Posted by: Peadar Ban | March 1, 2017

TODAY: MARCH 1, 2017

St. Leo the Great, who was a pope a few centuries back, said this in one of his sermons:

Dear friends, at every moment the earth is full of the mercy of God, and nature itself is a lesson for all the faithful in the worship of God. The heavens, the sea and all that is in them bear witness to the goodness and omnipotence of their Creator, and the marvellous beauty of the elements as they obey him demands from the intelligent creation a fitting expression of its gratitude.

I read it a few years ago, and it has stuck with me, on some level for quite a while.  I’ll read it again tomorrow morning in the Office of Readings.  I like the way he addresses us as “Dear Friends”.  I like the rest of what he says.

The sun, could I see it now, would , we might say, be almost at the Meridian.  I know nothing of Latin, and little more of anything else, but I think that word means something like mid-day.  In fact it lacks five minutes of Noon on a cloudy, slightly drizzly day.  I wonder now if Noon is a word we have from Latin.  But, I suspect not.  I think it may be of Northern European origin .  It has a dour sound, sounds a dreary note, and to my mind perfectly suits the Northern European zeitgeist.  Now there’s a word no one would mistake for have an origin in the Mediterranean.

All of this is quite odd for the first day of March, that month which is said to “come in like a lion and go out like a lamb”, that month named for the Roman god of war, Mars.  It is also the first day of Lent, a word that has a whole bunch of relatives in Northern Europe, most of them having to do with Spring, the time when the days grow longer and, according to Chaucer, at least in April, the rain’s supposed to pierce the drought of Mars to the root.

If that’s the case the times, they are a’changing; today at least.  We have another three weeks of winter before us according to the calendar; and the length of days, the way the seasons are measured in the earth’s yearly swing around the sun, means  we still have three weeks to the Vernal Equinox on March 20 and the start of Spring and all that root piercing.  But Holy Church says, “Nope, Pilgrim, Lent (“Spring”) starts here this year.”

OK.  Welcome Spring!

Of course, those six or seven of you reading this, and who have gotten this far; those of you who are still familiar with the Holy Season of Lent, who might still consider it a season of preparation, of spiritual preparation particularly, for Easter, are probably murmuring, scratching your heads and wondering just what am I up to.  Have I a point to this?  Will a conclusion be reached?

I respond: Must there be a conclusion to everything?

But, wait.  I do have a conclusion of a sort.  The river not too far from here, the one I can see so swollen with snows and rains that it runs over its banks, is receding slowly, slimming down as it were from having been filled beyond capacity by those very snows, those torrential rains of a few days ago.  My wife and I watched it fill, and watched the rough waters flow swiftly downstream carrying branches and sometimes whole trees along the way to the sea.  More rain falls today.  But, I trust the spring.  I do.

Ask me why, and there probably isn’t a reason beyond something to do with my faith.  I know about floods and bad weather, and headlines telling the story of great damage to lives and property around this time of year.  But, darn it, I can’t think of anything more than the solidity of faith about this.  It’s my dike, my dam that won’t fail.  It’s lent, for heaven’s sake, and mine, and Easter’s my destination.

I believe.

So should you. This is all under control, and what that lady long ago said, the one in England, is true.  All will be well.  And March, that mad month?  March will see lions and lambs together, and so shall we.

PS:  I found out that I was wrong about that word Noon.  It’s not a cold and miserable northern European word.  It’s from the Latin, from their word for nine, and was used in the early church to signify a time of prayer.  So, it’s kind of a sacred word, a warm word, a safe word; like Lent and Spring.  Ain’t nothing to worry about.


Posted by: Peadar Ban | December 15, 2016

The News Once Fit to Print

Here is an interesting article, despite one or two awkward editorial oversights.  It is interesting for not a few reasons.  Of course, you will not recognize, from the millions of words poured into our minds which directly oppose the portrait here made of him, the man we know now as pope Pius XII.  Wasn’t he the Jew hater?  Didn’t he have supper with Hitler?  And now, this????  That’s one reason.

You will also not recognize the current form of what was once called The Newspaper of Record; the New York Times from the things you read once printed on its editoral pages. And, there’s another reason.

Today’s Times bears a decided resemblance to the propaganda sheets once called simply “Truth” and “News” that gave the poor souls trying to live in their Worker’s  Paradise all the news that their masters thought fit to print; news which had no connection at all with truth or news.

Things Catholic, things Christian, things simply decent and human are rarely treated now, and may, soon, no longer be treated with the approval and respect you will read in the excerpts mentioned in the article.

I wonder now when the last time was that the New York Times took an editorial position that was even remotely favorable of anything the Catholic Church has said or done.

It seems to me that for the most part the reaction over there at the Gray Lady to things Catholic comes in one of the following forms, sniggering, mocking, outright opposition, disdain and the occasional nodding acknowledgement along the lines of, “Oh, yes, Catholics have been known to do this, too.”

Or, they write stories, humorous ones in their style pages assuming a mildly mocking, mildly astonished reaction that Catholics still do this, that, or, whatever.  They still forbid infanticide.  They still think marriage should be for life and only then between a man and a woman.

This is the Catholic Church, mind you, which those who look out on the world from the high towers of the Times, wish would wither, go away or be done away.  The same Catholic Church that gave the Western World its civilization. And, this is the same world now committing seppuku; disemboweling itself to a discordant haiku of rap and rock with a ceremonial “Tanto”(seppuku knife) forged of an alloy of progressivism, transgenderism, diversity, queer theory, radical feminism, intolerant tolerance and denial.  And all the while, at the Gray Lady, they sip a fine single malt.


George Marlin on ongoing smears of Pius XII and Hitler, ably refuted by Peter Bartley’s new book “Catholics Confronting Hitler.”
Posted by: Peadar Ban | October 27, 2016

Time and Time Again

Right now the clock on the wall over my left shoulder reads that it is 9:30.  The thing in the lower right hand of the screen I sit facing registers 3:17, and adds, in bold capital letters, PM.  Which should I choose, I wonder?  I choose neither, right now.  Right now time doesn’t matter, its passing by or waiting to approach in a line seemingly endless, but which, I am certain, has an end.  Don’t all lines?      Isn’t that part of the nature of a line?  What would one be  called had it no beginning or no end?  Certainly time’s line ends, as it certainly had a beginning.  There are those who say it was …at a certain moment before which it wasn’t, and will end… at another one, when we do not know, and then it will not be.  And there are differences of opinion about time’s starting point among folks.  Some say it has been going on for either 13 billion and others hold out for a much shorter 6 thousand years give or take.  They remind me of my two clocks… one of one mind and one of another.  But that’s a discussion for another day…and who’s to say, as in the case of my two clocks, that both opinions aren’t entirely the correct ones.

What will there be of time when it has ended?  Some say nothing. And others say well, maybe.  It may indeed end and start up again. Or, at least, it may not be the “Time” we have come to know and to think ourselves to be be, sometimes, prisoners of and in. That’s something I’ve been thinking about for a little while, time that expands and contracts, speeds up and slows down.

Of course, time measured on my rather scatter brained clock hanging on the wall beside/behind me moves slowly in a circle and not a line, a circle with no beginning and no end, a circle simply repeating over and over what was once and will be again, making two complete turns around through the twelve numbers in a full day.  I rarely look at the clock and cannot tell if it has sprung a gear and stopped at 9:30 there to stay for, well, only God knows how long, while some other part of its machinery faithfully and futilely ticks on; and soothingly so, I might add. I pay it no attention.

But I often look at the poem I have hung on the wall below it.  It is called Pangur Ban, and was written by an Irish monk in a monastery somewhere on the Continent about a thousand years ago, about his white cat and himself, going about their different but “special” art; the White Cat “joyous with swift jumping” after mice, the monk joyous in his turn when he has “grasped the elusive but well loved problem.”

I grasp no well loved problems, nor jump after elusive mice, here in this quiet room. I watch the leaves turn, fall and grow again, and the river flow by the river banks and arcing trees above, listen to the birds and wait.  I suspect most guys my age do that.

There is a comfort I have long felt in the rhythm of the clock on the wall.  I remember the one on the night table in my parent’s room, and how it sounded on these mornings when a little me climbed into their bed to lay between them. So I like the steady battery powered tick of the clock on the wall.

This thing on the screen is silent.  Bits and bytes make no sound.  They just appear, programmed, without any meaning or purpose other than information. of which we have, I think, just too much these days for comfort.  I sometimes think that when we invented clocks and divided time as we have, we were making the same mistake we had made in trying to build that tower to heaven all those years ago.  Weren’t the periods of light and dark, the turnings of the seasons, enough? How much more accurate a count of passing time will we need?  “The setting sun now dies away/ And darkness comes at close of day.” begins the song that we sing at evening prayer once every four weeks.  Looking out the window I often find the words singing themselves as I watch the shadows grow.

You want to know the truth, though?   I would miss that reminder over my shoulder, a gentle thing all in all, that there is still something left to do, something left to see, and, after all the odd elusive but well loved problem to occupy men at leisure.  We would all miss, too, what we have made of the time piece, a work of art and ingenuity, whose value, really, is not so much in measuring moments, and promoting drudgery as it in letting us know when to stop, look and listen, and rest, and think, and play.  There’s where we’ve gotten lost, I think, in first proposing, then doing and in evermore accepting that something, anything, can and should last 24/7, leaving no room for just “spending” time.  Spending time on any elusive but well loved problem, or just chasing a mouse.  My friend the monk lived by the bells that rung out in his monastery calling all to prayer and work and rest.  A thousand years later his brothers live the same way, and until recently, so did everyone else.  They had both clocks and bells on the ships I sailed long ago when I was young.  I lived by the bells though, ringing the watch changes day and night…around the clock.  Sometimes I’ll look at a clock and treanslate the time into bells ringing.

Another hymn, comparing time to an ever rolling stream, runs through my mind.  Down that river we all sail, don’t you know.  Thinking about the ocean we are headed for is, by turns, an exciting, pleasing and just a bit scary thought.  But, we remember who calms the storms, don’t we?  And whose hand is on the wheel.  Who tolls the bell.


Posted by: Peadar Ban | October 15, 2016

Today, October 15, 2016

The birds have been hungry for several days flitting back and forth to the several feeders we have outside, searching for a meal, and finding none, glancing, sometimes we imagine rather annoyed in the direction of our windows. Chickadees and Titmice, especially, are quick to show their disapproval with a few angry tweets and chitters.

Mariellen worries about our reputation among them and their condition.  The weather is turning.  I sat this morning, after arising late from a rare night of good sleep watching showers of leaves fall on the sun spread grass just outside. This new home of ours keeps the seasons punctually.  By that I mean we are in a position under the sun to be able better than anywhere else I can remember living to keep watch on its progress up and down the horizon in the morning, and the shift, the stretch of shadows over us as twilight comes.  By five PM now, the back yard is almost completely in shadow.  The cocktail bell has rung, and the fire, on many evenings is lit, burning warmly in its place, and welcome.

I must remind myself to go across the street into the wooded area between the road and the railroad tracks and cut some kindling from the fallen saplings.  We took down a dying ash this summer and have a fair amount of firewood aging over there, probably home now to a chipmunk or two, soon to be fuel for cozy evenings over here.  Sorry chipmunks.  It’s mine.  You eat enough of our flowers to keep yourselves warm all year round..

I like this new place down by the riverside.  We’ve been here about a year and it gets better by the day.  It’s quiet, of course, except for the odd dog’s bark during their walks, and during the warm months the boats and jet skis zipping by.  But those noises are pleasant ones.  The early morning jets soughing into Manchester not twenty miles away upstream are a reminder that the day has begun.  Their return at around ten in the evening signal a close to the day.  I like, too, sitting outside in the afternoon toward dusk watching contrails slipping north and south, jets skating across the sky going to and coming back from Europe, and imagining what adventures are waiting, what welcomes on the other side of the doors in arrivals rooms of a hundred airports each day here and there for ten thousand tourists, family members, business men.  Every once in a while, rays of sun bounce off one of them, flying everest high, and they flash like jewels in the twilight, soundless slipping away.

Especially, now, though, mornings are a mystery time as the river’s fog steals across the lawn, leaving slowly, languidly, with the rising sun.  From times like this must have come the images of sprites and fairies, river gods and goddesses and mystery.

We have trains, too.  No passenger services go by the house on the tracks not fifty yards from the front door, but three or four times a week we get great rumbles of trains going slowly by, huge things that you feel in your feet and chest as much as you hear going by.  Powerful diesels, scores of coal carriers, or flat bed cars piled with great logs, or simply freight cars locked and loaded with goods for the north or from the north going by in minster like pomp and parade.  I feel like a kid when they come and never fail to go to the window to peek at their rumbling steady passing.

There were two yesterday, and that is a treat; two rumbles like nothing so much as a herd of metal elephants passing.

It’s mid afternoon as I write this, now, an it’s been quiet for a while.  No leaves fall as they did in the morning.  The sun’s practically gone behind the trees, and not a breeze stirs a thing.  I’ll have a cup of tea, and pick up a book, sit by the window and watch the river slide by while the shadows lengthen.  I’ll start a fire after getting some of the kindling I “harvested” from the woods, and we’ll sit watching our favorite show on the Fireplace Channel.

Wish you were here.




Posted by: Peadar Ban | August 1, 2016

Today, August 1, 2016

It is Monday at about 1:30 in the afternoon.  It’s stopped raining, though it never really was raining.  Spitting is the word my mother would use long ago when the world was young.  And, now, what might become rain hangs in the air, an invisible curtain of moolecules, (I love the typo), waiting to coat everything with a film of moisture just short of wet.

It is cool, and the sky is stuffed with clouds, bumps and soft humps of them; blue-gray cotton cushion clouds hanging, packed side to side, front to back above and still, paused like sheep waiting for the gate to open. There’s no menace.  There might be if there was a breath of a breeze; but the wind’s sleeping, stretched out above them with its hands behind its head and its legs crossed at the ankles, I suppose, on the sunny side.

Behind the scrim of trees across the road that goes by the front of our home are the railroad tracks, and beyond the railroad tracks where two or three freights go rumbling by each week; long ones you can feel shuddering through your chest, beating a slow click…..clack as the wheels crawl along rails which squeak occasionally, squeaking under the load of coal going north and wood going south; behind that scrim, beyond those tracks, the only sound but birds at the feeders in the front and back of the house is of the crew at work clearing the power company’s right of way.  “That’s men,” I found myself thinking, thumping, buzzing, pounding, clanging, humming; men and their tools.  Men, doing what comes naturally.

Occasionally one hears a deep “THUMP!”, the sound of a felled tree.  Then comes the angry buzz of a chain saw.  Then comes the sputter and the roar, the hungry, deeper roar of a wood chipper.  Another tree is being eaten.

And, the trees stand silent.  And the river, quiet and still, flows past my window, beyond the meadow now thick with wild vines and and all manner of little animals beneath them sleeping the day away until night falls and they come out; animals I know are there but which I have never seen; they come out to sniff and eat and wander by the houses set all in a row along the bank above the vine covered meadow by the river’s edge.

They sometimes eat the blossoms of the flowers my wife has planted, and the tender new leaves; eat the blossoms and leaves of the flowers in all the neighbors’ gardens.   Those beautiful things we like to see, and the animals think nothing of eating them during the silent, dark night.  In the evenings when we come back outside, when the others from their homes come back outside, we might talk about almost anything; but what we talk about quite often are the animals who come by at night and eat the flower petals and the tender leaves, then go back down into their dens beneath the vines and wild weeds and sleep, bellies full of the work we’ve done to feed them.

All of that is good. After all, wasn’t it good then?  I mean, well, you know…

Elsewhere, I suppose, great things are happening; great and important things.  And, later on, when the sun has set, and the lights are on inside, and the vine covered meadow has the cloud covered moon alone to bathe it, my neighbors will turn on the TV and learn about the great and important things.  Some of it may worry them.  Some of it may make them annoyed.  Some of it, I hope, will make them smile and be happy they are who they are, where they are and with whom they are.

That will be good, too.

This morning I wrote this on my Facebook page:  “Speak less.  Think more.”  My wife, bless her heart replied: “Think more.  Pray more.”


Here is something to think more about, and perhaps pray more because of it:

The hymn they are singing goes by the name of “Dies Irae”..  It is part of the Catholic Funeral Mass, the “Sequence”, particularly, which is usually sung before the Gospel is read.

Well, it used to be part of it.  That’s all been changed, and one might go along time before one heard the words to the Dies Irae, in any language, let alone heard them sung in Latin, or chanted, or anything.  Berlioz writes well, but I kind of think he overdoes it a bit.

These are the words in English:

Day of Wrath

Day of wrath and doom impending,

David’s word with Sibyl’s blending,

Heaven and earth in ashes ending.

O what fear man’s bosom rendeth,

When from heaven the Judge descendeth,

On whose sentence all dependeth.

Wondrous sound the trumpet flingeth,

Through earth’s sepulchers it ringeth,

All before the throne it bringeth.

Death is struck, and nature quaking,

All creation is awaking,

To its Judge an answer making.

Lo, the book exactly worded,

Wherein all hath been recorded,

Thence shall judgment be awarded.

    When the Judge His seat attaineth,

And each hidden deed arraigneth,

Nothing unavenged remaineth.

What shall I, frail man, be pleading?

Who for me be interceding

When the just are mercy needing?

   King of majesty tremendous,

Who dost free salvation send us,

Fount of pity, then befriend us.

Think, kind Jesus, my salvation

Caused Thy wondrous Incarnation,

Leave me not to reprobation.

Faint and weary Thou hast sought me,

On the Cross of suffering bought me,

Shall such grace be vainly brought me?

Righteous Judge, for sin’s pollution

Grant Thy gift of absolution,

Ere that day of retribution.

Guilty now I pour my moaning,

All my shame with anguish owning,

Spare, O God, Thy suppliant groaning.

Through the sinful woman shriven,

Through the dying thief forgiven,

Thou to me a hope hast given.

Worthless are my prayers and sighing,

Yet, good Lord, in grace complying,

Rescue me from fires undying.

  With Thy sheep a place provide me,

From the goats afar divide me,

To Thy right hand do Thou guide me.

When the wicked are confounded,

Doomed to flames of woe unbounded,

Call me with Thy Saints surrounded.

  Low I kneel with heart’s submission,

See, like ashes, my contrition,

Help me in my last condition.

Ah! That day of tears and mourning,

From the dust of earth returning,

Man for judgment must prepare him,

Spare, O God, in mercy spare him.

Lord, all-pitying, Jesus blest,

Grant them Thine eternal rest. Amen.


Berlioz does get a bit overwrought, don’t you think?   But sometimes…sometimes one needs one’s attention to be attracted.  Find yourself, find yourself a version of the Dies Irae rendered in the original chant.  Sit quietly. Read the words. Think.  Pray.  That’s good, too.  Really.


Posted by: Peadar Ban | June 15, 2016

I Saw Christ Walking By


A tree on the Serengeti in the afternoon.


This is s little poem I wrote after leaving Mass, and on the short walk back to our hotel in Amsterdam, last Sunday.  We were staying over a day or so after our trip t0 Kenya for a safari in several national parks, and among the people there; great crowds of people in the cities and towns, vast empty spaces and herds of animals in the other places; mountains and valleys and the places where we began to be whom we have become; so it is said.

Later in the afternoon on Sunday we went canoeing among the canals in the quiet waters and farm lands outside Amsterdam; and only wind and lowing cows and moving clouds and wings of birds and notes of bird’s songs, and our own voices over the rippling waters did we have for company.

We had been to Amsterdam before, and been to Mass in the same church.  I am not the first, I think, and far from the best, I know, to have noticed that it is all Mass in a very real sense.

At Mass in the Basilica of Sint Nikolas, Amsterdam, on Sunday June 12, 2016

I saw Christ walking by.

He smiled as He caught my eye

And, I returned the smile.

Then He’d gone!  But no, Christ came on.

The little one held by her father’s hand

Had His smile; so her father.  And

The age bent man staggering

Even with his wooden cane

Under his load of years, carrying

The harmony of tears, behind

Them came slowly, shining joy.


Another and another, fathers

Sisters, mothers, brothers, all

Came; smiling at me.

The columned stones, the patient light,

The soughing notes of prayer in song

Formed for Love’s eternal generosity,

Love’s so simple complexity, a single thing,

In still yet changing solidity, river of sound,

Light and form each as they were meant and made

For joy, and every world so made; for joy in process came.


They bent and bowed and danced religiously.

For I saw the Christ of God come walking by

And all the worlds caught, smiling, in His eye.

peg/ 06/15/2016

Basilica of Sint Nikolas


Posted by: Peadar Ban | May 17, 2016

15 Reasons Why You Should Date A Chick-fil-A Employee

1. They probably are good looking- Chick-fil-A employees are a step above the rest in the fast food industry, and this doesn’t exclude looks. 2. They are selfless- They are trained to put the…

Source: 15 Reasons Why You Should Date A Chick-fil-A Employee

Posted by: Peadar Ban | May 10, 2016

The Creation Game

I am slowly reading a fascinating book by Fr. James V. Schall, S.J. titled THE MIND THAT IS CATHOLIC: Philosophical and Political Essays.  I would willingly share it with anyone, but shyness prevents me from doing that.  You see, I’ve filled it with notes and highlights and stuff like that.  It would destroy for the next reader what is really a delightful time with a wonderful thinker.  It’s probably not in Barnes and Noble, but you can get it from Amazon.  Isn’t anything that ever was available from Amazon?

You see, the reading of it is slow for me because of what he writes about, and the way he writes about it.  It’s a book, as are a number of other books, that I tell myself I should have read fifty years ago.  Then, I hadn’t the time.  Now, though, is the time for me, for most folks, to be reading it. Now I can, at last, understand the point(s) he’s interested in making, the argument he presents.

And, every once in a while he’ll give his reader some little delight to think about. Call it soul candy; an idea he presents, a question he asks, a view he points out that, were we together walking along some quiet path, meandering beside a river,  would require a pause, a long look, a smile of recognition and deep understanding.  Sometimes, I think, it really requires a fist pump and a loud shout!  But, that’s not for books, eh?  I’ll stick with the understanding, the smile

I’ve been smiling all morning, all day after reading this paragraph not too long after waking:

“Is what happens to the universe closer to games than it is to the working of machines?  What would this similarity between game and universe imply?  C.S. Lewis used the happy image of the “Great Dance” to describe what goes on the universe when it finally reaches its purpose.  It is a “beatific vision,” but is also an overflow in being, in human being.  What seems to be necessity may be closer to “doing something again” just for the delight of it.  This latter experience was the great image that Chesterton used of the sun rising each morning.  We may think that it is necessary and therefore uninteresting.  Chesterton remarked that natural laws may well be more like a child wanting to be thrown into the air again and again simply because it was delightful.”

This is from page 242 in the book, well into an essay entitled “Mysticism, Political Philosophy and Play”. “How lovely, this, ” I said aloud to the empty room, just as the sun was streaming through the window; just as one of its beams was turning fully a third of the green glass vase which held the flowers I bought my wife, just as it was turning it gold.

And, as I ran for my camera to take a photo, I thought no machine, no random series of events, no mindless pattern of accidents (can there be such a thing as a “pattern” of accidents?) does something like that.  My thinking has continued all day like this.  Surely if it is a game there must be rules.  We, the only rational beings must have some way of knowing them; a teacher, a coach, a rule book? Surely a game cannot make itself.  And on and on, until the end, the victory party.

Schall’s next paragraph is just as much fun:

“Behind such images is the great theological truth that the world need not be, but is (emphasis added).  This unnecessity brings us to the further question of the reason we have finite, intelligent being in a vast but finite universe.  Is what is (emphasis in the original) ultimately there to be beheld?  “Celebrations,” Aristotle said, “are for successful achievement, either of body or soul.”  That is to say celebrations are left to be begun when all else is done, when we have won.  Is it not remarkable that the fascination of the game, when we do not know its conclusion, ends in celebration when we do know how it turns out?  This is the arena of the “Great Dance.”  The definition of God is “I am who am.”  Only this existence can explain the “Great Dance.”

He made the Game.  He made the Rules.  He IS the celebration when the Game is over.  The one that never, never ends.

Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony

Posted by: Peadar Ban | May 8, 2016

Today, May 8, 2016: Mother’s Day

We have just finished our breakfast.  It is nearly 11 AM, but, we breakfast late on Sunday mornings; though we are always up early.  The alarm awakens us at 5:30 AM.  That is because we are the music makers at the 8:00AM Mass at St. John the Evangelist Church across the river in Hudson, NH.

There were a few more than 100 parishioners at Mass this morning.  That is the first time since Easter, seven weeks ago, that there have been that many people in attendance; and this on a rain threatening morning.  I was surprised, pleasantly surprised.

Mass ended, and the church was empty, as it usually is except for one or two, most of whom stay to chat; but a few who will kneel in the pew to whisper a private prayer of need or thanksgiving.  There was one man left as we came downstairs from the choir loft and walked, past the pew he was in with his little daughter, down the aisle to receive Communion.  As he left he genuflected and blessed himself, and helped his little girl do the same.  He was the one person to do that whom I saw.

And so I told him what I thought.  “That was wonderful,” I said.  And it was, literally, an act full of wonder, thankfulness and praise; rightful, just and helpful toward salvation as the old formula has it.  He smiled at me.  So did the little girl.

On the way home we stopped to purchase a birthday card for someone, and a First Communion card for someone else…and a bouquet of flowers for my wife.  The road leading to Dunkin Donuts, across the street from the Rite-Aid where we bought the cards,was backed up to the intersection with cars waiting to get in line for the drive through window, or to enter the place itself.  The parking lot did not have an empty space.

As we drove back in the direction of home we saw that the same conditions existed at the Mc Donald’s a few hundred feet down the road on the other side; long lines waiting for  a cheese Mc Muffin and a coffee; a filled to overflowing parking lot.

I said to Mariellen, “I suppose this is where one goes now instead of to church on a Sunday morning.”  And I wondered how the preaching was, “You want fries with that?  You want that up-sized?” I wonder now whether or not there was any genuflecting in either place.

It has started to rain gently, and may continue for the rest of the day.


In the current issue of Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity, the lead editorial’s headline/title is THE MASTER’S VOICE: Our Choice Is Obedience or Jesus as Anti-ChristIts author is Anthony Esolen who regularly appears in that publication and some others.  He thinks and writes well, and strongly, and bluntly.  I like to think of him as a kind of fighter, a melding of Sugar Ray Robinson and Rocky Graziano, or maybe Marciano; he’s that graceful and powerful.  Sometimes his power punches and points are so quick and deftly made that his opponent may not know he’s been knocked off his feet until he wakes up in the dressing room a half hour later.  This article is like that, I thought as I read it this morning, just a little while ago; as I read it and thought about “Coffee And” on a Sunday morning.

Esolen’s point, I think, is that there is a new odium Christi, a new kind of hatred of Christ different from the hatred, more like fear to me, the hatred of Christ which denied the wonders he worked and his divinity and turned him into little more than some sort of Nobel Peace Prize winner; one of any number of Hammarskjolds, or Obamas, who want to give the world hope and help it to change.  The new “odium Christi” is directed at ridding us of the Jesus of rules and wonders, the one who had things to say about “bad conduct” and “sin”, and whose ministers and priests were  (and the few left who are) so controlling.  He is ” a Jesus of the Subjunctive Mood who would say what we want him to say, were he alive, which he is not.  He is not the Jesus who did say what he said and who still says it.”

This new odium Christi gives us a Jesus who might be more like a life style coach.  He’s not a teacher.  He’s certainly not a savior and definitely not God, who really isn’t necessary any more, don’t you know.  Why? Why are God, Jesus and the rules and the preaching out?  Well because all of that is merely a guilt trip, a downer and sours the stomach for a coffee on Sunday morning.

Who needs being in church on a rainy morning seven weeks after Easter, a day which is only meant for chocolate bunnies, on Mother’s Day to boot, when Dunks is open and they’re practically giving away Mocha Frappe Moolattas with a shot of caramel essence and a half pint of mint flavored whipped creme on top.

Esolen includes in his piece three examples of , emm, someone who might once have had a problem with what used to be called serious or habitual, or, gasp, mortal sins.  Jesus the Anti-Christ is silent as a statue, a painting, a flower.

That’s the way we want him.


And, of course, we can get religious feelings listening to something like this.  What’s the difference, right?  It’s as good as church!


It’s a little after 6:00PM.  The sun shines brightly  I am home after attending a first communion celebration.  Ask me about it some day.



Posted by: Peadar Ban | May 4, 2016

A Poem Written After Writing A Letter


It was no black raven hovering there
Whose little wings beat the air,
Whose little beak opened and shut
As if to speak important words.

His dark black cap, his milk white breast,
His golden flanks; of all the rest
His steady eye holding me
‘Til I saw what he’d have me see.

Time passes… strangely it does not.
I am all that I have ever been and what
I will ever be folded in this seed of me;
Green, great, strong limbed as the tree

And fallen to the ground and rotted, dead.
For all that though I will live through that “end”
To rise, ascend in final irony.
Enfolded now in plainest mystery.

For Love lives Who gives life to me. Creation
Like a bird flies toward adoration.

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