Paraphrase Isaiah 58:1-9a

[As often, I find in Isaiah words that I can adapt to be what I would say to the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church.]

Thus says GOD:
Cry out full-throated and unsparingly,
lift up your voice like a trumpet blast;
Tell my priests their wickedness,
and the house of Peter their sins.
They seek Me day after day,
and desire to know my ways,
Like a church that has done what is just
and not abandoned the law of their God;
They ask Me to declare what is due them,
pleased to imagine they have exclusive access to Me.
“Why do we set ourselves apart, and You do not see it?
exult ourselves, and You take no note of it?”

Lo, you set yourselves apart to carry out your own pursuits,
and drive away my children.
Yes, your setting yourselves apart results in pride and abuse,
striking with wicked claw.
Would that today you might set yourselves apart
so as to make My voice heard through you!
Is this the manner of setting apart that I wish,
of keeping a vocation:
That a man stand proud behind the altar
robed in silk and fine linen?
Do you call this a vocation,
a life acceptable to GOD?
This, rather, is the life that I wish:
releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed,
breaking every yoke;
Sharing your bread with the hungry,
sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own;
Casting out the abuser and comforting the abused.
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your wound shall quickly be healed;
Your vindication shall go before you,
and the glory of God shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and God will answer,
you shall cry for help, and God will say: Here I am.

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Staying and Leaving: Catholic Woman’s Version

I have left
And returned
And left again

I have shut the door
And then opened it

I have locked the door
And then unlocked it

I have wept
I have screamed
I have cursed

I have prayed

I have been lauded
For my feminine genius
I have been criticized
For my machismo feminism

I have been told no

But mostly
I have been ignored
I have been silenced
I have been patronized

I stood at their door
And knocked
To no avail

So I walked away
To other doors
Wide open, warm, welcoming

I have left
Except for my heart
Except for my longing
Except for my dreams
Except for my sisters

For those
Always
I have stayed.

Du Temps Perdu

In those days
My phone stayed
On vibrate
Even in meetings

I was
More or less
Always on call
For the two old women

So that day
In that meeting
When it vibrated on the table
And the caller ID showed “Mom”
I excused myself
Stepped out the door
And answered

“Mom, is something wrong?”

The excitement shook her voice
Made her breathless
As she spilled forth:

“Wrong? Nothing’s wrong We have a Pope! and he’s a Jesuit from South America and he took the name Francis first Pope ever to take Francis as his name we have a Pope!

A long time ago
In a galaxy far, far away
I was Catholic
Baptized at 3 weeks old
Schooled at
St. Rose di Lima
St. Leo the Great
St. Joseph Academy
Marquette University

But that was long ago
Far away
Long lost
No, not lost
Rejected

When that call came
I was Episcopalian
Catholic Light
Teaching Sunday School
Best friends with my priest’s wife

My mother though
Remained
In my sister’s words
More Catholic than the Pope

So now she interrupted
My work day
With her excitement
Losing years
Losing estrangement
Expecting me to share
Her excitement

Wondrously, I did.
A Jesuit
An American
A Francis

So I took an interest
I followed as he
Rejected palace living
Chose a small car
Rebuked the Curia

I followed and wondered
And felt a breeze
That carried the strawberry scent
Of Vatican II
Of my hopeful youth

But that was long ago
In a Rome far away
As I listened to his rant
Against those who criticize the Church
Friends and relatives of the devil
He called us

And I see Lord Acton
Standing behind Francis’ left shoulder
Sadly shaking his head.

Sometimes

Sometimes my hatred burns so hot
My peace goes up in flames

Sometimes all I want is to reject it all
Throw it out with the trash

Then I remember

Checking if the front door is locked
Isn’t obsessive compulsive

Feeling sad
Isn’t clinical depression

Feeling worried
Isn’t an anxiety disorder

Getting excited
Isn’t manic

Getting angry
Isn’t aggression

Criticizing
Isn’t attacking

Doubting
Isn’t faithless

So, please, God,

Grant me doubts
Rather than never thinking

Grant me criticisms
Rather than acquiescence

Grant me anger
Rather than indifference

Grant me excitement
Rather than ennui

Grant me worry
Rather than complacency

Grant me sadness
Rather than numbness

Grant me checking
Rather than carelessness

And above all

Grant me acceptance
Of myself and others

Grant me love

Prayer on Fasting and Abstinence

My Gracious God,

Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer
Father, Mother, Brother
Protector, Comforter, Friend

When I abstain from food
Help me also to abstain
From judging myself or others
By body image

When I abstain from favorite things
Help me also to abstain
From judging myself or others
By achievements and acquisitions

When I fast, emptying my stomach,
Help me also to empty my thoughts
Of harsh judgments and unkind opinions

When I fast, emptying my stomach,
Help me also to empty my feelings
Of anger and envy, self-loathing and despair

Whether I abstain from food
And favorite preoccupations,
Whether I fast to empty my stomach,
Help me to fill my soul, my spirit, my life
More and more with Your Spirit,
Your Grace, Your Wisdom. Amen

Riff on Isaiah 6:1-2a, 3-8

In these years of trouble, I look for our God,
Our gracious Lady Wisdom.
I imagine Her seated on Her high throne,
with the train of Her garment filling Her house,
providing a place of soft comfort and rest for all.

Seraphim are gathered above,
crying one to the other,
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lady of All Wisdom and Peace!
All the earth is filled with Her glory!”
At the sound of that cry, the door opens to all
and the house is filled with sweet fragrance.

Then I boldly say to Her,
“Woe are we who are ignored, abused, cast out!
For priests have judged us unclean, unworthy,
living among a people who are unclean.
Yet our eyes see You, God,
though not as conquering Warrior King, Lord of Armies,
but as enveloping Wisdom Woman, Lady of Peace.”

Then one of the seraphim flies to us,
holding a small lily of the valley
that she had gently plucked from the shade
of our Lady’s garden.

She puts it in our outstretched hands and says,
“See, now that the Lady has given you this flower,
you are outcast no more.
Look on this flower’s gentle beauty
and know that you were never unclean.
Inhale its soft fragrance
and know you were never unworthy.
Consider how it grows and spreads,
even in the shade and poor soil,
and know you are strong and will thrive.

Then I hear the voice of the Lady asking,
“Whom shall I send? Who will dare go for us
To these errant proud priests?”
And the women, my sisters, join hands and cry,
“Here we are! Send us!
For we know how to carry the unseen,
how to speak for the voiceless,
How to love the loveless.
Send us and we will try, together.”

Saturday Morning

The unpleasant dream clings insistently
Just behind my eyes
And in clinging
Becomes dread

Dread
That leaks into my empty stomach
Filling it with shapeless weight

Dread
That trickles into my left hip
Beginning a familiar ache there

Dread
That seals my eyes
Shut

When I find the courage
To open my eyes
The pillow next to my head
Is a blurry rock
Beneath unshed tears
While surface pebbles
Scratch my watery whites

I lie suspended in Hamlet’s dilemma
Wishing for waking
Wanting more sleep
My bed cozy but confining
Comforting but uncomfortable

Perhaps, just perhaps
I should have had two not four
Fingers of whiskey last night.