Advent: the season of the woman

As we begin Advent, I would like to share an excerpt from a newly published collection of Advent meditations by Mother Mary Clare PCC:

I am quite confident all of us have a deep sense of expectation, joy, and wonderment that Advent is about to begin.  We look at the different facets of this season, turning it like a jewel in our hands.  Certainly it is a season for children.  It is a season of the child, the joy of the Child who came to give joy to the world.  It is a season, certainly, of the family, of the community.  Family life was solidly established in a lowly, humble, poor place, with three persons who loved utterly and were utterly given–even the CHild, from the first moment, because he was divine.  It is a season of great tenderness, and a season of hush. It is a season for everyone.  It is a season particularly of the woman.   It is the woman, especially the religious woman, who has great potential for the spiritual maternity which was so basic in our Lady and which was ratified on Calvary when she became the Mother of all the redeemed: ‘Woman, behold your son.’  It is a precious season.  Advent summons us to fold the wings of our souls.  There is rich meaning in the expression ‘folded wings’.  Wings that remain always folded and are never spread to fly in giving would be wings that would deteriorate in atrophy, whereas wings that are always spread and never folded in intense personal prayer, reflection, contemplation would be wings quickly spent or, perhaps, misspent.  With all of this–the joy, the tenderness, the maternal sense, the deepening of womanhood, the folded wings–Advent is a season of tremendous purpose . . . .

Mother Mary Clare was the abbess of a Poor Clare monastery in Roswell, New Mexico. These conferences to her Sisters were collected posthumously, and I for one am very grateful. I have read every book I could get my hands on by her and was saddened that her writing would cease when she died. I am eternally grateful to her dear Sisters.

Power made perfect in infirmity

What is a more powerful expression of the power of the Holy Spirit than His work in our personal lives, especially in our areas of weakness?  This Sunday’s poem is by Mother Mary Francis about that very thing.

A Scriptural Commentary

“For power is made perfect in infirmity” (2 Corinthians 12.9)

Predictable Your power, God,
Who shake the heavens into thunderous roar
And split the skies with lightning at Your glance.

You gaze at oceans and they leap
To speak response in crash of waves
And then subside in wonder at Your feet.

Only to think on seed need You
To see a thousand forests rise to praise You,
Hear treble of small blossoms find their voice.

Wave of Your raised almighty hand’s
Enough to call the sun to rise or set,
To light the sky-dome with ten million stars.

Never will skies impediment Your power
Nor oceans strain Your energies, nor earth
Challenge Your might, stand stubborn before Your gaze.

I do applaud Your power, God.
How effortless Your cosmic sovereignty!
Your easy might is something to admire.

Power is wondrous for no need
Of labor, power issued without threat.
But shall unthreatened power be best praise

Of You, O God? Could greater be
Praise of Your laboring omnipotence
To bend a stubborn heart, to tame a will?

I weep to see You strain to win
So small a prize, tense to achieve
Your purpose, and with all the odds against You.

O God, dear God, what wondrous might
Is Yours displayed in me!
Your power made perfect in my infirmity!

Envoi:  Take, God, the scope I bring You
For play of power. See!
And my own power found at last
In my infirmity.

and Angels danced

A wonderful poem about the joy of the angels when any of us repents of our sin:

Choreography for Angels

I say to you, that there is joy among the angels in heaven upon one sinner doing penance . . . (Luke 15.10)

Who spun these Angels into dance
When wars are needing artillery
Of spirits’ cannonading.  Armistice
Wants first the over-powering wings, and they
Are occupied with pirouettes!  Who did this?

Gone penitent, I caused it.  I confess it.

Who tilted flames of Seraphim
In arabesques of pure delightedness?
Is not the cosmic crisis begging fire
For full destruction of hate’s hazarding?
Why Seraphs swirling flames on floors of heaven?

I lit the heavens, when I bent my head.

Who lined mystic corps-de-ballet
Of Cherubim?  Who set in pas-de-deux
This Power with this Principality?
Why these Archangels not on mission sent
Today, but waltzing on stars, and singing?

I am the one who did this.  I confess it.
I smote my errant heart, and Angels danced.

~Mother Mary Francis (Summon Spirit’s Cry)

King’s Council

Today is the Feast of Christ the King.  “The King of love my shepherd is  . . . ” 

The poem for this Sunday speaks of a personal response to this King of ours:

King’s Council

From the four zones of my universe
They come, the rulers of my dioceses:
Fine-featured dreams and hawk-nosed fears,
Shabby compromises with scrawny necks.

Ageing hopes pull back their rounded shoulders.
Love comes in borrowed crimson, having spent
Her robes on the unbeautiful.  And, last
That patriarch, old faith, comes shuffling in.

Here is the council of me, God.  Look!  see,
Them all cast down their mitres at Your feet!

      ~Mother Mary Francis, P.C.C. (Summon Spirit’s Cry, p. 125)

Invitatory for a Wedding Anniversary

Yesterday one of our sisters, Sr. Katie, made her Final Profession of Vows.  It was a wonderful day for all of us.  Today another sister, Sr. Christina, is celebrating her first anniversary of Final Vows, and tomorrow on one of our major feasts, the Triumph of the Cross, three other sisters are celebrating anniversaries.  This poem, by Mother Mary Francis, seems so appropriate:

Invitatory for a Wedding Anniversary

“We recount your marvelous deeds” (Psalm 75)

Come, let us marvel at God confecting dawn
Out of a pastelled fluff of fancy, then
Unbfolding night from velvet bolt of mystery, arranging
Moons halved, then quartered, then plumped full
To serve our recreation.

          But marvel more that He has brided me.

Here is tall marvel: twirled by hand Divine
All birds’ propellers dancing circled grace
Down boulevarded space and all trees waving
For such performance, fans of jubilation.
Sun stoked and skies spread and clouds lit
With virgin light or pregnant with the rain
Are marvels that demand high recounting.

          But marvel more that He has brided me.

Come, let us kneel before th Lord devising
Day from the night and marshalling the stars,
Flattering peaches pink, and then gone off surprising
Carrots to gold with glance Divine
And us to exaltation.

          But marvel more that He has brided me.

All the long aeons God has lightly laid
Across our history call: Marvel! and
We gladly tell it, call for cosmic chorus to proclaim it:
God great, God mighty, God beyond
Our power small to marvel.

          But marvel more that He has brided me. 

DSC_2001

and the Angels danced

Heaven’s response at our penitence.

Rate this:

This poem by Mother Mary Francis, a poor Clare, has been on my mind this morning:

Choreography for Angels
“I say to you, that there is joy among the angels
in heaven upon one sinner doing penance . . . ”
(Luke 15:10)

Who spun these Angels into dance
When wars are needing all artillery
Of spirits’ cannonading.  Armistice
Wants first the over-powering wings, and they
Are occupied with pirouettes!  Who did this?

                               Gone penitent, I caused it.  I confess it.

Who tilted flames of Seraphim
In arabesques of pure delightedness?
Is not the cosmic crisis begging fire
For full destruction of hate’s hazarding!
Why Seraphs swirling flames on floors of heaven?

                                  I lit the heavens, when I bent my head.

Who lined mystic corps-de-ballet
Of Cherubim?  Who set in pas-de-deux
This Power with this Principality?
Why these Archangels not on mission sent
Today, but waltzing on the stars, and singing?

                         I am the one who did this.  I confess it.
                            I smote my errant heart, and Angels danced.

May we remember this is the reality of the Heart of God.