Saving Berlin

K.E. Cybulski

The Haus der Wannsee-Konferenz is disconcertingly beautiful. Healthy maple trees frame the shining white façade of this almost century-old German villa as well as its lush gardens. A short walk down the road leads to the shore of the Wannsee itself, a lake bespeckled during the warmer seasons with sailboats and swimmers. Wannsee is lovely, which can be unsettling. How can such beauty grace a town with so ignominious a past? [Read more...]

Humility

J.B. Toner

How many times, I wonder, have I prayed
 With all my waning strength for some one grace,
 One desperate panacea to efface
The miseries that make my faint hopes fade—
How many nights have passed in my despair
 Before I found the wits and faith to see
 The providential serendipity
Whereby the Lord ignores and answers prayer?
 For, peering out from terror’s shroud voluminous,
   At last I realize that what I ask
 Is not in keeping with the soul-wyrd numinous
   Which glows within my heart behind doubt’s mask—
 But when at last I glimpse His purpose luminous,
   I bow before my long-appointed task.

[Read more...]

Calling Cupertino

Joseph M. Barbato

The building is burning and I’m inside. Somewhere on the townhome’s third floor a small girl is screaming. She won’t live unless we find her.

We’re two in and two out. The guys outside unroll a hose and hit hot spots, and the new guy is with me. We’re in full turnout gear: yellow helmet and face shield, hood, gloves, jacket, pants, and breathing apparatus. A thirty-pound tank and a bag of rope are strapped to my back. I carry an axe. [Read more...]

A Timeless Embrace

John A. Di Camillo

Unfettered spontaneity of the escalating breeze
Whistling wisps of tingling excitement
Flying clouds of rapid torsion tying tighter
Azure world now clear, once gray, now white, now black
Shimmering splatters of weightless power
Pulling, pushing, twirling, hurling, lifting, soaring—CRACK!
A slice of chaotic light.
An instant.
A distant rumble groaning briefly.
Soaked and startled earth now cools with fading winds.
Blackened sky now gray, once white, now clear azure.
Caprice of the stratosphere. [Read more...]

Teresa

Sarah DeCorla-Souza

You called yourself a pencil in the hand
of God. You were slick like an arrow, sharp,
poignant with truth. Like Mary to our Martha,
you chose the better part, washing the sick and half-
dead, even when your prayers seemed to crumble
like ash, and your God turned blank and silent. [Read more...]

Joy

J.B. Toner

And when I lift my blinking gaze to You,
   Your Resurrection I begin to share—
   In seconds all that’s desolate turns fair,
The louring skies flash instantly to blue,
I sprint, leap, fly, all tireless, through the globe,
   On zephyrs with my brother birds I ride,
   And dance on soaring crests of foaming tides,
Restored by just one touch, Lord, of Your robe.
 I am not meant, perhaps, to comprehend
   Why rue-smoke palls the sunlight half the time;
 But goodness is so good, such strength it lends,
   That I can still believe some plan divine
 Will someday somehow make us whole again—
   For now it is enough Your sun still shines.

[Read more...]

King Saul

Michael Doyle

“Twenty minutes, Saul. You promised,” she says from the other room. A weak cry follows and then her weary voice again, “Hush now, hush… Daddy’s going any minute. Belly’ll be all swollen soon, then sleep, sleep.”

Eighty push-ups. Not too bad. Saul rises to his feet and faces the mirror. Only the table lamp is on because he looks more chiseled that way, his skin smooth again. He brings his wiry arms in toward his bare chest, admiring the oily sheen that clings to his body. He bites his lip, clenches his fists, then holds his hands loose by his side. Try to be loose tonight. Jaw loose, fingers trembling. [Read more...]

Gazing into the Abyss

J.B. Toner

This painless life has been too little blest,
 Too little in true suffering immersed—
 Of all disease is comfort not the worst,
For one who seeks a cause, a cross, a quest?
Yet one who treads the road of holiness
 Leans perilously near a brink accurs’d:
 For vampire-slayers oft are bitten first,
And exorcists are oftenest possessed.

[Read more...]

Pursuing the Sacred in Art

Daniel Balan

A picture is worth a thousand words.
-Unknown origin

“There are two ways of expressing things; one is to show them crudely, the other is to evoke them with art.”
-Henri Matisse

Every mark is a kind of word—-a communicative record or sign of one’s presence or of an event. Whether footprint or fingerprint, scratch or signature, the identity of the originator is embedded in the mark, becoming an individual’s “I am” left behind for others to see. Humanity’s first marks developed into pictures that conveyed ideas or concepts that represented real things. Thus the visual, the conceptual, and the real were closely connected. Writing developed from these images and so the origins of written language are in art. A work of art, like a written word, remains a mark of the originator’s identity. These early marks, both word and art, were both sign and symbol, conveying ideas as well as evidence of life and existence. These were man’s first attempt at immortality: words that outlive their originator. [Read more...]

Celibacy and the Eucharist

Rev. Pang Joseph Shiu Tcheou

As a transitional deacon eagerly awaiting priestly ordination this past year, I was confronted with the challenge (amidst many others!) of attempting to finish my last significant academic work: my Master of Arts thesis. Fortunately, the topic that I chose was one that is very intimately connected to the destiny that the Lord had mapped out for me: priestly celibacy. Studying the history and theology of priestly celibacy not only allowed me to hand in something substantial and of value to the seminary as part of my Master of Arts program but was, providentially, a beautiful way for me to meditate on and prepare for the incredible life that awaited me. In the little essay that follows, I would like to share the heart of this thesis and how, as a priest ordained for less than three months, I have humbly come to see the beauty and the glory that is the priesthood, lived out in celibate and chaste love. [Read more...]