US Catholic Faith in Real Life

USC Book Club April 2011: The Long Yearning's End by Patrick Hannon

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The Long Yearning's End: Stories of Sacrament and Incarnation

By Patrick Hannon

Discussion Questions:

Part One – Baptism

In “Coppertone, Chlorine, and the Endless Summer,” Hannon discusses the feeling of rebirth that the waters of the community swimming pool. Can you think of events or rituals from your childhood that provided a similar sense of rebirth?

Part Two – Reconciliation

Reconciliation can take multiple forms—forgiving other people, seeking forgiveness from others, or forgiving ourselves. When Hannon realizes that Kathy has fully forgiven him in “The Long Yearning’s End,” he finally able to move on with his life, knowing that they would both okay and that their relationship would survive. Have you ever experience a moment like that, when a relationship that was under strain was instantly refreshed?

Part Three – Eucharist

In “The Measure of Love,” Hannon describes a funeral for a man who lived a good life and the value of a community gathering to celebrate that life. Share a story about a person from your life who lived a good life and what it taught you.

Part Four – Confirmation

In “The Banjo Man,” Hannon describes a dramatic event at a baseball game and the musical intervention of a banjo player. In the end, he finally realized “both the grace and the gravity of the human condition,” and he felt initiated into “a community of faith whose bible was baseball.” Can you think of a time when you felt initiated into a community? How did it make you feel?

Part Five – Holy Matrimony

Hannon recognizes that “family” can take different forms in his story “Isn’t This Beautiful!” and that what matters in life are the bonds of love that bind us together. Is there someone or some group in your life that is your soul mate? Share a story about it.

Part Six – Holy Orders

It’s all too easy, it seems, to forget that clergy do not live their lives in religious ivory towers. They are normal people who love to laugh and enjoy themselves like the rest of us, as Hannon describes in the snow tubing event in “Bendix Woods.” How do you react to clergy? Do they make you nervous and act on your best behavior, or are you able to “easily surrender to joy” with them?

Part Seven – Anointing of the Sick

When a loved one nears the end of his or her life, anyone can anoint them in their own little ways. A kiss on the forehead or a gentle touch is an anointing of sorts. In “Holy Hands,” Hannon was able anoint his Uncle Bob and say his goodbyes as he lay in the hospital. If you can, share a story when  you were able to “anoint” someone in your own way.

Patrick Hannon is available to participate in small book discussion groups over the phone. To arrange a date and time, please contact Andrew Yankech at ACTA Publications at or 773-271-1030.