"We can make a ladder of our vices if we tread them underfoot." --St. Augustine

Monday, November 21, 2005

This Is Not a Birthday Poem

Today is your birthday,
the twenty-first of November,
two thousand and five,
in the year of our Lord,
the feast of the Presentation of Mary,
a day after Christ the King.
This is not a birthday poem
to be recited in a party
when strangers can masquerade as friends
and real friends are nowhere to be found
because distances are keeping them busy
with their crowded lives.
Rather it is a hymn of praise
to our living God,
also a thank-you gesture to our parents.

His Absence Leaves a Trail...

I remember Father Nicanor Lana, OSA:
the wunderkind.
He worked like a horse
and labored with dignity.
The silent walls of Holy Rosary Church
give voice to his heroism.
He struggled alone
to combat hubris,
lost the battle
but ended up winning the war
by leaving behind a much better world
than when he found it.
Eloquent is this man.
His life can speak.
I'll always remember Father Nicanor.
His absence leaves a trail...

In the Vineyard of the Lord

They're all here,
these three seekers of truth
who've found ahead of me
the highest form
of chivalry
in the vineyard of the Lord
this part of East Harlem:
Padre Angel, the impresario of veladas
back in our university days
when wasted manpower
was as alien as terror attacks
and the faithful made
the sign of the cross
in honor of the Blessed Trinity
every time they met three friars
walking together
in white habit;
he's the superior,
the pastor of the Holy Rosary Parish,
the soft-spoken angel
who speaks the best Spanish
this part of East Harlem;
Padre Pepe,
whose sephardic lineage
radiates in the way he prepares
our weekend meals
when Yolanda the cook
takes her weekend break;
the friar who puts work
the main ingredient of his life
this part of East Harlem;
Padre Abel the philosopher,
whose hospital ministry
enriches our community life
with his cleanliness and godliness
this part of East Harlem.
More than missionaries these three--
unrecognized, unheralded, unsung--
labor tirelessly, unceasingly, joyfully
in the vineyard of the Lord
this part of East Harlem.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

In the Most Holy Name of Jesus

In East Harlem
Spanish is the only language
people care to speak.
When I hear them talk
I remember
the first Augustinians
who evangelized my homeland
and taught our people
the most holy name of Jesus.
Lord Jesus, it's great to be here
working in your most holy name.

When Friends Call

When friends call
or email me their joyful acceptance
of my being where I am now
as part of God's most holy will,
I tell them that not even Zeus
can prevent Destiny
from bringing what must come to pass
to its irreversible conclusion.
But, of course, this is no time
for lores and mythologies,
so I'm back to Christ's parable
of the mustard seed
and urge them to help me pray
that whatever I sow here
at East Harlem
may indeed be according to God's plan
in the economy of salvation
so it will grow and bear fruit
and yield a rich harvest
in the fullness of God's time.