MARIAN SYMPHONY NO. 11 by Joseph Castorino

A Poem about Venerable Fulton J. Sheen

In stature the bishop was rather short,

But spoke with power like a judge in court;

Sometimes his sharp eyes were piercing swords,

Other times his smile was warm, like the Lord’s;

His divine sense of humor won us all,

Yes, “Uncle Fultie” always had a ball;

His Shakespearean drama shook the soul,

Yet leading us to Heaven was his goal.

TO ST. PATRICK by Joseph Castorino

You’re a stout lad from the big Scottish isle,

A future bishop without any guile;

Kidnappers took you away from your home,

Across a sea that rippled with white foam;

In Ireland you were made a poor slave,

Life was rough, though you tried hard to be brave;

You drew close to God and He set you free,

At last with your eyes your homeland you see;

You return to Ireland so smart, so wise,

And clearly reveal all the devil’s lies;

You pray “Christ on my left, Christ on my right,”

And you help the Irish find the true Light.

WHO WAS JUDAS ISCARIOT? by Joseph Castorino

Was he actually


Or did his pride


like swollen eyelids and make him


Was he possibly


Or did silent envy


like a serpent into his


Did he patiently


Or did his simmering anger


as he smelled that costly nard with


Did he have


Or was his faith


like at his last supper


Did he perchance


Or did his fingers


the silver coins to keep in his


Did his temperance avoid every


Or was he a glutton who


all the leftover loaves from his


Did he have self-


Or did he pant and burn for


since killing the Romans was his


Did he ultimately


Or did his soul


through the noose like



Let’s now take a tour through Dante’s

Inferno by going back in time,

It’s all about poetic justice down there,

So let the punishment fit the crime!

Hell is shaped like a giant funnel,

And it leads to the center of the Earth,

It’s an ugly place with a vile stench,

And it’s certainly not known for mirth.

In the Vestibule are those neither good

Nor bad who are like the living dead,

And as they are stung by wild wasps,

Their elastic eyes pop out of their head.

In Circle One are the honorable pagans,

Who lived by the glory of reasoning,

These souls are feeling sad in limbo,

Since they will never taste heavenly seasoning.

In Circle Two are those with carnal passions,

Who allowed sensuality to abound,

Lustful lovers are kissed by a whirling tempest

In an eternal merry-go-round.

In Circle Three are the vomit-stained gluttons,

In a squalid snow unholy,

Three-headed Cerberus loves their fatty flavor

Even more than a tasty cannoli.

In Circle Four are the hoarders and wasters,

Whose only idol in life was money,

They all have heavy weights on their backs,

And shuffle around kind of funny.

In Circle Five the wrathful are swimming

In the swampy Stygian mud,

They look like the drool a cow spits out,

After it has blandly chewed its cud.

A flame from the Great Tower

Marks a shift from upper to lower hell,

This flashing fire signals hell’s capital

In lieu of a funeral bell.

In Circle Six stands the City of Dis,

Shrouded with the smokiest fog,

The heretics are cooked in flaming graves,

As if they are a barbecued hot dog.

Circle Seven is a little bit different,

And it’s divided into three separate rounds,

The sinners are suffering in divers ways,

Making all kinds of screaming sounds.

In Round One are the violent souls,

Mad warlords who wanted to be boss,

Their heads bob in a boiling river of blood,

Like meatballs in tomato sauce.

In Round Two the suicides have turned into

Trees that have black leaves on top,

Their souls are bottled up inside,

Very much like bubbly soda pop.

In Round Three the blasphemers lie on burning sand,

And it makes them really sizzle,

They must have heard the forecast wrong,

Because there is a fiery drizzle.

Circle Eight is also quite unusual,

Divided into bolgias numbering ten,

Each bolgia is a deep, cavernous ditch,

More filthy than a swine’s muddy pen.

In Bolgia One are the selfish seducers,

Who perennially rush around in a mob,

They look like interns late for the subway,

Who are afraid of losing their job.

In Bolgia Two are the flatterers,

Who speak words of sweet sugar-coated goo,

One of them falls into the pool of excrement,

And swallows a mouthful or two.

Bolgia Three is lined with a honeycomb of tubes,

For simoniacs who misused their position,

They’re crammed head-first into each of them,

With their feet ignited by nuclear fission.

In Bolgia Four are the fortune tellers who

Thought predicting the future was pretty neat,

But now they have their heads on backwards,

And they look like twisted pretzels when they eat.

In Bolgia Five, the grafters look like fried frogs,

Peering out from the boiling black tar,

When a demon raked one with a grappling hook,

He felt like he got flattened by a car.

In Bolgia Six are the hypocrites, wearing

Beautiful robes of the heaviest lead,

With buckling knees, they’re sweating bullets,

And their faces are turning strawberry red.

In Bolgia Seven are the thieves,

Who are grievously guilty of blame,

The serpents squeeze them very tight,

And like matches they burst into flame.

In Bolgia Eight are the evil counselors,

Whose murky malevolence is most dire,

They could really go for some lemonade,

Since they are wading in a lake of fire.

In Bolgia Nine are the sowers of discord,

Who are decapitated by a demon who looks drunk,

One of them palms his head in his hand,

Like a basketball player preparing to dunk.

In Bolgia Ten are the crafty counterfeiters,

Who loved to print monetary junk,

Now their skin is crusted with horrid diseases,

And they have a stench like a fricasseed skunk.

In Circle Nine are the beastly betrayers,

Whose souls are so grimly black,

The devil chews and chomps on them,

In a crunchy never-ending snack.

Finally we’ve reached the bottom of hell,

And our fascinating journey is done,

Hopefully Dante is pleased with the result,

As we’ve had just a little bit of fun.

But the moral of the story is to remember always

The very true words of St. John Vianney,

He put it quite well when he said with utter sincerity,

“Hell exists!”

TO ST. TERESA OF AVILA by Joseph Castorino

As a strong spiritual mother,

You reliably and respectably

Reform the Carmelite order,

And your holy friendship

With St. John of the Cross

Helps your soul spiral upwards

Towards the Heavenly Kingdom;

Then, you close your eyes and

Your spirit penetrates into the heart

Of the Interior Castle of prayer,

And there, in the dark night,

You discover the true Light.


Your magnificent story I will tell:

The wondrous Miracle of Massabielle;

Our Lady came in breathtaking beauty,

And she knew that you would do your duty;

You came before her as God’s little child,

And looking down on you, she warmly smiled;

She gently asked you to dig in the ground,

And there spring waters were suddenly found;

Cripples bathed in the stream with salty tears,

And walked away whole without any fears;

Then hardened hearts started to melt,

And before the good God they humbly knelt.

TO OUR LADY OF LOURDES by Joseph Castorino

The Little Candle said to Our Lady,

“Your merciful and majestic eyes

are dazzlingly modest,

Sparkling like radiant jewels

of kindness and compassion;

Your serene smile swiftly

steals my humble heart,

As you point me towards the

path that leads to Jesus;

Your majestic mantle and sky-blue

sash dance joyfully in the breeze,

Reflecting the mildness and the

gentleness of the good God;

Your ladylike lips whisper

words of wisdom

That split the air like

atomic loving lightning;

Your sweet, saintly actions

ripple through the universe,

Like warm, welcoming waves

of heavenly peace.”


As I gently finger the beads of the rosary,

I touch your warm soft hands,

I gaze into your merciful, majestic eyes,

And I contemplate your loveliness;

Together our precious prayers mingle,

And rise up like sweet incense,

Its scent perfumes the halls of Heaven,

And delights the Lord of Light.

TO ST. JOHN OF THE CROSS by Joseph Castorino

A mystical priest, you are paradoxical:

Hated, you encountered Love,

Suffering, you experienced joy,

In trouble, you found peace,

Isolated, you surrendered in patience,

Maltreated, you felt kindness,

Kidnapped, you were generous,

Abandoned, you kept faith,

Abused, you replied with mildness,

Chaste, you were in ecstasy,

Unknown, you became famous,

Imprisoned, you found freedom,

In the dark night, you discovered Light.

A HOUSE BUILT ON ROCK by Joseph Castorino

A humble home was built

On a foundation of faith,

In the Town of Trust,

In the Province of Prudence,

On the rugged rock of

Divine Mercy:

The wild waves awoke

Like ferocious beasts

And beat against the

Formidable fortress,

Wailing with watery fists,

But all to no avail --

Nothing could harm

This holy house of love.

A HOUSE BUILT ON SAND by Joseph Castorino

A castle of carousing was built

On a lazy beach in

The City of Cool,

In the Province of Popular,

On the slippery sand of

Foolish fragile fear:

The voracious waves,

Like a savage swarm of

Paranoid piranha,

Chewed apart the castle,

And a furious flood

Of thick red blood

Poured out in torrents,

Turning the green one red.

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.

FREEDOM by Joseph Castorino

When liberty is

divorced from responsibility,

it dreadfully descends in a

dizzying death spiral of


But when liberty

is married to responsibility,

it courageously spirals upward

in a heroic flight of


TO ST. FRANCIS DE SALES by Joseph Castorino

Born in the breathtaking majesty of the Alps,

you became the Bishop of Geneva most brave;

You fought bloodless battles against the Calvinists,

and your gentle eloquence many souls did save.

Others preached with a barrel full of vinegar,

and for their listeners this wasn’t at all funny;

But you had the sense to sweeten your sermons

with the most delightful and delicious honey.

In your classic book you show us, the laity,

how to make our ordinary lives a success;

Teaching us to find God in the present moment,

our worried minds are relieved of great stress.


Guardian Angel, please pray for us,

Because the devil tempts us to obsess,

We must evade the evil of worldly idols,

And not dream of what to possess;

Thirsting for things can thicken anxiety,

Which can seem to never cease,

We struggle and tuggle with all our might,

And banished is all our peace.

The diabolical dragon swoops down,

Determined all good to destroy,

With the flaming fire of enslaving greed,

He seeks to kill all devotion and joy;

But as our trustworthy guide from Heaven,

With love you sing a sweet prayer,

And your words rise like a happy dove

Higher and higher up into the air.

Your shining shield of protection

Guards us from the devil’s snare,

You deflect the dragon’s temptation,

And it evaporates into the air;

Gratitude is like a stream of living water,

Delightfully refreshing us during the day,

It brings joy to the heart and revives us,

While washing temptation away.

But when the evil one’s persuasive poison

Threatens to seep deep into our heart,

Teach us to think of the Lord Jesus crucified,

So that it pierces our soul like a dart;

When we dance with delight with temptation,

Help us the crucifix recall,

For the cross crushes the devil’s teeth,

And into hellish Styx he will fall.

Meditating on the gore of Golgotha,

Our hearts like tearful candles melt,

Knife-like nails puncture his palms,

And blood trickles to where Our Lady knelt;

Then our foolish obsessions are obliterated,

By the power of His holy love,

And we are magnificently made new,

By His grace flowing from above.

Trying to lure us into obsession,

The devil deceptively dangles his bait,

But seeing you push us out of harm’s way

Only fuels his mad fury and hate;

We escape the avalanche of avarice,

That crushes the soul like snow,

You lead us on a path filled with Light,

And our life in the Spirit does grow.


This is the tale of a small little boy,

Who was sadly deprived of all life’s joy;

I’m supposed to call him “fetal tissue,”

But for me it’s not a PC issue;

I easily slaughtered him like a pig,

No problem, for he was soft as a fig;

Tongs crushed his skull like an egg’s brittle shell,

The demons cheered for me in deep, dark hell;

If I had failed, I’d have lopped off his head,

A simple way to make sure that he’s dead;

You can call me a killer if you dare,

It’s no big deal, so I really don’t care;

Then, I stealthily sold his body parts,

I earn good dough from babies' lungs and hearts;

I’m sorry, but I really have to run,

Now I’m off to the beach to have some fun.


I hesitantly open the door

of the confessional and

to my utter surprise

I see a beach before me:

as I approach the waters

of gentle aquamarine,

my hot feet, crusty

and blackened with

guilt, are cleansed by

Jesus’ holy hands;

He leads me into the ocean,

whose welcoming waves

of delightful divine mercy

kiss and caress my soul,

cooling and refreshing me,

and peace and joy

rush through me, and

as love ripples and rhymes,

sweetening my soul,

I am born again.

PRAYER FOR THE NEW YEAR by Joseph Castorino


O Victorious Virgin,

In the dawn of this

Glorious new year,

Take my hand, gently,

And sweetly lead me

On the path to Truth;

Then joyfully unlock

The Gate of Heaven

Which opens wide

To the Prince of Peace,

To the King of Kindness,

To the Lord of Love;

As your Son rises

Deep in my heart,

May Divine Mercy rays

Of red and white

Shine through me

And warm the world!

AVE MARIA by Joseph Castorino

She gently rocks me,

back and forth,

in her slender arms,

since I’m a little babe

who can’t find Jesus

alone, without her;

she lovingly caresses

and warms me in the

cold dark night,

and her smiling eyes

twinkle in the Light;

her soft rosy lips

sweetly kiss me

as she leads me

faithfully and joyfully

to her merciful Son,

the Bread of Life.