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 http://claretiantapeministry.org/teachings/SALT .

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 http://catholiclovedotcom.blogspot.com/, 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: www.hymnsite.com ]

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!


Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A Little Cell

Discovered a new heavenly companion today!

Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity [1880-1906], a Carmelite Nun not unlike many others, known and unknown, who simply poured herself out in fidelity to her vocation.

She must have had tremendous faith for it is reported that as she was dying her last words were: “ I am going to Light, to Love, to Life!”

On the site where I often discover new heavenly companions http://www.catholic-forum.com/saints/indexsnt.htm there is this quotation which really touched my heart:

“ Make a little cell in your heart for Jesus of the Agony; take refuge there, when you hear Him outraged by men, try to make reparation; you, at least, love Him and keep your heart quite pure for Him. Oh! If you only knew how the good God loves pure hearts! It is there that He loves to reign.”

In the midst of terrorism, abortion, and all the other chaos of the culture of death my prayer is countless will be those who will make and enter such little cells for Jesus.

Divine Mercy is His lavishness – let’s make reparation our lavishness of gratitude.

More Abuse Fallout

Each day I hear about the suffering of priests, parishes, individuals because of the continued fallout from the horror of abuse perpetrated by some priests against the innocent.

Today a letter arrived from a brother priest who has been tasked with raising millions of dollars that his diocese, without loosing every church, chapel, rectory, parish hall, might have the funds for a just settlement for the victims of abuse.

In eloquent language he begs every priest in this country to donate $1,000.

Perhaps you who read this would help.

In the first instance it is the victims who will be helped – saving the church property is secondary and will only occur if
the victims are taken care of.

Donations may be sent to/checks made out to:

Settlement agreement fund

And sent to:      St. George’s Diocese
                             13 Mount Bernard Avenue
                             Corner Brook, NL
                                                   A2H   6K6

As St. Isaac the Syrian reminds us in his 56th Homily:   God is near to the distressed heart of the man who cries out to Him in his affliction.

The victims are crying out; the diocese is crying out; Christ is crying out.

We can become a comfort to the suffering Christ, be the instrument of God’s nearness to the distressed hearts involved in this affliction through our prayers and, those who are able, through donations.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Love for Priests

Visiting a wonderful site for those living or discerning the splendid and holy vocation of marriage and family life, I came across the following poem for which I thank the authors of the site, John and Lucille Everett.

                                               To Our Crucified Priests

Dear Father,

I am one of your little ones.
I kneel here quietly weeping for you.
I too am an abandoned one.
I too know the pain of rejection by my own father.
I offer my wounds for you.
I am with you.
Do not loose heart.
Look into my eyes as you offer me Jesus.
See, I love you.



Sunday, November 06, 2005


I have refrained from writing for a few days because, to be honest, I have had to struggle through rage, frustration, and grief.

Through the Hope For Priests web site [www.hopeforpriests.com], currently as the technical people say ‘under reconstruction’ and other sources, I frequently hear about how the so-called “zero-tolerance” policy is frequently being used with what is tantamount to cruelty.

In the future I will write more about that. This is just to say it was the pain of a particular priest that threw me for a loop these past few days.

Then praying the Divine Office this afternoon the 23rd Psalm struck my heart deeply and I composed the following:

The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall lack.

In green pastures You let me graze and You lead me to safe waters; You restore my strength.

Sometimes it is the extreme distance of desert between the oasis of pasture which almost overwhelms and at other times the waters taste brackish because there is too much rage and lack of forgiveness in my heart.

Then I see You walking across the turbulent waters, the brackishness sweetened by Your footfall, Your extended hand, when it seems the waves are more powerful, touches me and I am indeed strengthened.

Though even when I walk through the valley of darkness I am not afraid because You are at my side, with Your rod and staff giving me courage.

This valley of darkness, in which many priests are wandering, seems unending; the fear is palpable, because we do not understand what You are permitting – yet – all priests are configured at ordination in persona Christi. The Spirit drove You into the desert; the Father allowed You aloneness in the dark valley Garden. Even when our emotions betray us, the truth is, You are with us!

You set a banquet before me, as my enemies watch….

I suspect those who hate priests, hate Catholics, hate the Christian culture, do so because somehow in their bondage to hatred they understand the real banquet You set before us daily is Yourself, the Banquet of Love, Life, Truth, all of which those who belong to the culture of death oppose.

Perhaps in some way what most protects us most endangers us.

But then so it was, so it has always been, so it is for martyrs.

Oh no I am not, nor is any suffering priest I hear from, claiming to be a martyr but I sense a growing yearning within the hearts of many priests to embrace the Cross without compromise.

You anoint my head with oil, my cup is overflowing.
Only goodness and kindness will pursue me all the days of my life;
I will dwell in the house of the Lord,
All the days of my life.

One of my favourite novels is Bernanos “Diary of a Country Priest.”, of which the most resounding words are “ALL IS GRACE!”

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Rosa Parks: Thank-you

Watching the funeral today of Rosa Parks I was struck by how many of the speakers referred to her faith, meekness and humility.

These are the true hallmarks of a Christian.

In our turbulent age of hatred, wars, terrorism, riots, political leaders of all stripes in all nations and at the United Nations dishonouring us with their wasting  our freedom by constantly attacking each other rather than effectively serving the human family, an ordinary woman, laid to rest today, stands out as a true servant of the people.

Without being elected to any official office she did with quiet dignity what politicians claim to be doing: assuring true freedom.

This woman of faith and dignity, this working woman, did the most simple and natural of things a tired body does at day’s end on public transport: she sat down and in her sitting down a whole oppressed people stood up!

The over reaction to her simple gesture shows how the agents of hate and terror are more frightened of the ordinary dignity of good people than they are of massed armies or police forces.

Wherever we are challenged by the forces of darkness, hatred, terror, we must go back to the woman on the bus, to any and all examples throughout history – most especially to Jesus –  of those who overcame evil, terror and death by BEING a real person of simple, humble, meek and unconquerable dignity.

This day of her funeral is also the day when we Roman Catholics pray for the salvation of all the dead, All Souls Day – be they family members, friends or enemies.

Jesus tells us there is no greater love than to lay down our lives for our friends. To my heart when Rosa Parks sat down on that bus she was indeed laying down her life for her friends.

Thus on this day when we remember Rosa Parks, and all the departed, it is good to remember the promise of Jesus, who crossed through the valley of death before us and conquered death by His own death: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God and trust in Me. There are many rooms in my Father’s house….I am going to prepare a place for you. I will come back for you and take you with Me, that where I am you may be too.” [cf. Jn.14:1-3]

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Shopping & Beatitude

Even a hermit has to eat!

Poverty, gently I must say, assures I shop wisely on the discount and seniors days.

Today was one of those days.

As I walked the aisles of the store my heart was moved to wonder, and to pray.

To wonder: Jesus, does she know You? Jesus, does he know You?

To pray, especially for those my heart sensed were lonely, suffering, burdened.

Today is the Solemnity of All Saints – which means everyone in heaven – people just like those shopping in the grocery store.

The Fathers of the Desert urged a daily praying of the Our Father and the Beatitudes as an aide to becoming a saint.

Holy Mother the Church calls us to pray the Our Father before Holy Communion in every Mass and in today’s Mass gives us the Beatitudes as the Gospel reading.

So I have been meditating on the Beatitudes today and here is some of what came to my heart:

Jesus teaches us that: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Ah Lord, so my actual trust and reliance must be upon You and from that trust and reliance will come the heart of a child, a child of the Father, an inheritor of the Kingdom.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

So You really do want us to learn from You who are meek and humble of heart, but meekness in the face of our fears? No wonder the Desert Fathers urged connecting the Our Father each day in prayer with the Beatitudes.

Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Sometimes Lord I think we are weighed down with sorrow but do not know how to truly mourn, for if we did, our mourning over the aborted children would be such a river of tears it would wash the evil and darkness away then, finding ourselves in a culture of life, we would indeed be comforted.

Each Beatitude is an opportunity to reflect upon how we actually embrace and live, or not, the Holy Gospel.

If we struggle to live the Beatitudes we shall certainly hear Him say when we die: “Come good and faithful servant, receive what has been prepared for you since the beginning.”