Wednesday, March 29, 2017



Mary sang like falling snow
and loved like violins
at the wedding of love and sorrow
in Bethlehem.

Angels crashed bewildered skies
and stars blazed into hymns,
but Mary looked in Jesus' eyes
in Bethlehem.

The night got down upon its knees,
the moon with wonder dimmed
when Mary laid her Jesus down
in Bethlehem.

Back in the bright and noisy inn,
the keeper's head was grim
for Mary's face burned in his heart
in Bethlehem.

And all love has a wound in it,
but joy with tears can limn
since the wedding of love and sorrow
in Bethlehem.

Mother M Francis PCC
Friar. December 1957
Used with permission

From 'A Silence full of bells'


(Concerning Seven other Sorrows)

They said: "He has a devil!" Jesus - whom you
had known announceD by angel, had heard sung
by sky-flung host of angels on that night
in Bethlehem, and would hear told by angels:
"Risen! He is risen. Not here, He!"
                                                                          It was the crushed grape of your heart 
                                                  first ran our wine of joy.

Or when familiar brow of hill grew furrowed
to knolls of anguish that men should lay claim
on nature's loyal innocence to cast Him
over and down, lest sound of truth be heard
by townsmen of Him, traitorous cousinry,
                                                                          It was the crushed grape of your heart 
                                                  first ran our wine of joy.

Counted over and over in your loving
were twelve, a dozen in solicitude
of you for them; food, sandals, lodging rest.
before the Supper was not intuition
already, Mother, yours? One shall betray Him.
                                                                          It was the crushed grape of your heart 
                                                  first ran our wine of joy.

What sword of sorrow pierced your listening love,
to hear Him cry: "I thirst" who once had nursed Him
with substance of yourself? What now to give
save substance of your willing of your Cross-stand
improvident but for love's partnering.
                                                                          It was the crushed grape of your heart 
                                                  first ran our wine of joy.

"Let Him come down! He cannot save himself!"
How cruel drumbeats on your memory,
O Mother of many liftings to your breast
a Child too small to save himself from falling,
grown now to cross's hoisting past your arms.
                                                                          It was the crushed grape of your heart 
                                                  first ran our wine of joy.

That was the whole world's weeping face laid in your
Pieta'-ed lap when Peter's face went down
into your lap of mercy and you were
first made Queen of Confessors to first pope
needing your healing hand on memory.
                                                                          It was the crushed grape of your heart 
                                                  first ran our wine of joy.

We search our joy and find its price too high.
Wine without treading down's the drink we seek,
and all in vain unless you teach us, Mother:
                                                                          It was the crushed grape of your heart 
                                first ran our wine of joy.

Mother M Francis PCC
Summon Spirit's Cry. San Fancisco:Ignatius Press.
(c) 1996. Mother M Francis PCC. All rights reserved. 
Used with permission

From 'A Silence full of bells'



When thou mad'st God a flesh to wear
and gave Him two small eyes to see
earth-craft He did some aeons back,
thou madest laughter, too, Marie.

Our mirth grew strong within thy womb
along with that small Saviour sweet,
and all our songs were born that night
a little God lay at thy feet.

Sorrow we had full-plenteous
without thee, and we found the way
of lonely pain with never need
for thy dear hand to beck or stay;

But singing and laughter only came
when thou agreedst to queen the earth
and heavens too, with mothering
alike our Saviour and our mirth.

Cause of our music and our glee,
Lady, our joy glows all from thee!
Mother of all felicity
that ever wast or shall e'er be.

Mother M Frances PCC
Cord. January 1956
Used with permission

From 'A Silence full of bells'



Swifter than jet-cleaved air is ribboned, love flies
by flawless automatics of the heart
back to this hour, girl, and angel, curving
wings of its own against her lifted face.

Here is the home of ours and of ages
toward which time groped, and flowing eternities.
Ever will love return and close this hour,
warm on its starkest cry and brightest song.

Haven and hangar built by God for hostel
on the macadam bleakness of whatever
threatens or comes, love praises best this hour
with petals of silence strewn along its lintel.

Mother M Francis PCC
Spirit. 1962-63
Used with permission

From 'A Silence full of bells'

Sunday, March 19, 2017



The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary
that the Creator of heaven and earth
uncontainable in creation
bethought to enfold Himself now in a lily-flower,
the angel of the Lord avowed unto Mary
that God had fallen enraptured
on seeing immaculateness
and desired to encase Himself in it.

And she conceived by the Holy Ghost
the Inconceivable.
She composed by the Holy Ghost
Love's unutterable rhapsody.
Mary wove on the ghostly loom
the seamless robe of salvation.

And behold! The handmaid of the Lord
being handmaid, cannot retrench her pledge*
though her dream of being serving maid
to the elect beyond all others
is thrown into unspeakable juxtaposition.
The handmaid of the Lord
must wait on His will
even if it declares her blessed to all generations.

So it was done unto Mary by the Word
Gabriel caught from the lips of God.
By the Word generated in the bosom of the Father,
proceeding into very life and love,
it was done unto the handmaid of the Lord.

And the Word was made flesh in that moment
from which all other moments take their place
as being before or after,
the Word was made son of a virgin,
Flesh of her lily-flesh,
God was a quick pulsing under the maiden's heart.

And he dwelt among us in that initial moment,
the beginning of redemption in a city of Galilee.
There would be shouting throngs
at redemption's culmination,
protesting, sorrowing men at its ascendant sequel,
tongues of fire and rushing wind
at its paracletic achievement.
But now was redemption's beginning, silent, serene,
Secret of archangel and a girl.

Mother M Francis PCC
Marian Library Collection. Used with permission

*The angel of the Lord (declared unto Mary)
*Luke 1:38

From 'A Silence full of bells'



Come forth from the holy place,
sweet Child,
come from the quiet dark
where virginal heartbeats
tick your moments.

Come away from the red music
of Mary's veins,
come out from the Tower of David
sweet Child,
from your House of Gold.

Leave your lily-cloister,
leave your holy mansion,
quit your covenant ark.
O Child, be born!

Be born, sweet Child,
in our unholy hearts.

Come to our trembling,
helpless Child.
come to our littleness,
little Child,
be born unto us
who have kept the faltering vigil.
Be given, be born,
be ours again.

Come forth from your holy haven,
come away from your perfect shrine,
come to our wind-racked souls
from the flawless tent,
Sweet Child.

Be born, little Child,
into our unholy hearts.

Mother M Francis PCC
Friar. November 1957
Used with permission

From 'A Silence full of bells'



Lady, what songs are bending
the tall grasses of your mind,
what secret music whispers down your veins,
what wax-leaf ponderings, O Virgin Mary,
waken our little shouts of expectation?

Our thoughts have lumbered down a treeless highway,
have sputtered their heavy loftiness, have wept
their protest. Now we hear the distant birdcall
Oh, dimly! But the woods have heard it well.
The stars are singing in their stupefaction,
the giddy little hills are clapping hands.

But Lady, what songs sway
the supple grasses of your thoughts,
what secret music whispers down your veins?

Glorious things are said about this city
where the small citizen Christ moves in the lanes
of so-brief arteried comfort; but what songs
drift through this templed alabaster town?

We see the windows lighted, Virgin Mary,
City of God, by every hymn we raise
with chipped and broken voices, and our feeble
vision guesses sacred silhouettes.

But when the little Seed fell in the furrow,
the warm and spotless furrow of your heart,
tell us what pure songs stirred your delicate wonder,
what secret music whispered down your veins.

Mother M Francis PCC
Friar. November 1955
Used with permission

*Advent: a period of four weeks which mark both the beginning of the Church's liturgical year and a time of penance in preparation for Christmas.



Many times have I fallen today, Mother dear,
Many graces neglected, since last I knelt here;
Wilt thou not in pity, my own Mother mild,
Ask Jesus to pardon the sins of thy child?

I am going to rest, for the day's work is done, 
Its hours and its moments have passed one by one;
And the God Who will judge them has noted them all,
He has numbered each grace, He has counted each fall.

In His book they are written against the last day,
O Mother, ask Jesus to wash them away;
For one drop of His Blood which for sinners was spilt,
Is sufficient to cleanse the whole world of its guilt.

And if ere the dawn I should draw my last breath,
And the sleep that I take be the long sleep of death,
Be near me, dear Mother, for dear Jesus' sake,
When my soul on Eternity's shore shall awake.

Sunday, March 12, 2017



Where tortured atoms writhe beneath the scalpel
of our investigations, I see her coming,
branches of flowering pity in her arms,
healing the day with glances. And the atoms
fall down to kiss her feet, and are made whole.

I hear the clash of prophecies converging
on the faint stir of Life beneath her heart
down our loud boulevards, I see her coming.
lift up your heads! Blow all your factory whistles!
and point the hour on your telechrons!

Not to Ain Karim.* To the laboratories
where astronauts sit trim in new space jackets,
I see her coming, space held in one hand,
her smile forgiving all the bright moon-rockets
their errors, with the moon beneath her feet.

Girl of Isaias' vision, could he see you
carry your Son into our plastic jungles
and cure our tuneless music with your singing?
Hour Isaias never dreamed is striking;
under the neon lights, I see her coming!

Lift up your heads! You tall TV antennae,
lean down and prostrate for her coming! Jet planes,
hum the glad antiphons of our redemption.
Once over hills, now through the chromium maze,
the young girl light with Child shall come and save us.

Mother M Francis PCC
Spirit. 1962-1963
Used with permission

*Traditionally the home town of Mary's cousin Elizabeth.

From 'A Silence full of bells'



O gentle maid, O lovely-hearted woman,
sprung from the seed of patriarchs and kings,
conceived immaculate,* divinely destined Virgin!
O mystic rose, the overshadowing Wings

Above thy listening soul stood on that day
when God leaned down to touch His earth with grace,
and planted in thy womb, its tendrils curled,
the living Vine of love; thy radiant face
was rapture-thrilled. The careless world went on
nor knew the miracle was wrought. Thy word,
"Behold the handmaid of the Lord! His will
be done," a breathless heaven, adoring, heard;

and knelt unto its tabernacled God
made flesh beneath thy pure heart's virgin-shrine
forever blessed and reverenced art thou:
Love's covenant and pledge, Love's seal and sign.

Sister M Faith OP
Anthonian. April 1957

*Reference to the Catholic teaching that the Blessed Virgin was free from the stain of original sin from the moment of her conception

From 'A Silence full of bells'



As eyes that love grow tender after tears,
so sorrow gives the hand a gentle touch;
then, Mother of all Sorrows, still the fears
that hold the world in unrelenting clutch.
Sustain the weak, and calm unquiet hearts
and minds as restless as the shifting sand.
more potent far than all the finer arts,
is vibrant language of the heart and hand.
O give them courage now to dig the field
and gather fruits of labour, trusting God.
Beyond all thought will be the harvest yield;
for lifeless wheat will blossom at His nod,
as limpid water crimsoned into wine,
to show the power of the Living Vine.

Sister M Eulalia
Commonweal. March 1934

From 'A Silence full of bells'



You are the one oasis
from which sprang forth
that Stream
which fructifies all life.

You are the calm oasis
where our nomadic souls
find rest
and are lulled again to sleep
by whispering of His will.

You are the fruitful oasis
in our desert of sparsity
for to you we raise
our tired hands of sorrow
to beg for the Fruit of your womb.

Sister M Ethna OSF
Cord. November 1966

From 'A Silence full of bells'



Mary has fallen 
gentle seed to earth
that a new plant of life glorious
might rise triumphant.

Seven times has she planted in sorrow*
and watched it blossom joy.
Oh - we have known her beauty
because her seed has fallen.

Each sorrow held her
within a canyon of silence
but God entered her valley
to sing His fiat of glory.

Sister M Ethna OSF
Cord. August 1961

*Reference to the Blessed Virgin's seven sorrows: [1] the prophecy of Simeon, [2] flight into Egypt, [3] the loss of Jesus, [4] the meeting with Christ on His way to Gethsemane, [5] standing at the foot of the cross while Jesus died, [6] taking down Christ's body from the cross and [7] the burial of Jesus.

From 'A Silence full of bells'