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Sisters for the Sioux Part I

This poem is posted to honor our Sisters in particular in the light of the attack from a culture that has become antithetical to spiritual virtue and goodness. The recent scandal surrounding the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and their support by the Los Angeles Dodgers speaks of a terrible ignorance in our culture regarding “woman” and femininity. The Los Angeles Dodgers and their executive decision makers would do well to go on retreat and study the female martyrology and understand their heroic contribution to a positive culture that consecrated sisters have had. We live in a dreadful sea of ignorance and negativity. Our Catholic Church should stand firmly against this expression, as Bishop Strickland has done, and understand that this is the very reason for our own lack of vocations of consecrated women. If we stand firm against this ignorance, our sisters will return in great numbers and rebuild our convents and institutions dedicated to celibate feminine spiritual expression and not to vulgarity.

I will dedicate the next 3 poems to vocations for consecrated women. These poems may appear heavy. It is however difficult not to be heavy when Catholic consecrated feminine spirituality has been reduced by 70% due to shifts in demographics, economic efficiencies, anti-spiritual social values and a culture that confounds sexuality with personality. In 50 years, an entire expression of Catholic spirituality has been practically institutionally destroyed. Since mid-1970, the number of consecrated women or nuns has dropped around 75%. That’s about 100,000 women that have not been replaced. This is a terrible gender imbalance in our Catholic intuitional prayer structure; a loss of pure life-giving vitality. Without these sisters, the ship of our Church is far more difficult to navigate. It is impossible to conceive the long- term damage this imbalance will have unless it is solemnly and honestly corrected.

This poem is for the sisters that have shown such great courage to assert the value of the contemplative life and apostolic care of the sick and poor. These attacks on conventual life are a muted martyrdom and are spiritually equivalent to previous periods in history that have found feminine spirituality inimical to political ideology and revolution. The Church is built on the faith of martyrs. And these examples are usually gruesome, like the spiked wheel that was used to martyr St. Catherine. But when the martyrdom is silent and no one witnesses the violence of the quiet asphyxiation of a very necessary part of our faith, then this force may be more insidious and more odious.

In these series of poems, I will cite three examples of forced suppression of convents and violence against our sisters. There are others but I will site only three, as these are closer to us in time, and they build on each other in an iterative expression of anti-Christian political power and greed. These are:

• Compiègne: 11 discalced Carmelite nuns martyred during the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror
• Novogrodek: The 11 nuns from the Holy Family of Nazareth that were executed by the Nazi Gestapo in Poland
• The 10 nuns from Congregation of St. Elizabeth that were murdered by the Red Army in Poland

This poem is dedicated however to the 100,000 American sisters that have died without replacement, but especially to the residual that remain and for a prayer of a vast renewal of feminine spirituality of body and soul.

I am not sure how to pray for these sisters because I think they pray far better than I. At least I can write them a love letter as a lament in a broken poem but also join I hope for a revival of the conventual life and habit.

Sisters for the Sioux

How do you count the graves
Of one hundred thousand nuns?
Do you walk along the corridor
Of a ruined broken cloister
Leading to the graveyard
And count them one by one?
Or read the roster
Of the fallen
In volumes
Of a female martyrology
Grim modern error
A woman’s eschatology.

When the smoke of battle clears
In France and in Compiègne,
Or Poland’s Novogrodek
Or as the craven crows did peck
The fallen grains of St. Elizabeth’s
Contemplatives to death.
How do you express the grief
How can you not withhold the tears,
And stammer in disbelief?

Such sisters that remain
In faith’s redoubt, be wiser.
To the one and only axiom
Whispered in disdain
By the most unholy miser,
Serpent and deceiver
Intwined in us like phantom
Is something like the id
But deeper, in a falling thud
Like id of idol, idiot and ideology:

Bad spirits always hate holy women

This insipid, ignorant id
In cloth of drag will drag
The habit of the feminine
By hair and brag
Through holy sanctuary
Into its numb and nimble nil,
Nothing-matters-never-always evil
Dreadful lair.
And there, burrow in the marrow
Feed and chew
In order to declare in schism,
Rebellion against His revelation
created against Creator
Using Noah’s colors
As expression of pure cynicism
In a naughty nasty banner
And plant it in haughty manner
In a spirit of fake altruism
On Mt. Cynic far from Horeb
Next to Ebal’s refuge Babel
By the village of the banished Abel
As the flag of tribal triumph
Against the convent and the covenant

Such pale and alabaster demons,
Fall anvil half-again
Emptying heaven of mean-meaning.
Scalping angels dragging
Icarus falls bragging
Waxing pride and spirit,
While diddle Daedalus die Dragon.

Now, in these scribbling rhymes
Of a wounded limping poetry,
It isn’t hard to prove
This general hypothesis:

Bad spirits always hate holy women

But with deepest earnest chivalry
For intellect and virtue
Hope to remove
The worldly spirit-rivalry
And plant a little more humility
That’s sorely missing in our times.
And love,
But only as a wary weary soldier may,
To the defend the perimeter
Of you cloister and virginity.

What follows
Is a study of three cases
Three raps on the convent’s door
And then our time is four
The ugliest of id’s faces.

(To be continued)

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