Saturday, December 31, 2005

1 by one!

Okay I will admit it, confess it, fess up to it, own it, say it: sometimes I meditate upon – or perhaps, more accurately, get distracted by, the oddest things!

Mind you, when comes to being distracted in prayer, a holy old priest told me once that we do well to remember a story he recalled from the life of St. Teresa of Avila: seems she was complaining to the Lord about His failure to protect her from distractions in prayer. The Lord’s response was:  “ My daughter this is when your prayer most pleases me!”  Apparently a rather astounded Teresa asked how that possibly could be so, to which the Lord said: “ Because you persevere.”

Of course there is the obvious danger of rationalizing here!

That said my distraction today has been the number 1 and the word one, more than nothing yet less than; symbol of the singular yet indicator of a unity – One True God, One Holy Trinity; one person, one human race!

It was my custom over the years as a parish priest, and something I continue as a poustinik, to spend the night of New Year’s eve with a period of adoration with Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament { and I was always humbled by the number of parishioners who would forego traditional parties in favour of prayer } praying for the whole world, one country name after the other.

From Afghanistan, whose people still suffer much and where the Holy Gospel still is rarely heard all the way to Zimbabwe, a nation whose people also suffer very much.

One by one.

Bangladesh or Yemen; Cambodia or Uzbekistan, no matter how one goes through the nations by name so many, many peoples live in some form of poverty, oppression, war, terrorism, and whose populations, by and large, remain un-baptized.

However when we name Canada, the United States of America, Russia, France, countries where the majority of the population is baptized we encounter rivers of blood in which countless of our brothers and sisters die before they are born.

One abortion is evil, innumerable abortions: culture of death.

One by one.

Egypt where the Child dwelt among us until it was safe to return and, one year after the other, each Passover brought Him closer to the one hour, His hour, the hour of our Redemption.

One Baptism.

There is the one nation of Vanuatu which is actually an 83 island archipelago. One island is named: Pentecote, the French word for Pentecost.

Most of the people are Christian, but the shared one Baptism exists in more than one denomination.

In the Holy Gospel according to St. John, the one Lord Jesus our Redeemer prays  to the one Father His cry for unity: I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word, so that they may all be one, as You, Father, and in Me and I in You, that they may also be in Us, that the world may believe You sent Me. And I have given them the glory that You gave Me, so that they may be one, as We are one. I in them and You in Me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that You sent Me, and that You loved them even as You loved Me. Father, they are Your gift to Me. I wish that where I am they also may be with Me, that they may see My glory that You gave Me, because You loved Me before the foundation of the world. Righteous Father, the world also does not know You, but I know You, and they know that You sent Me. I made known to them Your name and I will make it known, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them and I in them.  
[ 17:20-26]

Friday, December 30, 2005

Christmas Novitiate

The Servant of God, Catherine Doherty, in her Book: DEAR PARENTS, writes words which pierced my heart this morning: The greatest enemy of any vocation is a divided heart.  [ p. 2 – book available from ].

Why did this pierce my heart?

Because a recent flood of letters and emails from suffering brother priests has me wanting to comment again on the crisis in the priesthood.

Yet, during these Holy Days of the birth of Christ, Prince of Peace, my heart does not believe is the right moment for such an essay.  

More important, and rightly, today being the Feast of the Holy Family is a day to be renewed as a member of the great universal family of human persons, the family of Church, one’s immediate family and, as a priest, to remember and be renewed as a true father of every human being.

Most likely, other than the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, virtually every human heart, each one of us, must beg daily of the Holy Spirit the grace to have true purity of heart, that is, an undivided heart.

For myself, and perhaps for many people, the notion, experience, of family is a mixture of love and pain, joy and disappointment, giving and taking.

Certainly while Mary and Joseph assured Jesus of a loving and joyful home we know from Scripture the rest of His extended family were like most families – the fact they wanted to lock Jesus away simply points to the turbulence in relationships within family most of us experience.

The family of human persons across the globe has not yet achieved a true love for one another where we see every other person, irrespective of age, colour, language, social status, culture, religion, gender, etc., etc. as one like myself, therefore truly blood of my blood, brother, sister.

The materialist world, in which we live, creates a persistent darkness which enfeebles our ability to truly see one another as real other person; creates a pervasive emotional neediness, in most persons, were the desire to be loved, comforted, acquire whatever we want, so dominates, the result varies from the horrors of war, terrorism, famine, abortion on the grand scale, to the immediate personal experience of the evil of domestic violence, abuse, abandonment, rejection.

Behind every type of pain in families, parishes, nations, between nations, in each individual human heart, lies a failure to love, that is, a failure to make a true gift of self to other.

It is especially this total self-gifting of Mary through her fiat to being the Mother of Jesus, of Mary to Joseph as his wife within the parameters set by the will of the Father, of Joseph to Mary as husband and to Jesus as guardian-father, and of Jesus, in His love and obedience to Joseph and Mary, where the Holy Family IS the icon, the template, not only for the domestic-church of family, but for the universal Church and the entire human family.

Yes, and for each individual human heart as well.

Given the seemingly endless ways in which the family, in particular Christian families, are under attack these days, my heart believes, following the example of recent Popes, in particular Pope John Paul, every priest, through prayer, truth-speaking, home visits, strengthening of both the domestic-church and the parish as family, must be tireless in our humble, loving service of, and support for, the family.

Not just parents, priests as well, should be immersed anew in the teachings of the Church, the writings of the Popes and Saints on the holy vocation of marriage and family life.

The old adage: “ the family which prayers together stays together”, is as critical for the domestic-church as it is for the parish family.

Obviously the source and summit of our faith, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Eucharist, is the prime communal prayer, but increased popular devotions, at both the parish and home level, are critically needed as well.

From the Servant of God, Catherine Doherty, this wonderful closing word for today about an aspect of Christmas and family life, indeed of every self-gifting vocation: Christmas is the novitiate through which all wedded lovers must pass to make the most of their holy and awesome vocation to love! [op.cit.p.86]

Saturday, December 24, 2005

This is the night when.....

This is the night when the sheer inability of the darkness to prevail is revealed.

This is the night when even the most hidden labour camp in the most isolated nation can no longer remain unseen.

This is the night when not a single tear disappears in the shadows.

This is the night when no hunger pain remains unfed.

This is the night when deserts bloom and ice becomes fire.

This is the night when loneliness is banished and greed transformed to lavishness.

This is the night when anger becomes meekness, violence halted, and hatred is transfigured to love.

This is the night when sickness of body and mind is eased with sweet anointing.

This is the night when sin is outdone by mercy.

This is the night when those who labour are no longer burdened, the weary and wandering are carried, when every widow and orphan has the shelter of family.

This is the night when the powerless are strengthened and the powerful choose to be servants.

This is the night when prisoners are visited, those in bondage set free, the addicted taste hope, and the rejected find acceptance.

What came to be through Him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it.

Oh, we all know the darkness still tries, such is its folly and denial, for this is also the night of the Morning Star, when manger is icon of chalice, cave is icon of tomb.

The is the luminousness of Eucharist and the brilliance of Resurrection.

All grace, hope, mercy, healing, all that the human hearts hungers for, all becomes real this night for this is the night that is radiant dawn, luminous stillness, undisturbed by choirs of Angels for their music enhances the one constant, the beating heart of the Child!



Friday, December 23, 2005

The Knock!

The Communion Antiphon for Mass of December 23rd is drawn from Revelations  3:20 and begins: Behold, I stand at the door knocking….

As I prayed those words during Holy Mass this evening my heart was suddenly aware of the peoples of this earth.

It also made me examine my conscience and pose the question: Do I truly participate, especially through prayer and fasting, in His sitio, His thirst, for souls?

For many of our brothers and sisters, in various countries, the sound of someone knocking on their door elicits terror, for secret police forces knock and someone will disappear.

In many countries marauders belonging to this faction or that, take our brothers and sisters as hostages.

Sometimes the knock is because a Military Officer must inform parents, spouses, children, that a loved one has made the supreme sacrifice.

Or a Police Officer must inform a family of a loved one’s death by accident or murder.

A knock can announce joy or pain.

During these Holy Days of the Birth of the One who comes knocking, many of us will knock on the doors of family or friends, bringing the gift of our love to celebrate with joy the birth of the Holy Child.

But what of our brothers and sisters in nursing homes, hospitals, prisons – or  fire halls, police stations, those working to keep our streets clean of snow, the lights burning, phone systems working, ambulances available, places to eat?

Will they hear a knock?

What of the homeless? We presume they have no door on which one might knock.

They have hearts – will we use love’s imagination to find ways to knock, to be for them the face of the Child who wishes to enter and stay with them?

What of the tired priests, some of whom will be going from parish to parish throughout tomorrow, the night of Christmas and throughout the day?

You may be surprised by the number of priests who will take supper alone on Christmas Day because, for them, no one knocked on the door.

The Holy Child knocks at the door of every heart, yearning with the fire of Divine Love in His Heart that we will open the manger of our hearts to Him.

Welcome Him.

Allow Him to stay.

Will we take some time, especially in this Holy Season, to be still – preferably during a visit to Him in the Blessed Sacrament – and pray for those of our brothers and sisters for whom a knock on the door brings terror or sorrow; for those who, for whatever reason, do not hear Him knocking, or hear but hesitate to open to Him?

Will we take the time to go and knock on the door – the heart really – of someone who is alone this Christmas?

When all creation, heaven and earth, stood still after the last word of Gabriel had been uttered to hear what the Maiden would answer, it was indeed the sound of Her FIAT!,  opening the door to Him.

May Our Lady of the Way teach us how to help one another open to Him, indeed may she open wide our hearts as manger for Him and for all our brothers and sisters.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Oh Those Antiphons!

O Wisdom, O Holy Word of God, You govern all creation with Your strong yet tender care. Come and show Your people the way to salvation.

Rough one this, to meditate upon my Lord, when I recall standing at the massive canyon which was gouged out on 9/11; watching shock and awe; tsunami waves and Katrina’s punch; earthquakes grinding lives to dust while lesser famines, or so them seem since they don’t get much tv time, haunt my visions of the night.

Your governance of creation appears not as we expect, even though our messing around with natural law is not something we consider as playing havoc with Your tenderness.

The way You show us has always been, is, unchanging: from Your tender handcrafting clothes for the naked, frightened, original havoc players to the people’s living in the darkness of an occupied land wherein You shone as newborn babe; to that room where You wash our feet, feed us, to the Garden where You bleed-pray for us, to the Cross become ultimate prayer-cry-offering to the Father for us: love is the way.

O Sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed Yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain; come, stretch out Your mighty hand to set us free.

A dangerous prayer is this.

Dangerous because we admit You are You, the One True Father of all and we admit our need to be set free.

Freed from a bondage so tight only the All-Powerful You can snap the bonds and set us free………but partly it is an illusion what we protest as that which binds us: sickness, hunger, fear, death, lack of money, companions, whatever….when in truth what truly binds us is our blindness to the Gospel of Life!

O Flower of Jesse’s stem, You have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in Your presence; the nations bow down in worship before You. Come, let nothing keep You from coming to our aid.

Yes, nothing: not our insatiable appetite for abortion, anger, terrorism, hatred, discrimination, un-natural ways of reconstructing both the earth and our very selves; not our doubts, fears, tears, nor even that great crime of ours which forgets all about You until we are in crisis mode.

O Key of David, O Royal Power of Israel controlling at Your will the gate of heaven: come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead Your captive people into freedom.

You must begin with the prison walls of my own heart.

The walls of every heart closed to brother or sister, for any reason.

Hatred places the hater in the dwelling of darkness.

O Jesus, my heart aches for those in the shadow of death in alleyways and crack houses, at needles end; those of tender and not so tender years imprisoned in the shadows awaiting another buyer; there are the prisons of loneliness, death row, even houses that appear as homes but are places of darkness – You offer the key: forgive us as we forgive opens the Father’s heart and prison walls crumble.

O Radiant Dawn, splendour of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

This is our hope Little One, Holy One, child so small we can hold against our breast You against whose breast we ache to lean, to listen, to hear how dawn sounds, how light sounds, how justice rains down as mercy.

O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the mighty arch of man, come and save the creature You fashioned from the dust.

We are so exhausted on this earth of mistaking or attempting pleasure as alternate to joy. We can scare remember, nor imagine, what joy is.

The ache of our being, the tears which burn our cheeks, the restlessness which pursues us even when awake, have us, at this time of year, all wanting to be guarding some flock, or at least be near the right cave;  following some camel, or at least finally picking the right star.

We may forget You, neglect You most of the time, or some of the time, or perhaps rarely, but even once is too much – yet consciously, sincerely, uncertainly, tentatively, even perhaps unawares – we do want You Child to come among us once more that we might see the beauty of Your Face O Child for such is joy.

O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Saviour of all people, come and set us free, Lord our God.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Ice, Aliens, Light

This far north the sun is setting by four in the afternoon, so when going for my daily walk everything, the snow, buildings, people, was bathed in hues of rose and an almost translucent gold.

Indeed I found myself today fascinated by the light causing the crystals of the ice fog to dance as if golden diamond dust was being scattered about to ease the weight of poverty, the bent over tiredness of the homeless.

I also was fascinated as never before by the little clouds of breath emanating from people [ in my case at minus 20 breathing means ice forms on my beard! ] as the setting sun’s light made those little clouds of breath shimmer with light.

Fire, Salt and Light!

I have written about the reason for Fire and Salt in the title of this blog and now can give the reason for choosing light – or rather reasons and sources, the above experience being one such.

In the Office of Readings for the 28th week of Ordinary Time, we find this in the writings of St. Columban:  Jesus, our most loving Saviour, be pleased to light our lanterns, so that they may burn forever in Your temple, receiving eternal light from You, the eternal light, to lighten our darkness and to ward off from us the darkness of the world.

This yearning is first answered for us when we are Baptized and enlightened by the Holy Spirit in our souls while at the same time light is taken from the Paschal Candle, held aloft at Easter as we cry out: “Christ our Light!”, and a candle-lantern is given to us.

Isaiah promises us [60:19ff] of the great time coming when we shall have no other light but the Lord Himself who ‘will be your light forever.’

As with love, however, I suspect our yearning is to be filled with light, just as we yearn to be filled with love, but the pesky insistence of Christ our Light over and over again is NOT about what we can expect to GET, rather about what we should be passionately, tirelessly, willing to give.

Thus: You are the light of the world; let your light shine; walk while you have the light; put your trust in the light before darkness overtakes you.  [cf. Mt.5:14,16 &  Jn.12:35,36]

The communications, medical, yes military, entertainment, etc. uses made of light in its various forms from fibre optics to lasers, are all around us – but Jesus tells us in no uncertain terms that: The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. [Mt.6:22]

If my inner attitude, when shining the lamp of my eyes upon another, is disdain because of their colour or they are dirty and sleeping over a steam grate; or they wear a yarmulke or a turban; if the purpose of shining the lamp of my eyes upon another is to see them as an object of disordered desire, so even if not addicted to pornography the way I gaze upon people, wherever I happen to encounter them, is the ravenousness of evil intent, then my eyes become bad: thus, says Jesus: Your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, what a great darkness that will be!  [Mt.6:23]

Imagine then why we find ourselves dwelling in a world of darkness, a culture of death.

Most of us, for decades now, have read all sorts of studies pro and con about the impact of television and film on our culture. Not for me to try and resolve this debate which goes on ad nauseam with, it seems to me, both television and film not only constantly numbing down [ yes numbing! ] our culture, which means we human persons, but increasing a pseudo-light to replace the True Light as St. John notes in his prologue: Light has come into the world…[cf. Jn.3:19] but we seem to prefer the darkness instead.

What the pseudo-light of  television does, for example, is present a notion of the world, both in fiction and biased newscasts, which at its most basic causes most people to live in fear: fear that sees the very earth itself as a dangerous reality because while earthquakes and hurricanes occur in a very narrow moment of time, they are replayed over and over and over. Same with airliner crashes, murders, terrorist acts and so forth.

Such events then become movies of the week!

We are exposed to a relentless diet of various forms of martial and extra-martial couplings; the insatiable greed of games shows; the sad spectacle of pseudo-apprentices learning no higher skill than being humiliated before an audience of millions of their brothers and sisters.

We are fed a diet of relativism by talking heads, not to mention the so-called family shows where milquetoast husbands/fathers appear semi-illiterate, while aggressive career wives/mothers, outshone by kids whom, frankly, my Grandfather would have known how to deal with!

No! Not by spanking but simply because he KNEW he was a man, an adult, and therefore knowing how secure he was in his own person he was very easy to respect, to listen to, to trust.

I remember watching a Star Trek the Next Generation show about some alien….
[ btw notice how all non-humans are aliens even though ‘they’ outnumber us….a lot of real human beings are dismissed by use of the term too.] …anyway his own people want to kill him and the point of the story is, as the alien says it: “Transfiguration!”

So – a key event and reality of the Person of Our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ, celebrated as a Solemnity of the Church each year [ also the day on which we used the ‘light and fire’ of an atomic bomb to ‘salt’ the earth with death ] becomes NOT something which, through His Sanctifying work, is the Holy Spirit’s to accomplish within the being of we children of the Light – but is simply a process of metamorphosis to which anyone can aspire without metanoia, conversion, change of heart.

The darkness is everywhere so it is perhaps more urgent than ever in human history that we, disciples of the Light who came into this world of darkness, Light-Bearers by Baptism, truly begin to take seriously the warning from Jesus that we have but a brief time within which to walk in the light and begin not only walking but shining our light, which is to shine Christ our Light, all around, pushing back as best we can the darkness of the culture of death.

That means not being afraid, it means taking up our cross, His cross, everyday and following Him who assures us that: My yoke is easy and My burden light.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

A Priest, A Woman, A Child

Today three extraordinary people, an elderly priest, a Servant of God, and a teenager,  the first 8 years ago, the second 20 years ago and the third 9 years ago, each died – or more accurately I trust – entered their heavenly reward.

One cold wet night a drenched, hungry, unbelieving hippie knocked on a rectory door and a priest opened, welcomed him in, gave him dry clothes, fed him, gave him shelter for the night and the next morning, after a hearty breakfast gave him money, a book of the Lives of the Saints and a word: “Our Lady wants you.”

Many, many years later, the Servant of God, Catherine Doherty, Foundress of the Madonna House Lay Apostolate [ ] fulfilled a promise to the former unbelieving hippie and gave him a motto for his ordination: Christ is everything.

Not long after ordination he was made a Pastor and one day a woman came into the church with a small, handicapped child who looked at the statue of Our Blessed Mother and declared he had found his mother – and the woman who was not his mother but his care-giver [ he was a permanent ward of the state ] arranged for the child’s Baptism.

As the years passed that child suffered immensely, offering himself as a victim-soul for priests. He had only one request of the Lord which was to live to be a teenager.

His wish was granted and I was blessed to give him Viaticum and be there when the Lord came for him.

I also was the priest who did likewise when the Lord came for the priest who had taken in the hippie.

While not present when Catherine died I was one of many priests who, along with the members of the community she founded, prayed at her wake and funeral.

The Lord, we perhaps too easily say, does indeed work in mysterious ways and He and His Mother are very inventive in the ways in which they enter our lives, never to interfere – but always, lovingly, to present us with experiences of kindness, of love.

It is, I believe, their way of smiling upon us!

Many people years ago saw only a hippie, that priest saw a person; Catherine always saw Christ in everyone and always sought to comfort Him in everyone she met; that child – well now there is a great mystery, how an un-baptized child was given the grace, first time inside a Catholic church, to recognize Our Blessed Mother!

Maybe it was Her smile!  

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Trying NOT to be cynical!

I really am trying very hard NOT to be a cynic but rather to embrace the principle enunciated by St. Theophane the Recluse who wrote: The principle this is to stand before God with the intellect and the heart and to go on standing before God unceasingly, day and night, until the end of life.

This standing is, of course, in and with Jesus, lifting up to the Father, through Jesus, by the Holy Spirit, all the burdens we carry in our hearts.

It is the only antidote to the passivism of cynicism.

It IS the activism of true love for all our brothers and sisters.

That said here are some of the things which have been/are on my heart and, please God, I can share them without any [or very little] cynicism:

1] All the lather, including the document itself, over sexuality and priestly holiness, that I have read, including a recent essay in Time magazine, strikes me as overloaded with psychobabble and  devoid of references to, trust in, the power of actual and sanctifying grace.

It is as if the background message is: You must convert, assure us you have converted, say yes to your Divine calling, then we will punish you because you had to be converted in the first place.

It’s like you expect a series of sweaty memos to be fired off from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints which will soon read: Dear Servants of God [insert here any name such as Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day etc.] we regret to inform you that, while we appreciate and admire your conversion and struggle to cooperate with grace throughout your life, we can no longer accept applications for canonization from anyone who actually at some point in their life prior to sainthood did indeed sin.

2] All those luminaries and others protesting the execution of a human person in the United States, where are they when the less “popular” John and Jane Does of the world are being led to a death chamber?

Where are they when unborn children, having committed no capital crime, find themselves no longer in a loving womb but in another kind of death chamber?

3] All this “isn’t it wonderful” press over the movie about the cowboys and their affair – has no one the courage to say, wait a minute here, these egotistical men use and betray their wives, their children and each other.

To confuse addiction to pleasure, disordered self-understanding and betrayal of others with some form of love doesn’t just break the back of some mountain, it breaks the heart of everyone who understands the inherent sacredness of the human person, the sacredness of holy marriage and family life, the sacredness of truth.

4] The principle thing is to not be afraid and to stand before God with the intellect and the heart and to go on standing before God unceasingly day and night until the end of life. Yep. Thanks St. Theophane – I’ll give it my best shot!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Knights and Light

There is a tradition in one of the major parks of this city to celebrate Christmas, and raise food for the hungry, with a massive display of lights, showing various winter sports, mythical figures from children’s stories, Santa Claus to be sure, but, thanks to the Knights of Columbus, one of the largest displays is the Nativity scene.

Visitors drive the full circumference of the park with the brilliant displays on either side of the roadway – entering by making donations food for the local Food Bank and paying a modest fee which goes to charity.

My family took me this evening and first I was struck by the huge amount of food being donated and then, of course, by the countless and varied displays of light.

It is no small thing for the Knights of Columbus to fund such a large Nativity scene but it places Christ at the centre of the brilliance and is a powerful witness to the truth of Christmas and who truly brightens our lives.

In a part of the world where, at this time of year, the sun goes down by about 4pm such brilliance in the dark of winter is a blessing.

Thank- you dear Knights of Columbus for all your hard work both in this city and in so many ways and places where you defend and support priests, the family, the unborn, and bring Christ back into Christmas.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Blogger Learning!

To all those who have posted comments to my Blog a profound apology for not having replied.

Seems I did not set things up the right way to be notified of posts and have thought, erroneously until a friend showed me how to check, no one was commenting.

So rather than try and contact everyone, such as Penitens whose blog I enjoy very much, and everyone else who has commented, thank-you.

You have a special place in my heart, prayer, remembrance in daily Mass and I shall strive to respond to each of you in the future.

I am old enough to have first learned to write using a straight nib pen [ we  had little ink wells in our desks at school ] so learning computers, web, blog etc., is an ongoing project.

Thanks for your understanding, God bless you.

Friday, December 02, 2005

1 - Zero Tolerance: One Opinion

Through the “Hope For Priests” website, this Blog, snail mail, email, phone calls and person to person contact, I hear about priests  suffering in this unending climate of a cruel harshness not experienced in the Church since the Inquisition!

Rather than leading the Shepherds are being lead, by fear.

Fear of insurance claims, fear of lawyers, fear of the media, fear of loosing face, but apparently not fear of hurting the innocent further, the actual victims of abuse; apparently neither do they fear breaking the bruised reed of their priest sons, be these priests actually guilty or simply accused.

The American and Canadian Bishops in particular like to reference the various Constitutional and Charter rights and protections for citizens when assailing governments about use of the death penalty, treatment of GITMO detainees, actions towards refugee claimants, etc.

Yet these same Bishops tolerate, nay encourage, a climate of being guilty simply by accusation.

They consistently try and foist cases onto Rome rather than follow due process.

Everything is upside down when anonymous calls result in immediate dismissals or administrative leaves; when accusing bishops also sit as judges under canon 1720 or when they hide behind 223.2; when priests take suicide as seemingly their only recourse because despair has overwhelmed them.

We have created a climate that appears to disdain forgiveness while embracing vengeance;  that belittles conversion in favour of a so-called zero-tolerance which is itself intolerant and cruel.

That sins against the innocent are intolerable, with this only a fool or a predator would disagree.

That Bishops, brother priests of the accused seem to have forgotten about the requirement to cast the first stone is scary.

You might say, “Whoa Fr. Arthur aren’t you casting a stone at the Bishops?”

Well I pray not, and if so it is only a wee pebble, just big enough to cause a ripple, a ripple to get their, your, mine, everyone’s attention.

Which guidelines will we follow and apply as this crisis in the Church and the Priesthood drags on and on?

The Holy Gospel teachings of Jesus – or –  the lawyer-media driven pressure to exact punishment, payment?

To borrow from Shakespeare’s Shylock who, after exacting that “equal” pound of flesh, mused: “ ..what these Christians are whose own hard dealings teaches them suspect the thoughts of others!”

In this dark, dank atmosphere of a growing outlaw church, where fear and vengeance motivate;  where under the guise of zero tolerance charity is lost, compassion abandoned, truth shredded, priests commit suicide, guilty priests languish unvisited in prison, and countless others, mostly without any due process are cast asunder to wander the unending desert of administrative leave, it is, I confess very hard to:

“…offer no resistance to one who is evil….love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you…” [cf. Mt. 5:38-48]

Yet that is Gospel reality, that is being Christ-like.

There is no desire in my heart for further harm for Holy Mother the Church, for any Bishop or Priest, for the laity.

Most important of all we must work tirelessly to end the horrific evil of abuse of children.

In truth, abusing due process, abusing the accused, surrendering to fear protects no child, terrifying priests will actually drive predators underground and make them more dangerous.

Surrendering to fear is a step into darkness where evil spirits dwell.

Christ IS our Light.

Fearlessly we should only be acting, examining accusations, making decisions, in the Light.

I beg everyone to pray that as I try and shine a light from time to time on the crisis in the priesthood, the pain of priests, the struggle for due process, I never fail to love and pray.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

For You John With Gratitude

I will admit I have been in a dark space the past few days – because I failed to hand over to Christ what was burdening me, failed to accept the support of others.

Then John I read your blog “True Healing from Abuse Starts in the Heart” , which I pray others will read prayerfully: especially accused priests who need to accept responsibility and the falsely accused who need especially to love and forgive those who lie, to embrace the cross of the 9th Beatitude: Mt.5:11.

Hence I refer everyone to: True Healing from Abuse Starts in the Heart

You ask at the end of your blog about the so-called Zero Tolerance policy of the Bishop’s and does it really work.

Well John no, it does not.

Zero tolerance has become the vehicle for 100% cruelty, abandonment of the Roman Catholic Church as the church of the second chance.

Indeed, it has created an outlaw church.

In future blogs I will write about each of those consequences of so-called ‘zero tolerance’.

Pray as Church, bishops, priests and laity, we learn courage with compassion, truth without compromise: in a word that we put on and live by the mind and heart of Christ.

You are so clear in your statement about the “deep struggle”, which is particularly that of victims of abuse.
I thank-you also, for it is the hallmark of a true disciple of Christ to have such humility and charity, for this: “…what I yearn for…is to hear the sincere request by those who have abused me to forgive them.”

This is something I had forgotten and something for which, as a falsely accused priest myself, and know this to be true among my suffering brothers, we need to beg His grace for: true forgiveness and love of our enemies.

What is happening in the current frenzy is so insane and cruel: the protracted legal battles victims must endure for due compensation; the almost universal lack of bishops and priests bowing low before victims and begging forgiveness; a climate where every priest is presumed guilty, denied due process, abandoned by bishops and brother priests.

The whirlpool of unrelenting pain, grief, chaos, cowardice by bishops, engulfs victims and priests alike.

Many priests, just being whispered about, choose suicide rather than struggle to defend themselves since who is there willing to defend us?

Yes there are, thanks be to God, some organizations that do help and which can be found at the Hope For Priests Web site.

What is most comforting is to hear the voice of the laity, a voice such as yours John, which reminds everyone, not just suffering priests, Christ is our strength, our hope, our truth.

Mel Gibson in his film The Passion of the Christ simply yet powerfully introduces us to Simon of Cyrene as a real person, a real man, unexpectedly asked to participate in the salvation of the world by helping Christ bear the burden of our need for redemption.

The Holy Gospel reveals this mystery to us of Christ teaching by example that none is so strong we do not need the help of another: [see Matthew 27:32; Mark 15:21; Luke 23:26, ff].

We gather from the texts Simon was a family man and that his sons Rufus and Alexander were well known members of the early Church.

I know John, because you have done so through our private correspondence, that in your own vocation as a Catholic Layman, a baptized disciple of Christ, husband and father of two children of your own, you have a great love for the priesthood, even though you have suffered much.

For you John I offer the following: 1] Until those who have abused you bow before you and beg your forgiveness, and with you also representing all victims of abuse, I bow low and beg your forgiveness. 2] A priest is In Persona Christi, therefore father-servant for every human being and as such I wish to introduce you, deeply, to St. Simon of Cyrene, the Cross-bearer.

One of the most beautiful reflections on the person and example of Simon I have read is by Charles Ludwig on his site: St. Simon of Cyrene

Essentially what is striking is Ludwig’s understanding of helping other with their burden as fundamental to being true disciples of Christ.

In this whole horrific mixture of sin, scandal, error, pain, etc. which is the so-called priest-abuse-scandal, we have forgotten the primacy of repentance and forgiveness as part of living the Gospel with our lives without compromise.

You John have reminded us of the essential: love.

Love as He who loves us first; love of Him as true love of one another; love as the generosity of forgiveness; love as the necessity of true repentance and conversion;
love as being burden-bearers, with Christ, for one another.

My own Spiritual Father shared this prayer with me, which assures we only take on the burdens our Heavenly Father asks of us, and protects us from being tricked by satan to pick up burdens which will crush us:

Lord, I embrace all that You send me and the Father wills for me, but ONLY in union with You and Your all-powerful Cross.
Everything that is not from You, please take away.

When the burden, of wounds you carry John because of abuse, or because of your frustration at the way Bishops are treating priests, is particularly raw, I offer you this prayer as well, which follows, for, ultimately, it is to be true children of the Father, in loving relationship with Him, that Christ allowed His Heart on the Cross to be opened up, that we might, in, with and through Him, come to the Father who yearns to take us into His arms that we might be healed, be loved:

Lord Jesus, I come to You and ask You to take away my burdens and to carry me in Your Heart to the Father.

Thank-you John for your loving and forgiving heart, for your love of priests, for your friendship, for your burden-bearing. May St. Simon become your close and personal friend, for I know henceforth he will help you carry your burdens.

You know John I pray everyday for an end to abuse of the innocent, of every person, for the endowing of bishops and priests with courage, humility, chastity, the true manhood and fatherhood you exemplify.

Please continue your prayer that the entire priesthood be re-converted anew, that we all be truly holy priest-servants of everyone.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Advent on Broadway

A long time ago I was walking one night along Broadway just when the theatres were disgorging their crowds.

Near the doors of one, straddling the curb, was a wearied old man, trying to rewrap a dirty bandage around his ulcerated leg.

One of the theatre patrons, without missing a step, hefted her evening gown and stepped over him and into her limo.

The man noticed and looked up towards her.

His expression stunned me, for his face radiated compassion.

When I recall that incident the man’s face comes to my heart as a reminder of the Icon named: “Not Painted by Human Hands”.

Walking the streets near the soup kitchen where I volunteer from time to time that brother from Broadway so many years ago came back to my heart as I strolled the streets and alleys praying, alternating the Jesus Prayer and the Holy Rosary.

We cry out, this First Vespers of Advent that the splendour of Christ fills the earth.

Sometimes we can miss that splendour if we do not contemplate the face of each of our brothers and sisters, be they on the curb – or stepping into a limo.

I have never been in any city that is not filled with poverty.

The visible poverty to be sure.

It is that more invisible poverty hidden in vacant hearts, lonely hearts, abused, rejected, abandoned hearts, which is the most crushing, and the one perhaps we don’t take seriously enough.

Because I grew up at a time when the human devastation of the so-called “Great War”, the Depression and the Second World War was all around, in the broken bodies and hearts of countless veterans, widows, orphans, be it at Thanksgiving or Christmas, even in our low-end working class neighbourhood, some widow, some veteran, some alone person was always invited to the table.

Christ is everywhere, if we wish to meet Him.

He hangs around on curbs, in limos. He waits in prisons, hospitals, old age homes.

He sits alone at night, often times disguised as a security guard or lone gas station attendant or…..well He has many disguises.

His splendour is all around.

Each Advent as I get older I muse: is this the last Advent I shall pilgrimage on this earth?

Will I fritter away this one as so many others, or will THIS be the Advent I truly prepare for His coming?

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thank-you America

I have been praying all day especially for the United States of America as this is  their Thanksgiving Day.

Today I simply want to say to the people of the United States: Thank-you.

From Boston to Washington, from Harrisburg to Fargo, for five decades every time I have been in your country I have been touched by the genuine kindness and faith of everyone I have met.

My prayer is that we who are your neighbours not confuse policy with individual citizens, not forget we are brothers and sisters just because our leaders disagree about something,  that we not fail to love and respect each other.

I thank-you that, even with the pitfalls and sometimes questionable use we all make of democracy,  you as a nation seek freedom for others so that someday all peoples of all nations can live without fear.

The first time I ever met any citizens of the United States was when I was a boy of about eleven and I was hitch-hiking from one village to the next where I grew up on the Atlantic coast.

It was an extremely hot day and this, it seemed to me, huge car pulled up beside me with New York plates on it.

The elderly couple inside offered me a ride.

For me that is the hallmark of the United States, the ordinary kindness of ordinary people.

That elderly couple talked a lot about the beauty of my own country, the kindness of Canadians, how they were simply ‘returning the favour.’

Our best defence against the terrorists, our best defence of life, as Jesus teaches us, indeed commands us, is to love one another.

Part of love is respect and gratitude.

Thank-you America. God Bless you.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Salt and other Musings

In the baptismal rite prior to Vatican II salt would be blessed and the priest would place a small amount in the mouth of the child, calling the child by name and saying in part: … receive the salt of wisdom….look with favour on Your servant….who has had …first taste of blessed food in the form of salt.

Salt is a necessary element…too little and we become ill. Thus things like salt pills or sodium in drinks for athletes and others who loose salt through sweating.

Too much salt in our diet and this excess causes health problems as well.

In some parts of the world salt is mixed with sand to keep winter roads driveable, while Ghandi’s handful of salt is legendary.

The  blessing and mixing salt with the water for the blessing of the people, and how the Lord blessed the scattering of salt upon the water by the Prophet Elisha, is beautiful baptismal reminder at the beginning of Sunday Mass.

Fr. John Hampsch has a wonderful teaching on Blessed Salt at .

Very simply here “salt” is part of the title for this blog as a prayer for the Holy Spirit’s blessing of wisdom in what is presented here { anything unwise, contrary to the mind and heart of the Church or just dumb is totally on me } and because Jesus tells His disciples that we “ are the salt of the earth.” [Mt.5:13]

Salt gives flavour and salt is a preservative – as disciples of Jesus,  it is our vocation to bring the flavour of hope, into broken lives; to preserve respect for life in the midst of the culture of death.

The opportunities and urgencies for us to “be” blessed salt in the world are countless.

Here I would recommend a prayerful reading of Pope John Paul’s homily during the closing Mass of World Youth Day in Toronto, available on the  Vatican web site.


Been musing on a couple of other things today as I walked past the huge neighbourhood cemetery, along the railroad yards, alternately praying the Rosary and recalling bits from the various letters and emails waiting to be answered.

The first thing I mused about was fear as many of the priests and lay people writing me of late express fear about the state of the world; fear of another 9/11; fear of things like bird flu.

That sent me to Pope John Paul’s book: Crossing The Threshold of Hope to refresh my heart with his powerful urging we not be afraid.

I also returned to John 6:16-21 for there, in the midst of the marvellous chapter where Jesus first reveals He will be our Bread of Life, is the event of the storm and it is before the storm has ceased and the boat has reached its destination, indeed more precisely it is during that which causes the disciples to be fearful that Jesus comes through the storm saying: “ It is I.  Do not be afraid.”

This evening then I mused with anticipation at the approach of Advent, the season of hope!

And I remembered the taste in the air growing up on the shores of the Atlantic ocean: salt!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Josh Groban to Cassian!

I would never have thought that the music of Josh Groban would lead me to St. John Cassian but yesterday it did!

There is in the spiritual life something the Fathers of the Desert refer to as accedia or accidie.

It is a type of inner weariness, deep in one’s being, often experienced as what in common parlance is referred to as being “down”.

Most people experience down days, weariness, etc.

However there must be vigilance that the normal down day does not become accidie – the spiritual condition which produces a type of sloth or wanting just to ‘get out and do something’.

There can be any number of triggers for a down day in any life: lack of sleep, stress, grief, several days without sunshine, etc. etc., and these can be the same triggers for accidie.

Of course that dark hyena, the evil one, likes to batter us when we are already down.

As St. Peter urges us: Stay sober and alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, solid in your faith. [ 1 Pt. 5:8,9 ]

So yesterday was one of those days.

By late in the day the sense of being down was just too much.

So to distract myself I put a Josh Groban cd on and sat staring out the window at the jets landing at the industrial airport.

Gradually I became aware of something familiar. It was Groban’s version of an ancient song which always stirs my heart: Jesu, Joy of Man’s desiring.

Well that snapped me out of my day dreaming and motivated me to search for a translation of the original text.

I prayed the text and that it turn moved me to re-read St. John Cassian who admits his own struggle with accidie and how he too fled by business and chattering away, albeit with Abba Paul.

St. John further recounts that when he sought to justify himself with Abba Moses the Abba sternly admonished him: Learn to triumph over it by endurance and conflict.

The ‘endurance and conflict’ is to be faithful to the duty of the moment, be it prayer, reading, doing the dishes, visiting the sick – or simply to put one’s face to the ground and beg Jesus for mercy.

On his blog, referencing a song called Run, John Everett notes: Do we realize that He really does want to be with us?...If we experienced His yearning for us to be near with Him for but a moment, we would probably die!

Reminds me of the plea of St. Philip Neri when he experienced divine fire!

The key always is to go to Jesus and thus to know we are beloved of God.

Jesus, joy of our desiring,
Holy wisdom, love most bright,
Drawn by You, our souls aspiring
Soar to uncreated light!

[ for the full text see: ]

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Of Two Women

There are times when the juxtaposition of Sacred Scripture in the Liturgy and events around the world penetrates my heart so deeply it can take hours to embrace.

Today has been such a time.

The day of the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul was several months before I entered the seminary and I was working in the office of a company which has dozens of engineers of the Islamic faith working in the same office with me.

I had been out of the office when the news first flashed around the globe. Returning to my office I knew something was amiss, the atmosphere was heavy with grief.

One of the engineers, a practicing Muslim, came up to me in tears and said:
“ They have shot our Pope! “

I will confess that on 9/11, and for several days thereafter, it was difficult to recall that man’s face and voice with the same solidarity and affection there had been between us that May day in 1981.

Today – at least for those participating in Sunday Mass in the Roman Rite for the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary time – but accessible to anyone who goes to the Old Testament, Proverbs 31:10-31 – the Lord places before us the description of the ideal wife.

One of the two women who has occupied my heart today with the same intensity, frankly, as my sense of solidarity with my Muslim brother that fateful day in 1981, has been shown throughout the day on the news.

She was a wife. She is now a widow. She tried to become a personal weapon of mass destruction.

I have no idea of her name but am pierced to the heart with the sadness of her eyes, the immensity of the contradiction in her person,  my concern for her protection, for she is now in the hands of the authorities.

Again and again and again, starting with Jordanian television, those eyes have stared, sometimes directly at the camera, or her captors, but mostly to one side, as if asking: how have I, woman, come to this?

Eyes of woman, my sister, yes.

As priest, she is also my daughter.

Eyes of one capable of bearing life.

Eyes of one wearing a weapon of destruction wrapped around her womb and heart.

This is the madness of extremism – the Alice in wonderland quality of the culture of terror, where everything is in the vortex  of death and turned upside down.

I trust that the intelligentsia, who have spent the last few decades arguing the so-called ‘right’ of a woman to have control over her own body, don’t miss the fact that for this woman that meant simultaneous control of a bomb.

She and her husband deliberately chose a wedding – a celebration of new beginning in life and family – as a killing field.

Jesus teaches us the great love is to lay down one’s life to save another, not to destroy life.

The sadness in the eyes of the woman shown on Jordanian tv may be because she failed.

Or maybe,  please God, it is the realization that she who was created in the image and likeness of the Giver of Life to bear new life within her, having walked through the looking glass of hate is now in the upside down world of terror and destruction.

Any rationale thinking human being must see that we have so distorted religion and gender that even women of Islam can strap bombs around their wombs and over their hearts.

Yet in a way this is  not that unlike their Christian sisters who rip from their wombs and hearts the life already growing within them.

Proverbs notes how the husband of the “worthy wife….entrusts his heart to her”…and from there the text lauds woman as strong, charitable, not merely intelligent but wise.

Indeed, based on this text, the reputation of her husband has more to do with her standing in the community than any efforts of his.

Bad enough when men were the prime agents of violence on this earth but then we started taking steps in the wars of the past century where women became soldiers, front line troops in Russia, China, and in the Resistance movements.

Then came the various revolutions in Asia and more women learnt to kill, and through the seduction of the narcissistic culture of the Western world it came about that women no longer needed to go to a battlefield any further than their own bodies to kill.

Around the same time men began, first in Africa and then in Asia, to force boys to become child-soldiers.
It seems we have succeeded essentially in transforming ‘family’: father, mother, children, the foundation of society and living stones of the church, into units of death.

Pope Leo XIII, it is said,  was granted a vision of the future and the forthcoming wars of human destruction horrified him.
It is said of St. Pius X in the weeks prior to the outbreak of WWI he wept openly over the oceans of blood he foresaw.
Pope Paul VI tried heroically in Humane Vitae to warn of the chaos which would engulf the human family in the darkness of the contraceptive self-indulgent culture of death.
Pope John Paul II begged us to embrace the Gospel of Life.

So I turn to the other woman on my heart today.

I believe only if we turn to her, ask her to take us by the hand and bring us to Jesus, He who is the Way, back through the looking glass of our narcissistic arrogance, will we emerge from the backwards, upside down culture of death into the civilization of love: with Christ, in Christ, for Christ and through Him return to the Father:

Remember, O Most Gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession was left unaided.
Inspired with this confidence, we fly to you, O Virgin of Virgins, Our Mother.
To you do we come, before you we stand, sinful and sorrowful.
O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not our petitions, but in your mercy, hear and answer us.

Friday, November 11, 2005

That Other War

Today in Canada, the United States, Great Britain, and rightly so, we honor the men and women who, both in the wars of the past century, and the wars of this millennia still in its infancy, have paid, or are paying this very day, the ultimate price for our freedom.

As the generation that overcame the Nazi horrors of war and holocaust ages, they have been referred to in the United States as that nation’s ‘greatest generation’ – I would argue that title belongs to that generation of all the Allied Nations who served in WWII.

These were both some who had been through the hell of WWI and the many, children of the veterans of that first global carnage, children of the depression.

Yes it is right to honor them today.

To honor those “over there”, wherever there may be today.

It is a day to pay particular tender and grateful attention to their families, their loved ones, ‘over here’.

Nowadays, in the midst of current conflict, I ask myself: What exactly do we mean when we say we are defending freedom?

It is the freedom to beat down Christian beliefs;  the freedom to abort little children;  the freedom to warehouse the aged and infirm;  the freedom to dismantle the authentic family; the freedom to so blur the distinctions between male and female, adult and child only social chaos results; the freedom to make believe that two persons of the same gender can actually form a union?

Or is it the freedom to not think, intelligently, reflectively, maturely, under the guidance of the Truth-Speaking Lord and Giver of Life Himself, the Holy Spirit?

Honor must entail emulation.

The ‘greatest generation’ was not without its sins or problems, weird ideas or weaknesses – but that generation was formed in the heart of a religious and family oriented culture which gave birth to men and women of heroic generosity.

In the sixty years since the original Axis of Evil sought to dominate the lives and souls of the entire world we have virtually abandoned the land as a place of family farms. We have become obsessed with the self, become intellectually non-thinking and twisted truth into a personal feeling about….whatever.

We slaughter more of our own while they begin life in the womb than the millions killed in all the wars of the past century, and still our lust for abortion,  our lust for pleasure and consumption appears insatiable.

Now that we have rendered the womb such a dangerous place we are setting our sights on the already born but deemed, for whatever twisted justification fits the moment, deserving we self-indulgently assert, of a merciful death which we will provide.

Perhaps it is the absence of jackbooted, black uniformed, goose-stepping officials telling us to do these things ‘for the greater good’ that we fail to see how, over the past sixty years, we have abandoned the very freedom our heroes died for!

For a time, after the carnage of WWI, we heeded Our Blessed Mother and her clear warnings yes, but also tender invitation to conversion and renewal.

Then, like rebellious adolescents, we discovered in the sixties that if we whined enough or argued enough we could convince ourselves God was dead – and therein completely forgot that the real truth is the Son of God died and rose for us and is very much alive, calling us, in the classic words of Pope John Paul, to the “Gospel of Life!”

We dismissed the urgent plea and warnings of Pope Paul VI as being the hardheartedness of an old man out of touch with the real world.

When it came to objective truth, the sacredness of each person, teachings of Pope John Paul II, the alleged intellectuals, some sadly among the ranks of the clergy, are still apoplectic over such a clear enunciation of the conjunction of faith and reason leading to the splendor, not only of objective truth, but to the Person who is Truth.

Pope Benedict before and since the Conclave has been clear about what is destroying our very culture and nations, yet who takes notice?

I  take this day very seriously, do honor both the fallen and those now serving, but to truly honor them who are ‘over there’ is for us who are ‘over here’ to push back the culture of death and build the civilization of love.

Today a seminarian from Brazil sent me a copy of a powerful letter he has written to various ecclesial and governmental leaders to advocate for the protection of the unborn.  Also an expectant mother whose father is ill with cancer sent me this statement of trust from John Henry Cardinal Newman, who please God will soon be elevated among the ranks of the saints:

                      “Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in                                             sickness, my sickness may serve Him; if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him; He does nothing in vain. He may prolong my life, He may shorten it; He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends, He may throw me among strangers, He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide the future from me...still He knows what He is about! “

Their letters served to enhance what was my day’s meditation and God bless them for inspiring my words today.

We have lost all rational understanding of what true freedom is because we have lost faith.

We need to hear, without fear, and heed with great urgency, the words of the Lord to the Church in Ephesus as addressed to all the Western Nations, and to our own hearts:        ….I hold this against you: you have lost the love you had at first. Realize how far you have fallen.  Repent…..[cf. Rev.2:4ff]

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Time for Mass

I have a dear priest friend who lives as a hermit in a community. He has done so for almost a quarter of a century after many years working in ministry in the inner city.

When he gives retreats to priests, he encourages what he calls the “all day Mass”.

He recommends doing this from time to time so we might, as priests, enter more deeply into the reality we are ordained to celebrate.

Today I was moved to do so – not all day long but over several hours.
+  +  +

How exactly do I begin?

Usually,  distracted by many things, trying to get things set-up, yet  yearning for quiet and stillness to be fully aware that the space  where I am celebrating is filling up with the entire heavenly court, all the Angels and Saints and that the Holy Souls are aware Mass is about to be celebrated, and as a result for some of them their time will have come and they shall be ushered into heaven.

I seek to become still that I might  be, by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, enabled to pray-participate, and, as priest in persona Christi, being one with Him, might be both the one offered and the oblation, to the praise and glory of the Father, for the sheer joy of adoration-worship, intercession and thanksgiving.

So – today at least in my little urban poustinia I make ready as best I can with your help O Holy Mother of the Eucharist to be still that I might celebrate with faith, reverence and devotion.

+   +   +

Sitting with the first stage of preparatory prayers this morning my heart is particularly aware of the Holy Souls and of all our suffering brothers and sisters in Jordan and those around the world who live in the shadow and cruelty of terrorism.

+    +   +

I do try before each Mass, but frequently fail because of any number of excuses, Lord have mercy, to carefully pray the traditional preparation and vesting prayers of which the following most touch my heart:

Prayer to Mary

Mother of Mercy and Love, Blessed Virgin Mary, I am a poor and unworthy sinner, and I turn to you in confidence and love. You stood by your Son as He hung dying on the Cross. Stand also by me, a poor sinner, and by all the Priests who are offering Holy Mass today, here and throughout the entire Church. Help us to offer a perfect and acceptable sacrifice in the sight of the Holy and undivided Trinity, our Most High God. Amen.

Statement of Intention

My purpose is to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and to make present the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the Rite of the Holy Roman Church and to the praise of our All-Powerful God, and all His assembly in the glory of Heaven, for my good and the good of all His Pilgrim Church on earth and for all who have asked me to pray for them, in general and in particular. Amen.

+   +  +

Simply it is important to be at one with Holy Mother the Church, at one with the Heavenly Liturgy, at one with each and every priests and each and every Mass celebrated across the earth, 24/7 in great Cathedrals, at famous shrines, in ordinary parishes, in places of persecution, in the underground Church in China and elsewhere, in hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, monasteries, convents, seminaries, hermitages, for in Him we are indeed little members of the One Body of the Lord.

+ + +

This struck me from the responsorial psalm: “Give life to my soul that I might praise You.”

Took my heart to one of my favourite admonitions of St. Theophane the Recluse, which I utter daily as an invocation. St. Theophane teaches: “ The principle thing is to stand before God with the intellect and the heart and to go on standing before God unceasingly, day and night, until the end of life.”

+ + +

From the Holy Gospel the word which sings in my heart is Jesus telling us: “ The Kingdom of Heaven is among you.”

How true – within the reality of baptismal life, Eucharistic life – within the newness of everything since His Holy Resurrection – ah Lord, but to have the eyes to see, the heart to understand, the will to live the Gospel to the full!

+ + +

Meditating further after the Holy Gospel I recall a dear friend, a pioneer of social justice and the lay apostolate with the Servant of God Catherine Doherty. As a layman born after the First World War he knew the immense poverty in its aftermath, especially in the Dirty Thirties, the moral confusion, loss of faith among the people.
He knew war and after the Second World War embrace poverty and loved and served the poor for over 50 years until is recent death.

This is a great example of the living out of Baptism – his and the lives of all the laity who are faithful to their vocation, whatever conditions of life they are in.

We celebrate one of the truly greats of the ordained priesthood in the history of the Church today: Pope St. Leo the Great and my heart is struck by his word:
“And what is more priestly than to promise the Lord a pure conscience and to offer Him in love unblemished victims on the altar of one’s heart?”

+ + +

It is time! Time for the Prayer of the Faithful.

Time to step into the central mystery and glory of our faith!

+ + +

Once the incredible has occurred and He is with us once again, True, Real Presence, and even more has lavished Himself upon us and within us in Holy Communion, strengthened for the continuous pilgrimage I treasure as a thanksgiving this prayer of St. Padre Pio:

Stay with me, Lord, for it is necessary to have You present so that I do not forget You. You know how easily I abandon You.
Stay with me, Lord, because I am weak and I need Your strength, that I may not fall so often.
Stay with me, Lord, for You are my life, and without You, I am without meaning and hope.
Stay with me, Lord, for You are my light, and without You, I am in darkness.
Stay with me, Lord, to show me Your will.
Stay with me, Lord, for I desire to love You ever more, and to be always in Your company.
Stay with me, Lord, if You wish me to be always faithful to You.
Stay with me, Lord, for as poor as my soul is, I wish it to be a place of consolation for You, a dwelling of Your love.
Stay with me, Jesus, for it is getting late; the days are coming to a close and life is passing. Death, judgement and eternity are drawing near. It is necessary to renew my strength, so that I will not stop along the way, and for that I need You. It is getting late and death approaches. I fear the darkness, the temptations, the dryness, the cross, the sorrows. O how I need you, my Jesus, in this night of exile!
Stay with me, Jesus, because in the darkness of this life, with all its dangers, I need You.
Help me to recognize You as Your disciples did at the breaking of the Bread, so that the Eucharistic Communion be the light which disperses the darkness, the power which sustains me, the unique joy of my heart.
Stay with me, Lord, because at the hour of my death I want to be one with You, and if not by Communion, at least by Your grace and love.
Stay with me, Jesus. I do not ask for divine consolations because I do not deserve them, but I only ask for the gift of Your Presence. Oh yes! I ask this of You!
Stay with me, Lord, for I seek You alone, Your love, Your grace, Your will, Your Heart, Your Spirit, because I love You and I ask for no other reward but to love You more and more, with a strong and active love.
Grant that I may love You with all my heart while on earth, so that I can continue to love You perfectly throughout all eternity, dear Jesus. Amen!