The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

“The whole universe is a Mass, feeding us every day”

I got a letter today from my friend, the Trappist priest and writer James Stephen Behrens (known to his pals as “Jeff.”) He enclosed with it, as he does with many letters, a short reflection. In this one, he wrote about what it was like when he was a parish priest; on the first Friday of every month, he was assigned to take communion to the homebound. These were known routinely as Communion Calls.

So to mark this particular first Friday for February, I wanted to share Jeff’s closing paragraphs, written against the backdrop of a rare Georgia snowfall:

All of life is a Communion Call — as if God is the ever present first Friday Visitor, asking that we be with him, receive him, welcome him.


I look at the beauty of freshly fallen snow — it is rare, here in Georgia, to have snow. Just yesterday I was telling a group in our retreat house that I used to love the sound of falling snow when I lived in the northeast. There was that pervasive hiss as the snow fell and touched the earth. Even when the snow stopped falling, there seemed to be a sound in the air, the sound of snow, a peaceful yet rich sound. Something like a communion of white, of innocence, of purity. Billions of hosts, coming softly to the earth, covering everything. A gift from God, as is everything, coming from above, arising from below, whispering to me as to where he is, communing with us.

The whole universe is a Mass — feeding us every day. The banquet of God, this life we live. It is special, very special.

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posted February 1, 2008 at 12:33 am

When I was confirmed, it was snowing, and I imagined each flake as a descent of the Holy Spirit. This brings me back to that moment.Thank you.

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posted February 1, 2008 at 9:43 pm

I miss Jeff’s reflections in the NCR’s “Starting Point.” Thanks for sharing this.

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