Daniel Boland Ph. D.




Daniel Boland Ph. D.

Photo by Robert Phelps


Today's Ideas


9 December 2020

Is  “Merry  Christmas”  Now  A  No-No ?

A Loved One recently brought to my attention some friends who take offense at saying “Merry Christmas.” They object to the word “Christmas” because it is not sufficiently inclusive. It’s too - you know - too Christian; it offends some people, and we can’t have Christian-Speak in our urgently inclusive, politically correct world, can we?

Today’s politically correct, inclusively-over-the-top, diversity-seeking, feeling-focused apologists insist that “,,, many people do not celebrate Christmas. They feel offended and not included. Wishing them Merry Christmas. hurts their feelings …”  But these politically correct folks do not mind offending those of us who still believe in Christmas and in Whom it commemorates.

Anti-Christmas folks probably have good intentions; they don’t want to ruffle anyone’s sensitive feathers. They want to be nice, so they propose a tepid, shallow option: “Happy Holidays.” That includes everyone and offends no one. “Happy Holidays, Everyone (… but shush up with that Christmassy thing…”).

Incidentally, didn’t Charles Dickens write about a grouchy chap who disliked Christmas? Didn’t that grumpy old Brit mutter, “Bah, Humbug” when folks wished him a Merry Christmas. Do I have that right?

Christmas,  Be  Gone !!

These people who object to saying “Merry Christmas” also say they are Christians, but … they “feel the need to be inclusive.” Inclusive means they do not wish to hurt anyone’s feelings. These days we must be inclusive. After all, there’s lots of very sensitive and very touchy folks whose feelings are hurt by the sound of the word CHRISTMAS. We don’t want to bruise their delicate psyches … whoever they are….

Gracious, let us Christians not be too Christian-y. Let’s stifle Christmas and not bruise anyone’s really sensitive feelings.

Out goes that nasty word “Christmas.” In with “Holiday!!”

My Loved One and I also wonder, “…what does this mean for our children? Is our world so crazy that we offend others simply by saying Merry Christmas?”

And I wonder … how long should any adult allow “feelings” to determine their values and behavior?

What’s  Really  Going  On

Let’s think about this a minute.

Words are intended to convey meaning. That’s the beauty of human language and communication: we must attend to one another intellectually and psychologically, mentally and emotionally. As I say so often, we cannot not communicate.

Words in-and-of themselves have meaning, but their significance emerges within the context of how the words are used. Context can be historical, cultural, personal. Context bestows meaning, clarity and nuance.

Then comes the relationship in which words are used. For example, I say things to my Lovely Daughter which I’d never say to strangers … and that’s what family context and relationships are for: to bestow specific meanings, depth and psychological architecture to the simple use of words.

Nature intends that our communication (i.e., our use of verbal sounds and non-verbal symbols) strives for clarity, not conflict. Language is complex, but its complexity is eminently human. At our deepest level, our motivation inspires us to use certain words and symbols to convey our truest - even our unguarded and loving - self.

Words  And  Their  Abuse

Today's politically-correct world is deeply polarized, heavily (and errantly) focused on feelings-over-principles. We have become a victim-saturated, all-inclusive, racially-crazed, sexually-punitive, gender-bending, non-judgmentally critical culture.

Anger seems our dominant public energy. As a result, words are needlessly, even wickedly, “weaponized” and often used to deceive rather than to enlighten, to hide - rather than to reveal – the truth.

Our best traditions are being discarded. Common sense is often sacrificed at the altar of expedient, chaotic revisionism. This messy, arbitrary, feeling-focused, excessively-touchy abuse of language - and of people - is worsened these days because politically correct meanings are assigned to harmless exchanges.

How  Feelings  Mislead

In this foundering context, we find an abundance of easily-offended “victims.” Today’s victims employ accusatory belligerence which pummels the unwary speaker. Words are often used as punitive reminders that personal “feelings” are now the first-and-only arbiter of meaning and motive.

Whenever “bruised” feelings or politically correct tropes are introduced into our national conversation, rationality stops, righteousness ascends, minds get tangled, clarity ceases and, thereafter, petty and puerile rage takes over. Communication becomes brittle and defensive. Relationships become argumentative and divisive rather than edifying and beneficial.

In this unbalanced world, innocent words and benign motives are often distorted out of total context, given connotations and implications which a balanced and level-headed person would never assign or imagine.

When this happens, innocent words are used to challenge the intention and condemn the motives of the speaker.

The politically correct mantra now is:

“I know what you meant, but that doesn’t matter. Your words hurt my feelings and offend my sex (or my race or my color or my gender or whatever else offends me these days…”).

Christmas  Means  Freedom  In  Many  Ways

And into this politically correct miasma comes the Feast of Christmas, which is the Feast of the Incarnation of Christ, the Birth of the Christian Era, the moment in which our entire human story takes it brightest turn toward goodness, grace, love and forgiveness ………

… but Christmas grumps say, “… Let’s not get carried away with all the Christian trappings; someone might be offended if we say ‘Blessed Christmas’…”

It’s true that one word can make a huge difference in people’s lives, often for the better. Any shrewd teacher or caring parent or perceptive jurist or patient priest or loving spouse will tell you so. BUT ….. stifling one word can also be a step into tyranny and an embrace of anti-Americanism, even at a neighborhood level. Why?

Because freedom to practice one’s religion also involves free speech. Stifle only one right, and the other freedoms which define America are thereby threatened.

Christmas  Is  History

History tells us that the word “Christmas” – and the event it celebrates – forms the rationale for our U. S. Constitution, as well as the entire canon of Christian culture around the world.

Christmas is a Christian - and an American - tradition, an historic expression of our country’s faith, a testament to the reality of hope and to the founding of our nation. Our pilgrim settlements were founded as intentional Christian refuges for religious freedom.

The tradition of Christmas is deeply rooted in American history, culture and tradition. Thus, the inane use of "Holiday" instead of “Christmas” is insulting to American history and to our religious spirit as a nation.

In addition, it is a further step into the acrid falsities of insipid, virtue-signaling “nice-ness” where moral darkness, anarchy and nihilism await under the guise of counterfeit equality and a mawkish mask of preening pretense.

Unless we preserve and honor our historic First Amendment tradition of religious freedom, we become a country in search of an identity. This is a tragic consequence of our ongoing rejection of our best qualities. We should celebrate our irreplaceable heritage of religious freedom rather than erase it for any reason, even at the neighborhood level, even in the family.

At  The  Center  Of  It  All

What upsets some dissenters is that the word "Christmas" has Christ's name in it. So, we must not offend other religions or non-believers by pushing Christ in public. That’s a no-no.

These days, many young people report they have no religion at all. Being Christian is gauche, unhip, outdated, old-fashioned. Too much religion is totally uncool. So, it makes sense to religious floaters to downplay the sanctity of Christmas and give allegiance to fleeting pleasures and pseudo happiness and cultural fads and, above all, to feelings. The indulgent celebration of feelings is the non-believer’s liturgy, his connection to his sense of meaning and action – however passing.

In fact, every religion has its particular days of celebration and remembrance, such as Judaism’s Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, or Islam’s Ramadan and Eid Al-Fitr… or the atheist’s whatever atheists celebrate.

Am I offended by these choices – religious and non-religious? Are you offended? Someone might be offended somewhere, so shall we insist these religions forego their public observances in favor of someone who might - somewhere, somehow - be offended?

Finally,  Some  Personal  Comments

Some folks object not only to Christmas wishes but also to any words of prayerful origin and soulful intent.

For example, an ailing acquaintance dislikes the mention of Christmas. He also mentions his distaste when people offer him their prayerful good wishes for his health. He asked me what I thought.

I said this:

I am humbled when people offer me their prayers, for prayers are a deeply personal, well-meant gift of concern and affection.

There is research evidence that prayers do sometimes have an astonishingly beneficial outcome (the Grotto at Lourdes is but one example). In our present context, the intention of the giver is so heart-felt that one would have to be a true grump to be upset or find such honest good will undesirable.

Moreover, I am also touched by the human reality of Christmas, which is all about Jesus’ Birth, His Blessed Mother and His protector Joseph.

I am touched by the fact that He came purely to reveal to all of us the Love which God has for each one of us. I find this deeply reassuring - and I do believe it.

I am touched that - despite His Divinity - Jesus was born as a child, as a helpless, dependent baby, relying totally on those around Him for life, for sustenance, for survival and for love; just like the rest of us humans.

I profoundly appreciate knowing that God kept His Promise to the Jewish people and finally sent the Redeemer, His Only Son, to redeem and befriend each one of us. By His fidelity, I am reassured that He will keep His promises to me, too.

I work daily to remain ever-so-grateful for all the graces which the Incarnation constantly bestows upon me and upon all humanity.

I am grateful for Faith and Hope and Charity in my life which are available to each one of us, if we seek.

I am not blind to the suffering which we inflict upon one another but I am also moved by Jesus’ example of quiet obedience and fidelity, even as He suffered unto His death …for us all.

And I told my friend that my beliefs are but a few of the gifts which Christmas celebrates. When I wish someone a Blessed Christmas, I am surely including these thoughts with all my good will for them – even if the other person dismisses the meaning of Christmas; even if my faith is, to him, a useless myth.

Nonetheless, when I say “Blessed Christmas,” I am wishing that person all the goodness and peace and happiness which my words can relay; my words unsullied in meaning and as simple and clear as I can be.

Given these thoughts - and much more - I am uncertain why anyone, especially a Christian, would assume an anti-Christmas attitude or find anything divisive about wishing one another a “Merry Christmas” and all of God’s blessings which Christmas conveys to this weary world of ours …

And so I also say “Blessed Christmas” to you who read these words … May God grant you and your loved ones a Blessed Christmas and all that these words truly mean.

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1 June 2020

… The Privilege Of Now …

To live my life all over again in just one enlightened day;
At this late date, what would I do that yet I have not done?
To live but one day more, aware;
To attend fully to the grandeur of all life;
To be of prayerful mind and unceasingly grateful heart,
To see my defenses are but weary detours,
Impeding my journey, moving me from hopeful respite,
Buffering harsh reality that nurtures truth.
To know that knowing is empty without faith to fill
         unknowable gaps,
To see beyond so many heartless moments,
Beyond my ego’s restless need.
To remember being loved, then to love renewed
         with memory’s earnest energies.
And, as evening calms my quest,
         then to say with gratitude and humbly to admit
That God Alone is all …
That all of life is from His gracious Hand.
Surely, after patient years, the day is now.
This is that day of life re-lived, happily upon me still;
This blessed day, a lifetime’s gift pursued, eternally fleeting -- but
         always now.

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9 July 2018


If I could once again take your hand
and walk with you in that quiet, shaded glen,
as we used to do, looking skyward
at endless boughs of greenery above
and sigh together in wonder at the beauty of it all …
Or, if I could, once again stroll our beach with you
and skip stones across the yielding waters,
as spindrift cast its soothing spray upon us
with sweet indifference …
Or if I could, once again, watch you in gentle sleep
as you accepted all that life had given, wearied by aging’s pain, blessed for a time by night’s fleeting solace …
Or if I could add to the joy we found together
when silence took us beyond sound to soulful ease …
With happy heart, I would.  
Oh, Beloved One, I would.

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22 June 2018

Then And Now

I am named for him.
No gruff edges on which to hang frowns or biting words.
Kindness and integrity and aftershave, pickles and mustard and a warm hand to make the street safe.
Goodnight visits for tucks and prayers to God and Mary
And crinkling eyes that smiled brightly and made me happy.
In later years, at sunset, he gazed out the window and asked,
“Is that West?”
Mother would tell him yes,
and I would not understand why he had to ask.
He was old; old people are supposed to know such things.
One day he was gone and it was dark.
His room was empty
except for the picture of Grandma
which sat on his bureau for thirty years.
He made me happy.
I am named for him
and he always made me happy.

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3 March 2018

Delaware  Leads  The  Way To  Chaos

Suppose your son Jimmy attends a public or charter school in Delaware. At the first Parent-Teacher’s meeting, your son’s Social Science teacher tells you that you child -- she -- is doing well in her classes and is quite popular with the other girls in her class …. “and she is such a sweet little girl,” the teacher adds.
You smile, then gently – gently – remind the teacher than your son is your son, a boy named Jimmy.

The teacher smiles back with a slight sidewise turn of her head and shoots you a subtle, half-knowing, oh-poo smile and says, “I know your daughter Jemma; she is in my home room. She is ever so popular with her classmates …. and she is such a sweet little girl.”

Rather than call the teacher some nasty name, you and your spouse move on to the next teacher, who also praises Jimmy’s --- er, Jemma’s --- attitudes, and speaks well of her -- Jemma’s -- prompt answers in class. “I wish all the students were as bright as Jemma … and she is such a sweet child,” the teacher adds.
With wrinkled brow, growing confusion and a big lump in your stomach, you wonder if this is a sick joke or a plot by H. P. Lovecraft or a reason to ease up on the Chablis.  

Finally, you encounter the Principal, Dr. Hugo P. Hackenbush, in the hallway. With as steady a voice as you can control, you ask the good Dr. Hackenbush why the teachers have you son confused with some little classmate named Jemma?
Dr. Hackenbush, always a dreadfully friendly chap, listens with squinty eyed concentration. As you explain your quandary, his usually chummy expression darkens, his scraggly eyebrows scrunch together and a cloud of churlish impatience sweeps over his pinkish face.  

“Hasn’t Jimmy ---- I mean Jemma --- told you of his – I mean her --- decision to be a girl and to play on the fourth-grade girls volley ball team? Jemma is the best Martian we have on the team…”
Of course, you are thrilled at Jimmy’s – er, Jemma’s – sense of precocious originality and his – er, her – politically correct perspicacity. Jimmy/Jemma’s discerning senses of inclusion and diversity fill you and your spouse with …………(fill in the blank)………………….

Sanity  On  The  Wane

This scenario is about to become active in Delaware, thanks to the wrecking-ball innovations of America’s energetic, down-with-tradition, morally imbecilic Leftists.

When speaking of other persons, one always tries to maintain a sense of decent reserve and charitable bonhomie, even when faced with the Left’s ludicrous ideas of “freedom.” But some Leftist demands are so utterly puerile, so crassly offensive, so contrary to Nature, so brainlessly contradictory to developmental psychology, so far removed from reality, so biologically dishonest, so blatantly untruthful, so violently opposed to common sense, that one sputters when one realizes such wretched, child-damaging ideas are sweeping our country with the support of adults.

So, Delaware students will soon be able to declare their gender and their race and God-knows-what-else on their own hook – and parents will not be informed. Delaware is by no means the only state in which such nonsense is undermining the authority of parents and the solidity of the natural family, not to mention state-sanctioned instruction in duplicity and deception of parents … approved by the State of Delaware and its Department of Education.

Thus goeth America under the Leftist banner.

If you find this development as bizarre as I do, take time to examine the terms of this decree which, at the instigation of Delaware’s Governor John Carney, is close to enforcement. Here is the link:

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1 November 2017

An  Elder’s  Curiosity

Take-A-Knee Syndrome and The Black Panthers

I do not follow professional football. The flurry of teams and scores and rankings is not among my priorities (no offense to my Chicago chums who still follow the Bears with heroic tenacity).

However, I have lately noticed one troubling item: the increasing number of professional football players now part of the mind-numbing, deliberately provocative ritual of knee-taking during the National Anthem.

The plague of knee-taking protesters seems to be spreading like an ugly rash, resulting in fans defecting, revenues dropping, and schismatic conflicts amongst players, owners, League officials and sporting ethicists.

The First Knee-Taker who inspires this fad is an unemployed, multi-millionaire named Colin Kaepernick. Mr. Kaepernick originally took-a-knee ostensibly to protest injustices against black and minority people in America. His logic suggests that knee-taking will bring attention to the smothering racial and ethnic oppression which plagues our country and will, one infers, lead to the resolution of oppressive evils resulting in greater equality, harmony and peace in our time.

Inarguably, his cause is admirable – on its face. Similar moral themes have been pursued by historical notables, such as Francis of Assisi, Martin Luther King, Jesus Christ, Gandhi, Malcolm X, Huey Newton and Bobby Seale.

I mention Messrs. Newton and Seale because Mr. Kaepernick has integrated their Marxist-inspired ideas for social change into his own purposes and programs.

In 1966 Messrs. Seale and Newton founded the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. According to Mr. Kaepernick, the 1966 Black Panther platform serves as the philosophical and tactical foundation for, among other things, training programs which Mr. Kaepernick undertakes with black and minority youth. Details can be found at (under the Media tab).

Mr. Kaepernick’s youth workshops focus on ten points which identify the rights all participants should know and pursue (along with tips on to handle oneself with the police when detained). Mr. Kaepernick’s ten points tell his young charges that they have a right 1) to be free, 2) to be healthy, 3) to be brilliant, 4) to be safe, 5) to be loved, 6) to be courageous, 7) to be alive, 8) to be trusted, 9) to be educated, and 10) to know their rights.

On his website explaining these youth workshops, Mr. Kaepernick points out that this 10-point list of rights is an adaptation of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense Ten-Point Plan published in 1972.

A partial summary of that original Black Panther platform reveals the Party’s demand for freedom and power to determine “the destiny of Black and oppressed communities.” It demands full employment for “our people,” along with “an end to the robbery by the capitalist of our Black and oppressed communities.”

Further demands include “education for our people that exposes the true nature of this decadent American society,” “completely free health care for all Black and oppressed people,” “an immediate end to all wars of aggression,” and ”land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice, peace and people's community control of modern technology.

These demands of The Black Panther Party are central to Mr. Kaepernick’s zeal for justice and his accusations against America. It would behoove his knee-taking associates to know the background and contents of this platform and the stated ideals to which these kneelers actually kneel.

I have written elsewhere in these essays about the fact that a claim for one’s rights cannot be separated from the acceptance of one’s responsibilities. Rights and responsibilities are two sides of the same hand. Mr. Kaepernick’s demands do not say a word about what substantive responsibilities he and his followers are willing and ready to assume. Not a word is said about the price to be paid to earn trust or to work for an education or to strive for brilliance – or to be loved. Take-a-knee; make waves, stir things up --- to what end?

One could question the moral and cultural consequences of these ten points. One could challenge the stale, inhuman Marxist ideology which inspired the Black Panthers Ten Point Plan. But take-a-knee? That’s it?

America is not perfect; justice eludes -- but we persevere as a nation to attain it. Given the schema which history provides, one surely could critique the shallow behavior of these countless professionals who take-a-kneel to a cause which provokes more conflict than insight.

Most of all, one wonders how many of these knee-taking participants who follow Mr. Kaepernick’s example are factually informed about the dubious origins of the cause they support by their bended knees. Do they truly mean to convey to us that knee-taking represents the height of their contributions to the betterment of others?

One wonders if these “athletes” are at all aware of what they are truly proclaiming by their gullibly ineffective and - to many Americans - profoundly offensive behavior.

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20 October 2017

Eight-year-old Boy Becomes
Lactitia, A Drag “Queen”

The Witherspoon Institute’s Public Discourse recently published an internet article about an eight-year-old boy (8 years old) whose family is thrilled that he has chosen to be a drag queen.

This child’s philosophy, echoed by his enthused mother, is that you can do anything you want with your life, and you need not listen to anyone else, including your parents. Keep in mind this child is eight years old and has, with parental support and pride, been involved in this endeavor for years.

For billing in his/her performances, this youngster has taken the name “Lactitia.” The child is already a star in a certain sub-culture and relishes the raucous delight of loud, live audiences.

The child has caught the attention of millions of viewers and receives coaching by adult “professionals,” one of whom gives him tips in one of the links below.

As one watches, one is prompted one to shake one’s head in wonderment and dread. I have written elsewhere about the valid and essential process of making informed judgments and maintaining one’s educated moral compass intact. In this instance, I shall refrain from further comment and suggest that you watch the links below which show the child in action.

As you watch, you may also find yourself wondering – as I have -- what has happened to our sacred regard for our young.

Or, perhaps you find his and his parents’ behavior admirably discerning, even inspiring, as some people do. Perhaps you see no problem at all.

In either case, take a look at eight-year-old Lactitia.


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14 October 2017

Pence?  Weinstein?

Last March, much fiery condemnation by ruffled segments of the media followed the old “news” that Mike Pence did not dine alone with women other than his wife, Karen. The Pences have been married for thirty-three years and are, according to many reports, “soul mates.”  (See Ashley Parker’s Washington Post story, March 28, 2017)

Countless hostile comments appeared. Critics repeated emphasized the patriarchal hubris of Pence’s principled behavior. How, critics asked, could any woman possibly secure a position of power and influence without wining-and-dining with the Vice President. Shame. Shame on him. Misogyny rules, Pence’s critics said.

The  Weinstein  Syndrome.

Now comes Harvey Weinstein, who is, in his own words, “…a famous guy….”

There are -- to understate the issues – a plethora of bothersome revelations which swirl about The Weinstein Syndrome.

One is stunned (perhaps naively) by the years this man has exercised recurring sexual aggressions against - and flaunted his ready entrapment of – many women.

One is stunned by the number of people (including his corporate executive buddies, a hypocritical media and an abundance of so-called Hollywood A-List enablers) who have chosen to honor a sickening code of silence, some for decades.

One is stunned that law enforcement decided to move on, even when evidence had been obtained.

Much is yet to be revealed about Mr. Weinstein and his associates … and the profoundly unsavory sub-culture they inhabit.

The  Pence  Heritage

The Pence’s fidelity to their marital relationship still causes hostile critics to dredge up accusatory, often absurd, comments. Nonetheless, the Pences faithfully uphold their moral beliefs. Mr. Pence has opted – for decades – to openly honor his promise of fidelity to his spouse, given in the Sacrament of Matrimony. He does so in ways which upset less morally insightful eyes. As John Henry Newman observed, the world is a “rough antagonist” to spiritual truth which harms no one.

Mike and Karen Pence make no display of false pride or moral superiority. They simply choose to live as they believe.

So, also, have many people chosen to live as they believe by willingly furthering and knowingly fostering the ugly excesses of The Weinstein Era. It is an Era of dreadful degradation, lengthy hypocrisy and inexcusable abuse. It is an Era which again reveals the cost to human dignity of the consuming selfishness to which our human nature is heir.

Worst of all, it is an Era of shame which thrived only because so many unnumbered people made it so.

And it is not over.

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5 October 2017


In his commentary on the Las Vegas tragedy, Psychiatrist Dr, Keith Ablow mentions psychological denial as a way people avoid thinking about human vulnerabilities. Human vulnerability refers to our fear of being wounded ("vulnera" in Latin means "wound"). We fear bodily harm or, most often, bruising to our fragile egos. Thus, we deny hard personal truths which we want desperately to avoid, desperately not to face. Denial is an attempt to escape.

In a state of denial, our conscience is stifled by the need to protect ourselves from perceived threats to our ego. Our ego is the repository of our so-called self-esteem. It’s where our self-protective instincts stand ever at-the-ready.

We have a spiritual power within us called conscience. It is infused by God and is a gift to human nature. Conscience reminds us that the only antidote to denial is facing the truth -- or, in spiritual terms, facing the Truth – and living up to our responsibilities and duties, however difficult.

Trouble is, psychological denial stifles the conscience. Denial is a deliberate choice to avoid discomforting reality and mute the call of responsibility. Denial creates an alternative reality in which we shield our ego from danger. We falsify life. We lie to ourselves in a topsy-turvy universe where our values are badly askew. We avoid facts, history, reason and experience. We live in a state of sustained pretense. We even stifle common sense … but others usually see right through us.

As a nation, America suffers from a profound measure of astonishing denial. Presently we bemoan the tragic deaths of 50 people in Las Vegas. At the same instant, we support and fund the legalized killing of millions of our own citizens, i.e., those helpless children unborn and being born. These children are the condemned progeny of Roe v Wade. Yes, we contemplate the tragedy of Las Vegas, yet we tolerate and abet the ongoing killing of these babies.

Both events chill our nation’s soul -- and should. But our decades of disregard for the safety of babies unborn and being born exposes a twisted version of humanity and denial of our most fundamental duty to one another, a duty which should always – always – be honored before we dare demand our rights.

The toll of children killed by abuse of the Constitution and the Divine Law now rises to more than 61 million. We are compelled to wonder what value we truly put on the lives of strangers. One must wonder about the state of our national conscience and our regard for Creation itself.

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September 2017


Many years ago, I worked with a group of French nuns who prepared the food for an institution of budding scholars. Not surprisingly, these selfless religious women performed the kind of tedious, menial tasks which few people gladly undertake without motivation far beyond the ordinary.

The nuns labored from early-morning darkness to beyond sunset. Their work consisted of kitchen chores: endless, behind-the-scenes hours of preparation, cleaning, scouring, peeling, standing over red-hot stoves wreathed in the steam of boiling pots and sizzling pans.

They seldom spoke as they worked in silence, often in heat which our modern air-conditioned sensibilities would consider absurd and would no longer tolerate.

Occasionally, a hobo would knock on their kitchen door in search of food. The sisters always accommodated and, with a twist of wry spirituality they referred to these men as St Joseph. “St. Joseph is at the door,” one of them would announce. Then they would all smile with the shared belief that – as they saw it – God had sent them this homeless, hungry vagabond-of-the-road. And they would feed the vagrant at their door, giving the man soup and a sandwich and a kindly smile and a welcoming word of respect. And the homeless traveler would sit and eat on their back stoop, and the good nuns say a quiet, fervent prayer over him as he ate.

One of these nuns later told me that they prayed for these “wayward children of the earth” in their nightly chapel prayers, when their work was done and they spent the day’s last hours on their knees before God.

Decades later, I still think of the gentle welcoming spirit the nuns offered these many strangers at their door. I still think of the vision of God’s goodness which, through food and prayer and kindly words, they sought to impart to these homeless, passing wanderers.

The fortunes of these good nuns and of the lonely men they gently served are, of course, lost in time. But the deeds of these good women and their merciful outlook still serve as reminders of kindnesses yet to be given. And the example of these good women still urges us to see beyond the obvious, so that we, too, may extend goodness where we may.