Discalced Carmelite Friars

Province of St. Therese

Poet and Contemplative

“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

Seven Conversation Poems – Part 1



I.

Seasons of a Soul

Summer

It’s night, and the sky has turned in, wrapped in downy haze.
The oak tree just outside my window sways slightly, beset
By its own singing.  Under my breath my being asserts
That all of it, the whole shebang, must stand still for a moment,
At least till I count to ten.  It smooths itself out, pressing

Against me, needling my heart; then the world steps forward
And begins to wobble on shaky legs—a weightlifter attempting
A clean and jerk, his barbells weighted with too much wonder.
The moment’s become unthinkable, stationed beside, before,
Above, behind, around me; it’s become unthinkably close.

Autumn

Summer is over; the air sparkles again, the edges have returned
To things—to the stars at night, to the moon in a big blue sky.
Crabapples flock beneath the shade of a crabapple tree, while
Sycamores tower over all, their leaves as big as a bear’s paw.

Squirrels crowd round to exchange gossip, each speaking
Out of turn.  I shush them, one by one, my cheeks equally puffy,
Like a cherub afloat on the golden air.  Yes, I am here, too.
Only butterflies can rival the vim and swish of my wings.

Winter

We’re standing under a winter sky, You and I; the wide sweep
Of clouds overhead hesitates, as if the worst possible thing
That could happen were about to happen.  Seeing nothing,
It moves on.  Instead, widely spaced snowflakes begin to fall,

Materializing as if out of thin air.  Yet here they are, swirling
Like feathery gnats.  That the world can be thus remade
One thing at a time, without my even noticing it—the feel of it
Registers in my bones as something altogether, absolutely true.

Spring

A new and gentler arrangement follows, warm as a room
Shot through with sunlight; far away a dripping sound awaits
Its turn on stage.  Today or tomorrow, the day after, the day
After that, I’ll call for it.  Then, like St. Therese herself, spring
Will pop up carrying a ripe bouquet of crocuses in its arms

And a wicker-basket full of yellowish green buds to dress
The mighty oak trees with.  Grass grown perpetually brown
Will again test the air, its fingers slender and green.
As for doubt and hesitation, those two most human of traits—
They have no place here; the fickleness of the heart,

Like a way of life returning for yet another yearly go-round,
Gives way to the sight of a blue sky widely saluting the occasion.
It’s springtime, time for a truly noble vision of life, one worthy
Of Your gifts—A cathedral rises from the sea, bells tolling madly;
Its towering silhouette, like nightfall, moves in and blots out the sun.

Written by Fr. Bonaventure, OCD

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Three Genuflections – Part 3 of 3


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3.  Canticle of St. Francis of Assisi

1.  Most high, all-powerful, benevolent Lord!
All praise and rejoicing,
Honor and sublimity are Yours!
To You alone do earth’s wonders belong,
And no mortal dares profane them.

2.  Oh, praise to You, Lord our God, for all Your creatures:
First, for our dear Brother Sun—
He gives us his radiance by day,
Filling each hour with his light:
Boundless, and in brilliance unstinting,
He bears Your very likeness, O Lord.

3.  And for our Sister Moon,
Wearing her wreath of stars—
With wonder at her spectacle
We praise You, O Lord.

4.  And for Brother Wind,
Who bestows fair skies or stormy weather,
Driving heaven’s varied moods from day to day—
By him You nourish the earth
And its countless greens and golds:
May harvesters praise You with song, O Lord.

5.  And Sister Water, without whom we die—
Though freely given, she is really priceless,
Refreshing all irrepressibly
As she glides forth clear and pure:
With hands and hearts washed clean
We praise you, O Lord.

6.  For Brother Fire,
Who brightens the blackest night—
With such beauty and vigor,
Unconquerable, his lance advances,
His breastplate flickering bravely:
Amazement lifts our praise to You, O Lord.

7.  And Mother Earth,
Who cradles us in her arms,
Feeding us with her rich fare—
With flowery fields and fern-strewn forests
She fills our souls:
Our very lives praise you, O Lord.

8.  For those who love with Your own love,
Seeming unburdened as they bear up
Under sickness or sorrow—
Happy those who so journey in peace
As You lead them home to You:
For Your care for us we praise You, O Lord, 

9.  And for our Sister Death,
Whose coming is unstoppable—
Stern her look for those ill-prepared to meet her,
But a friend for those who welcome her readily,
They whom the Second Death shall pass over:
With trusting hearts we praise you, O Lord.

10.  Yes, all Your creatures
Praise and exalt You, Lord—
They give You unbounded, unceasing thanks,
Serving You with their whole heart, each in its way:
AS ONE WE PRAISE YOU, O LORD.

Written by Fr. Bonaventure Sauer, OCD
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Three Genuflections - Part 2 of 3



2.  Prayer in St. Anselm’s Chapel, Canterbury Cathedral

God, All-knowing Father,
Your Spirit finds shelter in our hearts
Urging us to seek the untarnished splendor of the good,
The sure way of the true, the pure elation of the beautiful.

Awaken Your Spirit within us to illumine and uplift
All thinkers, poets, writers, novelists, musicians, craftsmen, artists.

In all things true and good and beautiful that issue from their hands
May Your name ring forth throughout creation;
May You delight once more in this Eden of Yours, our earth.

We ask this through Jesus Christ Your Son,
Whose holiness is Your holiness among us.

Written by Fr. Bonaventure Sauer, OCD
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Three Genuflections – Part 1 of 3


Image by Pexels from Pixabay

1.  An Early Christian Hymn
~Phil 2:6-11

Though He bore the condition of a god,
Jesus did not consider being equal to God
Something to insist on.

Instead, He let it go and stepped down,
Accepting the condition of a slave
Like that of any human being;

And sharing also in our sinful state,
He further humbled himself,
Becoming subservient even to death
—Indeed, death by crucifixion.

For this reason God greatly exalted Him,
Shouting forth His name
Louder than any other name,

So that at the name of Jesus
Every knee must one day bend
—In heaven, on earth, and under the earth—

And every tongue one day confess
That He, Jesus Christ, is Lord
To the glory and grandeur of God the Father.

Written by Fr. Bonaventure Sauer, OCD
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