Posted by: Peadar Ban | May 20, 2009

My Commandment Is This

In the choir one sees the backs of heads, except for Father Kelley’s face and the altar servers, Cantor, Lector and EM’s. Everyone else is simply more or less hair now that I think on it, except for the one or two kids each Holy Mass who turn around in wonder at the noise from above. (I consciously omitted modifying noise with the adjective angelic.) But I can pick them out after a few years up there, now. I know who they are in most cases simply from where they sit.

Aside from the great pleasure I get from singing, and who would have thought that possible a couple of years ago (and I apologize for your pain if you happen on the place some Sunday morning when I am croaking away), I have begun to notice and derive satisfaction from observing the congregation when Holy Mass begins, or soon after in the case of the few whose alarms, kids, car or time zone requires or dictates their presence only after we swing into full worshiping mode.

They may not know it, but along with all the angels and saints who gather in spirit to pray with us, and love us all, I’m gazing down too, at the Gradys and Richards, the Skiffs and Nelsons, the Nissens and O’Connells, the Cates and Pelletiers, the Szydliks and Lembrees and Torgersons, the new and the old families, the new and the old folks. I see the judge not above being stage hand during Mass, moving the platform from the ambo after the second graders have done their Prayer of the Faithful.

I see the mothers, new and old and about to be bending over their little ones, watching them gracefully.

I see the fathers kneeling, giving a lesson by their simple posture. Holding little hands in their big ones, draping an arm across a youngster’s shoulder. I remember my own father doing the same thing

I notice the kids who twist and turn and the infants who nestle sleeping on a comfy shoulder. I see young bald heads and old bald heads. I see the teachers, lawyers, truckers, old pilots, older tank drivers, young grads eager to start and younger students maybe just a little anxious about finishing. It sometimes astonishes me that I have come to know so much about all of them.

I know this one has a worry about the job, this one an illness. I know the young man with the great talent in music. I know the mother whose daughter is my hero because of her daily acceptance of a crippling disease. I know the miracle child we prayed for one night, who lived when all thought she would not. I know her mother and father, two of the happiest people I think I’ve ever seen; and my own daughter returned herself from the brink of death, and her family.

Each time I am here it is like opening a family album…like an album in a Harry Potter film…where the people are still alive.

I see it each Sunday I’m up there in the choir, but especially last Sunday, the Sixth Sunday of Easter, when there was all of that reading about loving one another, and, well, it really meant something to me. Come to think of it, it is really the easiest Commandment. So, I thought I’d tell you…

What a grace…


  1. that’s it indeed, along with the O’Leary clan, the Lanigans and the little family of the Murphys. Sometimes I sit down in our little oratory with one of my notebooks, scribbled names meant for intercessions. It’s a wonderfully centering experience sometimes wondering what happened to this one, remembering this healing and the other resolution and this other one still evolving..

    I loved this post, reminded me of one of my favourite psalms..

    “Surely I have stilled and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child with his mother, Like a weaned child is my soul within me.”

    • Hello Alys,

      I have heard from several people, and one or two have commented here, about how affecting your post was for them. Indeed. Thank you. Pray for little Fiona Curran, will you, please. She’s just recently been diagnosed with Type One diabetes. Fiona is one of my favorite people. The first time she visited us she scooped up the plush birds with their true bird voices that Mariellen had staged going up the stairs to the second floor and walked around all evening with them in her arm. Her mother had quite a time getting her to leave them behind.



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