Monthly Archives: June 2017

Clare, the Saint

A poem by Mark Decarteret

Since a child I have been drawn
to the Sun, the pleasure it gleans

from Its senseless abandonment, Its furious mane
like a caravan camped in the desert, born

from the betrayal of body, each dawn
into eternity. What I have seen

and endured, I will imitate, wean,
myself of this world, be done

with sensation, the smoke from smoldering husks
rearing up sickly sweet with its promise

of flame and in turn dismember
my wardrobe, stack up this hair as if brush,

bend my bones as if kindling, so the Sun’s kiss
reduces my resistance into embers.

The poem taken from a wonderful collection of poetry: ‘Place of Passage: Contemporary Catholic Poetry’.  Researching the poet, I came across an insightful quote, revealing his methods of operation.  The quote is taken from the above linked website.

Boy, the episodes that provoked “Pink Eye” are a bit foggy, unlogged.  An idea arising as much from an advertisement for sties, this study for an experimental treatment, (poetry as protuberance, swelling, even somewhat of an affliction or curse?) as Thoreau’s excursions to the outer reaches of Massachusetts where he was subjected to the wreckage of many a ship (as well as on Fire Island where Emerson was “to charge” him in the retrieval of the remains of their friend Margaret Fuller, a passenger on the sunken Elizabeth), thus poetry as recovery, salvage, or in a remedial sense, potential cure-all or salve.  And maybe some modest and misguided version of what Harold Bloom refers to as a “shore-ode,” verse that “identifies night, death, the mother, and the sea.”  But basically I was struck by this strange juxtaposition–the bereft hermit resigned to his calling, this mission, and those odd maladies, which not only impair or hamper the seeing of anything through, but in some miraculous way, let it be recast, transfigured.    



Today’s Mass, the solemnity of the Sacred Heart proved touchingly relevant, moments absorbing.  I have worked sixty plus hours a week the last three weeks—seven days a week.  In the process, I sliced my wrist on a sharp sheet metal edge, sixteen stiches mending with eight overnight hours in the emergency room.  Oddly, the exhaustive schedule has proved rewarding, the bewildering state consuming energy while calling forth acquiescence and trust.  Daily Mass has been my solace, my moments of prayer, reflection, and meaning.  The Gospel reading today landed comfortably upon my state of overworked being.

At that time Jesus exclaimed: “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to little ones. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”  –Gospel of Matthew 11-25-30


Lover and beloved

Then the servant of God, as if actually intoxicated, seemed beside herself.  It was as if the feelings of her body were alienated through the union of love that she had made with her Creator.  And it was as if, in elevating her mind, she had gazed into the eternal truth with the eye if her intellect, and, having recognized the truth, had become deeply in love with it.

And she said, “Supreme one! You, supreme and eternal Father, have manifested to me your truth, the hidden deceits of the devil, and the deceitfulness of personal feelings.  You have done this so that I, and others in this life of pilgrimage, may know how to avoid being deceived by the devil or ourselves!  What moved you to do so?  Love, because you loved me, without my having loved you.

“Fire of love!  Thanks, thanks be to you, eternal Father!  I am imperfect and full of darkness, and you, perfection and light, have shown to me perfection, and the resplendent way of the doctrine of your only-begotten Son.

“I was dead, and you have brought me to life.  I was sick, and you have given me medicine.  And yours was not only the medicine of the Blood that you gave for the diseased human race in the person of your Son, but also a medicine against a secret infirmity of which I was unaware.  –St Catherine of Siena ‘Little Talks with God’


Relating to mental activity or the intellect

The intellect changes from one to another of three different noetic states; that according to nature, above nature, and contrary to nature. When it enters the state according to nature, it finds that it is itself the cause of evil thoughts, and confesses its sins to God, clearly understanding the causes of the passions. When it is in the state contrary to nature, it forgets God’s justice and fights with men, believing itself unjustly treated. But when it is raised to the state above nature, it finds the fruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, and the other fruits of which the Apostle speaks (cf Gal. 5:22); and it knows that if it gives priority to bodily cares it cannot remain in this state. An intellect that departs from this state falls into sin and all the terrible consequences of sin—if not immediately, then in due time, as God’s justice shall decide. –St Mark the Ascetic ‘Philokalia’



a poem by Stella Nesanovich, enjoy the video exploring the life and thoughts of the poet.

Hildegard of Bingen at 80 before the prelates of Mainz, 1178

Like a quill impelled to write
I saw myself in that same vision
God imprinted on my soul at birth,
Do not presume I come to confess
sins I have not committed.
The corpse was brought by priests
and all Bingen in procession.
A black cloud hovers to hurl a storm
of cries were the man exhumed.

Bittersweet hunger for sacred bread
gnaws at those who rightly buried
the man that you call rebel.
At Rupertsburg all ritual and song
have ceased, yet your proviso stings
most vilely. Hope of holy burial is balm
while we are living, incentive
for penance and right action. Loss
of final anointing chafes me sorely.

Too, the body cloaks a soul which speaks
its life through voice. What river of night
shuts the mouths of God’s created?
Curve of shell and leaf resonate
as music and God’s Word. His Son
takes flesh again each time we sing,
chanting melodies nine choirs
of angels hum and restoring symphonia
destroyed by Adam. Fingerlike
notes reflect celestial harmony
while such divine sounds of psaltery
and voice echo in our souls
to teach us love and thus rejoicing.

Proceed with care, most holy prelates.
This interplay of cymbals God intends.
Would you give Satan a trumpet,
play the discord he adores, and halt
the leaps of souls to heaven?
Right you are to shuffle
and flip parchment. Remain
unmoved at your own peril.
Those who hold the keys of heaven
must be extremely careful lest
they close what should be open


Sewn Anew

Simple heart,
Wounded, exasperated, and tired,
On through the night waiting,
The sharp pain of Siddharth the intern’s needle stitching,
Mending the laceration coalescing,
The body a burden of pain,
Breathing through my eyes,
Breathing out the past,
Accepting, contritely and acquiescing,
The tugging rawness absent extreme pain,
Falling asleep lacking reminiscence,


Personal experience

We must live the dogma expressing a revealed truth, which appears to us as an unfathomable mystery, in such a fashion that instead of assimilating the mystery to our mode of understanding, we should, on the contrary, look for a profound change, an inner transformation of spirit, enabling us to experience it mystically. Far from being mutually opposed, theology and mysticism support and complete each other. If the mystical experience is a personal working out of the content of the common faith, theology is an expression, for the profit of all, of that which can be experienced by everyone. Outside the truth kept by the whole church personal experience would be deprived of all certainty, of all objectivity. It would be the mingling of truth and falsehood, of reality and of illusion: “mysticism” in the bad sense of the word. On the other hand, the teaching of the church would have no hold on souls, if it did not in some degree express an inner experience of truth, granted in different measure to each one of the faithful. There is, therefore, no Christian mysticism without theology; but, above all, there is no theology without mysticism. –Vladimir Lossky quoted from ‘Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church’ in an introduction to the Philokalia. Philiokalia a Greek word meaning: love of the beautiful.