James Kavanaugh

in Kalamazoo, Michigan, The United States
September 17, 1928

December 29, 2009



James Kavanaugh was ordained and actively ministered for ten years as a Catholic Priest before attending Catholic University in Washington D.C. Working on his second doctoral degree, he wrote an article for the Saturday Evening Post, entitled, "I am a Priest, and I want to marry." The article questioned the practice of celibacy among priests. The year was 1967, the height of the sexual revolution. Although it was written under a pseudonym and even his closest friends and family were not aware of the author, it was received with such commotion and outrage, the secret would not be kept for long. Jim then exploded onto the American scene with A Modern Priest Looks At His Outdated Church. The New York Times called it "a personal cry of anguish ...more

Average rating: 4.08 · 789 ratings · 57 reviews · 42 distinct worksSimilar authors
There Are Men Too Gentle to...

3.95 avg rating — 311 ratings — published 1970 — 3 editions
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Will You Be My Friend?

4.30 avg rating — 77 ratings — published 1971 — 5 editions
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Laughing Down Lonely Canyons

4.12 avg rating — 52 ratings — published 1984 — 3 editions
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Maybe If I Loved You More

4.17 avg rating — 35 ratings — published 1982 — 2 editions
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From Loneliness to Love

4.16 avg rating — 25 ratings — published 1986 — 4 editions
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Walk Easy on the Earth

4.29 avg rating — 24 ratings — published 1979 — 2 editions
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Quiet Water: The Inspiratio...

3.96 avg rating — 24 ratings — published 1991 — 2 editions
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A Lifetime Isn't Long Enoug...

4.10 avg rating — 20 ratings — published 1996
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Celebrate the Sun: A Love S...

4.17 avg rating — 23 ratings — published 1973 — 3 editions
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A Modern Priest Looks at Hi...

3.65 avg rating — 26 ratings — published 1968 — 3 editions
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More books by James Kavanaugh…
“I am one of the searchers. There are, I believe, millions of us. We are not unhappy, but neither are we really content. We continue to explore life, hoping to uncover its ultimate secret. We continue to explore ourselves, hoping to understand. We like to walk along the beach, we are drawn by the ocean, taken by its power, its unceasing motion, its mystery and unspeakable beauty. We like forests and mountains, deserts and hidden rivers, and the lonely cities as well. Our sadness is as much a part of our lives as is our laughter. To share our sadness with one we love is perhaps as great a joy as we can know - unless it be to share our laughter.
We searchers are ambitious only for life itself, for everything beautiful it can provide. Most of all we love and want to be loved. We want to live in a relationship that will not impede our wandering, nor prevent our search, nor lock us in prison walls; that will take us for what little we have to give. We do not want to prove ourselves to another or compete for love.

For wanderers, dreamers, and lovers, for lonely men and women who dare to ask of life everything good and beautiful. It is for those who are too gentle to live among wolves.”
James Kavanaugh, There Are Men Too Gentle to Live Among Wolves

“I was born to catch dragons in their dens / And pick flowers / To tell tales and laugh away the morning / To drift and dream like a lazy stream / And walk barefoot across sunshine days.”
James Kavanaugh, Sunshine Days and Foggy Nights

“Maria, lonely prostitute on a street of pain,
You, at least, hail me and speak to me
While a thousand others ignore my face.
You offer me an hour of love,
And your fees are not as costly as most.
You are the madonna of the lonely,
The first-born daughter in a world of pain.
You do not turn fat men aside,
Or trample on the stuttering, shy ones,
You are the meadow where desperate men
Can find a moment's comfort.

Men have paid more to their wives
To know a bit of peace
And could not walk away without the guilt
That masquerades as love.
You do not bind them, lovely Maria, you comfort them
And bid them return.
Your body is more Christian than the Bishop's
Whose gloved hand cannot feel the dropping of my blood.
Your passion is as genuine as most,
Your caring as real!

But you, Maria, sacred whore on the endless pavement of pain,
You, whose virginity each man may make his own
Without paying ought but your fee,
You who know nothing of virgin births and immaculate conceptions,
You who touch man's flesh and caress a stranger,
Who warm his bed to bring his aching skin alive,
You make more sense than stock markets and football games
Where sad men beg for virility.
You offer yourself for a fee--and who offers himself for less?

At times you are cruel and demanding--harsh and insensitive,
At times you are shrewd and deceptive--grasping and hollow.
The wonder is that at times you are gentle and concerned,
Warm and loving.
You deserve more respect than nuns who hide their sex for eternal love;
Your fees are not so high, nor your prejudice so virtuous.
You deserve more laurels than the self-pitying mother of many children,
And your fee is not as costly as most.

Man comes to you when his bed is filled with brass and emptiness,
When liquor has dulled his sense enough
To know his need of you.
He will come in fantasy and despair, Maria,
And leave without apologies.
He will come in loneliness--and perhaps
Leave in loneliness as well.
But you give him more than soldiers who win medals and pensions,
More than priests who offer absolution
And sweet-smelling ritual,
More than friends who anticipate his death
Or challenge his life,
And your fee is not as costly as most.

You admit that your love is for a fee,
Few women can be as honest.
There are monuments to statesmen who gave nothing to anyone
Except their hungry ego,
Monuments to mothers who turned their children
Into starving, anxious bodies,
Monuments to Lady Liberty who makes poor men prisoners.
I would erect a monument for you--
who give more than most--
And for a meager fee.

Among the lonely, you are perhaps the loneliest of all,
You come so close to love
But it eludes you
While proper women march to church and fantasize
In the silence of their rooms,
While lonely women take their husbands' arms
To hold them on life's surface,
While chattering women fill their closets with clothes and
Their lips with lies,
You offer love for a fee--which is not as costly as most--
And remain a lonely prostitute on a street of pain.

You are not immoral, little Maria, only tired and afraid,
But you are not as hollow as the police who pursue you,
The politicians who jail you, the pharisees who scorn you.
You give what you promise--take your paltry fee--and
Wander on the endless, aching pavements of pain.
You know more of universal love than the nations who thrive on war,
More than the churches whose dogmas are private vendettas made sacred,
More than the tall buildings and sprawling factories
Where men wear chains.
You are a lonely prostitute who speaks to me as I pass,
And I smile at you because I am a lonely man.”
James Kavanaugh, There Are Men Too Gentle to Live Among Wolves