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When my mother tells me

Of my childhood ways

As if they were as certain

As daybreak and nightfall,

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When a melody transforms

A melancholy afternoon

Into a moment of union

With the life of another,

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When I think of my nephew,

So sensitive, pure, and kind,

Tears falling in pity before

A young goldfish, belly up,

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When I have a third glass

Of red wine, deep and dry,

And feel a tender warmth hit

My weary veins and heart,

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When an idea erupts at once,

With the force of a bull and

Seizes my imagination until

My fingers flicker furiously,

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When a memory shakes me,

Convicts me, enraptures me,

And I am no longer here and

Here becomes here and there,

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When she speaks and moves,

And I sense what she wants,

Yet temptation cedes softly

To love, unsullied by desire,

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When I see myself as a boy,

And see myself the same,

One smile, one face, one,

Yes, I am he, and he is I,

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Despair departs defeated like

A criminal convicted or like

A sour adolescent corrected,

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And Beauty and Hope invade,

Victorious now and forever.

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Amen.

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–David J.W. Inczauskis, SJ

March 31, 2019

“Clouds could hide the sun eternally;

The sea could dry in an instant…”

–Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer

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Beneath rose-covered archways,

I passed in carriage swift.

It led me to your home place,

To which my eyes did shift.

*

A mansion decked with casements,

One hundred I did see,

Until I found your placement,

And you looked back at me.

*

At table with your brother,

On you my thoughts were set,

At high tea with your mother,

Our gazes once more met.

*

As horses trod at nightfall,

My eyelids, too, did seal.

Though my name I heard you call,

To me it seemed unreal.

*

But now I’ve gone and married.

How far we are from then!

With me your voice I’ve carried,

And will I ‘til the end.

***

David J.W. Inczauskis, S.J.

July 19, 2018

–David J.W. Inczauskis, S.J.

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Tonight I feel you seeking me:

From afar your breath

Caresses my cheek like

The cool touch of a hand.

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Tonight you feel me seeking you:

Our souls meet on a bridge,

Hearts racing but slowly

Like the water passing below.

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May your body follow

Where your soul has led:

Into the dark that frames

The moonlight you most dread.

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My body has seen your soul:

Naked and white like David,

Shyly confident in beauty,

With eyes that cannot see.

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I have heard your cry,

Only I, Only I.

I have heard your sigh,

Only I, Only I.

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You will come to me

As I come to you.

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Arise to your desires,

For my soul now inquires.

June 13, 2018

Córdoba, Spain

 

“If you don’t think you’re a hypocrite, then you’re wrong.”

–A good Franciscan confessor

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(Hoffman’s Christ and the Rich Young Ruler)

When the Day of Judgment comes, I fear…

  1. That, for all the chapters of the Bible I’ve read and for all the prayers I’ve said, the Gospel will not have changed me at all;
  2. That the value of the books on my shelf will have equaled the yearly income of a poor family;
  3. That I will have lived a normal life;
  4. That I will have spent more time reading novels, watching movies, and listening to music than promoting social justice and working on behalf of the rights of the poor;
  5. That I will have written more pages on philosophy and literature than pages to my governmental representatives on behalf of the oppressed;
  6. That I will have failed to love because I had focused on ‘higher things’;
  7. That I will have been smart but not wise;
  8. That I will have been no different from the priest who failed to be the Good Samaritan to the wounded man in need;
  9. That I will have fallen on many swords for my ideology but will have fallen on no swords for the God of the poor;
  10. That I will not have become like the Christ.

Lord, pardon me. Lord, save me. Lord, change me…

…but may these fears torment me as long as I live.

–David Inczauskis, S.J.

My Tears

February 19, 2018 — Leave a comment

“If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century.”

–Martin Luther King, Jr, letter from Birmingham jail

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A few months ago, I cried for the second time in my adult life. They were tears of compassion for the poor. They were tears of zeal for justice.

I was visiting some friends in Honduras. They were speaking to me in great detail about the horrible gang violence that plagues their neighborhood. Shootings are constant. Neighbors pay “dues” to gang members regularly so that they won’t be the next victims. The struggle seems endless. Everyone knows a victim.

After this sobering and painful description, a child turned to me and asked with twinkling black eyes, “And what is it like in Chicago?”

It was then that I began to cry.

I cried because of the innocence of the question. I cried because murderers kill people every day in Chicago.

The child’s tone suggested that, compared to Honduras, the United States is paradise. However, I know that the moral purity of the United States is largely a myth.

Yes, the murder rate in Chicago is not as high as the murder rate in San Pedro Sula, Honduras; yet, for many Chicagoans, the reality is the same.

As the child asked the question, my mind’s eye turned to this image:

GOOD FRIDAY MARCH

I was there, and I thought of the hundreds of people, black and white, with whom I marched through East Garfield Park in Chicago on Good Friday, led by Cardinal Cupich and other religious leaders. We marched to honor the victims of gun violence. We marched in hope that a day will come when people put down their arms and begin to love each other again. We marched because Christ, too, suffered from hatred and violence at the hands of his oppressors.

When I was tearing up and my voice was trembling, I pulled out my phone and flipped to that image of the cross with hundreds of people marching and praying behind it. That image from the front page of the Chicago Tribune spoke more powerfully than I ever could. That image, for me, is Chicago–mourning and hopeful.

I don’t know what it is like to be black in Chicago. I don’t know what it is to suffer systematically from racism. And from the confines of my situation in Edgewater on the Northside, I don’t feel that my life is on the line daily.

I do know, nonetheless, that I shed tears of compassion for those slain in this city. I do know that I am disappointed in this city. I do know that I love this city.

I do know that I want violence and racism to come to an end.

May God raise up for Chicago a new generation of prophets, who will call Chicago to repentance. May God give Chicago political leaders with the wisdom of Solomon and the tender heart of David, who will enact real changes. May God bring Chicago together, strengthening the bonds of his Body, the Church.

May God give us hearts restless for justice. May we act personally and politically. May we have a sacrificial spirit and an authentic thirst for peace.

May Black History Month inspire us with the beautiful vision of the Promised Land witnessed by Moses, Jesus, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

–David Inczauskis, S.J.

Lovers Have Secrets

February 13, 2018 — Leave a comment

Preaching on Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday

February 14, 2018

Heart Key

Every good pair of lovers has a secret. It is very intimate to share a secret with someone. It is very special to say something that will never be repeated again.

This Lent, we must to lock ourselves up in a quiet room and share our souls with God. We must tell him our secrets and pour out our hearts. Jesus says, “When you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to God in secret.” It is beautiful to speak to God behind a closed door.

But we can’t stop with speaking to God. We must also listen in the silence. There is such wisdom in the nuns who claim that by marrying God they are marrying the silence. God courts human souls in silence. He does not need to entice us with smooth moves and quick talk. God needs only silence to make you fall in love with him. When he does use words, he often whispers softly into our ears what we can only hear if we pause a moment to quiet ourselves and listen.

Words are words, and they can be captivating and powerful. There is also action. When we want to say “I love you” to God, we should spend time with the poor. We will listen first. We will serve if they ask. To paraphrase Matthew 25, God is the poor. When we want to give God a bouquet of roses or a box of chocolates, we ought to give to the poor in the form of social justice and personal care.

Love is also sacrifice, and sacrifice entails suffering. We call a suffering sacrifice of love a fast. “Rend your hearts, not your garments,” says the prophet. Let us tear our hearts open so that God’s love can enter. This love will then burn within us but not consume us, as with Moses’ burning bush. We will walk into our hearts, but we must first take off our shoes: we will be stepping on holy ground. Let’s give to God the sacrifice of our hearts. Let’s do all things for the greater glory of God. That is enough of a sacrifice.

For the next forty days, I invite us to speak with God, give to God, and sacrifice for God. If we do, we will find that we, too, have faith in the words of the great Argentine poet Macedonio Fernandez: “I do not believe in the death of those who love, nor do I believe in the life of those who don’t love.”

David Inczauskis, S.J.

Madonna Della Strada Chapel

Loyola University Chicago