Ed Pacht recently had an experience at Mass that does not pretend to be a vision, but the work of imagination in the rarefied air of a High and Loving Presence. Note that such a "Catholic" poem includes reference to two old Evangelical hymns on the Cross. Ed explains, "At the Cross' and 'At Calvary' both resounded in my head as I wrote."
The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (June 30) commemorates Mary's visit to her cousin Elizabeth, the leaping of Elizabeth's unborn son in the womb at the presence of the Savior yet unborn, and Elizabeth's word to Mary, "Blessed art thou among women ..."
There in church Ed saw the icon of Mother and Child to the left and the crucifix over the altar. Mass began ...
She stands within the frame,
at the window into heaven,
holding there her child,
the Child, the Son, the Holy One,
... holding there her Child,
while behind her, as it seems,
there comes a priest to the holy place,
and there, before that holy cross,
where, pained and writhing, full in view,
the suffering Savior is portrayed
... and there upon that altar stone
where bread and cup are set
... there at those bleeding nailed-pierced feet
the words of mystery are said,
of one oblation of himself once offered,
of a full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice,
of an oblation, a satisfaction, a solution
for the sins of the whole world.
She turns to look upon the cross,
and tears in rivers now are flowing
as the Mother, new-born Son, and we,
stand in helpless adoration,
at Calvary, at the Cross, at the crux of time,
at the Cross, at the Cross, where we first saw the light,
the light that showed our deepest sin,
the light that showed the destiny that we had earned
the light that drove us to our knees,
where we trembled at the Law we'd spurned,
and to the Cross we humbly turned.
And by the lips of the priest He speaks,
and in His words He comes,
and it is Calvary,
and it is a feast,
and it is the everlasting Lamb,
it is the Blood flowing from the dawn of time,
it is the everlasting feast of the everlasting sacrifice,
of the everlasting consummation of the Marriage of the Lamb.
We are there. He is here. Time fades.
Mercy there was great and grace was free,
pardon there was multiplied to me,
there my burdened soul found liberty,
She turns to her place.
I see the child.
I see the cross.
I sigh, put out the candles,
and go forth full.
For other poems by Ed Pacht, go to the INDEX.
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