This is a poem I wrote this past summer for someone I know who loves reading/writing poetry, was raised Catholic, feels distant from the Church, and asked me to write a poem about what I see in the Church. It alludes at one point to both Blessed Pope John Paul II visiting the man who shot him in prison in order to counsel and forgive him, as well as Pope Benedict's pain and grief as he has visited with abuse victim's groups across the globe. At the end of one of these private meetings, one of the victims said to the media to the effect of, "the Pope wept with us who were weeping." The point of the poem is really to recognize our baptismal calling to be in Christ and like Christ (i.e., saints), and faithful sons and daughters of His bride, the Church.
“Why be Catholic?” wonders an age
Confused and daunted, in the wake of so much
Of the past two thousand years
That our heads can reel and soon forget
The vast expanse of Truth revealed
By a humble man born of a peasant virgin
A man who walked seashores and called all people
To become one with Him.
No mere mortal could ever hope
To wash the world clean with the grace He gave:
A Church over which hell cannot prevail,
Offering victory over the grave.
Then we see lives made new in Christ,
Beginning with the least:
Tax collectors, lepers, prostitutes,
And a poor fisherman
Who was charged with leading His Church
And ensuring her faithful increase.
Inspiring countless persons to give their lives
To God and for souls,
It is by the Holy Spirit
That our Mother Church protects, nourishes, and holds
All people to God’s own Son
And the shepherds He has chosen
To keep and guide the fold.
Yet when those brute beasts from the outer darkness
Have attacked us from within,
We must look to Christ and His Church
To see how Mercy and Goodness can triumph once again.
And so we see the heirs of that poor man
Jesus asked to be our Pope
Stepping forward to forgive and console the man that shot him
Crying with those who have been abused
Speaking truth to the forces of death,
And in ten thousand other ways,
Replacing despair with hope.
Can we afford to not accept Jesus’ outstretched hand
In invitation to us?
To follow Him where we did not dream to go,
Yet go with Him in trust,
Into Christ’s Body, the Church,
Into this one big boat
That carries us amidst all life’s doubts and fears?
For with hope of salvation,
An eternity with Jesus, our Perfect Love,
Our Church gives direction,
Calls us to sacrifice,
And thus grants meaning to our years.