To God, Who Gives Joy

By Lawrence “Mack in Texas” Hall

To God, Who Gives Joy to Our Youth

For Father Raphael Barousse, OSB
Abbey St. Joseph, Covington, Louisiana
Monk, Missionary, Muleskinner, Writer, Teacher,
Scholar, Raconteur, Uncle Bubby,

Introibo ad altare Dei
Ad Deum qui laetificat juvenitutem meam

You look into the mirror and ask yourself
“Who is that old man staring back at me?”
Your friends tell you you’re lookin’ good – for your age
And your uncooperative body in protest creaks

But you and all of them are wrong because

You still approach the Altar as a child
As you once were, and are, and will be forever
For God will have it so, will have you so –
Enchanted by His magic – a little boy

A little boy in Sunday shoes and shirt
Who hears his Mama whispering to him, “Don’t squirm!”
As the Mass hums through a summer morning
Until that moment when you encounter Him:

The universe spirals through its sunlit dance
Creation spins around, in, and down
Eternity circles the paten and cup


Eternity circles the paten and cup
Around and out and up, Creation spins
Through its sunlit dance the universe spirals

And only little children understand that
And only little children are invited
And so God gives joy to your forever-youth
And your forever-youth gives joy to God

On Divine Mercy Sunday
Above all, don’t lie to yourself.
-Father Zossima in The Brothers Karamazov

On Palm Sunday a shortage of palms
On Divine Mercy a shortage of mercy
An onion, a candle, a moment, a prayer –
We’d better give something of ourselves away

Theological Speculation at its Lamest

They say the devil takes care of his own
But there’s no evidence for that because
He is the father of lies, right? But of course
If he is the father, then who is the mother?

Jesus ‘n’ Me ‘n’ My Cartoon Tee

Ecclesiastical reforms begin
When we begin to dress like adults for Mass

Seraphim of Sarov
and the Bear and the Robbers

Saint Seraphim was seen feeding a bear
He would have fed the robbers too, poor men
With both the little in his larder bowl
And healing from the greatness of his soul

With his own axe they beat him near to death
Before looting his cell of its rumored riches
They found indeed a treasure of great wealth:
A peasant’s Ikon of the Mother of God

For the rest of his life

Seraphim leaned upon his axe and upon God
Taking our brokenness upon himself

A Young Roman Responds to Saint Benedict
“We are about to open a school for God’s service…”
-Rule, St. Benedict

Okay, but what about your S.T.E.M. offerings?
Does your footer pitch have artificial turf?
The books are too heavy – I have a note
My feelings are covered by the ADA

Silence? But I gotta have my tunes, man!
“Correction of Youths?” My mummy will sue!
“Daily manual labor” – may I be excused?
“No talk after Compline” – But can I text?

OMG OMG nonononono OMG!

Not for me, dude; and this I’ve got to say:
I know that your program’s famously prestigious
But I am spiritual, not religious
And, hey, you know, you’re just not Harvard, okay?

Cavafy’s Slight Angle to the Universe

“…a Greek gentleman in a straw hat, standing absolutely motionless
at a slight angle to the universe.”
-C. S. Forster re C. P. Cavafy, quoted by Daniel Mendelsohn in
C. P. Cavafy: Poems, Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets

Maybe Cavafy stands at an angle to the world
The universe presumably built aright
In order serviceable, as Milton says,
All of creation as a liturgy

We all stand at an angle to the world
Which wobbles in its orbit more than it ought
We altar servers tripping more than we ought
When we forget the angle of Consecration

Oh, yes, Cavafy stands at an angle to the world
And he is right to do so –
and so are we

Super Servile Sunday

O sink not down to that corrosive couch,
Docile before the Orwellian screen
That regulates the lives of the servile,
Dictating dress and drink, demeanor, dreams

Declare your independence from the sludge
Of vague obedientiaries who fling
Away their empty lives in submission
To harsh, diagonal inches of rule

Poor weaklings chanting tainted tribal songs
In chorus hamsterable, huddled, heaped
While costumed in their masters’ liveries
And feeling little while thinking even less

The very model of the State’s non-men
Predictable and dull, submissive ghosts
Crowded, herded through cosmic cattle chutes
Reflected in dim, noisy nothingness.

But you…

But you, O you, be not of them, but be
A wanderer in the moonlight, one known
To God and to His holy solitude.

A Catechism of Brokenness

The celebrant breaks the Body in two
The Body is broken
The celebrant is broken
The communicant is broken

Only the Word is whole: “This is My Body…”

The celebrant breaks the Body in two
That it may be shared
Broken again
And shared further along

Only the Word is whole: “This is My Body…”

The Celebrant breaks the Body in two
That in the sequenced brokenness
In all the little broken Pieces
One-ness may come

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