I have a nine-year-old daughter who, as is the practice in our diocese, went through confirmation and first communion (in tandem) about a year ago. Since then, I’ve been wondering if waiting until later for confirmation (as is the norm in most dioceses, I think) might not have been the better course. She was all for getting confirmed, seemed to really like the grown-up credentials that were thereby assigned to her, etc., which I thought was all well and good. But since then things have degraded. Getting this girl to mass every week has increasingly become an ordeal. She hates it, is bored by it, whines and moans and protests about it every week, and then sits through it as disengaged as she can be, occasionally asking when it will be over. This is troubling to say the least.
With that in mind, tell me if the following deception on my part is morally questionable and/or in any other way ill-advised. Or is it a justifiable form of holy trickery akin to what Walker Percy said about the Catholic writer having to use every trick at her disposal to lure the reader into receiving the news from across the sea?
Last night this girl left her shoes out for the leprechaun who always visits the night before St. Patrick’s Day to leave goodies in. She included a little gift for the leprechaun (a pencil with shamrocks on it) and a note asking him to leave her a real photo of himself as proof of his existence. So I left some chocolate gold coins in the shoes, took the pencil, and then scribbled a thank you on her note (in my best leprechaunish hand) saying that she should check her email (yes, she has her own email account) for a photo. Then I got online and created an email account for the leprechaun (leprechaun_37@), found a suitable photo online, and sent it to her as an attachment from “yours truly.”
She loved it. To tell the truth, I’m not sure to what degree she really buys it. I think she is willing to suspend disbelief and join in the fun of it to some extent. But at any rate, she is playing along and very keen on having a leprechaun she can exchange emails with.
Fast forward to me telling her it’s time to get ready for mass. Her reply: “We have to go to mass on St. Patrick’s day?!” All the more so! says I. “I’m going to ask the leprechaun,” says she. So she sends the leprechaun an email: “do i have to go to mass?”
And here is the leprechaun’s repy:
Ah, H_______ my dear dear girl, what do you think? Not only do you have your marvelous Sunday obligation today, when all the faithful (among whom I assume you are counted!) are obliged to partake of the presence of Our Lord in the bread and wine — not only that (as if that weren’t more than enough miracle to draw you forth to the church my dear girl) but today is the feast day of the great great saint, Patrick of Ireland, who certainly deserves to be honored in a special way with extra prayers and oblations and songs of praise … and of course the wearing of your finest green adornments, my dear girl. Now off to holy Mass you go and no more hemming and hawing!
P.S. Here is a wonderful prayer of St. Patrick I hope you will share with your family on this splendid feast day. Will you invite your mother and father and sister to pray this prayer with you today? This would surely make St. Patrick smile down on you from heaven and the sun shine a bit brighter this day.
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.
I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth with His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.
I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In the predictions of prophets,
In the preaching of apostles,
In the faith of confessors,
In the innocence of holy virgins,
In the deeds of righteous men.
I arise today, through
The strength of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The radiance of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The firmness of rock.
I arise today, through
God’s strength to pilot me,
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and near.
I summon today
All these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel and merciless power
that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul;
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me an abundance of reward.
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
Please advise, ye fellow bad Catholics.
Did you hear the one about the orange
Under the electron microscope, and how
The grand canyon of it all they found
In the black and white they took would give
The lie to think the gods of nature wrought
Cartesian topologies for men, our palms
To sooth, our minds to smooth, and tincture truth
With text of juicy parchment? Moist yet dry
It slices deep horizons into wedges.
It’s mighty odd
To be bruised and bothered by blisters;
Though I have lately found
July’s clouds – July’s birds
And July’s raving wind. They sing July’s graves, wild with dew.
Though I called, though I called,
Though I most seriously called
They were the facts I lost, ever-divergent,
Told in angles and slants;
Yet, bruised and bothered by blisters,
They say to me no true word that’s not.
They say that atoms are God’s rosary beads –
They spin off through fingered voids like blebs of fire,
Each revolution increasing by one
The total sum that sloughs from stars and sand,
What Abraham was pained to count. And yet
His foot would make its mark and guide his eyes
To smart additions of eternity,
The promised land extracted ex nihilo.
Unpeel that mystery, you’ll find it rhymes with prayer.
Something else is in my head; a remark of Father Hopkins to Bridges. Two completely unknown poets in their thirties—fully mature—Hopkins, one of the great poets of the century, and Bridges, awfully good. Hopkins with no audience and Bridges with thirty readers. He says, “Fame in itself is nothing. The only thing that matters is virtue. Jesus Christ is the only true literary critic. But,” he said, “from any lesser level or standard than that, we must recognize that fame is the true and appointed setting of men of genius.” That seems to me appropriate. This business about geniuses in neglected garrets is for the birds. The idea that a man is somehow no good just because he becomes very popular, like Frost, is nonsense, also. There are exceptions—Chatterton, Hopkins, of course, Rimbaud, you can think of various cases—but on the whole, men of genius were judged by their contemporaries very much as posterity judges them. So if I were talking to a young writer, I would recommend the cultivation of extreme indifference to both praise and blame because praise will lead you to vanity, and blame will lead you to self-pity, and both are bad for writers.
Take heart, Kollektiv.
for Jonathan Potter
Telling it ruins it.- Walker Percy
If time’s axes could be measured by x’s and y’s,
Weightlessness would hit the moon and comes up short
As typical astronauts would goof on graffiti
That beats them to the punch – “Clapton is God,”
The lunar lithograph exclaims. The pretensions
Are less than literary and more than time allows.
This message from the stars came back as reverb,
A name renamed, distortion, a bending of chords….
The same for seeing Israel dimly touching goatskin
On a TV talk show – “That’s Esau, or my name’s not Ishack!”
He touches his nose and suddenly all of Egypt knows
The shivering of naked bodies, all twisted by weird news –
Assemble on a hardwood bench before a swimming pool,
Olympic-sized, its water cold with catharsis. A sauna
Awaits an answer, scalding hot with cleansing steam.
The swimming instructor presumes to know their ἕποι
Let’s count them off – a madwoman who bent herself
Into a chimney and another into a ventilation shaft:
Both waited to die, discovering what we’ll never find out
Unless we interpret their deaths as more akin to life;
A man who chewed away at the face of another man,
Strong with the urge to prove that human flesh must eat,
Faceless, drug out from shadows, out into light,
Miami’s hot sun, in plain view, faceless, nothing new….
A boy who burnt his parish church down to see Christ
The night He was born. His innocent match lights the hay,
The statues, altar, body, blood, soul and divinity.
Still another boy who greeted mother as a corpse
Every day for seven weeks after school, alone, together,
And not knowing death, only sleep and love;
He took direction from her ghost until the matrix
Decided enough was enough; then there was the last,
So lost in numbers among forceps and lawful blood,
The airlock of bickering rhetoric, a silent scream,
This one, he or she, counts, observable, if only for Rachel.
Remember Rachel? “Who is Rachel? What is she?”
My guitar gently weeps.
Whether you pray the Rosary frequently, occasionally, seldom, or never, I cannot recommend this link highly enough.
Whether you find the Rosary powerful, soothing, meritless, or counterproductive, I cannot recommend this link highly enough.
With 31 short pieces — one for each day of October, the Month of the Rosary — you’re almost certain to find something practical — or at least, interesting. Some present venerable traditions; others are inventions or observations by the author. Many of them are suggestions about how to think through the Mysteries in greater depth — imagining what a specific person involved in the mystery would have experienced, say; or comparing two or more mysteries (e.g., Christ’s crowning with thorns and Mary’s crowning as Queen of Heaven and Earth); or seeing how a given mystery exemplifies a given virtue.
Surely there must be a power which always arranges things to happen in the most humiliating circumstances. When I was a boy I had faith in the Christian God. Life under His shadow was a very serious affair; I saw Him incarnated in every tragedy. He belonged to the lacrimae rerum like a gigantic figure looming through a Scottish mist. Now that I approached the end of life it was only my sense of humour that enabled me sometimes to believe in Him.
Graham Greene, The Comedians
Memo to Korrektiv commenters: Repeat The Jesus Prayer while waiting for your comment to post. Bonus points for prostration.