FIREWORKS IN THE DARK NIGHT by Joseph Castorino

 

I wait for Him --    

we have a rendezvous        

in the dark night;     

as I carry my cross        

up the rugged hill,         

my heart sinks,    

for when I finally    

reach the summit,    

I am all alone;        

but when I look up,    

I see dazzling fireworks     

high in the sky,        

starry explosions of        

royal red and white        

light up my world

and I feel His love;    

The Dove of Divine Mercy        

is wonderfully whirling

deep within me and is

sweetly singing in my soul.

 

Independence Day by Joseph Castorino

 

The withered tree

on Golgotha       

was pierced with        

rusty nails and            

red sap flowed    

along its branches

and down its trunk

before it finally died;

but three days later

it shocked the world        

by returning to life,        

with fresh flowers,        

wondrously white,        

and in full bloom,            

dazzlingly bright,

and the Truth

has set us free.

 

TO ST. PETER THE APOSTLE by Joseph Castorino

 

Your fishing boat bobs up 

   and down in uncertainty,

As you reflect upon the 

   meaning of your life;

With a sterile stare you 

   gaze at the wobbly waves,

While the wonderful wind of 

   the Spirit is silently approaching;

A merciful Son of Man is 

   standing on the sandy seashore,

He is looking for his Rock, 

   to make him a fisher of men;

The breeze blows through 

   your stubborn white hair,

As the Son of Man asks if He

   can come aboard your boat.

 

As Jesus ascends, He disappears 

   into nebulous misty clouds,

You feel like a floundering 

   fisherman without his nets;

Without the Good Shepherd, 

   your heart seems hollow,

You now appear more like 

   a pebble than a rock;

But later, a deafening wind 

   whirls through the room,

And fantastical flaming 

   fireballs crown all present;

In divers tongues, all mystically 

   praise the good God,

And you proclaim the Word

   with holy courage.

 

As you are cruelly crucified 

   upside-down on Vatican Hill,

Your life is brimming with 

   meaning and significance;

Your blood falls to the earth 

   like a myriad of mustard seeds,

Where the Church will 

   take root and grow strong;

You are the first link in 

   the precious papal chain,

An unbreakable chain dripping 

   with martyrs’ blood;

This chain will withstand 

   the hammering of heretics,

It will be like a fruitful vine 

   bringing Love to the world.

 

TO ST. PAUL by Joseph Castorino

 

You watch with piercing pistol eyes as 

  Stephen is brought before the Sanhedrin,

The leaders flog him with false witness,

  And revengefully rush at him;

They drag him outside the city,

  And lay their cloaks at your Pharisaical feet,

Then, with hellish hate, they hurl

  Spear-like stones that crush his body;

Horribly hideous thoughts float through

  The black ocean of your mind,

And you are obdurately obsessed with

  Driving Christianity into total oblivion;

You track and hunt down the Christians

  With dreadful determination,

You throw them into prison,

  Seeking to snuff out the sparks of the New Way.

 

On the dusty road to Damascus,

  You relish your recent conquest over the Christians,

You are smugly satisfied with your success

  Against those religious rebels;

But then there is a blinding flash,

  Infinitely brighter than a bolt of lightning,

Catapulted from your horse,

  You clumsily crash to the ground and collapse;

Then you unmistakably hear that familiar

  Gentle voice of Christ the Courageous,

He tenderly and mercifully asks,

  “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

Suddenly you are struck blind, 

  And you are entirely enveloped in darkness,

It appears as if God has blown out the sun,

  As if it were a giant candle in the sky.

 

Pondering and perturbed, you are praying quietly,

  In a home on Straight Street,

Lost in your thoughts, you rhythmically 

  Stroke your black mustache and beard;

Your heavy heart weeps in dismay,

  As your brashness has led to your bitter blindness,

Now the hero who was persecuting the rebels

  Is himself converting into a rebel;

Scattered at your feet are the shattered

  Pieces of your old way of life,

A day ago those puzzle pieces all fit together,

  Like the pillars in Solomon’s Portico;

But now a key piece of the puzzle is missing:

  The messianic centerpiece,

You repentantly fast and pray,

  As Ananias approaches with the missing piece.

 

Gazing at the Circus Maximus, you know

  That your time in this world is very short,

As you reflect back upon your life,

  You realize how much you’ve changed;

Through the limitless love of the Lord,

  You have become a very humble man,

And through the Prince of Peace,

  You are filled with the fruits of the Spirit;

After so many years, you long to

  Give the kiss of peace to the saintly Stephen,

You hunger and thirst to embrace your

  Magnificent Messiah, Jesus the Just;

The sun sets in Rome’s crimson sky,

  Surrounded by clusters of woolly clouds,

This flock of lambs is ready to follow

  The shepherd-sun down into Vatican Hill.

 

TO ST. THOMAS MORE by Joseph Castorino

 

You were the Lord High Chancellor

  Under the infamous Henry the Eight,

At first you tasted the king’s friendship,

  But later on the sovereign’s hate;

You were a right honorable gentleman,

  With an intellectually sharp mind,

With courage you stood against the crown,

  For, sadly, it was spiritually blind;

So you were put in the Tower of London,

  A place that vile criminals dreaded,

You faithfully served the good God first,

  Thus, the monarch had you beheaded;

In this world, you bravely battled for truth,

  The people, you’d never mislead ‘em,

Now from Heaven you pray for us all,

  As the patron of religious freedom.

 

FREEDOM by Joseph Castorino

 

When liberty is

divorced from responsibility,

it dreadfully descends in a

dizzying death spiral of

selfishness.

 

But when liberty

is married to responsibility,

it courageously spirals upward

in a heroic flight of

freedom.

 

STALE COOKIES by Joseph Castorino

 

We must avoid the

stale cookies of selfishness,

for they crumble

into complaints;

but with the Eucharistic

bread of gratitude,

we can live like

the holy saints.

 

MATURITY by Joseph Castorino

 

Maturity is less

about having the

freedom to do

what we want,

and more about

taking responsibility

for doing what

we need to do;

growing up is less

about advancing

in age,

and more about

learning from 

everyone's mistakes -- 

especially our own.

 

DIVINE MERCY: ENLIGHTENED BY THE HOLY EUCHARIST by Joseph Castorino

 

I stagger and stumble        

and struggle through life,    

my brain twisted into knots    

by perplexing problems,         

by a delirium of doubts,    

by a flurry of fickle fears;    

so Our Lady of Love            

takes me by the hand        

and gently leads me to        

The Divine Mercy,        

where He is enthroned in His        

regal monstrance of gold,    

and I pour out my heart    

before His Holy Majesty;    

from His Most Precious Body    

two beams of bright light,    

both red and white,        

burn through the darkness,    

illuminating my mind,        

and the Truth has set me free.

DEATH SPIRAL by Joseph Castorino

 

Q-war-reling:        

even the fearful word        

forebodes a future filled     

with deep darkness;        

impatience heats to        

simmering anger        

then it boils over into        

raging revenge            

then it ignites into        

bloody battles                

then it explodes into        

world wars.

 

DIVINE MERCY: THE LEADOFF HITTER IN THE DARK NIGHT by Joseph Castorino

 

My heart is ready, O God:

   Tuus totus ego sum;

I take batting practice,

   and the crisp crackle of

my maple-wood bat echoes

   throughout the stadium.

 

Later, I hear a soft sweet voice say,

   “Do whatever He tells you”;

therefore, when I see the Spirit signal,

   I gently lay down a regal bunt that

humbly dies to itself in the grass as I run

   to first base like a strong driving wind.

 

As I stand on first base, with a

   smile on my face from ear to ear,

my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

   for in my surrender I start to love;

however, The Beast, seething in hot

   anger, already plans his revenge.

 

When I return to home plate,

   The Beast strikes me out

over and over and over again

   with the flaming fastballs of fear,

and I fall, carrying a heavy cross,

   dizzy with discouragement.

 

My Manager benches me in the chapel,

   but lovingly teaches me to fast from fear

and leave my worries in His loving hands,

   so for three days I return to the chapel, 

for ten minutes daily, to ask for His guidance,

   and receive the Spirit's gift of Divine Mercy.

    

When I'm back in the lineup, The Beast

   scornfully glares at me from the mound

with his mean menacing black eyes;

   But I hear a voice encourage me:

Non abbiate paura,” and again,

   louder, “Non abbiate paura!”

 

By God's grace, I stand again in the

   batter’s box, and I hit a shooting star

whose sparkling trail is red and white,

   quickly shattering the dark night,

and the line drive swiftly sizzles over  

   the shortstop and into left field.

     

Then, in my next at-bat, filled with

   the peace and joy of the Holy Spirit,

I swing and barrel a flaming missile,

   that brightly lights up the dark night,

and as the ball soars high over the wall,

   the angels playfully dance around it.

 

DIVINE MERCY: THE SACRIFICE BUNT IN THE DARK NIGHT by Joseph Castorino

 

For years and years

I stubbornly bought

my own baseball bats,

because I always

wanted to be in control,

but like my

big-shot dreams,

they all shattered,

splintering and

bloodying my hands;

at last, I listened

to You,

and I let You

choose one for me,

a powerful bat

of strong

Virgin wood,

perfectly formed,

and as regal

as a princess;

she isn’t a

heavy bat

but a light one -- 

and she doesn’t

weigh me down

with worry,

for she is filled

with Light;

her lovely name is

“La Madonnina”

and as I surrender

to the Spirit,

she sweetly

guides my swing

and thunder crackles

upon impact with

adversity, as I hit

lightning line drives,

exasperating the enemy.

 

DIVINE MERCY: THE STADIUM IN THE DARK NIGHT by Joseph Castorino

 

I quietly and invisibly

live my faith,

and accept life’s

incessant curveballs;

I am obedient to my

Manager’s wish for

bunt singles 

instead of home runs.

 

The people of the world

are sitting in the box seats,

busied with food

and entertainment;

living in another world,

they have no idea

what I’m doing

in the batter’s box.

 

But Our Lord, Our Lady,

and the heavenly court

happily cheer me on

from the upper deck;

I live my life behind

the cross,

living in the dark night

of the unseen.

 

TO ST. PHILIP NERI by Joseph Castorino

 

Your happy heart desired to go abroad,

  On a mission to the exotic Far East;

Where you might convert lots of souls,

  And become a holy Jesuit priest.

 

But as a merry man with natural goodness,

  You were drawn by God to Rome;

You had no money and you had no plan,

  Yet the Eternal City became your home.

 

With Socratic discussions on street corners,

  You most pleasantly evangelized;

Yet you did it in such a fun-loving way,

  That the people never felt chastised.

 

One Pentecost something special happened --

  You felt the peace of The Dove;

When a globe of fire entered your mouth,

  You almost died of ecstatic love.

 

You inspired many in the confessional,

  So that the truth they understood,

And the people always heard you saying,

  “When shall we begin to do good?”

 

FIRST TRIP by Joseph Castorino

 

Dedicated to my father

Me and Dad were at

Knott’s Berry Farm and

he couldn’t wait to share

his favorite attractions with me;

the torch of his enthusiasm

burned even hotter

than the fiery ashes

of his cigarettes;

but I was like a wet match,

soaking wet,

and Dad had no chance,

no chance at all --

my whole world was

Disneyland;

hot words of anger

gathered in his mouth

like fierce storm winds,

but then he hesitated,

thought pensively for a moment,

and, finally, swallowed them;

with a smile of selfless surrender,

he took my hand in his own

and, together,

we walked towards the exit.

 

OUR LADY OF JOY by Joseph Castorino

 

As she serenely stepped out of the upper

  room, she rejoiced in a fresh new day,

She looked about her peaceful surroundings,

  drinking in the delicious goodness of God;

Clusters of clouds casually wafted by, so low

  that they brushed the pinnacle of the temple,    

They passed by like eager pilgrims, Eucharistic

  white against the bright blue morning sky;

Later that morning, she and the Apostles were

  deeply immersed in prayer when, suddenly,

She inhaled the sweet scent of God’s presence,

  and joyfully breathed in the Lord’s love;

The balmy breeze of grace swirled around her

  and compassionately caressed her,

She reflected on God’s glorious grandeur,

  and its magnificence soaked into her soul;

Then, the Word rushed through them all,

  as the Holy Spirit swiftly swooped down,

The bold beautiful breeze of heavenly hope

  placidly filled the sails of their souls;

The Paraclete, like a powerful, whirling wind,

  spectacularly sparked the wicks of their

Souls, and ignited the fire of love, which

  rippled through and rhymed in their hearts;

Then, Our Lady’s heart was passionately,

  preciously pierced by the sweet sword

Of the Spirit; her soul, suddenly

  brimming with God’s majestic mercy,

Soared in a spiraling celestial

  crescendo of God’s love for her;

With peaceful confidence, her heart,

  like a fiery supernova, exploded with

Feelings of love, joy, and peace,

  of patience, kindness, and generosity;

Her smiling eyes then beheld the

  flaming fire of Love resting on all, and as                                                           

She serenely surrendered all to the Spirit,

  like a giddy geyser she gushed

Torrents of light-hearted laughter

  and happy, heavenly tears; this golden

Cascade of pure love poured over

  her soul like a warm, wonderful

Waterfall of holy honey; deep down

  inside, the Spirit was strumming on

The harmonic harp of her heart, and

  she was deliciously, delightfully deluged

By this overwhelming ocean of her

  Jesus’ magnificent mercy and love;

The Light of the World had scattered

  and defeated the dreary dark night.

 

TO ST. FAUSTINA by Joseph Castorino

 

You, the mystical    

missionary of mercy,        

are honored as        

the first saint        

of the Great Jubilee,        

the first saint        

of the new millennium;    

you serenely smile        

as the blessed blood        

and the blessed water        

kiss and mingle    

in the infinite ocean        

of Divine Mercy;    

you see the barque    

of St. Peter as it    

faithfully floats on     

the beautiful waves,        

protected from the    

storm winds of worry,    

free from all fear;    

like the warm welcoming    

arms of the Bernini Colonnade,        

Divine Mercy is ready to    

earnestly embrace every    

hardened sinner who            

hungers for healing and    

thirsts for generous love:    

Jezu ufam Tobie!

 

THE VIRGIN MOON by Joseph Castorino

 

The Virgin moon    

shines in splendor    

in the dark night,    

but in humility she    

recognizes that the true    

glory really belongs to her

Sun, whose divine mercy

rays of red and white

shine in dazzling brilliance        

through all eternity.

 

TO ST. MATTHIAS THE APOSTLE by Joseph Castorino

 

You were added to the Eleven just a little bit later,

But it’s sad that you’re known for replacing the traitor.

 

You were a part of the mission of the seventy-two,

And you saw how Jesus’ power made all things new.

 

On Pentecost you received the promised Paraclete,

And heard the first papal speech of good old St. Pete.

 

You mortified your flesh to kill your desire,

Coupled with virtue, it helped put out the fire.

 

As a martyr, you were stoned in the year 80 A.D.,

Now surrounded by Love, you’re finally free.

 

MILLION-DOLLAR DOUGHNUTS by Joseph Castorino

 

Year in and year out she went to

Million-Dollar Doughnuts

and ate thousands and thousands

of their incredibly popular

one-of-a-kind doughnuts,

because people said

that sooner or later

they would make her

unbelievably happy.

 

But every single day she had

the same experience:

she took bite after tasty bite of

those irresistible doughnuts,

which were soaked in a

mysterious magical potion,

and then vivid visions

pulsated and rushed

through her intense imagination;

those decadent doughnuts

inebriated her mind with dreams

of wealth and riches

and silver and gold --

and she was drunk with delight;

but as soon as she reached

the hole in the middle,

the visions suddenly vanished and

she felt a desolate emptiness and

a depressing loneliness

which always left her

hungrier and thirstier

than she had been before.

 

In the end,

she died as she lived,

starved for love,

and when she was buried,

there was a hole in her body --

like the hole of a doughnut --

where once her heart had been.