Catch my breath

Concede

I have to grudgingly concede I can’t maintain my blog these days. The irreducible multiplicity of work and home commitments have erased the time available for pleasure writing (which is what I consider my blog). My plan is to start up again consistently posting on October 1.

Thank you for making this blog a part of your life. It’s life-giving for me in ways I could never adequately describe.

Let me leave you with some art to chew on until then: drawing, singing, poetry, a hymn and a photo.

First, I’ll share with you two artistic pieces: one by my daughter, Maria, and the other by local Gospel and blues singer, Cornelius “CC” Celestine, who sings in my wife’s parish choir.

Maria’s piece is a 27 second sped-up video she made that chronicles her drawing to the beat of a cool tune:

CC’s piece is an audio recording of his gorgeous a cappella rendition of Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child, an African slave song that gives voice to the devastating experience of families being torn apart by the violence of slave trade. See the lyrics below the audio clip. He sang it one Sunday at Mass after Communion. I’d never heard it before, but it was for me like a meditation on the painful cry of prayer found in Psalm 88:14-15:

As for me, Lord, I call to you for help;
in the morning my prayer comes before you.
Lord, why do you reject me?
Why do you hide your face?

Listen:

Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
A long way from home
A long way from home

Sometimes I feel like I’m almost done
Sometimes I feel like I’m almost done
Sometimes I feel like I’m almost done
A long way from home
A long way from home

True believers a long way from home

A long way from home
A long way from home

To honor Our Lady for her September 8 feast, I wrote a poem back in 2010. I titled it by the Aramaic word for mother: Imma. To love this Lady is to discover her Son in a way you simply could not apart from her.

O Imma

I rejoice this festival of your birth
O Ark fashioned in secret earth,
conceived all-awash in mercy tide
gushing from His open side:
God’s hoping future crashing in
to stay the hand of Adam’s sin.
For of your womb, O Chalice pure,
is born for earth a heavenly Cure
who enfolds all in deathless-Life
harrowing hell and quenching strife.
Pray for us now, and as death preys,
to the timeless One, that Ancient of days
whom you knew as so young, so near,
kissing His face, sweeping His tear.
O look up now to Him who stoops low
that He might grace us with weal, not woe;
with treasures of grace and garments of light
putting our deadly, darkened Foe to flight.
O Bearer of the Infinitely Above,
O Whisperer to the God of love;
O Mother who alone dares to say:
“O God, this is how you are to pray.”
To you we raise a hymn of joy,
O Woman made without alloy,
celebrating your Nativity feast
gives great glory to God the Least. Amen.

+ + + +

This is a sung rendition (and lyrics) of an exquisite Byzantine hymn called, O Virgin Pure. It honors the mysteries surrounding Mary’s divine maternity:

O virgin pure, immaculate: O lady Theotokos
O rejoice, bride unwedded
O fleece bedewed with every grace, O virgin, queen and mother
O rejoice, bride unwedded
More radiant than the rays of sun and higher than the heavens
O rejoice, bride unwedded
O joy of virgin choruses superior to angels
O rejoice, bride unwedded
More bright than the firmament and purer than the sun’s light
O rejoice, bride unwedded
More holy than the multitude of all the heav’nly armies
O rejoice, bride unwedded

O ever-virgin Mary, of all the world, the Lady
O rejoice, bride unwedded
O bride all-pure, immaculate: O lady Panagia
O rejoice, bride unwedded
O Mary bride and queen of all, the cause of our rejoicing
O rejoice, bride unwedded
O humble maiden, gracious queen, supremely holy Mother
O rejoice, bride unwedded
More honored than the Cherubim, beyond compare more glorious
O rejoice, bride unwedded
Beyond bodiless Seraphim, transcending the angelic thrones
O rejoice, bride unwedded

Rejoice, the song of Cherubim; Rejoice, the hymn of angels
O rejoice, bride unwedded
Rejoice, the ode of Seraphim; the joy of the archangels
O rejoice, bride unwedded
Rejoice, O peace and happiness and haven of salvation
O rejoice, bride unwedded
O sacred chamber of the Word; the bud of incorruption
O rejoice, bride unwedded
Rejoice delightful Paradise of blessed life eternal
O rejoice, bride unwedded
Rejoice, O sacred tree of life and font of immortality
O rejoice, bride unwedded

I supplicate you, Lady now, I fervently entreat you
O rejoice, bride unwedded
O queen of all I earnestly implore and seek your favor
O rejoice, bride unwedded
O gracious maiden spotless one, O lady Panagia
O rejoice, bride unwedded
I call upon you ardently: O holy, hallowed temple
O rejoice, bride unwedded
Assist me and deliver me protect me from the enemy
O rejoice, bride unwedded
And make me an inheritor of blessed life eternal
O rejoice, bride unwedded

+ + + +

A Sunset

Photo of sunset by the levee taken by Maria

Please pray for me and my family.

11 comments on “Catch my breath

  1. nos. says:

    Aaahhh yes work,,, hopefully there lumps of soft clay… not hard granite … allowing you more joyful time to count your treasure… 19___17___15___13____ … I ,,,,,,,we begrudingly look to that day and say from our hearts P.B.W.Y.A.A.. . Oh clan of Kneel… and in the acronym of LP. M.G.B.Y.A.

  2. Hunter LeBlanc says:

    Hey Dr Neal!

    I hope to catch you before your (well-deserved, I’m sure) break from blogging. But, I have recently fallen in love with the works of St John of the Cross (thanks in large part to you), and because I know you’ve have spent a lot of time studying his works, I was wondering if you had any suggestions as to where to begin with his works. I was thinking maybe the Ascent and Dark Night to begin with, but I was wondering if you had any other thoughts?

    As always, thank you for all you do for the Kingdom and for this blog. God bless you and your family!

    • Hunter! Many thanks for your gracious comments. John! Where does one begin?
      If you want to begin with his texts, a good place to start is his Sayings of Light and Love.
      But yes, if you want to dive into his treatises, the Ascent is the best place to begin.
      I recommend Kieran Kavanaugh’s translations/collected works.
      But I usually recommend people begin with a commentary to start, to ready yourself for his actual work.
      The Impact of God by Iain Matthew OR John Welsh’s When Gods Die.
      That’s a start! Let me know if I can help any other way, Hunter.
      Peace! DrTN

  3. Ona says:

    Peace to you, Dr. Tom. You are always in my prayers.

  4. nos. says:

    Off to mass with my beautiful , ,,,oh how time passes so unnoticed,,,19 year old baby……. mass intention for all the wonderful.people associated with the good doctor Kneels blog.. P.B.W.Y.A.A. and with LP. in mind M.G.B.Y.A.

  5. noe says:

    ” gives great glory to GOD the least. AMEN No greater friend………. please pray that I can understand how to love him with a heart exploding… P.B.W.Y.A.A. and thru LP… MGBYA

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