A poem series in rosary structure.
Pondering the Paraclete on Pentecost,
praying for inspiration:
Powerful patron of the arts
having placed in my heart
the passionate potential for poetry,
now conspire with me
to renew the faith
of this pained and probing century
in the First Person of the Trinity’s plan,
and your ever present presence.
The not-so-preposterous response,
the Paraclete arrives as a plane.
Get on board this jet airliner
to fly from Pentecost to Pentecost.
the fearful huddlers,
no matter the number of resurrections,
only comes alive
when the Spirit, confident and on fire, arrives
to knock them on their head.
In spite of the numerous ascensions,
the Church sits quaking in their seats
until the Spirit lifts them on their feet
and out the door to preach.
Peter on his porch roof,
Paul fallen from his horse,
envisioned the universal cried decision,
the cosmic call,
that Jesus be confirmed the all in all.
John, probably at the family meal,
slipped into Heaven in a mystic second
to witness the final reckoning,
war and struggle,
then all creation sings,
Jesus is the brother king.
From their political gods and idols,
the Romans had no experience to perceive
that the Christians they were busy making martyrs
were infused with strength from a living deity.
Not the ax or arrow,
nor the smoldering pyre,
the battered head, broken arms and legs, punctured chest,
nothing changed the martyrs’ faith.
They could see the God made flesh
recently himself put to death.
But now beside and inside them.
No Roman law or magistrate,
nor execution in the killing games,
nothing silenced their loud proclaim,
“Hear and know the living name,
Jesus, let us see with the martyrs’ clarity,
your head, your chest, your living flesh,
your place beside and inside us
through life, past death.
Big human thrill,
after being pushed in the mud,
to be king of the hill.
God in wisdom knew it was a tough human requirement to fulfill
but necessary to convince strong and stubborn human will.
Make the story
down and out, then up to glory.
To sustain fickle human desire,
make the plan simple to understand,
poverty and pressing need, then controlling empire.
This part of the Incarnation mystery
reveals God complete comprehending history.
(Must remember the addendum is human frailty
becomes partial to empire making
and to taking power.
Holy Spirit, I pray that the any day
The habit of empire may be broken
and the humble truths you have waited to say will be spoken.)
Hermits hardly have the chance
to hide from the noise.
They try escaping to the deserted places,
nurturing faith in the isolated spaces,
free from the daily traffic of wares and cares,
of count the stock and what’s the share,
finding layer upon layer of inner voices,
demanding, claiming to be important choices.
They struggle to move past the inner noise
but learn to hear the universe
in roaring day and roaring night.
Waiting, listening beyond listen,
they finally come upon the calm control of quiet.
Once touching on the soundless
and knowing what the centered silence holds,
they understand the irony that they can never be alone.
Nature notices and rushes in to join them.
Fifteen centuries later from habit,
remnants, replicas of your rule still rule the roost.
Can you give the world a little boost up to feed at your stable table,
learning generosity through community away from greed?
Of course, Benedict,
you say what you always say.
Work and pray.
The world will turn to love one day.
The Spirit, clever at crossworld puzzles,
from intimate familiarity with the Word,
infused all the little words with faith, hope and love
beyond their scope.
These words from Word,
inspired some to link them into the bible,
influenced others to translation,
so the Word became part of native languages
in the early development of nations.
Now after many years of patience,
the Word has become global in an active, multi-lingual creation.
If with God’s resistance
through human insistence,
persistence gave the Israelites a king.
How did Christianity get a papacy?
The question is important,
considering the modern controversy and skepticism
A scriptural reality is Peter’s primacy,
but it’s followed by heavy doses of humility.
No surprise either that Rome became the center of authority
for early Christianity.
Then great men like Leo and Gregory
attained special power in diocese
by gaining people’s love and loyalty.
(Sadly, just between us,
it’s impossible to institutionalize genius.)
The answer is much more essential and immediate,
but first must come the belief
that Jesus, the living sacrament of history,
works from weakness into strength.
All of us, struggling with our personal mistakes
find the hardest faith in our own encounter with grace.
Much like the historical papacy,
often dissolute, disgraced, degraded,
took 1800 years to believe
it could claim dogmatic certainty
as the inspired spiritual voice of the body of the Church.
So why is it so hard for the papacy to see
that if with its shaky past,
it can meet the test of infallibility
because of the presence of Christ,
so can the individual parts of the Church’s living flesh.
Flesh become light
cannot be hidden,
no way to get rid of it.
Drive it to a rocky island
on a distant sea,
light made body
will put its hands in the water
making liquid light the ocean
to wash against the farthest continental shore.
Push it underground
and above the glowing heard,
through the ground will grow
flowering light become flesh.
Hide it in an innermost cell,
it will surround.
Push it in a corner,
inside out, it will invert the room.
The many the spatial optical tricks of seeing light.
Lock it in a tower
and seeping through the cracks and pores,
breathing light becomes beacon.
Being light can only be light.
Grateful to be trained in the Middle Ages,
building cathedrals of aspiration
reaching up to touch the heaven-clouded Christ.
While closer to the crucial center,
the dynamic virgin giving birth
holds the human child down to earth.
On the vaulted steps,
rich and poor in equal process,
in daily journey through the hours
ascend, descend to praise and make amends
before the God who conquers death.
In the now and then stop for prayer,
monastic choirs can be heard in journey through the feasts
of shared revelry and common fast.
Grateful to have the Middle Ages in illuminated wisdom
close to heart.
Seems distant from the present to that past,
yet as all human experience,
not that far apart.
It is easy to say, “God wills it.
Go fight the holy war.”
Off they went in brutal innocence,
as if sent by divine will to mount a thousand crucifixions
on the Jerusalem hills.
It is easy to say, “God knows this cause.”
Why was there seldom the pause to question,
no timely dissension.
Even children marched to kill the infidel.
The grief, and still the spiritual discord, from selling Jesus with a sword.
Yes, the cultures crossed, but at great cultural loss.
It is easy to say, “God wills it.
The unbelieving must die,”
But it is a God damn lie.
Even Brother Francis
spent the end of his life
possessed by Jesus’ passion.
Hard to understand
why the joyful path with regularity
leads so often through the bloody noose.
the poverty of seeking truth.
Jesus having no motive for metaphor,
always spoke with literal precision.
It is the world with interpretation
that dilutes what he had to say
and his miraculous ways.
woke up crabby in the monastic morning
after tossing and turning in bed.
If no gaining of salvation,
why should he get out of bed.
Calvin caught a cold in a drafty cathedral
and it went right to his head.
Haughty Harry happily perceived
divine wisdom supported his pursuit of woman and fertility.
If you think all that’s funny,
it takes no intuition
to say that you’ll roar at stories of the Inquisition
and loudly laugh
to hear how the money’s been spent since the Council of Trent.
Not being whimsical,
it takes confidence to write a silly poem.
Not for a single hour
has the Church survived through its own power.
Not for an instance
has it earned its own existence.
Rising above its frailties and failings,
cured of its all too human ailing,
making gains beyond mistakes,
as witness that the life of Jesus is in it.
Recovering from error and fault
through the renewing miracle
of being the Word become history.
This is my body.
This is my blood.
diverse parts in individual expression,
yet in form and movement,
but freedom in fusion,
graceful in its grace.
The fumbling and stumbling
through saving chance,
redemptive steps in the mystic dance.
climbed up the steps to mass,
not so easy carrying his corpulent immensity,
and in his head the heavy knowledge
of the human propensity
to make truth fit current necessity,
and in his heart, the nagging doubt
that he himself had no idea what the truth was about.
At the altar he caught his breathe
before beginning the reenactment of Jesus’ death.
His life had been reading and thinking
and possession by the mystery of the crucifixion.
Why did opposing factions
find common ground
in truth’s destruction
and how did the truth always find resurrection?
As he raised the bread,
“Hoc est enim corpus meum,”
He was lifted in personal ascension
above the altar,
above the church,
higher than the earth,
to see Jesus on the cross,
the turning truth,
at the center of the physical and spiritual universe,
love made flesh
moving back and forth from life to death.
In his vision,
the failure of all philosophy and logic
but also their compelling object
and if any truth was his,
it was in his hands, the Eucharist.
Fr. Aquinas came down from mass
knowing how much truth was yet to grasp.
The missionary met the Holy Spirit
every where the missionary went.
Regular as an old showman’s summoning parlor trick,
the missionary made the Spirit appear
just by saying the name of Jesus,
shouting out the good news
to one or to a mob,
to the dirt or to the throne,
the Spirit would hear, far away and near,
responding to the name love
by loving in return.
Prisoner of the Vatican,
pushed into the tower
at the moment of claiming total control.
Locked into the proverbial historical hold
while pronouncing the infallible theological code.
As his life with restless patience passed,
all the nations laughed
at the lonely figure speaking on the chair,
pompous papa, Pio Nino,
of fools “il fino”
assigned the luckless lucky task
to acclaim against all forces,
cynical, mocking comments,
the indomitable doctrine,
authority marked with sanctifying system.
Stripped of its temporal state,
the stubborn Church found it had a choice
to speak in a different voice,
invoking favor on the rights of labor.
It produced a noticeable difference,
when lay men and women began to quote encyclicals,
and at the parish baptisms
in the mining towns
or by the docks,
near the factory shops,
the change was clearly real
when parents named their children Leo.
Especially the last 400 years,
Jesus, Mary and Joseph
have been an active family,
busy seeking anyone who’ll listen
to their old and modern message,
Have the occasional heart to heart.
The secret to a good relationship is communication.
Someone in heaven is always read for a friendly chat,
a cleansing cry,
a meditative walk.”
As Jesus, Mary and Joseph know,
prayer is how their family grows.
In the garden,
the happy man laughed at the joke.
He was the accidental pope,
and God in a sense of humor
somehow had connived and maneuvered
to make him the central figure
of a Church that now reached the corners of the earth.
He felt a poke.
The Spirit spoke.
“Open up the window.
Sweep the dusty floor.
The future is knocking at the door.
Call to all the people.
Get the bishops to confer.
Capture now the centuries of waiting words.
Do not hesitate
and the story time will tell,
blessing all around
that your were here to ring the wakening bell.”
The Pentacostal roaring,
the breaking barrier sonic boom,
the Spirit is in my music.
I am grateful for the tune.