How the Redemptorists have changed
In view of the fact that some Redemptorists are now under sanction from the Vatican for supposedly ‘liberal’ views, it is interesting to note the tradition they came out of, as it is powerfully represented here in this poem from Austin Clarke. Whatever the Vatican authorities might think, it would be hard to argue that the change that has taken place in the pastoral practice of the Redemptorists is not for the better.
‘How many children have you?’ asked
The big Redemptorist.
When was it born?’
‘Ten months ago.’
‘I cannot absolve your mortal sin
Until you conceive again. Go home,
Obey your husband’.
The doctor warned me…..’
Her coffin lid. She twisted her thin hands
And left the box.
Red-headed saint, had brought hell’s flame
To frighten the women on retreat:
Sent on his spiritual errand,
It rolled along the village street
Until Rathfarnham was housing smoke
That sooted the Jesuits in their Castle.
‘No pregnancy. You’ll die the next time,’
The doctor had said.
Her tiredness obeyed
That Saturday night; her husband’s weight
Digging her grave. So, in nine months, she
Sank in great agony on a Monday.
Her children wept in the Orphanage,
Huddled together in the annexe,
While, proud of the Black Cross on his badge,
The Liguorian, at Adam and Eve’s,
Ascended the pulpit, sulphuring his sleeves
And setting fire to the holy text.
Austin Clarke (1967)