Non-Commissioned Altarpieces for the Seven Churches of the Apocalypse Revelation

Five (Stories)

Africa, mother of all the living
Nightly news negates
The glorious history
Of the motherland.

People clothed in fabulous shades of black,
Fired by tribal tribulations,
Chiding children
To hack hands from gentle farmers and
Nudging nuns into the consensual burning of Tutsis,
Hutu terrorists,
In conventional, conventual barns.

Raped women, castrated men,
And Christ eternal
Litter the landscape of the savannah
With blood,
Bones, and
The broken heart of darkest Africa.

She cannot condone the slaughter of the Veldte
Nor the eradication of the apes.

But she is still
A victim of Eve’s hate filled offspring,
And begging for birth of the new Adam
To a new Eve.

Dennis McNally, SJ
2003, 2005, 2008

Cry for Argentina

After a poem of Alicia Partnoy

The mother of a disappeared
Tried to enter the cathedral,
On the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires,
Argentina, to pray.

Finding it locked,
She asked the bishop,
To open it
So she could pray to Jesus, as was her custom.

“Well no, Madam,
see all these madres and abuelas
protesting the disappearances?
They try to get in to rest.
We have to protect the church
From them.”

“You should be ashamed, Monse├▒or;
you have disappeared the Christ.

Cover Him with a thick cloth,
especially His eyes,
so He can’t see this shameful thing.

These mothers identify with the Virgin of the Rood,
Maria de la pieta;

Their sons and daughters are the Christ.

Their blood, like His,
Drips ruby,
Sapphire,
Emerald,
Adamantine,
Ultramarine,
Pleas, prayers, and pledges,

For goodness to reign
In the kingdom of God,
In their nation of sun and false carneval├ęs.
And He dies with their kids so we can live?

Dennis McNally, SJ
February 19, 2008

Centurion

So, Centurion, you put your sword into His side,
Saw the blood and water,
Knew He was dead,
And decided surely this is the “son of God.”

Is that something all the Jews call themselves?
Or is it something special for a Roman?
Did you then think that He, because of His honesty, integrity,
Strength, or just even His physical beauty,
Was godly like a Caesar?

And now, how come you are so full of energy and why,
With sword raised and dripping with His blood,
Are you so poised for penetration of any deviant
With a mind to do His body harm?

Is there something now newly sacred in this dead thing,
Which evoked no self-sacrifice from you when He needed it?
Now, full of insight and courage,
Why do you care?
Why do you risk everything,
Career, creed, caution, and
Credibility?

There is so much at stake, you know,
When you fall for the dead,
They do not fill your longing with embraces
Nor do they stand behind you in battle,
Except in some mysterious mystical way
That you can ignore
And even doubt.

So, whence comes this heedless guardianship?
Have you found something more precious than any dream you’d ever had?
Are you full of a vision, now?

What would you do to me — for Him?
Or I to you?

He does seem so holy and so fully human, hanging on that cross,
No matter where I see the image, I remember how grateful I am.
I am full of the awareness that I don’t deserve this salvation.
I think I could bear my sword,
Bare my soul, and
Risk it all for Him, too, now…

Dennis McNally, SJ
April 02, 2008

All These Broken Bones

All these broken bones,
The inner bones, the ones that hold the boney bones together,
These are the bones banging rhythms of magical music.
I can hear their songs sung among my confreres
in this support group. We knit our bones together
with the heartfelt weft and warp
of compassion and understanding.

The heart of Jesus,
Broken over and over in the bosom of His Father,
Must beat like these hearts,
Reverberating in syncopation with the majestic music of misery,
remembering pains which have woven dancing men and
careering women into a fabric favoring beautiful
Images of the Father/Mother God, forever.

The Spirit of the Living God,
Her fires quenched, rains lost into a desiccated earth, Her winds whistling Dixie,
Has always been with us, guardian angel-like, in our yearning to be free.
She stays, hums the tunes, helps us ache for the touch of another,
Godly human soul, who will touch our broken bones,
The ones deep inside, with kindness,
And concern.

This rag-tag community of rattled servants ratted-on by the ruffians of the Lord,
Is sure-fire steadfast, softly singing the pain of lonely degradation into songs,
Pains which led to inhuman and godless behaviors, and into recognition.
Finding another brother or sister, we can pour balm,
like sacred chrism, into the wounds of Rachel’s children,
knitting their deepest broken bones,
And she won’t weep for them, anymore.

Dennis McNally, SJ
10 February 2009