Saturday, March 19, 2011

Poetry: Donuts for St. Joseph

I'm Italian on my mother's side.  That means that St. Joseph's day is big deal for me.

Well, in truth, St. Joseph's day food is a big deal for me.  Please enjoy this little ditty about a baker who seeks the intercession of St. Joseph in a most important matter.

Donuts for St. Joseph

Oh, Patron Saint most fatherly,
Thou paragon of chastity,
I beg thee, with sincerity,
To bless my new-made zeppole.

I do beseech thee eagerly,
To build within me, verily,
A stronghold for God's charity,
But first, please bless my zeppole.

 Help me to give unsparingly,
And see with greater clarity.
Yet seek now, with alacrity,
To sanctify my zeppole.

They puffed up oh so fluffily,
And sizzled oh so loverly.
Do make it a priority
To consecrate my zeppole.

The sauce is sim'ring patiently.
The guests are staring anxiously.
I'm praying very piously.
So, come on, bless my zeppole.

Reach out now from eternity
And grant, in perpetuity,
Thy sanction to my pas-ter-ry,
My brown and golden zeppole.

I ask thee with finality,
And stomach growling hungrily,
Great Guardian of Italy,
Please bless my cooling zeppole.

No sign dost thou show unto me,
No staggering theophany,
So I'm just gonna let it be,
And eat my yummy zeppole.

Happy St. Joseph's Day!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Reflection: My Father's Hand

I've been sick the past few days.  A nasty fever struck me very suddenly.  There was a point where I was shivering so violently that I could not type, and in the middle of the night I almost lost my balance and fell.  I was, for more than a few hours, as close to helpless as I've been in many years.

Thankfully, my father was here.

My dad, who himself had only just gotten over a virus, visited me in my infirmity and helped me through the night.  It was his arms I leaned against as I stumbled back to bed, his hands that refreshed my cold compresses and offered me "blessed coolness in the heat," and his voice that called out in the dark to check on me.  It was nothing he had not done before.  But I am an adult, living on my own, now.  For him to take care of me after I've been out of the house so many years seems, from one point of view, like a regression.

But from another point of view it is perfectly natural.  I live alone.  My fevers typically spike quickly and impair my ability to think clearly.  My parents aren't too far away.  Of course my father would come to me.  Of course he would take care of me.  He is my father.  He reached out to me, and I took his hand.

"Whatsoever you do to the least of my brethren, that you do unto me."  My father definitely performed a corporal work of mercy for me.  He cared for me in my weakness.  Through him I experienced the loving touch of my Heavenly Father's Hand.  My dad's presence became a Divine Presence.  His hands were the hands of Christ for me.  I suppose, in ministering to me, he was ministering to Christ.  But I can assure you I was not feeling very Christ-like as I struggled to sleep.

Right now there are so many people who need to feel the touch of their Father.  The are so many who long to hold their Father's Hand.  Perhaps they are suffering from disease.  Perhaps personal tragedies have torn apart their hearts.  Perhaps they are mentally ill or developmentally disabled.  Perhaps they are suffering from a disaster.  Perhaps they inflicted their miseries on themselves.

Regardless of the circumstances, we are called to love them.

So, I urge you to reflect on your life.  Are you being called to minister to someone?  Are you being invited to be the healing Hand of God for someone?  Or maybe you are being called to stop denying your own pain and suffering, and to seek the healing that comes from God alone.  Whether you are called to be God's strong arm or Christ's pierced hand, one thing is clear:  God is calling you.  Will you take your Father's Hand?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Poetry: Water Haiku Trio

Water is my favorite thing to drink.  Nothing satisfies quite like it.  Here is a tribute to my favorite beverage:

Delicious coolness
Rushing down my throat to soothe
Dusty, gnawing thirst.

Water gives life.  But it can also take it away:

The sea is thirsting.
With ferocious appetite
It devours the land.

And, finally, something that might be about rain:

Trembling clouds release.
The gates of heaven open.
Celestial tears fall.

Or maybe it is about something else.

Please pray for the people of Japan.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Reflection: Spending Yourself

There is something marvelous about feeling utterly spent.

It is the satisfaction that comes with knowing you have given your all.  It is the joy of accomplishment that mingles with the pain of exertion.  It is a sort of consummation, a reaching of a goal that, once reached, penetrates you and transforms you in a profound way.  It is a bit like being in love.

But it is different from the tide of sentiment that we call being in love in an important way.  The feeling of love comes and goes, as feelings do.  The satisfaction of giving one's all comes from knowledge, not emotion.  It is more certain.  If one knows one's limits, and then reaches (and perhaps surpasses) them in an all-consuming effort, one will be satisfied in this way.

Thus, one must possess accurate self-knowledge before one makes any great attempts.  Only when we learn our limits can we exceed them.  Yet, how can we learn our limits if we do not first make a great attempt and fail?  How can we gain knowledge about ourselves if we remain untested?  It seems that we have to simultaneously learn and do.  We must gain wisdom so as to live our lives well, but we must live our lives well so as to gain wisdom.  The learning must be ever swifter, for the doing seems to happen more frantically every day.  Hopefully the pace of our lives will not be our undoing.

So it would seem that gaining self-knowledge is no certain thing.  But it can be gained, and when the process of revelation is complete, one can then truly spend oneself.  It is a little like being in love, yes, but it is a lot like unconditional love.  That love will motivate a man to spend his very life for those he loves.  It will turn a man into a perpetual sacrifice that pours blessings into the lives of those around him.

To live in this way, in the habit of perpetual sacrifice, is to live a life of deep love.  It is to continually spend yourself in that love, to truly be in love itself, to lavish love on others.  It is to be transformed wholly into a creature of love.

There are two questions we must face:

      Are we truly spending ourselves, or are we keeping something back?
      If we are spending ourselves, on what are we spending ourselves?

Those things that a man totally spend himself on without losing his honor are few, but they are real.  I often wonder if I have found them.  Have you?