Browsing "Social Justice"
Jun 28, 2015 - Social Justice, Vatican    No Comments

Poem: But


A heart shaped out of flames

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You were created in the image of the Divine…

You are treasured by the Beloved…

Jesus loved those on the margins best…

You deserve respect…

You are intrinsically disordered.
You’re only holy if you’re celibate. That’s your gift.
It’s against God’s wishes that you marry.
If you do marry, you are cut off from the Eucharist.
Which was meant for all sinners, but not sinners like you.
You can’t teach our children.
No matter what talent you have for inspiring them.
Or even come to family dinners where children might be present.
(Your corruption can be spread when passing the butter.)
Or even have happy families of your own. That’s just not possible.

It’s because we love our Church that we say this.
One Holy, Catholic, Immutable Church.
We’re caught, you see, between you,
and these immutable laws we wrote down,
in permanent ink,
that can’t be changed,
despite what the Divine is showing us
ever more forcefully,
through the witness of the people,
and the signs of the times,
that are themselves written in heartbeat red,
demanding attention.

And we love the sinner, hate the sin.
Love, you see, is narrow,
and unkind,
and to be earned, or withheld,
on our say so,
because we know the will of God,
and your love
So we can’t.


Under this weight of “buts”,
you still love.
You are, in fact,
a crucible,
for love.
Your love is questioned,
and taunted,
denied, shunned,
and hated.
Yet, you love.
And show facets of love maybe not yet discovered,
or, before this, known only to the Divine.
Love 2.0.
Full-stop love,
with no buts implied.

We are all called: Responding to unspeakable violence

A heart shaped out of flames

Photo credit:

Dear Pope Francis,

It has been a week marked by grief and sadness in Canada, the country where I live. In just one week we had two incidents where troubled individuals acted out in violence, taking the lives of two of our military. One attacked the seat of our federal government itself, Parliament Hill, in Ottawa. Since both attacks I have been grappling with how to respond. Grief and sadness can so easily lead to fear and anger.

Yet,  acting out of fear and anger may not be the best way to respond to unspeakable acts of evil. As with much in this life, I think the answer lies in mystery, in paradox. For, I think grief and sadness should motivate us to act out of love and openness, rather than shutting down and closing off in anger and fear. It’s not easy to do. I don’t even know if I’m capable of that.

I wrote the following poem as a way of working this out.


We Are All Called

By Kevin Aschenbrenner


We are all called.

We are all called.

In these nervous, anxious times

when fear and anger seem to be

our only options.

We are all called

to show up in the world

clothed in compassion and peace.


This is not easy,

and might seem like giving up,

giving in,

or even weak.

It might seem better, even sensible,

to choose fear and anger.

We’re protecting ourselves,

we could say.

We will not be intimidated,

we could say.


We could choose to fear the thoughts of others

before they even have them.

Or even act on them.

We can fear them just for thinking

thoughts we don’t like.


We could turn away from the troubled,

when they cry out for help

in ways we don’t understand,

thinking they’re not worth our time

or money,

especially our money,

and then react in disbelief and anger

when the troubled return our disinterest with violence,

the only way, it seems

to get us to listen.




We could realize

that we are all called.

We are all called

to be in the world

and see it for what it is

and not what we’d like it

or fear it

to be.

We are called to see the pain.

We are called to use our creativity

and put our heads and hearts together

to dream up better answers;

Because the ones we have now

are not life-giving

but life-taking.


We are called not to strike out in violence,

but pull in,

with embraces.


We are all called.

We are all called.

To show up in this world,

clothed in compassion and peace.


Please pray for us, Pope Francis, that we might respond with open hearts to a troubled world.

Your friend,