Sacraments | By Andre Dubus | Issue 283 | The Sun Magazine


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Andre Dubus’s “Sacraments” [July 1999] spoke to my soul. In spite of, or perhaps because of, what Dubus experienced in his life, he somehow managed to climb out of the “small box of ego-centered, limited thinking” that holds most of us captive. He perceived that “the outward signs of God’s love” — sacraments — “do indeed stretch to infinity.”

I was raised in the Catholic Church but have not attended Mass for many years. Dubus has opened my eyes and allowed me to see the gift of sacraments in an entirely new way.

Brenda Maybury Sarasota, Florida

I was stunned by the beauty of Andre Dubus’s “Sacraments.” When I finished his essay, I turned to the contributors’ notes to find out more about the author and how he had come to view life as he does. I was devastated to learn that he had recently died. It felt like a terrible personal loss: I sat on my chair holding The Sun and cried. But because of him, I did not feel alone.

Susan Hiester Webster Peaks Island, Maine

I’ve been reading Townie, a memoir by Andre Dubus III, and was intrigued when I saw a letter in your November 2023 Correspondence [Jill Landry] mentioning an essay by his father. So I went to your online archive to read “Sacraments” [Andre Dubus, July 1999].

Dubus’s father wrote eloquently about the little things he did for his family—he called them “sacraments.” His son, however, paints a different picture. In his memoir Dubus depicts how his father made a shambles of his family. His children suffered financially and emotionally while he did as he pleased. Dubus never bad-mouths his father, but it’s clear that the man was a narcissist. Sacraments? Hardly!

Rhea Singh Kostecka Burbank, California

In my files somewhere I still have a copy of Andre Dubus’s essay “Sacraments,” which appeared in the July 1999 issue of The Sun. In it Dubus writes about being a divorced dad and making sandwiches for his daughters. Those sandwiches were a kind of outward show of love — a sacrament. The essay is so emotionally beautiful and complete, yet so basic that it has stuck with me all these years. Dubus passed away before the essay was published. I wish I could have told him how I carried his writing with me and how, when I do small things for my family, I think of him.

Jill Landry Chula Vista, California
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