Blog posts

POETRY: The Ten Lepers, by Rosanna Eleanor Leprohon

’Neath the olives of Samaria, in far-famed Galilee, Where dark green vines are mirrored in a placid silver sea, ’Mid scenes of tranquil beauty, glowing sun-sets, rosy dawn, The Master and disciples to the city journeyed on. And, as they neared a valley where a sheltered hamlet lay, A strange, portentous wailing made them pause upon their way— Voices fraught with anguish, telling of aching heart and brow, Which kept moaning: “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us now!” Softly raised the gentle Saviour His eyes like midnight star, And His mournful gaze soon rested on ten lepers, who, afar, Stood motionless and suppliant, in sackcloth rudely clothed, Poor Pariahs! by their nearest, their dearest, shunned and loathed. Not unto Him prayed [...]

GRATITUDE: A Belatedly Grateful Leper, by Loretta Pehanich

From Ignatian Spirituality Luke 17:11-19 And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: and they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? There are not found that [...]

PRAYER: Prayer Topics For Leprosy

From: The Leprosy Mission, England and Wales The Leprosy Mission Prayer Almighty Father, the giver of life and health, look mercifully on those who suffer from leprosy. Stretch out your hand to touch and heal them as Jesus did during his earthly life. Grant wisdom and insight to those who are seeking the prevention and cure of the disease; give skill and sympathy to those who minister to the patients; reunite the separated with their families and friends; and inspire your people with the task set before The Leprosy Mission, that it may never lack either the staff or the means to carry on its healing work, in accordance with your will, and to the glory of your holy name. We ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ your Son, our Lord. Amen. [...]

SAINTS: Saint Alice The Leper

From Vultus Christi Ablaze With the Love of Christ Today’s Saint Alice of Schaerbeek, a Cistercian-Benedictine nun, was one of a constellation of holy women who in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries set the Low Countries all ablaze with love for Christ and, in particular, for the mystery of the Eucharist. Dame Alice died on June 11th, 1250; the Cistercian Order began celebrating her feast in 1702. Deus Crucifixus Thomas Merton wrote that the life of Saint Alice should be placed in the hands of every monk; he presented her as the perfect illustration of Chapter Seven of the Rule of Saint Benedict, On the Degrees of Humility. Father Chrysogonus Waddell ranked her with Thérèse of the Child Jesus and Elizabeth of Trinity; he saw her as [...]

PRAYER: A Prayer For Leprosy Sufferers, by Shirley Snowden

From: Poems From The Heart It was through learning of the work of the Leprosy Mission that my friend and fellow poet Shirley Snowden was moved with compassion to write this poetic prayer for leprosy sufferers. In doing so Shirley not only discovered within herself a previously unrecognized talent for writing poetry, but her heartfelt poem has challenged many others to pray for and support this worthy cause. Those reading this poem may remember poignant images of the late Princess Diana (former patron of the Leprosy Mission) comforting those suffering from leprosy.  Though now largely a treatable condition, leprosy continues to blight lives, with recent figures showing there are still in excess of half a million sufferers in over 100 [...]

FORGIVENESS: Humility, or The Tale of the Two Shawls

I have been studying what I thought was a “new” form of evil.  New to me, that is. Turns out, though, I studied it for years when I was half my age. Because it was only a study back then, and because the study was very intense, it left some terror in my soul. I’m very efficient about my emotions: if I don’t need them right here, right now for whatever it is I am doing, then they get stowed away. This terror had been stowed away – very much out of sight, out of mind – until the door was flung open and there it was. And here this study is again now. But what I realized was that when I had studied this particular form of evil, I had never come up with the understanding of what kind of spiritual weapon would be [...]

POETRY: The Edges Of Time, by Kay Ryan

It is at the edges that time thins. Time which had been dense and viscous as amber suspending intentions like bees unseizes them. A humming begins, apparently coming from stacks of put-off things or just in back. A racket of claims now, as time flattens. A glittering fan of things competing to happen, brilliant and urgent as fish when seas [...]

HUMILITY: On How Our Lord Went On Monday To Preach In The Temple, Where He Praised The Poor Widow’s Offering, And Returned To Bethany In The Evening, by Isabel de Villena

From Vita Christi Our merciful Lord, realizing that his mission was coming to an end, and that the term of his life would soon be over, with courageous spirit forced himself to preach, going every day from Bethany to Jerusalem, presenting himself at the temple, and proclaiming his divine teaching to those who wished to hear it.  Even so, ill will was already to widespread among the entire people that very few wished to hear him, but rather they fled from any location where His Majesty was, feeling deeply ashamed to have his friendship. And, therefore, the holy Apostles and all the others who followed him at that time are fittingly exalted and deservingly rewarded, for great love and faith must have kept them steadfast while they saw Our [...]

POETRY: The Widow’s Mites—A Poem, by Brother Roy

From: New Hope International Ministries  Jesus sat down near the collection box in the Temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins. Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.” (Mark 12:41-44) During the last days that Jesus walked upon this earth as a man, He went up to the temple to see if anyone truly understood God’s plan. A nameless, faceless widow passed by Jesus as He rested against the temple wall, But He did [...]

POETRY: The Widow’s Lament In Springtime, by William Carlos Williams

Sorrow is my own yard where the new grass flames as it has flamed often before, but not with the cold fire that closes round me this year. Thirty-five years I lived with my husband. The plum tree is white today with masses of flowers. Masses of flowers load the cherry branches and color some bushes yellow and some red, but the grief in my heart is stronger than they, for though they were my joy formerly, today I notice them and turn away forgetting. Today my son told me that in the meadows, at the edge of the heavy woods in the distance, he saw trees of white flowers. I feel that I would like to go there and fall into those flowers and sink into the marsh near [...]

POETRY: Matins, by George Herbert

I cannot ope mine eyes, But thou art ready there to catch My morning-soul and sacrifice: Then we must needs for that day make a match. My God, what is a heart? Silver, or gold, or precious stone, Or star, or rainbow, or a part Of all these things or all of them in one? My God, what is a heart? That thou shouldst it so eye, and woo, Pouring upon it all thy art, As if that thou hadst nothing else to do? Indeed man’s whole estate Amounts (and richly) to serve thee: He did not heav’n and earth create, Yet studies them, not him by whom they be. Teach me thy love to know; That this new light, which now I see, May both the work and workman show: Then by a sunbeam I will climb to [...]

HUMILITY: The Widow’s Mite, by A Sister of Mercy

From: Contemplations and Meditations on the Public Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ: According to the Method of St. Ignatius; Revised by W. J. Amherst And Jesus, sitting over against the treasury, beheld how the people cast money therein, and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she cast in two mites. And, calling his disciples together, he saith to them : Amen, I say to you, this poor widow hath cast in more than all they who have cast into the treasury. For they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want hath cast in all she had, even her whole living. (Mark 12: 41-44) Preparatory Prayer: Grant, O my God, that during this meditation all my actions, all my intentions, and all the operations of [...]

PRAYER: A Scriptural Rosary Novena Of Meditations On Humility

From Scriptural Rosary First Day — Matthew 7:1-5 Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. Second Day — Matthew 11:25-30 At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth, because thou hast hid these [...]

HUMILITY: The Poor Widow, by John Gillman

From Possessions and the Life of Faith Here is a narrative with a conspicuous little person, a poor widow, who is the last of many widows appearing in Luke’s narrative.  In agrarian societies widows, left to fend for themselves, are especially vulnerable to neglect and exploitation.  This widow is observed by Jesus putting into the Temple treasury two copper coins, which represented all the living that she had.  In response to her action Jesus remarks, Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty.  Usually Jesus’s comment is considered to be a word of praise, and the widow is extolled as an example of generous giving. [...]

PRAYER: Litany For Humility

From: Our Catholic Prayers (First published on The Value of Sparrows on April 16, 2012.) The litany of humility, for private devotions, is a moving prayer that can bring us closer to Christ. Do you worry constantly about what others think of you? Do you feel empty or frustrated if you’re not the center of attention? The litany of humility asks for our Lord’s assistance in humbly following in his footsteps and casting aside, or at least offering up to him, all those nagging doubts and fears that come with our self-centeredness. Our Lord asks us in Matthew’s gospel to learn from him, “for I am meek and humble of heart,” as he is described in the first line of this prayer below. We ask in this litany, composed by Rafael Cardinal [...]

POETRY: Dawn Walks In Blue And Diamonds, by Franz Wright

Dawn walks in blue and diamonds in robes of darkest grain wind-parted ☆ Sleeping she looked like a river Like a river at dawn, silver sliver of moon, wind in poplars, flickering of a candle that grows imperceptibly taller as it burns Manacled girl naked surrounded by flames, gigantic rose of painless fire— ☆ Now I have passed through voice and fire could I be cleansed of all desire, I don’t think so Icon: cold gold telepathic eyes ☆ Sacrament of metaphor, sacrament of matter ☆ Aren’t stars almost in your vicinity It was only the barest beginning starward- bound, only the March branches, only the first gifts of the first awakening waiting forever to be born… ☆ Dawn walked in blue and diamonds. [...]

JESUS: Psalm 102, by J. G. Bellett

From Short Meditations On The Psalms A Prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed, and poureth out his complaint before Jehovah Jehovah, hear my prayer, and let my cry come unto thee. Hide not thy face from me: in the day of my trouble, incline thine ear unto me; in the day I call, answer me speedily. For my days are consumed like smoke, and my bones are burned as a firebrand. My heart is smitten and withered like grass; yea, I have forgotten to eat my bread. By reason of the voice of my groaning, my bones cleave to my flesh. I am become like the pelican of the wilderness, I am as an owl in desolate places; I watch, and am like a sparrow alone upon the housetop. Mine enemies reproach me all the day; they that are mad against me swear [...]

PSALMS: When It Feels Like God Is Absent, by Daniel F. Polish

From Bringing the Psalms to Life During times when our lives resonate with the mood of some psalms, God seems remote and absent to us.  We feel like God has forgotten all about us, or cast us off.  More darkly, we fear that perhaps God even smolders with anger against us.  The psalms make repeated use of the powerful image of God’s face being hidden from us.  Admittedly, today we tend to be uncomfortable with anthropomorphic images that speak of God in terms of human attributes.  Yet this image does strike a chord in us.  It feels to us that God is not merely away, but is holding back from us, hiding.  Like the face of the sun hidden by clouds, or during an eclipse, God’s face feels hidden from us in our time of need. [...]

POETRY: Snowfall, by Sarah Arthur

When the snow falls it falls like death in slow layers and keeps falling till nothing we have known is known. We stand silent in the woods awaiting the wide white twilight. They say when you die of cold you fall asleep first. And so I wonder: If you die of snow like a princess do you dream for a hundred years while a blanket of white mounds over your chest and pines stand silent in the trackless deep and not even the mice know you’re there? If a tree falls in the snow does it sleep for a hundred years? And if you prick your finger and a drop of red blood falls on the silent snow do the woods shudder with strange violence; does the snow rot with dark undergrowth; do the dead leaves bleed? Does the woodsman then awake, shoulder his ax, [...]

POETRY: Lord, Hear My Prayer, by John Clare

A Paraphrase of Psalm 102 (Originally published on December 27, 2012) Lord, hear my prayer when trouble glooms, Let sorrow find a way, And when the day of trouble comes, Turn not thy face away: My bones like hearthstones burn away, My life like vapoury smoke decays. My heart is smitten like the grass, That withered lies and dead, And I, so lost to what I was, Forget to eat my bread. My voice is groaning all the day, My bones prick through this skin of clay. The wilderness’s pelican, The desert’s lonely owl— I am their like, a desert man In ways as lone and foul. As sparrows on the cottage top I wait till I with fainting drop. I hear my enemies reproach, All silently I mourn; They on my private peace encroach, Against me they [...]

PSALMS: Laments, by Mary Ellen Chase

From The Psalms For the Common Reader As John Calvin has already told us, the Psalms are a mirror reflecting all the emotions of the human soul.  We must, therefore, expect to find within them laments for trouble and sorrow, outcries against the slings and the arrows of life.  Moreover, since most of them were written during years of subjection when the very existence of a people was threatened, and since the Hebrews were among all peoples perhaps the most intense and even violent in their emotions, laments were as natural to them as were rejoicings.  There were surely many bitter hours in their long experience when to rejoice was impossible.  They had known invasion, destruction, and death, and the lesser misfortunes of drought, [...]

PSALMS: The Prayer Of An Afflicted Person, by Bruce k. Waltke, James M. Houston, & Erika Moore

From The Psalms as Christian Lament PSALM 102: A prayer by an afflicted person when he grows weak and pours out his complaint before “I AM.” “I AM,” hear my prayer; let my cry for help come to you. Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress. Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly. For my days vanish in smoke; my bones burn like glowing embers. My heart is blighted like vegetation and so withers; I forget and depart without eating my food. From the sound of my sobbing, my bones cling to my flesh. I am like a desert owl, I have become like a screech owl among ruins. I keep vigil; I have become like a bird alone on a roof. All day long my enemies taunt me; those who are senseless and against me [...]

PRAYER: Prayer Of Lament, by Laurence Hull Stookey

From Let the Whole Church Say Amen! A Guide for Those Who Pray in Public O God, you are our help and strength, Psalm 124:8 our refuge in the time of trouble. Psalm 37:39 In you our ancestors trusted; Psalm 22:4 They trusted and you delivered them. When we do not know how to pray as we ought, your very Spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. Romans 8:26 We plead for the intercession now, Gracious One. For desolation and destruction are in our streets, Isaiah 59:7 and terror dances before us. Job 41:22 Our hearts faint; our knees tremble; our bodies quake; all faces grow pale. Nahum 2:10 Our eyes are spent from weeping and our stomachs churn. Lamentations 2:11 How long, O Lord, how long Isaiah 6:11 must we endure this [...]

PRAYER: A Prayer Of Lament, by Dan Herron

From Lament as Worship: A Prayer Over Our Hurting Nation Jesus, you call weary people to come to you. You bid the heavy laden to find rest in you. Today, we bring our restless souls to you. We name the grief, pains, anxieties, disappointments, confusions, angers, fears that rage against us and within us. Help us to stand in vulnerability with one another, Help us to stand in vulnerability before you, our Savior. How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? Lord, from where we stand, from what we have seen and heard and felt, we feel forgotten, our world appears abandoned by you: from a peaceful protest turned violent and murderous in Dallas, Texas, to a car in St. Paul, Minnesota, to outside a [...]

JESUS: In That Moment Right Before

I would say that, most of the time, when I hear scripture read, or read it for myself, it feels like the wind to me.  Something blowing by me.  I recognize the elements that are in the wind, but it is something that is beyond me in terms of capturing it.  Or even being part of it. From time-to-time, some of it makes me wrench my neck around in an attempt to seize it.  Some combination of words that are just that tantalizing as to make me want to scrutinize them. Then there are those astounding times when I hear or read words that I have received in a vision.  Sometimes the words are exactly the same.  And a cathedral-sized bell rings inside me.  It is a confirmation of accuracy.  I know that my vision was from God.  Those are, as [...]

POETRY: By The Water Of Babylon, by Eloise Blanchard

The journey took forever, it seemed, over wide valleys, smooth with wear, over high hills, the occasional mountain, carefully, across bridges over chasms with various ugly creatures in them. When I got to the river, it bubbled, swaying its way to the ocean— a rhythmic flow— and I lay down in the deep fine grass hands outspread and thought I was in the promised land. But, like Moses, I was on the other side the wrong side. I looked over and knew it instantly; knew the irrevocable nature of location, humanity, physical being had put me there after long journeys, with people following blindly and I could not get to the right side. And folks on the other side were dancing— a celebration of their river and their views. The river flows [...]

JESUS: Jesus Wept, The Longest Verse In The Bible, by André Resner

(Meditation, Reflection, and Proclamation on John 11:35) From Living In-Between Lazarus came forth.  But what about the next day?  Did he no longer have that lower back pain after his resurrection?  He came forth to die yet again.  And there was no Jesus around to raise him the second time.  Mary and Martha had to go to their brother’s funeral twice, unless he was raised only to grieve at their funerals first. What do you say at someone’s second funeral? The heart yearns.  It yearns in the gap between the gnawing ache of our experience in the world and the dream of the promise.  The brokenness is sometimes all that we can see and feel. I wish I could fix these glasses.  My fourteen-year old son bought them.  He spent [...]

JESUS: Jesus Wept, by John Chrysostom

From Homilies of Chrysostom Jesus wept. Seest thou that he had not as yet shown any sign of the raising, and goeth not as if to raise Lazarus, but as if to weep? For the Jews show that he seemed to them to be going to bewail, not to raise him; at least they said, Behold how he loved him! And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died? (John 11:35-37) Not even amid calamities did they relax their wickedness. Yet what he was about to do was a thing far more wonderful; for to drive away death when it hath come and conquered, is far more than to stay it when coming on. They therefore slander him by those very points through which they ought to have marveled [...]

POETRY: Cemetery, by Benjamin Alire Saenz

I walk these grassless grounds Cracked, withering in weeds. My eyes move From one monument to the next: a star For the hour of their births, a cross For the hour of their deaths. Grave after Grave, row after crooked row like fields Of rotting corn. My eyes fall On words: Para mi querido hijo, a mother’s Final letter to her war-dead son. The foreigner Has found a place, died for a flag that knows only How to wave adios in English. A broken angel, Wingless, protects the grave of an infant Whose name the wind has stolen. A cloud Covers the sun. It will not rain. I stand In this noonday darkness somewhere between A cross and a star, strip off my clothes, rags That hide my bones. Bones. Bones fighting to bare Their blankness to open air. [...]

POETRY: Aaron, by George Herbert

Holiness on the head, Light and perfections on the breast, Harmonious bells below, raising the dead To lead them unto life and rest: Thus are true Aarons dressed. Profaneness in my head, Defects and darkness in my breast, A noise of passions ringing me for dead Unto a place where is no rest: Poor priest, thus am I dressed. Only another head I have, another heart and breast, Another music, making live, not dead, Without whom I could have no rest: In him I am well dressed. Christ is my only head, My alone-only heart and breast, My only music, striking me ev’n dead, That to the old man I may rest, And be in him new-dressed. So, holy in my head, Perfect and light in my dear breast, My doctrine tun’d by Christ (who is not dead, But [...]