Who the Meek Are Not

Mary Karr is an Ignatian-influenced former atheist, recovering alcoholic, and one my favorite poets.  I’ve written about her before.  This poem is entitled “Who the Meek Are Not.”     Not the bristle-bearded Igors bent under burlap sacks, not peasants knee-deep     in the rice paddy muck, nor the serfs whose quarter-moon sickles     make the wheat fall in waves they don’t get to eat. My friend the Franciscan     nun says we misread that word meek in the Bible verse […]

Great Things Have Happened

At Mass last Sunday, Dennis Dillon, SJ, ended his homily with this poem by Alden Nowland.   It’s titled “Great Things Have Happened.” We were talking about the great things that have happened in our lifetimes; and I said, “Oh, I suppose the moon landing was the greatest thing that has happened in my time.” But, of course, we were all lying. The truth is the moon landing didn’t mean one-tenth as much to me […]

Finding God at O’Hare

In March, my wife and I missed a connection because of congestion at O’Hare airport. We vowed never to fly through O’Hare again if we could avoid it. But after reading the poem “Transportation” by Kristen Lindquist, I might reconsider. Everyone in O’Hare is happy today. Sun shines benevolently onto glorious packaged snack foods and racks of Bulls t-shirts. My plane was twenty minutes early. Even before I descend into the trippy light show of […]

John O’Donohue on Noticing

I hadn’t known about the priest-poet John O’Donohue until I read this post by Michelle Francl-Donnay.  The poem “A Blessing for One Who is Exhausted” might have been inspired by the Examen. Take refuge in your senses, open up To all the small miracles you rushed through. Become inclined to watch the way of rain When it falls slow and free. Imitate the habit of twilight, Taking time to open the well of color That […]

i thank you God

e.e. cummings’ poem “i thank You God for most this amazing day” is a lyric of thanksgiving. Read it here. Here it is read by Cummings himself. (Click here if you are getting this post by e-mail.)

The Narrow Door

I love the narrow door— You know, the one at the school Where parents and children cram in At the beginning of the day at Saint Paul, Rushing to beat the bell.   They are happy or tired or stressed, But always will smile and thank you For holding the door open So they can rush by before the classes and go up to their rooms.   Elsewhere the doors are Wide and Efficient and […]

The God of My Beginning and End

Another prayer from The Ignatian Adventure by Kevin O’Brien, SJ. This time it is by Karl Rahner, SJ [1904-1984]. I should like to speak with you, my God, and yet what else can I speak of but you? Indeed, could anything at all exist which had not been present with you from all eternity, which didn’t have its true home and most intimate explanation in your mind and heart? Isn’t everything I ever say really […]

Late Ripeness

Czeslaw Milosz (1911-2004), a Polish Catholic, wrote some of the greatest religious poetry of our time.  This poem, called “Late Ripeness,” is one of my favorites. Not soon, as late as the approach of my ninetieth year, I felt a door opening in me and I entered the clarity of early morning. One after another my former lives were departing, like ships, together with their sorrow. And the countries, cities, gardens, the bays of seas […]

Daniel Berrigan at 90

Daniel Berrigan, SJ, celebrated his 90th birthday yesterday.  We older folk remember him as a charismatic anti-war activist in the 60s and 70s.  He was a powerful advocate for non-violence and social justice for many years. He is also a poet of some renown.  Here is one of his lyrics. Miracles Were I God almighty, I would ordain, rain fall lightly where old men trod, no death in childbirth, neither infant nor mother, ditches firm […]

Good Friday, 1613, Riding Westward

From the poem of that name by John Donne: Could I behold those hands, which span the poles And tune all spheres at once, pierced with those holes? Could I behold that endless height, which is Zenith to us and our antipodes, Humbled below us ? or that blood, which is The seat of all our soul’s, if not of His, Made dirt of dust, or that flesh which was worn By God for His […]

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