Friday, March 24, 2017

The Weather


The weather was a dismal grey.
I asked her, "Will you let me play?"
She told me, "I do send for you."
I felt her words were so untrue.

The weather was the brightest hue
Of softly glowing clouds and blue.
I told her, "I am busy now."
She said, "Hark! I show the Tao."

I spent in mis'ry long, long years
Of furtive glances, baleful tears.
I've realized that I was wrong.
This choice is mine, I write my song.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Inspired by a Photo in Holy Trinity Church, Gainsville

A friend texted me the photo, above, along with the caption, "It's just me here if you ever want to join me" and it made me think of Our Gracious Lord calling us to spend time with him. Here's a poem I wrote after I got the text:

Resting in His Presence now,
I see Our Savior King
And, slowly, oh, so, so slowly,
there is no other thing.

A thousand fears from years and years
Of striving, driving pain
Has meaning rendered in the now
His Mercy flows like rain.

He, tenderly, there waits for me,
And beckons from his Throne.
And takes the gifts He's given me,
And makes them all His own.

The gifts that I return to Him,
now bear my smudge, for sure;
So Mary intercedes for me
And washes them with myrrh.

The incense of her prayers increase
My sacrifices pure;
So things that once did make me whine
New meaning now procure.

Emotions that I never felt
In Him and her are found
The metacontext of our life:
By pain we're cleansed and bound.

I bind myself to Our Great King
And take with heart-felt love
The mystery that is my Self
As Gift from God Above.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Our Breath: Sign of Mercy and Hope

In the near-crushing disappointment of contemporary politics, I thought some free-verse should convey what I'm thinking about things. Cast your cares on the Merciful Love of God and be open to His gifts.

This government, legacy of pigs who forced upon us "freedom".
Robbing all piety from nature, they throw us
into self-deception, wrought with fear.

All the strange folk from generations
plod along unknowing, unwoke, deeply feeling

Cast your eye towards Heaven and repent.

Oh, Sacred Tree, spring forth from nothingness.
Allow the stirrings of our heart to sing once more
Your song.

We're dead, though. We struggle now and then
To open eyes to things we dimly sense.
For what?

For renderings of love amidst the ruins
of an age now lost to men.
We hope!

For in the stirrings of each unwoke heart
we see a glimmer of some strange new force

Our own decision to receive God's Love 
gives context to the dead who, still asleep,
do breathe.

For every breath means life.
And where there's life
There's hope.

Condemn, then, not those men who are but boys;
Nor women who themselves deny.
But pray!

For Mercy everlasting works through you.
And in each breath finds love.

Thursday, May 26, 2016


The free-est gift I give my self is to give myself to God;
And in the journey that I Work, I keep my feet unshod.
For in the giving of the gift the Giver gives to me
The Sacred Life that He did live and hung upon a Tree.

If self-denial is the quest that leads us to the Other,
Then we must make some sense of life attached here to Our Mother.
For nature only signifies transcendent things. It’s true,
And only saying “only” here brings me right back to you.

The dialectic we embrace has perfected our time,
And brings us to a sacred Gift that's hidden in our rhyme.
The only Real Person, then, is God Himself, you see.
But in that deep surrender, now, I find Integrity.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

A Dialogue about Broken Dishes

Puer: I'm sorry, Pater, I broke the dishes.

Pater: Why are you sorry?

Puer: Because I broke the dishes.

But did you intend to?

No, Pater, I did not.

Then, my glorious Puer, why do you say you're sorry?

I don't understand.

Pater: It is good and holy to apologize for those mistakes you committed willingly. However, to apologize for something that was an accident imputes guilt to yourself that you do not have.

Puer: Well, Pater, I feel bad about it and I don't know what to say. I didn't want to break the dishes, but there they are, broken. You have asked me before to tell you if I broke anything. How can I make up for it?

Pater: Oh, beautiful Puer, I sense your heart. And I honor your emotions. If you feel sad about your loss, share your heart with me.

Puer: Yes, Pater... I will begin over: I feel sad that I broke the dishes.

Ah, my Puer, were they lovely dishes?

Puer: No, Pater, they were shabby, but I did like them.

If they were shabby, why did you like them?

Puer: Because I used them whenever my friends came over. Mater did not want me to use the good dishes. She took these out of the closet and told me she had saved them for me to dine on with my friends.

Pater: It seems to me, then, that you feel sad not only because the shabby dishes are broken, but that you do not have anything on which to share meals with your friends. Is that all?

No, Pater, I also feel sad, too, because Mater made an effort to save them for me and now I have lost them. I feel like I have dishonored her gift.

Pater: My dear and sweet Puer, honor your emotions and take some delight in the fact that you still have Mater, me, and your friends to create new memories. You honor Mater by feeling deeply that you may have dishonored her gift. And you honor me by sharing your heart with me.

Let us sit down, soon, and write beautiful poetry about the joy these dishes brought you. Let us also talk to Mater and see if she can assist you in obtaining other dishes for the times you entertain your friends. Perhaps the next time that your friends come to dine with you, you can grieve the loss of the dishes together and sing a song in their honor?

But first, let us attend to the mess in the kitchen!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Written on the Occasion of Being Asked to Sponsor a Young Man for Confirmation

Our openness to the Divine
And sanctifying grace
Is sharing in the sweetest wine
poured out in every place.

Our soul seems like the barren earth
That laps up every drop
Of nourishment from heaven sent
Don't ever let it stop.

But even though the Perfect Gift
Is giv'n every day
We do traverse a deep, dark rift
That seems to block the way.

A willing heart will build a bridge
Across the empty span
Though there's no wall, there is no ridge
That stops God's holy Plan.

Except a heart that is still closed
To His most gracious rain
Hearts are bitter that were hosed  
By wounds from human pain.

The heart that's wounded is so dear
To Our Most Gracious Lord
He longs to draw us ever near
But sometimes we sit bored.

And though we sit or even sleep
While others labor hard
His Mercy is so very deep
Like "aromatic nard".

When you're Annointed, soon, dear boy
Open your heart to God
He will not treat you like a toy,
But waits for you to nod.

Your head will show Him of your love
Your willingness to serve
Your open heart will rise above
The ridge if you have nerve.

I give you now my hand to hold
So open wide your heart
That as you age and become old
From Him you will not part.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Fraternal Correction or Verbal Torture?

The principle that we should correct our brother if he is sinning is mandated by Our Lord in Matthew 18:15. But what does this look like? The Catechism of the Catholic Church 1829 says that fraternal correction is the fruit of love:
The fruits of charity are joy, peace, and mercy; charity demands beneficence and fraternal correction; it is benevolence; it fosters reciprocity and remains disinterested and generous; it is friendship and communion: Love is itself the fulfillment of all our works. There is the goal; that is why we run: we run toward it, and once we reach it, in it we shall find rest.
The Catholic Encyclopedia asks that we consider the following circumstances before we subject someone to the torture of fraternal correction:
  1. The delinquency to be corrected or prevented is a grievous one;
  2. there is no good reason to believe that the sinner will adequately provide for himself;
  3. there is a well-founded expectation that the admonition will be heeded;
  4. there is no one else just as well fitted for this work of Christian charity and likely to undertake it;
  5. there is no special trouble or disadvantage accruing to the reformer as a result of his zeal.
Considering the foregoing, it seems to me a good idea to reflect on what charitable fraternal correction looks like. I think that the best attempt at fraternal correction is done:
  • with prayer,
  • if you don't have the same fault,
  • after taking counsel from wise peers who are familiar with the person you want to correct, and 
  • if you're not trying to control the person.
Fraternal correction is fundamentally an invitation. If it's not a big fault, suffer their presence in love and see if they don't realize themselves that they need to change. For instance, I know I'm loud and my friends have to put up with that from me. I'm aware of it and, from time to time, folks ask me to keep my voice down. My best friends tolerate how loud I am, and I'm thankful for that. There's a lot of give and take in any relationship, so be careful that what you're correcting is a real sin and not just a quirk of personality.

One of the greatest obstacles in living the Christian life is being upbraided by people who really want to control you. We've all met folks like that. Their practice of the faith is wrapped up in their own idealization of what they perceive to be good, mixed up with some personality defects, combined with contempt for anyone who doesn't do things their way. On a profound level, when they correct you, what you experience is a kind of revulsion at their own lack of authenticity. See the image, above.

Let's say your brother has a fault. The first thing to do is pray about it. If you have conversational intimacy with Our Lord, this is an easy thing. He'll tell you right away whether or not you should be concerned about the fault. Be careful to discern whether it's a sinful behavior or just a personality quirk.

Next, ask yourself if you have the same fault. If you do, then please don't correct your brother until your fault is at least on the way to being reformed. The essence of hypocrisy, it seems to me, is the assault on others when you're guilty of the same thing. If you can't correct your own fault first, and there's some grave matter involved and the other person needs correcting, see if you can ask another person familiar with the situation to correct your brother instead of you.

Seek wise counsel before correcting anyone. See if another person who can be trusted will support your effort through prayer and good advice. If other people see the same problem as you do, it's likely a good idea to go ahead with the correction. If others do not see the problem, be careful.

Finally, make sure you're not trying to control the person. Since one of the great dangers in the spiritual life is the notion that our own idealization of the good is absolute and everyone should do everything the way we do, be very careful that when you correct your brother you are merely pointing out a fault that you consider to be harmful, either to the person or to another, and invite your brother to reform.

If you have a legitimate position of authority over your brother, you can certainly assign a consequence to his not reforming, but I think that the best approach is to merely invite your brother to reform. Think about St. Therese of the Child Jesus who remarked, "I thank God that it's not my job to correct her." when she was asked by another member of her monastery to tell a different sister what to do.

This last part is especially important to consider: Love extends itself to another and invites the other to communion. Love never forces the will of another.

Now that this is out in the open, let's get around to engaging in true reform of ourselves, by the grace of God, so that we can carry on the work of the Gospel and invite our friends to embracing the good life with vigor. Peace!