Posted by: Peadar Ban | July 4, 2013

Happy Birthday Land of The Free and Home of The Brave!

This morning we went to the 9:00am Mass at St. Patrick’s here in Nashua. I had quite forgotten about it until Mariellen reminded me, and, to tell the truth, I was not a little put out. I had plans.

The first reading was from the Book of Genesis; the story of Abraham’s trip up the mountain with Isaac his son so that he could sacrifice him there.

Father Kerper spoke a bit about Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, making this point among others that one doesn’t really know if one has faith until that test comes. Perhaps I thought, a bit selfishly and proudly, that I was given a “test” this morning…a small one…as I was asked to put aside my own plans and pray. As he continued to tell us, referring to some of Kierkegaard’s insights about Abraham, we own nothing of ourselves; everything we have, even our liberty, is God’s gift to us. The lesson, the take away as the pretty thing behind the desk tonight might, but most certainly won’t, say, is that Abraham did not really receive Isaac, and all his promise, until he had “passed the test” of faith that God in His love set before him. I wondered about the tests of America’s faith in God that we have faced, are facing and will face. That’s when this Mass took on a shape and form that began to remind me of the time and place of Abraham’s test brought forward to right now; that place which Abraham named Yahweh jireh (God Will provide..or God Sees.)  Of both those terms I think I like the last.  God does see.  Everything.

Then Abraham knew, and, as Father Kerper said Kierkegaard observed, Isaac was returned, re-conceived in that time of testing, re-born one might say.

The Mass for today contained some beautiful prayers for this place and its people; for their peace and continued freedom from all wants and fears, and finally for their happiness in heaven. Father himself read a prayer which I wish I could get, a prayer of a beautiful majesty for the nation and people, of thanksgiving, dedication and praise to God for the good He has done for us. I taste it now and feel it moving me as few things have done.

Finally, the Mass was over, the last prayers dying away in the big church, Father and David his altar boy had gone. A few knelt in thanksgiving. Others prepared to go, and as they did from somewhere behind us a woman’s voice began…so soft…”Oh beautiful for spacious skies…”

All stopped. Those kneeling stood, Sarge Doherty, the big retired Army Master Sergeant, the former tanker, veteran of Korea and Viet Nam, with them, and we sang the song that probably should be the national anthem. At least it felt as if it should this morning only a few minutes ago.

I have to confess I had trouble singing. A couple of times I simply stopped and prayed that this place I love so well stay “Oh, Beautiful”.


  1. I agree. It should be our national anthem, far more melodious. Words written by Katherine Lee Bates, born right here on Falmouth, MA. They even named the bike path in her honor…The Shining Sea Bikeway.

    • Morten Lauridsen, an American composer of beautiful choral music wrote a piece for piano and chorus called “Sure On This Shining Night” ( You will understand after listening to it , I think, how I can associate the two songs with this place we both love so much.


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