Sunday, December 27, 2009


To everyone, but especially to those who leave comments, and whose blogs I visit and draw inspiration from, on this feast of the Holy Family, know I treasure each of you as family in my heart and extend a blessing for each of you and everyone in your family.

Saturday, December 26, 2009


As we continue to celebrate today the birth of Jesus, we also remember the First Martyr for Christ and the Gospel of Life, St. Stephan.

Here is a brief word from the Servant of God, Catherine Doherty, from her book: Bogorogitza.....

"Martyrdom and forgiveness, in a sense, go together.....Sometimes it takes a martyrdom of the spirit, of the emotions, to consent to forgive."

Friday, December 25, 2009

Glory to God in the highest!

This Child, this Light!
In the Holy Eucharist, in His glorified reality, He enters within the manger of our hearts!
He touches us and we recieve Him.
We hold Him within and He loves us.
We contemplate Him and from the moment His eyes opened at His birth, until this very moment, He gazes with love upon us.
Jesus, manifestation of the love of the Father for us.
Let us have intimate confidence in Jesus who is in our midst.
Let us, as Pope Benedict urges drawing on the very teaching of Jesus, turn and become childike of heart and welcome the Holy Child.
Let us, through Baptism and Holy Communion, guided by the Holy Spirit, in company of the Most Holy Mother of God, become Christ-bearers to every one, living icons of hope and reconciliation, witnesses to the sacredness of human life, bringers of reconcilation and compassion.
Christ is born!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry & Holy Christmas To All

From his first Christmas in 1978, until his last in 2005, Pope John Paul remained steadfast in pleading with everyone to embrace the Gospel of Life, saying powerfully that the “newborn Infant is wailing. Who hears the baby’s wail?”
The wail of the Holy Child is the wail of every suffering, lost, confused, human being.
It is both lament and prayer.
Pope Benedict from the beginning of his pontificate reminds us that God is Love.
The Holy Gospel teaches us the great truth: Christ IS the manifestation of the Father’s love for us in the flesh. Christ IS light come into the world, a light the darkness cannot overcome.
The sight of a possibly deranged woman assaulting the Holy Father, as he processed to begin Midnight Mass to celebrate the birth of Jesus, revealing the vulnerability of the Holy Father, an elderly man, is the vulnerability of all the elderly, of everyone who suffers or is assaulted in any way.
It is the vulnerability of the Child born this night.
We want an all-powerful god of huge miracles and other manifestations, yet such a god would be unreachable, untouchable and we would remain therefore, lost.
Born in a manger, poor, small, vulnerable, wailing, needing like all babies to be held, touched, and loved – this is the one true God.
He is in our midst.
He is our Eucharist, our communion of love and with Love.
The Angels this night told the Shepherds the sign of truth, the sign of the Redeemer being amongst us IS the reality of the baby in the manger.
As Pope Benedict reminds us that, rather than some huge manifestation , the sign is God’s humility, God making Himself small, a mere child, and He “let’s us touch Him and He asks for our love.”
The culture of death and darkness weighs heavily because individually and collectively we want to be loved and when we do not feel loved we become angry, hateful, violent, demanding, greedy, crazy, desperate to the point where we leap over a railing and assault an elderly Shepherd or abort a baby or plow a jet into a tower or....
Yes we would prefer a different god than this vulnerable, powerless, in need of touch and love, of being protected and fed Baby!
Yet only a truly all-powerful God could become Incarnate. Only the all-self-gifting God could be born as we are, as one of us, for us.
All false gods, all evil, all darkness, devours.
Only the true God, all good, all light, all life, all love, makes Himself our food.
Christ is born! Hope is in our midst!
Christ is born! Darkness is banished!
Christ is born! Come, let us approach, let us listen, let us touch, let us love and the wail of the Child will become the cry of joy!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Doors!

Many years ago I was working in the financial heart of the country. My office was some thirty stories up. The outside walls were floor to ceiling glass. The building, in severe wind, was designed in such a way there was enough sway a slight trembling of the glass was audible.
One particularly gusty afternoon a panel of glass shattered.
It was discovered upon investigation by the building mangers some delivery people had propped open a large door beside the revolving doors at the main entrance of the building, thus causing a significant loss of pressure within the building so that a gust of wind pushing against the weakest window had caused it to implode.
Mostly, I suspect, for most of us doors are something we pass in and out of numerous times throughout the day at home, work, going to church, getting in and out of a car, etc., without much thought, save perhaps an awareness of the security we feel behind a locked door at night.
As much as open doors are inviting, welcoming, closed doors make a statement of either ‘stay out/don’t bother me/no one is within’.
Every crossing of a threshold is a type of rite of passage, some extremely important and significant, such as crossing the threshold from being within the womb of our mothers to life ‘outside!’
Indeed we say, almost automatically when crossing certain thresholds through particular doors that we are ‘going out’ – or ‘ coming in’, people arrive or leave through a door: birth is arriving, death we see as a leaving, but ultimately it is the final crossing of the definitive threshold for which we have been granted existence by Love Himself.
As we approach Christmas and the birth of Jesus, today in Holy Mass we began in the Entrance Antiphon crying out with the Psalmist for the gates, the portals, the doors to be lifted up – in a word for our entire being, all creation to open wide that Christ might be in our midst.
Anyone who has read the Narnia books by C. S. Lewis, or seen the film, knows what adventures occur when Lucy goes through the door of the wardrobe, crosses the threshold.
Opening or closing any door, crossing, or not any threshold, sometimes demands a willingness to risk, to have openness to, or at least like Lucy and the children, a curiosity about what lies beyond.
Within the Latin rite there used to be a definitive, an important symbolic demarcation between the sanctuary and the main body of church buildings.
Commonly called ‘the communion rail’ it had within it a centre gate and sometimes side gates.
It was a diminutive reminder of what in the Byzantine tradition remains as the Iconostasis.
During the Divine Liturgy there are many points at which the priest enters and exits by the main doors or the side doors of the Iconostasis, with accompanying prayers, incensing, or processions.
This coming and going reminds us of the exchange between heaven and earth, thus during the Holy Season of Pascha [Easter], since Christ has risen and thus opened the gates of heaven all the holy doors remain open, the curtains drawn!
In the beginning Adam and Eve lived within the Garden, in intimacy with God until rebellion and sin were chosen and Adam and Eve were cast outside and an Angel posted to guard the tree of life. [Gen. 1, 2, 3]
Preceding the Exodus of our Elder Brothers and Sisters in faith, the Chosen People, the first Passover called for the marking of the lintels, the thresholds, with blood that those within might be spared death of the firstborn male child.
The Holy Child born Christmas night, is born to BE our Passover, to be the Lamb who is slain for us, and by His Blood we are redeemed, and what has been closed becomes open to us.
Jesus will urge us to enter into an intimacy with the Father akin to that experienced by Adam walking with Him in the Garden. We are to cross the threshold into solitude and silence, to “shut the door” for the secrecy of profound intimacy in prayer. [Mt. 6:6].
Jesus also teaches us that He is the Way, the gate/door/threshold [cf. Jn. 1o:1 ff; ] and in the crossing over the threshold into His death for us Jesus is sealed into a tomb whose door is shut until opened by the Angel after Christ is risen, for no longer is any closed door able to shut out Jesus [ Jn.20:19ff.], save the one over which we have free-will control, the door of our own being.
The Risen Jesus comes to us and with immense tenderness, even I would suggest a type of Divine Love longing, tells us He is waiting at the door of our being, assuring us that if we listen to His voice, and open the door of our being, He will enter within, in Eucharistic intimacy. [Rev. 3:20]
So little time remains before Christ comes in our midst as the child placed within the manger.
As the Servant of God Catherine Doherty teaches: “Christ desires to be born in the mangers of our hearts. Are the doors of our hearts wide open to receive the shepherds, the Magi, the stray a word, humanity? Are they open to receive one another as Christ would receive each one of us? Are they open to receive those around us in our daily life?” {from Grace in Every Season}
It is never too late for we can always open!
Yes, behold, Jesus at the door of our being!

Dear Bishop-elect

I just got word yesterday that a brother priest and most respected friend has been appointed Bishop-elect of the diocese of.......these are some words my heart was moved to send him.}
Perhaps the words are no longer uttered but there was a time in my youth when a priest was named bishop-elect, his confreres would remark: “Ah, he is to receive the mitre, the crown of thorns!”
With the seemingly endless procession of news reports but the universal horror of crimes of abuse, sins of abuse, against children by priests, and all the pain, anger, outrage this rips open again and again, I presume only the most obedient and willing to be one with Christ-crucified, of priests, accepts becoming a bishop.
Therefore dear Bishop-elect, you can be assured of my constant prayer for you.
No doubt soon, if not already, priests and laity will be seeking your attention with their needs, perhaps complaints and pain.
You may find yourself overwhelmed, especially by the pain among our brother priests, for as you well know, as horrific as are the actual sins and crimes of a few, in the current climate the false accusations against the many, upon whom church authorities impose the same sentence as on the guilty, has created among priests a demoralizing climate of fear and uncertainty.
What is a bishop to do when secular powers and their agents, as well as certain groups among lay Catholics, insist on extreme measures against all accused priests and the holus-bolus approach of automatic suspension of all accused places an indelible mark upon them?
What is a bishop to do when lawsuits bankrupt diocese after diocese, and when faced with even one verifiable act of abuse the pressure for drastic action is constant?
How is a bishop to render justice to innocent victims, protect the vulnerable, yet remain a true father and shepherd for all his priests?
How is a bishop to heal the wounds of the victims, comfort all Catholics afflicted by the repercussions of this scandal, strengthen and uphold all his priest-sons, yes even those convicted justly, in particular those falsely accused?
Dear bishop-elect I cannot answer these questions but pray you will not flee from them, but will take them deep into your heart and through the intercession of Mary, Queen of the Apostles, seek the way to truly shepherd everyone who is in pain.
From our beloved Holy Father to the ordinary priest and lay person, it seems outrage dominates all discussion and response.
With full respect for the Holy Father, yourself, everyone who is indeed rightly outraged, I must pose yet another question: Whence, compassion, reconciliation, restoration?
In just a few days the Child will be born anew in our midst, He who comes among us to redeem, forgive, restore.
Standing in the midst of the immense pain within the people and the priesthood, how shall we imitate Him?

Sunday, December 20, 2009


First thanks very much to Adoro and Kam for your encouraging words.
I also know of your prayer for all priests and see what follows as an answer which so consoled me my heart is moved to note it here:
A dear elderly, retired, long-suffering and long-serving brother priest sent me a great email yesterday and within it shared a story about one of his boyhood heroes, Roy Campanella, a great catcher, whom I also remember, because in the summer other than street hockey, which we played every day, there being no hockey games on the radio, the alternative was we’d listen to baseball – I was a true Dodgers fan – but I digress.
Father reminded me about the car crash which left Campanella paralyzed and decidedly discouraged.
Someone sent Roy a prayer.
That prayer sure touched my heart.
Father did not say the origins of the prayer. Perhaps that can be found in Campanella’s book “It’s Good to be Alive,” –here is the prayer:
I asked God for strength, that I might achieve.
I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health, that I might do great things.
I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.
I asked for riches, that I might be happy.
I was given poverty, that I might be wise.
I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men.
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life.
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing I asked for
but everything I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken words were answered.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Thanks for your prayers

The technical problem has been solved with help from an unexpected source and not the compnay we usually rely on.

The basic colour is different, but I trust Our Blessed Mother will like it!

Now to get past a recent bout of writer's block!!!!

Technical Glitch

Dear Readers,

As is obvious from the appearance of the blog we are experiencing a computer system glitch.

A computer expert has been contacted but it is unclear when the problem may be solved.

Your patience, and prayers for mine which is sorely tried, are appreacited.

Fr. Joseph

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


Normally at this time of day, mid-afternoon, when not serving in the soup kitchen but rather in poustinia [hermitage], I would go for my prayer walk, each day a different section of the neighbourhood, praying for the people here and throughout the city.
However after a two day blizzard the extreme arctic cold has arrived and it is dangerous to be out for very long – do pray for the homeless that they find shelter.
The blessing of extra time to read and write is welcome as my heart has been moved by two people who commented on this morning’s post, one who shared their re-consecration to Mary will take place this Saturday, feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of the Americas, and another who will make her first consecration, the Montfort Total Consecration, likewise on this coming feast day.
Both remind me of how much I owe Our Lady of Guadalupe, she who is so persistent in seeking out all the lost and leading us back to Jesus!
First then, thank-you both and everyone who loves and prays for we priests, especially this Year of the Priest, when I pray in particular ALL priests will consecrate themselves to Jesus through Mary, Mother of Priests.
Second, then, in anticipation of Our Lady of Guadalupe’s feast day, an example of how Our Lady is always a true mother, teacher, guide.
Almost forty years ago, through a series of unexpected events, being at the time a Marxist-atheist-hedonist, I found myself in Mexico and eventually, on Christmas Day actually, in Mexico City and, frankly rather angry about it, in the plaza in front of the ‘old’ shrine as opposed to the ‘new’ one of present day, which at the time was not yet constructed, of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The immense crowds were pushing up the great staircase into the basilica and a friend who was with me insisted on going to Mass, which I thought was an idiotic idea and refused to go along, but oddly agreed to go as far as the top of the stairs and to wait there or back down in the plaza until ‘it’ was over!
Suddenly there I was standing before the open doors, and just as suddenly no more people were shoving past to get in.
Given the extreme bright noonday sunlight I should not have been able to see inside the great building, nor from that distance to see clearly, as if right before it, the tilma, upon which is the holy image of Our Blessed Mother.
Yet so it was, so it is within my heart this very moment.
I wanted to flee but was frozen to the spot until, wrenched from the core of my being, gazing upon her beautiful and maternal face, a cry leapt from my being: “Bring me back to your Son!”
So shocked was I, and suddenly able to move, by this experience, I turned and fled down the stairs.
Halfway down an elderly Mexican woman, ascending the stairs on her knees praying the Rosary, grabbed my wrist with rather a solid grip and told me in Spanish not be afraid, Our Mother “has heard you.”
As quickly as she had grabbed me, she released me, and I continued my flight!
The journey of conversion [still ongoing to be sure] was rather long but some years later, thanks to a good priest, filled with compassion, who in his university days had become Catholic thanks to Our Lady, I returned to the sacraments.
Three years later, on the feast of the Assumption, Father urged me to enter the seminary, which I did a year later on the feast of the Nativity of Our Blessed Mother, eventually being ordained on the feast of the Visitation – the same day 22 years before when my Spiritual Father was ordained.
I especially love Our Lady as Our Lady of Combermere, who is imaged coming towards us, indeed rushing towards us, just after the Annunciation, arms wide open, mantle flowing to envelop us and hold us close to her heart and womb, she now the living Tabernacle of the Incarnate One.
Yes, intimately close to her Son Jesus!
Teaching today in Rome, Pope Benedict reminds us that: “....Mary constitutes a sweet and reassuring presence....She tells people of our time: Do not be afraid, Jesus defeated evil, uprooted it, freeing us....”
Then, towards the end in remarkable words the Holy Father reminds me of that Elderly Woman who grabbed my wrist, of homeless people I know who, in all their pain pray constantly for everyone, of so many “...who in silence, in deeds not words, strive to practice the Evangelical law of and women of all ages, who realise that it is not worth condemning, complaining or recriminating, that it is better to respond to evil doing good.....”
As Pope Benedict urges so I pray that we will all: “...listen to Mary’s voice. Let us hear her silent but pressing appeal. She tells each one of us that wherever sin increases, may grace overflow all the more, first in our hearts, and then in our lives!”


This is really the season of Our Lady, for she carries the Child. In Advent the heart moves in rhythm with her life. God bent to a woman and the world heard the words: “Hail Mary, full of grace!” She was going to be the Mother of God. A little girl, beholding the vision of an angel, spoke the truth. In doing so, she gave us a lesson in humility. “May it be done to me according to your word.” We rejoice in Mary because she always brings us her Son.”

from: "Last Word", by the Servant of God, Catherine Doherty