Church Poem by Tony Pitman


Faithful pair.

Nora and Dorothy are off to Mass;
Everyday they tread the same path.
Whether hail, rain or shine,
This pair will find the time.

For years they've done the same,
Forever truthful to their faith.
Sparse congregations no difference makes,
Their personal devotions paramount.

Priests come and priests depart;
Nora and Dot take it in their stride.
They help the clergy in their work
But contact with God is their real goal.

Easy to rubbish such belief,
When egocentric cynicism reigns.
Following customs considered outdated,
Theirs must be a habit hard to break.

Nora and Dot not moved by such notions,
They've found their path to enlightenment.
Whilst the rest of us scratch around,
Hopefully they'll pray ours can be found


Sunday morn on day of rest,
Off to Mass in Sunday best.
Remember the excitement as a child,
Family together, God in His house.

Halcyon days of certainty,
Born from Catholic faith.
Precious gift at my birth;
Did wonder, what was my worth?

Those blessed days were not to last,
Reality of life would be the test.
Step outside strictures at peril,
Condemnation and exclusion forever.

Years of struggle was the result,
Attempts at reconciliation.
Pain and sorrow the order of the day;
Energies diverted from life's real pay.

There were periods of respite,
Oasis in my spiritual life.
Dave Duanne and the Marsh people,
Realised my dream of true belief.

The fight is over late in life;
Compromise finally justified.
Excommunication has been lifted.
Was the effort really worth it?

Sunday morn again tomorrow,
Go to Mass? I'll not bother.
Still believe God's in His home
But years of struggle have taken their toll.

Perhaps the fight more important than prize.
Perhaps my need was greater when young.
Perhaps the ban still lies in wait.
Perhaps no longer it's the path to take.

I still think of the happy child,
With his family at Sunday time.
Clarity of mind with no doubts.
Were it possible to have such faith?

I would not change that child's life;
The joy and thrill worth later strife.
Perhaps such nearness to God is unsustainable,
Perhaps I was lucky for the glimpse of it.

Little church.

Little church across the street.
Should be haven for spiritual peace.
A place for prayer and contemplation,
For the soul to find peace and salvation.

Little church built with skill and care,
By people wishing their beliefs to share.
Symbol of grace, hope and trust,
For love to foster in their midst.

Little church sad, with vacant pews;
Where's the people, you were once full?
Why this dearth in congregation,
Except for births, marriages and funerals?

Little church with words and rituals,
No longer inspiring for folk's interest.
Has the area really lost its faith,
Or is lack of Church charisma to blame?

Little church once centre of community,
Under threat of closure because empty.
What went wrong to reap the change;
Is there hope for its redemption?

But Church is not the building across the street;
It's the people who should go there to meet.
Realising that with outstretched arms,
Little church may once more fill again.

Ye Olde Christmas.

Christmas Eve and all's prepared,
Midnight Mass and Mabel's pies.
Walk to church through wet or snow,
Candles, incense, heart that glows.

Late to bed but eager to rise,
Presents in pillow sack to surprise.
Some bought but mostly home-made,
Toys, puzzles, nuts and an orange.

Chicken dinner and Christmas puds,
Thrupney-bits in the lumps.
Tidy up, off to Grans,
Family party, an annual event.

Sandwiches, sausage, jelly and cake,
Lot of chatter, maybe some games.
Time for Ronny to give a song,
From next room, hiding embarrassment.

Special days in special times,
Rationing and poverty put aside.
Parents with love and ingenuity,
Gifting their children everything.


Stones soaked in tenor voices;
Earth compressed by bended knees;
Strange carvings a message to give;
All is here where communities lived.

Walls crumbled lay in piles;
Roof long gone opens the sky;
Grass now where once were tiles;
Vertical pillars, prone they lie.

Plainchant seems to fill the space;
Matins to Vespers every day;
Lead voices and descant flair;
Psalms were written for this air.

Birds roosting on statue plinths;
Wind blows through the open sides;
Lines mark out the cloister's width;
Pace the naïve, marvel at its size.

Men in habits walking round,
Heads covered to warm bald crowns;
Murmuring prayers the only sound;
Young to old, all are found.

Just a derelict site of rubble,
Close by road on way to Barrow.
Stop if you can and rest awhile,
Feel hallowed spirits of time gone by.

Flash back.

The Church is bright and dressed;
Packed with families in Sunday best.
Men in suits, collar and tie;
Women and kids in colourful attire.

Carols sung out in joyful voice;
All join in, in tune and out.
Music vibrant, full of good cheer;
Christ's birth is drawing near.

Celebrant's procession enters scene;
All stand, ready for Mass to begin.
Seasonal greetings echo round church,
To start great celebration of the year.

Readings and hymns follow on,
The Mass proceeding in time honoured way.
Structured to capture individual hearts;
The congregation in communion together.

Time passes without burden;
The joy of the occasion not confined.
The final ritual in the church,
Queue to pass the corner crib.

This could have been a dream of long ago,
The heart bursting with spiritual joy.
But not a flashback to boyhood times;
Midnight Mass at Arpora, West India.

Dorothy and Nora.

Dorothy and Nora make their way home,
Filled with the spirit of morning Mass.
Two old ladies, grey heads bent low;
Such faith to cling to while their last days pass.

Nora once stood straight with pride;
Now bent low in her evening time.
Nursed her mother through sickness and health;
Now just a shadow of her former self.

Dorothy her friend for many a year,
Worries that Nora is loosing her strength.
Mind not working as once it did;
Memory fading, perhaps dangerously.

What does the future hold for these two dears?
Is there a life that could bring them cheer?
Perhaps the spirit of their faith is all they need;
They were promised that as children, now we'll see.


Just an e-mail sent out of the blue;
Generated from papers, searched through.
Words arriving in electronic form;
Triggering feelings suppressed by time.

Enthusiasm generated by delight of discovery;
Infectious even on a spirit smothered.
Interest lost, the brother of cynicism;
Cracked open by hopes of church acceptance.

How fickle our belief in ego;
Just symbols on a screen can challenge our stance.
Complacent and sure we believe ourselves;
Yet a call from a stranger can influence.

Passions and hopes blocked forever;
Key discarded, thrown away.
Buried at last, or so believed;
Just under surface was where it lay.

Thirty years at the struggle;
Personal peace and hope for others.
Despair and joy have marked the path;
So many times I said enough.

Dilemma again, how to proceed?
Realism or idealistic dreams?
Drive with force against the tide?
Failure a certainty on this ride.

Oh dear God, why this pressure?
I did my best without success.
What more is there for me to offer?
Maybe the trying is all that's asked.

Sad to say love again was not present


Hawthorn blossoms deck the lane,
Heralding Mary's month of May.
Cricket matches, statue crowning;
Youthful joy, life full of promise.

The tree that reflects times ahead;
Thorns and flowers on a stem.
All will experience pain and loss;
With joys of life we're all blessed.

Swarm of priests

Swarm of priests for Gozo ferry,
Westminster lot on a jolly.
Baseball caps and T-shirts,
But most in clerical gear.

What itinerary will be followed?
Sun bathing, strolls, jive and beer?
Just the same as any tourists?
Or here for more Mass and Vespers?

What a life they have chosen;
Celibacy leading to old life lonely.
How many will last the course,
Without a woman's healing love.


Mass attendees pour out the door;
Done their duty on this Sunday morn.
Carrying with them the Body of Christ;
Completed their journey to Emmaus.

Blessed people with such belief;
Safe and secure in their destiny.
Certain in their path of faith;
What comfort that must bring.

Once knew an ex-Communist;
Disillusioned by Stalin's reign of terror,
Who envied people with such devotion;
Saw it as giving them a corner stone.


Bill said he was a man of no beliefs;
Could find no ism or ology to cling to.
Spends his life in sceptical search;
Such faith it was a privilege to witness.

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