This is from a June 1878 letter of Hopkins to RW Dixon, an Anglican clergymen and poet whom he knew earlier at school. Hopkins wrote to him about Dixon’s poetry, which he admired and thought should be more widely known.
It is sad to think what disappointment must many times over have filled your heart for the darling children of your mind. Nevertheless fame whether won or lost is a thing which lies in the award of a random, reckless, incompetent, and unjust judge, the public, the multitude. The only just judge, the only just literary critic, is Christ, who prizes, is proud of, and admires, more than any man, more than the receiver himself can, the gifts of his own making.
The applications of these words are numerous. Every artist, teacher, parent, athlete, or anyone involved in public activity of any kind can take heart from them. They recall for me the words of Bl. John Paul II about how true success in any endeavor is rooted in faithfulness to Christ, and not outwardly visible fruits. The world is charged with the grandeur of God, Hopkins wrote in a famous sonnet, and we know from our own inattentiveness and cold hearts that we often miss what for others are clear signs of his presence. And not only in the natural world. “Am I faithful to the tasks Christ has given me? Do I offer my work to him and greet outward success, if it comes and in what measure it comes, with humility and gratitude? Can I accept that I will sometimes, often, or even always toil in relative anonymity, with the struggles that make up my work unseen and unappreciated?” These are questions Hopkins learned to ask about his work as a Jesuit priest and poet, and remind us not only that Christ is the “the only just judge” of our work, but that he receives all our efforts with pride and admiration. “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your master” is thus the desired response to all our efforts.Share on Facebook