Three Poems by Bishop Bob Morneau

by Melannie Svoboda SND on November 6, 2017

Bishop Bob Morneau

Bishop Robert Morneau is Auxiliary Bishop of Green Bay, Wisconsin. He is also pastor of Resurrection Church there. A loyal Packers’ fan, he is also a good friend of mine. If that’s not enough, Bishop Bob is a poet. His poetry is simple yet profound. It is rooted in daily life and in his great love for God and God’s people. Here are three short poems of his: about a cluttered desk drawer, a war far away, and a cathedral brick. I hope you enjoy them.

“Revelation”

I just opened my desk drawer:

a shoe horn stared at me

as did scattered paper clips, a dead watch, rubber bands awaiting use,

a defunct checkbook,

a golf tee,

a library card,

an ancient passport.

 

I just opened my heart:

staring at me a barrel of fears,

riotous affections seeking order,

a small flame, quivering,

dreams of expansiveness,

a hunger for the infinite.

I quickly closed my cluttered desk drawer

and did the same with my troubled heart.

Today has enough worries of its own.

*             *             *             *             *

“The War”

It was a distant war,

thousands of miles from our homeland,

a long, long way from the heart.

Every war wears a face… (Vietnam War Memorial, Washington, DC)

But yesterday the war drew near.

a young soldier,

from a neighboring village,

was killed in a helicopter crash.

The battle now has a face

and the moans of a grieving family.

 

No war is distant

though miles silence the sound of weapons.

We are one family, and

every war wears the face

of grieving humanity.

*             *             *             *             *

“A Cathedral Brick”

“Add your brick to the cathedral of life,”

they say.

But brick upon brick makes no home,

“Add your brick to the cathedral of life…”

event upon event piled high, no life.

A design is needed,

a game plan—a life plan.

 

Our vocation is architecture,

a double calling to envision and execute.

Our vocation is to align our mission,

to place our brick

into the hand of the Master builder.

It is in this submission

that Chartres becomes a reality.

 

Bishop Bob Morneau will retire Dec. 31. Let us keep him in our prayers. May he continue to write poetry with his pen and with his life.

Did any of these poems speak to you? How? Why?

Today’s song is Amy Grant’s “Better than a Hallelujah.” It celebrates honesty in prayer, saying “honest cries of a breaking heart” can be the best prayer of all.”

 

PS: I ask your prayers for two upcoming talks. On Thursday Nov. 9 I’ll be speaking to the faculty at La Reina High School in Thousand Oaks, CA. On Saturday Nov. 11 I’ll do a presentation on “wonder, courage, and hope” for the SND Sisters, their associates, and other Sisters. Thank you for your support!

Would you like to share a thought with us about this reflection and/or song? Please do so below!

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathleen November 6, 2017 at 5:44 am

What beautiful poems!

I like A Cathedral Brick. I often want to build alone. I like the idea of placing our brick into the hand of the Master Builder. Just what I needed to hear.

Kathleen

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Frances November 6, 2017 at 10:01 am

The pictures accompanying the song are are moving, and a perfect reflection of the words. In light of the tragedy in Texas, we know there are many grieving hearts there. May God hear their cries.

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Suzanne Sayer November 6, 2017 at 11:29 am

I like all three poems. “The War” especially touched me this morning. As Frances points out, there is much grief in a small Texas town today–not exactly the “war” of the poem, yet a war nonetheless. May all find comfort.

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Carol Kapostasy November 6, 2017 at 11:49 am

Beautiful song reminds me that prayer takes all forms….who better to call upon for grace & strength at times of everyday hardships & crises.

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John Hopkins November 6, 2017 at 11:51 am

Good morning, Sr. Melannie,

Like Suzanne, I, too, liked all three poems, but especially “Revelation.” That one really captures that “simple yet profound” poetic quality that you mention in your introduction. He lulls us in by cataloging the mundane, things we all know of or have seen or just have, and then….”I just opened my heart.” At that line, my heart begged for more!

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Sister Ruth Gehres November 6, 2017 at 12:24 pm

Melannie . . . this is all beautiful. “Bishop Bob” is a real poet. I liked all three of the poems you sent, but obviously “War” is the most relevant at this moment. If only we could realize the truth that “we are one family.”
Amy’s song is wonderful too.
I would like to offer a little correction for a typo: the cathedral in France (last poem) is “Chartres.” Maybe you can fix that?
Thanks again . . . blessings on you and your ministry!
Ruth OSU

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Melannie Svoboda SND November 6, 2017 at 1:34 pm

Ruth, I corrected the typo. Thanks for letting me know about it! Glad you liked Bishop Bob’s poems! Melannie

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Anne November 6, 2017 at 1:10 pm

Hi Sr. Melannie,
I especially enjoyed Revelations and the music. I always enjoy Bishop
Morneau’s writings in the Living Faith booklet. I hope he continues writing poems and for the Living Faith. You always pick out such interesting subjects.

Anne

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Tom November 6, 2017 at 2:15 pm

How overwhelming a drawer, or a heart, filled with clutter can appear. I can find a multitude of things to do or worries to ruminate over as reasons to avoid tackling the sorting out process. But, like a pothole not attended to, the clutter, especially of the heart, can slow me up, throw me off course, or at least give me a very bumpy ride.

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Maggie Dunn November 6, 2017 at 2:21 pm

I have two of his books. Just reading in one this morning , The Color of
Gratitude.
Yes ‘War’ touched me after yesterday’s Texas tragedy.
It’s so much like war, I’m so sad to say.
Too bad I’m not an SND. I’d be driving to Thousand Oaks from Ventura
to listen to you on Saturday
Blessings as you share with your Sisters.
Maggie Dunn

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Ann Jurata November 6, 2017 at 2:51 pm

What wonderful poems! Thoughts we often have but are not able to express them as beautifully and succinctly! Thanks for starting my day with such inspiration.

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Shirley November 6, 2017 at 3:56 pm

That song is so amazing! Liked the poems too.

Blessings to you Sister!

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Kathleen November 6, 2017 at 4:14 pm

I love Bishop Morneau! His poem War reminded me of what happened to my cousin. He wasn’t killed in a war; he’s very much alive. His home, new car, garden and property were destroyed in the California wildfires. When I saw pics of his destroyed property I had a personal sorrow instead of a generic one.
I love the CA motherhouse and the Sisters there. Have a safe trip.

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Rita November 6, 2017 at 5:31 pm

thank you for this lovely post Sr Melanie. Prayers for all in SW Ohio, that homes stay dry in these heavy rains.

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Therese P. November 6, 2017 at 11:34 pm

This is my first opportunity to read your weekly message. Thank You Very Much! I enjoy your writings in Living With Christ. I attend St. Raphael’s Parish in Glendale, Arizona; served by Holy Cross Priests from Norte Dame.

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Josita November 8, 2017 at 10:59 am

Hi Melannie , This is my first chance to read this blog, also. I’ve always admired Bishop Morneau, but never read his poetry. They are simple but so profound. I loved all three.
The Hallelujah song is one of our special Kairos Retreat songs…so touching .
Prayers for your 2 talks….sorry I am not closer, I would love to attend the one for sisters.
Blessings, Josita

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Jean Canatsey November 8, 2017 at 8:25 pm

I was especially touched by “War” since I feel it is no longer just in a distant place but right in our own backyard.
I absolutely loved the song. It really hit home. Thank you, Sr. Melannie for coming into my home each Monday morning.

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Marietta November 13, 2017 at 10:56 am

Thanks, Sr. Melannie, for featuring our Bishop on your blog. I also appreciate his poetry and find them challenging and very thought provoking. Loved your choice of the three today.

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