Poetic Reflections by Father Lawrence Smith on the Way of the Cross
Words imprisoned starve the hungry tongue:
I am an open mouth awaiting
pow'r of speech to quench my tongue's desire.
Enwomb'd within me is a Myst'ry
threat'ning to devour me in its Fire.
Can there be use for lips until
some kind of Faith impels the will?
My problem is that language falters
if the mind is unconvinced by eyes.
The things that I would say seem foolish
given that my sight so often lies.
Should reason ask that any speak
of matters where each proof is weak?
The silence of thy tombs and voices
is a hunger soon to ever cease.
One Sound will fill all graves and senses
as the Word of God bursts forth in Peace.
Belief will come to eyes and head
"We proclaim Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Greeks; but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the Power of God and the Wisdom of God!" - 1 Corinthians 1:22-24 (see also St. Mark 15:32; St. Matthew 27:54/4:4).
when mouth and heart on Christ are fed!
Earth's last king is dead; long live the King!:
An empty throne now fills the chamber
where the Prince of Darkness once held sway.
The Lord, the King of Glory rightwise
born, will wield His Sword come Judgement Day.
A Regent rules upon the earth
until the Kingdom's final birth.
Where Peter sits amidst his subjects
is reflective of the Master's Chair.
As angels chant around the Father,
all the Church's saints repeat the pray'r:
Rejoice! for ended is the reign
of sin, and Death itself is slain!
When God's creation is perfected
Silence then will cease to be unheard.
Amen! and Alleluia! Jesus,
Prince of Peace, is Heaven's final Word.
'tho' gates of hell thy Faith assail
"Then Death and Hades were thrown into the Pool of Fire: the Final Death!" - The Book of the Apocalypse 20:14 (see also The Apocalypse 7:12; St. Matthew 16:16-19).
against my Love they shan't prevail!
Iesu dixit: CONSUMMATUM EST! (St. John 19:30):
Angelic weeping sends a shudder
through the Heavens, causing earth to quake.
'tho'tis a saddened noise at present,
soon a joyous roar the Dawn will make:
Eternal is the Paschal Feast
of Vict'ry with the great High Priest!
'tis here that Adam's fault grows happy,
not before, and never since - except
where each of us embraces Passion,
there as ever Christ the Cross accepts.
As was foretold the Lord doth save
us from the power of the grave.
Thy tombs will open, and thy seeing,
and thy foes will fall beneath thy feet.
No more will thou succumb to hunger
now the Tree of Life is thine to eat.
Unending hymns Creation sings
"And on the Seventh Day He rested." - Genesis 2:2-3 (see also Genesis 14:18-20; Psalm 109; St. Mark 14:22-26; St. Matthew 27:51-54; St. Luke 23:46).
in praise of Christ, the King of kings!
I, thy nail and beam, and Thou, my Love!:
Along this valley dark and tearful
Thou hast borne me as Thy dearest friend.
'tho' I've been naught but weight upon Thee,
one more thing I beg Thee at this end:
To God the Father as Thy gift
wouldst thou my heart forever lift?
I see a sword in Thy close future,
sharper than the nails that now are Thine;
this crown of brutal wounds Thou wearest -
I beseech Thee, make such glory mine!
It is Thy pain I ask for here,
that I to Thou be ever near.
To thee, O Rood, I grant this mercy:
that the holes in me will grace thy wood.
Thus all who in my footsteps follow
me-on-thee shall name their highest good.
Thy soul shall know its only bliss
"The Lord, your God, carried you as a man carries his child, all along your journey" - Deuteronomy 1:31.
"God did not make death, nor does He rejoice in the destruction of the living…[there is no] domain of the nether world on earth, for justice is undying" - Wisdom 1:13-15. (see Psalm 22:4-6)
when thou for love My Cross do kiss.
Stripped by envy, Christ in Glory clothed:
The brood of Cain has stripped their Brother
of His lowly outer garb. This Son
of Jacob earned the hate of Judah
for refusing greater love to n'one.
Another jealous bastard nigh
poor Joseph's well, alas! am I.
It was an auction, not a murder,
that we planned to carry out today.
We cast the dice and looked for buyers
who sought Father's favor less than pay.
We won some clothing with those rolls
without a thought of losing souls.
O Lord, the birthright of Thy Firstborn
Thou saw fit with insult to conceal.
Thou doth uncloak of shame-filled envy
all Thy dying children to reveal
the sons of God who glory bare
"The Lord looked with favor on Abel…but not on Cain, who greatly resented this and was downcast."
- Genesis 4:4-5 (Also see Genesis 37:1-36; Job 1:21-22; Ecclesiastes 5:14-19; St. John 15:13-17/19:23-24; St. Mark 8:34-38/9:2-7).
when on their hearts the Cross they wear!
Tears that fall demand that others rise:
And Jesus wept. But Martha's brother
heard that sound when all her hopes had died.
'twas not despair the dead man answered
to the one who loved most when He cried.
A daylong Dawn arose the hour
when Resurrection showed His pow'r.
And thou, Jerusalem, who will not
grieve thy little ones' destruction! Woe
is thine both now and coming for thy
stillborn faith in what thou can not know,
which seeks to see 'neath darkened moon,
'tho' blind before the age-long Noon.
And bloody water gushed not only
from His side, but from His sweating head.
Gethsemani became a fountain
whence the garden of the heart is fed.
If thou thy fears would put to flight,
"He was a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief" - Isaiah 53:3. (Also see St. Luke 13:34-35/19:41-44/22:44; 4 Kings 8:11-12; St. John 11:35-36/19:34; Jeremiah 14:17/15:5).
let fall the tears that conquer night.
Those in mourning now shall weep in Joy:
Console me not with words nor with Thy
wish to share my wailing. 'tis my loss
and mine alone, and just alone please
leave me since my life is naught but dross.
No comfort comes from any death,
so spare us both and save Thy breath.
Thou doth expend a wealthy wordage
while inveighing 'gainst thy daughter's sleep.
But such unwisely spends thy substance;
to thyself this vain commotion keep.
Salvation comes, but not for me -
'tis I, not thou, who bears a Tree.
There's dance when pipers play, and dirges
bid thee weep, 'tho' not for those new born.
O Maiden Zion, cease thy sighing,
for thy King doth usher in the Morn.
My children, cry not for My Son;
Why all this weeping and commotion, sweet Rachel - see St. Mark 5:39 and St. Matthew 2:13-23 (and Jeremiah 31:15-17; St. Mark 5:39-41; Zechariah 9:9-10).
rejoice now as My will is done!
Heaven falls that earth might rise again:
It is the Silence of Thy foster
father Joseph which Thine ear upon
the ground now hears. He speaks of nothing
but the duty of a faithful Son
of David, sent to guide the flock
to living waters and the Rock.
'tho' hearts in judgement harden on Stone
Pavement, words the Word made Man hath spoke
will make them flesh, thus feeding thirsting
souls who yearn to keep the word they broke.
Today His Voice is heard as all
the land bears witness to this Fall.
The laws of nature are exacting:
earth is ever under Heaven's rod.
Obeying humbly what the Spirit
teaches raises up the sons of God.
Thou dwellers 'neath celest'al vaults,
"If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts." - Psalm 94:8 (see also Hebrews 3:7-11; Ezekiel 11:19; St. John 19:13-15; Numbers 20:11-13; St. John 19:34-37; St. John 6:62-70; Psalm 45:11; Jeremiah 31:31-34).
be still as each thy Lord exalts!
Each of us is given Christ to give::
A portrait painted by the Master
Whom no other talent could depict
is given to a small collector
of the worthless and the nondescript.
What critics rudely deprecate
true love of art appreciates.
He chose a style of composition
suited best to capture human truth:
A kiss outlined His lips, His sweating
sketched his flesh, through time He drew his youth.
The potter's vessel is a clay
expression of the word, Obey!
His great Self-Portrait was completed
on the canvas of her soul and hands.
Veronica means, Image truly
of the holy life which God commands.
Creation is the place where man
"He is the image of the invisible God, the Firstborn of all creation…[and] in Him the fullness was pleased to dwell, and through Him all things are reconciled to Himself, making peace by the Blood of the Cross." - Colossians 1:15, 19-20 (see also St. John 1:1-18; Ephesians 1:3-10; Philippians 1:6-11; Psalm 2:9).
is privileged to behold My Plan.
Jesus is the Image in us all:
I've often heard it said that soldiers
forced from me a tunic and a mile;
but then some others praise the willing
steps I walked behind Him for a while.
I'll take no credit in that task
since for my help n'one thought to ask.
Between the Lord and swords of warriors
Simon found himself in frightful straits.
To bear with Me this weary burden
neither might nor justice brooks debates.
Salvation's work is God's desire
that Mercy grants what Law requires.
Man's freedom lies in choosing nothing
but to give to all a will that's meek.
The image of the Garden follow
when thy death both earth and Heaven seek.
Ye hearts whom Eden failed to school,
"See for yourself! I have labored only a little, but have found much!" - Ecclesiasticus 51:27 (see St. Matthew 11:28-38; Jeremiah 6:16/7:23-24; Genesis 3:17-19; St. Matthew 26:39-45).
Gethsemani shall be thy rule!
Why hast Thou done so to us, dear Son? (Luke 2:48):
My Son! My Son! The Pearl I've ever
treasured! Why hast Thou forsaken me?!
My swords foretold Thou art there bearing
where this mother's heart would rather be.
If only I could lift that bough
and suffer death as Thou art now.
To trod this Path with thee not on it,
think thou, Woman, that my soul could take?
Amen! I say - as surely as thou
seest me, do thou this journey make.
Forever is the Will Divine
that all I have is also thine!
O Mary, teach this son most wayward
how to walk as Jesus once thou did.
With firm steps would I seek the straight road
which the Father of us all hath bid.
When thou art left the most alone
"And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother: Behold! this Child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign that will be contradicted; and thine own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed" - St. Luke 2:34-35.
thou finds His Parents are thine own.
Christ comes close to hear what Abel said:
O fallen Lord, give heed to Abel
whisp'ring in Thy ear the word that I
have begged through stone and rain and autumn
leaf to hear since man first learned to die.
In righteousness I thirst for blood
e'en tho' of it I've drunk a flood.
Thou speaketh well of what thou can not;
silent are the ones who thee call home.
The word thou craved my death denieth
not, 'tho' else it seems to worms in loam.
How I might say what Life commands
is diff'rent from the world's demands.
Dear Jesus, to the ground Thy burden
weighs Thee, forging man and Heaven's link;
Thy Sacred Heart beseeches sweetly
all the earth Thy Precious Blood to drink.
When sin cries, "Justice!" Mercy hears,
"We approach Jesus and His sprinkled blood which speaks more eloquently than that of Abel." - Hebrews 12:24 (see Genesis 4:10ff).
and thus the Word of God appears.
Where the Cross is Jesus has a friend:
Who gently lies against my bosom,
firm caresses laying in my hands?
Whose presence will not leave a
child an orphan in these mortal lands?
When friends are sources of distress
then foes must be the ones to bless.
Am I the Cross or He who carries
crosses whom no other will take up
and bear? This burden on my shoulder
binds my love to hate as Bread and Cup;
this Road I walk I walk within
sad hearts whose paths are paved with sin.
My Jesus, only one companion
followed Thee from Pilate to the Place
of Skulls, and there alone is certain
to be found the wellspring of Thy Grace!
I would have man stand next to Me
And I looked for one that would grieve together with me, but there was none: and for one that would comfort me, and I found none. - Psalm 68:21 (see St. Matthew 10:38).
by being fasten'd onto thee!
Pilate will succeed where Herod failed:
Thou art a fool, O Pontius Pilate,
thinking that mere water can expunge
the pool of blood thy coward's lying
spills, wherein thy hands and soul now plunge.
Thine efforts to be clean are vain
for all who sin do bear thy stain.
Thus I have found myself belonging
to thy shameful brood. Where Herod miss'd
and thou denied a part, in killing
God, there I with Judas, Christ have kiss'd.
The Babe within the manger bed
from Whom comes Life in me lies dead.
O Jesus, turn the clock to Christmas
where the Via Dolorosa lay
so far from sight. There's not, but let there
be a chance to find some other way.
My child, such foolish thoughts are naught
A sound of lamentation rose from Ramah, and Rachel would not be comforted. - see St. Matthew 2:13-23.
for with His death thy life is bought.