Archives for posts with tag: Catholic

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Holy training years
by Patrick T. Reardon

At seventeen, Jesus was a blue-collar
guy with muscled arms and callouses
on his hands from his Dad’s workshop.
Hold on. At thirty, he read the Torah
in the temple so maybe he was left alone
from manual labor and sat daily meditating
on the scrolls. Remember that meeting
with the scholars when he was twelve.

At seventeen, I was a tall first baseman on
the seminary softball team, the tall center on
the basketball team and the tall editor of
the Stepping Stone newspaper. I was studying
to be theological and spiritual and moral and
pastoral and holy. I knew where I was going
without having a clue.

I did not know that I would never be a
Catholic priest and almost become a
Chicago cop and would fall in love with
a woman with a broken ankle and be
heartsick when our son got a scratch on
his perfect toddler skin and would be
astonished at our daughter’s fierce hunger
for the world, all of it. And I did not know
that I would talk with my brother hours
before, in a rain-snow of a late November,
he took his sorrowed life.

At sixty-seven, I know I will never know
if, at seventeen, Jesus had a clue. I know
each moment as one in a succession of
bubbles that pop until there are no more
bubbles. I know that, for me, it is a
kindness to have each delight a
surprise and each stab of pain
uncharted. I fly blind the
continent of the future.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Me (at left) as a 17-year-old high school basketball player.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Since, at 17, I was in the seminary studying for the Catholic priesthood, I did a lot of thinking about Jesus, and, in this poem, it seemed right to consider him at 17 as well as myself.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patrick T. Reardon is the author of Requiem for David, a collection of poems that Silver Birch Press will release in February 2017. His Pump Don’t Work blog is at patricktreardon.com.

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THE MAY MAGNIFICAT (Excerpt)
by Gerard Manley Hopkins

May is Mary’s month, and I
Muse at that and wonder why:
Her feasts follow reason,
Dated due to season—

Candlemas, Lady Day;
But the Lady Month, May,
Why fasten that upon her,
With a feasting in her honour?

Is it only its being brighter
Than the most are must delight her?
Is it opportunest
And flowers finds soonest?

Ask of her, the mighty mother:
Her reply puts this other
Question: What is Spring?—
Growth in every thing—

Flesh and fleece, fur and feather,
Grass and greenworld all together;
Star-eyed strawberry-breasted
Throstle above her nested

Cluster of bugle blue eggs thin
Forms and warms the life within;
And bird and blossom swell
In sod or sheath or shell.

All things rising, all things sizing
Mary sees, sympathising
With that world of good,
Nature’s motherhood. . .

MORE: Read “The May Magnificat” by Gerald Manley Hopkins in its entirety at bartleby.com.

PHOTO: “May Crowning.” Read more about this tradition at wikipedia.org.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–1889) was an English poet, Roman Catholic convert, and Jesuit priest, whose posthumous fame established him among the leading Victorian poets. His experimental explorations in prosody (especially sprung rhythm) and his use of imagery established him as a daring innovator in a period of largely traditional verse. His work was not published in collected form until 1918, but it influenced many leading 20th-century poets, including Ted Hughes.

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I read Lying Awake by Mark Salzman shortly after reading a profile of the author by Lawrence Weschler (“The Novelist and the Nun”) in the Oct 2, 2000 issue of The New Yorker. In the article, Salzman reveals his multi-year battle with writer’s block that included several drafts his agent and publisher rejected and his difficulty working at home because his cat wanted to sit in his lap — making it hard to concentrate.

While he struggled to write and often had no idea where to take his story, he did have several brainstorms related to the cat. First, he fashioned a skirt from aluminum foil and wore it while he worked (the cat did not like to sit on the metal garment). One day, Salzman was wearing the tin foil skirt and nothing else (you know how it is when you work at home) and stood up to get something. He looked out the window and saw a man working on the telephone wires outside — the lineman shook his head in pity when he saw Salzman. It was time for another cat deterrent tactic.

Salzman took his laptop to his garage and worked in his car. His cat followed him and sat on the vehicle’s moonroof while Salzman attempted to complete his novel, which, in his words, he wrote with a cat’s a**hole staring down at him.

Somehow the author managed to complete Lying Awake, which went on to bestsellerdom and rave reviews. Here’s one from the Amazon Page that does a good job of summarizing the novel: “Using a very limited palette, Mark Salzman creates an austere masterpiece. The real miracle of Lying Awake is that it works perfectly on every level: on the realistic surface, it captures the petty squabbles and tiny bursts of radiance of life in a Los Angeles monastery; deeper down it probes the nature of spiritual illumination and the meaning and purpose of prayer in everyday life; and, at bottom, there lurks a profound meditation on the mystery of artistic inspiration.”

Note: I recently found a beautiful paperback edition of Lying Awake at one of my used books haunts, and will mail the novel to the first person (U.S. only because of postage rates) who leaves a comment on this post. This our third book giveaway.

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Story Poem by Jason Kerzinski

Mr. Porres, Mr. Porres, Mor. Porres. Is it okay to call you “Mister”? Or would you prefer Mr. Saint Porres? Have I offended the man who brought mouse, cat, bird, and dog together? That must have been a chore. How did you manage it? Did you tempt those creatures with lasagna? It must have been lasagna. Italian food can unite any group of folks. Lasagna and breadsticks. How stupid of me to leave out the breadsticks. Mouthwatering breadsticks with garlic butter. Did you serve wine? Again, I’m not thinking. Wine, lasagna, and breadsticks can unite a toad and a fox. Have you taken on that task, Mr. Porres? Pack your bags immediately and head for Grimes, Iowa. They have a large population of toads and foxes. I will rent a car for you this afternoon. I will rent you a Ford Taurus so you will remain inconspicuous. Good luck, Mr. Saint Martin de Porres, and Godspeed.

Note: “Godspeed” by Jason Kerzinski was originally published in the New Orleans Review, Volume 33, Number 2.