Daniel Boland Ph. D.




Daniel Boland Ph. D.

Photo by Robert Phelps





Commentaries and observations about the conflicting moral beliefs and psychological issues facing our culture.



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21 November 2022


A Small, Resounding Moment

I often visit my local parish church, the Mission Basilica of San Juan Capistrano. The parish has an extraordinary history, extending back to the 1700s. The present Basilica has a detailed, high-domed interior and a wall of glistening reredos behind the altar which are a marvel of rococo design (it is on the web, if you are interested).

I visit often because we elder Catholics were initiated quite early in our lives into a Faith which goes far beyond the minimal Sunday obligation. We consider our Faith and its beliefs to be a lifestyle, a life’s commitment to God through our Church.

So, stopping by my local parish to greet the Creator emerges naturally from a life-long tradition of education, abetted by the self-insight which personal failures have afforded. But our failures, when repented and forgiven, remind us of our universal vulnerability, and also inspire our appreciation for the procession of blessings which elicit our abiding gratitude. And it is our gratitude which we willingly express as often as possible. So, we visit….

Today, Sunday, I happened to visit just a family was assembling before the altar for the Baptism of their newborn twins. The twins, little girls only a few weeks old, were clad in white Baptismal gowns. Both babies were wide-eyed as their family members and friends showered them with unfeigned, spontaneous affection. This outpouring of attention seemed to startle the little ones, who turned cautiously, wide-eyed, seemingly awed at the bustle of loving words and smiles which the adults poured upon them.

One by one, family and friends held the little babies, as photos were taken over and over in front of the altar. Finally, the mother held both babies, one in each of her arms and posed for a dozen cameras. Then, the father held both twins in his arms. And he looked at each of them with such gentleness that everyone was silenced for a moment. Then, he looked into the cameras with a smile – and the twins stared up at him, as if they knew this man was serious … that he did indeed love them fully, beyond himself.

When the photos were done, the twins once again were showered with kisses and loving embraces and the endless unguarded attentions of the adults who, for these moments – for these blessed moments – gave these little babies the purest sort of approval one could ever hope to receive.

It was, of course, a moving moment - a brief but actual grace - to witness all this, to be reminded that the gift of love is sometimes fresh and unguarded in its origin and profoundly innocent in its expression. It was – and it is – deeply reassuring to witness the human heart’s noblest, most loving instinct come purely forth, without expectation of return, for the unadorned delight of loving another, simply because the gift of loving that other person is unavoidable, undeniable, unquenchable, true.

It is an article of my Faith that we are all loved by God, forgiven of our deliberate offenses by virtue of Christ’s saving intervention, personally welcomed into that divine stream of loving by Baptism. As I watched (at a brief distance) the family vividly express this truth, I was again brought to gratitude for the Faith which moved this family to love these babies so dearly, so unreservedly.

And I was also brought to gratitude that I had stopped by my parish to say hello to our Creator who was, I imagined, irrepressibly smiling as much as I was at this grand moment.