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Issue Date:  March 25, 2005


Lenten Chrysalis

He followed his mother back to
their seat
   after being signed
     with the ashen cross.
He was five then
   and he believed
     with the heart of a child.
“Will the ashes go into your brain
   and make you a good person?”
     he whispered to his mother.
“And will they stay on your forehead
   when you go to sleep?” he asked.
He had to know.
   Not “if” he would be changed,
     but “how” he would be changed.

“Let the children come to me …
   for the kingdom of heaven
     belongs to such as these.”
       Matthew 19:14
Step by measured step,
   the elderly man
     guided his walker
       to the cross.
He paused with reverent mien
   and bowed his thanks
     to the crucified Christ.
His Good Friday recompense fulfilled,
   he turned and slowly made his
       hands grasping
         the metal Simon aiding his

“If anyone wishes to come after me,
   he must deny himself
   and take up his cross daily and
     follow me.” Luke 9:23
The pretense of poise belied
   his anxiousness
     as he sat among those
       to be received.
In affirmation of his conversion call,
   he joined the others,
     in the profession of faith.
       Then -- sacramental grace!
“Be sealed with the Holy Spirit.”
   “The Body of Christ.”
Fragrant oil, holy bread,
   tangible Spirit, touchable God.
       The Emmaus journey begins
         with an alleluia awakening!

“And behold, I am with you always,
   until the end of the age.”
     Mark 28:20

-- Mary Ticknor
   Rhinelander, Wis.

‘Pope Breathing on His Own’

The Congregation
for the Doctrine of the Faith
has just put out
a correction:

We have never claimed that
His Holiness was breathing
on his own.

Without the breath
of the Holy Spirit
we mortals are but inert ash.

Let this be clear
lest we forget our provenance
and, believing we’re sui generis,
take matters into
our own hands.

-- Ralph Nazareth
   Stamford, Conn.

National Catholic Reporter, March 25, 2005

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