Wednesday, January 9, 2019

A Greater Sacrifice?

A Greater Sacrifice?

In Holy Week, our Lord
gave up His life
for us and died
alone, betrayed,
abandoned. We know
no greater sacrifice
than this – to die
for others.

And yet, some thirty
years and more
before, the Holy
Word of God
gave up His Godhood
in exchange for
human birth and
mortal life.

The Word that breathed
across the chaos
at the start of
all creation,
that breathed into
being galaxies,
planets, elements and

the Word that shaped
the life we know –
bacteria, fish
and people –
that Word forsook
His Godly ways
to be born a babe
in Bethlehem.

The All-Knowing
knowledge for an
infant’s word-
less cry; the All-
Powerful traded
power for an infant’s
the Ever-Present
confined Himself
to human time and space;
the Infinite
found limits
in an infant’s
tiny world.

In Holy Week, our Lord
gave up his Life,
and this we hymn
with gratitude for
all his sacrifice.
In Christmastide, our Lord
was born, a baby held
in Mary’s arms. .

The Love that led our
Lord to death has
led our God to birth.
Rejoice! Rejoice, you
faithful, at this
wondrous sacrifice!
As we raise our alleluias,
Let us sing “Thanks be to God!”

Sr. Sue Elwyn, SSJD

Christmas 2012

What are we celebrating
here and now
with Christmas–
Christ’s Mass?
A mostly hidden
of God
into the world?
Family unity
pasted together
out of old
new resolutions
to do better
spend more,
gorge together?
What are we celebrating
here and now?

What are we celebrating
here and now?
Fond memories of
Christmas past?
Major profits for
retail stores?
One-day ingathering
of a
scattered clan?
Birth of a child
who will change
the world?
What are we celebrating
here and now?
The world says
Go wild!
Spend too much
Eat too much
Drink too much
or coffee
or eggnog.
You’re priming the
economic pump –
Go wild!
Exceed your income,
Break your diet,
Breach your boundaries,
Smiling! Smiling! Smiling!

God says –
Be joyful with
My Child is born.
I love the world.
So – please – love
my world.
Love my Child.
Love me.
Love your neighbour.
Love yourself.

So –
What are we celebrating
here and now?

Let’s love.

Sr. Sue Elwyn, SSJD
Toronto, ON
December, 2012

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Shape-Shifting: The Metamorphic Rocks

Thin sheets of sediment,
amorphous phyllo,                  
acres in extent, are
buried under flows
of gravel, mud or lava;

each horizontal layer
descends beneath the
weight of new deposits
and in the process
sheds its water and its air.

As pressure forces grains
together, coats them
with a fine cement of
minerals emerging
slick from their dense solutions,

new rock begins to grow
like baklava, placed
down in sheets of phyllo,
honey, butter, nuts
in shallow pans of salten sea,

and even as the rock
is formed, the sea with
its encompassing land
moves gently forward
to converging boundaries,

where continents collide
with oceans, islands
form and disappear, where
sheets of rock slide down
to fiery depths, are shaken,

torn, and softened so the
sheeted layers of rock
can now be pushed and pinched
and pleated into
vast accordions of stone.

There, too, in infinite,
slow, furious, tumult,
the very substance of

the rock is changed, its
molecules and atoms shift,

bonds break, decay, re-form
on microscopic
dancing floors where atoms
waltzing, reeling, twirl
new substance into being.

Limestones turn to marble
then, and shales to slate
and schist; new rocks emerge,
new stones are born as
matter glides to sleeker form.

Immensities of rock
are sunken, twisted,
cooked, like crumpled sheets of
baklava, which baked
in subterranean stoves, will

someday rise and rising
shake the very earth
which they create and then
in geologic
time, dissolve and start anew.

Shape-shifting stone that slides
into fresh form and
essence new, as heat and
depth and time supply B
this is metamorphic rock!

Sr. Sue Elwyn, SSJD
St-Lambert, QC 2005

Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō Eruption 1983 . USGS

Friday, October 5, 2018

Emiliania Huxleyi

Emiliania Huxleyi 
a tiny one-celled alga so small
it takes five thousand lined into a
row to fill a single inch of space  –

contain within each single cell a
mitochondrion, Golgi body, 
nucleus and chloroplast, all that
it needs to feed and reproduce

and at the last to die – essential
elements of life as we know it;
infinitesimal perfection,
pulling nourishment from watery light.

And more – a coccolithophore, it
builds within itself exquisite shields,
fretworks of calcium and carbon
known as coccoliths, astounding shapes

produced inside a tiny globe by
means half-understood, for reasons
quite unknown, these oval wheels with spokes
and rims and two-tiered delicacy,

extruded whole and lovely from the
cell, garnish their maker, sitting rim
to rim or overlapping, twenty or
more around the sphere’s circumference.

Emiliania Huxleyi
are insignificant alone, but
in their billions stain water milky-
white in blooms a hundred miles across.

Thus their life; and when they die, they sink
for weeks through ocean depths to come to
rest at last on the abyssal plain,
sit softly on limey sediment.

Then over countless spans of time, the
slimy mass grows thick with age, sly
cementation fills pores between each
microscopic block, and in the end

it turns to limestone, dolomite or
chalk; a million years may pass as one-
celled algae live and reproduce and
die and in their deaths build depths of stone.

Then sheets of sedimentary rock are
carried on the tides of earth and rise
by gentle increment to make the
underlying crust of continents,

or galvanized by cataclysmic
force build mountain ranges standing tall –
wondrous, one-celled, earth-shaping algae,
Emiliana Huxleyi!

Sr. Sue Elwyn, SSJD
Toronto, March, 2006

Saturday, March 31, 2018

A Poem for Eastertide

Did you see him in the garden there, beside the empty tomb?
Did you meet him by the Galilean lake?
When he suddenly appeared that day within the upper room,
Did you worship and adore him?  Did you say:
Jesus Christ, my Lord, Messiah, you are here and everywhere,
Jesus Christ, my Risen Saviour, you are all.

Do you see him in the faces of the people you despise?

Do you feel him in the hearts of those you love?
Do you know him ever-present, ever-loving, ever wise?
Do you worship and adore him?  Do you say:
Jesus Christ, my Lord, Messiah, you are here and everywhere,
Jesus Christ, my Risen Saviour, you are all.

Our Risen Lord is with us, when we love and when we fear;

Our Risen Lord is with us in the dark.
Our Risen Lord is with us when the Light of Easter’s near,
As we worship and adore him, as we say:
Jesus Christ, my Lord, Messiah, you are here and everywhere,
Jesus Christ, my Risen Saviour, you are all.

May you know the love of our Risen Saviour this day 
and always. 
Happy Easter!

Friday, March 30, 2018

Rabboni By C. Russell Elliott

Easter 2018

Easter mornings were once filled with joyful greetings such as, “Alleluia, the Lord is Risen”, with the joyful response, “He is Risen indeed, Alleluia”, a word that had not been heard throughout the sombre days of Lent. In my private prayer and devotions through Easter my heart spends hours with the faithful beside the empty tomb, and I hear or feel the almost-breathless, almost-unspoken, loud whispered “Rabboni” of Mary Magdalene, a dear friend of our Lord. Some have suggested, or wanted, something sexual in that word, but there is far too much profound depth of love that touches one’s soul to imply anything less. How very much I pray that my Saviour may look upon me, call me by name—then I may know that all is well between us once more.

Many years ago I heard a soloist sing, in Handel’s Messiah, the aria ‘I know that my Redeemer liveth’—my soul was lost in awe and wonder by her voice. Every Easter since then, in my meditation and devotions around Easter morning, I stand at the empty tomb with the faithful that includes Mary. I hear her whispered Rabboni that touches my soul; and in that precious moment Mary and the soloist become one voice pressing upon my heart and soul: I know that my Redeemer liveth. Rabboni, My Master!

My Easter is rich in glory. May Christianity’s triumphant Easter Alleluia bring its glory into every soul.

Canon C. Russell Elliott  is a long time SSJD Associate 

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Reflection for Good Friday Evening and Holy Saturday

The pain is ended now.
The sharp anguish of each strangled breath,
the nails that stab like knives through mangled flesh
as he shifts, now up to breathe, now down
to ease the torment of his poor, pierced feet,
and up again to slake the burning
in his hands, and all the while his back,
torn flesh aflame from recent flogging,
rubs along coarse wood, each grate and splinter
but a minor hurt within the greater,
yet each contributing its little share
to an all-encompassing agony
which fills his senses, fills the world – 
all these are ended now
in death – 
in gentle, kindly, peaceful death.

The pain is ended now.
The bitter loss of friend turned hateward
betraying with malicious kiss;
betrayal too by loving men who,
weak in body, sleep, unwitting of a
brutal fight:  to keep the faith brings painful
death; to turn and run is death in life;
more bitter still to heart that’s breaking,
after bloodshed, panicked flight;
those who boasted love undying
turn to deny him in the night,
the wounds of treachery unintended, that
sting no less than those of measured wrong –
all these are ended now
in death – 
in gentle, kindly, faithful death

The pain is ended now.
Gashes sliced into a spirit come
to bring good news of freshened faith,
by righteous folk who blind their eyes
and deafen ears, blockade their hearts and
minds and souls against the Word of God
out-poured from loving lips; a soul
new-minted, shining in the light, is bruised
and cut and wounded near to death by
fickle crowds who once cried out “Hosanna!”
but now shout “Death!  Death!  Crucify him!”
The jeers, the taunting mockery that bite
into his soul as if a crown of thorns –
all these are ended now
in death – 
in gentle, kindly, loving death.

The pain is ended now.
The first to go, the cuts and scrapes of
stubborn words from hardened hearts,
subsumed within the bone-deep bruises
of love gone wrong, of trust betrayed;
and piercing sharp to break his heart,
sword-strike of purpose seeming unfulfilled;
yet even these are lost within his body’s
pain – the soldiers’ lash, the nails struck true,
the stabbing pain of tortured breath, until –
the deepest hurt of all – he calls aloud
“Why, God, have you forsaken me?” but
following swiftly then, that saving grace –
all these are ended now
in death – 
in gentle, kindly, Godly death.

Sr. Sue Elwyn, SSJD
Guelph, ON
June, 2006