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.