“Ash Wednesday” by T.S. Eliot

Back in 2013, with a remnant of a cold, I read T. S. Eliot’s Ash Wednesday.

It’s interesting to go back to that post and see the comments.  For example, Supertradmum is no longer with us.  Say a prayer for the repose of her soul.  There are names of some commentators we haven’t see around for a while.



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Mariana2 says:

    Yes, and where is The Masked Chicken?

  2. Chris in Maryland 2 says:

    Fr. Z:

    Just a word of deep thanks for refreshing my soul with Elliot’s poem, I knew it well, but was having a lot of dreary work distractions and heart-ache for the people of Ukraine, and you helped me by throwing the window open and letting in this gentle breeze from TSE. One of my favorite poets.

    I had the blessing of receiving ashes from a young priest who loves the ancient words: “Remember man that thou art dust…”. It is because of priests like him, and priests like you, and priests like my late beloved old associate pastor Fr. Paul, that I, a man of 66 years, can still be transported back to a boy of 6, and hear the ancient words, and remember…who I am.

    Thanks, and keep on, knowing you are helping people like me, even as you are pushed to the point of pleading for help yourself. God bless you and The Holy Spirit strengthen you.

    Semper fi…

  3. The Masked Chicken says:

    Mariana2 wrote:

    Yes, and where is The Masked Chicken?

    I wonder where I am, as well.

    It has been a very tough year. I don’t want to go into much detail, but my brother, who took care of our (then) 94 year old mother asked me to go up to where they live and take over for a weekend so that he could work with the band that he is the sound manager for (it was a side vocation, not his primary one). I had been going up every few weeks/months since my mother’s massive heart attack about six moths before (she, miraculously, recovered) to spell my brother so that he could take a break. I really wish I hadn’t, this time. The band was playing at a bar (my first warning), but he said he was going to be in another room and I assumed he would be isolated from the crowd. I forgot to consider the poor ventilation in most bars and it seems that he was not really in another room, but was just separated from the stage.

    In any case, he knew that night that he had done something wrong. He drove me back to my city on Sunday and then I got a phone call at 2:00 in the morning (never a good sign) a few days later from my mother who told me that they had just taken my brother to the hospital by ambulance, after he fell down the stairs due to an oxygen deficit. My mother was to follow him into the hospital, two days later. They both had COVID-19. I went out to get tested and the rapid test said no, but the PCR test came back a day later with, yes. All I had was a dry cough. I had to quarantine for 14 days at my home a hundred miles away, while both my mother and brother were in the hospital.

    They, immediately, gave my mother the Regeneron antibody treatment and I begged them to do the same for my brother, but the CDC guidelines at the time said to give him convalescent plasma, which I knew was worthless and I told them so, but the guidelines at the time called for giving the antibodies only to people early on in the disease and who were at high risk.

    My mother survived; my brother did not. When they told us that they put him on a ventilator, I knew that only 25% of patients survived (at that time). My mother never had to go into the ICU. A regular room was good enough. My twin came about 1500 miles to stay with our mother until she was able to leave the hospital. They took my mother outside of the ICU room where my brother was (she was not allowed in) to say goodbye, because the doctor in charge expected him to die at any moment. He refused to accommodate the doctor’s timetable, however, and rallied.

    I, immediately after the quarantine period was over, went up to where they lived and stayed with my mother after she got out of the hospital. Then, began the waiting and the praying. It was one step forward and two steps backwards. My twin had to leave to return home (his wife is a doctor and had been working in a COVID unit for some shifts). It was up and down with my younger brother. There were good days and bad days, but, after a month of hoping, they called us in to say goodbye and his heart stopped about 6:00 am about 1 year ago. I made sure that he was anointed and received the Apostolic Pardon the night before he died. It was all I could do.

    I do not have omniscience, so I will always wonder if I could have prevented this from happening. This is not survivor’s guilt – I should have known better, but I was too caught up in my own affairs to be objective about letting him go to a bar in the height of the pandemic. Out of all of the band members, he was the only one to get COVID.

    So, my 95 year old mother is alone most of the time, as both my twin and I had to return home after the funeral (I stayed an extra month – one of the perks of teaching online). She is ambulatory. She cooks. There are visiting “angels” and physical therapists who come most days for a few hours. I had them set up an iPad in the living rooms so that I can Facetime with her at anytime and my twin set up a wifi camera so that we can check on her. She and I talk about twice a day, but it really doesn’t take the place of a warm body.

    I have wanted to make comments on some of the posts over the last year, but I am very sensitive to the craziness that is going on with regards to COVID and politics, in general, to really be able to deal with a no-holds barred discussion on these topics. I can, still, make some useful comments about theology and liturgy and I may start doing that, again.

    I am sorry about going on about my brother. It has been a difficult year. I have continued to read the blog and I miss you all.

    The Chicken

  4. Mariana2 says:

    Thanks, Chicken! So sorry to hear about all this. I certainly miss you.

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