April 12 Poetry: The Catholic Thing-

I love to describe the catholic church as a people who love smells, bells and whistles. Sure you can find the body haters in the church, but Catholics love art, incense, bells, music...It makes sense right...Jesus was a person with all the trappings of personhood...all the nerve endings and senses. Surely God's humanity in Jesus is an affirmation of the physical. Thus, including our senses.

So today, I have a poem about exactly that. From a Benedictine Monk. Benedictine's make vows of conversion, obedience, and stability(meaning they don't move). They pray a lot, work a lot, and struggle and love their communities a lot (sometimes it's compared to marriage to a whole group of people).

Their prayer is all rooted in scripture and ritual. This poet's work is just that- rooted in scripture and ritual. So as much as this church drives me crazy, breaks my heart, makes my spirit drown in patriarchy- I am offered hope in words of wisdom, reinterpreted word, and a God who really was a person! Cool stuff- and crazy stuff!

The Catholic Thing

Catholicism isn't for the lotus eaters:
we put a body on the cross.
Like all dysfunctional families
We tear flesh, spill blood
before we eat.

To celebrate the naked Christ between
the thieves: jeweled crosses, purple
cassocks, lace cuffs, ermine capes.
Popes and bishops draw the line
at rouge.

We're big on things we can touch:
wine, bread, oil, votive candles,
and, sometimes, the palpable
body of man. The Word made flesh

McDonnell, Kilian. God Dops and Loses Things.(St. John's University Press, Collegeville, MN 2009.


  1. Not to be a Benedictine nerd or anything, but the vows are actually stability, obedience and conversion.
    Poverty and chastity might fall into the category of "conversion of life," but they are not a part of the vows.
    (love the poem) :)

  2. Thanks Amy! I kind of suspected it was wrong but didn't have a chance to google it...thanks for the info!

  3. Rachel, I LOVE this. The line

    Like all dysfunctional families
    We tear flesh, spill blood
    before we eat.

    will be in my head and heart for quite some time. Thank you!


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