Missing Mass

From the March 2015 Print Edition

In our family, we went to Mass every blessed Sunday of the year, and here and there you would have to go to Mass during the week because of funerals or weddings or Days of Obligation or Masses to Open the School Year or Masses in Memory of the Faithful Departed. So by the time I was fourteen years old, and sitting in my bedroom late one night calculating that I had endured something like seven hundred Masses in my young life, I resolved to miss Mass the next day—to blow it off, to skip, to avoid, to evade, to dodge, to unattend.This was so shocking a concept that I sat there for another hour startled that I was even contemplating such an idea. Was it a venial sin to even think about missing Mass? Had I effectively missed Mass by deciding to miss Mass, like you could receive the Eucharist by sincerely desiring to receive it, though you were not physically capable of doing so? Continue Reading »

October 27

From the January 2015 Print Edition

You know what I remember first about my daughter being born?
Weirdly, not the miracle of it, or the bruised tender extraordinary
Courage of my wife, or the eerie alien glare of the birthing room,
Or the cheerful doctor chatting amiably as she hauled out our girl,
But my daughter staring at me, from the first instant she emerged.
Continue Reading »

The Father Cals

From the June/July 2014 Print Edition

Or here’s a story. One time when I was an altar boy
A missionary priest arrived at our parish to conduct
A retreat. He was sort of famous and even us cynics
Among the altar corps were interested. Competition
Arose as to who would be his go-to server; we drew
Straws for it and someone joked about Christ’s robe. Continue Reading »

Te Absolvo

From the May 2014 Print Edition

Of course we remember everything that ever happened to us.
Sure we do. We can easily make a concerted effort to forget,
And successfully forget from Levels One through Eight, but
You remember, somehow—at the cellular or molecular level
Perhaps, where shame and embarrassment are in cold storage. Continue Reading »


From the February 2014 Print Edition

Here is my dad in Manila. He is twenty-three years old.
He is a master sergeant. His task is to read photographs
And maps and charts and interviews with local planters
And residents in areas which the armies of the Alliance
Wish to liberate from the armies of the empire of Japan.
Continue Reading »

My First Ordination

From the November 2013 Print Edition

My first date with the sweet, wild woman who eventually married me was as follows: We drove two hundred miles from Boston, at speeds exceeding the speed limit, because as usual we started late, and also because someone forgot her dress, which entailed retrieving it again at shocking rates of speed, . . . . Continue Reading »