Posts Tagged ‘Catholic’

the Irish I knew

May 9, 2015

AshWall

Born into this world seventeen days

before the crash of ’29,

he was a contender,

a fight’n man,

not a troublemaker, mind you, but

you knew what I mean;

life’s no bowl of cherries, and for a while

it was like him against the world,

even later on, after the War,

to keep his family fed and well-heeled.

He never kiss’d no blarney stone, him,

nor anybody’s arse.

It was a hard world he came into

a Jersey boy

hard work’n man

with a woman who loved him his whole

dam life, and the Church to

back him up, as he needed so much

grace and mercy

to balance out his rude legacy upon the world.

Oh, he was a well-built man, stronger than Ulysses

and pretty dam smart too, an engineer.

A man who built bridges,

although he might have burned a few too

if you know what I mean.

Hell, it was men like him who built

America.

So here we stood today in southern shade

gentle breeze blow’n from somewhere far away

eighty-six years after the fact

of his life, which has passed into eternity.

The nine+ souls gather’d round,

grown up now and left behind

to contend as he did with every dam thing that’s wrong

with this world.

Now here’s the dear friar waiting patiently,

in gentle character so different from the fierce Catholic whose ashes now

we set aside, to await the great awakening,

the communion of the saints,

a big host of them, raised up

by the nail-scarred hands of Him upon that cross

hung there upon the nearby wall.

 

All these living offspring, celebrants of their father’s recent

life,

hard workers,  nine of ’em.

They don’t make ’em like that any more–

all of ’em stay’n ahead of the game

keep’n up with the Joneses,

aint no potato famine go’n tie them down.

And the Franciscan here, like Francis himself,

so  different from

the Irishman I loved– rough around the edges he was–

when in those last days he’d alienate

his attendants at the nursing home with his

racist nuances that could never really despoil

his helpless heart of love.

He so needed the grace and mercy

of the One who went to the cross for him,

and who went for me too.

Now we’re standing here with St. Francis

with knots in his waist-rope

and I wonder what the knots signify

but it doesn’t matter compared to eternity

of which I’m reminded, as this gentle breeze with bird sing’n,

and it makes me think of the day his daughter my wife and me,

we went

to Assisi, over there in the old world

and now I’m think’n of this new pope and

how long its been since I was a Catholic.

But that’s okay. It’s all good. I’m saved by the blood of the Lamb

and he is too.

Here these ashes inside a brass box

AshBox
ashes hidden from me, not like those

smeared upon the heads of Irish on how-many Ash Wednesdays

since the day of Calvary.

We’ll be there with him, and with  his bride

by ‘n by, you and I.

 

Smoke

Back to the future of Religion

February 21, 2015

Human history is full of walls. Everywhere people have gone upon the earth, they have built walls. Walls can keep good stuff in and bad stuff out, or the other way around.

For instance, consider this wall, which we encountered in Rome when we were there a few weeks ago:

VaticanWallC

Beyond this wall lies the body of Western Civilization. . .

if you consider the history of the Christian Church as a primary trunk of Western Civilization.

Not everybody does of course. Some folk are not believers, but rather thinkers, like the early, pre-Christian Greeks. . . Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, etc. etc. . . Descartes, Locke, Marx . . .etc.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Greek_philosophy

Many people in Western Civilization understand the difference between thinking and believing this way: they are mutually exclusive, two different animals. You either spend your life thinking, or you spend your life believing what is taught to you.

This is not true; it’s a false dichotomy.

I myself am living example of this. I am a Christian believer, and yet I do like to think analytically about everything, including faith itself.

This I have concluded: Faith is what you find at the end Thought.

In other words, when you’ve exhausted your brain in trying to figure life out, then you start believing in something besides thinking itself.

In my youth, I considered the Catholic Church, in which I was raised. And I decided it was for the birds.

I took a look at Philosophy, and decided I couldn’t not understand enough of it to make sense of the real world.

I studied the Law of Moses, and learned that I could not live by it.

Recently, I studied a little bit about Mohammed, because, well, you know. . . he and his followers are all the rage. Mohammed was a very smart guy, probably even a genius, but he was obviously a man, like me and you. His visions and ultimate indoctrinations were human, not divine. The outcome was True Religion by Intimidation.

Jesus Christ, on the other hand, laid down his life rather than settle for merely human solutions to our predicament. Now there’s a man I could follow, even though he went to the cross and suffered death. He was pure goodness, and I could follow him through death’s door, all the way to eternal life.

Of course that’s what Peter, his right-hand man, said about Jesus: I will follow you.

Then he went on to stumble through life, like me or you or any other human being. I look forward to interviewing him in heaven. I can relate to his resolution to follow Christ, even though he screwed up on more than one occasion.

A lot of things were done, in subsequent Christian history, in Peter’s name. There’s the Chair of St.Peter, St. Peter’s Basilica, etc.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Church

Which leads me back to Walls phenoma. . .people building walls. Consider the one pictured above, in the great city of Rome. This wall was built by the Catholics to protect the museum part of St.Peter’s Basilica (in the Vatican.) Pretty impressive wall too, don’t you think. I was quite moved by its immensity; that’s why I snapped the photo. It seemed so . . . medieval.

On the other side of it, as I later learned, is the Vatican Museum, which is why I say therein lies the body of Western Civilization . . .

In a metaphorical kind of way, and even then only if you’re a person inclined to place value on religious traditions and institutions.

Like Tevya, you know. . .Tradition! tradition. Tradition.

Well guess what. Life goes on. That day in Rome, after the big brown wall image was safely in the iPhone, Pat and I resumed our walking tour of the city. It was a beautiful experience.

But just so you’ll know what a backward thinker I am, here’s a different photo that I had snapped about a week earlier, in Athens:

ConstXIPal

This is a statue of Constantine XI Palaiologos. He was the last emperor of the Byzantine empire.

He was killed by the invading Ottoman Turks in 1453. He died defending Constantinople, the epicenter of Orthodox Christianity during that period of history. The empire that he ruled, the Byzantine, had been trying to build a Wall, of sorts, a wall of Christian religion and dominion that would withstand the onslaught of Muslim Ottomans, but Byzantium could not withstand the Ottomans. So now the place is called Istanbul.

But such is the fate of Western Civilization’s aspirations for world dominion. Orthodox Christendom and the Byzantine empire that defended it could not stand against the onslaught of Islam in 1453.

Later however, the Ottoman empire suffered its own demise, in 1924, after Western Civilization imposed a new victory over the Ottoman Caliphate in the aftermath of World War I.

Alas, nowadays we Civilized persons of the West face a new Islamic Pretender. This one, arising in ancient Syrian lands, is claiming to recover the lapsed Caliphate mantle which had been worn for a few centuries by the Turks, even though the arrogant ISIS brutes do not acknowledge the Ottoman legacy as a legitimate Caliphate.

Consequently, we survivors of Western Civilization are now building a new network of Walls: digital walls, firewalls, psychological walls, spiritual and moral walls, to arrest the shock and awe of “violent extremists.”

Ultimately, we will have to erect some military walls, both defensive and offensive, before it is all over with, the end of the world or whatever.

Or just the end of Western Civilization. Then where will the body lie?

Whatever happens, our opposition to the jayvee-team fascists of the Khilafah will not end as Constantine XI’s last stand ended in 1453; nor is it likely to be enshrined within the walls of  the Vatican Museum.

 

Smoke