October 1, 2023 Essay: Poverty in the United States: Policy Choices Do Matter

Poverty spiked in 2022, according to data recently released by the United States Census Bureau. The Supplemental Poverty Measure was 12.4% in 2022, up from 7.8% in 2021. Most disturbing, child poverty more than doubled, going from 5.2% in 2021 to 12.4% in 2022. If the United States is to be a ‘pro-life’ nation, then we will have to enact policies to reduce poverty.

Recently, two Washington Post columnists from opposite ends of the political spectrum, Marc Thiessen and Alyssa Rosenberg, came together to argue for a pro-family legislative agenda for our national government. It is interesting to note that many of their policy proposals mirror those our own United States Catholic Bishops put forward in a letter sent to every member of Congress in October of 2022. If we are to reduce poverty in this country, then all of us need to give voice to these sensible policy recommendations and demand that politicians who identify themselves as ‘pro-life’ prove that by the policy choices they support. These are some of the proposals supported by Thiessen and Rosenberg.

Make Pregnancy Less Dangerous. This country’s infant and maternal mortality rates remain shamefully high and disproportionately affect Black women. Legislation has been proposed to harness the ability of the federal government to amass data and convene stakeholders in identifying the most effective means to address this twin crisis. Bipartisan legislation has been introduced to review how maternity care is taught to doctors and nurses. It also seeks to expand access to doula care, to telehealth maternal care, and to devices such as glucose monitors for women with gestational diabetes who are on Medicaid. The federal and state governments need to collaborate in helping those who are pregnant access health care before, during and after pregnancy, get and retain safe housing, and assist mothers to continue working or attend school.

Help Parents Afford Babies. The federal government needs to eliminate the current marriage penalties embedded in many of its support programs. The Child Tax Credit is key to helping families. The poverty rate for children doubled largely because Congress did not renew the expanded child tax credit payments enacted during the pandemic. Senator Mitt Romney has proposed raising the credit from $2,000 per child to $4,200 for children younger than six and $3,000 for those ages 6 to 17. Our bishops have called for the credit to be fully refundable, that is, available to those who do not owe federal taxes. It should be a national policy to extend Medicaid coverage for mothers and babies until a year after birth. In addition, the eligibility of new mothers to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children should be expanded from one to two years. States can be encouraged to exempt child-care necessities from sales taxes.

Support Child-Care Needs. Thiessen and Rosenberg propose a universal tax-exempt parental leave and family savings account to cover parenting-related expenses, including parental leave and children’s sick days off from school. The plan would be portable from job to job, and companies could deduct their matching contributions to employees’ family savings accounts from their corporate taxes. As proposed in bipartisan legislation, Congress should also raise the amount parents can save pretax in dependent care flexible spending accounts from $5,000 to $10,500.

This cursory summary of what Thiessen and Rosenberg propose reminds us that there are policy choices that we can make that are pro-family and that will act to reduce poverty. Our bishops have pointed this out as well. It is time for us to be educated on these policies and to press for their enactment. In doing so, we will help to reduce poverty in America and make this country truly pro-life pro-family.

— Fr. Mark Hallinan, S.J., Associate Pastor

ISJ Essay: Season of Creation Mass

As a part and in celebration of the Season of Creation, which is held from September 1st—the World Day of Prayer—to October 4th—the Feast of St.Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of Ecology—a special 5:30 PM Mass was celebrated on Saturday, September 9th here at St. Ignatius Loyola. The Mass—co-sponsored by our parish, the Archdiocese of New York, and the Metro NY Catholic Climate Movement—was concelebrated by Fr. Brian McWeeny of the Archdiocese and Fr. Yesalonia, with lectors and Eucharistic Ministers from various parishes including our own. Some of the prayers and reflections of the liturgy offered particular considerations of God’s original blessing and gift in all of God’s creation.

A reception was held in Wallace Hall for those in attendance following the Mass. It was an enlivening and enriching gathering of people of faith from various parishes whose Reverencing of God in Creation has some influence on their prayer and community involvement. It was most appreciated to have leadership staff of the worldwide Laudato Si’ Movement at the Mass and reception, in particular Christina Leano, the Executive Associate Director, and Erin Lothes, who heads the Animator Training. Those present were privileged to hear both speak briefly. As part of what was expressed, they noted that their work at the Laudato Si’ Movement has been an experience of sharing and spreading the Holy Spirit in caring for Creation with Catholics throughout the world. A wealth of interesting information can be found on the Laudato Si’ Movement website.

As a parish, with the upcoming release of the parish’s Implementation Plan in the fall, we look forward to furthering our liturgical celebrations, practical actions, and relevant programs that relate to the particular mission statement theme of Reverencing God in the Wonder of Creation.

— Nicholas Naccari

September 24, 2023 Essay: Migrant Accompaniment Program

Certain chance encounters linger in my head long after the people have left my life. This is especially true with migrants. My thoughts keep wandering back to some migrants who told me their stories at Catholic Charities Legal Clinics and to some whom I welcomed at St. Francis of Assisi’s Migrant Center. Thanks to the Jesuits at the Border, I came in contact with Milagros, Sophia, and a few others who touched my heart. I don’t know what happened to them after we said goodbye. Are they all right? Does anyone look after them? I’ve seen migrants at every step of their acclimation to a new life, but I’ve never walked with one migrant as they take each step.

I’m not alone in wondering what happens to a specific migrant or migrant family as they walk away from us. Jesuit organizations not only wondered about that, but they created the Migrant Accompaniment Network for Catholics to welcome and accompany recently arrived individuals in their transition to a new environment. A group of us in Ignatian Social Justice thought, prayed, and decided to see if we could accompany migrants on a personal level. Accepting a family from the Jesuit Relief Services, we walk with them on their journey, welcoming them to the City and helping them navigate both Catholic and City organizations that do so much good.

I’d like to tell you about one family we are personally accompanying: Clara, Jose, Antonella (10), and Dylan (5). Using the Migrant Accompaniment Program terminology, Anne Melanson, Christine Meyer, and I are the family’s mentors. We accompany them, befriend them, and help them access local organizations. On July 5th, our first day together, we enjoyed a leisurely time getting acquainted and sharing a meal in friendship. They needed clothing. On our second day together, we went to the Little Shop of Kindness, where they chose a set of clothing, and we shared another meal.

When Clara was a child in Venezuela, she was deeply moved by the news coverage of 9/11 and wanted to see ground zero. Anne, a docent at the 9/11 Museum, planned a trip. We learned that the family migrated to Colombia after Venezuela became too dangerous for them. Five years later, Colombia became too perilous as well. At one of the museum exhibits, Clara wrote “God Bless Venezuela”. They wish they had been safe at home and are so grateful to America for offering them a chance to live here in safety.

At a picnic in August, Clara told me how they reached the border. They walked most of the way from Colombia with their dog. Border Patrol admitted them to the country but not the dog. Fun-loving, skinny Antonella was too brokenhearted to eat for two days. But they are here now in the safety of our City. We all prepared the children for school. On her way to school on the first day, Antonella was scared, but she came home happy. She had befriended a girl who spoke only English. The two overcame the language barrier with gestures, smiles, and goodwill.

Anne and I brought the family to the Jackson Heights Legal Clinic to learn how to apply for asylum. After the parents complete the required documentation, we will bring them to The Migrant Center to file the application. The family gives us the privilege of walking with people whose faith, courage, and fortitude are a blessing to us. When they came to our church, Fr. Hilbert, the migrants, and some St. Ignatius parishioners prayed the Our Father together, mainly in Spanish. Clara, Jose, Antonella, and Dylan have told us many times how blessed they are to have us and St. Ignatius Loyola Parish in their lives. Together we feel God’s love for each other and for ourselves. These are not chance encounters at important Catholic institutions but are dates with friends who share laughter, food, sorrow, and joy, working together toward a common goal.

In April, we started the Migrant Accompaniment Program with two families. In July, we expanded to six. We’d like to be able to welcome more families and hope you would like to join us. You could help families by being a mentor with direct family contact. You could be part of a support team in a particular subject area. You could be part of a recurring or ad hoc support group. There are so many ways to get involved. For more information, please contact Laura de Boisblanc at [email protected].

— Laura de Boisblanc, Chair, Ignatian Social Justice Ministry

Music Essay: Let the Harmonies Begin

The St. Ignatius Loyola Children’s Choirs are starting a brand-new season, and I want to extend an invitation to every child to consider joining today. I’m especially excited about the Training Choir, where kids in Kindergarten-2nd grade get to explore community music-making in a safe, skill-building environment! Studies show that participating in a children’s choir builds confidence, improves communication skills, and leads to a life-long love of music. Our choristers also learn the secrets of vocal technique, talk about the stories behind sacred music in liturgy, and get hands-on experience in functional music theory with composition and collaborative improvisation.

So, what does a typical week look like? We have weekly rehearsals where we work collaboratively to prepare for participating in Sunday liturgies. We also play a part in the annual Christmas Concerts (not to be missed). This year, we’re also adding our very own concert, where you’ll be able to see our entire musical journey. Other opportunities include participating in workshops, choral festivals, interfaith community services, and more. We’ve got an incredible season planned, and I can’t wait to see what we will do together.

Our Choirs

  • Training Choir – Kindergarten – 2nd Grade
    • Rehearsals held Wednesdays from 4:30 PM-5:00 PM.
  • Angel Choir – 2nd Grade – 4th Grade
    • Rehearsals held Wednesdays 3:15 PM-4:15 PM.
  • Chorale – 4th Grade – 8th Grade
    • Rehearsals held Thursdays 4:15 PM-5:30 PM.
  • Sign up your child today and watch them flourish in the world of music. For more information and to enroll, reach out to Elizabeth van Os at [email protected]. Let the harmonies begin!

    — Elizabeth van Os, Director of Children’s Choirs

    MCIP Essay: “I Thought About Not Coming”

    How often have I thought this when I am tired after a long day and don’t have the energy to do the one additional thing I don’t “technically” need to do. Very often, that is prayer. “Perhaps I don’t need to do it tonight.” And I don’t.

    “I thought about not coming.” I heard this same expression during one of the spiritual conversations in Meeting Christ in Prayer. There is always one retreatant in every session that expresses this; unlike me in prayer, the speaker has chosen to come. More often than not, the speaker is not even conscious of a decision; he has simply come.

    I had never focused on this, but upon reflection, I now see the pattern. The speaker expresses this thought out loud in the course of faith sharing, and invariably, all of us nod sympathetically. The speaker’s face reveals vulnerability and uncertainty about the group’s reaction to her words. But, once she has voiced this self-perceived failing, we listeners can sense that the speaker is now also describing how God is meeting her where she is.

    And what follows is invariably the most beautiful and poignant confession of love, humility, and gratitude, with the speaker almost surprised of having—and uttering—such deep feelings, often saying, “I know this is not coming from me.”

    A sense of wonder and reverence overtakes us; words are superfluous, and we simply bask in the mystery surrounding us, which is a loving presence. This is not an experience that we imagine and project. We sense this reality outside us as we sense the warmth on a summer day. God’s presence is so unmistakable that we could almost shake His hand.

    In Meeting Christ in Prayer, we follow the spirituality of St. Ignatius Loyola, who realized that the Gospel stories are also about our encounters with God in our daily lives, whatever they may look like. Through this version of his Spiritual Exercises, we use different prayer methods with Bible passages throughout the week, and then we talk about our experiences in prayer. Pope Francis so aptly states that these conversations are less about the content that is communicated and more about souls opening up to one another. When “I thought about not coming” is uttered, the retreatant brings what he has, which this time is his sense of failure. And that is the moment when he encounters God’s love, and through the generosity of his sharing, we do as well.

    How long does the memory of this encounter with God last? How many of us say “Thank you, Lord,” like the leper who came back to Jesus to thank Him for curing his leprosy? How many of us go on with our lives, like the many other lepers, we don’t know whether they thanked Jesus later or not. I know I do both at different times, and I suspect many of us do as well, but this is a reflection for another day.

    For now, I stay in Jesus’ loving ultimatum to Peter at the Last Supper: unless you allow me to wash your feet, you cannot follow me. Unless I experience God’s tender love through prayer, spiritual conversations, or other encounters, I cannot begin to respond or act in faith in service. When I stay back, wanting to bring God only the very best in me, there is no spiritual pat on my back. Sometimes, I don’t even acknowledge my failure. But others do, bringing their weaknesses, their illnesses, and their hopes, and God’s infinite love is so expansive that it reaches all of us—even those who did not come.

    God does come to Meeting Christ in Prayer, just as Jesus promised to be with the two or three that gather in His name. We invite you to find yourself in our next session. You will want to do the exercises and the readings. But if you don’t the one time, just come. And bring your failings with you.

    — Rosario Conde-Johanek, MCIP Co-coordinator

    Please register via Zoom for the next MCIP retreat on eight Wednesdays, beginning on September 27th. Registration is required no later than Sunday, September 24th at [email protected].

    September 17, 2023 Essay: “Without Windows or Doors”

    “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall because it had its foundation on the rock.” (Mt. 7:24-25)

    Saint Ignatius, who loved to refer to himself as “the pilgrim,” lived in many houses: the Loyola ancestral castle, hostels for the poor, a cave in Manresa, under the porticos of St. Mark’s in Venice, college dormitories in Paris, prisons of the Inquisition.

    The first “official” house was in Vicenza, Italy, an abandoned cottage, “without windows or doors,” as Ignatius described it. (I put “official” in quotation marks because that house was where they first called themselves “Companions of Jesus.”) The poverty and openness of that first house have always inspired me. Without windows and doors, it is not a safe place. Anyone can enter. There’s no privacy, making one’s life public, demanding a life that is decent and upright, where the deeds must match the words. It can’t keep out the cries of the poor, the noise of injustice. There’s no insulation from the chaos of the world. A good place to hear, to speak, and to live the word of life.

    Then they went to Rome and found another house in the heart of the city: next to the papal palace, up the street from city hall, near the Jewish ghetto and the red-light district. People thought the house was haunted, so they were able to live there on the cheap. They weren’t afraid of ghosts, or politicians or Popes or prostitutes or Jews. Ignatius wanted his house in the middle of the conversation of the city, not in a mountaintop monastery or a hermitage in the forest. They placed themselves at the service of the Pope. They were bursting with happiness.

    For the past fifty years, I have lived as a Companion of Jesus in many houses around the world, and I find myself bursting with happiness and gratitude.

    • The novitiate in Syracuse, where I felt God’s invitation, undeniable and loving. It is God’s freely offered gracious love that took hold of my heart and mind.
    • Xavier School in Manila, where I taught religion to 17-year-olds and (believe it or not) coached the track team.
    • The Japanese-style house in Taiwan where I studied Mandarin and fell in love with the Chinese people.
    • The houses in Rome—three of them, where I studied theology and canon law, and was sent to teach at the Gregorian University (the first Jesuit university) and then to take responsibility for the academic programs of the university and as dean of the canon law faculty.
    • The Church of Saint Ignatius Loyola in New York, where I have been given what I consider a second priesthood, serving in a vibrant parish with outstanding Jesuits and colleagues, witnessing remarkable faith in parishioners who are facing all sorts of challenges, delighting in accompanying engaged couples as they prepare for marriage, sharing Ignatian discernment in spiritual direction, and celebrating the Eucharist that nourishes and unites us in mercy and love.

    Our church has many windows and doors (stained glass and bronze, respectively), but the windows and doors of my heart have been flung open by the affection and support of so many! I try every day to live my vocation ever more joyously and wholeheartedly.

    There could be for me no life, no work, more fulfilling than that of walking with, and sometimes leading, men and women, young and old, through knowledge and understanding, into the life of the heart and the Heart of Life. It has its joys and its challenges. I associate the joys with you, who are the company I keep. You have shared your hearts, your minds, your homes with me.

    — Fr. Michael Hilbert, S.J., Associate Pastor

    Music Essay: Finding Spiritual Connection in Music

    I love to hear a choir. I love the humanity…to see the faces of real people devoting themselves to a piece of music. I like the teamwork. It makes me feel optimistic about the human race when I see them cooperating like that. – Sir Paul McCartney

    One of the many aspects I find moving about choral singing is the beautiful way it can reveal a sense of our shared humanity. Whether in rehearsal, liturgy, or concert, the act of breathing together, of lifting our voices and being fully engaged in music-making often has a way of loosening the barriers we consciously and unconsciously put up. When those barriers fall away, that experience can be life-changing. What’s left is a deeper connection with ourselves, with the community of people we’re singing with, and with the composer and author whose sacred music and text we breathe life into. Many also find singing in a choir supports a deeper relationship with God.

    If any of this sounds appealing to you, I hope you’ll consider joining our choirs. We have a number of groups to choose from. The Parish Community Choir meets on Tuesday evenings and offers a wide range of repertoire from ancient chant to modern choral works at many liturgies, prayer services, and at our annual Christmas and spring concerts. The Wallace Hall Choir ministers at the 11 AM Family Mass, and offers a joyful blend of contemporary and gospel music. Canticum Sacrum sings at the beautiful 7:30 Sunday evening liturgy, offering medieval motets, Renaissance madrigals, modern sacred music, and more. Do you have children? Our Children’s Choirs offer an exemplary musical and spiritual education and sing many major liturgies, prayer services, and concerts.

    There are so many ways to contribute to the great spiritual life of our parish. Singing in a choir offers an opportunity to deepen our faith in God, find meaningful connection with ourselves and others, and explore the human experience we share. All are welcome! I hope you’ll consider joining us.

    — Robert Reuter, Associate Director of Music

    September 10, 2023 Essay: A Rhapsody Of Hope For Our Time

    There is invariably a cacophonous buzz that precedes most musical performances, whether for a concert at Carnegie Hall or a musical on Broadway. It is the clash of discordant notes of what seems like a battle of musical instruments, each trying to showcase the distinct virtuosity of its master. As the din reaches a crescendo, there is a sudden moment of stark silence followed by something rapturous. One majestic harmony of sound is created through the same instruments that moments earlier seemed to be at war with one another. A melody elevating the soul to a tranquil realm of beauty unabashedly reveals itself through the unique sound of each musical note. In that moment, there are no longer separate threads, but rather an elegantly woven tapestry of sound.

    We live in a world where cacophony appears to be the norm. Discordant voices seek to sow division among us. We experience it on a daily basis, both close to home and from distant shores. We are awash with rhetoric that either attempts to stifle the human spirit or enflame a sinister urge within us to strike back impulsively. Unknowingly, we are being duped into believing that we are doomed to live in a polarized world, where you are either with us or are irrelevant. We lecture rather than listen, impose rather than collaborate, demand rather than discuss. To fall victim to this belief not only denigrates human dignity; it denies the presence of God in the world.

    Cacophony, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. It can be the foundation of something beautifully melodic. Similarly, differences among us, whether of opinion, politics, ethnic background, gender identification, race, religion, and so on, are exactly where God is to be found, where true harmony will be experienced. In his book, The Dignity of Difference, written in the aftermath of the tragic events of 9/11, Rabbi Jonathan Sachs reflected on the divine nature of the differences among us that require our understanding and demand our respect. When this occurs, we grow closer together and closer to God. He used as an example the biblical story of the Tower of Babel. When seen through his lens, it is not a tragic story at all. Rather, it is one of creative possibilities. We are enriched by our differences, not limited because of them.

    The Church has not been immune from the contagion of polarization. There are voices, both loud and strong, especially in the United States, that are trying to undermine the authority of Pope Francis. They view him as leading the Church in the wrong direction and the synodal process as a waste of time. The Pope, however, has not succumbed to parry with them at their level. Rather, he sees within the wellspring of different opinions a way to discern the will of God for the church in the 21st century. Rather than stifling voices within the church, in October at the Vatican, he is bringing together representatives from around the world, including some of his harshest critics, and inviting them to listen respectfully to one another, bishop and lay, traditionalist and liberal, women and men, gay and straight, Catholic and non-Catholic, and to be open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The present cacophonous buzz in the Church is approaching the threshold of a profound silence, of listening in excited anticipation of what will assuredly be a rhapsody of hope for the universal Church in the modern world.

    Similar to the synodal process initiated by Pope Francis, the parish has been engaged in a discernment process since 2019.  Several committees of parishioners, representing the various voices of the parish, met to discuss what it means to be a Jesuit Catholic parish in New York City today. It is my hope that with the release of the parish’s Implementation Plan in the Fall we will pause to savor the sound of our uniquely joyful rhapsody, before rolling up our sleeves and joining in the work of building a new paradigm of church, while remaining faithful to our rich traditions and noble past. As I reflect on what lies before us, I am reminded of Luke 12:48 – Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.

    The challenge of remaining alive to God’s spirit and relevant in today’s world will undoubtedly be daunting both for the universal Church and for our parish.  Let us join in prayer that we may be buoyed by the strains of a rhapsody of hope and boldly proclaim the kingdom of God so that all we do redounds to the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls.

    — Dennis J. Yesalonia, S.J., Pastor

    Music Essay: Why You Should Join Our Choirs 

    As the warm days of summer turn to fall and we begin to plan for our upcoming activities, I hope you will consider joining one of the volunteer choirs in our comprehensive liturgical music program at St. Ignatius. We have an array of opportunities to serve your musical tastes and experience. In my years as a choral director, I have found that participation in a choir can bring community, joy, and spiritual nourishment to its members. 

     Of all the musical arts, singing is perhaps the most accessible to us all. Each of us carries a voice, and our minds and ears help guide how to best harness and use that voice in the pursuit of musical growth and excellence. When a chorus rehearses, the sole goal of everyone in the room is to better listen to one other and blend together in pursuit of a composer’s vision. By listening intently to each other, the whole of the group becomes greater than the sum of its individual parts. I have experienced time and time again at this church the magical moments when a choir’s rehearsal efforts come together to “click” as a unified whole during a Mass or concert. It is a highly energizing and satisfying experience, and one that can connect us to something larger than ourselves. 

    The St. Ignatius Music Staff believes in musical diversity as a strength that allows church volunteers to pursue a style of sacred music that best speaks to them. Do you enjoy Renaissance polyphony? Come join Canticum Sacrum, the choir for the 7:30 PM Mass. Do you prefer contemporary and gospel music? The Wallace Hall Choir and Orchestra which ministers at the 11:00 AM Family Mass would be the best fit for you. Do you prefer to be at a weeknight rehearsal devoted to a broad array of sacred music, chosen from the rich Catholic and non-denominational traditions going back centuries? Consider the Parish Community Choir, which meets Tuesday evenings and visits different Masses throughout the season. Young members of the parish can participate in the St. Ignatius Children’s Choirs, providing musical opportunities and exploration within our music program. Regardless of the musical style and worship venue, our mission is to foster a culture of singing with integrity and excellence for the greater glory of God. 

    Musical fellowship in all of these ensembles provides one of the best benefits in choral participation. Lifelong friendships are forged through facing shared challenges and experiences with beautiful music. The ritual of coming together as a community on a weekly basis can provide a structured moment of reflection and engagement during one’s week. For what it is worth, I met my wife through the St. Ignatius choral community, was married in the church, and now we’ve welcomed our first child into the world. I count some of closest friends among those I work with at St. Ignatius.  You never know what might happen! 

    The celebration of our faith through increased musical exposure and literacy will serve to enrich your experience of the Catholic Church. We welcome singers of all backgrounds. It is a journey which I have come to embrace over the 13 years I’ve served here as Music Associate. We invite you to join us for an experience that can lift the spirit and give back to the liturgical life of the parish.

    Michael Sheetz, Music Associate 

    June 25, 2023 Essay: I Didn’t Go To Church Today

    You may have recognized the title of one of Ogden Nash’s whimsical poems. It reads:

    I didn’t go to church today,
    I trust the Lord to understand.
    The surf was swirling blue and white,
    The children swirling in the sand.
    He knows, he knows how brief my stay.
    How brief this spell of summer weather.
    He knows when I am said and done,
    We’ll have plenty of time together.

    How beguiling the thought of a summer without the worry of getting out of bed early in the morning or searching for a church when far from home! The call of the rhythmic lapping of the waves on a sandy beach can be intoxicating. It begins to synchronize with the beating of your heart and beckons you closer. The allure of a picture-perfect, carefree day is difficult to resist. After all, there are only so many days of summer, and even fewer where all the stars align to offer you the best that summer has to offer. I didn’t go to church today, I trust the Lord to understand.

    Let’s face it. There is nothing quite like a summer’s day. Poets have celebrated it since the beginning of time. Painters have tried to capture it on canvas. Songwriters have married melodies to the whispering sound of willows swaying in the breeze. Ah, summertime! The din of laughter as children frolic in the fields, the sound of the crack of their bats on sandlots, and chores finished in record time, so they run outside and revel in the newfound freedom of no homework. Our steps are lighter, our worries a million miles away, our spirits lifted beyond the azure blue sky that only summer reveals. You can envision it clearly. The surf was swirling blue and white, The children swirling in the sand.

    And in the quiet of a balmy night, we reminisce to the cadence of the porch’s swing and are embraced by our memories of summers past – the innocence of youth, the sweetness of that first kiss, our loved ones whose summer days and lives have run their course. He knows, he knows how brief my stay. How brief this spell of summer weather.

    There is a beauty to summer that no writer’s pen, no painter’s brush, no composer’s score can truly capture. The radiance of life is arrayed in all its glory. The majesty of nature is reflected in the gaze of those who look in wonder. It is as though we are transported to another realm. Time ceases; warmth embraces; and joy is rapturous. It is a season we long for, for a period filled with sensations and experiences that hold the promise of our heart’s desire, to feel alive to the world around us and savor a foretaste of what is to come. He knows when I am said and done, We’ll have plenty of time together.

    There is a wisdom to the whimsy of Nash’s verses. A superficial reading of his poem would miss the underlying relevance that I believe he sees in the importance of going to church, whether it be summer, winter, spring, or fall. To fail at this betrays the significance of what he wrote. In four uncomplicated verses Nash has given his readers the reasons to want to go to church each day – the wonder and beauty of nature, the glow of youth, the treasure chest of memories, and the preciousness of life itself. These are God’s gifts to each one of us.

    Perhaps during the summer months, we can compose verses to I Happily Went To Church On A Summer’s Day.

    Happy Summer! Happy Writing!

    –  Fr. Dennis J. Yesalonia, S.J., Pastor