Father Frank Ruminates In The Rectory Garden Of St. Agnes’ Church, Benedicta, Maine



I smile, sometimes, thinking of how I liked the old Byrds tunes

Back in my seminary days, for I have come to know

(As much as anything through these hostas and damned dandelions)

That there is very much a season for all things, for our run in this plane

Is strictly proscribed, and having the end date somewhat fixed

A blessing from God, in fact, for it makes one focus on those things

That are truly meaningful, to appreciate when

There is the need to make fine gradations

(For if you plant the peas and parsley just a day—indeed, mere hours—

Too early, an unexpectedly still and cold night can steal all of your labors,

Leaving you with tiny, lifeless shoots slumped over the lip of a clay pot)

And when not to waste sound and fury over the most trifling of things;

For, when the final ascertainment is made, it will not be as an audit,

(With Saint Peter himself staring over his glasses as he punches the calculator,

Clucking as he reviews the number of bottoms in the pews,

The weight of the collection plate, the state of the cement or flagstone

Leading to the stairs of the cathedral), but a too-long movie,

With the most  seemingly most insignificant of scenes

Screened several times (if it please God) for your viewing pleasure.




For I have sinned, yes, most exceedingly, dear Saints and My Lord,

In lack of thought and foresight, in the expedient holding

Of my tongue, in the unthinking failure to act.

Mea culpa

Mea culpa

Mea maxima culpa.

Blessed Virgin, I cannot, in the self-serving pride

Of my guilt, ask you to pray for my soul,

But I would pray that, perhaps, I will have had the briefest of moments

Where I was not totally unworthy.





I was, at one time, (it seems a different lifetime to me now)

Part of the Bishop’s diocesan staff in Boston,

Great city of pristine churches (surrounded by blooms

Of all the colors He could bring) and shanty Irish

As rough as the day the boat landed; one size Fitz all,

The joke was back in those days.  I was not, certainly,

One of the rising stars in the hierarchy—not a “man to watch”

By any means—no, my function was much more prosaic.

My nickname, at the time, was “The Bishop’s Travel Agent”,

For my function was to find a place for those priests

Who had become (in the vernacular) “troublesome”.

Father Abbatachio had become somewhat too involved

With his younger female parishioners?  Well, then,

Off to some small Adirondack village, and good luck to finding

Any women under fifty and with a full set of upper teeth.

Father Koufos insists on saying the mass in Latin?

Surely, there’s a Jesuit university where he can end his days

Nattering over verb tenses and inflections. 

Father DiVincenzo a bit conservative and aggressive

For the more secular (and upscale) congregations?

To the south side of Pittsburgh, then; the Hunkies will love him!

Father Cavanaugh has evidenced a bit of

An altar boy problem?  Well, there’s a convent in

In the Berkshires which has an opening we can slide him into.

Well, we were (so I told myself) being judicious,

And all in the best interests of the Church,

For (ah, what a man can make himself believe) it was

Always greater than the sum of its parts.

Well, one time we were wrong, horribly wrong;

There was a suicide, whispers, letters that should have been burned.

Many of my colleagues complained, bitterly, that I had been made

An unworthy scapegoat for the Bishop, but I knew in my soul

That they were, in that assertion, merely halfway correct.




Yet perhaps I will—no, indeed, I must—be saved,

For our Lord is good, and Christ shall have mercy,

And exchange this long walk through foolishness and vanity

With life everlasting, even for those of us

Who have stumbled along clumsily, unthinkingly, unheedingly on Your creation.

Kyrie, eleison;

Christe, eleison;

Kyrie, eleison.





It is good, then; the days have been dry

And unusually warm, the nights cool

Yet without the danger of frost.

The beans and tomatoes should thrive,

And the sunflowers should grow…well,

Like sunflowers, I would surmise.

As for myself, the good days are examples

Of His grace, the bad ones no more than I can bear,

And the doctors (mere men, after all) minister to me

As well as men can.  I have, blessedly, no fear

Concerning the close of my small one-act play

On this patch of earth.  Indeed, I am often cheered

By the fact that I have seen small green shoots rising from the years

Of fallen leaves I have raked up and dumped

Upon the brush lot between the church itself

And the old graveyard at the rear of the property.


4 thoughts on “Father Frank Ruminates In The Rectory Garden Of St. Agnes’ Church, Benedicta, Maine

  1. It is all extraordinary reading but the way you wrapped it up is awe-inspiring in the full meaning of the word. The tone is spot on too. It is an enlightenment to read your work, wkk.

  2. Blessed Virgin, I cannot, in the self-serving pride

    Of my guilt, ask you to pray for my soul,

    I hope Fr. Frank change his mind on that.

    Powerful piece… I really liked the way you wrote the iii stanza.

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