Poem | Ode to Our Lady

for Msgr. Robert Laliberte

 

Mary Queen

An old priest said, “Entrust your prayers to Mary.”
To place my faith in one I had ignored
        was truly gay boy scary.
     Marion Worship I deplored,
add a fourth member to the Trinity?
Our Blessèd Mother is not Infinity.

    But there’s an ancient Irish saying,
    “No prayer to Mary goes unanswered,”
    I redirected all my praying,
intentions vaulted from my modest mansard
        roof to Mary’s ears.
Our Lady slakes our deepest thirsts with tears.

Return to the Louvre

Oremus:  this is the Feast of the Visitation
when Mary, blind-sided by the revelation
of the Holy Spirit’s Angel Gabriel,
walked half a day to Elizabeth to tell
her Miracle.  Six months growing, an unborn boy
in his mother’s womb, The Baptist leapt for joy.

Some thirty years later at the Jordan River
St. John would baptize mankind’s great forgiver.
“This is my Son with whom I am well pleased,”
proclaimed a dove the Holy Spirit seized.
Last night in dream I turned back all my clocks
and knelt before “The Virgin Of The Rocks.”

Our Lady of Guadalupe

I used to think St. John was stoned or tripping,
but now I know his mind was nimbly dipping
into the white bath of the Milky Way,
the twelve stars at her head, the moon she treads
under her feet, the dragon with seven heads,
revelations beyond what tongue can say,
beyond what mortal mind can comprehend
that lead us to our Savior, our fast friend.

Rarely Our Lady chooses to appear
though oftentimes her statues shed a tear.
Tell me, San Juan Diego, let me learn
that visions can’t be rubbed out of a bottle,
that the Christ’s mother, fluent in Nahuatl,
carries a crown of stars that fiercely burn.

Little Magnificat

Theotokos just means Mother of God,
title bestowed in Patmos where the awed
Greek Christians watched her ascend to Heaven
flanked by archangels, whom we number seven.

Lady, you are the portal for each prayer
whispered in my elation or despair
because I am unworthy of your Son,
Domine non sum dignus, orison

spoken in Latin when the Mass has drawn
near to its close, daily at break of dawn.
“Hail Mary full of grace!”  Gabriel said,
a trumpet sennet in a maiden’s head,
a virgin of the Galilean hills.
“Let it be done me as my Father wills.”

Siege of Vienna, 1683
i.m. Fr. Marco da Aviano

King John Sobieski’s artillery
high from the Kahlenberg heaped up their kills.
Then eighteen thousand strong his cavalry
charged the field out of their wooded hills,

the Winged Hussars who fell to Hitler’s panzers.
Some thirty thousand Turkish troops lay mangled,
their infantry, Arabians and lancers.
The Sultan had Vizier Mustafa strangled.

Oh, Black Madonna of Czestochowa,
you swept off every crescent flag unfurled
much as the Flood swept off the ark of Noah.
Without you ours would be a Muslim world,

and St. Peter’s would boast a minaret.
Faithful Poland is praying to you yet.

Published in the March 23, 2018 issue: 
Tags

Timothy Murphy, a frequent contributor to Commonweal, died on June 30 at his home in Fargo, North Dakota. His books include Very Far North (2002), Mortal Stakes and Faint Thunder (2011), and Devotions (2017). Requiescat in pace.

Also by this author
The Nick and Dick Show

Please email comments to letters@commonwealmagazine.org and join the conversation on our Facebook page.

Must Reads

Politics
Religion