From year to year his liturgies

were uniformly simple--a make-

shift chasuble and technicolor stole,

wine glass faintly cracked,

and off-key kyries disguising

the crescendo of grace.


Although he had been saying mass

in every room around the house

since he was nine, I can't recall

the moment we began to listen.

It crept like a silent season

shy to surprise.


Gradually between us

pieces of his homilies tumbling

from his broken tongue would

ripen underneath our skins

and surface serendipitously

in casual conversation.


But nothing paralleled his sermon

on the Prodigal at twelve.

He drew from the chaos

when his only sister ran away.

Then we knew it was through

his hope in the Father's longing looks


that brought her whole and home

to an endless summer.


Jerome L. McElroy


*Accepted in Sacred Journey (Winter 2002).