Sunday, September 24, 2006

Benedicam Domino

Every year at this time comes a period which I look forward too with immense need and gratitude: the annual retreat.

It is the fraternity among brother priests from around the world to be sure. However more even than that blessing is the opportunity, away from all other demands and distractions, to step deeply into the school of Our Blessed Mother, to be drawn aside, as He did with the Apostles, by Jesus, to rest, to be renewed, to commune with the Holy Spirit, be renewed for fidelity to the Holy Will of the Father throughout the coming year.

Pope John Paul urged priests to be converted anew everyday – certainly a retreat is critical to sustaining such a graced process throughout each day of the year.

So I will not be blogging again until the beginning of October and ask your prayer for all of us on retreat.

Here, before leaving in a few hours, I share my pre-retreat meditation based upon Psalm 34, with words from the Psalm in quotation marks:

Benedicam Domino

"I will bless the Lord at all times", even if my emotions might be doing otherwise, or my mouth less than joyful, let every heartbeat, every breath be a continual act of praise.

Let nothing appear upon my face other than the Light of Your love nor any word flow from my mouth but that it be an affirming word, a truth word "so that the poor may hear and rejoice."

So every star in the heavens, planets, sun, moon, every cloud and raindrop, all you snowflakes and morning mists, winds, running streams, oceans and all who live within you or travel upon you, birds of the air and all who travel by air, every creature upon the earth, each blade of grass, leaf, tree – every human being who dwells in forests or jungles, on mountains or in valleys, within the canyons of cities, in palaces or hovels, cardboard boxes or under bridges, no matter our condition or hunger, sorrow or joy, hope or struggle "let us exalt His Name together!"

Deep in the swamp of darkness, lost in the shadows of loneliness, warmed in the midst of love, believing or seemingly without hope, rejoicing or struggling with addiction, honoured or rejected, in prison or seeming to be powerful – knowing I am choosing to do so or another through prayer doing so for me – everyone who breathes seeks and I testify the seeking is worth it "for I sought the Lord and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears" and it is true, even if we seem crushed down so far we are as a blind one, so lost we are as one who cannot hear, so hurting it is as if we have no voice it is true that "those who look to Him are radiant and their faces shall never be ashamed."

What more can I say? That everything will instantly change, all will be well, no more sorrow or grief, no more sin or wounds, loneliness will vanish and addiction dissipate, hatred, war, terrorism, extremism, abortion ended?

No – mostly none of that will happen – though absolutely we can choose to build a civilization of love and ALL of that will become reality.

No – weep, we must, tears of repentance, intercession, supplication, for the world is in pain, babies are being murdered in the womb – children abused, women battered, nations in the grips of war and terror, the streets are filled with the homeless and by far there is too much anger, hatred, degradation through pornography, assault on the sanctity of marriage and family life – and the Priesthood is wounded, terribly, priests are suffering, ceaselessly and Peter, Our Holy Father Benedict attacked, because he has the truth-speaking heart of a child and the compassionate heart of a father.

As priest I am voice for everyone, especially during Holy Mass, in persona Christi, the Suffering Servant, the Poor Man who, for all of us did, does "cry out and the Lord heard Him and saved Him out of all His troubles" as the Father hears us through Jesus who saves us, redeems us, and blessed are we if we take "refuge in Him!"

Jews and Protestants, Buddhists and Muslims, Catholics and Orthodox, peoples of any belief and of none at all, knowing or not that we have but one Father who is Love, brothers and sisters, "Come, O children, listen to me….turn away from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it….the Lord is near the brokenhearted and saves the crushed spirit."

Benedicam Domino!

Monday, September 18, 2006

"Dies academicus" - Pope Benedict

Towards the end of my seminary studies I spent six months learning from an Imam, a man of sincere faith, open hearted, a man of prayer, the tradition of prayer and mysticism within the traditions of Islam.

This in no way makes of me an expert, rather simply a student of another faith tradition besides my own.

I also studied with an equally sincere of faith and open hearted Rabbi and various Christian clergy, besides my own required studies as a Roman Catholic seminarian.

Thus, today as a priest who still loves to study, I do get , upon a meditative reading of the entire text of Pope Benedict’s lecture, the Holy Father’s challenge for everyone to dialogue about love and reason, rather than remaining mired as a human family in the insanity of impulsive hatred and irrational violence.

There is a real glimpse into the tender heart and intellectual brilliance of the Holy Father when he begins with joy by stating: “ It is a moving experience for me to stand and give a lecture…”.
A glimpse into another heart of sincere faith and openness.

The lecture clearly is within the context of what the Holy Father refers to as his experience decades ago as a professor of the “dies academicus” – thus I can understand that whomever has not experienced such “dies” would perhaps not grasp precisely what such an exchange of ideas is all about.

We seem to have lost, globally, the tradition of intellectual, respectful, discourse, the exchange of ideas, the openness NOT to overpower other with argument but together to search for truth – reasonable, understandable, objective truth.

Globally we seem to have become a human family [ and here I lay much of the responsibility for this at the feet of the 30 second sound bite media AND at the feet of extremists, be they religious or secular ones ] which reacts impulsively, all too frequently irrationally, to tiny bits and pieces of “information” – or rather of “news” received filtered through media or “leaders” of all stripes with agendas.

The Holy Father’s lecture is academically clear but much more than a 30 second sound bite, whereas the one brief passage which is being used – and NOT just by our brothers and sisters of Islam – to “justify” extremism has been turned into a disingenuous aberration in the furtherance of hatred and violence, which puts the entire human family at risk that the “we’s” will in turn overreact in kind to the “thems”.

History is filled with the use of violence to push forward a seemingly endless parade of cultures, religions, policies of one sort or another – hardly a religious tradition from the Jewish faith to Christianity to Islam, nor a national or political sector anywhere on earth – can claim to have bloodless hands.

However it IS Christianity which is mandated by Christ Himself to love one another, to love our enemies, to do good to those who persecute us.
[cf. Mt. 5:11; 5:23ff; 5:43ff; Jn. 13:34ff]

If we strive to live out this mandate of love then at least in our hearts everyone becomes a “we”!

One of my favourite authors is Tolstoy and I visited a site today looking for his essay on why he could not remain silent and discovered other treasures there too.

The site is:

There I found the following quotes from Tolstoy’s “The Law of Love and the Law of Violence”:

“…I, who am on the edge of the grave, cannot be silent…..It is the law of love and its recognition as a rule of conduct in all our relations with friends, enemies and offenders which must inevitably bring about the complete transformation of the existing order of things, not only among Christian nations, but among all the peoples of the globe.”

Clearly, irrespective of the religious or national tradition, after tens of thousands of years of virtually unbridled use of violence to change people’s minds and hearts
-{ oh sure there have been debatably “successful” subjugations of peoples to the aggressors politic or religion: but true conversion of hearts? I think not.] - have we not spilled enough blood, fuelled enough hatred?

It  is time for true love of one another to prevail – not the 60’s version of “free love”, which was no true love at all – but the love which originates in and from God who is love, the love which Christ asks us to have for one another.

This is how Pope Benedict loves.

This is his challenge to every human being.


Sunday, September 17, 2006


This is from a holy card sent to me by a friend. The only source for what follows is a notation the card is from “Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters”.


HOPE is the springtime of the soul.

HOPE is the prayer of the heart.

HOPE is the pillow of every sorrow.

HOPE is the mercy of eternity.

HOPE is the melody of infinity.