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25 August 2010

Praying to and through the Saints

Hail Mary full of grace! 
The Lord is with you. 
Blessed are you among women. 
And blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. 
Holy Mary, Mother of God, 
pray for us sinners now and in the hour of our deaths. 
Amen.
The Ave is one of my favorite prayers. It was most recently re-inscribed on and in my heart as the only words of prayer to bring me comfort during a particularly painful medical procedure.
Yet I remember being exposed to Protestant communities that sneered at catholic religiosity as papist or pope-ish - and these were not good things.
I also grew up in churches that piously affirmed the communion of saints using the Apostles' Creed. And it has always puzzled me that some Christians affirm the eternal life of the holy dead and affirm the gospel that "God is not God of the dead but the God of the living," and yet balk at nurturing and maintaining their relationships with their ancestors and saint (prophets and martyrs and all the host of heaven...).
I wonder that folk who will ask the earthly living to pray for them will not ask the heavenly living to pray for them. I imagine that the saints and ancestors are more faithful in prayer than we are here and that their prayers are purer and more direct than ours here. I also note how many folk talk to their departed, particularly at grave sites but do not consider that prayer.
I think people do not know what is prayer.
Pious protestations that prayer is reserved for God alone aside, prayer is simply conversation.
It seems that the former meaning of the word pray - simply to ask - seems to have morphed into to speak only to God, with no thought of what we are saying or what we mean.
I am so grateful for those whose live are eternal who whisper my name in prayer.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, 
pray for us sinners now and in the hour of our deaths. Amen.

15 August 2010

Blessing the Virgin (A Repost)


15 August,
The Blessed Virgin Mary, BVM,
Ever-Blessed to me, Ever-Virgin to others
Mother of a Jewish martyr
Mother of God, Mother of Salvation, Mother of Redemption, Mother of Christianity
Her body, the intersection between Judaism and Christianity
Her womb a fountain of living waters
Paragon and archetype

I like to think that she was assumed in to heaven
In the scriptures, Enoch, Elijah and Jesus ascend
I like to think that she too tasted eternal life without the bitterness of death

It saddens me that so many have lost sight of the gift that is her life and witness. Accepting her as a human woman, with no supernatural element in her conception or birth – no immaculate conception – allows us to see her as fully human, fully woman. Not denying her sexual intimacy makes her more like us – we know that Jesus became like us but he was so different in so many ways from his conception to his life-after-death, we are not yet quite like him. There is, of course one way in which we cannot be like her, but none of us are exactly like another. We may not all be women, wives, mothers, or single parents (no one knows when or to where Joseph disappeared, but he never came back), but there is something compelling about her life and choices. And there is her love, the great love she shares with her son who loves us so dearly.

Elizabeth, the pregnant prophet composed the first lines of this prayer, another added the ending. These words give me peace and comfort in a way few others do:
Hail Mary, full of grace
the Lord is with you
Holy Mary
Mother of God
Pray for us now
and in the hour of our death. Amen.

In her own words that became the Word of God:
All generations call her blessed.
I do.

14 August 2010

My Body Broken

Looking at Frida Kahlo's broken body
and counting my own bones...

I remembered this poem (from an episode of Cold Case of all things):

Tired, nickel-colored night
You can take my blood and keep it,
I ain't need it no more,
use my broken teeth to pave your street,
my splintered bones stomped for sand,
if this lead-footed man should once again leave me dead,
my body broken,
my soul would find a way,
oh, night, to dance with his girl again.

11 August 2010

A New Twist on the Tree of Life

Or Eden Revisited

Phyllis Tribble writes about the garden in the Song of Songs as the redemption of the brokenness in the garden of Eden.
Ilona Rashkow asks where is the mother goddess in the garden of Eden? Her parable points to the Tree of Life herself as the Mother of All.
In all of their readings, like the primary biblical text God is an incorporeal actor.
And the serpent is, well tricky, or perhaps tricksy.
The serpent has gotten such a bad rap through the ages that it's hard for even a die-hard feminist to redeem (him? her? it?).
I'm imagining another story altogether, one in which the serpent and tree are lovers entwined in an eternal sinuous embrace. Snakes are after all warm to the touch, the side effect of being cold-blooded. The snake would protect the tree from invasive pests and the tree would share her fruit.
So what would these ancient and eternal lovers think about the new born-of-clay partners with whom they now share their garden?
Perhaps the Divine instruction - if there was one - was for the new lovers to learn from the old lovers how to live at peace with one another and their environment.
Perhaps the human-man coveted the sweet fruit of the tree-goddess. Perhaps he blamed her lover for tempting his lover. Perhaps he imagined an invisible all-powerful God who denied him his deepest desire.
Something dies in that garden. Not the humans - not yet, not the Tree - she is there waiting, not the serpent - he has been transformed into something nearly unrecognizable.

08 August 2010

A Litany Against Fear

A Litany Against Fear:

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

These words were crafted by Frank Herbert as part of his Dune series of award-winning science fiction writing. They have stayed with me. I am not ashamed to say that I pray them.


Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear - From Frank Herbert's Dune Book Series
© 1965 and 1984 Frank Herbert
Published by Putnam Pub Group
ISBN: 0399128964

03 August 2010

Hesychasm

I may have become a hesychete.
I have recently begun the practice of keeping a prayer on my lips and in may heart at - if not all times then - as many times a day as I am prompted by the spirit to pray.
I pray versions of the Orthodox hesychastic prayer sometimes called the Jesus prayer:

Lord Jesus Christ 
only son of the Sovereign
have mercy on me
a sinner.

Holy Child Jesus
son of God
lamb of God
have mercy on me 
a sinner.

Lord Jesus
son of the living, loving God
have mercy on me
a sinner of your own redeeming.

There is something about these words that have passed through the gospels and been reified by the Church. I can't let them go.

01 August 2010

Andrew Cohen wrote posted a blog that touched me deeply where I am living - or perhaps where I want to live - right now:

I want to thank her, mostly, for rescuing me from hopelessness. When we met, back in the spring of 2005, I was nearly 40 and had been dating off and on for two years following an unexpected divorce. I had lost faith in relationships. I had given up on love. She arrived, unexpectedly, and showed me what was possible. She raised me up from the emotional dead. She drew out of me the poison of divorce and betrayal. Eleven years younger but already more mature than me, she was dazzling, brilliant, funny, and sweet; she both gave and taught me patience and devotion and sacrifice. No woman before or since ever made me feel as desired, needed, beloved, appreciated as she did. No one has yet made me want her more. Some men live their whole lives without this kind of love. At least I had it for one brief, shining moment...
I want to thank her for making me laugh, at her and myself, and for making me swoon whenever she walked into a room. I want to thank her for the advice she gave me, and for the soothing tone of her voice during times of trouble. I want to thank her for completely changing my outlook on life. Before I met her, as a single father, I never would have considered having another child. Although it took more time than it should have, I came to realize through her love and devotion that there would be nothing more I would rather do in the world than have a child with her. How many poor souls go their whole lives without the heart-string pull of such emotions?

Read the rest here.

Mr. Cohen, thank you for reminding of this kind of love. Hers for you and yours for her.