He who carries all the heavens without pain, who beckons to the stars and they obey, is burdened with the heavy yoke of servitude. God lays the unbearable on him to bear; he takes the whole world's guilt upon his shoulders. Ah, now Divinity's high power is revealed as life-blood that in human weakness flows when human skill and efforts fail. Ah, he has taken my cross also with his own. God's body consecrates all that it touches: how can so sweet a burden be despised? Whatever flows from blessing's well must flourish. He bears not just his own cross, but also me with mine. The tree of knowledge radiates a love divine. Click here to read this sonnet in the original German.
You, crown of all angels, Heaven's jewel and glory from whose most worthy head divine rays flash, you let the crown of thorns pierce the Throne of Majesty. The tiger-pressure bursts your veins. Yes, each thorn-prick opens up the spring of life: blood rubies spray from that redemption-sap. My heavenly crown hangs on these thorn-tips won in this war of suffering. They should have pierced my heart and not his head! But no, both my salvation and your love must walk this thorny path to reach their goal. You endure the barbs, and win for me the roses. O Love, for whom, with love, I would willingly be pierced, let me spread your name abroad in crowned and starry streets. Click here to read this sonnet in the original German.
O Body, one with God, earth's greatest sanctuary, you spirit-filled temple, throne of heavenly virtue, heart of the Trinity and God's true son! Must you be scourged by sin and sinners? You patiently endure the bloody beatings. Utmost innocence bears punishment for mortal crime: you endure the pain; I revel in the pleasure. To redeem me, you submit to mortal danger. Ah, ah! every lash goes through my heart and soul, my spirit wrung from me as your blood from you! Were it not ingratitude and rude affront, I would refuse redemption, since it makes you suffer. Yet, because your great love conquers mine, love's ardour flows like blood within me. Click here to read this sonnet in the original German.
After this blow, an instant thunderclap should strike! Why do heaven and earth delay to execute the Arch-Criminal? Why don't they swallow him right now? And why does Hell not open wide its maw? You, the highest aim of angel choirs' worship, Beauty's epitome—ah, should you not defeat the panther-hearts and pierce them with your rays? Ah no, the slap in your face lifts my face upwards. The Throne of Glory is struck here before me. His face, source of our Sun's light, turned aside so that mine, comforted, will ever be uplifted. He bears the punishment; we bear glory's image. This sinful blow delivered in this place secures our greatest joy of looking on his face. Click here to read this sonnet in the original German.
My chosen Blood, ah, my redemption's Lifeblood! Where can I find heart or words to love and laud such unheard-of faithfulness in this heart-rending trial? Heaven alone can give me power to praise. Sweat, hot with anguished love, salvation's pith and power, forced out through heart-dissolving fear and pain from which God should have spared his son! Our salvation's bound to him more firmly than his own heart: his heart melts, our salvation's gained. Each droplet is a mirror of his kindness. God's majesty shines forth from this blood-anguish: he endures, while bearing all our guilt. Ah blood, come to my aid in my soul's parting hour: on Judgment Day, clothe me in crimson. Click here to read this sonnet in the original German.
He who made the earth now falls face down on that same earth. He prays, who is most worthy of our prayer. He who saves us all from pain trembles in his pain. Prostrate, he lifts our faces up to heaven. As one man's fall destroyed our innocence, so the other's fall saves us from guilt. There he sinks into the abyss; here, he draws us by his merit up to the light of God's grace. The Unshakeable who split the rock, now shakes; who made the earth quake, now quakes with dread and fear. God's thundering wrath shatters his every nerve so that you, my soul, obtain salvation's power. His blood's balm flows from his body's broken vessel and pours on you the fragrance of its peace. Click here to read this sonnet in the original German.
Not only in distress and death, but in my very mouth my beloved gives himself to me in sweetness. His blood, enflamed by love, shall quiet my heart's heat. I kiss and eat him out of love, here in my throat. He could not be more closely wed with me. He gives his very heart to still my hunger, gives us his own self in his last will, he who was first, before the world's foundation. Oh, send a flaming host to kindle our devotion. You who prepare our hearts, your Spirit makes the way, sends virtues before him, the soul's adornment, so that you find a spotless house prepared for you. God, you give yourself to me! Grant that, worthily and with your grace, I may receive you. Click here to read this sonnet in the original German.
O Jesus, will you enter us, who are but dust? You Lord of Glory, throne of God Most High, Earth's happiness and healing, Heaven's sun and crown in whom we see the Father's loving heart unveiled! You, who prepare the heart, inspire us with devotion; stir up our strength in joyful notes of bliss to rightly receive God's holy Son before whom even angels fear and tremble. O highest wonder! Mortals eat their Maker. The body that is one with God, longs to be one with us. O deepest Goodness, let us fittingly receive you! God's love and might have never shone so brightly. The inmost heart's blood flows into our mouths; from deep within our hearts we praise and thank you. Click here to read this sonnet in the original German.
For the Easter season, we re-post a translation from last year, one of Greiffenberg’s sonnets on the resurrection.
Rise even now in me, my Lord, through faith; rise in my heart's depth with your power, that I give witness to the world that you have risen! Let me, proclaiming you with zeal, use all my breath, and let your Sun of grace now rise. Roll every error-stone from heart and mouth, and I'll confess you freely, boldly, every hour. Let no created thing steal my heart's comfort. Stay with me in this world, for it is evening. Give honey from the rock, and sweetness from your wounds. I feel my heart's on fire from your words; you rouse and also satisfy desire. My heart, closed to all but you, my Lord, rejoices in your risen might and presence. Click here to read this sonnet in the original German.
The seventh: “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!” (Luke 23:46)
With my own, I give into your gracious hands all believers' spirits. My death gives them life; my body's burial lifts them to your bosom; my descent to hell is their ascent to heaven. As I commit my spirit to your hand, I give them peace, for which I long have striven in heart's pain and torment, bloodied on the cross, till at last I reach my suffering's end. My love does not desire suffering, yet I will even die, so that mortality itself becomes immortal. My death conquers death. I bring resurrection with me into the earth. Earth and Death, you think you've swallowed Life: no! Even dying cannot extinguish Life. Click here to read this sonnet in the original German. Note: the document linked here contains the entire series of 7 sonnets.