Poems to the Divine: A different way to talk to God

Marco Carvalho

More than two dozen children, currently enrolled in the Portuguese-language catechesis at the Cathedral of the Nativity of Our Lady, submitted their own poetic proposals to a new poetry competition that was launched last month to encourage, especially among the younger generations, alternative ways of meditating on the Word of God.

The contest with its theme of “Eucharist:  I want to remain with you, Jesus!” was conceived with the purpose of encouraging the local youth to speak to God and to open up about their feelings without shame or embarrassment.

“Pope Francis has always assigned a great deal of importance to the Dicastery for Culture and Education. In Macau, children and youth engage quite often in poetry contests. So, we thought, ‘What if we organized a poetry contest, focusing on the theme of the Eucharist, which is at the center of our faith?.’ This competition was aimed at children of all ages and our aim was precisely to help our children and youth to express themselves, without being ashamed to talk about God and about their feelings. It is actually quite a good way of enhancing a closer relationship with God,” Father Daniel Ribeiro told O Clarim.

Poetry, the Dehonian missionary claims, was the most logical choice, since lyrical text is the best kind of text to allow the author to fully express his feelings, emotions and sensations.

“When we talk about poetry, we usually talk about our feelings and thoughts, what’s in our heart,” the vicar of the Cathedral of the Nativity of Our Lady stressed.

“Quite often, children don’t know what to say or what to think when they are asked to pray. Many believe that talking to God is merely to repeat a prayer. They end up repeating the words almost automatically, without any reflection whatsoever. By creating this competition, we want them to slow down, to stop for a while and to understand that prayer is no more and no less than a conversation with a very special friend,” Father Daniel Ribeiro added.

A grand total of 23 entries were submitted to the contest, with the overwhelming majority belonging to children currently attending year 2 and year 9 of the Portuguese-language catechesis. The experience, the Brazilian priest claimed, turned out to be highly rewarding and should set the standard for future initiatives of the kind.

“We have received 23 poems so far. It was quite interesting because even those who had not yet made their First Communion wrote poems where they talk about the way they feel, where they express their eagerness to receive Jesus and where they explain what Jesus and the Church mean in their lives,” the Dehonian missionary illustrated.

“This contest was, in a certain sense, a test so that in the future we can promote other activities aimed at the younger generations. Using poetry, children can read and embark on a deeper meditation on the Word of God,” Father Daniel Ribeiro said.

The winning poems and poets will be announced on the feast of Corpus Christi, in a month’s time.

“The winners will be announced on June 11, during the solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus. We will organize an exhibition, and some of the poems will be recited to celebrate the end of the current catechetical year,” the vicar of the Cathedral of the Nativity of Our Lady concluded.