Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Poem about the Silence of the Church on Trump's Candidacy

Silence Says it All

The bishops are silent
the pastors, deacons, priests—are silent
before the candidate who speaks and acts
            at times like a monster,
calling twice for his supporters to assassinate his opponent,
riding (indeed steering!) a racist meme for five years—
that Obama is not an American--
galloping all the way to the presidential candidacy,
slandering Immigrants, Latinos, Muslims, even the Pope,
mocking the disabled, demeaning a war hero
            because he was a prisoner of war,
stirring the xenophobic shadow lurking within us all . . .

and the bishops are silent, tongue-tied.

The heart aches, and thinks back
to Germany and Italy in the 1930s.

Robert M. Coughlin / September 21, 2016

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Petitions/Prayer of the Faithful for September 18, 2016

Ellen McHugh wrote these petitions for St. Mary's in Painesville, Ohio:

Prayer of the Faithful for September 18th, 2016
25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Celebrant: As people of faith, we pray now for ourselves and for all those throughout the world in need of God’s generous mercy.

For our church leaders who give witness to Jesus who became servant of all—may the Gospel message they share influence the hearts and minds of all people to become defenders of life, agents of peace, and advocates of mercy.  We pray to the Lord. 

For all who govern and hold authority in the nations of the world; that their work may reflect your will in promoting justice and peace.  We pray to the Lord. 

For our candidates and catechumens; may the grace of the Holy Spirit guide and uphold them to joyfully witness and share your gospel as children of the light.  We pray to the Lord.

For the most vulnerable among us; for the poor and the homeless, for the sick and their caregivers.  And for all of us at St. Mary— open our hearts to your Spirit that we may bear witness to your infinite love and saving grace.  We pray to the Lord.

For the beauty of the created world at harvest time:  Inspire us to manage faithfully the riches of this good earth that, in our caring, we may give witness to your sustaining love.  We pray to the Lord
And for those for whom this Mass is offered [name them]. We pray to the Lord.

Let us pause now and silently offer to the Father our own particular intentions [allow for silence. . .].  We pray to the Lord.

Celebrant:  God of glory and majesty, help us to serve you faithfully as children of the light—to be for others what Jesus is for us: pardon and peace, new life and blessing. We ask this in the name of your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

New Poem--about the Homeless and Hungry

[All names in this poem are fictional]

The Deep-down Loneliness of the Homeless and the Hungry

Again and again I have noticed the deep down loneliness
Of the homeless folks who dine with us . . .

Liz, now walking with a cane, sneaking around the church
Looking for a cranny where she can spend the night,
Her mind a jumble of sweetness and anger.

Stanley, dressed impeccably, looking like an insurance salesman,
Wheeling his cart full of his possessions. I wonder
Where does he sleep? How is he able to clean up,
Present himself as if he is some upper middle class white collar guy . . .

Jimmy, looking much older, talking to himself,
Friend to my blacksheep cousins—could have married one of them!

Erin, who eagerly hugs Cathleen, then comes to the kitchen while we are cleaning up—
To hug her again.
He looks like he should be able to make it,
But something mysterious holds him back.

I look at the beautiful children, daughters and sons of the Homeless or Hungry,
Wonder about their futures. Right now many of them are happy, carefree.
One reminds me of my beautiful grandsons!
Where will they be in January, when Lake Erie sends us feet of snow and blasts of bitter
Cold? I think: I could help these innocent ones . . .

Jack sitting all day near the wall by McDonalds, with his homeless cart,
What does he do, how does he spend his time?
Another Jack, looking like an Indian,
His hair pulled back in a ponytail,
Sometimes very sweet, sometimes staggeringly drunk.

Most have their routines, lunch at the Salvation Army, supper at St. James or St. Mary’s,
Sometimes enough coins scrounged for McDonalds,
Mornings and afternoons at the Morley Library,
Nights at Project Hope, or in some car, in an alley,
An abandoned building, on somebody’s porch,
In a tent by the Grand River, in the woods behind the power plant.

So little comfort in their everyday lives, lives we can barely understand.

I hope we bring them good food two nights a week,
Some companionship, some kindness,
Some beauty,
Maybe a laugh . . .

Wish we could do more . . .

Bob Coughlin / September 15, 2016

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

A Poem about Miscarriage


The first hint of pregnancy,
She was elated—but scared,
After all, she had miscarried twice already.

At ten weeks, she and her doctor
Were hopeful, and finally,
At twelve weeks they were very confident—
This time it would go well.

And then, and then, a little bleeding,
Life and hope leaking out,
And then at fourteen weeks,
The flush and rush of blood—

And it was all over.

All her friends with babies, and she
With a broken heart.
Not all that unusual, she knew,
Most women have had miscarriages at some point,
Sometimes so early it was hardly noticed—by others.

But the mothers knew.
In fact, years later you could ask them,
And they could tell you how old
Little Johnny or Suzie would be.

The burning sorrow does fade,
But the long ache remains.
Hope returns, slowly,
You find another path—maybe a future pregnancy,
Or adoption,
Or a life without your own children—

But you don’t forget,
And you know how old Baby would be now.

[Bob Coughlin / September 7, 2016]

Friday, September 2, 2016

A Poem by Daniel Berrigan--Appropriate for This Presidential Election

And Where in the World Are You?

I see the wicked glide by
sleek in their velvet hearses
rich beyond measure, egos
puffed like an adder's

No sons of misfortune these;
no cares
shadow the perfumed brows;
a whirligig of furies
their axletree cuts;
the innocent die.

I sweat like a beast
for the fate of my people.
Is God
ignorant, blank eyed
deaf, far distant
bought off, grown old?

They rape the fair world
they butcher, huckster
by the pound, living flesh;
their guns, their gimlets
claim us for trophy.

Why then endure
why thirst for justice?
Your kingdom-come
a mirage, never comes.

I sweat like a beast
my nightmare is life long
and where in the world
are you?

[Fr. Daniel Berrigan. Page 53, Psalm 73 in his Uncommon Prayer: A Book of Psalms]

Fr. Berrigan's poem is like so much of the Bible, dripping with frustration and something close to despair. Where is God in all this? We pray the Our Father, the Lord's Prayer, and ask that "Thy kingdom come," but it seems like it is not coming, not being born in our lifetimes. The world seems like it's owned and manipulated by the super rich, those who "rape the fair world / they butcher, huckster / by the pound, living flesh; / their guns, their gimlets / claim us for trophy." These are heartfelt, sad words written by the poet and prophet Daniel Berrigan.