The Thin Black Line
Early dusk. A little flock of daws
cuts the crisp air, heading south.
Advent has arrived, and the nights
for the Immaculate-Conception Novena.
The year has grown old, as have I.
(Or middle-aged, at least, and a little tired.)
The Church in America: a brown-paper parcel,
wrapped-up with thin black twine.
Do not open until Christmas.
Christmas 2018, or -19, or -20, or -25.
But I won’t let go—not yet—of the moon-lit dusk
when I said totus tuus to the Virgin, on younger knees.
You had carried us there, Holy Father,
on those ski-sculpted shoulders,
spinning the twine with your hands.
You chugged like a rail engine
through the passes of the Dolomites.
Another country opened up before our eyes.
So, if I am a strand of the black twine,
or a billow of the smoke flowing from the stack
into Christ’s third millennium:
it’s because I knelt under your wings.
God is good to me.
I say this not just because the Geogetown Hoyas are 5-0, having trounced the Mount last night, even more thoroughly than they did a year ago.
I say it not just because He makes the sun rise in the morning and the moon at night.
I say it not just because maybe some day I will be able to go to jail for refusing to let two grooms use our church hall for their “reception.”
(By the by, our old friend had the guts to vote against the madness today).
No. The reason I praise God is that He has brought together two events in my life in such a way that I could never have asked for something so wonderful.
For me, there are two kinds of days on the calendar. There is December 8, and then there are all the other days.
December 8 is the day when the Garden of Eden was restored to the earth, the day when the flower of mankind bloomed again.
I am the happy slave of the Lady conceived on December 8.
For me, the days leading up to December 8 are special holy days of prayer and closeness to the Immaculata.
It just so happens that during the Immaculate Conception Novena this year, Archbishop Wuerl is going to come to my church and renew my consecration as a priest, when he installs me as the parish pastor this Sunday.
I am unworthy of such good timing–to be able to give myself again to the priesthood during the days when I first gave myself to the Blessed Mother as a slave.
May our Lady make good use of me. She is a gentle mistress.