I have a soft spot for saints who were teachers. And I have a quirky desire to dig up as many unknown saints as I can in my reading, so I’d like to introduce you to this incredible woman, Mother Mary Lange, who founded the Oblate Sisters of Providence in Baltimore, Maryland.
Mother Lange’s cause for canonization has been open since 1991, and perhaps moving closer to the day she will be canonized.
I wrote about her in my book, My Badass Book of Saints, because she has some unusual ties to the Caribbean, and I wanted to explore her further. She and I share a common circumstance in our immigration stories. Both of us are refugees; her family fled the dangers of the Haitian Revolution and my family fled the dangers of the Cuban Revolution.
Born Elizabeth Lange in 1790, some sources say she was born in Haiti or the Dominican Republic, and then emigrated to Santiago de Cuba, others say she was born in Cuba. She eventually emigrated to the United States and settled in Baltimore, Maryland.
She dedicated herself to educating the Black children in her community and fervently wanted to consecrate her life to the Lord. At that time, there were no orders of religious sisters taking women of African descent. The Emancipation Proclamation was decades away, and educating slaves was illegal. Elizabeth took it upon herself to privately fund her efforts to educate the children in her community. She did this with another like-minded young woman, and together they formed a small school out of her home, serving the needs of the Catholic African-American community in which she lived.
When the local bishop found out, he urged her to found an order for African-American women, and thus, she became the foundress of the Oblate Sisters of Providence, the first religious order for women of African descent. Her little school became the Baltimore Academy for Colored Girls and later changed it’s name to St. Frances Academy. Today, the school is co-educational and continues to serve a largely African-American student body.
Took some photos this mornings. Delighted in the graceful birds surrounding me in my little corner of the world.
Asking an English major for a favorite poem, and expecting an immediate answer might well be an exercise in futility. Melanie Bettinelli, who blogs about literature (and other things) at The Wine Dark Sea offered me the poet Marianne Moore as part of a Facebook game. Little did she know Moore is one of my favorites, along with two other poets from that era, William Carlos Williams, and Elizabeth Bishop. I can’t say I love Moore’s poems as much as I love their form, her style. It’s free and long and even as I write this long long sentence I see her influence in my writing. Maybe I should go back to writing poetry.
Here’s the poem I selected for the challenge because lately it seems all I do is stand “looking into the sea.” I don’t know what answers I seek there, or even if I know the questions, but the line “the sea is a collector, quick to return a rapacious look” resonates with me. Is my look so deep, so intent, that it violates? Maybe, like the movement of fishermen’s oars, I look at the sea as if there were no death.
Man looking into the sea,
taking the view from those who have as much right to it as
you have to it yourself,
it is human nature to stand in the middle of a thing,
but you cannot stand in the middle of this;
the sea has nothing to give but a well excavated grave.
The firs stand in a procession, each with an emerald turkey-
foot at the top,
reserved as their contours, saying nothing;
repression, however, is not the most obvious characteristic of
the sea is a collector, quick to return a rapacious look.
There are others besides you who have worn that look —
whose expression is no longer a protest; the fish no longer
for their bones have not lasted:
men lower nets, unconscious of the fact that they are
desecrating a grave,
and row quickly away — the blades of the oars
moving together like the feet of water-spiders as if there were
no such thing as death.
The wrinkles progress among themselves in a phalanx — beautiful
under networks of foam,
and fade breathlessly while the sea rustles in and out of the
the birds swim through the air at top speed, emitting cat-calls
as heretofore —
the tortoise-shell scourges about the feet of the cliffs, in motion
and the ocean, under the pulsation of lighthouses and noise of
advances as usual, looking as if it were not that ocean in which
dropped things are bound to sink —
in which if they turn and twist, it is neither with volition nor