Pax Christi

My friend and mentor Father Frank O’Loughlin sent me this interior reflection. Please share far and wide.

Link to PDF:

Text version

There’s an envelope here.
Let’s take a look: And the winner is… ….
It says, “Stop the steal,”
Who counts the votes? Stop the steal: It demands a recount.
I can’t argue with that.
Frank O’Loughlin is not a prophet.
On my best days, I’m a plagiarist.
By the Grace of God, I hope to sometimes
be a plagiarist of the Word of God.
I know what a prophet is supposed to be.
I read and loved Abraham Heschel;
Plagiarized him constantly for homilies.
If you were in a parish with me,
you have a copy of Walter Brueggeman’s Prophetic Imagination.
Stop the steal.
What I am is an Irish Catholic.
Irish Catholic, the very definition of ordinary.
No WASP here. Not white, Not Anglo, No Protestant individualism.
You remember how James Joyce defined Catholic,
“Here comes everybody.”
Whether upper or lower case C,
Catholic, everybody, pluralist.
In Florida we learn to say, “Y’all.”
Cut me some slack, I’m in trouble if you think I’m being sectarian or nationalist.
I’m no prophet, merely product of a culture, Catholic and Irish.
Proud, for example, to say, “I’m Irish, not white.”
When we were little schoolboys, our teachers had the wisdom
to ridicule the notion of whiteness: “White, what can that mean?
Take a gander at that pink mug of yours in the mirror;
where is that famous white?”
It isn’t that I don’t believe in prophecy
I wholly believe in prophetic community,
to our attending to each other’s voices in community.
On Saturday the Wall Street Journal celebrated a catechism teacher,
Stephen Colbert, as the adult Mister Rogers.
One of our own. Listen to him.

I am of an era of peace activists. I belonged to the movements.
None has had more depth and staying power than Pax Christi of the Cathedral parish.
Community and culture. Never mere individual idealists.
We were the parish, reading the Gospel together,
receiving Communion, animated by a spirited quest for God,
even reckless in pursuit of a world renewed.
The Bible Girls praying for more, not less, demanding mission
Barbara and Beth, liberationists in the Megan mode
Phyllis and Sandy, instigators of the kingdom of peace and hope
the poet Nancy, our ambassador to Haiti and to Heaven.
Have you forgiven the Irish bit?
I’m not promoting nationalism, but community and culture.
May I plagiarize once more?
This will be a reading from the gospel according to Bruce Springsteen.
Describing the vocation he shares with the kids from the Dublin community,
the rockers Bono and U2, he says
“You want the sky to split open and God to pour out.”
Does that sound like the yearning of your Pax Christi culture?
About U2, Springsteen says,
“Their search for God intact, laying claim
not only to this world, but the next.
There is a deeply held faith in the work you’re doing
And its power to change the world.
Before James Brown, there was Jesus.
We are not ironists,
we are creations of the heart and of the earth
and of the Stations of the Cross.
Here we are Lord, this mess in your image.
Bono brought his personal faith into the real world.
You find the spirituality as home, as quest.
How do you find God, unless He’s in Your heart?”
Within the heart and culture of your Peace community.
As the Peace Activists invited me to their three-day retreat and credited me with the formation
we have given each other through many years, I realized that day one was on the anniversary of
the My Lai massacre.
The second was the birthday of Wilfred Owen.
The third was the anniversary of George Bush’s unleashing of fire and brimstone
on Baghdad.
And each day Putin was getting away with ravishing the Ukraine.
What to say at such a date?

Mary Carter Warren brought substantial studies to nourish hope and purpose.
John Frank cultivator of our beginnings and Johnny Zokovitch seeding our next generation.
Father Fred, resilient graced priesthood.
Sandy’s light touch direction infused a spirit of glad joy in being together
among lifelong witnesses to grace and mercy.
And I talked about war.
A great horror of modern warfare is the calculated destruction of
spirits, of culture, identity, heart and soul.
American psychologists developed techniques in the war against
Vietnamese nationalism which were reproduced in the war against the Maya.
A European human rights study described the strategy in Guatemala as
“Creating a Devastation and calling it a Peace.”
Americans remember it as “We had to destroy the village to save it.”
Not only were villages ravaged and massacred, but such survivors as emerged
were gathered at other sites, ‘Development Poles,’
where all marks of identity were erased and a new National Security identity
was offered on streets named for warriors.
The Maya have twenty seven languages and many dialects.
These were suppressed in the new villages.
Religious expression was replaced with Southern US preaching,
now called Evangelicals.
But the most striking affront to the Mayan civilization
was the prohibition of the people’s traditional clothing.
The Maya had not only had a multiplicity of ancient cultural features
evidenced in their myriad languages
but every community had its own very clearly individual dress.
To grasp the sacred civilization
one has to imagine how the thread was first invented,
a craft taught from grandmother to granddaughter, perhaps 500 years ago.
The dyes that could be produced from local leaves and berries were created and the weaves
and patterns that became representative of the community and culture emerged.
Sticks and stones and guns and bombs, we have learned,
do not win wars against such civilizations.
The spirit that sustains the victims’ humanity must be undermined.
At their Lake Worth Center, when Mayan women have seen the huipils,
they have been carried away, recalling the grandmothers whom
they saw weave and wear huipils in those very patterns.
See the crafts, and weep with me for the sins of war.
Lord bless the prophetic culture of your Pax Christi community.

End of reflection.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

Told You

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Greetings on this the Thursday of the Second Week of Lent
Readings: Jer 17:5-10; PS 1:1-2, 3, 4 and 6; Lk 16:19-31
Notes: Appeals to reason, logic, sympathy and commonality sometimes are not enough.

A very tragic outcome indeed for the rich man in today’s gospel portion.

In life, he gave not even a drop of water. In torment, he asks for the same.

Maybe, we can change how we operate?

The highest aspirations a human can have is to be in communion with the Divine.
Faith, hope and charity are the apex of human decisions and are the first three commandments.

  1. One God, one alone – faith, he will rescue us as he did in the Exodus.
  2. Trust, not in vain – hope, not vanity nor superficiality but genuine expectation.
  3. Charity – to rest in the Sabbath love, to be a participant in giving Sabbath love.

First reading
Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings,
who seeks his strength in flesh,
whose heart turns away from the LORD.

in contrast

Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose hope is the LORD.

Responsorial Psalm
Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.

Blessed the man who follows not
the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD
and meditates on his law day and night.

Verse Before Gospel
Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart and yield a harvest through perseverance.

Gospel Portion
The verse before the gospel is a perfect setting to read the gospel portion today.

  • How many promises have we kept?
  • How many good things have we done with a generous heart?

In the parable today, Jesus uses a story of the rich man contrast to describe generosity and its benefit to benefactor and receiver alike. Such is the effects of goodness of the Lord.

Everyone’s life is better.

and the contrast.

How hardened we can become!

Then Abraham said,
‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets,
neither will they be persuaded
if someone should rise from the dead.’”

In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? (Jn 14:2).

I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name—he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you (Jn 14:25-26).

And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe (Jn 14:29).

I have told you this so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you (Jn 16:4).

I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world (Jn 16:33).

He really did.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Contriving a plot

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Greetings on this the Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent
Readings: Jer 18:18-20; PS 31:5-6, 14, 15-16; Mt 20:17-28
Notes: It is always difficult to restrain oneself when under attack.

Especially when you know who is contriving and what they intend.
It is most difficult indeed!

Who wants to live in Ukraine today given the plot against them?!

Jesus too had the problem of Jeremiah and Ukraine.
His answer is to be a servant leader.

and to give his life as a ransom for many.

First reading
“Come,” they said, “let us devise a plot against Jeremiah, for instruction will not perish from the priests, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophets. Come, let us destroy him by his own tongue. Let us pay careful attention to his every word.”

Jeremiah is stunned by the response to his intersessions on behalf of the people.
Even as they conspire to kill him, he reminds the Lord how he prayed for them. This is a truly remarkable man. But still he wants justice for himself, even if this request is instinctive not intentional.

Heed me, O LORD,
and listen to what my adversaries say.
Must good be repaid with evil
that they should dig a pit to take my life?
Remember that I stood before you
to speak in their behalf,
to turn away your wrath from them.

The Lord will be his justice. It is instructive to understand that Jeremiah is exposing his pain that the Lord may answer however the Lord sees fit to answer (“in the time of your anger“).

But you, LORD, know
all their planning for my death.
Do not forgive their crime,
and their sin do not blot out from your sight!
Let them stumble before you,
in the time of your anger act against them.

Responsorial Psalm
Save me, O Lord, in your kindness.

Into your hands I commend my spirit; you will redeem me, O LORD, O faithful God.
But my trust is in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.” In your hands is my destiny; rescue me from the clutches of my enemies and my persecutors.

Death is our ultimate enemy. Death is defeated in Christ and we can count on our redemption. All other enemies are abstractions or derivations of death. Let God be our Vengeance. Let God be our salvation.

Verse before the Gospel
I am the light of the world, says the Lord;
whoever follows me will have the light of life.

Gospel Portion
The Third Prediction of the Passion.

The mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons and had some ideas of how to be victorious and enjoy the fruits of success on the battle.

Jesus kindly reset the expectation.

Leadership is sacrifice in the face of oppression.

The Lord, Our God, sacrifices himself for the liberation of all people.

  • Defend your homeland.
  • Expel the aggressor.
  • Leave vengeance to God.
  • Repentance is always possible, until the last breath.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Justice Your Aim


Greetings on this the Tuesday of the Second Week of Lent
Readings: Is 1:10, 16-20; PS 50:8-9, 16bc-17, 21 and 23; Mt 23:1-12
Notes: Psalms 50 and 51.

  • Psalm 50 shakes me every time I read it.
  • Psalm 50 is a rebuke of a hypocritical Church (not everyone, not everywhere, not all the time but…).
  • Psalm 51 shakes me every time I read it.
  • Psalm 51 it is a rebuke for my personal hypocrisy (not every time, not everywhere but…).

Jesus hits them both in today’s gospel portion!

First reading
Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good.
Make justice your aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.

Responsorial Psalm
To the upright I will show the saving power of God.

“Why do you recite my statutes,
and profess my covenant with your mouth,
Though you hate discipline
and cast my words behind you?”

Verse before the Gospel
Cast away from you all the crimes you have committed, says the LORD,
and make for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit.

Gospel Portion
In today’s gospel portion comes the most striking rebuke of fake religiosity. Hence, for many the word itself, religiosity, has taken on its only meaning in the negative. The secondary meaning: an intense, excessive, or fervent religiousness has been reduced to this: an excessive, or even hypocritical religiousness.


Language has changed to mirror the truth in our current age.

Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying,
“The scribes and the Pharisees
have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.
Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you,
but do not follow their example.

  • Do Justice – the preaching is good, the practice of justice must be reviewed and adjusted.
  • Do Burden – yourself, not others. Our burden is the Cross assigned to us.
  • Do Lift a finger – to Help!
  • Do Honor – all you meet even those who have lost their sense of dignity.
  • Do Greet everyone – with a cheerful smile!
  • Do Exalt – Christ, and only him and your love for him!
  • Do humble yourself, not others in humiliation (this one stings me actually).

For fun here is my repartee with some far right nut-jobs on Discus (The Remnant Newspaper) – you have to scroll to get to the funny parts.


  • I’d rather ask the slave not the master about the rightness of slavery.
  • Please note Canon 1369 warning to Bishops who utter grave injury, insult, excited hatred against the Church or religion which includes the faithful. This was blocked by the site. I wonder why?
  • In regards to progressive people, they are attacked by the right with evocative words like
    “leftists”, “communists”, etc….They have used the words as political clubs for so long they have lost all real meaning and are only meant as amorphous shadows to cast over one’s opponents in order to discredit what they are saying without having to do the legitimate work of actually refuting their arguments.
  • A vacuum abhors fresh air.
  • It seems you like to insult above all things. Did you win the contest of fewest words strongest insult?
  • Judging me a dinner (denier) is easy prey. Do you pull the legs off of spiders too?
  • Interesting reply. I guess the best defense is to be offensive.
  • Ever hear the phrase hell bent? Be careful of misusing the faith.

You see, I have things to confess too. Lack of charity for the ill-informed, for one.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Bill Barr – A Snake Oil Salesman

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Greetings on this the Monday of the Second Week in Lent
Readings: Dn 9:4b-10; PS 79:8, 9, 11 and 13; Lk 6:36-38
Notes: The misappropriation of the gospel message is a foundation of evil intent.
The news anchor turned up the heat, attempting to corner Barr into a straight answer multiple times. ‘But I’m talking about you, you’ve had firsthand account. You saw it up close,’ he said. Barr answered that elections were a ‘binary choice.’ ‘And unfortunately sometimes it’s choosing the lesser of two evils. I believe that the progressive wing of the Democratic Party is dangerous for the United States,’ he claimed.

I call his claim: “Virtue By Proxy“. Or to use medical terms: Munchausen syndrome by proxy which is when someone falsely claims that another person has physical or psychological signs or symptoms of illness, or causes injury or disease in another person with the intention of deceiving others.

Pittiful warping of Catholic obligations!
This is classic moralistic and the moralism disease in society today. Instead:

  1. Gospel = the good news of Jesus Christ, in person, in faith and in the moral/ethical domains.
  2. Natural Law dictates the basic and personal characteristics are foundational to any supernatural or spiritual Law. They cannot be suspended in favor of an ethereal understanding of moral good.

What one does is far more important than what one says. “Virtue by Proxy” (my term) is an attempt to color others as non-virtuous while maintaining a “virtue status” by way of a standard you do not hold to yourself. As I mentioned in yesterday’s homily, justice is NOT an absolute standard. It is a relation. Justice is the reduction/elimination of hurt/harm done TO another and the application of blessing UPON the other.

  1. Catholics are rightly rejecting this Barr expressed moralistic perspective in favor of candidates, by their own life, offer a moral example. Justice is how you treat people.

A far better guide to the concept to Lesser of Two Evils (also read the reply which offers a differnet viewpoint):

Lesser of Two Evils Doctrine Principles:

The principles are
(1) double effect, in which a single action has two foreseen effects—one “good” and intended, the other “evil” and tolerated, such as the removal of the fetus in an ectopic pregnancy to save the life of the mother;
(2) tolerance, in which we judge, following the Gospel principle of the wheat and the tares, that certain evils must be endured for the time being lest a greater evil ensue from our efforts to weed out the malefactors, such as tolerating legal abortion even if we disagree that this should be the case;
(3) compromise, in which we in some way actively participate in actions or sinful social structures that have a clear morally evil component, such as purchasing goods made under exploitative labor conditions in foreign sweatshops; and
(4) the lesser of two evils, such as counseling the use of clean needles among drug addicts.

First reading
Lord, great and awesome God,
you who keep your merciful covenant toward those who love you
and observe your commandments!

Responsorial Psalm
Lord, do not deal with us according to our sins.

Verse Before Gospel
Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life;
you have the words of everlasting life.

Gospel Portion
Gospel portion today is a call to be merciful.

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

“Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you.”

Bill Barr has a public voice of enormous proportions.
He violates Catholic teaching at every turn.

  • I do not judge him, I judge his teaching.
  • I do not condemn him, I condemn his teaching.

Whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there. And as for those who do not welcome you, when you leave that town, shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them.” Then they set out and went from village to village proclaiming the good news and curing diseases everywhere (LK 9:4-6).

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Tent Within

Greetings on this the Second Sunday of Lent
Readings: Gn 15:5-12, 17-18; Ps 27:1, 7-8, 8-9, 13-14; Phil 3:17—4:1; Lk 9:28b-36
Notes: During Lent Ash Wednesday gospel portion is identical for all cycles (A, B and C).
For the Sundays of Week One and Week Two of Lent the narrative story is the same but presented from one of the synoptic gospels (Cycle A – Matthew, Cycle B – Mark, and this hear Cycle C – Luke). Same story slightly different perspective.
After today, the Sunday Lent readings diverge to offer a diverse perspectives of the life of Jesus Christ and what he had to say and offer to us. But for today, I want to focus on the Tent as presented in the synoptic gospels.

Sidebar: We live in an increasing moralistic world. A dangerous situation for the whole of humanity. Best to remember, when you point a finger at another, THREE fingers point back to you.

REMEMBER: Justice is not an ABSOLUTE. Justice is a relation. Justice is the reduction/elimination of hurt/harm done to another and the application of blessing upon the other. Justice as understood today in the American Church and in American society as a whole is not the Justice of God.

First reading
Abram put his faith in the LORD,
who credited it to him as an act of righteousness.

Responsorial Psalm
The Lord is my light and my salvation.

“Come,” says my heart, “seek his face”;
your face, LORD, do I seek! (PS 27:8).

Second reading
Stand firm in the Lord.

Verse Before the Gospel
From the shining cloud the Father’s voice is heard:
This is my beloved Son, hear him.

  • Hear Him.
  • Listen to Him.
  • Follow him.

Gospel Portion
“Master, it is good that we are here;
let us make three tents,
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
But he did not know what he was saying.

Indeed. The Lord honored his request in a marvelous way and wanted him to go much further with him!

There are three levels of the Tent understanding.

  1. Festival of Booths (Ex 23). Ingathering the Jewish People. Ingathering of the whole of humanity.

Plain meaning is the required pilgrimage to Jerusalem either as a journey or as a seven day recreation of living in a temporary dwelling like a farmer during the time of harvest.

You shall dwell in booths for seven days; every native-born Israelite shall dwell in booths, that your descendants may realize that, when I led the Israelites out of the land of Egypt, I made them dwell in booths. I, the LORD, am your God. (LV 23:42-43).

Profound Meaning is the Ingathering of the Jewish people and for us the whole of the human family exemplified by the harvest season and the pilgrimage ordinance.

  1. Meeting Tent of Moses (Ex 33). Face to face with the Lord, as a person speaks to a friend.

Moses used to pitch a tent outside the camp at some distance. It was called the tent of meeting. Anyone who wished to consult the LORD would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp. As Moses entered the tent, the column of cloud would come down and stand at its entrance while the LORD spoke with Moses. On seeing the column of cloud stand at the entrance of the tent, all the people would rise and bow down at the entrance of their own tents. The LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a person speaks to a friend. Moses would then return to the camp (Ex 33:7, 9-11a).

Plain meaning is the life of Moses and his friendship with the Lord. Moses, the intercessor, was always interceding on behalf of the people. For the people are a stiff necked people and Moses was pained and took pain to keep them faithful to the Lord. We should also note that Elijah had a different role as prophet. Elijah was the voice and actions of the pathos of God. The emotions, agonies, pains and actions of the Lord in regard to the human family are made most evident in Elijah. Elijah shares visions as like Abram (Smoking firepot, 1 Kgs 18:38, and flaming torch, 2 Kgs 2:11-12).

Profound Meaning the call to each of us into the friendship of the Lord, to know the Lord.

  1. Tabernacle Tent (Ex 40) a later Exodus development. God’s Presence in the Tabernacle journey’s with His people.

Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the tent of meeting, because the cloud settled down upon it and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Whenever the cloud rose from the tabernacle, the Israelites would set out on their journey. But if the cloud did not lift, they would not go forward; only when it lifted did they go forward. The cloud of the LORD was over the tabernacle by day, and fire in the cloud at night, in the sight of the whole house of Israel in all the stages of their journey (Ex 40:34-38).

Plain meaning is the Lord is with the people in their journey.

Profound Meaning is the call to journey with the Lord in his Exodus, Passion and Heavenly Kingdom. It is important to note in all three synoptic gospels the Transfiguration follows the first prediction of the passion of Our Lord.

So Peter was right but needed to go deeper!
It is so much more!

The Transfiguration of Jesus shows who he is and who we are to become like / follow him.
The Lord God proclaims His Son not simply as revelation but as invitation.

  1. Natural good of the harvest and supernatural good of ingathering people to the Lord.
  2. Friendship with the Lord, face to face as friend Moses did and knowing him as Elijah knew.
  3. The Lord not only journeys with us but pitches his tent within us!

The novella of Tobit says it well:

Give thanks to the Lord with righteousness, and bless the King of the ages,
so that your tabernacle may be rebuilt in you with joy (TB 13:10b).

While he was still speaking,
a cloud came and cast a shadow over them,
and they became frightened when they entered the cloud.
Then from the cloud came a voice that said,
“This is my chosen Son; listen to him.”

The cloud is the third promise and the fullness of the Tabernacle Tent.
We are no longer to be afraid of the Lord nor of serving him and the consequences.
We are to Tabernacle with him in our hearts where is a place for him within each of us.

  • Hear Him.
  • Listen to Him.
  • Follow him.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Recoil on unrepentant heads

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Greetings on this the Saturday after Ash Wednesday
Readings: Is 58:9b-14; PS 86:1-2, 3-4, 5-6; Lk 5:27-32
Notes: Lately I have not lived up to my calling very well.

Usually I am whole heartedly a person committed to being “Repairer of the breach” by keeping faith, hope and love my principles of motivation while acting with compassion and aiding those in need.

I have several examples of my failings but the Ukraine invasion by Russia has shown me the disregard so many have for human autonomy, human dignity, and personal liberty while at the same time they are screaming the ten commandments at every woman who is in crisis.

How many say “It’s in the bible!”
But they don’t live the gospel values themselves.

Forgive me Lord.
Forgive me.

That is why the first reading today is a good gut check for me (and you?).
Really entering the question of my maintaining an Evil or Holy inventory.

And the verse before the Gospel being the best of all outcomes to hope for:

I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked man, says the Lord,
but rather in his conversion, that he may live.

In the end my challenge is:

If I don’t work for peace then I am working for war.

First reading
Evil Inventory: (even when ‘thinking’ I am acting holy… yet I can see echoes)

  1. Oppression.
  2. False Accusation.
  3. Malicious Speech.
  4. Dishonor the Sabbath.
  5. Seek own interests.

Holy Inventory:

  1. Bread for the hungry (compassion).
  2. Satisfy the afflicted (justice).
  3. Honor Sabbath (mercy).

The ancient ruins shall be rebuilt for your sake, and the foundations from ages past you shall raise up; “Repairer of the breach,” they shall call you, “Restorer of ruined homesteads.”

Responsorial Psalm
Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth.

Verse Before Gospel
I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked man, says the Lord,
but rather in his conversion, that he may live.

Gospel Portion
Jesus said to them in reply,
“Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do.
I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.”

Levi, the tax collector, realized his error, repented and followed the Lord.

Donald Hughes wrote the lyrics for Creator of the Earth and Skies.
Two stanzas noting the effects of unreflective hearts:

We have not known you: to the skies
Our monuments of folly soar,
And all our self-wrought miseries
Have made us trust ourselves the more.

We have not loved you: far and wide
The wreckage of our hatred spreads,
And evils wrought by human pride
Recoil on unrepentant heads.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry