“If” For Catholics

If For GirlsWhen I was a little girl, my father bought a run-down apartment building in the village in upstate New York where I was born, and renovated it, selling it just before we moved to Arizona. Upon taking possession of the building, he found a few things tenants had left behind – mostly trash, but one treasure for the five-year-old girl that I was. He brought home a picture of a dark-haired woman in a flowing blue gown, seated in a garden, with the words to the poem “If, For Girls.” For those of you not familiar with this, “If” was originally written by Rudyard Kipling, and it was for boys. The premise is that “if” you can do this, and yet not do that, you will be a fine man. “If, For Girls” by J.P. McEvoy carries on in that same vein. The last stanza is representative of the whole:

“If you can lock your heart on confidences,

Nor ever needlessly in turn confide;

If you can put behind you all pretenses

of mock humility or foolish pride;

If you can keep the simple, homely virtue

of walking right with God- then have no fear

That anything in all the world can hurt you-

And which is more- you’ll be a woman, dear.”

Well…

…it’s been a really rainy spring, the poison ivy’s running rampant and we’ve got cicadas swarming like politicians on the Monday before the first Tuesday in November – so I’ve thought it safer to remain indoors, and with nothing better to do I took upon myself the exercise of composing the following verses for those of the Catholic persuasion. Without further ado:

 

“If” For Catholics

If you can drop your burger yet untasted

Remembering that Lent this week began,

Yet not subtract the money that you wasted

From alms you donate, even though you can…

If you can love the saints and ask their gracious

Combined concern and prayers our souls to guard,

And yet not name your offspring “Athanasius”

“Perpetua,” “Chrysostom” or “Gotthard…”

If you can sing through every verse and chorus

Of “Eagle’s Wings,” and yet not vent your spleen,

If you can sit through tripe while deacons bore us,

Yet not become Foursquare or Nazarene…

If you can read the MSM and wonder

How anyone believes the things they write

About the Holy Church, and yet your slumber

Rests undisturbed and peaceful through the night…

If you can keep your faith while laymen battle

With priests to force liturgical reform,

As parishes from Macon to Seattle

Overtly flaunt the G-I-R-M norm…

If you can brook no doctrinal baloney

Yet never stoop a bishop to defame,

If you can pray for Cardinal Mahoney

And Cardinal Burke, and love them both the same…

If you can bravely rise when bishops floor you

With scandals, driving Catholics off in droves,

And still defend the Church, though men abhor you,

Considering her truths your treasure trove…

If you can kneel in solemn adoration

Before the Host, yet not neglect the poor,

Devote yourself to Rosaries and Stations

And love the cause of justice all the more…

If you can balance truth with love, and power

With restraint; though present – set apart.

Indeed much needed in this solemn hour

Are such as you – for you’re a saint, brave heart!

 

On the memorial of St. Optatus of Milevis

Deo omnis gloria!

(Seriously, St. Gotthard, no offense!)

4 comments
  1. pantacrator said:

    Beautiful, such balance.

  2. Nancy said:

    Oh, this is priceless. Priceless. I’m repeating myself. Again. Priceless.

    • Well, then, it looks like the cicadas served their purpose! Now that I’m done versifying, however, they can go dormant for another 17 years! PLEASE!! 🙂

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