Poet inspired to write book about his favorite sacrament

Peter Paul Di Cresce, of Cherokee Village, is the author of the 2009 book "Eucharist: Miracle of All Miracles, Love of All Loves."
Peter Paul Di Cresce, of Cherokee Village, is the author of the 2009 book "Eucharist: Miracle of All Miracles, Love of All Loves."

CHEROKEE VILLAGE — When Peter Paul Di Cresce of Cherokee Village answers the phone, he’ll say, “Cheerful good evening (morning or afternoon) and peace to you,” instead of the standard “hello.”
Then, because he believes the eighth sacrament is humor, he may share a joke — “A nun asks her Sunday school class where God is. Little Suzy says, ‘He’s in the bathroom.’ ‘In the bathroom?’ The nun asks surprised. ‘Yes, when I’m in there too long, Daddy will say, ‘God, are you still in there?’”
“Humor is a great power,” Di Cresce said. “The happiest person in the world is one who makes other people happy.”
It’s his love for God and faith in Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist that makes his sunny disposition genuine.
It is this same love that makes his 2009 self-published book “Eucharist: Miracle of All Miracles, Love of All Loves” essential for every Christian and non-Christian.
Di Cresce, a parishioner at St. Michael Church, is a man of many talents — a poet, speaker, humorist, commercial and fine artist, graphic designer, self-taught architect, political cartoonist, wood craftsman, sculptor, photographer and author.
Di Cresce, 83, who became a religious brother in 1947 and later dispensed from his vows in 1970, remaining with the order for 23 more years, said he had a life-changing experience with the Eucharist in the 1940s.
While on a 30-day Ignatian retreat, Di Cresce said he felt the presence of God in the Eucharist.
“It was like being under Niagara Falls, trying to pour all the water into a thimble. It was like thousands of volts of electricity going through me,” Di Cresce wrote in the book. “It was awesome, with great peace and joy. The Divine Presence was overwhelming.”
His spiritual director, Father Venantius Preske, a retired priest living in Horseshoe Bend, encouraged him to write the book, which took him eight years to complete.
The 146-page book is an easy read, filled with poems, artwork, stories, reflections and Bible verses. All of the writings and the majority of the artwork were done by Di Cresce, who gained inspiration from “our Lord and our Lady and nature,” he said.
“I realize there are far more books that are more wiser, and I could not match them, but I really wanted to make use of the creativity I have,” Di Cresce said. “People of all classes and religions can benefit from it and be lifted up.”
His wife, Jacinta Di Cresce, said the book is “anointed.”
“The book to me is a great source of bringing the Lord more deeply into my life,” she said. “When he reads it, it’s like the spirit of God running through him and touching people’s souls.”
The first poem, “Kissing the Face of God” is accompanied by a drawing of Mary looking adoringly at the newborn Savior.
The poem — Di Cresce’s favorite — details her first encounter with Jesus.
“My whole life is completely taken up with (Mary). She is the one to bring us all to Jesus,” Di Cresce said. “Poetry has that gift of being able to go beyond the theology and spirituality.”
The book offers a balance between poems, stories and his own reflections on life and family — particularly his parents, wife and their two daughters. The topics are familiar — marriage, love, beauty — but Di Cresce’s interpretations give readers a new spiritual outlook, leading back to Jesus and the Eucharist.
With “Beauty,” Di Cresce addresses human nature’s desire to be beautiful. He said as a youth, he was popular and outgoing but had a terrible acne.
He said now that it was a blessing because, “If God would have made me handsome with no acne I could have ended up in hell.”
In his reflection, Di Cresce states, “You can be more beautiful than the movie stars if you let Jesus’ light shine through you.”
Though the poems and artwork are deep and uplifting, the gems within the book are the conversations with God.
In “That’s Why,” God asks a man to trade places with him in the tabernacle. The man realizes it is lonely, shouting “Heh! … no one is even here. I thought everyone would come.” After the man and God switch back, he asks why he would stay in the Eucharist, with the reply, “Because I love you beyond all measure and I want to be one with you … That’s why!”
Most of the writings are uplifting, but others are dark, like “Oh My God … Stop!!!”
Particularly heart-wrenching for the sinner, it depicts a man watching the scourging of Jesus and yelling that he is innocent, realizing at the end that God is doing this for him and he is really the guilty one.
Some of the writings are a little unconventional, including when Di Cresce makes a religious case for a plant that many despise — “A Little Dandelion.”
“(Dandelions) are so simple and humble and there’s so many of them and so few look upon them as flowers,” Di Cresce said. “They’re looked upon as weeds … but when I look at them, it reminds me of the sun and Eucharist.”
Di Cresce said the sun is an important sign of God, drawing a picture of God and the sun at the beginning of the book.
“The sun to me is the great billboard in the sky that God put up there for the Eucharist,” Di Cresce said. “What the sun does in the natural world is what God does in the supernatural.”
Di Cresce said he has a simple, but powerful goal with the book.
“I want to bring the whole world to Jesus,” Di Cresce said.
The book is $14.98 and can be ordered from local bookstores or by calling Trafford Publishing at (888) 232-4444. Those interested can also write Trafford Publishing at 1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403. For more information, visit traffordpublishing.com or Peter Paul Di Cresce on facebook.com.

Aprille Hanson Spivey

Aprille Hanson Spivey has contributed to Arkansas Catholic as a freelancer and associate editor since 2010. She leads the Beacon of Hope grief ministry at St. Joseph Church in Conway.

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