Cibola 92

Marcos (5) (cont’d)

Marcos rises renewed, seized
with fresh intent: later
this very morning–since
he’d already planned, with the help
of his three assistants, to honor
their hosts’ request for holy songs–
to bless the fields and wild crops
in solemn procession.
To improvise
a penitential rogation. It’s only
a few days past the official date:
his name-saint’s day,
the Feast of St. Mark.

Thus it happens that four hours after sunrise
on their fourth morning in the valley
they kneel before the makeshift altar,
the natives wearing (as instructed)
no jewelry & only their plainest
cotton robes, as well as the sad looks
this rite demands.
The friar launches into the litany:
God the Father of Heaven have mercy
God the Son Redeemer of the world have mercy
God the Holy Spirit have mercy
Holy Trinity One God have mercy on us
Holy Mary pray for us

& at a signal from the Indian Marcos
all rise, queue up by twos
behind the cross, carried by a newly
baptized elder: first the men,
then the women, & bringing
up the rear the four religious,
Marcos as always finding the sacred
phrases right at hand, inevitable
as wave following ocean wave–
Holy Mother of God pray for us
Holy Virgin of Virgins pray for us

his inner senses freed for contemplation.

He marvels at the silence–no
suppressed giggles, not even a whisper–
& finds himself stealing glances
at this congregation–if such
it can be called–of freshly
baptized infidels. One woman
he notices with hair modestly
unbound, spilling down her back
& around her bowed head–such
humility in her posture,
her chaste attire,
St. Benedict pray for us
St. Bernard pray for us
St. Dominic pray for us
St. Francis pray for us,

he allows himself to imagine
a future for her in Service,
as a Bride of Christ–
all ye holy priests & Levites pray for us
all ye holy monks & hermits pray for us
St. Mary Magdalene pray for us
St. Agatha pray for us
St. Lucy pray for us
St. Agnes pray for us
St. Cecilia pray for us,

perhaps even a founder, Lord willing,
of the first chapter of Poor Clares
north of New Spain. As soon
as the word arrives from Rome, per
his request, for full native
admission to the orders . . .
All ye virgins & widows pray for us
be merciful, spare us O Lord
be merciful, graciously hear us O Lord
from all evil O Lord deliver us
from all sin O Lord deliver us
from thy wrath O Lord deliver us
from a sudden & unprovided death
O Lord deliver us . . .

__________

rogation – Rogation days were “Days of prayer, and formerly also of fasting, instituted by the Church to appease God’s anger at man’s transgressions, to ask protection in calamities, and to obtain a good and bountiful harvest,” according to the online Catholic Encyclopedia. “The Major Rogation [on April 25], which has no connexion with the feast of St. Mark (fixed for this date much later) seems to be of very early date and to have been introduced to counteract the ancient Robigalia, on which the heathens held processions and supplications to their gods. St. Gregory the Great (d. 604) regulated the already existing custom.”

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