Our Lady of Lourdes


I wrote a piece for today’s feast on the Verbum blog. Read my reflections on the Blessed Virgin, popular piety, and our own devotional lives.



Badly Bound

The Rich Young Ruler turned away unhappy

not because he served no god;

his devotion and his zeal were great

he had religion in his heart

and men are made

by their religion

but his religion

finally unmade him

for he made his maker

into his own image


We tell our friends over coffee,

with adamant eyes

and breathy seriousness

our work is our passion

we are changing worlds

shaping lives

good at what we do

and so, made to fit our toil like a glove,

we wear our gloves

on our right hands

in public

and at dinner parties


but we don’t wear them; they wear us.

down cast and heavy laden, our yoke is hard

our burden is wet wool


Where is freedom?

We don’t have it

religion either—

and think this makes us free.

but nakedness is just as bad,

no religion, bad for winter

wrong religion, bad for summer

shivering, sweating,

indifferent the sun stands judge

over self-made men

who make their maker

in their own image


Kyrie Eleison,

look at me

naked from the waste down

the rest of my body strangled

half miserable

full of pride

a Carnival attraction

for good catholics

to gaze upon and laugh.

crossing themselves they say a silent prayer

“Lord, keep me far from folly”

so I pray for them, a patron saint of fools,

We are bound!
and through our binding we had found
the Fundamental,
all our bearing
eating, drinking, clothes for wearing
syllables and definitions
symbols, carvings, prohibitions

Love and language hanging from eternal thread

Feigned release!
We’ve escaped old walls of peace.
This continental
still revolving, cannot loosen
chords tied round our neck and hands
No one to meet our strange demands

We act as though the living were the dead

Come together!
Cursed in any type of weather
For sentimental,
we are pining
for woolen coats with linen lining
And wearing them upon our head
We shiver, burn, and lie in bed

We mix our wine and throw away our bread

Come, O Jesus, bind us right again”