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From the Life: Meeting in Secret 1-7
Poem by Stean Anthony

Meeting in Secret 1

Secretly with mia buona I went
Hooded in a grey cloak
Francis and I sat close together
I told him with my soul I loved Jesus
And willingly could give all to him.

Meeting in Secret 2

We sat together in the late afternoon.
His gentle voice urged me.
We can be with him by leaving the world,
This emptiness and vanity and untruth!
Pray and he will lead you to himself.

Meeting in Secret 3

As we spoke together it was like
I had always known the truth
Jesus in holy poverty the way to heaven
The joy I felt so cool and sweet
Like flowers of spring filled the church.

Meeting in Secret 4 

He read to me from the Gospel.
Have no worry for tomorrow.
Trust in God, he will provide.
The test of faith is in the trust.
Give everything to him and trust his love.

Meeting in Secret 5 

Quietly to me he said cast off the flesh,
And it was no need for him to say,
It was my wish – Given to my soul,
To renounce the earthly part, my cross,
To win heaven day by day forever.

Meeting in Secret 6 

Now I shall tell you a secret
Which I dared not tell myself
In our speech together I fell in love,
When he read the holy words
Francis was Jesus I could see him there.

Meeting in Secret 7

Jesus called me to you,
I was blessed dear Francis
My father and guide
My task to be mother
A world of heaven-daughters.


Guadalupe (December 1531)
The wars had ended at last.
Juan Diego of Tlaltilolco
Climbed the hill of Tepeyac.
Dawn, birds sang in Mexican
So beautifully he thought it was heaven.
My beloved one, Juan Diego.
She shone brightly like shining beads
In a robe of light. Oh I was so happy!
I felt her love so strong it gave me strength.
Juan said, to your house I’m going.
I am Mary, the virgin mother of Jesus.
He is God, one with God, maker of all.
The Lord God is God of sky and earth.
I sorrow for your weeping and will love you.
Build me a sacred house to live in here.
How must I understand this?
It was an appearance of love.
It was the healing offered to suffering.
It was new strength and courage to survive.
Mary came to Mexica. She loved the people.
I went to the Bishop but he said, Bah!
What shall I do? Juan Diego again
Go and tell him (I Mary choose you).
So I went again and he said, Bah!
Give me a sign to know the truth.
Lies, lies they slandered good Juan!
Dear Juan, once again find me here.
To find a priest for one in the family –
I was unwilling but there she was,
All of a sudden standing before me.
In the fold of my mantle
I hold you safe. Why do you fear?
Go to the place you first saw me.
Gather the flowers you find.
Carry them in your tilma (cloak).
Out of season miraculous blossom.
He brought them to her and in her hands
She held them and said, To the Bishop
That he may believe – Mary Holy Mother
Loves the children of forest and plain.
He opened the tilma and flowers cascaded.
On the cloth a perfect image of Mary.
On the floor there were roses.
The room filled with the lovely scent.
The bishop and Juan wept together for joy. 

Lullaby – A Prayer to Mary 


Evening falling on a quiet world,

A day has lifted its wings and flown

I sing to Mary to pray good night

The sun sets and the night comes.


We’ll turn out the lights in the small room,

I sing to Mary to pray good night

Your prayers will turn aside the night

Pray for Poland and all her towns.


Bless our dreams with your gentle prayer,

Visit with kindness those who don’t sleep,

Lighten the shadows of trouble and care,

I sing to Mary to pray good night.


Give strength to those who stand in vigil

In a dark night, and hour of pain.

Ease the passage when the last night comes,

I sing to Mary to pray good night.


Evening falling on a quiet world

Day lifts its sail and disappears.

I sing to Mary to pray good night,

Bless us from Heaven with words of love.



 by Stean Anthony

This lullaby was adapted from an
English translation of a Polish hymn 


My life is but a weaving
between my Lord and me;
I cannot choose the colors,
He worketh steadily.

Oft times He weaveth sorrow,
And I, in foolish pride,
Forget He sees the upper,
And I the under side.

Not 'til the loom is silent
and the shuttles cease to fly,
Shall God unroll the canvas
and explain the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful
in the Weaver's skillful hand,
As the threads of gold and silver
in the pattern He has planned.

He knows, He loves, He cares,
nothing this truth can dim.
He gives His very best to those
who leave the choice with Him.

               Author Unknown

Sonnet to Celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Sister Miriam Duggan, FMSA 1958-2008

Full fifty years have passed since I became
Your Bride, my God, and now I pause to praise
And thank and bless you for the wondrous ways
You led my steps and guided straight my aim.

At first there was the springtime full of flame
And fire and zeal of joyous youthful days.

Then followed summer with its glorious rays
Of your own sunshine, blazoning God's name
As your ambassador to all the world.

But soon the autumn winds their power unfurl'd
And slowed my steps and calmed my youthful zeal,
As winter came my weakness to reveal.

And yet, O Lord, there's naught that's bought or sold
Can equal fifty years of bridal gold.  
                                                                                  Fr. James Good      

 A Crabbit Old Woman?Image
                            Look Closer!

What do you see, nurse, what do you see?
What are you thinking when you are looking at me?
A crabbit old woman, not very wise,
uncertain of habit, with faraway eyes;
Who dribbles her food and makes no reply
when you say in a loud voice "I do wish you'd try!"
Who seems not to notice the things that you do
and forever is losing a stocking or shoe.
Who, resisting or not, lets you do as you will
with bathing and feeding, the long day to fill.
Is that what you're thinking?  Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, you are not looking at me!

I'll tell you who I am, as I sit here so still,
as I rise at your bidding, as I eat at your will.
I'm a small child of 10, with a father and mother,
brothers and sisters, who love one another.
A young girl of 16, with wings on her feet
hoping that soon now, a lover she'll meet.
A bride now at 20 - my heart gives a leap,
remembering the vows I promised to keep.
At 25 now, I have young of my own,
who need me to build a secure, happy home.
A woman of 30, my young growing fast,
bound to each other with ties that should last.
At 40 my sons, now grown, will be gone.
But my man stays beside me so I mourn.
At 50 once more babies play at my knee...
again we know children, my husband and me.

Dark days are upon me, my husband is gone.
My young are all busy raising young of their own.
I'm an old woman now, and nature is cruel.
'Tis her jest to make old age look like a fool.
The body it crumbles.  Grace and vigour depart.
There is now a stone, where I once had a heart.

But inside this old carcase a young girl still dwells
and now and again my battered heart swells.
I remember the joys, I remember the pain;
And I'm loving and living all over again.
And I think of the days, all too few, gone too fast.
I accept the stark fact that nothing will last.

So open your eyes, nurse, open and see
Not a crabbit old woman....       Look closer  --- SEE ME           

         Nurse's Reply...

What do we, you ask, what do we see?
Yes, we are thinking when looking at thee!
We may seem to be hard when we hurry and fuss -
But there's many of you, and too few of us.

We would like more time to sit by you and talk,
To bath you, and feed you and help you to walk,
To hear of your life, and the things that you've done
Your childhood, your husband, your daughter, your son.
But time is against us, there's so much to do.
Patients - too many; and nurses - too few.

We grieve when we see you so sad and alone
With nobody near you, no friends of your own.
We feel all your pain, and know of your fear
That nobody cares, now your end is so near.

But nurses are people, with feelings as well.
And when we're together you'll often hear tell
Of the dearest Old Gran in the very end bed
And the lovely old Dad, and the things that he said.

We speak with compassion, and love, and feel glad
When we think of your lives, and the joy that you've had.
When the time has arrived for you to depart,
You leave us behind with an ache in our heart.

When you sleep the long sleep, no more worry or care -
There are other people, - and we must be there.
So please understand if we hurry and fuss...
There are many of you, and too few of us.

                                                              Phyllis McCormack

Zambian Mother

Abject poverty,
incredible endurance,
struggle upon struggle
to make ends meet,
to fill hungry mouths
and live to see another day.                                            zambian mother1.gif
In the long queue
for a bag of mealie-meal
with baby on back
chitenga wrapped,
When the rains had failed;
on the bushpath basket-crowned
to and from the market
in barter trade;
on the roadside
seated in blazing sun
hawking mats, coloured carpets
and earthenware;
in her sweat-garden
swinging her heavy hoe,
or later in a good year
with pestle in double grip
pound-pounding her maize;
trudging home from the forest
with a pile of firewood on her head;
in her mud hut at night wondering
where the next meal will come from
to forestall children's piteous plaints
and the beckoning grave.
Zambian mother.
Brave, brave,
incredibly brave.

And the eight wonder of the world
the smile on her face.
                                                                              Liam O hAinle - (Brother Bill) 
                                                                                         Livingstone  (1998)

Elegy for a Tree

Huge tree, older than all of us - more than 200 years.
Now you lie dormant forever
Giving off heavy, musty fragrance,
Providing huge logs a-plenty.

They tell us that a tribe of white-chested, fluffy-tailed, warriors
Swarmed out of your so-available rotted hollows,
Before axe, machines and men attacked your upper stems.
How many families of first red, then grey squirrels
Called you Mother, Shelter, Strong Protector and Birth Chamber?

And myriads of large and tiny winged things, colourful relics of the dinosaurs -
birds of all kinds and their young,
nested in your protective boughs,
flew to you for view, rest or pleasure.

We hated to see you go, along with parts of our cemetery's wall
Which you gathered in your great fall.
I heard "Hurrah!" as you fell, and whispered
"How soon bright things come to confusion":

Confusion of branches, limbs, trunk, workmen, buzz-saw, fork-life
and homeless animals.
These "other-evoluted" creatures had once huddled together
hearing the great gales blow, 'mid thund'rous rain,
chattering quietly as God's wrath and wonder swept around:
"Safe as a house" inside.  Not now.

Now quiet beauty lost, beauty gained,
Your "Giving" not over but sustained.
As plans are made for gorgeous, sky-lighting fires, furniture,
and strong solid door posts and frames.
("Giving" is every creature's destiny
Till the last sigh as earth receives her dower back.)

From my perch here, men like bees, swarm to gather your nectar
Yet you saw history unfurl before their births. 
Over 200 years of struggle, peace, Plunketts, McNeil, Kevina and her troops,
or rebels and fugitives frantically hiding
and long before:
Saint Oliver hid in the fields.

Once you were young, silent tree pleading to the stars for Peace,
and immigrants, those finding new homes in Australia,
the States, Canada and even Argentina.
The brave, who stayed, while you grew taller,elegy for a tree.jpg sent forth branches, as indeed Irish "family trees" did
from one generation to the next.

Today your spirit flies like chips
as you lay on this hallowed ground,
awaiting ultimate death and sacrifice.
Finally comes the "burning of the stump"
and beechy fragrance fills all our corridors,
a surprising incense received with gratitude:
A scent most satisfying and appropriate.

                                                              Sr. Jane Carroll, FMSA
                                                                                   Mount Oliver, Dundalk  

A Missionary "Nunc Dimittis"

Lord it is time for me to go home
I want it to be a quiet, peaceful going, as you promised:
No fuss, no bother, just to slip away quietly.
And I go away happy, Lord for
Beyond my wildest dreams
My eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared
In the sight of many peoples; the Turkanas, the Pokots
The Baganda and the rest.
I have seen your light shine in the darkness,
I have shared the lives of your light-bringers, your Missionaries;
I have shared their joys, their sorrows and their love.
I have seen your glory as you joined the nations
To your Chosen Israel, the people you have made your own.
And it is time for me to go, Lord
Time to go home to you.
And as I go, my prayer
is that I shall meet them all again
In the Kingdom where your missionaries will receive
The hundred-fold you promised to those
who would leave everything - even their very selves -
That they might be your witnesses
In Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria,
And even to the farthest of earth's bounds.
Lord, it is time for me to go
And may my going be in peace.

                                                                                   Father James Good

Quo Vadis?

I walk along the bush-path
As the sun goes down.
"Where are you going, bwana?"
"Nowhere anawana."
Everybody else is going somewhere
save children making curios out of clay
or steering wirewagons over anthill ground.
The woman with basket of mangos on her head
and bouncing baby on her back
is homeward bound, as is the man with the sack
of mealie-meal on his shoulder from Livingstone town.
Nightwatchman to his beat and nurse to her hospital round
The lilting lad on his log-laden bike
espies a lass crowned with swaying mat
waltzing on her way to Maramba market, and greets her   quo vadis.gif with hand on heart and gracious bow.
Grandad is hastening to the beer-hall
to slake his chronic thirst,
while his consort trudges home
having haltingly hoed her pound.
Passengers wave as the Lusaka train
goes whistling by, with dogs yowling
in Namatama, startled by the sound.
But I, with no sack on my shoulder,
nor hoe in my hand
just walk along the bush-path
as the sun goes down.
As I step out I'm out of step
And am sometimes met with flurried frown.
No transport here but bike and barrow,
walking is for living, every step must count.
"Nowhere, anawana,
I'm just walking along the bush-path
to see the sun going down."

                                                            Liam O hAinle

Take Them As You Find Them

Don't disturb yourself about
  Fair or stormy weather;
Squalls must sometimes whistle around
  When people live together.
Some will smile, and some will frown
  You need never mind them;
Travel on as best you can,
  Take them as you find them.

You are peacefully inclined,
  And you sometimes wonder
Why the restless souls delight
  In exciting thunder,
Rushing hastily along,
  Clouds of dust behind them,
Never follow in their track
  Take them as you find them.

Some are of a different stamp,
  Quiet, deep and clever.
(Well!  You know sincerity
  Is canonized forever).
Nature first, and habit then,
  Crookedly inclined them.
Don't investigate them much
  Take them as you find them.

Pass a little grievance by,
  Don't appear to heed it;
Be as helpful as you may,
  Kind to those who need it.
Never flatter, never try
  Skillfully to wind them
To your own peculiar view
  Take them as you find them.

They may think you very wrong;
  You may think they wander;
Charity will whisper then,
  "Better not to ponder".
Actions wear a different look
  When motives are assigned them;
Keep your eyes upon yourself
  Taking them as you find them.

                                 Richard Cardinal Cushing (Archbishop of Boston)


I dreamt death came the other night
And heaven's gate swung wide;
An Angel with a halo bright
Ushered me inside.

And there!  To my astonishment,
Stood folks I'd judged and labeled:
As "quite unfit"; "of little worth"
And "spiritually disabled".

Indignant words rose to my lips,
But never were set free,
For every face showed stunned surprise,
No one expected ME!