Casaldaliga and the tradition of Spanish poetic mystics

Image: ColeraAlegria


Poetry in the life of Bishop Emeritus of São Félix do Araguaia

the bishop Pedro Casaldaliga (didn't like Dom's title) was transfigured on August 8, 2020 at the age of 92. Catalan, he came to Brazil and was consecrated bishop in 1971 for the Prelature São Felix do Araguaia-MT. He was an exemplary pastor, a courageous prophet, a poet of great height and a mystic with open eyes. He was notable for standing resolutely on the side of the indigenous peoples and peons expelled from their lands by the advance of large estates. His 1971 Pastoral Letter "An Amazonian Church in Conflict with the Landholding and Social Marginalization” provoked several death threats and expulsion from the country by the military dictatorship.

Here I focus on just a few topics of his poetry and mysticism that are in line with the great Spanish tradition of mystical poets such as St. John of the Cross and St. Tereza d'Avila. Some are in Spanish, others in Portuguese.

He lived evangelical poverty to an extreme degree:

have nothing
take nothing
can't do anything
and in passing, don't kill anything
don't shut up anything.
Only the Gospel as a sharp knife
and the tears and the laughter in the eyes
And the hand extended and clasped
and life, on horseback, given.
And this sun and these rivers and this purchased land
as witnesses of the already broken resurrection.
And nothing else.

Brave, he says when facing the oppressors:

Where you say law, I say God.
Where you say peace, justice, love
I say God.
where do you say god
I say freedom, justice, love

These values ​​are the true names of God. Threatened with death, writes a Song to Death:

Round the round death
the round death round
Christ already said it before Lorca. That you will surround me, brunette,
dressed in fear and shadow. That I will spin you, brunette,
dress of waiting and glory. You surround me in silence
I surround you in song.
You surround me with a sting, I surround you with a laurel.
that you will surround me
that I will prowl you. You to kill
me to be born. that I will surround you
that you will prowl around me. You with war and death
me with war and peace. That you will surround me in me; or in the poor of my people
or in the hungers of the living
or on the accounts of the dead. you will prowl me bullet
you will haunt me at night
you will surround me wing
you will surround me car. You will walk around me bridge
you will surround me river
kidnapping, accident
torture, martyrdom,
feared. Call
sung. that you will surround me
that I will surround you that we will surround myself
it's him
If with Him we die
with Him we will live
With Him I die alive
he live dead

you will prowl us
but we'll get you.

But he fears nothing: He takes his visits to the poor calmly.

And I will arrive at night
with happy amazement
to see
that I walked
day after day;
upon the very palm of Thy Hand.

This poem takes us to São João da Cruz do Spiritual Song, one of the most beautiful in the Spanish language.

Over here there is no way.
Hasta donde no habrá?
Si no tenemos su vino/la chicha no serve?

Legarán to see the day
how much with our van?
How will we keep company
si no tenemos ni pan?

Where will you go to the sky
If you're not going to go to the land?
Who are you going to Carmelo for?
If you go up or down?

will heal injured viejas
las alcuzas de la ley?
Son flags or son lives
the battles of this King?

This is the curia or this is the calle;
where does the mission come from?
If you let the wind calle
what are you listening to in prayer?

If you don't hear the voice of the Wind
what word will you take?
What will you give for sacrament
If you don't give them in what do you have?

If you give in to the empire
la Esperanza y la verdad
Who will proclaim the mystery
of the entera Libertad?

Si el Señor es Pan y Vino
y el Camino por do vais
If you walk, there is a path
what path do you expect?

He lived in a “palace” made of third-quality wood, completely bare. He was so identified with the indigenous people and the murdered peasants that he wanted to be buried in the “Cemitério do Sertão” where they, anonymous, lie:

To relax
I just want this wooden cross
like rain and sun;
these seven spans and the Resurrection.

And so he imagined the Great Encounter with the Beloved who served in the damned of the earth:

At the end of the road you will tell me
And you, did you live? Did you love?

And I, without saying anything,
I will open the heart full of names

The outcry of his prophecy, Pastor's total dedication to the most oppressed, the poetry that nourishes our beauty and his mystique with open eyes and working hands, will remain as a perennial legacy to the Christian communities, to our Indian and caboclo country that he so loved. loved and all humanity.

*Leonardo Boff is an ecologist. Author, among other books by Meditation on Light: The Path of Simplicity (Voices).

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