fidelity of our mother

mater-dolorosaOn the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows (September 15):

A garden dark and darker hearts
bring agony this day;
From Sunday palms to Friday whips
the passions wave astray;
He bears the tree with broken heart
upon the stony way.

With body raised, He hangs in pain
And very few will stay
To watch the life escape Him now
Instead they run away.

But someone stands beneath the Cross
to keep despair at bay
And Christ can smile before He dies:
He hears His mother pray.

on the underground to Heathrow

First Light & No One In Sight

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Monday, August 30, 1993
6:01 AM

First light
ashen grey —
travel alarms stoke the coals
and the first sparks emerge,
buy tickets and descend spiral stairs
to the electric pipe with its capsules,
and are swallowed through the London earth.

We are leaving London.

Soon we emerge from under.
We see the streets darkly,
and the yellow electric torches
in the neighborhoods,
as they rush past us
on their way
to where they are.

We sit still,
staying in order to arrive elsewhere,
far elsewhere
through the air elsewhere.

We sit, and few talk
as the tracks pound an echoed rhythm
down the tube cars:
“we move, you move,
we move, you move,”
says the rhythm-track.

Dimness fades into suburbs
in South Ealing
and the pealing
of imaginary bells
tells us it is morning.
And in the morning we will fly,
fly elsewhere,
to land,
still on Time’s underground
and we will stay on it
until we arrive at the tube stop of Eternity.

People will ride with us for a while,
then alight and make connections
with another tube —
yet all will arrive
at the same stop.
Only we must take our own routes
to arrive.

Our ride is ever-new,
forging our way toward eternity —
the momentless moment
and the light there will be a light
no ordinary dawn or day
can approximate.

We arrive in Heathrow in twelve minutes.

In anticipation,
we approximate our moments
as we travel toward eternity.

no peace without justice, no justice without forgiveness

As we commemorate the 18th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, I think again of the reflection Pope Saint John Paul II wrote shortly afterward on the occasion of the World Day of Peace. It was one of the very first things I posted after launching my website,, in 2001.

It seems apropos today, both in this context and in the context of the current scandals in the Church.

Forgiveness is in no way opposed to justice, as if to forgive meant to overlook the need to right the wrong done. It is rather the fullness of justice, leading to that tranquility of order which is much more than a fragile and temporary cessation of hostilities, involving as it does the deepest healing of the wounds which fester in human hearts. Justice and forgiveness are both essential to such healing….

No peace without justice, no justice without forgiveness: I shall not tire of repeating this warning to those who, for one reason or another, nourish feelings of hatred, a desire for revenge or the will to destroy.

On this World Day of Peace, may a more intense prayer rise from the hearts of all believers for the victims of terrorism, for their families so tragically stricken, for all the peoples who continue to be hurt and convulsed by terrorism and war. May the light of our prayer extend even to those who gravely offend God and man by these pitiless acts, that they may look into their hearts, see the evil of what they do, abandon all violent intentions, and seek forgiveness. In these troubled times, may the whole human family find true and lasting peace, born of the marriage of justice and mercy!

Pope Saint John Paul II
Message for World Day of Peace 2002