Mass In Times of a Pandemic

Psalm 100

Kyrie eleison

Have mercy upon the people of faith, O Lord,
who put their trust in you, as an enemy, unseen
and silent, steals across our land and the world
abroad to tap on shoulders—as if at random
like a monstrous game of tag—of unsuspecting men
and women who strive to make it through the day.
We sing, Kyrie eléison, Christe eléison,
Kyrie eléison
, with great gladness; and we pray:
Give us courage, O Lord, come what may.


We shoulder sorrows at the end of a darkened day,
seeking shelter against the forces of the night,
and in the lengthening shadows we find our way
to the empty tomb of Christ with the perpetual light
of one hopeful candle burning bright
to celebrate the risen Lord. We look to the west:
the glow of the golden sun gives way to the light
of vespers. Secure in our safe lodging, we are blessed
to praise the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.


How did the Coronavirus disaster come? Two ways:
gradually, then suddenly. Science knew it was real
and lethal, but leadership dithered for many days
until a great nation was brought to heel.
Worse than war, we tumbled down into the hell
of separateness. Each of us must suffer alone,
apart from the warmth of fellowship in which we feel
a common bond. But we shall rise again!
Even in isolation, we are one unbroken chain.


The virus requires we find new ways to cope.
Gatherings are banned; individuals widen their space.
In isolation, we glimpse in memory, dimly, but we hope
to see each other soon face to face,
cheek by jowl, in a happier time and place.
Privately, we pray, Holy, holy, holy,
Lord God of hosts
. By the loving grace
of God, we plan to come together fully
as one body and sing the Hymn of Victory.

Agnes Dei

Behold the Lamb of God who takes away
the sins of the world. We the faithful may be sheep
in need of a good shepherd or innocents in the ways
of the world, but the body of Christ is wide and deep
and the people of this church have commitments to keep
whether blown to the four winds or gathered in place.
We are set on sowing in the Spirit—in the hope of reaping
eternal life. My friends, go in grace
until we meet again face to face.

Last Sunday after Pentecost
November 26, 2023

NOTE: This concludes Year A.

Bud and Mary

In 2022, I completed a book of poems about my parents and the life my three sisters and I shared with them. To open the collection of poems, click THIS.

Poetry Stream

Click THIS to view the complete collection of weekly postings since December 2018.

Image: Goðafoss, Iceland

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Wars in My Lifetime

Judges 4:1-7

World War II

a boy-soldier lies
with his face
on the continent of Europe
and his feet
in the Atlantic


when we died,
they said casualties were low;
they gave us medals
and thanked us
for our service


I am an American fighting man
no visible foe
no battle lines
no inner hate
no reason why

Desert Storm

no longer
forward-leaning warfighters,
the wounded
are deleted
from the present tense


Iraq War,
my, how you have grown…
look at you:
such a big boy
and so strong!

Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A
November 19, 2023

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Entering Adulthood

Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25

The nights were deathly quiet. We never saw
the underclass at dark. Invisible deeds,
professionally drawn by cordial men, kept
our slumber safe, our world a safe cocoon.
Depression-haunted parents pampered us
into the sixties. The gaunt face of poverty
that fueled their fears was one we never knew.
The class of 1960 naturally believed
in privileged wealth, believed in dread pursuits
of dry-as-dust at top professional schools.
Our dreams were so intense before the dawn,
before the day enhanced our consciousness.
From out of the comfortable night we faced the sun.
At long last we were forced to cope with light.

NOTE: I wrote this poem in 1990 for my classmates. It was our 30th reunion.

Twenty-Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
November 12, 2023

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The Big Nothing

Joshua 3:7-17

What happens to the indigenous peoples
living in someone else’s promised land?
We never know because they are slaughtered

or erased forever as a culture.
Nothing to see here—
their story is a big nothing.

Historians connect the dots of known events
across white silences of ruined chronicles
forever mute.

Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost
November 5, 2023

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Matthew 22:34-46

Come home, come home to the simple life:
Love God with all your heart,
with all your soul and with all your strength.
This is the first and greatest rule.

Come home, come home to the holy life:
Love your neighbor as yourself.
These two rules are all you need.
Everything else is explanation.

Come, pilgrim, come home to God.
Clear your mind of the cares of the world.
It does not matter how far you roam.
The road from home is the road to home.

Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost
October 29, 2023

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Macedonia and Achaia

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10

Looking out over the caramel landscape,
the least of the apostles announced,
Upon this blade of grass, I build my church.

Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost, Year A
October 22, 2023

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Arguing Over the Kids

Exodus 32:1-14

My children? These are your children!
It was by your power
you freed them from bondage.

What will the Egyptians say
if you set your children free
only to destroy them in the wilderness?

And what about your hopes
for Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
and their descendants?
Have you forgotten about that?

Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost
October 15, 2023

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One day tells its tale to another,
and one night imparts knowledge to another.
Although they have no words or language,
and their voices are not heard,
their sound has gone out into all lands,
and their message to the ends of the world.

Psalm 19:2-4

In the beginning, the memory barely fits
a Times Square video screen.
In the end, the image is wallet sized.

In addition, there is an altered state:
the uncarved block becomes a sculpture;
the portrait of a lady becomes a smile.

In the beginning, myriad details cling
to the core event. Incessant winds
of the mind erode the loose periphery

and one by one, over a long life,
the less essential falls away
into forgetfulness. In the end,

the stripped-down core event—
some instance of love, triumph or shame—
remains intact forever.

Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost
October 8, 2023

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Therefore, My Beloved

Philippians 2:1-13

My glass is filled
with dusk tonight…
I swirl the west and think of you
and sip the stars
down to the stem.

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost
October 1, 2023

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As a Rose Unfolds Itself

Philippians 1:21-30

Stunned to hear your marriage is falling apart,
I look to see you sad, defeated, but no!
You are energized—fired up and ready to go.
The unencumbered life gladdens your heart.

As a rose unfolds itself,
there is always an exact time
when beauty is most compelling.
For you, that time is now.

I wrote these lines when you were twenty-one.
Society believes that beauty will have its say
briefly before a long denouement of decay.
Wrong. The unfolding of beauty is never done.

Unlike the athlete whose turn on the stage is short,
beauty draws from character to counter age.
A woman’s poise and wisdom keep the page
from turning; they keep the book from snapping shut.

Character powers the engine that drives the train
along a set of tracks uniquely yours.
This time belongs to you. Enjoy the years
to come as your own master of heart and brain.

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 24, 2023

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The Smartest Guy in the Room

Romans 14:1-12

It took me a while to notice
the chip on his shoulder.
He never made a scene
and yet he silently saw himself
as the smartest guy in every room.
He sized up each man
by noting the factual errors
and rhetorical flaws.
Like a judge in Olympic diving,
he lowered the poor man’s score
and Dad always came out on top
even when he didn’t.

And women, by definition,
could never measure up.
Nineteenth century gender inequality
was baked into his understanding
of the great chain of being.
My sister and my dad
attended the same college.
Only one graduated Summa Cum Laude
and was accepted into Phi Beta Kappa
and it wasn’t him,
but it made no difference.

Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 17, 2023

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Adorning the Poor With Victory

Psalm 149

What happens after the Lord
wreaks vengeance on the nations?

What happens after the Lord
binds the kings in chains
and their nobles with links of iron?

What happens after the Lord
inflicts on them the judgment decreed? 

What does it mean to adorn the poor with victory?

What happens to the poor after the glory of conquest
is showered on all the faithful people?

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 10, 2023

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Paul’s Bullet List

Romans 12:9-21

Do the following:

  • Let love be genuine
  • Hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good
  • Love one another with mutual affection
  • Outdo one another in showing honor
  • Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord
  • Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer
  • Contribute to the needs of the saints
  • Extend hospitality to strangers
  • Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them
  • Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep
  • Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are
  • Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all
  • If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all
  • Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good

When you are dealing with your enemies, be kind to them. For example, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.”

Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A
September 3, 2023

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