Poetry of a royal priesthood

Sunrise over Jerusalem. omsi.edu

We priests tend to clericalize the laity. We do not realize it, but it is as if we infect them with our own thing. And the laity—not all of them but many—ask us on their knees to clericalize them, because it is more comfortable to be an altar boy than the protagonist of a lay path. This moment in history cries out for mature, intelligent, zealous and faithful lay leaders in an urgent way. Priests and bishops cannot do the work of laypeople. That’s not what Christ called us to do. It’s not what the Church formed us to do. Our role as clergy in bringing Jesus Christ to the world, and the world to Jesus Christ, flows through you lay men and women who hear the Word of God; who love the Church for the truth she teaches; and then bring that Catholic witness into society to change it and sanctify it in Christ’s name. Every Christian life, and every choice in every Christian life, matter eternally. Laypeople, not clergy, have the task of evangelizing the secular world, and only you can do it as God intended. So never be embarrassed by your baptism. Never be afraid of the consequences of your faith. Take pride in your Catholic identity for the blessing and mandate it is. Act on it. Share it with others. — Pope Francis

As an addendum to my laity posts the last few days, I would like to share a poem I wrote the morning after the final exam in my Spirituality of the Laity class back in 2013. I wrote it sitting outside our home, watching the sun rise in the east.

The poem tells the divine backstory of the laity’s call to “consecrate the world to God.” This story runs from Genesis 1 to Revelation 21, from creation to the end of the ages.

So, for what it’s worth:

God-breathed clay,
entwining Image, two-in-one,
flesh God-pressed, marked
by a threefold King:
a daughter, a son.

Both made to lift low Higher
and call down immaterial Fire:
the Father’s very own God from God
falling down in Spirit co-breathed:
Their lovely Life-giver, as yet un-grieved.

But Lo! Lament!
Their kindled earthen-vessel fire
fell down far into wreched mire.
But Love unquenced, unthwarted,
became a crazed Bridegroom,
and adulterous love he courted

By descending far too far,
fleshy dark and deathly low
into our mad and raving folly,
falling beneath our vicious blow.

Behold!
Graying is our slain-God,
bled dry of His immortal Blood;
lying cold, asleep in a wicked grave
while His weeping bride cries:
Save!
Arise unchained, my Love, and unchain us all.

All-drenching Flesh, Risen! Soak us
out of Your gaping, wounded Side
and drain forth Your whole Spirit-tide
seaming for us a heavenly-earth,
our nuptial chamber, our bath of rebirth!

And so it was, the Eighth Day dawned
With Love spreading far-wide, deluging,
drowning mortal death; our Refuging
within His sacred Wounds’ outpouring Flood
whetting our parched, lifeless bones:
O God, breathe Your flesh-knitting Breath
And roll away our heavy stones!

Why, oh why all this?

Love alone.

Your soiled Bride washed now, purely wed,
embraced and swept up God-ward
into one sacrificial Flesh: Take. Eat.
Become My Food that feeds
Scatter my life-giving Seeds.
It is I who fill the starving with Bread,
I who inebriate the joyless dead,
Turning them drunk in self-forgetful love;
Making of their earth a new heaven above.

O Jesus, stone-shattering God-quake
of sudden all things new do make:
God-kneaded, Christ-infested
earthly heaven, heavenly earth
born again in watery second birth
where Old passes out into New
ever-so quietly as a morning dew
onto our open, uplifted laboring hands
that join the work of angelic bands
whose Opus is no more than to sing:
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
to the re-creating majestic King!

To the Fashioner of that World to Come,
who built His City of our tired clay, let us sing!
Tears and labor, love for neighbor now bring
to His tearless Banquet, this Feast without alloy,
of love and justice burning with peerless joy
torn from the Heart of a God who gives without measure;
a God whose joy is ever the Other’s good-pleasure;
the God who gave us hope of one unending Day
where at last we can join, forever,
in Their thrice unending child’s play.
Amen.

2 comments on “Poetry of a royal priesthood

  1. trudymm says:

    Enjoying the series on the laity tremendously. Oh course couldn’t help but take a bite and sample your poem:

    “The poem tells the divine backstory of the laity’s call to “consecrate the world to God”. By Thomas J. Neal,Ph.D.

    ~ Poem of the Royal Priesthood ~
    Laity Operating like it Should

    “The poem tells the divine backstory of the laity’s call to “consecrate the world to God”. By Thomas J. Neal,Ph.D.

    👑TJN= God-breathed clay,entwining Image, two-in-one,
    Tmm = At that stage He was in no way done

    👑TJN= flesh God-pressed, marked by a threefold King:
    Tmm= Envisioning the praises that they would sing

    👑TJN= a daughter, a son
    Tmm= Intimately communing between themselves & their God, no barriers, there were to be none

    👑TJN= Both made to lift low Higher and call down immaterial Fire:
    Tmm= For that was truly God’s desire

    👑TJN= the Father’s very own God from God
    Tmm= To create both spirit & an earthly bod

    👑TJN= falling down in Spirit co-breathed: Their lovely Life-giver, as yet un-grieved.
    Tmm= How sad they would allow themselves to be deceived

    👑TJN= But Lo! Lament! Their kindled earthen-vessel fire fell down far into wreched mire
    Tmm- A situation where the consequences would become extremely dire

    👑TJN= But Love unquenced, unthwarted,
    Tmm= Tremendously unleashed, ever so wholehearted

    👑TJN= became a crazed Bridegroom,
    Tmm= Great passion above Him ecstatically did loom

    👑TJN= and adulterous love he courted
    Tmm- One in no way that could be aborted

    👑TJN= By descending far too far, fleshy dark and deathly low
    Tmm- But that’s how things for a reason were allowed to go

    👑TJN= into our mad and raving folly, falling beneath our vicious blow.
    Tmm= Still the spirit dis marvelously flow

    👑TJN= Behold!
    tmm= As countless graces were to unfold

    👑TJN= Graying is our slain-God, bled dry of His immortal Blood;
    Tmm- Poured out it mixed with the dirt making ever precious the formation of mud

    👑TJN= lying cold, asleep in a wicked grave while His weeping bride cries: Save!
    Tmm= No doubt, by His every suffering, our way to Heaven He was successfully able to pave

    👑TJN= Arise unchained, my Love, and unchain us all.
    Tmm- Hear the cry of sinners so poor, & spurn us not as we unhesitatingly & loudly call

    👑TJN= All-drenching Flesh, Risen! Soak us
    Tmm= Totally surrendered, determined, we put not up a fuss

    👑TJN= out of Your gaping, wounded Side and drain forth Your whole Spirit-tide
    Tmm= We find an opening of escape in which to abide

    👑TJN= seaming for us a heavenly-earth, our nuptial chamber, our bath of rebirth!
    Tmm= We now find ourselves a people full of mirth

    👑TJN = And so it was, the Eighth Day dawned
    Tmm= A real potential for recouping what had been pawned

    👑TJN= With Love spreading far-wide, deluging, drowning mortal death; our Refuging
    Tmm= Refreshment ever so soothing

    👑TJN= within His sacred Wounds’ outpouring Flood whetting our parched, lifeless bones:
    Tmm= A reality because of the events that produced such excruciating anguish & many angonizing moans

    👑TJN= O God, breathe Your flesh-knitting Breath And roll away our heavy stones!
    Tmm- Then there will be the amazement silencing of all of our groans

    👑TJN= Why, oh why all this? Love alone.Your soiled Bride washed now, purely wed,
    Tmm- Lavishly with the Eucharist so Divinely fed

    👑TJN= embraced and swept up God-ward into one sacrificial Flesh: Take. Eat.
    Tmm= Intimately consume your Bridegroom as you in the Holy Sacrament most certainly do meet

    👑TJN= Become My Food that feeds Scatter my life-giving Seeds.’
    Tmm= Nourished, then to go out & nourish, evangelizing & taking care of spiritual needs

    👑TJN= It is I who fill the starving with Bread, I who inebriate the joyless dead,
    Tmm= Those thrive who live by heeding the words I have said

    👑TJN= Turning them drunk in self-forgetful love; Making of their earth a new heaven above.
    Tmm= That’s why the Father sent The Spirit of Truth, the Advocate, the Heavenly Dove

    👑TJN= O Jesus, stone-shattering God-quake of sudden all things new do make:
    Tmm- Equipping us to spot and detect by discernment what is spiritually dead & fake

    👑TJN= God-kneaded, Christ-infested earthly heaven, heavenly earth born again in watery second birth
    Tmm= A marvelous transformation from what was formerly dust & dirt

    👑TJN= where Old passes out into New ever-so quietly as a morning dew
    Tmm= Speaking but the word, grace descends right on cue

    👑TJN= onto our open, uplifted laboring hands that join the work of angelic bands
    Tmm= The blessings of God on the head of man gloriously lands

    👑TJN= whose Opus is no more than to sing: Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia! to the re-creating majestic King!
    Tmm= Glory, honor, & praise, joining in song as Heaven’s anthem ring

    👑TJN= To the Fashioner of that World to Come,
    Tmm= An open Invitation is extended to all and not just to some

    👑TJN = who built His City of our tired clay, let us sing! Tears and labor, love for neighbor now bring
    Tmm= Rejoicing not only over great conversions, but also over improvement in every little thing

    👑TJN= to His tearless Banquet, this Feast without alloy, of love and justice burning with peerless joy
    Tmm= You can be assured this is no ploy

    👑TJN= torn from the Heart a God who gives without measure; a God whose joy is ever the Other’s good-pleasure;
    Tmm= Oh, what generosity, He shares His prized treasure

    👑TJN= the God who gave us hope of one unending Day
    Tmm= The God who will certainly have in the end the final say

    👑TJN= where at last we can join, forever,in Their thrice unending child’s play. Amen.
    Tmm= Wallowing in the victory for ages & ages which will never have an end.

    God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense~G.R.A.C.E.!
    MC= Sometimes it takes but just a trace
    2 help successfully weather da storms we face
    \😇/
    |
    /\ http://gigapostolate.weebly.com/ tmm/PTL

    • Trudymm: I finally got the time to appreciate your alternating lines of poetry. It’s like entering into your own prayerful ruminating on my words and I am honored you would utilize my work that way and moved by the beauty of your own words. Thank you for contributing to my work, each time. Wow, and your own site is remarkable! A Feast of faith. http://gigapostolate.weebly.com/
      Peace and all good to you.

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