Monday, January 12, 2009


I don't know why I go cold. I don't understand why I rebel. I don't know why.

I still love you so. But I do not show it now. Not to my neighbor. Not to my wife. Not to my children.

I am keeping myself away from you all because I am ashamed. I know why a man clams up and folds in upon himself. I know why he does this. For shame he does this. Because with each passing day the potentiality of him diminishes. And he is aware of it when he wakes in the middle of the night. And in the morning when he feels he has had no rest.

I am keeping myself away from you all because I am proud. And I know I have no reason to be. That I am not what I should have been or what I am meant to be.

I am keeping my thoughts to myself now because I don't have the energy to explain myself. Because I know that words will only fail me.

I am writing in the dark because I cannot tell you these things. That I am fragile. That I need you all. I am proud and I hate myself for it.

I have not been to Mass in over a month. I am sad that this is so, because I know it is my only refuge. I know it is a man's only hope. But I am proud and I know I should not be. And I know you will have me, imperfect as I am. And I know that you love me. But I starve myself of you, because I know I could never deserve you.

But at the same time, I know what this says about me. That my faith is being tested. That I am going through the desert and the One i should be petitioning for my soul I am ignoring. These machinations of the human mind... I am a master of them.

I am sorry for not walking with you. I am sorry for evicting you all from my heart these last months. I am tired. And my house is a mess. And I am not worthy to receive you.

I am oh so proud despite how small I am. And on this lonely island I suffer purposefully in isolation. I do not understand me.


I am avoiding my father.

I love him. But I am avoiding him. And I am avoiding him when he needs me most.

I am not picking up the phone. I am not calling back. I am calling when I have the energy only. When it crosses my mind and I have need to be once again reminded of the actuality that my father needs me. And that I cannot allow myself to need him.

He was always remarkably strong. An amazing physical presence. Larger than life in personality and knowledge and commitment and duty.

But I am cowardly now that he is fading. He is exhausted caring for Mom every day.

His vision has all but failed him now. He sets things out so he might find them. Because it is difficult for him to find them. And Mother does what she does to remain oriented; she puts them away... albeit not where they belong or will be found easily by the blind man who cares for her.

"It is like caring for an infant now," he says. "Every day I have to remind her of so many things. And she has a real need to go places. She can't stay still. She can't stay in the house. She's always got to be going, going, going."

It is a perpetual scavenger hunt, really. He puts it on the counter to thaw for dinner. She puts it "away." He asks her about it. She does not recollect. He presses her on it and she becomes angry. He finds it days later in a dresser drawer for the smell.

This woman was so bright. Brighter than most any. And Dad was so strong. Stronger than most any.

But I cannot call when I should call. I cannot answer when I should. I am sad. I am sad. I am sad.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Mom does not know who I am. She may recognize my voice... vaguely. And she may sense that we have a certain bond. But Mom does not know who I am.

I struggle to speak with her when Dad insists we talk over the phone. I know why he does this... why he puts her on the phone with me. But Mom does not know who I am. And I don't like hearing the tenor of her voice as she puzzles it out and I try to subtly remind her... hinting around the edges. I don't like to hear her struggle. And I am the source of her anxiety.

I am your son. And I love you, My Mother. Memories of me may dim for now. And that is fine. I know who I am. And I know who you are. And my most loving Mother... I will be with you again.

And you will say, "Matthew. A penny for your thoughts." And we will talk. I will say, "Thank you, Mom, for having me when you were so ill."

And we will know one another. You with your playful eyes. With that spark of life and brightest of smiles. Like a Mother knows her child. And a child knows his Mother.

I love you, Mother.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Have Mercy on Us

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
'Til He appear'd and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees! O, hear the angels' voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born;
O night divine, O night, O night Divine.

Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here come the wise men from Orient land.
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friend.

He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King, Behold your King.

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.

Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
His power and glory evermore proclaim.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Cosmos in 3-D

I have Five Senses
for which to observe
the likeness of things
the heavens the earth

but clamoring inside me
the sense that must be
many more things
than with eye can be seen

or ear to be heard
or touch to embrace
or smell to suss out
the shape nor with taste

these things that I know must be
... upon me so near
cannot be known with these

so what is the cosmos?
what is it friend
that we clunk about clumsily
until our end

it is to be found outside of the self
the temple of God
the Spirit behold!
need not scores of fingers
or ear to be told

but to be known
the darkness that settles upon each self
brings forth His legions
back into to Light

stave off thine hands
cover thine ears
close thine eyes
and silence thine tongue
listen, touch, taste
see and hear through the One

And you will know too
what distracts as we roam
tripping up needlessly
along the Pilgrim's Road Home

The Cosmos gives way
like beach unto sea
to Heavens Gate!
The Soul longs to be

Where all senses sense
And all shapes announce
what they are
what they are not

Neither seasons, nor distance
nor shadows exist
But Summer and closeness
and shade do persist

It is Jupiter's realm
that we must
to a man

in order to know
what, where, when
within which we exist.

Monday, December 8, 2008


In the past 4 or so months, I have had the privilege to attend two Memorial services. I say "privilege" in that to be even a tertiary participant in the send off of a soul is an honor.

Last night, I attended a Memorial service at a non-denominational church in the burbs and during the Summer I attended the funeral at a Baptist church in the inner-city.

As different as these two "Celebrations of Life" were from one another and from what I am accustomed to (in the Latin Rite Catholic Tradition), in the end all differences, whether cultural or denominational vanish as the corporeal "reality" gives way to matters of the metaphysical.

The message that resounds resplendently among the Christian Traditions is remarkable: Ultimate Hope and Trust in the Infinite Mercy of our Creator... trust in the Lord's Promise to those who believe in Him... that we should know Paradise.

The fact of The Ultimate Sacrifice made on our behalf and for our benefit - that of the Sacrifice of the Christ for our sins, whereby we are reconciled with God, the Creator - points to an Author who truly and wholly and without reservation loves His creatures beyond measure. That the sins of Mankind, in all of their depth and breadth and twisted gracelessness, could only be washed away by something greater. That the severity of the accumulated sins from the beginning of time and the present value of all future sins yet to be committed could be washed away in only one manner - by the sacrifice of God at the hands of Man - puts the Glory of God in perspective.

The message is one of amazing Grace. Truly. But that we may believe in the Christ and strive to persevere in our belief and towards Christian Perfection - knowing full well we are incapable of achieving it - enables us to follow the Christ, through His Grace, to Everlasting Life. We are invited, each and every one of us, to forsake the binds of the physical and temporal... to live into our Baptism created anew and robed in the perfection of the Christ... sanctified and bound to the Cross with Him. If we choose to remain tied to the Cross, we are taken to Calvary, Crucified with Him, and God willing, rise to Eternal Life.

This is a Pilgrim's road that we travel. A road of rogues, distractions, temptations, opportunities to commit sin, twists and turns, muddy, rutted well-worn tracks deepened and widened by thieves and harlots, sinful thoughts and words. But that we keep an eye on the Light emitting from the Grace of Holy Spirit in the Living Word, we are lost and cannot find our way. But if we believe and persevere, we are promised that no matter what we will find our way to the Narrow Gate at the end of a Bridge.

And there we will find our Maker's banquet hall - her doors swung wide open to welcome her tired pilgrims home.

In the case of the young woman who was brutally murdered, echoes of the Negro Spirituals could be heard in the song given to God. In the case of the young man struck down before his prime by an unrelenting disease, the tone was modern. But the message delivered was the same. Death is Freedom for those who believe. The end to the temporal is Eternity for those who believe.

At his memorial, the reverend read a message from Steven V. Prior to his death, the pastor asked him: "What would you like me to tell those who attend your send-off?" Steven paused for a second... and where others might be tempted to the long-winded end of the spectrum given the opportunity to deliver a "message from the grave" to a truly captive audience, Steven said only one word. That is, there was only one word he thought important enough to share with us...

He said, "Believe!"

Friday, December 5, 2008

God Speed, Mr. V

I only met him 3 or 4 times. A tall, sturdy man with a hearty presence and a gentle disposition. Not unlike his older brother, a close friend of mine, Steven was a kind spirit. Bright, funny, generous.

When he was diagnosed with Leukemia, it was hard to believe. How could it be so?

When he went into remission, we all celebrated the hard-fought victory. Those of us who only really knew Steven and of his harrowing vitality through his brother cheered. It seemed this awful chapter was near coming to a positive conclusion. That his wife and child could have him back for the foreseeable future...

But it was not meant to be.

Steven was taken to hospice care on Saturday. His family camped out with him to help him pass through the door. He was in and out of consciousness for the remainder.

Steven passed on to meet his Maker on Thursday morning.

He was a good man, near as I could discern. A gentle, loving, honest soul. A man of faith. A man who did not become angry at God. A man who embraced his sufferings like Christ carrying His most Holy Cross. A man who never lost hope or despaired.

My prayer today is that Steven remembers us to God. My prayer is that the Perpetual Light that now shines on Steven should one day find each of us in the everlasting calm of Eternity with The Author of the Cosmos.

My prayer is for his family. My prayer is for all of us. The entire world.

God Speed, Steven!