THERESE IN THEORY MICHAEL BOLERJACK
Therese in Theory ÂŠ 2012 Michael Bolerjack
I once said a prayer to the saint to ask her to
send a rose to my wife. I got up and went to the kitchen for a glass of orange juice and there on the floor was a perfect dried rose. I asked my
wife about it. She said just a few minutes before she had cleaned the kitchen floor and there
was nothing there. I told several people about it the next few days. Some believed, though some were skeptical. I went a few days later to buy a statue of the saint. The woman who sold it to
me said, ask her to send you a rose and she will. I said she already did.
tessera [L, prob. ultim. fr. Gk tessares four; fr. its having four corners] 1: a small tablet (as of wood, bone or ivory) used by the ancient Romans as a ticket, tally, voucher, or means of identification 2: a small piece (as of marble, glass or tile) used in mosaic work Tessera is the pieces of my life in writing, fragments from a man who himself underwent fragmentation and selfdeconstructed, under the form and pressure of the time, and from my own personal sins, mistakes and ignorance. Tessera is also the time of the Tess to come, Teresas and Therese, in a catholicity at once little, heroic, mystical and practical, to explicate our corrupt time of implications, while being simple, supplicatory and perhaps itself in need of interpretation. Tessera is also the Esse or essence of art and the weight of the tare that is subtracted when the mere container is removed and the net weight is discovered. These pieces then, arranged as a history, tell my identity, and vouch for truth, while amounting to the removal of myself from the account, the tare torn.
Logics of The Rose
1: Steps 2: Lese Majesty 3: Tessera 4: The Seer
I Faith, Hope, Love: Envois of Therese, Laws of Littleness
II Story of a Soul: Signifying Saint, Prophetic Poet
III TESSERA 1 Carmel Crossing 2 Economic Esthetics 3 Graceful Glory 4 Logical Love
IV Re These: The Seer
I The Vocation
II Aesthetic In Carmel
IV There SE
Around my name, square ringing: BKLM, being, knowing, loving, morally, in all you are, you all metaphysics of the good, you are already inscribed in my boxed corner, my gnomon, and with me, we indicate the hour and the direction, ever upward. At last, the work ends where it began, to complete the ring, the symbols, the tokens, the identity once broken, the effraction of the I that I was, my dehiscence, and more. In the first poem, perhaps, I wrote in 1985, the one for St. Joan of Arc, I made a curious mistake in my French, which I did not know well, and had the saint say not je mâ€™apelle but flatly and I
might say stubbornly je suis. And now, looking back over 25 years and after having learned to read, I see Christ smiling at me from my youth when I knew Him not, but had only heard of Him. JE SU (I) S. Yes, Lord, you were with me always. The Tess is like that, a little word in the right place in the mosaic, put there by the poet in me whom we know is the real man, Jesus, the eternal imagination. So, I acknowledge those greater debts I owe to Jesus, to Joan, and to Therese, to the saints like Anthony, and Francis and Bonaventure, and the many titles of Mary, Our Lady of Carmel, of Fatima, Guadalupe, of Lourdes and others. I would ring them in, I would bring in sheaves, I who sowed in tears
and now at harvest smile. Oh the whiter saints ravest, oh starving in the harvest, how they do rave, as Joan once, and as Therese, my hinge, everything, in grace. I have heard the breaking of the chains by the ringing of holy bells, circles stepped out of, and drowned by pealing pleas, stepped for believing, a being neither gloss nor glare, but more like light, knelling knelt moral beauty. The seer, signatory, tessellated, there, regard the se, the signature effect of, little by little, Tess era, her flowers these, not of rhetoric but far rather of theology. In that more moral beauty, ever set, in the least piece of a mosaic, flowered, found fit, found first. A law not mine, but given, gift of a rose, He arisen, sixteen even,
for God and for her, mothers, sisters, wives, all saints, virgin martyrs, who knew when I did not know. It was not only as if, but truly I was not and had not, would not have, without their prayers. If I have and will have been seen to have had, it was but by grace, and a mystic rose. If risen I one day be, though books cease and all knowledge falls away, yet if I will be, it will be because of a love that is really one, love of truth, truth making love, honesty. The sincerity of the saints, humble, virtuous, patient, waiting not in vain but in mercy, still accepting sacrifice, suffering for truth, in love, tears and smiles at once both with and without contradiction, in joyful pain, in crosses His, just one crossing,
thou, passionate, teach passions thine, so finding thy true passion, we did but transpassionate with thee.
The (Ste) PS
Therefore I would write in conclusion not my own signature but search for the hand of Therese in her works and these. She, the muse, as I have said, she but little, and yet so great, she child-like, yet so mature, she of the little way, the little flower, yet a doctor of the church, who taught love by her example not unique but based on gospel truths of the Father and Love, of humility, patience, of suffering into the truth of Christ. She helps place within reach of us common folk a spirituality that does not confine but defines us as ones who must do the little things well, the duties of our state in life, and I
fear that in this work I have attempted a thing that was not really necessary, and neglected people and things that I should have done instead. But there are many ways to Heaven in the following of the one way. There may even be intellectuals in Heaven. I do not know. Therese was not an intellectual, but she had a genius. Perhaps all real genius is untaught and comes only from God. I have written elsewhere of Therese, at the conclusion of the fragmentary â€œpostscriptâ€? placed earlier in this volume, as I defended her being made a doctor against those who think her a lightweight. So I have heard catholic philosophy department members murmur. Therese was no teaching
â€œprofessional.â€? She taught in the real dialectic. She teaches still from heaven, and that fact alone is sufficient. In the end it only matters whether or not we get to God, or live in relation with the Real. Therese was idealized after death, but in her ideal and real combine to go against the system of the scholastic, to be amateur, yes to be a girl, and yes to be enthusiastic, charming, a part of her age, and yet the way I think the future of a truly catholic theology is to be, simple, direct, universal, not burdened by concepts, loving, little, trusting in the mercy of God, giving flowers, sending roses to those you love, and that she does, believe me. She did for me. At my baptism I smelled roses and only
found out much later that that was a sign of the presence of Therese. She truly has spent her life in Heaven doing good on earth. If my work comes into your hands, it will have been because of her. I believe she wrote my life in some sense and this work, too. The seer, she, regarding theses on moral beauty and showing the arrival of a logic for the renewal of a Church in desperate straits, cutting off both modern dialectic and postmodern deconstruction in order for the Church to become truly catholic, to walk the walk that it always has taught, to walk behind Christ, not judging others, but including the lost, the sinner, blessing the world rather than cursing it, reforming self in order to await
the wedding feast of the bridegroom with joy, to be but a little one, but in that a little one that is unrepeatable, unexampled, who said yes to her spouse, to be yes a little victim, to be yes consumed by Godâ€™s love. Like Mother Teresa for whom Therese was an inspiration, to say yes to Jesus in simplicity. We do not need a more complex theology, or to know the mysteries as they are. Others centuries ago worked out all those fine details. What we need is the practice to match our theory. Here it is that the current Church is and perhaps has ever been lacking. The gospel is simple and but they say hard to do. By our own will and effort it is impossible, but for God all things are possible. Just look at
Therese, who accomplished so much without implication or complication or even much explication, but by supplication, by her prayers, by her willingness, her trust, she dared to hope, to really believe all things, to exemplify the true catholicity by passion, to answer the call. She proclaimed the aspect of the catholic economy most basic to us, our vocation to love. To love is to make, do, be, but without having to: just allowing love to.
Once, ten years ago on this day, feast day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, a woman asked me: if I love you and you love me, can we be married? I said yes to that woman, and she became my wife, still with me now. In latter days, another asked, I do not know, but I believe: if I love you and you love me, can we be written? And again I said yes, and these books came to be as they are, done under the guidance of their seer Therese. So much has passed in the 25 years of my authorship, from deconstruction to faith in Christ, from all the evils a man could do, to trying now to be the man Jesus wants me to be.
Tessera is a kind of story of my soul, the moral and intellectual record of my climb out of the abyss, at times confessional, or critical, conscious of where the truth is calling, or sometimes wandering and questioning my vocation as writer and as a man. Of course, as Therese teaches, the vocation is to love, and these books both reflect and exemplify that one love within us and abroad, love for God, for truth, for language embodied in literature and for the holiness embodied in the saints. For a work that is at heart theological and catholic, it might seem strange that more is not said by me on the scandals of the Church during the time of my writing. I would say that in essence for the
Catholic Church to arrive, it must suffer a decapitalization, to go from big C to little c, to embrace the way of littleness taught by Therese, and be not the Catholic Church, but a catholic church, universal, not for the Roman bias, but to be one for the world, impartial, as God is. If, as Benedict XVI said on his ascension to the see of Peter, the doors are open, let them be opened wider still, to include the whole world as it is, not as the curia would have it to be. Jesus said to the deaf man: Be open! He still speaks to us that word today. The church catholic must be open. And Jesus also said: The first will be last, the last will be first. Truth is on the side of the little ones, the least, while power seems to be on the
side of the leaders who do not truly lead but have already gone astray. It would be better that a stone were tied about their necks, than to cause harm to any little one. But they have caused many to stumble, and have over a long history killed the prophets of the reform of the church, or silenced them, in the name of the Church herself, which they identify with Rome, not with all the little ones. Scripture is eternal, the situation of the gospel is always the same. Be open! The first will be last, the last will be first. Through this may come the glasnost and the restructuring of Catholicism. This is almost all I have to say about the trouble with the Church. I remain her son, but more catholic in
intent, following the inviolability of conscience taught by the council of renewal, not as it was reformed by the catechism to conform to the teachings of men. God speaks within each one of us. If we but listen. In this work I logically reform both dialectic and de-construction, completing the progression of realism, idealism, nihilism, grace. Without Godâ€™s grace our thinking comes to nothing, as can be seen, but by Him we will receive the ring given to the prodigal. For which of us has not been such a one that we stand not in need of grace? We must answer the call, the hest, be open, and break the circle of the text of the world. The act of faith breaks it and establishes a logic and a love
outside that hitherto known. The works were a way for me to continually make acts of faith and hope and love and keep alive the confidence my parents and others placed in me, the sense of mission given to me, the need for change. Though I may not change the world, yet God has changed me. These are the history of one learning to walk by faith in His light, which shines on all.
And Yet. Yet, not yes, but yet, and yetter, yesser still, F yes to AH, yesses still, to the grandfathers and fathers, all men, all women, grand-dames, grandmas and my mother mothering me most of all: You C! I was always wrong, let my sister tell you, it was I who was wrong, not wronged, not you, either of you, neither of you, any of you, you all, it was I who was ignorant, I who was lazy, sinner sinning still, it was I who was negligent, I who was more sinning than sinned against, I who leered when I should have reeled, who did not let Aaronâ€™s rod bud, but withheld my seed, who did not love, but did judge all in the particulars, and generally excused myself, who did reason, rationalize, amplify, exemplify, complify, explify, flay the fly, fail afly, fly frail, to
no reply, no word, neither heard nor unheard, I starved in harvest time, myself ravest, fattest, drunken athirst, I became text rather than to teach, took every add and vantage, did not take place, took out, did not take back, exampled unredeemed, did not redeem the time, but out of jointure, held, cursing not blessing, hawking, despite real love, real friends, real family, a real God and a real world, which I said only seemed to be because I could not, would not be me, did no contextuality, did no effract I, I did not read my implied im- [plications] and called her my mother harlot: C? Not she but me. She sued me beyond in recognitions. Let be, let be, AH to Charlotte in Spring. Let go, she would prophesy me, my laze of employment, my
hazed lonelistnesses, my all together brokenness, est, established: the wheel that could not turn, flat flayed, I thought I was centered at the stills, but pointed out knot fescue, for you, four you, the famous family of mine, I did not lay down, but was already lebel to the growned, torned, like Rimbaud, ay sixteen, at AH, IAH, ich been einer, nein, huffing, puffing, man, I knew you not, not even at the heartbreak and teras of mary. CH knew too much, C? Hurts her still I fear, I said no bye, like dedalus in my way, not flying or artificer, afailed, A. We were both blinded to ourselves, she in potent prophetically, I impotently, I legally but blinded, how antimomian, no man, no mom, no moon, no sun, no son, sinning, not shining, no. Pretender to faithâ€™s crown. Without Works.
Show me I said your work, but did not see the work to be done all around me, the harvest, I flayed to labor over textual under my affliction failing, my chronosis of the time, miss diagnosis, both, C/not C, both sane and insane and both at the same time. Tradiction C? On. Was become as I be held. Dee con stricted structured, destroyed, dead almost but not quit, I became impossible, THE impossible, literarily, YET: here I am yes. Father told me: Reft AH. Be reft. How can I? Yet, yes I am. And the priest said to me: IM IT. I AM IT. Cannot not be, if I will believe I will be. Despite Big D, dig B? Cause God, grace, gift, merciful He, and the chastisement of my Charlotte and Michael and BO and AH and all in all. Flayed, yet. SEEMS TO ME. Corrections, I
was a text to be emended, amen. Amen not yet man. TO BE OR AS IF. Purging, the over exposure of my denial of the truth, C, so that I did not C my selfdenial, A is A. No step yetter. No step to a stepper, C ANDY. What Can I Say? I missed you ever, hospitality. EVER. Missed you, read retractions, extractions, impactions, unattractions, dismissing, dismal, abyss, my history, AH knew TO BE. The abyss to be is the abyss to come. All past, papaw. Sending sinner sent, cyn, in syn, to cinders. Song you 2. Fors. U. But you all were hear all along, had I never knew who you were, but I never knew who you were at all. AH! Delighted, relieved, regretted, con-tempted. I AM ALL THAT. And hear, on this independence day, fourth of Julio, in US, and I am IT
in IT, never knowing another, but not faithful in that, but afraid, YET: I have heard of another country. Somewhere. Over yonder, beautiful, but, ah, bright wings, specimen, here I AM. That there is such a place be yonder I heaven heard but have not scene, if I will someday, walk on that Englander green, I do not no, but be leave. Desire it so, no de serve it. And cannot say none do, only that Aye do not, yet I may steal, good thief walk there, not by my own efforts, whatever they amount to, a breath, or less than a breath, but by His Graciousness. AH! Every-thing is grace, Therese said. She finds those lost, son. I was one too. Canâ€™t O Son The Chaos, These Son Moral Beauty. My cantos and theses she did right, emend and even more she: the AH there(se)!
became, forgiver, tessera, a mosaic law, Moses promised, I but dinned thy steps in me.
____________________ For THE MUSE on THE STEPS: SAINT THERESE VIRGIN AND DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH ____________________