Posted by: Peadar Ban | February 28, 2012

Going Into Exile.

And so, it appears, that will be the end of that.

My daughter was born in St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York City, after a long cab ride in a snowstorm.  She came into the world at about 9:00am, and after seeing her and her mother, I went downstairs to the chapel and said a prayer.  Funny, to think of a hospital without a chapel, a chapel that cannot house a hospital

But, you know something?  Without such things as chapels, I doubt we would have such things as hospitals.  The line is straight and true, and short, that can be drawn from churches, and chapels and monasteries and convents to hospitals, and it is an old, strong line.

Now, it will be cut it seems.  It is the beginning only.  The dogs, no, not dogs, but wolves, are at the edges of the flock, cutting out the first for the slaughter, beginning to move the rest.  There is, it seems, no hanging back.   If it is the will of God that this darkness coming shall not come I will be happy.  If is the will of God to allow it to come I will accept it.  Because, in some way, I think I have been a cause of its coming.  We must all begin to think that way if we are true. All of us bear part of the responsibility for this kind of exilic moment.  We took wolves for protectors, foxes for sweet poets, vultures for protecting eagles, snakes for sorcerers full of promise and plenty, guile for goodness and hollow promise for hope.  How stupid!  How vain!

Pray for yourself, too, that in the desert into which we are now going, forced to flee there by our blind foolishness, we may not all of us lose our way and die among the scorpions and serpents awaiting.

We stand on the edge of that desert, now; on its very edge.  Behind us are the green hills, the pleasant lands.  Before us waste, wandering and want.  Before us the baking waste, the darkening sky, the poisonous plants and deadly beasts, the boiling winds and burning sands.

Who will feed us?  Where will we find water?  Where shelter?  Where will we go when the storms break?

There is this comfort, though.  We know the exile merely begins.  Pray for the millions of lost souls who are in exile already and do not know it.  It is something we should have been doing and did not.  May our own exile teach us that.


  1. Prayer is indeed our only recourse. We are not smart enough to do it on our time. I am reading the Bible in Msgr. Ronald Knox’s translation, a colloquial translation. It reads as easily as a novel; and makes many things clear in themselves. The Hebrews wandering in the desert and complaining all the time. They had just been saved from slavery! But now they want the next course.

    Anent St. Vincent’s hospital where I was born some 76 years ago, it is now closed. Who ever heard of a hospital closing? But it got enmeshed in government rules and regulations. So much for charity. Which for those interested in such things is a good example of how the government – read, the politicians – will take over our lives. “Who pays the piper, calls the tune”.

    By one of those terrible ironies of history, St. Vincent’s had the first and continuing AIDS ward [at the insistence of Cardinal O’Connor, who did not hesitate to empty bedpans. AIDS is one of the ugliest of diseases.]. Like any good Irish or Jewish mother, the nuns would tell you that you were stupid [much as women will talk to any man]; but they would take good care of you anyway.

    • You are a mere six years ahead of me, Gabriel. I had not known of its closing, alas. They did so much good, and now? Is trua mor!

    • When I was a child people went to ‘the mater’. People included the chronically ill, young surgeons training, Priests with dementia, nuns in their old age, folk needing surgery who could not afford it, and so on. It was run by ‘the nuns’.

      That hospital is now called ‘Mercy’, and most people cannot afford to be treated there. It is privately owned an run I think, but no longer by the church.

      Another one falls in the dust.. Oremus pro invicem? Anyone?

  2. I find myself unsurprised. We live in a society which imported health experts from the USA who begged us not to change our system. So of course we remodelled after the USA. Now we’re beginning to have private enterprise prisons. The headline read “God locked out” [],
    Over here, in the last forty years a number of denominations have spent a lot of time and energy being relevant, while trying not to be religious, or medically literate nor descending into occupational therapy or psychology. Near the end as the retirement villages became corporations, I found that the new owners did not want visits from clergy, unless they knew from experience what it was like. A nun of my acquaintance was ‘let go’ from the hospice so someone more ‘professional’ could take over.
    I find myself gasping for God’s good air sometimes. But then, one of my favourite hospitals rang recently to ask ‘Would you come by as you used to?” Personal invitation, I am told, is still a license to give spiritual comfort. Wonder if you’ve got that option too?

  3. Pedar –

    I am so proud to know you and Mariellen – so proud you are a relative, no matter how distant. It so comforting knowing I am in the company – fleeting at least – of a man who will stand on his principles come what may. I love you, Peter, and have erred in not keeping a closer contact with you and Mariellen.

    • Thank you, again.


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