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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Poem: What's in a Name

I came across this poem in a book called "Discerning your personal vocation" by Herbert Alphonsus, S.J. as he talks about how one's vocation is permanent and contains the essence of Christ that is present in a person. He also discusses the uniqueness of this call - a uniqueness so personal that it is like receiving a special name from God. He likens T.S. Eliot's poem, the one that inspired the musical "Cats," to the giving of our unique name and call by God in our personal vocation.

The Naming of Cats

The naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holidy games;
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.

First of all, there's the name that the family use daily,
such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo, or James,
such as Vicor or Jonathan, George or Bill Bailey -
All of them sensible everyday names.

There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
some for the gentelmen, some for the dames:
such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter -
but all of them sensbile everyday names.

But I tell you, a cat needs a name that's particular,
a name that's peculiar, and more dignified,
else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,
or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?

Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
such as Munkustrap, Quaxo or Coricopat,
such as Bombalurina or else Jellylorum -
names that never belong to more than one cat.

But above and beyond there's still one name left over,
and that is the name you never will guess;
the name that no human research can discover -
but THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.

When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
the reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:

His ineffable, effable, effanineffable
deep and inscrutable singular Name.

T.S. Eliot

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