“The Fewer Men, the Greater Share of Honour”

Sr. Laurence Olivier as Henry V
Sr. Laurence Olivier as Henry V

Among the tidbits of advice given by spiritual directors to those discerning a vocation, I bet not too many are told to read a passage from Shakespeare’s Henry V! But that is just the advice that was given to seminarian Daniel Heenan, FSSP, when he was “looking to run away from” his vocation.

In the St. Crispin’s Day speech given by King Henry V of England (see actor Kenneth Branagh’s stirring rendition on YouTube)  to his outnumbered soldiers prior to the great battle of Agincourt in 1415, Henry says in this excerpt:

He which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say “To-morrow is Saint Crispian.”
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say “These wounds I had on Crispian’s day.”
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day.

Later, these famous lines are uttered by the king: We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.

Daniel said, “At first, I thought this was strange advice, but at the conclusion when he chides those who may be fearful to join the battle with the regret that they would later feel for not having acted courageously, the application to vocational discernment became clear. We sacrifice a little, and we inherit a kingdom.”

Daniel will be ordained to the holy priesthood in 2014, God willing, and thanks the to the assistance of the Mater Ecclesiae Fund for Vocations, an organization that enables priests and religious who have outstanding student debt to respond generously to the Lord’s call.

We celebrate the feast day of St. Crispin and his twin brother, Crispinian, on October 25, according to the old calendar.

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