Sunday, February 7, 2016

Jessica Powers Celebrates Divine Mercy

JMJT! Praise be Jesus Christ! Now and Forever!

Today is the birthday of Jessica Powers, the great Carmelite mystic otherwise known as Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit who lived and died in the 20th Century in America. Sister Miriam was a creative soul who was seeking God from an early age. She loved Our Lord and she loved all of His creation, where she found His fingerprints especially pronounced and constantly whispering and revealing His Divine Wisdom to her. She was able to express this love in prayer, silence, and her beautiful poetry that touched people's lives even before being called to consecrated religious life. Upon examination, her entire life was one of seeking all in the All, and constantly questioning the meaning of life in a pure existential spirit. As so often happens, the more she probed and prayed in open receptivity to the movement of the Holy Trinity, the more questions were stirred, but also contributed to an increase in faith and peace.  

Just a bit of background on the poet mystic- She was a native of Wisconsin, born in 1905 near Mauston. Following the death of her parents, she returned home to care for her siblings and the family farm after two one-year journeys. The first took her to Marquette University in Milwaukee as a student, the second to a job in Chicago. When her brothers and sisters were old enough to care for themselves, Jessica moved to New York in 1937 to pursue a career in writing. Her poems were published in a variety of magazines including Commonweal and America. Her first collected work of poems was published in book form in 1939.

In 1941 she entered the Carmelite community in Milwaukee, which moved a few years later to Pewaukee, Wisconsin. She became Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit and eventually the superior of the community. She continued to write poetry, which was collected into several volumes, including a book of poetry for children. Jessica Powers died at the Carmelite monastery in August 1988. [See]
Through her life experiences and her observations of nature and changing seasons, she understood the pattern of the Savior that repeats itself in all of humanity and His creation. Namely, she saw the kaleidoscope of birth, life, death and resurrection in every soul around her, most notably her own. She further understood the role of Divine Mercy as the core healing balm of every one of these experiences, and as a catalyst to cope with and embrace new seasons in one's life and to finally enjoy divine intimacy with God. Two poems come to mind that explore this mystical reality: The Garments of God and The Mercy of God. 
The Mercy of God 
I am copying down in a book from my heart's archive
the day that I ceased to fear God with a shadowy fear.
Would you name it the day that I measured my column of virtue
and sighted through windows of merit a crown that was near?
Ah, no, it was rather the day I began to see truly
That I came forth from nothing and ever toward nothingness tend,
that the works of my hands are a foolishness wrought in the presence
of the worthiest king in a kingdom that never shall end.
I rose up from the acres of self that I tended with passion
and defended with flurries of pride:
I walked out of myself and went into the woods of God's mercy,
and here I abide. 
There is greenness and calmness and coolness, a soft leafy covering
from judgment of sun overhead,and the hush of His peace, and the moss of His mercy to tread.I have nought but my will seeking God; even love burning in me is a fragment of infinite loving and never my own.
And I Fear God no more; I go forward to wander forever
 in a wilderness of His infinite mercy alone.
Within this ode to God's Mercy, one recognizes the call of nada...the perpetual Fall-like nakedness of the soul that calls one to continually shed layers of crud, untruth, and false selves, in order to allow the expansion of the soul for The Holy Trinity to dwell within. 
The Art Room: Bare Trees: Vincent van Gogh: Ink Drawing, Gogh Drawings, Gogh Sketches Drawings, Art Van Gogh, Van Gogh Museum, Winter Garden, Gogh 1853 1890, Vincent Van Gogh
The Art Room, Bare Trees By Vincent Van Gogh
Selected Poetry of Jessica Powers, edited by Regina Siegfried and Robert Morneau, presents the above poem, as well as the Garments of God.
Garments of God
God sits on a chair of darkness in my soul.
He is God alone, supreme in His majesty.
I sit at His feet, a child in the dark beside Him;
my joy is aware of His glance and my sorrow is tempted
to nest on the thought that His face is turned from me.
He is clothed in the robes of His mercy, voluminous garments—
not velvet or silk and affable to the touch,
but fabric strong for a frantic hand to clutch,
and I hold to it fast with the fingers of my will.
Here is my cry of faith, my deep avowal
to the Divinity that I am dust.
Here is the loud profession of my trust.
I need not go abroad
to the hills of speech or the hinterlands of music
for a crier to walk in my soul where all is still.
I have this potent prayer through good or ill”
here in the dark I clutch the garments of God.

The Return of the Prodigal Son(1773) by Pompeo Batoni

In this Jubilee Year of Mercy, Sr. Miriam's poetry captures the innate mercy of God within the cycles of life which grips the soul, and opens up possibilities for anyone, including those who sometimes get lost on the journey of life...even the most hardened of sinners. At the deepest center of its meaning is hope. Hope in new beginnings, in reclaiming who we are, and realizing and becoming a new creation, and the person that God created each of us individually to be in His Kingdom.   There is not a single person living who does not need this mercy, to taste it, to know it, and to believe in it. There is not a person who does not need a new beginning in some dark recess of his or her heart and soul.  That is the beauty of this year, and her timeless message.