, and to these
Give prayer or praise; nor shall thy faith be priced
By any priest of Christ or Antichrist,
In any Temple or in any Fane;
Thou shalt not take the Name of God in vain.
All days shalt thou keep holy, pure and blest,
Six shalt thou labour, on the seventh rest,
But every day shall as a Sabbath be
Of heavenly hope and love and charity.
Honour thy father and thy mother, — not
That God may lengthen and make bright thy lot,
But that the love thou bearest them may spring
Fountain-like to refresh each living thing
Which lives and loves like thee. Slay not at all, —
Neither to feed thy wrath, nor at the call
Of nations lusting in accursed strife,
Nor to appease the Law's black lust for life;
But take the murderer by the hand, and bring
Pity and mercy for his comforting.
Tho' thou must never an Adulterer be,
Deem not the deed of kind Adultery,
But reverence that function which keeps fair
The Earth, the Sea, the Ether, and the Air,
And peopling countless worlds with lives like thine,
Maketh all Nature fruitful and divine;
For as thou dost despise thy flesh and frame
Shalt thou despise the Lord thro' whom they came,
And if one act of these thou deemest base
Thou spittest in the Fountain of all Grace.
Thou shalt not steal, nor any lie sustain
Against thy neighbour; covet not his gain,
His wife, or aught that's his to have and hold,
For robbing him, thou rob'st thyself tenfold!

What dost thou learn from these Commandments?

Love
For things around me, and for things above
Worship and reverence; hate of deeds that sin
Against the living God who dwells within
This Temple of my life; obedience
To that celestial Light which issues thence.

Swearest thou to renounce, reject, and shun
The Flesh and all the lusts thereof?

Not one;
For these are of the godhead, which is I,
And if this Flesh could pass, this Soul must die.

Shall not the Flesh dissolve and disappear?
Shall not this Body which surrounds thee here
Pass into nothingness?

Never, since 'tis made

Of God's own substance, which can never fade.

Dost thou believe in Jesus Christ, God's Son?

In Him, and in my Brethren every one:
The child of Mary who was crucified,
The gods of Hellas fair and radiant-eyed,
Brahm, Balder, Guatama, and Mahomet,
All who have pledged their gains to pay my debt
Of sorrows, — all who through this world of dream
Breathe mystery and ecstasy supreme;
The greater and the less: the wise, the good,
Inheritors of Nature's godlike mood;
In these I do believe eternally,
Knowing them deathless, like the God in me .

How many sacraments hath God ordained
Whereby the strength of man may be sustained?

None; since all sacraments in Man are blent,
And I myself am daily sacrament.

Dost thou not realise that, being base,
Thou art lost for ever, if no saving grace
Were sent in pity out of yonder sky?
Dost thou not know that, answering man's cry
For help and aid, thy God who is Divine
Put on a human likeness such as thine, —
Knew all thy doubts and fears, was foully slain,
Died, rose a space, and shall arise again?

Death cannot touch the Lord my God. I know
That in a dream of death long years ago
Mine Elder Brother beautiful and fair
Inherited life's sorrow and despair,
And being weary of the garish day
Died, blessing me. He hath not passed away,
But filling all the world with His sweet breath
Walks, watch'd by two pale Angels, Sleep and Death.

Dost thou not in thine inmost heart believe,
Despite the lies which faithless sophists weave,
In Holy Church?

All Churches, great or small!
But most, that roof'd with blue celestial,
And fairer far than Temples built by hands,
Which, while all others fall, survives and stands!
More, I believe in Hell, and hope for Heaven!
Yea, also, that my fears may be forgiven,
And that this Body shall arise again
To Light and Everlasting Life. A MEN .
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