For Training Purposes this Life May be Monitored

A collection by Lawrence “Mack in Texas” Hall

A Brief and Self-Indulgent Morning Offering

Dear Lord,

Thank you for this day
I ask you that I may
Pray it
Play it
Work it
Most to your pleasure
To the pleasure of those whom I love
To the pleasure of everyone I meet today
Rather more for me that you did yesterday
(but we’ll say nothing more about that)
And nothing for Satan
‘Cause he’s an ass

A Joyful Mystery

May we all someday
Be presented in the Temple
In spite of ourselves

A Metternichian State of Repose in a Concert of Leaves and Light

Up before dawn and out among the quiet
Concelebrating with God the leafy light
That falls as blessing upon the lawn’s soft turns
From grey to gold to green to springing life

And then from meditation to liturgy
The Opus Dei of Saturday mornings
With rake and shovel and fire against the litter
That shoals into corners and along the fence

The feeblest remembrance of God’s mighty hand
Shaping chaos into order and meaning

All Quests Lead to Jerusalem
Veritas et Scientia
-University of San Diego

Some find infinity in sequences
Of numbers following in slow ascent
Elusive knowledge along a pilgrims’ track
Like rosaries that count ideas

Some find infinity in sequences
Of letters following in slow ascent
Elusive beauty along a pilgrims’ track
Like rosaries that count our dreams

And all of this is true, each quest is true
If the track is mapped to Jerusalem

Dressers of Sycamores
“I am a herdsman and a dresser of sycamores”
-Amos 7:14

Amos speaks blunt truth in humility
And being commanded from the fields to the roads
To remind us of our duties to God and His People
Is a disruption, not a promotion

We all dress sycamores in our own ways:
Carrying groceries, tending the sick
Plowing a field, repairing a broken truck
Mending a fence, taking a child to school

We should listen to Amos and to ourselves
For our service is noble if for the King.

Father Ron Croaks

We have heard the Mass sung in beautiful Latin
We have heard the Mass sung in dull vernacular
We have heard the Mass spoken (duller still)
And now today we have heard the Mass croaked

Here be allergens

For Training Purposes this Life May be Monitored

An examination of conscience is good
Thinking about things at the end of each day
Hail Marys mixed in with exasperation
Rough words that should never have been spoken

Reading casual cruelties on the InterGossip
Whatever God’s plan might be, that wasn’t it
Gratitude for work, gratitude for meals
Gratitude for peace at the end of the day

And as for the occasional bitter cup
Your Mother taught you right: offer it up

He was Hollerin’ Jesus on Nowhere Street

“The madman shouted in the market place. No one stopped to answer him.
Thus it was confirmed that his thesis was incontrovertible.”

-Dag Hammarskjold, Markings, 12.22.57

He was hollerin’ Jesus on Nowhere Street
At the Corner of Life and Death, ‘way gone
Where there was a grocery store when we was kids
Next to a soda fountain with pinball machines

He was hollerin’ – sinners can’t hear, I guess
And beatin’ on his Bible and dancin’ about
Like a man with a devil in his soul
And that ol’ devil was wearin’ him down

He was hollerin’ among the ruins, a shame
When he looked at me
and hollered my name

Notre Dame de Discount Store
“It gets you out of your solitary conceit”
-C. S. Lewis, God in the Dock

The tin-barn brick-veneer design is weak
Much like a Wal-Mart or a Dollar Store
The dropped ceiling is high-school ticky-tack
And the poor pews are discount-warehouse veneer

No one is silent before Mass anymore
Grown men wear shorts and sneaks and cartoon tees
The woman in the pew in front of me
Is tattooed up and down her pimply back

(My opinion was not required)

But surely God is speaking to each of us,
Asking us why we have come to this place

Our Lady of the Perpetual Garbage Sale

It’s for the youth

Our parish hall is now a re-sale shop
All full of junk that never goes away
Boxes of videotapes and castoff slop
And smelly clothes that have had their day

It’s for the youth

The Mass no longer ends with “Ite, missa est”
But rather, “After Mass would some of the men…”
Shift the same old debris without let or rest
Sisyphean labors for original sin

It’s for the youth

Fellowship after Mass is tired and pale –
The one eternal is the garbage sale

But it’s for the youth

Parish Consolidations and Rumors of Parish Consolidations

“I’m a beast, I am, and a Badger what’s more. We don’t change. We hold on. I say great good will come of it.”
-Trufflehunter in C. S. Lewis’ Prince Caspian

I don’t suppose Saint Peter sent surveys
Or that Saint Paul politely polled the people
But that’s how bishops do such things these days
With an access code on the InterThing

502 Bad Gateway

Rumor Control and Gossip Central say
That our parish is for the chopping block
(maybe re-purposed as a shopping block)
Worse things have happened; we’ve been pilgrims before
So as the Lord leads us, we will follow Him


The Altar, Sacrifice, and Word are Truth
And where we are sent to serve, there we will serve

Salt and Mrs. Lot

We are told that Mrs. Lot was turned into
A pillar of salt for looking back to view
The flames of cursed Sodom and Gomorrah
For looking to the past, instead of tomorrow


Talmud Portion for Today

In the Talmud portion for today we read
Of the priestly appointments for stacking wood
And of other liturgical usages
As preparation for the sacrifice

But some must read their portion for the day
By a battle lantern’s flickering light
Deep down in a bunker among the tombs
While rockets fall upon Jerusalem

Thus blood still splashes against the Temple walls
Thus blood still forms the letters of the text

What About that Kid with the Loaves and Fishes?

“There is a boy here that hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes; but what are these among so many?”
-St. John 6:9

About that kid with the loaves and fishes –
Who was he? And what was he doing there?
Maybe he was selling snacks to the crowd
Or he was on his way to the fields with his lunch

But his plan for the day was interrupted
And he was chosen for a moment in time
When bread and fish and grass and rocks and sky
Were made for us much more than they appeared

When his basket was made an altar, and he –
Like most of us, was more than he seemed to be

Why Does Saint Augustine Have Two Feast Days?
“Take it and read, take it and read.”
-Saint Augustine, Confessions (Trans. R. S. Pine-Coffin, Penguin Classics)

Why does Saint Augustine have two feast days?
Because he speaks to both the East and West
A little child still says it to us twice
“Take it and read, take it and read.”
We should listen

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