These Holy Mysteries
These Holy Mysteries
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“These holy mysteries” is phrase which occurs in the Book of Common Prayer, in the context of the Eucharist.  It is in these holy mysteries that God feeds his children with the spiritual food of the body and blood of Jesus Christ.  This meal, never far from view, sustains them through the feasts and fasts of the Christian year.


In her first volume of poetry, Cynthia Erlandson explores the mysteries presented to us by the church in each yearly cycle of the liturgical seasons.  Light and darkness, drought and flood, feast and fast, death and rebirth – each of these contrasts plays its part in her poems, as she guides the reader into meditations on the mysteries of the church year.

Easter Monday


                                         -Luke 24:13-35



With hearts eclipsed by Friday’s three-day night

And eyes still blinded to their master’s face,

They hear his sermon, senseless that his light

Has thrown the flames of hell to dark disgrace.


The evening sun begins to set its fire,

Their hearts to burn, the longing lenten night

To roll away, and dawning of desire

To rise, lit by a death-defying light.


His broken hands break bread in sacred rite;

Their sudden vision flares to brightest mirth.

Their blindness gone, he vanishes from sight;

And they, with fiery hearts, will light the earth.


       Autumn Pentecost


Shining wine-red trees tremble

in a rushing Whitsuntide wind

that rattles the breathing, bornagain world

with vibrant revival,

quickening ten thousand quaking tongues

to sing a fiery sanctus.

Flickering sun-colored flames crackle,

shake, break the blue,

rejoicing in orange exuberance.

Golden glorias explode in October ecstasy,

quickening the pentecostal pulse.

Burning bushes burst into sursum corda for

the season’s second coming.

The zealous horizon resounds:

variegated voices

sing staccato doxologies,

speaking of him who spake by the prophets,

shouting their credo:

I believe in the Holy Ghost.

Cynthia Erlandson studied writing and literature at Wheaton College (Illinois).  She fell in love with the Book of Common Prayer and its form of worship when she discovered them in 1990.  Since then she has remained a devoted Prayer Book reader and user, and has been writing poetry to explore and celebrate the liturgical seasons of the Church calendar. She has had poems published in A Widening Light: Poems of the Incarnation (ed. Luci Shaw), and Touchstone (A Journal of Ecumenical Orthodoxy).  She resides near Detroit, Michigan with her husband and two children.


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