OK, this column is mostly for Catholics. All others, go right to the Sports page.

It may seem, at first glance, irreverent, darkly humorous and a little blasphemous, but I take it seriously, as I do everything when I walk the dark alleys of the soul. Like most Democrats.

Here it is.

“In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.” Or, if you went to Marquette University: “In Nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti.” Got it?

New Catholics I’ve spoken to, it seems, have substituted “Spirit” for “Ghost.”

I don’t care for that, but perhaps “Ghost” is too spooky for “new” Catholics. If Sister Rossana were still here, she would tell you that you’re in danger of going to Hell if you change one word.


J.P. Devine’s diploma from St. Mary and Joseph School in 1938. Photo courtesy of J.P. Devine

Sister didn’t mean that.

It was a bright September morning when my family, nine in all, took me up the street to the St. Mary and Joseph’s Church, where Father Keating gently poured holy water on my face.

It’s the church’s bath hour that brings Heaven to Earth, like it or not. I chose to enjoy it, because they say I smiled like in “Rosemary’s Baby.”

I can taste that water to this day. Have you ever tasted holy water? Did you confess that? You have only another week to do so.

We’ll cover confession in January after Christmas. I’ve learned through the years not to jest with Catholic traditions on Jesus’s birthday.

Baptism day was the day, for me, when I officially became Jeremiah Patric Devine.


In kindergarten, Sister Mary Magdala stressed the importance of making the sign of the cross before going to the bathroom. Don’t ask me why. I just did before I started the podcast.

Also watch me when I cross the street or before I sip a bit of Jameson’s whiskey.

I’m a Depression baby Catholic. Most of you know what that means.

My research tells us this: “It traces back to early Christianity, with the second century Apostolic tradition directing that it be used before praying at fixed prayer times (eating breakfast burritos) and in times of temptation.” Whoa!

I take this practice seriously so as to ensure that every risky move I make will be successful, as before stepping in and out of the shower, climbing a ladder or trimming my nose hairs. Don’t you?

If you’re of a calmer faith, this will sound mystical, or you will dismiss it as a compulsive obsessive tic. I guess it is, but it’s darker than that. Real Catholicism is very dark. Check out Pope Pius XII.


My brother Jug always said, “There are only two real religions, the Jews and Catholics; the others are just bowling teams.” That’s rude.

Here’s how it goes. Cross the hand from the ashes on your forehead to your heart and then left shoulder to right. Left handlers be cautious. You’re in.

I do it when I go to bed, wake up and even when I change my underwear, in case I slip and hurt myself. I’ve done that.

I always do it before cooking complicated dishes, getting in the car, driving anywhere, getting out of the car, or before watching election results.

I perform it whenever an ambulance goes by the house, or before opening the oil bill.

That’s it. Practice makes perfect.

Next week: What not to tell the priest at confession.

Dominous vobiscum.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer. 

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