Saturday, April 05, 2003

it's when estlin
was writing some of his best poetry

Which era in time are you?

Parce, Domine,

                              parce populo tuo,
ne in æternum irascaris nobis.

+ + + + + + +

Spare, O Lord, spare your people,
and do not be wrathful toward us for ever.
Via Quenta Nârwenion

"Someday I'm going to make an honest woman out of her" -- and he did. Seventy-seven years later.
Seamus Heaney
A line remembered from Seeing Things

A fasted will marauding through the body

[I'd be more specific about page & poem if I still owned the book. I'm more than fairly sure it's from the 'Glanmore Revisited' sequence of sonnets, something like the fourth one of the seven.]
Attentive to the complexities,

sensitive to the solemnity and the sorrow, compassionate to all, and never flippant or facile, Mr Riddle records a meditation on the current war, prompted by a comment left by a visitor chez lui. He thinks, as always, clearly and with sobriety : and it is impossible not to be in solidarity with him in prayer.
A good poem

for the seasonally indecisive, sleety weather here in Boston today : by the estimable & highly esteemed Lane Core.

Via his poetry page : Some Poetry by E. L. Core.
Joseph Manton, C SS R (1904-1998)
Boston's legendary Redemptorist on Our Lady of Walsingham

You can forsake the Mother of God. You can forget her. You can (in a dictator role) forbid other people to honor her. But you can never bury her. Her assumption into heaven proved that. How often bigotry's persecution is like a cloud that temporarily obscures the moon. For a short while the moon seems lost; but the cloud turns out to have been only a ragged chamois cloth that has polished the moon into a gleaming silver tray, brighter than before.

History can tell of times when the very stones that had battered down our Lady's image were gathered up by a repentant posterity and piled up to build a pedestal for the triumphant return of the new Madonna.

Take Walsingham, where the pilgrims have begun to return. There is even a place along the road called the Slipper Chapel where the more devout remove their shoes and plod the last two miles barefoot. But the main point is that they pray the old prayers, sing the old hymns, paying honor once more to the not-old but the ever-young Mary, Our Lady of Walsingham.

J. Manton, from "The King's Candle," in Stumbling Toward Heaven (Our Sunday Visitor, 1979), pp. 169-70.
Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)
A different side of the war poet

From My Diary, July 1914

    Murmuring by myriads in the shimmering trees.
    Wakening with wonder in the Pyrenees.
    Cheerily chirping in the early day.
    Singing of summer scything thro' the hay.
    Shaking the heavy dews from bloom and frond.
    Bursting the surface of the ebony pond.
    Of swimmers carving thro' the sparkling gold.
    Gleaming with wetness to the morning gold.
A mead
    Bordered about with warbling water-brooks.
A maid
    Laughing the love-laugh with me; proud of looks.
The heat
    Throbbing between the upland and the peak.
Her heart
    Quivering with passion to my pressed cheek.
    Of floating flames across the mountain brow.
    Of stillness; and a sighing of the bough.
    Of leaflets in the gloom; soft petal-showers;
    Expanding with the starr'd nocturnal flowers.
Happy 87th birthday

to Eldred Gregory Peck ... and at least as importantly, to this viewer of classic films ...

Happy 103rd birthday

to the late Spencer Bonaventure Tracy !!

You can play online, you know. Wait for it to load. And have yourself a pleasantly vexing eighteen.
via i : six nonlectures, p. 86

life is more true than reason will deceive
(more secret or than madness did reveal)
deeper is life than lose:higher than have
--but beauty is more each than living's all

multiplied with infinity sans if
the mightiest meditations of mankind
cancelled are by one merely opening leaf
(beyond whose nearness there is no beyond)

or does some littler bird than eyes can learn
look up to silence and completely sing?
futures are obsolete;pasts are unborn
(here less than nothing's more than everything)

death,as men call him,ends what they call men
--but beauty is more now than dying's when
Kathy the Carmelite
over at Gospel M*I*N*E*F*I*E*L*D

psalmodizes on the virtue of cigars.

Here at more-last, we have had a few furtive and limited encounters with this particular form of sessile and sedative smoking, and for the most part they have been cordial.

I can't smoke too often as I relish unimpaired breathing of comparatively smoke-free air.
Steps for meeting Christ in the midst of doubt
by Ronda Chervin

marvellously (uncommonly?) commonsensical, these!

1. Continue to pray to the Jesus you knew before the onslaught of doubt, taking part in religious practices of the past.

2. Proclaim the truths of the faith, even sing of them. (It is remarkable how often the singing of holy songs is mentioned in the lives of the saints as a way to meet Christ in suffering.)

3. Engage in works of love of neighbor. In extending love we dwell in love, and abiding in love we dwell in God even if we don't feel it. This increases the love in our hearts so that after the crisis of faith, we will be even closer to God than before.

4. Understand doubt as a trial that will bring us to a new and greater level of supernatural faith, not dependent on any previous support we might have found in our own reasonings or the faith of others in the community.

5. Offer the sufferings of doubt for those who have not known God at all.

R. Chervin, The Kiss from the Cross : Saints for Every Kind of Suffering (Charis/Servant, 1994), pp. 17-18.
In the distant hills
here and there

I can see lights in the windows of the little farmhouses that dot the wooded hills. The night is dark except for the dancing stars in the waters of my river and the light that springs so suddenly in the darkness. It reminds me of the Easter Vigil, the Paschal Candle, the Holy Fire lit by the priest.

Soon! my heart cries. Soon! say the lights in the hills. Soon! say the stars dancing in the river. Soon life will appear, as the Lord came forth from the tomb. Yes, yes, soon!

But the next day comes and the earth of my island is still brown, lifeless. The trees have not budded yet. The sun barely shines. There is a mystery and a greyness about the island, as if it wanted to tell me that this is the time of sorrow, the time of conflict between light and darkness. A time of pain that stems from a passionate love. This is Holy Time, hushed time, the time of God's passion in which he writes in characters of blood a love letter to all of us.

It is a time of silence, a time of recollection, a time of prayer. The trees wait to bud. The brown earth longs to sprout its fine greenery, and I learn from it tremendous lessons about God, about love, about time, about eternity.

Catherine de Hueck Doherty, I Live on an Island (Ave Maria Press, 1979), pp. 11-12.
Saint Vincent Ferrer, OP (+1419)
excerpts from today's Magnificat reflection

All the holy Fathers assure us, and daily experience clearly teaches, that resorting to the passion and cross of the Savior is one of the most excellent remedies against the assaults of the enemy. Saint Bonaventure even says that God permits us to be tempted in order that we may have recourse to it.

"O great God, " he says, "of wondrous and exceedingly loving kindness, who permits us to be tempted, not that we may perish, but that, fearing to offend you, we may have recourse to you, our most secure harbor! ... O you who are tempted," he adds a little further on, "meditate on the wounds of the Savior, hide yourselves in them, and they will ever be to you a comfort and refreshment. [...]"

Nor is this to be wondered at, since they are the weapons he made use of to overthrow and vanquish that satanic horde. They are the instruments of their destruction, disablement, and subjugation; they are the glorious standards of the triumph of the Son of God [...] They are our place of refuge, our safe asylum.

Friday, April 04, 2003

Anyone else
who has Haloscan commenting

getting an Access Denied message, for no good reason at all, when trying to go to View/Delete Posts?

Apparently so!

This, from the Haloscan homepage :

"If you have problems logging into the members section for the next 30 minutes, please don't email me. I'll have it sorted out soon."


Psalm 121 (Psalm 120 in Vulgate)
trans. Msgr Ronald Knox

I lift up my eyes to the hills, to find deliverance; from the Lord deliverance comes to me, the Lord who made heaven and earth. Never will he who guards thee allow thy foot to stumble; never fall asleep at his post! Such a guardian has Israel, one who is never weary, never sleeps; it is the Lord that guards thee, the Lord that stands at thy right hand to give thee shelter. The sun's rays by day, the moon's by night, shall have no power to hurt thee. The Lord will guard thee from all evil; the Lord will protect thee in danger; the Lord will protect thy journeying and thy home-coming, henceforth and for ever.
from Almost April
by Hayden Carruth (b. 1921)

North winter
month after month.

From early November till now,
almost April,
snow has fallen and fallen,
drifting upon us
in seethe and murmur.

Month after month
air hobbled with snowflakes.

Hour after hour, all hours
of snow searching, hopeless,
aimless in dark hemlock
or light intricate birch.

I have seen snowflakes
all winter
like blurred stars in the air,
queer tumultuous lights
as if in a mist,
soft bodies
like dead moths falling
from the crowns of poisoned trees.

Stars falling, stars
in multitude, the universe
drifting down --
lights without sound or almost
without sound.

And no end to it.


H. Carruth, From Snow and Rock, from Chaos (New Directions Paperbook 349, 1973), pp. 50-1.
Psalm 42 (Psalm 41 in Vulgate)
trans. Msgr Ronald Knox

O God, my whole soul longs for thee, as a deer for running water; my whole soul thirsts for God, the living God; shall I never again make my pilgrimage into God's presence? Morning and evening, my diet still of tears! Daily I must listen to the taunt, Where is thy God now? Memories come back to me yet, melting the heart; how once I would join with the throng, leading the way to God's house, amid cries of joy and thanksgiving, and all the bustle of holiday. Soul, art thou still downcast? Wilt thou never be at peace? Wait for God's help; I will not cease to cry out in thankfulness, My champion and my God.

In my sad mood I will think of thee, here in this land of Jordan and Hermon, here on Misar mountain. One depth makes answer to another amid the roar of the floods thou sendest; wave after wave, crest after crest overwhelms me. Would he but lighten the day with his mercy, what praise would I sing at evening to the Lord God who is life for me! Thou art my strong-hold, I cry out to him still; hast thou never a thought for me? Must I go mourning, with enemies pressing me hard; racked by the ceaseless taunts of my persecutors, Where is thy God now? Soul, art thou still downcast? Wilt thou never be at peace? Wait for God's help; I will not cease to cry out in thankfulness, My champion and my God.
Prayer to St Mary (2)
by St Anselm of Canterbury (c. 1033-1109)

Virgin venerated throughout the world,
Mother dear to the human race,
Woman, marvel of the angels,
Mary, most holy.
By your blessed virginity you have made all integrity sacred,
and by your glorious child-bearing
you have brought salvation to all fruitfulness.
Great Lady,
to you the joyous company of the saints gives thanks;
to you the fearful crowd of the accused flee;
and to you, Lady of might and mercy,
I flee, a sinner in every way, beyond measure distressed.


Lady, it seems to me as if I were already
before the all-powerful justice of the stern judge
facing the intolerable vehemence of his wrath,
while hanging over me is the enormity of my sins,
and the huge torments they deserve.
Most gentle Lady,
whose intercession should I implore
when I am troubled with horror, and shake with fear,
but hers, whose womb embraced
the reconciliation of the world?
Whence should I most surely hope for help quickly in need,
but from her whence I know came the world's propitiation?
Who can more easily gain pardon for the accused
by her intercession,
than she who gave milk to him
who justly punishes or mercifully pardons all and each one?
Most blessed Lady, it is not possible for you to forget
that those merits which are so specially yours
are very necessary to us.
Most gentle Lady, it is not credible that you should not pity
such pitiable suppliants.

The Prayers and Meditations of Saint Anselm with the Proslogion, trans. Benedicta Ward, SLG (Penguin Books, 1973), pp. 110-1.
Saint Thomas Aquinas
from today's Magnificat reflection

To hand over an innocent man to suffering and death, against his will, compelling him to die as it were, would indeed be cruel and wicked. But it was not in this way that God the Father handed over Christ. He handed over Christ by inspiring him with the will to suffer for us. By so doing the severity of God is made clear to us, that no sin is forgiven without punishment undergone, which Saint Paul again teaches when he says, "God spared not his own Son."

At the same time God's good-heartedness is shown in the fact that whereas man could not, no matter what the punishment, sufficiently make satisfaction, God has given man someone who can make that satisfaction for him ...

Thursday, April 03, 2003

Whose Gesture Summons
a revision : earlier version here


A season of ice-storms it has been :
Love-pangs, anger, dark infernal rages,
Strong drink and tears that will not come.

But heaven's wisdom walks
In the bleak December night
Past the black nerves of trees
Under the cold and speechless stars.

We dare not speak. We know not how.


Instructed, awed and purified
By the burning mercy of her voice;
Vanquished by the ineffable
Justice of her countenance :
To him who sings her praise
Her eyes give life.

Lady of light, teach us to honor thee,
Forsaking our wonted rebellion,
Each base desire and all brash chatter,
All ignoble thought.

Abbey road!

This abbey, to be specific.


added this day to Places Oft

under "Catholic Sites," three abbeys (all Trappist) and a page in praise of Merton.

Perhaps more Cistercian things to come!
Chiara Lubich
from today's Magnificat reflection

What ruins some souls is a false "prudence." They call it prudence, but it's a human prudence, and it springs up every time the divine surfaces. It has the appearance of virtue but is more aggravating than vice. It does not want to shake anyone up. It lets the rich go to hell [...] by not enlightening them. Who knows what might happen? It lets the neighbors beat each other up, and even kill, because someone might accuse you of meddling in other people's affairs. You could even end up as a witness in a trial. Why bother to get involved? It advises moderation to the saints, lest something happen to them. [...] It's especially scared of God. [...]

It's a counterfeit virtue. I think it's planted or fertilized by the devil. He can do a lot of business in that climate. There once lived a man who had none of it. That was Christ Jesus. When he went out to preach, at the first lesson they wanted to kill him, there and then. "But he went straight through their midst and walked away" (Lk 4:30).

Look at his life with the eyes of this sort of prudent person and you would call the whole thing an imprudence. Not just that : If these prudent persons were logical in their reasoning, they would draw the conclusion that his death, his crucifixion ... he asked for it ... with his imprudence.

I don't believe there's a word spoken by Jesus that does not jar against these people. [...]
from etc

now winging selves sing sweetly,while ghosts(there
and here)of snow cringe;dazed an earth shakes sleep
out of her brightening mind:now everywhere
space tastes of the amazement which is hope

gone are those hugest hours of dark and cold
when blood and flesh to inexistence bow
(all that was doubtful's certain,timid's bold;
old's youthful and reluctant's eager now)

anywhere upward somethings yearn and stir
piercing a tangled wrack of wishless known:
nothing is like this keen(who breathes us)air
immortal with the fragrance of begin

winter is over--now(for me and you,
darling!)life's star prances the blinding blue
Oxtail soup, commencement addresses, grandiloquence, scorn & shrewdness
and a prayer for safe passage

WFB eulogizes his fellow titan, DPM. Via Ad Orientem.
from vol. 6 of the journals

from November 1, 1966

Heavy rain in the morning. Went down in the dark to concelebrate. Came back with the pocket of my rain coat full of eggs and had me a super breakfast.


Rain cleared in late morning. I went for a walk to the Lake Knob, with a great new sense of freedom and discovery -- and determination never to get caught again by a love affair and not let this one flare up again. Only now do I begin to see the state of the ruins! What an embarrassing mess!


from November 2, 1966

About four this morning it began to snow. And it turned into a real storm, by evening it was one of the heaviest storms I have ever seen here, though since it was above freezing the snow did not lie as thick as it otherwise might have. But now it is night and still snowing and I think by tomorrow there will be quite a bit of it -- and this only All Souls' Day! I went down in the dark and snow to say my three masses early (others are not saying the 3 Masses anymore -- a few of the older priests are).


After dinner I walked out to the woods in the snowstorm. Then back and settled down for the afternoon, let myself be enclosed in the snow and silence, and it has been marvelous. [...] Place quiet and cozy, and I am utterly alone. It is a pure delight, I thank God for it! And again I am overcome with embarrassment to think how I have trifled with this grace.


Boughs of evergreen out there in the dark cracking under the weight of the snow!

Merton, Learning to Love (HarperCollins, 1997), pp. 155-7.
Psalm 25 (Psalm 24 in Vulgate)
trans. Msgr Ronald Knox

All my heart goes out to thee, O Lord, my God. Belie not the trust I have in thee, let not my enemies boast of my downfall. Can any that trust in thee be disappointed, as they are disappointed who lightly break their troth? Direct my way, O Lord, as thou wilt, teach me thy own paths. Ever let thy truth guide me and teach me, O God my deliverer, my abiding hope. Forget not, Lord, thy pity, thy mercies of long ago. Give heed no more to the sins and frailties of my youth, but think mercifully of me, as thou, Lord, art ever gracious. How gracious is the Lord, how faithful, guiding our strayed feet back to the path! In his own laws he will train the humble, in his own paths the humble he will guide. Jealous be thy keeping of covenant and ordinance, and the Lord's dealings will be ever gracious, ever faithful with thee. Kindly be thy judgement of my sin, for thy own honour's sake, my grievous sin.

Let a man but fear the Lord, what path to choose he doubts no longer. Much joy he shall have of his lands and to his heirs leave them. No stranger the Lord is, no secret his covenant, to his true worshippers. On the Lord I fix my eyes continually, trusting him to save my feet from the snare. Pity me, Lord, as thou seest me friendless and forlorn. Quit my heart of its burden, deliver me from my distress. Restless and forlorn, I claim thy pity, to my sins be merciful. See how many are my foes, and how bitter is the grudge they bear me. Take my soul into thy keeping; come to my resuce, do not let me be disappointed of my trust in thee. Uprightness and purity be my shield, as I wait patiently for thy help. When wilt thou deliver Israel, my God, from all his troubles?
from Altarwise by owl-light
by Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)

Hairs of your head, then said the hollow agent,
Are but the roots of nettles and of feathers
Over these groundworks thrusting through a pavement
And hemlock-headed in the wood of weathers.


The black ram, shuffling of the year, old winter,
Alone alive among his mutton fold,
We rung our weathering changes on the ladder,
Said the antipodes, and twice spring chimed.


Time is the tune my ladies lend their heartbreak,
From bald pavilions and the house of bread
Time tracks the sound of shape on man and cloud,
On rose and icicle the ringing handprint.


Green as beginning, let the garden diving
Soar, with its two bark towers, to that Day
When the worm builds with the gold straw of venom
My nest of mercies in the rude, red tree.

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

a poem by
William Carlos Williams

This is just to say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold


a poem by
Kenneth Koch

Variations on a Theme by Wiliam Carlos Williams

I chopped down the house that you had been saving to live in next
I am sorry, but it was morning, and I had nothing to do
and its wooden beams were so inviting.

We laughed at the hollyhocks together
and then I sprayed them with lye.
Forgive me. I simply do not know what I am doing.

I gave away the money that you had been saving to live on for the next ten
The man who asked for it was shabby
and the firm March wind on the porch was so juicy and cold.

Last evening we went dancing and I broke your leg.
Forgive me. I was clumsy, and
I wanted you here in the wards, where I am the doctor!
Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap
excerpts from today's Magnificat reflection

Faced with the mystery of the heavenly Father's tenderness we spontaneously turn to Jesus and say to him : "Jesus, you are our elder brother, tell us what we can do to show ourselves worthy of so much love ... on the Father's part!" And Jesus answers us through his Gospel and life. "There is," he says, "something you can do, something I also did and which pleases the Father : have confidence in him, trust in him, and do him credit! Against everything, against everyone, and against yourselves!"


When therefore we are in darkness or distress, when we can see nothing ahead of us but absurdity and we are on the point of giving in, let us pull ourselves together and cry out with faith : "Father, I no longer understand you, but I trust you!" Jesus, too, cried out like this in the Garden of Olives. He said : "Father, let this cup pass from me!" The cup did not pass but Jesus did not lose his confidence in the Father and he died exclaiming : "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit!"


Referring to man's state before Christ a second-century author said : "Ignorance about the Father was the cause of much distress and fear."
per (sort of) request

Thomas Merton's simple grave, without ostentation. Via this webpage.

april is the christmas of the spring

april is the christmas of the spring
      april is the dance
            of blossoms
flame of purple petals
april is a chilly wind behind
      a smiling sun
april is innocence on the verge of
april is artistry spontaneity
an unrehearsing skill of growth & warmth
april pokes the slumbering soul awake

april is the painter with his easel
in the park
      a garden of ducks
      a pond a peopleflock
      crossing the bridge
april is the marathon the meetingplace
of winter and something warmer

april is resurrection
april is lazarus & troubadours
lilacs & the ruggles bus
the uncivilized shout & holy laughter
      of youth who will age
      (soonestly alas)
      into a drearier summer


Tuesday, April 01, 2003

via volume six of the journals

from October 13, 1966

So many things have happened in the last ten days or so. The death of Fr Stephen under the tree by the gatehouse on the 4th. I was among the little group kneeling in the grass to pray by him as he died. Then sat with Fr Flavian saying psalms by his body in the post office before he was taken up to the third floor chapel. He was buried on the 5th with much singing of birds on a bright morning.


Monday I had to go to the proctologist. It was a beautiful day.


Downtown Louisville at the bar of the Brown Hotel in mid afternoon, drinking bottled beer and finishing a letter to M.


from October 14, 1966

A dark October morning with clouds. Extraordinary purple in the North over the pines. Ruins of gnats on the table under the lamp.


from October 16, 1966

Three small harlequins -- two sweetgums and a maple -- stand bright against the dark background of pine and cedar. Dim brilliance of the woods on a grey day. [...] I am full of obscure lonely happiness because of her and because of the miracle of her existence. I tried to write a poem for her about it but the poem could come nowhere near.


Basil Bunting found for the first time yesterday -- very fine, rough, Northumbrian, Newcastle stuff of the Kingdom of Caedmon.


from October 27, 1966

Tonight walked up and down on the cool clear evening, in the full moon, meditating, enjoying the quiet, the peace, the cool silence of the valley, and the freedom. All I have ever sought is here : how foolish not to be content with it -- and let anything trouble it, without need. True, the moon did make me think of May 5th at the airport -- and that was something else again!! I can't regret it. It still seems so obviously to have been a gift of God.
Psalm 46 (Psalm 45 in Vulgate)
trans. Msgr Ronald Knox

God is our refuge and stronghold; sovereign aid he has brought us in the hour of peril. Not for us to be afraid, though earth should tumble about us, and the hills be carried away into the depths of the sea. See how its waters rage and roar, how the hills tremble before its might! The Lord of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge.

But the city of God, enriched with flowing waters, is the chosen sanctuary of the most High, God dwells within her, and she stands unmoved; with break of dawn he will grant her deliverance. Nations may be in turmoil, and thrones totter, earth shrink away before his voice; but the Lord of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge. Come near, and see God's acts, his marvellous acts done on earth; how he puts an end to wars all over the world, the bow shivered, the lances shattered, the shields burnt to ashes! Wait quietly, and you shall have proof that I am God, claiming empire among the nations, claiming empire over the world. The Lord of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge.
Anima Christi

Anima Christi, sanctifica me.
Corpus Christi, salva me.
Sanguis Christi, inebria me.
Aqua lateris Christi, lava me.
Passio Christi, conforta me.
O bone Iesu, exaudi me.
Intra tua vulnera absconde me.
Ne permittas me separari a te.
Ab hoste maligno defende me.
In hora mortis meae voca me,
et iube me venire ad te
ut cum sanctis tuis laudem te
in saecula saeculorum. Amen.
Jean Vanier
from today's Magnificat meditation

Jesus often uses the word "abide." To abide in Jesus is what prayer is about. We must live this word and open the chalice of our being to the presence of God, enter into his silence.


He will give us the courage to forgive -- for many of us bear the scars of resentment and have yet to learn to forgive, to love those who have hurt us, to attain interior freedom.


To enter into this healing process, we have to learn to be silent. It is very easy, after having heard the Word of God, to go out and shout it. This can be a form of escape from letting the Word of God penetrate those parts of our hearts where we may feel a certain guilt, a lack of faith and of generosity.
Sometimes a word or a phrase

... just sounds a little odd.
Venerable Charles de Foucauld
from the Magnificat of last March (2002) -- meditation for Thurs. 21st

However wicked I may be, however great a sinner, I must hope that I shall go to heaven. You forbid me to despair. however ungrateful or lukewarm or cowardly I may be, however much I may misuse your graces, O God, you make it my duty to hope to live eternally at your feet in love and holiness. You forbid me ever to be discouraged by my shortcomings, or to say to myself, "I can go no further. The road is too bad. I must go back -- right back to the bottom." You forbid me to say to myself at the prospect of the sins I renew daily, the sins I ask you daily to forgive and continually fall back into : "I can never correct myself : holiness is not for me; heaven and I have nothing in common and I am too unworthy to go there." Even when I think of the infinite graces you have heaped on me and the unworthiness of my present life, you forbid me to say to myself, "I have gone too far in misusing my graces; I ought to be a saint, but I am a sinner; I cannot correct myself, it is too difficult; I am nothing but wretchedness and pride; after everything God has done, there is still no good in me; I shall never go to heaven."

In spite of everything, you want me to hope, to hope always that I shall receive enough grace to be converted and to attain glory. What is there in common between heaven and me -- between its perfection and my wretchedness? There is your heart, O Lord Jesus. It forms a link between these two so dissimilar things. There is the love of the Father who so loved the world he gave his only Son. I must always hope, because you have commanded me to, and because I must believe both in your love, the love you have so firmly promised, and in your power.


This speaks to me, rather directly, it would seem. I hope it speaks to others, in a salutary and encouraging fashion!
Pro, con or neutral?

1. Andy Warhol
2. Jackson Pollock
3. Robert Frost
4. Norman Rockwell
5. Salvador Dalí
6. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
7. Franish
8. Spench
9. The New York Yankees
10. California
11. Henri J. M. Nouwen
12. Sean John (P. Diddy) Combs
Gospel acc. to St John 1:1-16
trans. Msgr Ronald Knox

At the beginning of time the Word already was; and God had the Word abiding with him, and the Word was God. He abode, at the beginning of time, with God. It was through him that all things came into being, and without him came nothing that has come to be. In him there was life, and that life was the light of men. And the light shines in darkness, a darkness which was not able to master it.

A man appeared, sent from God, whose name was John. He came for a witness, to bear witness of the light, so that through him all men might learn to believe. He was not the Light; he was sent to bear witness to the light. There is one who enlightens every soul born into the world; he was the true Light. He, through whom the world was made, was in the world, and the world treated him as a stranger. He came to what was his own, and they who were his own gave him no welcome. But all those who did welcome him he empowered to become children of God, all those who believe in his name; their birth came, not from human stock, not from nature's will or man's, but from God. And the Word was made flesh, and came to dwell among us; and we had sight of his glory, glory such as belongs to the Father's only-begotten Son, full of grace and truth. We have John's witness to him; I told you, cried John, there was one coming after me who takes rank before me; he was when I was not. We have all received something out of his abundance, grace answering to grace.
Spring : two poems
from Wishes, Lies, and Dreams : Teaching Children to Write Poetry

Spring is like a ladybug climbing a flower.
Spring is flowers growing in the garden.
Spring is the sun, sky and grass.
Spring is going to the swimming pool.
Spring is going to the beach and tasting the salt water.
Spring is wearing your new summer play suit.
Spring is planting new flowers in your garden.
Spring is getting a new pair of sandals.

But best of all, spring is a part of nature, like the baby next door
She's grown so big.

Vivien Tuft, 4th grade


Flyin' High

Spring is like a beetle coming out of its hole
Spring is like rolling on a damp lawn
Spring is a blue sky and blue as I dunno what
Spring is sailing a boat
Spring is a flower waking up in the morning
Spring is like a plate falling out of the closet for joy
Spring is like a spatter of grease
Flying high like Lucy in the sky
Spring is like doing a cartwheel on the sidewalk
Spring is like a bird flying over a lake
Spring is like putting on tennis shoes
Spring is like walking in flowers
Spring is like doing a bellyflop in a mudpuddle

Jeff Morley, 4th grade


Kenneth Koch and the students of PS 61, op. cit. (Vintage, 1971), pp. 182, 188.

This Unbidden Love

original title "Apostasy of Love"
earliest version December 1985
revised periodically since then

The most unthinkable
Flower that ever will have grown
Is the explicit lilac with its lurid scent,
With its vivid hungering and tremulous lips,
A breath alive, a flesh unknown,
A world springlike and full.

The ripest sweetest fruit
Turned liquid on the swirling tongue
Becomes a wine-drunk whisper tasting loud,
Revives forgotten midnights in the gut
And bitter sinful saccharines
Stimulate the tooth.

Two souls, four lungs: each nerve
Breathes fulfillment of its dream
While this unbidden love, the tide's great surge,
Turbulent ecstasy of rapturous urge,
Makes live, in one climactic rhyme,
Epitome of sense.

Monday, March 31, 2003

Monday mission
via chirp, but originating at whoever thinks these things up!!

1. How old will you be on your next birthday?


2. What is your favorite gadget?

The book. Or perhaps, the bookmark.

3. Tell me about someone that you lost touch with several years ago. Would you like to get back in touch with them again? What caused the separation? Has enough time passed? Would you still get along?

M., une française de quarante ans; perhaps; my failure to forgive a secret spilled (she did so out of genuine concern); no; perhaps not.

And of course, there's Cynthia. (Violins, please.)

4. Is there a difference between your online personality and your real-life version? Or are you pretty much the same person either way?

Perhaps I'm wittier online. I'm certainly handsomer online! I have a good face for radio. But otherwise, pretty much the same. Heavier, more burdensome, in person.

5. Can you think of any ways that the Internet hinders person-to-person communication? What could we do to change things?

Actually, am ceaselessly marvelling at how it immeasurably enhances person-to-person communication!

6. When was the last time you felt truly happy, or had that sense of perfect inner-peace? What does it take to get that feeling back when you need it?

Can we adopt a "don't ask, don't tell" policy on this one? Too heavy a question to ponder. "Perfect inner peace" this side of paradise is surely hyperbole. One is grateful for those small surprising moments of grace that do occur from time to time. Today, after initial distress, I felt happy. So there!

7. If you could just verbally let loose on someone and be able to say anything you want, without repercussions, who would you say it to and what would you say?

Without repercussions? Please, don't tempt me! Where would I start? But letting loose in such a fashion can be truly damaging. Maybe I should let loose, in prayer, even angry prayer, on the good Lord God, a bit more often, as the psalmist & certainly some of the prophets (quare via impiorum prosperatur) did from time to time.

BONUS: Are we alive or just a dying planet?

Perhaps the silliest question since the Fixx asked "Are we ourselves, and do we really know?"
And Mary said

My soul magnifies the Lord; my spirit has found joy in God, who is my Saviour, because he has looked graciously upon the lowliness of his handmaid. Behold, from this day forward all generations will count me blessed; because he who is mighty, he whose name is holy, has wrought for me his wonders. He has mercy upon those who fear him, from generation to generation; he has done valiantly with the strength of his arm, driving the proud astray in the conceit of their hearts; he has put down the mighty from their seat, and exalted the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty-handed. He has protected his servant Israel, keeping his merciful design in remembrance, according to the promise which he made to our forefathers, Abraham and his posterity for evermore.

Luke 1.46-55, trans. Msgr Knox
from journal entry for Sept. 21, 1966

Fog all around the hermitage this morning (pre-dawn). I have a new coffee percolator that seems to work well.


dylan : I confess to liking these little snippets of "grounded" life in his journals, the two-or-three-sentence snapshots of the quotidian, almost like prose equivalents to the wheelbarrow of William Carlos Williams. Call it the devotional practice of attention to the quotidian. Or (if you're so inclined) call it poetry! Almost accidental poetry, but poetry nonetheless.
Psalm 23 (22 in Vulgate)
trans. Msgr Knox

The Lord is my shepherd; how can I lack anything? He gives me a resting-place where there is green pasture, leads me out to the cool water's brink, refreshed and content. As in honour pledged, by sure paths he leads me; dark be the valley about my path, hurt I fear none while he is with me; thy rod, thy crook are my comfort. Envious my foes watch, while thou dost spread a banquet for me; richly thou dost anoint my head with oil, well filled my cup. All my life thy loving favour pursues me; through the long years the Lord's house shall be my dwelling-place.

As Roman Catholics celebrated Laetare Sunday yesterday, the Orthodox commemorated the Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross. Read Mr Huw's reflection on his priest's sermon -- is it "nothing new"? It is the obvious, the necessary, that always wants restating.

One day in the Boston Globe the "Reflection for the Day" came via Katharine Anne Porter : "Love must be learned, and relearned, again and again; there is no end to it. Hate needs no instruction, but waits only to be provoked."

The simple truths -- see Christ in others, treat others as Christ -- always warrant visitation and revisitation, because we dare not live them yet. I dare not live them yet.

The only other fortress of privacy afforded a boy at Uppingham came in the shape of the tish, a dormitory cubicle that housed his bed, a small table and such private items as might be fitted into the table or under the bed and vice versa. A curtain could be pulled across and then a tish, too, became a boy's castle. One assumes that the word "tish" descends, not from the German for table, but from a contraction of the word "partition," but applying logic to English slang is never a sound idea. I think we can be fairly sure however, that "ekker," the word used at Uppingham for games, derived from "exercise." "Wagger," or "wagger-pagger-bagger," which was used to denote "waste-paper basket," is an example of that strange argot prevalent in the 1920s and 1930s that caused the Prince of Wales to be known as the Pragger-Wagger. Even today, in the giddy world of High Anglicanism in such temples of bells, smells and cotters as St Mary's, Bourne Street, SW3, I have heard with my own two ears Holy Communion referred to by pert, campy priests as "haggers-commaggers" and my mother still describes the agony and torture of anything from toothache to an annoying traffic jam as "aggers and torters."

Stephen Fry, from Moab Is My Washpot : An Autobiography (Random House, UK 1997, USA 1999), pp. 167-8.
from I, in my intricate image
by Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)

I, in my intricate image, stride on two levels,
Forged in man's minerals, the brassy orator
Laying my ghost in metal,
The scales of this twin world tread on the double,
My half ghost in armour hold hard in death's corridor,
To my man-iron sidle.

Beginning with doom in the bulb, the spring unravels,
Bright as her spinning-wheels, the colic season
Worked on a world of petals;
She threads off the sap and needles, blood and bubble
Casts to the pine roots, raising man like a mountain
Out of the naked entrail.

Beginning with doom in the ghost, and the springing marvels,
Image of images, my metal phantom
Forcing forth through the harebell,
My man of leaves and the bronze root, mortal, unmortal,
I, in my fusion of rose and male motion,
Create this twin miracle.

This is the fortune of manhood : the natural peril,
A steeplejack tower, bonerailed and masterless,
No death more natural;
Thus the shadowless man or ox, and the pictured devil,
In seizure of silence commit the dead nuisance,
The natural parallel.

My images stalk the trees and the slant sap's tunnel,
No tread more perilous, the green steps and spire
Mount on man's footfall,
I with the wooden insect in the tree of nettles,
In the glass bed of grapes with snail and flower,
Hearing the weather fall.

The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas (New Directions, 1954), pp. 40-1.
From the Orthros prayer
via the online chapel of goarch

You are more holy than all the Powers of Heaven, More honored than all, you are our foundation, O Theotokos, Mistress of the World. Entreat the Savior to save us from the multitude of stumbling blocks and rescue from danger those who pray to you, as you are the good one.
Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 43:12-25
trans. Msgr Ronald Arbuthnott Knox

Look up at the rainbow, and bless the maker of it; how fair are those bright colours that span heaven with a ring of splendour, traced by an almighty hand. Swift comes the snow at his word, swift flashes the fire that executes his vengeance; he has but to unlock his store-house, and the clouds hover, bird-fashion, arsenals of his might, whence the pounded hail-stones fall. How his glance makes the hills tremble! Blows the south wind at his bidding, earth echoes with the crash of his thunder; blows the north wind, and there is whirling storm. Soft as roosting bird falls the snow, spread all around; not more silently comes locust-swarm to earth; what eye is but captivated by its pale beauty, what heart but is filled with terror at the dark cloud that brings it? He it is pours out the frost, that lies white as salt on the earth, the frozen earth that seems covered with thistle-down.

Cold blows the north wind, and ice forms on the water; no pool but it rests there, arming the water as with a breast-plate; frost gnaws at the mountain-side, parches the open plains, strips them, as fire might have stripped them, of their green. Remedy for all these is none, but the speedy coming of the mist; frost shall be overmastered by the showers the sirocco drives before it, and at the Lord's word the chill blast dies away.
Saint Joseph's Abbey

Spencer, Massachusetts
visited 30 March - 6 April 1992

Here, no television
to put forth candidates
for the multitudinal eye,
no advertisements to entice
the urge for acquisition:
here there is naught but space,
grace, and monk-built walls.

The grass of the hill
south of the guest-cottage
accepts what weather comes
(chill rain, warm beam, white flake),
and does not complain.

Three hours before dawn
(first-time retreatant
rising for vigils)
leave the fieldstone house;
let night's chill scorch
soul and skin; walk the path
unlit but for one light
near a statue of the Virgin;
enter the cloister, fear-
fully, wonderfully dark.

Cistercians file churchward:
a dew like that of Hermon
graces psalming Spencer!
As if with pentecostal flame,
the brothers' gathered hearts
are inexhaustibly enkindled,
by grace made one.

It snows ! ! !

... and is coating the rooves of the parked cars hereabouts!

Sunday, March 30, 2003

Looking for pictures


i am a little church(no great cathedral)
far from the splendor and squalor of hurrying cities
--i do not worry if briefer days grow briefest,
i am not sorry when sun and rain make april

my life is the life of the reaper and the sower;
my prayers are the prayers of earth's own clumsily striving
(finding and losing and laughing and crying)children
whose any sadness or joy is my grief or my gladness

around me surges a miracle of unceasing
birth and glory and death and resurrection:
over my sleeping self float flaming symbols
of hope,and i wake to a perfect patience of mountains

i am a little church(far from the frantic
world with its rapture and anguish)at peace with nature
--i do not worry if longer nights grow longest;
i am not sorry when silence becomes singing

winter by spring,i lift my diminutive spire to
merciful Him Whose only now is forever:
standing erect in the deathless truth of His presence
(welcoming humbly His light and proudly His darkness)

from 95 poems by e e cummings (harcourt, brace & world, 1958), #77
Jessica Powers (1905-88)
Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit, OCD

The Cloud of Carmel

"The Lord promised that He would dwell in a cloud."
-- 2 Paralipomenon [=Chronicles] vi. 1

Symbol of star or lily of the snows,
Rainbow or root or vine or fruit-filled tree :
These image the Immaculate to me
Less than a little cloud, a little light cloud rising
From Orient waters cleft by prophecy.
And as the Virgin in a most surprising
Maternity bore God and our doomed race,
I who bear God in mysteries of grace
Beseech her : Cloud, encompass God and me.

Nothing defiled can touch the cloud of Mary.
God as a child willed to be safe in her,
And the Divine Indweller sets His throne
Deep in a cloud in me, His sanctuary.
I pray, Oh, wrap me, Cloud, light Cloud of Carmel
Within whose purity my vows were sown
To lift their secrecies to God alone.
Say to my soul, the timorous and small
House of a Presence that it cannot see,
And frightened acre of a Deity,
Say in the fulness of thy clemency:
I have enclosed thee all.
Thou art in whiteness of a lighted lamb wool,
Thou art in softness of a summer wind lull.
O hut of God, hush thine anxiety.
Enfolded in this motherhood of mine
All that is beautiful and all divine
Is safe in thee.

Via I Sing of a Maiden : The Mary Book of Verse, ed. Sister Thérèse Lentfoehr (Macmillan, 1947), pp. 329-30.

Also posted at error503 -- La vita nuova on 8th September 2002.
Imagining the words
of Daniel Patrick Moynihan (RIP) on glass houses

A person who inhabits ... a vitreous abode ... ought not to hurl projectiles ... that are petrine.

[A bit of whimsy inspired by some recent correspondence. Would anyone else like to, as an affectionate tribute to the late statesman, have a go at translating proverbs, saws, clichés, nostrums, & bromides into the sesquipedalian patois of DPM ??]

By the way

How can you not like a man who, in his first race for the US Senate, challenging incumbent James Buckley (William F.'s brother) and being tweaked with "Professor Moynihan" this-and-that, and "the distinguished professor from Harvard" ... responds by exclaiming "I see the mudslinging has begun!"
Vanish like a gambler's lucky streak

I think I'm beginning to like this song a whole lot.
If I were the snow : two poems
from Wishes, Lies, and Dreams : Teaching Children to Write Poetry

If I Were the Snow

If I were the snow
I would snow every
single Christmas.
I would snow on my
brother and make his
toes so red he
would hit me.
I would snow all over the
universe on Mars,
the earth. I would
snow so hard on
the moon, I
would show the man
on there who's boss.
I would not be just white
I'd be red, blue, and
green. I'd be yellow
dots, orange dots
black ones too.

Kathy Kennedy, 5th grade


Snow, Snow

Snow, snow, I'm the snow
Drift, drift, far I drift
Friends, friends, with my friends
Deep, deep, deep I drift
In and out, out of windows
Into Paris, out of London
Melt, melt, soon I'll melt.
But while I can, can, can
Drift, drift, I will drift
Snow, snow, I'm the snow
Drift, drift, far I drift.
Friends, friends, with my friends
Deep, deep, deep I drift
But now I must MELT!

Amy Levy, 5th grade


Kenneth Koch and the students of PS 61 NYC, op. cit. (Vintage, 1971), pp. 176, 178
an in-dwelling

god makes his home
in you
but true)

i see in your
sweet face
the dwelling-place
of grace

Psalm 8
(trans. Msgr Ronald Knox)

O Lord, our Master, how the majesty of thy name fills all the earth! Thy greatness is high above heaven itself. Thou hast made the lips of children, of infants at the breast, vocal with praise, to confound thy enemies; to silence malicious and revengeful tongues. I look up at those heavens of thine, the work of thy hands, at the moon and the stars, which thou hast set in their places; what is man that thou shouldst remember him? What is Adam's breed, that it should claim thy care? Thou hast placed him only a little below the angels, crowning him with glory and honour, and bidding him rule over the works of thy hands. Thou hast put them all under his dominion, the sheep and the cattle, and the wild beasts besides; the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, that travel by the sea's paths. O Lord, our Master, how the majesty of thy name fills all the earth!


Luke 1.68-79 : Benedictus

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; he has visited his people, and wrought their redemption. He has raised up a sceptre of salvation for us among the posterity of his servant David, according to the promise which he made by the lips of holy men that have been his prophets from the beginning; salvation from our enemies, and from the hand of all those who hate us. So he would carry out his merciful design towards our fathers, by remembering his holy covenant. He had sworn an oath to our father Abraham, that he would enable us to live without fear in his service, delivered from the hand of our enemies, passing all our days in holiness, and approved in his sight. And thou, my child, wilt be known for a prophet of the most High, going before the Lord, to clear his way for him; thou wilt make known to his people the salvation that is to release them from their sins. Such is the merciful kindness of our God, which has bidden him come to us, like a dawning from on high, to give light to those who live in darkness, in the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.
Six Untitled Poems

Let us compose
An idiom of blue.


Here we approach
The meaning of such --


Acolyte, be still :
Hear the vesper bell.
Scholars, cease your casual causerie.


We must compel, force the scurry of snow
Into a system, canonical, legitimate,
Catechize the rainbow, lesson the butterfly.


Monks of the east
Drink light, write life.
Troparia of endless heaven.


Keep deepest.
Forsake the praise
Of happy trifles, of gaudy naught.
This, the poem's birth, the poet's vocation.

from Louisville Airport, May 5, 1966
by Thomas Merton, OCSO (1915-1968)

Here on the foolish grass
Where the rich in small jets
Land with their own hopes
And their own kind

We with the gentle liturgy
Of shy children have permitted God
To make again that first world
Here on the foolish grass
After the spring rain has dried
And all the loneliness

Is for a moment lost in that simple
Liturgy of children permitting God
To make again that love which is His alone

His alone and terribly obscure and rare
Love walks gently as a deer
To where we sit on the green grass
In the marvel of this day's going down


Found in Learning to Love : Exploring Solitude and Freedom (The Journals of Thomas Merton, Volume Six 1966-1967), HarperCollins 1997, pp. 52-53