Month: September 2015

Litany on Yom KIppur

From a different tradition, so powerful and moving, posted by the poet Charles Bernstein:

As we near the close of our High Holy Day services for
5776, in these last hours of the Day of Atonement, Yom
Kippur, let us say the litanies of confession, oshamnu:

We are filled with guilt, we have been in
bad faith, we have transgressed
against others and we have mouthed
lies. We have tolerated evil and prodded
our hands to violence; we have been
presumptuous, broken trusts, caused hatred
and resentment, framed falsehood;
We have counseled in self-interest, we have
failed in promise, we have scoffed
the powerless, minded the powerful, and blasphemed
against hope; we have rebelled too
little against injustice, we have been
selfish and arrogant, we have oppressed;
We have done badly, we have
corrupted ourselves and committed abominations;
we have gone astray and have led astray;

We have turned aside from our collective
good and it has availed us not at all.

But you are right in
all that has become us,
you have acted truthfully
but we have wrought
despair. What shall we say
before you, who dwell
within, and what shall we
recount to you, who abide
in the heavenly and know
all things, hidden and
not hidden?

May it be our will to forgive and be
forgiven, may we grant, and be granted,
remission for all our transgressions.


This is the 18th section of “A Person Is Not an Entity Symbolic but the Divine Incarnate” from The Sophist (1987). (The Hebrew year has been updated.) The poem is a revisioning (and reversing) of the Yom Kippur prayer of confession (also spelled “Ashamnu”).
In Hebrew, each of the 24 confessions begins with a different letter of the alphabet (with the last letter repeated).


Disruptive prophet in our time

From Mark Binelli’s Rolling Stone article on Pope Francis ahead of the visit to America

Boehner’s enthusiasm might have slightly dampened had the pope been able to enter the U.S. the way he’d originally hoped — via Mexico, crossing the border as a show of solidarity with immigrants. The idea was ultimately nixed because of logistical and scheduling difficulties. But the fact that it was floated at all is yet another illustration of Pope Francis’ brilliant understanding of his own power as a disrupter. During the two and a half years of his papacy, the unscripted, often radical words and actions of the pope have thrilled believers and nonbelievers alike, on a scale no contemporary religious leader other than the Dalai Lama has approached. “People who’ve thought of the church as the incarnation of evil at worst or the Easter Bunny with real estate at best have been telling me, ‘I love your pope!’ ” says Michael Sean Winters, a columnist at the National Catholic Reporter. And yet many conservative American Catholics — in particular, politicians — have found themselves unmoored by Pope Francis’ profound tonal shift.



The Eucharist as source of love

Reading Pope Benedict VXI’s address on The Eucharist and Love from September 2005:

Continuing with the reflection on the Eucharistic mystery, heart of Christian life, today I would like to emphasize the bond between the Eucharist and charity. Love — “agape” in Greek, “caritas” in Latin — does not mean first of all a charitable act or sentiment, but the spiritual gift, the love of God that the Holy Spirit infuses in the human heart and that leads in turn to giving oneself to God himself and to one’s neighbor.

The whole of Jesus’ earthly existence, from his conception until his death on the cross, was an act of love, to the point that we can summarize our faith in these words: “Jesus, caritas” — Jesus, love. In the Last Supper, knowing that his hour had come, the divine Master gave his disciples the supreme example of love, washing their feet, and entrusted to them his precious legacy, the Eucharist, in which the whole paschal mystery is centered, as the venerated Pope John Paul II wrote in the encyclical “Ecclesia de Eucharistia.” Take and eat, all of you, because this is my Body,” “Take and drink all of you, because this is the cup of my Blood.”

Jesus’ words in the cenacle anticipated his death and manifested the consciousness with which he faced it, transforming it into a gift of himself, in the act of love that gives itself totally. In the Eucharist, the Lord gives himself to us with his body, with his soul and with his divinity, and we become one with him and among ourselves.

Our response to his love therefore must be concrete, and must be expressed in a genuine conversion to love, in forgiveness, in reciprocal acceptance and in attention for the needs of all. Many and varied are the forms of service that we can offer our neighbor in everyday life, if we pay a little attention. The Eucharist becomes in this way the source of the spiritual energy that renews our life every day and, in this way, renews the love of Christ to the world.