A Review by M.S. Ocampo

In the introduction to this poetry collection, Reverend Terrance A. Sweeney calls Roses for the Most High “a poetic exploration of the Divine/human encounter.” For him, truly Divine intimacies imbue the whole person – body, mind, heart and soul.” Mystics are a living testament to the close relationship between God and His creation, trying to repair the gap created by Adam and Eve through their original sin. The poems in Roses for the Most High are a reflection of the wisdom and love between God and the Mystics.

  • Year Published: 2018
  • Genre: Poetry
  • Author’s Worldview: Catholic
  • Themes: Mysticism, contemplative life, saints, religious life, monasticism
  • Audience: Adult

The poems from this book remind me of Thomas Merton’s writings. They’re a lot more contemplative than your average Shakespearean sonnet. This book of poems is divided up into three sections: poems about the saints, poems about Mary, and poems about the contemplative life and all its intricacies. The author painted all the beautiful interior illustrations that mark each section of the poetry anthology.

These poems start out with a quote from a saint or a Bible verse that relates to the subject of the poem. The first section of the anthology centers on various saints. The anthology introduces lesser known mystical saints such as the Venerable Maria of Jesus of Agreda and the Desert Fathers. The poems focusing on them act as an intriguing introduction to those who may not have heard of them.

Chapter 2 is devoted to the Blessed Mother. One poem that I particularly love contemplates the ten virtues of Mary. Without outright naming the virtues each stanza instead gives an insight to what each virtue means. There are also a few poems that center on the Rosary. My personal favorite is one where every stanza starts with “You dropped a rose for me to find,” as it contemplates how the Rosary can take everyone on a journey. There’s even a poem for Marian consecration.!

The third section of the poetry anthology focuses on the contemplative life in general, with poems of varying meters and even a “free verse” poem. Each poem focuses on aspects of Catholic life, like the Sacraments and the use of incense. One interesting poem focuses on the Magi, the three wise men from the East, entitled “Rubaiyat of the Magi (Is our Own).” The reader goes on a journey alongside the magi as they travel to see the Christ child.

I recommend this poetry anthology for those who love poetry as well as for people who are discerning contemplative religious life or just want to know more about contemplative prayer in general. All of these poems would make for a really good read during the Lenten season or for a silent retreat.