Discalced Carmelite Friars

Province of St. Therese

Provincial Blog

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“From the abundance of his spirit [the poet] pours out secrets and mysteries rather than rational explanation” (Prologue, The Spiritual Canticle).

“In contemplation God teaches the soul very quietly and secretly, without its knowing how, without the sound of words” (Chapter 39, The Spiritual Canticle).

In the spirit of St. John of the Cross, this blog reflects on the contemplative experience and the poetic experience, sometimes separately and distinctly, sometimes in common, as mutually enlightening.

I will also post to this blog, from time to time, my own poetry, with a short interpretive note attached.

~ Fr. Bonaventure Sauer, OCD

The Hours ~ 4 Poems – Part 2

II.Noontime:  Sext~The Angelus    The Lord watches over you,like one who shades you from heatHe is right there, at your right hand.            (Ps 121:5)The pealing bell, each chime shaped into a ball,Rides the air like soap bubbles.  "It's a splendid gesture,Overlaid with the colors of the rainbow, as if a flockOf butterflies spread
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The Hours ~ 4 Poems – Part 1

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Conjuring Up the Eternal – Part 6 of 7

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Conjuring Up the Eternal – Part 4 of 7

IV.OtherworldlinessFor long years, or so the Anchoress confessed,The sooty black bricks of night encased her onEvery side.  And yellow smoke rose like incenseEach morning.  "One would think I livedIn a chimney," she sighed.  Yet the smell of peasAnd carrots, of beans simmering in a pot,Spiraled slowly upward on invisible wings,While the pulp she squeezed from meaty applesMerited the
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Five Poems for Lent and Easter – Part 2

II.A Contemplative in LentHow many times did I promise you everything,The wind shaking loose the sweet fruitOf sunrise or sunset, of snowfall in winterOr rain in spring?  How many times, andYou said nothing?  How often did I whisper,"It's me," waiting to receive an answer,And received none?  Yet I will try again this year.Yes, I will promise again to mold my soulInto a clod of soft black
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Five Poems for Lent and Easter – Part 1

I.To JerusalemI joined the little band of followers to fight the good fight,To stand face to face, toe to toe, with the Temple's faceless,Toeless tyranny.  For too many years the pleas of my peopleHad hurled themselves out over the wide land, only to beBaked and dried under the white sun like a mule's corpse.How often I braced myself to receive full-on the high tide ofThe news of the coming of
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Poems for the New Year – Part 1

I.The Turning of the YearWho is it that, this past spring, wrote haiku about pine trees, howIn them is found a life that grows suppler with age?  Or who, this summer,Spread wide his arms in song, pulling back the dark curtain of nightAnd letting the morning dew luxuriate like a vapor?Or who, this autumn, stepped out upon the soggy earthWhere its fertile powers shot upward into reds and yellows? 
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Three Christmas Poems – Part 3

III.The Fourth of the MagiAnd I took to the road on footWhere tree limbs bent low, clawing at me.Beasts lurked in the shadows, beasts I'd never seen before,And owls hooted even at noon.They say wild men haunt these placesClothed in prickly boar's hide.On their heads sit wreaths with leaves the size of a giant's hand.Some, it's rumored, grow tailsThat sprout an inch a yearFor each year of their madness. 
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Five Advent Poems – Part 3

III.Our Lady of GuadalupeIs it true that you were here, that you once stood where stone sits coldlyOn stone?  That your feet drew the chill about them like slippers?You left leaving no footprints behind, except when, yearAfter year, we kneel to press our lips to the ground, our flesh to this clay,Our hunger to your agelessness.Is it true you neither smile nor frown, riveted as you areTo the uncertain
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Five Advent Poems – Part 2

II.John the Baptist - Winter MeditationsIf You Lord had been here to hear my cryAnd give breath to my roaring,Your love wrapped in thick leather straps about my heart,Then I wouldn't now need You quite so much to call my soul backFrom its weariness.  Oh, silence to silence I advance towards blindness.My eyes are sunken, sunless, the eyes of winter. *Day has passed over into night.  Chill
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An Invocation

        Recently I gave the invocation at one of those fundraising banquets, you know the kind.  For what it's worth, here's what I said—with changes, making my words more generic and anonymous.  You can take for yourself from the prayer as much or as little as you want, probably more of the latter than the former.        Some years ago I
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Prayer and Sabbath Rest - Part 2

        (3)  "The higher goal of spiritual living is not to amass a wealth of information, but to face sacred moments."        Here is a truth we must continually remind ourselves of.  Information is power.  So we crave it, we seek it.  It gives our work, and therefore our persons, the edge over others. 
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Prayer and Sabbath Rest - Part 1

        You might think I've been on sabbatical these past few months, and you'd have good reason, given my absence from this blog.  But I haven't.  Nonetheless, I have been learning something in my absence, something valuable.  And here's what I've learned.  It's difficult to keep a blog going when you're on the road for long stretches of time. 
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What is Contemplation? -- a Recap

        There are, I think it safe to say, only a few out there in cyber-land who've been wondering what's become of this blog these past couple of months.  Maybe it's dried up under the summer sun and withered on the vine--or so a few of you might have been wondering.  Well, be that as it may, among the possible few who perhaps have been so wondering I
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The Stars in Winter

I have joined their number, they who once said, “O winding staircase,That empties into the sky, you are my prayer this night.”The dark that peopled the streets and parks, the room grown still,It fills my eyes as sleep comes from afar, from across the sea.You were here with me, you always were, you never left.What did you whisper throughout the day, what secrets for survival? To see the
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The Main Course--What is Contemplation? (Part Two)

St. John of the Cross        I've somewhat lost my train of thought in these reflections on the topic of contemplation which I've been pursuing, or have meant to be pursuing, in this blog.  No matter.  I'm not going to go back and try to recover it.  Instead, I'll forge ahead.        What, then, is contemplation? 
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Poetry - 4th in a series

ContemplationAwash with a shallow stream of light, the chapel bracesTo witness the Spirit come forth at this hour.He rides as though over stones polished smoothAnd shimmering with wakefulness,The sound that of a swift gallop under rain.  He does not stop.I offer him the setting sun of my sadness,Whose shadows lean in, trying to make themselves his own.If only he could find his way to me across
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Setting the Table—Part Three

        St. John of the Cross has little to say about poetry itself or the process of its composition.  What he does have to say is almost exclusively to be found in the prologue to his commentary on The Spiritual Canticle, where he discusses, briefly, the sources of his inspiration and the manner of his poetic expression.  For example, in the first paragraph
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