Posted by: Peadar Ban | March 12, 2012

Mysteries and Stations, by Pavel Chichikov

How odd it may seem that children are attracted by rhyme and rhythm and the sounds of words, those things that make up the building blocks of poems. Children love to hear, over and over, nursery rhymes; easily learning them on their own from an early age so that they remember them into their very old age. But mention poetry to an adult and the vast majority will wrinkle their nose at the thought of actually reading one poem, let alone owning a book full of them. It is a sin against the culture that we have grown so unaccustomed to the beauties and the truths in poetry, beauties and truths ever ancient, ever new…   The best poems should be like icons for us leading us beyond this material world to a world more true and lasting — and reading them, living with them, should be a kind of liturgy, a work of love and service to the larger Truth they point to.

In “Mysteries and Stations in the Manner of Ignatius”, the poet Pavel Chichikov presents us with a series of poetic meditations on the great Catholic prayer of the Rosary whose “Mysteries” are themselves meant to bring the faithful believer into a closer relation with the life of Christ, and also a series of meditations on the Stations of the Cross, reflections on various points in Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection, the most important of all Christian “Mysteries”. Pavel’s is a book for all Christians, not only Catholics, but Orthodox and others who believe in Christ and His saving acts. Religious poems have long held an important place in Christian art, supporting the prayer life and the liturgy of Christians from the very beginning, from our ecclesial adoption of the prose and poetry of the Bible up until the present day. Inspirational, mystical, religious poetry has characterized and enhanced the liturgy of all Christian churches, Roman, Byzantine, Eastern, Western, Catholic and Protestant, ancient and modern. “Mysteries and Stations” is firmly rooted in this tradition, a tradition that brings forth a luminous iconography of redemption for the reader. This work of Pavel Chichikov’s aptly illustrates the eye for vivid imagery and ear for a telling phrase that meet here in verse as much to be prayed as to be read.

Pavel Chichikov is a poet who lives as he writes, in the mystery of an incarnated world, one which, as another poet tells us, is “charged with the grandeur of God”; grandeur which calls for poets who will remind us of its presence and invite us to step with them past the veil obscuring it from our work-a-day world; to visit the “stations” along the way which help us to know and understand how much our lives are worth.

All good poetry should leave its readers feeling some sense of gratitude for the experience and the gift of the poem.  The marvelous thing about this “slim book” is that one is left with a sense of gratitude to God for what He has done for oneself.

 

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