Sunday, February 28, 2010

Mozart's Requiem Mass in D Minor


Grant them eternal rest, O Lord,
and may perpetual light shine on them.
Thou, O God, art praised in Sion,
and unto Thee shall the vow
be performed in Jerusalem.
Hear my prayer, unto Thee shall all flesh come.
Grant them eternal rest, O Lord,
and may perpetual light shine on them.


Lord have mercy upon us.
Christ have mercy upon us.
Lord have mercy upon us.


Day of wrath, that day
Will dissolve the earth in ashes
As David and the Sibyl bear witness.
What dread there will be
When the Judge shall come
To judge all things strictly.
A trumpet, spreading a wondrous sound
Through the graves of all lands,
Will drive mankind before the throne.
Death and Nature shall be astonished
When all creation rises again
To answer to the Judge.
A book, written in, will be brought forth
In which is contained everything that is,
Out of which the world shall be judged.
When therefore the Judge takes His seat
Whatever is hidden will reveal itself.
Nothing will remain unavenged.
What then shall 1 say, wretch that I am,
What advocate entreat to speak for me,
When even the righteous may hardly be secure?
King of awful majesty,
Who freely savest the redeemed,
Save me, O fount of goodness.
Remember, blessed Jesu,
That I am the cause of Thy pilgrimage,
Do not forsake me on that day.
Seeking me Thou didst sit down weary,
Thou didst redeem me, suffering death on the cross.
Let not such toil be in vain.
Just and avenging Judge,
Grant remission
Before the day of reckoning.
I groan like a guilty man.
Guilt reddens my face.
Spare a suppliant, O God.
Thou who didst absolve Mary Magdalene
And didst hearken to the thief,
To me also hast Thou given hope.
My prayers are not worthy,
But Thou in Thy merciful goodness grant
That I burn not in everlasting fire.
Place me among Thy sheep
And separate me from the goats,
Setting me on Thy right hand.
When the accursed have been confounded
And given over to the bitter flames,
Call me with the blessed.
I pray in supplication on my knees.
My heart contrite as the dust,
Safeguard my fate.
Mournful that day
When from the dust shall rise
Guilty man to be judged.
Therefore spare him, O God.
Merciful Jesu,
Lord Grant them rest.


Lord Jesus Christ, King of glory,
deliver the souls of all the faithful
departed from the pains of hell and from the bottomless pit.
Deliver them from the lion's mouth.
Neither let them fall into darkness
nor the black abyss swallow them up.
And let St. Michael, Thy standard-bearer,
lead them into the holy light
which once Thou didst promise
to Abraham and his seed.

We offer unto Thee this sacrifice
of prayer and praise.
Receive it for those souls
whom today we commemorate.
Allow them, O Lord, to cross
from death into the life
which once Thou didst promise to Abraham
and his seed.


Holy, holy, holy,
Lord God of Sabaoth.
Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory.
Hosanna in the highest.


Blessed is He who cometh in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

Agnus Dei

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
grant them rest.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
grant them everlasting rest.


May eternal light shine on them, O Lord.
with Thy saints for ever, because
Thou art merciful.
Grant the dead eternal rest, O Lord,
and may perpetual light shine on them,
with Thy saints for ever,
because Thou are merciful.

Friday, February 26, 2010

When I Am Old

I am, by some standards, at that perfect age in life - where I am old enough to do everything but not too old for anything.  Many people, women in particular, seem to spend their whole lives longing to be (or at least appear to be) in this exact stage.

This week, a simple, but profoundly comforting thought has come to me: I think that I will like myself when I am old.  I like myself well enough right now, but, when I consider my trajectory, I think that I will find even more beauty, more to love in the person I am in the process of becoming.

At 50 or 70 or even 90, I know that Texas summers will have taken their toll on my skin - but I think those wrinkles will hold a great deal of wisdom.  My thighs will have inevitably grown larger, but I think my heart will have expanded even more.  My cool gray hair will hopefully be a sign that I, over the course of many years, have grown less hot-tempered and more inclined to be still, to contemplate, and to pray.

So be patient with me in the meantime.  When I am impulsive or selfish or mean or just plain stubborn, remember: I'm growing out of it... and, hopefully, you, too, will like the me I am when I am old.

Monday, February 22, 2010

"I Am Not Yours" by Sara Teasdale

I am not yours, not lost in you,
Not lost, although I long to be
Lost as a candle lit at noon,
Lost as a snowflake in the sea.

You love me, and I find you still
A spirit beautiful and bright,
Yet I am I, who long to be
Lost as a light is lost in light.

Oh plunge me deep in love -- put out
My senses, leave me deaf and blind,
Swept by the tempest of your love,
A taper in a rushing wind. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lent: A Time of Morning

Today is the first day of Lent, and everybody has been asking me what I'm "giving up" this year.  Last time around, I gave up alcohol which, although great for my cells, didn't really do that much for my soul.  Instead of repeating that process by arbitrarily picking something else I like and giving it up, I'm going to try to take on something new instead.

From this point forward (or, at the very least, till Easter), my mornings are sacred.  As much as I understand how necessary it is to be still and center myself on things of substance at the start of the day, I love to sleep... and I
really love to snooze.  This is not conducive to morning prayer - especially when I tell myself that I will just pray in my bed... laying down... with my eyes closed... curled up in the fetal position.  It's time for a new routine.  For this Lenten season, I'm giving the first full hour of my day, everyday, to God.  I guess that means I'm giving up my snooze button for Lent this year...

Monday, February 15, 2010

"Kiss the Quivering Lip" by Stephan Bauman

Wrapped their loved ones
In linens beautiful.
Some wrote epithets
Of grief
Of love
And attached it
To their feet.

Some opportunistic
Stole the shoes and clothes
Of the dead.
Naked we come
Naked we go.

There was man
I know him
He rescued
Two, three
And then four more.

I was told a mother ran in
As others ran out.
She flung her body
Across her child.
None greater
They say
Than she who gives her life
For another.

Had a baby today
She named her
"God with us".
Her family waited
Until after birth
To tell of her firstborn son:
"He's gone
To where Jesula
Has come."
She wailed, "Please, no, please
Bring him to me,

Chase this crowded room
This press of humanity
This weight of history;
Triage the punctured soul
Wash the suffering wound
And breathe the dying flicker.

Your gentle head
O Mercy
Upon this Haitian bosom
Of anguish
Of grief
And kiss the quivering lip
Of mother
Of child
Of sinner
Of saint.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

"Gacela of Unforeseen Love" by Federico García Lorca

No one understood the fragrance
of the dark magnolia of your womb.
No one knew how you tormented
a hummingbird of love between your teeth.

A thousand Persian ponies bedded down
in the moonlit plaza of your forehead
while for four nights I lassoed
your waist, the enemy of snow.

Between gypsum and jasmine, your glance
was a pale branchful of seeds.
I searched my breast to give you
the ivory letters that spell always,

always, always: garden of my agony,
your body forever fugitive,
the blood of your veins in my mouth
and your mouth already my tomb, emptied of light

Friday, February 12, 2010

"Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)" by Marvin Gaye

Rockets, moon shots
Spend it on the have nots
Money, we make it
Fore we see it you take it
Oh, make you wanna holler
The way they do my life
Make me wanna holler
The way they do my life
This ain't livin', This ain't livin'
No, no baby, this ain't livin'
No, no, no
Inflation no chance
To increase finance
Bills pile up sky high
Send that boy off to die
Make me wanna holler
The way they do my life
Make me wanna holler
The way they do my life
Dah, dah, dah
Dah, dah, dah
Hang ups, let downs
Bad breaks, set backs
Natural fact is
I can't pay my taxes
Oh, make me wanna holler
And throw up both my hands
Yea, it makes me wanna holler
And throw up both my hands
Crime is increasing
Trigger happy policing
Panic is spreading
God know where we're heading
Oh, make me wanna holler
They don't understand
Dah, dah, dah
Dah, dah, dah
Dah, dah, dah
Mother, mother
Everybody thinks we're wrong
Who are they to judge us
Simply cause we wear our hair long

Thursday, February 11, 2010

"A Prodigal" by Elizabeth Bishop

The brown enormous odor he lived by
was too close, with its breathing and thick hair,
for him to judge. The floor was rotten; the sty
was plastered halfway up with glass-smooth dung.
Light-lashed, self-righteous, above moving snouts,
the pigs' eyes followed him, a cheerful stare--
even to the sow that always ate her young--
till, sickening, he leaned to scratch her head.
But sometimes mornings after drinking bouts
(he hid the pints behind the two-by-fours),
the sunrise glazed the barnyard mud with red
the burning puddles seemed to reassure.
And then he thought he almost might endure
his exile yet another year or more.

But evenings the first star came to warn.
The farmer whom he worked for came at dark
to shut the cows and horses in the barn
beneath their overhanging clouds of hay,
with pitchforks, faint forked lightnings, catching light,
safe and companionable as in the Ark.
The pigs stuck out their little feet and snored.
The lantern--like the sun, going away--
laid on the mud a pacing aureole.
Carrying a bucket along a slimy board,
he felt the bats' uncertain staggering flight,
his shuddering insights, beyond his control,
touching him. But it took him a long time
finally to make up his mind to go home.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

"Michael Martin, Porter" by Dorothy Day (1937)

I find a little paragraph in my notebook, "Michael Martin, porter, idle for five years, brought in $2."

It was a thanksgiving offering, he explained, and he wanted to give it to some of our children in honor of his daughter in Ireland.

And I remembered how I spoke down in Palm Beach last month before the Four Arts Club, on the invitation of a convert. They told me, when I had finished, "You know we never pay speakers," and another woman said, with a tremor, "Miss Day, I hope you can convey to your readers and listeners that we would give our very souls to help the poor, if we saw any constructive way of doing it." And still another told me, "The workers come to my husband's mill and beg him with tears in their eyes to save them from unions. I hope you don't mind me saying so, but I think you are all wrong with it comes to unions."

They all were deeply moved, they told me, by the picture of conditions in Arkansas and the steel districts and the coal-mining districts, but: "You can't do anything with them, you know, these poor people. It seems to me the best remedy is birth control."

We are told always to keep a just attitude toward the rich, and we try. But as I thought of our breakfast line, our crowded house with people sleeping on the floor, when I thought of cold tenement apartments around us, and the lean gaunt faces of the men who come to us for help, desperation in their eyes, it was impossible not to hate, with a heart hatred and with a strong anger, the injustices of this world.

St. Thomas says that anger is not a sin, provided there is no undue desire for revenge. We want no revolution; we want the brotherhood of men. We want men to love one another. We want all men to have sufficient for their needs. But when we meet people who deny Christ in His poor we feel, "Here are atheists indeed."


Our pastor said recently that sixty million of our one hundred and thirty million here in the United States professed no religion, and I thought with grief that it was the fault of those professing Christians who repelled the others. They turned first from Christ crucified because He was a poor worker, buffeted and spat upon and beaten. And now - strange thought - the devil has so maneuvered that the people turn from Him because those who profess Him are clothed in soft raiment and sit at well-spread tables and deny the poor.

Monday, February 8, 2010

"Women" by Adrienne Rich

My three sisters are sitting
on rocks of black obsidian.
For the first time, in this light, I can see who they are.

My first sister is sewing her costume for the procession.
She is going as the Transparent lady
and all her nerves will be visible.

My second sister is also sewing,
at the seam over her heart which has never healed entirely,
At last, she hopes, this tightness in her chest will ease.

My third sister is gazing
at a dark-red crust spreading westward far out on the sea.
Her stockings are torn but she is beautiful.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Hippie Love

He looked homeless
in his yellowed beard
and torn khakis.
When the quartet played,
he yelled, "Bravo!"
and swayed
with bliss-closed eyes.

Then in she walked

with teasing hips
and thick eyebrows -
all purple and laughing and lovely.
Pulled close,
he kissed her
to whisper

"I'm so glad you're here."

"Poverty and Precarity" by Dorothy Day (1952)

It is hard to write about poverty.

We live in a slum neighborhood. It is becoming ever more crowded with Puerto Ricans, those who have the lowest wages in the city, who do the hardest work, who are small and undernourished from generations of privation and exploitation.

We need to always be thinking about and writing about poverty, for if we are not among its victims its reality fades from us. We must talk about poverty, because people insulated by their own comfort lose sight of it. So many decent people come in to visit and tell us how their families were brought up in poverty, and how, through hard work and cooperation, they managed to educate all the children. They contend that healthful habits and a stable family situation enable people to escape from the poverty class, no matter how mean the slum they may once have been forced to live in. So why can't everybody do it? No, these people don't know about the poor. Their conception of poverty is of something neat and well ordered as a nun's cell.

And maybe no one can be told; maybe they will have to experience it. Or maybe it is a grace which they must pray for. We usually get what we pray for, and maybe we are afraid to pray for it. And yet I am convinced that it is the grace we most need in this age of crisis, this time when expenditures reach into the billions to defend "our American way of life." Maybe this defense itself will bring down upon us the poverty we are afraid to pray for.


No one working with The Catholic Worker gets a salary, so our readers feel called upon to give and help us keep the work going. And then we experience a poverty of another kind, a poverty of reputation. It is said often and with some scorn, "Why don't they get jobs and help the poor that way? Why are they living off others, begging?"

I can only explain to such critics that it would complicate things to give a salary to Roger for his work of fourteen hours a day in the kitchen, clothes room, and office; to pay Jane a salary for running the women's house and Beth and Annabelle for giving out clothes, for making stencils all day and helping with the sick and the poor, and then have them all turn the money right back in to support the work. Or to make it more complicated, they might all go out and get jobs, and bring the money home to pay their board and room and the salaries of others to run the house. It is simpler just to be poor. It is simpler to beg. The main thing is not to hold on to anything.

But the tragedy is that we do, we all do hold on - to our books, our tools, such as typewriters, our clothes; and instead of rejoicing when they are taken from us we lament. We protest when people take our time or privacy. We are holding on to these "goods" too.

"Precarity," or precariousness, is an essential element in true voluntary poverty, a saintly priest from Martinique has written us. "True poverty is rare," he writes. "Nowadays religious communities are good, I am sure, but they are mistaken about poverty. They accept, admit, poverty on principle, but everything must be good and strong, buildings must be fireproof. Precarity is everywhere rejected, and precarity is an essential element of poverty. This has been forgotten. Here in our monastery we want precarity in everything except the church. These last days our refectory was near collapsing. We have put several supplementary beams in place and thus it will last maybe two or three years more. Precarity enables us better to help the poor. When a community is always building, enlarging, and embellishing, there is nothing left over for the poor. We have no right to do so as long as there are slums and breadlines somewhere."


One way to keep poor is not to accept money which is the result of defrauding the poor. Here is a story of St. Ignatius of Sardinia, a Capuchin recently canonized. Ignatius used to go out from his monastery with a sack to beg from the people of the town, but he would never go to a merchant who had build up his fortune by defrauding the poor. Franchino, the rich man, fumed every time the saint passed his door. His concern, however, was not the loss of the opportunity to give alms, but fear of public opinion. He complained at the friary, whereupon the Father Guardian ordered St. Ignatius to beg from the merchant the next time he went out.

"Very well," said Ignatius obediently. "If you wish it, Father, I will go, but I would not have the Capuchins dine on the blood of the poor."

The merchant received Ignatius with great flattery and gave him generous alms, asking him to come again in the future. But hardly had Ignatius left the house with his sack on his shoulder when drops of blood began oozing down the sack. They trickled down on Franchino's doorstep and ran down through the street to the monastery. Everywhere Ignatius went, a trickle of blood followed him. When he arrived at the friary, he laid the sack at the Father Guardian's feet. "What is this?" gasped the Guardian. "This," St. Ignatius said, "is the blood of the poor."

This story appeared in the last column written by a great Catholic layman, a worker for social justice, F. P. Kenkel, editor of Social Justice Review in St. Louis (and always a friend of Peter Maurin's).

Mr. Kenkel's last comment was that the universal crisis in the world today was created by love of money. "The Far East and the Near East [and he might have said all Africa and Latin America also] together constitute a great sack from which blood is oozing. The flow will not stop as long as our interests in those people are dominated largely by financial and economic considerations.

A child working in a sweatshop

Voluntary poverty, Peter Maurin would say, is the answer. Through voluntary poverty we will have the means to help our brothers. We cannot even see our brothers in need without first stripping ourselves. It is the only way we have of showing our love.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

"The Lovers of the Poor" by Gwendolyn Brooks

The Lovers of the Poor

arrive. The Ladies from the Ladies' Betterment
Arrive in the afternoon, the late light slanting
In diluted gold bars across the boulevard brag
Of proud, seamed faces with mercy and murder hinting
Here, there, interrupting, all deep and debonair,
The pink paint on the innocence of fear;
Walk in a gingerly manner up the hall.
Cutting with knives served by their softest care,
Served by their love, so barbarously fair.
Whose mothers taught: You'd better not be cruel!
You had better not throw stones upon the wrens!
Herein they kiss and coddle and assault
Anew and dearly in the innocence
With which they baffle nature. Who are full,
Sleek, tender-clad, fit, fiftyish, a-glow, all
Sweetly abortive, hinting at fat fruit,
Judge it high time that fiftyish fingers felt
Beneath the lovelier planes of enterprise.
To resurrect. To moisten with milky chill.
To be a random hitching post or plush.
To be, for wet eyes, random and handy hem.
Their guild is giving money to the poor.
The worthy poor. The very very worthy
And beautiful poor. Perhaps just not too swarthy?
Perhaps just not too dirty nor too dim
Nor--passionate. In truth, what they could wish
Is--something less than derelict or dull.
Not staunch enough to stab, though, gaze for gaze!
God shield them sharply from the beggar-bold!
The noxious needy ones whose battle's bald
Nonetheless for being voiceless, hits one down.
But it's all so bad! and entirely too much for them.
The stench; the urine, cabbage, and dead beans,
Dead porridges of assorted dusty grains,
The old smoke, heavy diapers, and, they're told,
Something called chitterlings. The darkness. Drawn
Darkness, or dirty light. The soil that stirs.
The soil that looks the soil of centuries.
And for that matter the general oldness. Old
Wood. Old marble. Old tile. Old old old.
Note homekind Oldness! Not Lake Forest, Glencoe.
Nothing is sturdy, nothing is majestic,
There is no quiet drama, no rubbed glaze, no
Unkillable infirmity of such
A tasteful turn as lately they have left,
Glencoe, Lake Forest, and to which their cars
Must presently restore them. When they're done
With dullards and distortions of this fistic
Patience of the poor and put-upon.
They've never seen such a make-do-ness as
Newspaper rugs before! In this, this "flat,"
Their hostess is gathering up the oozed, the rich
Rugs of the morning (tattered! the bespattered . . . ),
Readies to spread clean rugs for afternoon.
Here is a scene for you. The Ladies look,
In horror, behind a substantial citizeness
Whose trains clank out across her swollen heart.
Who, arms akimbo, almost fills a door.
All tumbling children, quilts dragged to the floor
And tortured thereover, potato peelings, soft-
Eyed kitten, hunched-up, haggard, to-be-hurt.
Their League is allotting largesse to the Lost.
But to put their clean, their pretty money, to put
Their money collected from delicate rose-fingers
Tipped with their hundred flawless rose-nails seems . . .
They own Spode, Lowestoft, candelabra,
Mantels, and hostess gowns, and sunburst clocks,
Turtle soup, Chippendale, red satin "hangings,"
Aubussons and Hattie Carnegie. They Winter
In Palm Beach; cross the Water in June; attend,
When suitable, the nice Art Institute;
Buy the right books in the best bindings; saunter
On Michigan, Easter mornings, in sun or wind.
Oh Squalor! This sick four-story hulk, this fibre
With fissures everywhere! Why, what are bringings
Of loathe-love largesse? What shall peril hungers
So old old, what shall flatter the desolate?
Tin can, blocked fire escape and chitterling
And swaggering seeking youth and the puzzled wreckage
Of the middle passage, and urine and stale shames
And, again, the porridges of the underslung
And children children children. Heavens! That
Was a rat, surely, off there, in the shadows? Long
And long-tailed? Gray? The Ladies from the Ladies'
Betterment League agree it will be better
To achieve the outer air that rights and steadies,
To hie to a house that does not holler, to ring
Bells elsetime, better presently to cater
To no more Possibilities, to get
Away. Perhaps the money can be posted.
Perhaps they two may choose another Slum!
Some serious sooty half-unhappy home!--
Where loathe-lover likelier may be invested.
Keeping their scented bodies in the center
Of the hall as they walk down the hysterical hall,
They allow their lovely skirts to graze no wall,
Are off at what they manage of a canter,
And, resuming all the clues of what they were,
Try to avoid inhaling the laden air.