Friday, December 31, 2010


As I write more than half the world’s population has already entered the first year of the second decade of this new millennium and, having checked the BBC news, the ongoing story of human suffering, from war, terrorism, weather extremes, the continued expanse of poverty, remains as old as the human yearning for peace, dignity, hope.

As he ushered in the Holy Year to begin the new millennium, Pope John Paul noted in a homily for January 1st, 2000, then and now both the Solemnity of Mary our Mother and the World Day of Prayer for Peace, that: “We are beginning to write a new page of history. Yesterday evening we looked back at the past, at how the world was when the second millennium began. Today, beginning the Year 2000, we cannot but wonder about the future: what direction will the great human family take in this new phase of its history?”

Eighteen months later, a date seared in human memory as 9/11, we crossed a new threshold into a reality, still ongoing, of persistent hatred and terrorism.

As we leave the first decade of the new millennium and begin the second Pope Benedict, in his message for this day, states very simply and powerfully: “The world needs God………..Peace is a gift of God and at the same time a task which is never fully completed. A society reconciled with God is closer to peace……..peace is the result of a process of purification and of cultural, moral and spiritual elevation involving each individual and people, a process in which human dignity is fully respected……..”

Pope Leo XIII was both the last Pontiff of the 19th century and the first of the 20th and directing his words in the first instance to the people of France, who in 1892 were in the midst of real anti-Church, anti-Catholic struggle, foresaw the very concerns of Pope Benedict XVI about the tremendous pressure brought against believers by political and cultural forces in our day: “First of all, let us take as a starting-point a well-known truth admitted by all men of good sense and loudly proclaimed by the history of all peoples; namely, that religion, and religion only, can create the social bond; that it alone maintains the peace of a nation on a solid foundation….”

During the protracted negotiations after the armistice which ended the fighting of World War 1, Pope Benedict XV expressed his concerns, noting: “There is no need from us of long proof to show that society would incur the risk of great loss if, while peace is signed, latent hostility and enmity were to continue among the nations. There is no need to mention the loss of all that maintains and fosters civil life, such as commerce and industry, art and literature, which flourish only when the nations are at peace. But what is even more important, grave harm would accrue to the form and essence of the Christian life, which consists essentially in charity and the preaching of which is called the Gospel of peace.”

I mention the above from Popes Leo and Benedict to stress the critical importance, in the midst of all the traditional secular celebrating that occurs with New Year’s Day, it IS the World Day of Prayer for Peace.

The secular world is very adept at urging various forms of solidarity for basically important causes such as disaster relief, protection of the environment, democratic, civil, human rights for everyone – but these humanitarian efforts will never achieve their goal, no matter how laudable, if we forget who we are: human beings, that is redeemed persons who, cut off from Jesus, ultimately, can achieve nothing, but in Him and with Him, all things are possible.

“The world needs God.”

Saturday, December 25, 2010



Thanks to the internet each year nowadays we can participate in the Holy Father’s Midnight Mass streamed live from Rome, listen to the powerful words of his homily, words which flow from a true shepherd’s and childlike heart.

In the days leading up to Christmas this year as I prayed for the whole human family, the Church, the suffering Priesthood, especially for those who in so many countries suffer from violence, for those Christians who are persecuted for their faith, I was drawn not to contemplate the various scenes, such as above, of the great event of Jesus’ birth but rather this one:

In his book “The Return of The Prodigal Son”, Fr. Henri Nouwen uses this famous painting as template for his reflections, stressing the homecoming aspect of the encounter between father and son.

In the Prologue he notes that it is ultimately a “…walking step by step toward the One who awaits me with open arms and wants to hold me in an eternal embrace.”

It is Jesus Holy Child who reveals to us that God indeed is Abba, THE Father and how our very existence from the moment of our creation, even if for whatever reason we are not always conscious of it, is this step by step walking towards His eternal embrace.

Yet the very movement of the father in the Gospel standing at the edge of the road scanning the horizon to await first glimpse of his returning son, tells us that Our Father steps more quickly towards us, and I would say more consistently, than we toward Him.

Thus these powerful words from Pope Benedict’s Homily during Midnight Mass: “God has anticipated us with the gift of His Son. God anticipates us again and again in unexpected ways. He does not cease to search for us, to raise us up as often as we might need. He does not abandon the lost sheep in the wilderness to which it has strayed. God does not allow Himself to be confounded by our sin. Again and again He begins afresh with us. But He is still waiting for us to join Him in love. He loves us, so that we too may become people who love, so that there may be peace on earth.”

Saturday, December 18, 2010


As we know the expression “thin skinned” refers to someone who almost instantaneously reacts to a perceived slight, or actual negative whatever, and subsequently, if not simultaneously, over reacts.

I swear these days, unwittingly, my skin is so thin as to be translucent and so is John Everett’s. Lucille on the other hand is a woman of profound inner peace but I also have told her that between John and I, his adopted Dad, and the three little ones, she really is the mother of five.

John and Lucille are still in the extreme early stages of grieving with the earthly death of Dominic and with Christmas approaching things are tough on everyone.

At such times, try as everyone might to remain centered on Jesus, focused on the needs of others, emotions are like a roller-coaster ride.

It is crucial at such times to be on guard for satan can trip us up rather easily when we are weakened by emotions or too much thinking and then the grief, the sense of powerless in the face of death or any serious loss either pours out in quiet tears and ache, or explodes into some form of misunderstanding or hurt directed at the very ones we love and who themselves are burdened with, struggling through, the raw reality of grief.

Yesterday one trusted friend sent their own Guardian Angel to help me and another said I had pushed down too much of my own grief while trying to be present and serve the family and that if I did not express, simply, gently, my own grief, it would pour out unexpectedly, and in a manner which might cause others pain.

Well that happened, triggered unexpectedly and now after a night of little sleep, much profound, yes shame, and no little confusion, fear too because I have really messed up with John and Lucille, in a word done the absolute opposite of what I have been trying to do since Dominic died, namely turned from an affirming, loving, supportive presence, into yet again a thin-skinned over reacting person everyone wants to just keep their distance from.

Lest you are worried this is heading to a ‘woe is me’ diatribe, quite the contrary – for since Advent is the time of awaiting for the All-Merciful One to be born amongst and for us as a child, coming to bring to us though His life, Passion, Death, Resurrection, fullness of forgiveness, Advent then is a time of waiting to be touched by forgiveness, by love – however our waiting must be proactive, in a word I must make the first step towards other on the journey for forgiveness, first towards Jesus in the person[s] I have wronged and then towards Jesus one on one, preferably approaching Him on my knees with a child’s heart beside Him, with Him in the manger.

One great help is to do as a friend wrote to me. He was falling into depression and wanted nothing more than to abandon his vocation when he got a note on the back of a holy card which was of the Pieta.

My friend contemplated Jesus in the arms of His Mother, Our Lady cradling the lifeless adult body of the very Child she had cradled in her arms at His birth.

My friend asked Jesus if he could take His place and rest in Our Lady’s arms himself.

Jesus agreed and my friend rested in the arms of Our Blessed Mother and within moments he began to be filled with hope, trust, and re-commitment to his vocation.

So early this morning, while celebrating Holy Mass, I asked the same and already things are settling down. Grief, fear, confusion, hurt beginning to ease – but these are just the first baby steps on the journey of forgiveness which must be taken without knowing IF I will be forgiven, but certain “I” must truly, fully, forgive.

Thus, while praying about taking the next step, contact with John and Lucille, without any of self or self-need present, simply focused on Jesus and them, I heard echoing in my heart some words from C.S. Lewis and remembered and briefly re-visited an old classic The Secret Garden!

[The Holy Spirit, as we know, can use anything to bring us to His illumination of where the Father is asking us to follow Jesus.]

In his book A GREIF OBSERVED Lewis notes that: “Part of every misery is, so to speak, the misery’s shadow or reflection: the fact that you don’t merely suffer but have to keep on thinking about the fact that you suffer. I not only live each endless day in grief, but live each day thinking about living each day in grief.”

The roller-coaster of emotions as a mobious strip of unabated thinking!

No wonder nerves are frayed, tempers short, wrong words spoken, reactions over the top!

So where with Lewis’ observation is the Holy Spirit inviting me to follow Jesus?

Right into the arms of Our Lady Pieta every time the thinking cycle begins, as often and for as long as it takes, without expecting this struggle will be over anytime soon, or rather when I want.

Grief in its own way is a grace and grace unfolds according to His tender time table.

Right into the arms of Our Lady whenever I know I am sad, edgy, thin-skinned, needy and to hold her hand and walk simply towards and with, in this instance John and Lucille and if my first words must be asking forgiveness, then those are the right words, or if they must be words of a type of heads-up that I am having a rough, edgy day, those are the words which must be spoken.

Right into the arms of Our Lady accepting with joy and gratitude whatever John and Lucille in their own suffering are able to give and not expecting nor seeking more, again for as long as THEIR journey takes.

Thus I was brought in my turn to THE SECRET GARDEN, not to dwell there, rather that door was into another garden, the one the Holy Spirit was offering me to encounter Jesus in.

First, briefly, about the classic novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett: it is the story of an orphaned and emotionally wounded girl thrust into the home of a widowed and so hobbled by grief Uncle the man ignores his own crippled son and flees grief and people to travel the world in pointless flight.

After, on one of his rare passages back to the home, the widowed father experiences inner stillness by a stream he risks going through the garden door and soon the family is regenerated.

As the human family all our collective and personal disintegration is rooted in the Garden of Eden, compounded by our own experiences of deeper disintegration through own sins and sins inflicted upon us by others.

It is in the Garden of Agony that Jesus takes upon and into Himself all disintegration, sin and the consequences of sin, for every human being as one family and for each person.

There is the third Garden, the secret yet not secret Garden of the Resurrection, which within each of us is accessible in the core of our being, where Jesus knocks at the garden door, the door of our being, asking to be invited in. [cf. Rv.3:20]

The Lord Himself tells us that as His beloved we are indeed a garden enclosed [cf. Sg. Of Sg. 4:12].

It is this enclosed garden, the heart which is the true dwelling-place where I am, where I live and it is the place both of quest and encounter, for it is the heart, my heart, that prays, enters into communion of love dialogue with Jesus, with the Father, with the Holy Spirit, so the heart is also the place of attentive listening, accepting, of truth and obedience, of fiat, yes and of suffering and grief, for it is also the place of sweetness of love and joy, thus the whole mystery of salvation continues to unfold in the heart at prayer therefore in my heart, in the entire I of being, I must be present to Him with whom I am speaking! [cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church #’s 2563, 2710, 2562, 2655, 2700]

So in and from the garden, the heart, the journey of forgiveness begins, which means risking vulnerability, interiorly to embrace the grief and fear and confusion, exteriorly to not hide it from others so they will know when I am edgy, not for them to change anything, but for me to be simple and accept this is a very human, filled with the unexpected, journey, this grief and all it contains, this in imitation of Jesus loving and forgiving.

Risky, scary?

You bet!

Which is why I have a tight grip of Our Lady’s hand and no way am I letting go!

Thursday, December 16, 2010


A few years ago a Canadian Bishop went public, rather humbly, about his chronic depression and that it had gotten to the point where he was taking a leave of absence to get some serious treatment.

It remains, for me and many who find themselves, even if only rarely burdened with the darkness of falling seemingly with no end, into the pit of such emotional, and at times, spiritual darkness, an example of humble acceptance of suffering. is the link to John and Lucille Everett’s Blog where they write likewise with humble openness about the pit of grief with the unexpected death, that is crossing of the threshold from life on earth to life in heaven, of their fourth child, their little son Dominic.

What strikes me both about their witness and that of the Bishop is the absence of self-pity.

I will be honest and admit, for myself, whenever the devil of the pit, for the evil one like the hyena he is attacks when we are wounded and vulnerable, tries to succeed as he almost has done today, in tricking me away from striving to surrender to oneness with Jesus, when I know Jesus Himself, in the Garden and on the Cross, entered the pit before and for us, and I give into bending towards myself and feeling sorry for myself, then really the falling is into even deeper darkness.

So I needed, by grace if I was to not waste time on self, to re-visit in particular what John and Lucille have written, which I have done and that in turn reminded me of words from Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, in his book: THE HOLY SPIRIT in the Life of Jesus, for also of late I have been experiencing a rather ferocious return of the PTSD, itself a tricky thing that satan can attempt to take advantage of so my gaze and focus shifts from Jesus and His beauteous and merciful love, from being hidden and servant of others, to a preoccupation with self.

Fr. Cantalamessa writes: “Being tempted is one aspect of Christ’s sufferings. St. Paul’s words: ‘In my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of His body, which is the Church’ (Col. 1:24) are therefore true also when said about being tempted: In my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the temptations of Christ on behalf of His body, which is the Church! The members ought to share in the struggle of the Head, just as one day they will share in His complete victory and glory. This is a universal law: it holds good for every type of suffering, even for that special suffering, temptation and the struggle against the devil.”

So there quite starkly is the choice: when suffering, tempted choose oneness with Jesus or, bluntly, choose self!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010


In his homily for the First Sunday of Advent, Pope Benedict makes two points which really struck my heart and which I have been using for meditation.

The first is where the Holy Father notes we have begun: “….a new liturgical year, a new journey of faith….”

So I posed to the Lord in prayer this: “What exactly is this ‘newness’, of what does it consist and how can I embrace it?”

After some time sitting with those questions I found myself ‘looking’ around this world which for decades now seems to be wandering, at times deliberately heading, into ever deeper regions of the culture of death, hatred, anti-Christian anger, economic chaos, ever greater impoverishment of family life, dignity of labour, replacing pure heart beauty for forms of art which degrade, confuse, and even exalt evil.

Then I realized that most people I know, myself included, on the threshold of any ‘new’ year, liturgical or that which is still a month away, the secular ‘new’ year, once the threshold is crossed we rarely experience much more than the chronological ‘new’, for we are still who we are!

So: where to encounter, how to discover the content of, and embrace, the new?

The answer is found in the second ‘new’ the Holy Father speaks of as the ‘new journey of faith’, which if we willingly begin it becomes a renewed entering, more consciously, deliberately, attentively, it is to be hoped and the grace asked for, into both preparation for Jesus’ return in glory at the end of earthly time and history, and preparation for a deeper encounter with Jesus at His birth, and subsequently throughout the liturgical year greater communion with Him through the unfolding journey of His earthly life with Him, especially within the depths of the Paschal Mystery.

This means what is referred to as praxis: the real, nitty-gritty living out of the Gospel of Love, Charity, Life, with our lives without compromise.

Therein, drawing once more from the words of the Holy Father, we will in this ‘new’ not only remember “…the event of Jesus Christ…” but shall find ourselves fearlessly opening ever wider the doors of our being to Jesus to “….ultimate fulfillment.”

The Holy Father then moves onto reflections about the Advent reality of “waiting” stressing that we are “…alive so long as…” we are in the reality of waiting, with hope alive in our hearts.

Within this waiting with hope in our hearts we will find ourselves asking: “What am I waiting for? For what, in this moment of my life, does my heart long?”

I found the examples of waiting the Holy Father used to be gentle, common to most human beings, tender almost.

Given the great cry of the Church for Herself, Her children, for the whole human family in this season of grace is: “Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!”, other waiting people have come to my heart, those who cry without hope and those so beaten down or terrified they simply cry:

Into the hearts and grief of parents who have lost a child: Come Lord Jesus.

Into the hearts and yearning of those abandoned in nursing homes without family visitors or anyone aware of their loneliness; those languishing in hospitals, palliative care hostels, refugee camps: Come Lord Jesus.

Into the hearts and anxiety of those in prison, on death row, in labour camps: Come Lord Jesus.

Into the hearts and longing for peace of all men, women, children living in countries at war, where terrorists attack, in nations where the state oppresses the people: Come Lord Jesus.

Into the hearts and longing for life, freedom, love of child soldiers, child labourers, children sold into slavery, prostitution, children homeless on the street, children who live in places where they are abused in any manner and hunger to be rescued and protected: Come Lord Jesus.

Into the hearts and hope for work of the unemployed, the under employed; into their yearning for better working conditions of those forced to work in dangerous mines, factories, forests, oceans: Come Lord Jesus.

Into the hope of returning home at shifts end: for first responders, military men and women and into the same yearning of their families: Come Lord Jesus.

Into the agony of falsely accused priests, priests abandoned by their bishops, priests yearning for reconciliation and restoration: Come Lord Jesus.

Into the yearning for true meaning in life, the hope there is a God, of people who do not believe or who have suffered loss of faith: Come Lord Jesus.

Into every human heart and life: Come Lord Jesus.

Yes O Jesus in the depths of our hearts and souls, in the profound yearning of our lives, we await You O Jesus, trusting You will stoop down to us, hearing our cry, come and help us and then every face will turn towards You and grow brighter. [cf. Psalms 33, 34, 40]

Friday, November 26, 2010


In baseball, as we know, make it to third and you have a real chance of rounding the bases to home plate.

You can also start the journey with a base hit and make it to first, or stay steady and ball four will get you there too!

Third strike and you are out!

There are nine innings, a multiple of three.

Hockey has three periods.

Score three goals and you have, I am not sure why it is called this: a hit trick!

There are Three Divine Persons, yet one God.

A trinity of love!

Christ died at three in the afternoon.

Christ rose on the third day.

The right order of relationships is God: first.

My neighbour, which means every member of my family, everyone I know, every human being: second.

I am [should be, ought to be, if I weren’t, to be blunt, a needy person]: third!

Some months ago praying to the Sacred Heart I heard within me: “Accept what is offered with joy and gratitude and do not seek more.”

Frankly, I hate being third [especially when I am suffering anxiety or feeling vulnerable or just needing to have someone pay attention to my needs for a change!].

It’s crappy, lonely, unfair – emotionally that is, not in reality – for Christ is real and He embodies being third, always placing His Father, and us, His neighbours whom He calls His friends, second.

The Gospels are fully of examples of this, as, if I be honest, is my own life where Jesus is always present, even when, actually especially when, I don’t want to be bothered!

Being third: smacks way too much of His earthly loneliness, of the garden, the cross, yep His being alone in the tomb.

For the past few days I have been anticipating a nice evening at the hockey game.

A respite, from the stress of late, from the grief over Dominic’s death.

The person I was to go with, actually as a birthday gift to a REAL hockey fan, just cancelled.

I sure want to give into anger, frustration, – but – you see [1] there is that word from His Heart.

It is Friday.

There is that pesky right order of relationships. [2]

It is three in the afternoon.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Since I last posted anything here the PTSD has flared almost every day, and night.

For me, and many PTSD sufferers, one pernicious aspect is constant anxiety/panic/fear.

To help understand what this feels like remember some point in life when, because of an unexpected very loud bang you literally jumped and recall the rush of adrenaline, the scary feeling it triggered.

Now, imagine feeling like that twenty-four seven!

The doctors have made two things very clear: 1] it is probable I will suffer from PTSD the rest of my life, sometimes intensely, sometimes much less so and 2] even a little thing can trigger a major attack.

Well an example of a little thing happened the other day when coming to a stop sign I skidded on black ice halfway into the intersection before the car stopped!

However I was on my way to serve in the soup kitchen so even though I was experiencing a huge spike in the panic state, by the grace of God and the intercession of a new heavenly companion I was able to continue on my way and spend the day serving.

My new heavenly companion is named Dominic and he was only with us on earth for a few months and those spent in the womb and heart of his mother, and the heart of his father and siblings.

Because I am the closest family member I was called to help, the night Dominic unexpectedly went to heaven; spent time caring for his siblings while his parents were at the hospital; several days thereafter helping as best I could to console and pray with the family.

I was honoured to be present when their parish priest [obviously being forbidden to exercise public ministry was there ‘in the pew’] celebrated not so much a funeral Mass as one celebrating the gift of life and love and, through the kindness of the Knights of Columbus, burial was in a special and most sacred section of the Catholic cemetery beneath a large granite wall listing the names and earthly and heavenly birthdays of many little ones.

Truly holy ground, but also to be in the presence of grieving parents is to be on holy ground, to recognize, honour, the extraordinary courage of faithful spouses and parents who choose life, and to build up the civilization of love, in the midst of this culture of death.

With the relentless assault on faith, on the sacredness of life, on the reality of sacramental marriage, to be in the presence of Dominic’s parents is to be bathed in light and indeed in hope, hope and trust that little by little the darkness of the culture of death is being pushed back, or at least fractured, by faithful families.

During that night when Dominic died, while his little sister and two little brothers slept and his parents where at the hospital, I lit a votive light before the family’s statue of Our Blessed Mother and spent time in prayer, profoundly aware of a new heavenly companion even while the PTSD flared.

By the grace of God when the little ones awoke, and accepted my simple word Mama was not feeling well and so Papa took her to the doctor, my attention was focused on caring for the children and so it was not until late that evening, back here in the poustinia, now knowing my new Heavenly Companion’s name, I asked him to obtain a word for me that would help me be present to his parents in their grief, to his siblings, help with my own grief and also to help with the extreme weariness of weeks of the PTSD flaring.

Suddenly I saw in my heart the Holy Child Jesus Himself reaching down and taking Dominic by the hand and heard in my heart: “Friend, come higher!”, and watched as a radiant Little Boy with a great smile went with Jesus.

More, as it were both seen and heard, now Jesus as Divine Mercy was speaking to my own heart directly with the same tender invitation: “Friend, come higher onto the Cross with Me, come deeper into oneness with Me in My anxiety in the Garden, come closer to My aloneness on the Cross and be with Me!”

Ever since then the presence of Dominic is palpable, real, constant.

Just yesterday his mother told me how frequently she has asked his intercession with powerful results.

Our God who is love is never outdone in generosity.

The raw pain of loss will take months to heal, as is a normal part of the grace and mystery of life and death.

Jesus is risen, so death is not an end, but a glorious change of life in time to the timelessness of eternal joy.

Jesus is risen and so we dwell in the reality of the Communion of Saints.

Let us have confidence in all our Heavenly Companions as they call us to come higher into deeper friendship with, intimate confidence in, Jesus.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Another Great Suggestion

A friend sent this which is also a great link:

There is much you can heal through prayer and the rosary. I found a great website that has a link that allows you to pray the rosary with others. It is just fantastic and I feel it is important to share good finds with others.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Thanks to a friend's blog!

October is the month of the Holy Rosary, so I would like to share some of my favorite quotes about the rosary:

“Never will anyone who says his Rosary every day be led astray. This is a statement that I would gladly sign with my blood.” Saint Louis de Montfort

“You shall obtain all you ask of me by the recitation of the Rosary.” Our Lady to Blessed Alan de la Roche

“Give me an army saying the Rosary and I will conquer the world.” Pope Blessed Pius IX

“When the Holy Rosary is said well, it gives Jesus and Mary more glory and is more meritorious than any other prayer.” Saint Louis de Montfort

“One day, through the Rosary and the Scapular, Our Lady will save the world.” Saint Dominic

“If you say the Rosary faithfully unto death, I do assure you that, in spite of the gravity of your sins, ‘you will receive a never-fading crown of glory’ (1 St. Peter 5:4).” Saint Louis de Montfort

“You must know that when you ‘hail’ Mary, she immediately greets you! Don’t think that she is one of those rude women of whom there are so many—on the contrary, she is utterly courteous and pleasant. If you greet her, she will answer you right away and converse with you!” Saint Bernardine of Siena

“Recite your Rosary with faith, with humility, with confidence, and with perseverance.” Saint Louis de Montfort

“The Rosary is the most beautiful and the most rich in graces of all prayers; it is the prayer that touches most the Heart of the Mother of God…and if you wish peace to reign in your homes, recite the family Rosary.”

Pope Saint Pius X

“Even if you are on the brink of damnation, even if you have one foot in hell, even if you have sold your soul to the devil as sorcerers do who practice black magic, and even if you are a heretic as obstinate as a devil, sooner or later you will be converted and will amend your life and will save your soul, if—and mark well what I say—if you say the Holy Rosary devoutly every day until death for the purpose of knowing the truth and obtaining contrition and pardon for your sins.” Saint Louis de Montfort

“The Most Holy Virgin in these last times in which we live has given a new efficacy to the recitation of the Rosary to such an extent that there is no problem, no matter how difficult it is, whether temporal or above all spiritual, in the personal life of each one of us, of our families…that cannot be solved by the Rosary. There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary.” Sister Lucia of Fatima

“How beautiful is the family that recites the Rosary every evening.” Pope John Paul II

“The Rosary is a magnificent and universal prayer for the needs of the Church, the nations and the entire world.”

by Pope John XXIII

“The holy Rosary is a powerful weapon. Use it with confidence and you’ll be amazed at the results.”

by St. Josemaria Escriva

“When lovers are together, they spend hours and hours repeating the same thing: I love you! What is missing in the people who think the Rosary monotonous, is Love.” Sr. Lucia of Fatima

do visit:

Friday, October 15, 2010


Dictionaries define agony as extreme mental or physical suffering, struggle and to agonize is to writhe in anguish, to wrestle.

In the Garden, more than any human being ever in history, past, present, future, Jesus embraced all aspects of agony and anguish, taking upon Himself the greatest portion of all agony/anguish any human being ever has, or will, endure – indeed taking it on for each of us as an individual and for all humanity collectively.

Therefore when we are in the seemingly bottomless abyss of agony we should know that we are not alone.

However most of us have experienced, at some point in our lives, such immense agony that the cacophony of our raw emotions screaming their apparently never to end pain deafens the ears of our hearts.

At such times because hyena that he is, preying on the wounded and weakened by agony, the evil one adds his own howl of despair so that noise engulfs us, a noise of helplessness– sometimes to the very edge of the abyss.

When that happens, when agony morphs into depression/despair, when the person has become so overwhelmed with anguish the necessary strength to wrestle with demons seems to have evaporated, either they suffer a complete breakdown or worse, seeking to end the pain, take their own lives.

In my experience as chaplain in hospitals with psychiatric wards, listening to people suffering depression and those who had attempted suicide I was struck by a common denominator: a profound desire to no longer be in anguish, to end the pain of the agony.

I have never met anyone who wanted to stop living.

I met people who simply no longer wanted to hurt.

Yesterday through the night, and today, I have spent in prayer for the soul of yet another priest who took his own life, supposing thereby that his agony would be over.

Had I written yesterday these pages would have been filled with fury directed towards the unknown bishop[s] who abandoned him, the unknown persons who, for whatever reason, failed to see how much pain the priest was in.

There is another type of agony/anguish described by the Servant of God, Catherine Doherty, and so while begging prayer for the souls of all priests who commit suicide, for healing for all priests in despair, and for an end to all forms of abuse and the healing of the victims, I end with these words from Catherine, for how urgently must we call cry out so none believe they are alone or without hope:

“There is an agony that cannot be told in writing or in words. It is the agony of soul and heart of a person in love with God, one who stands at the corner of streets and thoroughfares, in big cities and little towns, begging, imploring, cajoling, crying out: ‘Listen to me! Listen to the words that come through my heart. They are not my words. They are the words of God. He wants to be loved. He came into this world to redeem it, to make us love one another. He died on the cross out of love for us.’” [cf. Urodivoi – 3rd edition, p. 23 – Madonna House Publications]

Saturday, October 02, 2010


I found another of those pieces of paper with quotations on it earlier today. The following quotation is from Pope Paul VI and is placed here for mediation:

WE ALL – YOU, ME, EVERYONE – need a solid basis on which to build the edifice of the spiritual life.

The foundation for me comes in two words, two concepts of St. Augustine.

The great mystery of God for me has always been this: that in my MISERIA I still find myself before the MISERICORDIA of God; that I am nothing, wretched; yet God the Father loves me, wants to save me, wants to heal me out of this MISERIA, something I am incapable of doing left to myself.

Then the Father sends His Son, a Son who represents God’s mercy [MISERICORDIA], Who translates it into an act of love towards me, an act of complete self-abandonment to the Father because He must save me too, wretched as I am. But a special grace is needed for this, the grace of conversion. I have to recognize God the Father’s action in His Son in my regard. Once I acknowledge that, God can work in me through His Son: He gives me grace, the grace of Baptism. After the grace of being reborn to God’s life, my life becomes a tension of love, with God drawing me towards Himself. And the loving hand of God draws me onwards towards His mercy, which raises me up when I fall; I have to fix my gaze on Him to be drawn upwards yet again.

Always in all of us, there is this tension between my MISERIA and God’s MISERICORDIA. The whole spiritual life of every one of us lies between those two poles. If I open myself to the action of God and the Holy Spirit and let them do with me what They will, then my tension becomes joyous and I feel within myself a great desire to come to Him and receive His mercy; more than ever I recognize the need to be forgiven, to receive the gift of mercy. Then I feel the need to say grazie, grazie, grazie, thanks, thanks, thanks. And so my whole life becomes a grazie[gratia/thanksgiving/Eucharist] to God because He has saved me, redeemed me, drawn me to Himself in love. It is not anything I have done in my life that saves me, but God’s mercy.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


I have been meditating for a several days on this word from the Servant of God, Catherine Doherty: “He who dwells in the heart of God is aflame with love, and sets on fire everyone he touches.”

As symbol fire most often is referenced in connection with the Most Holy Spirit: shown at Pentecost in the tongues of fire upon the Apostles.

Indeed the Catechism of the Catholic Church [# 696} teaches: …fire symbolizes the transforming energy of the Holy Spirit’s actions.

Since His first sacramental action takes place within us at Baptism, this can be seen as the moment when such transforming energy is at work within us – and, in a sense, is amplified with every subsequent sacrament we receive, most especially with the Holy Eucharist, for it is the action of the Holy Spirit which brings about transubstantiation.

Especially at Pentecost we cry out to the Holy Spirit asking Him to enkindle within us ‘the fire of Your love.’ This is the fire which Jesus Himself tells us He yearns to spread about the earth.

Catherine in her words is challenging us to dwell within the depths of baptismal reality, to know in Whom we ‘live and move and have our being’ and that we should act within/from this profound communion of love.

So, how is it then that this fire within us is not being spread to everyone we touch?

Perhaps we do not ask the Holy Spirit for more, in a word to not only enkindle, but rekindle, this fire within us, more and more and more.

Perhaps we fear this fire, which purifies and animates.

For most of us it is difficult to discern the difference been punishment and purification, because the intensity is similar.

There is a wonderful story, quoted by Fr. Robert Pelton is his book CIRCLING THE SUN, from the Fathers of the Desert.

Briefly one of the monks, who led a faithful life, came to the Elder and, after telling the Elder how he was faithful to the necessary, wondered what more he could do.

Silently the Elder stands, stretches out his hands from which flow streams of fire and the Elder tells the monk: “If you want you can become a living flame.”

Jesus is the living flame, the living fire of love and by baptism we become immersed in the fire of Christ’s love, members grafted onto the Mystical Body of Christ, hence onto the fire.

It is the Holy Spirit who makes us living flames, if we will only ask.

Imagine how the culture of darkness would be dispelled if all the baptized became living flames!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

We become....................

It is evening of the first Sunday of the fall season, and in this northern city the leaves began changing weeks ago and the ground, streets, sidewalks, are covered with a golden leaf carpet.

I have been carrying a conversation in my heart for some days now, which I had with a young adult: in search of a deeper relationship with Christ.

In search of their vocation: yet experiencing an inability to decide, to commit, as they readily admitted, something more and more common among this generation than in previous ones.

It was a comment from one of you who read this, and thank-you always for your kind words and I do pray for you all, which motived me to compose this.

The comment was about “…who we turn our eyes to. It is He.”

We become what we contemplate!

The person who spoke with me at some length admitted the countless hours they spend each day watching television, playing computer games, surfing the net.

In a word they are contemplating the restlessness and negativity, the violence and other disorders of the culture of death, more than they are contemplating Jesus and the things of Jesus.

How can I state that we become what we contemplate?

Try this at home, or in your rectory, wherever. Take a sheet of paper and simply note when you start something like tv or computer games… honest no matter what it is you watch….and by day’s end you will have a sense of how much time is spent with that.

Next day do the same thing with: prayer time, spouse time, children time, for priests the focus should be on time with Jesus in Holy Mass, Divine Office, adoration, visiting the sick.

Make any variation on the list you wish, the idea is to get an objective picture of just what has the most of my attention, or at least before whom/what I spend most of my time.

If I am a priest and spend more time with television or the net than I do in adoration or with Sacred Scripture, something is really off base because I will become what I contemplate.

If I am a wife, mother, husband, father and spend more time after the day’s necessary work is done watching soaps or sports than being with my children before it is their bedtime I will become what I contemplate.

We are speaking here too of a type of addiction: am I addicted to what is not essential to my holy vocation, my relationship with real people or is Jesus, is my vocation and those real people within it, my prime focus, my prime love?

The young adult who spoke with me was shocked when I suggested the first step in discernment and commitment is a choice to shift my prime attention, my prime contemplation, away from what distracts and numbs to a focus upon and contemplation of the One who fulfills us, Jesus.

I am not opposed to television. I have one, under obedience, in the poustinia. But I keep a cloth hung over it and on the cloth a picture of a priest celebrating Holy Mass to remind me that television is to be used sparingly [though I admit this Sunday I did watch a barn burner of a football game!].

I have a computer and could easily misuse it by playing games or surfing, so the screen saver and background image is of Jesus, Divine Mercy.

The choice of what/whom we contemplate is one which we must struggle to make throughout each day – but if we embrace that struggle then we will become like Him whom we contemplate.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Three great struggles have become part of my daily life: how do I stop trying to figure out what this latest assault from the bishop is all about?; how far do you push against someone who seems to have, humanly speaking, all the power?; how do you have intimate confidence in Jesus and stay still with Him on the Cross rather than writhing all day long trying to get down from it?

Obviously of all three questions/struggles, the critical one is the third.

A first hint/clue to the answer is found in these words from Pope Benedict from a recent homily during his visit to Great Britain: “….the…crucifix….portrays Christ’s body, crushed by suffering, overwhelmed by sorrow, the innocent victim whose death has reconciled us with the Father and given us a share in the very life of God.”

I certainly want, like I believe most baptized people, to take up my cross each day and follow Him – but in this union with Him I surely do not want to be crushed nor overwhelmed.

This is the great dilemma for anyone seeking to truly be His disciple – if we say yes, even tentatively, He takes us at our word.

Then when unsought after suffering hits us – sudden death of a loved one, loss of a job, serious illness or injury, being battered or abused, rejected, abandoned, falsely accused – we become in reality crushed and overwhelmed.

Our emotions flare, running the entire gambit from fearful anger and powerlessness, to serious faith-doubt to a desperate need to flee, to escape, in a word to get down from the cross, because it’s all nuts!

So I return to the first two struggles/questions: how do I stop trying to figure out what this latest assault from the bishop is all about?; how far do you push against someone who seems to have, humanly speaking, all the power?

Pope Benedict also said in the same homily: “The Lord’s outstretched arms seem to embrace…..”

Just what does this embrace entail for those who suffer?

A miraculous cure of the cancer, a sudden offer of a new job, restoration of a decaying marriage, sudden end of abuse or violence or……

Not normally.

What then?

Why submit, much less yearn for, His embrace, if apparently His embrace doesn’t end suffering?

Sure an embrace, a hug, from someone who loves us can be momentarily comforting but if I am in a cancer ward, for example, once the embrace is done, the loved one leaves, I remain there alone, in pain.

To be blunt: often Christ’s embrace seems more like being bound than comforted!

Jesus’ words to Peter apply here: unsought after suffering is indeed an experience of having our outstretched hands bound by another and being led where we really would rather not go! [cf. Jn. 21:18ff.]

That is also the last time in the Holy Gospels when Jesus says yet again: “Follow Me.”!

As loving and comforting as Christ’s embrace IS, His embrace also contains within it an act of uniting, IF we are willing, our own sufferings, fears, experience of being crushed and overwhelmed, uniting primarily NOT our sufferings with His, rather becoming in union with Jesus Himself, a union of love, from which flows the uniting of participatory suffering.

Pope Benedict notes this union also includes: “…our own needs, hopes and aspirations, to the infinite merits of His sacrifice. Through Him, with Him, and in Him, we lift up our own bodies as a sacrifice holy and acceptable to God….In this sense we are caught up in His eternal oblation…..”.

Within all our struggles and suffering, if we accept His embrace, then not only are we no longer alone, even if still crushed and overwhelmed: we are in the depths of His own agony for the redemption of the world.

A friend told me the other day of their immense anger not only because of their great suffering, anger too at God, but especially anger at themselves because they will NOT say no to Jesus!

Beneath all their emotional turmoil, in the depths of their heart and soul shines this incredible intimate confidence in Jesus.

I get it! The anger bit I mean!

How I would love to lash out, to forego His embrace, to get down from the cross, cut the bonds, run away by……..yeah, that’s the rub…..the only way to do that is to stop being in love with HIM!

Yes, there are not three answers to the questions, but one alone: Jesus!

It may seem trite and is often miss-asked but in the face of everything that crushes, overwhelms, confuses, angers, there is only one real question to ask and then in the depths of which questing to be still: What would Jesus do?

“Let me kiss him…Tell me, you whom my soul loves, where you shepherd your flock….Show me your face…cause me to hear your voice….” [cf. Song of Songs]

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


It is one of those so clear and powerful words of Jesus that even if we can’t give the citation we do have it etched deep in our hearts – sometimes as an almost enticing call of love from Him, perhaps sometimes as a rather scary word, but never forgotten, always struggled with: IF YOU WOULD BE MY DISCIPLE, TAKE UP YOUR CROSS, AND FOLLOW ME.

To take something up, i.e. to pick it up, means to carry it.

When I was a teenager working all winter long as a lumberjack in the northern bush we were cutting timbers for coal mines – each log no less than six inches at the narrow end and no less than eight feet long.

We worked one hundred yards either side of the bush road, felling trees laden with snow, which once felled would land in the three feet or more deep snow on the forest floor.

The trees had to be de-branched, cut into sections and then carried out to the bush road and stacked in cords.

If, as happened most nights, it had snowed during the night then the walk into the site, the walk carrying the first few logs until a path was trodden, was a challenge and you quickly got used to ignoring being drenched in falling snow while felling the trees, scrapped and bruised carrying them.

We walked into the bush in the dark so we could begin work as the sun was rising and, because that far north, days are extremely short in the winter, we worked until dusk and then walked back out – five miles in, five miles out.

I am not telling you this so you get out the world’s tiniest violin and play ‘Poor Boy’ or some other lament!

But I would urge, in the first instance, an awareness of the millions of men, women, and children, who toil across the globe in even harsher circumstances.

The key memory for me of those days working in the bush is the sheer weight of the logs as I carried them, the rawness of my shoulder which bled profusely by the end of the day, torn even though we wore heavy work jackets, the adolescent fury of hot humiliation each time I tripped in the snow, falling face down, the heavy burden smashing into my back.

Decades later, concelebrating the Divine Liturgy of this day’s feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, carrying not a heavy log but a sweet smelling handful of purples leaves in the procession with the Bishop, suddenly I remembered those days in the bush and realized, what a grace, because, lightweight in comparison to the one, in all its physical and salvation added weight Christ carried, to be sure, yet because of those long months in the bush, in a physical sense at least, I know what to “take up” means.

Sometimes, I will admit, the logs were so heavy I could not carry them but had to pound a pick into one end and drag the thing to the edge of the road.

Daily I face that choice: to drag or carry – peaceful in the understanding that the emphasis in Jesus’ love-invitation is to follow Him and I don’t think He worries too much about when we actually carry, or drag, just so long as we are striving to be with Him.

At least that is what I draw from some thoughts of Paul Evdokimov in one of my favourite books for spiritual reading, his: THE STRUGGLE WITH GOD.

Evdokimov, speaking about the various stages of the spiritual life, the call, ultimately, to be one with Love Himself, fundamentally constitutes: “…..what the Gospel calls the personal cross of each man.”

This IS the first ‘weight’, if you will, we experience each morning when we take up our Cross, really His cross, anew each day and begin anew to follow Him – in a word to choose once more to be His disciple.

In point of fact, given the rapidity with which we traverse the pilgrimage of life from birth to death Evdokimov notes that: “This time is of short duration. The face of the Father takes on the face of the Son, and His cross casts its shadow within us.”

It is important here to understand this is not a dark, malevolent shadow, but actually is movement of the Holy Spirit who offers us the grace to take up, to follow, to be!

Indeed His Light is so brilliant the shadow cast is a dimension of light!

Certainly, just as happened to me in the bush overcome by exhaustion, the weight of the logs, when it comes to embracing the cross, our personal cross which is a sharing in His: “The brutal experience of our falls and weakness can fling us to the edge of despair. We are strongly tempted to cry out that it is an injustice that God expects too much from us, that our cross is heavier than that of others.”

Personally I believe such emotional reaction, frankly take it from an Italian, screaming out to God, is no big deal, rather it is a HUGE deal, in the best sense, because above all, at least with my deep-seated ego that since those days in the bush still wants to ‘go it alone’, being crushed to the point of knowing that “Cut off from Me you can do nothing!”, is a real grace, even if I have to be flat on the ground screaming, to get the point!

Thus Evdokimov also notes: “In moments of crushing solitude, humility alone can help us in recognizing the radical powerlessness of human nature. It inclines us to cast our whole being at the foot of the Cross, and then our heavy burden is lifted by Christ in our place: “Learn from Me….For My yoke is easy, and My burden light.””


The above link is to this work which is apparently out of print, but the whole thing is there online!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

9/11 - The Gaping Wound

Praying this morning not only for those murdered nine years ago on this day, but also for an end to hatred and violence throughout the world, I was remembering something seared in my heart when, sometime after that horrific day, I was at ground zero with a New York Firefighter friend.

My friend, who of course had been there like hundreds of other first-responders on that almost incomprehensible day of devastation, had asked me to come to New York to return to Ground Zero with him so he could grieve.

The above image of molten steel hardened on the beams in the shape of a cross, seared itself in my heart as a reminder of how Jesus not only embraced and then defeated all forms of hatred and death in His own Self and Self-Gift but in His Glorious Resurrection is our Way, Truth, Life.

Early this morning the above appeared in the blog

Having been in New York before the towers were built and after, it took some time, standing at the edge of the massive gaping wound in the earth, the city, the nation, the world, to comprehend and remember not merely the buildings but that human beings, our brothers and sisters in their thousands, had been there – one moment beginning an ordinary day, the next engulfed in unimaginable horror, which for so many was their last moment on earth.

We know the enormous courage and self-gift of the hundreds of Firefighters, Police and others, including a Catholic Priest, who rushed into the towers, laying down their lives for others.

It remains within me that awareness of immense self-sacrifice as the strongest memory of 9/11.

Nine years on the perpetrators of hatred remain violently active and fear of another attack sustains the memory of 9/11 as a gaping wound.

It is Saturday.

Our Lady’s Saturday as the Liturgical Calendar notes.

My prayer, through the intercession of Our Lady of La Salette on this day is very simple: that we honour truly the memory of all the victims of 9/11 by truly loving one another.

Only love is stronger than hatred and death.

Thursday, September 09, 2010


There is a line in a hymn used in the Divine Office, for example Tuesday of the 2nd week of Ordinary Time, for the Office of Readings, which has been a refrain in my heart for some time as a source of meditation.

Daily I choose a different part of the neighbourhood or local cemetery, if walking, or a different part of the city if on public transit, or in this northern city with its anywhere from seven months or more of winter, with the icy sidewalks, bus it to a mall for a walk – the point is those are special times each day to pray for the people, especially to pray they will know Jesus, to pray for their burdens, their needs.

I remember, since the anniversary is upon us, with so much swirling around it this year, being in New York shortly after 9/11 at the invitation of a New York Fire Fighter who wanted me to come down, spend a week in prayer for the city, walk the sacred ground with him to help him grieve, seeing innumerable faces of New Yorkers masked with fear.

Often times, when I move around this city, more and more and more faces wear that same mask.

It is a mask after-all, not the gifted face from the Holy Trinity to a human being born in the image and likeness of God.

Perhaps at some point in the midst of some trauma or abuse or disappointment the mask was noticed, being pro-offered by the hand of pain, or flight or some other dark emotion which had crafted it – or maybe it was after some sin inflicted upon self, or committed against another, or being violated by someone or caught in war or struggling down from the towers or watching them come down upon your brother Firefighters, the mask was offered by another, a creature more twisted and hideous even than the mask of fear itself.

There is the heart-wrenching yet tender moment in Genesis when, after their chosen act of sin Adam and Eve have gone into hiding – which itself points to their inner turmoil since who can hide from God? – when Love Himself comes looking for them.

How is it God could not see them? Simply He chose not to “see” them in then sense of “God saw-and it was good” of the creation moment.

Certainly He looked for them and upon them and towards them and spoke with them seeking answer for their hiding and Adam says: “I was afraid…..”

The first human being created in the image and likeness of God had accepted to put on the mask of fear, a mask formed by and offered to Adam by the very father of lies who had induced Adam to open the door of dark-fear into creation, into human life.

Across the millennia since then fear is a harsh component of human life.

Thus the line from the hymn mentioned above: WE ALL HAVE SECRET FEARS TO FACE….

Some of the fears appear not so secret and common to the larger world, the extended community, such as fear of extremists and terrorists, of a collapsing economy, or if you live in certain parts of the world fear of another earthquake, flood, drought, famine, civil war, suicide bomber, or if you are a woman or child in Darfur or the Congo or places hidden from scrutiny you live in constant fear of rape and abuse.


Perhaps you are elderly and alone and walking on crowded streets mugging is feared or just tripping and breaking a hip or you fear the day when family comes and packs you off to a nursing home among strangers – or – perhaps you are a wife and mother, or a child, living in a situation where you await in fear for the next onslaught of physical, emotional or sexual abuse, too terrified, indeed paralyzed by the fear to the point where you tell no one your secret.


In the Church of today priests carry a deep secret fear – for in the current climate where it certainly appears from their actions that bishops accept at face value any accusation about virtually anything from the most evil crime of abuse to financial mismanagement and move against priests in such a way as the priest is totally done for, without due process – the deep and secret fear is of being accused.

In all the examples sighted, of perhaps obvious secret fears that we may believe are secret within ourselves but are so widespread the stress in the wording of the prayer-hymn is, rightly, on the word WE – for this is a human affliction which cries out to heaven for relief – modern media does much harm by fanning those fears by constantly harping on the negative we all know, but rarely, if ever, proclaiming good news about how the causes of our fears are being overcome.

The common denominator and foundational root of all fear is a type of inner conviction, aided and promoted by the evil conveyor of fear: satan.

The secret fears we have to face are also exacerbated by our own analysis of the situation – hence even though he was ardently and lovingly sought by the Infinite of Infinite, Tender of Love Himself, Adam was afraid because he knew himself to be totally powerless before One greater, more powerful than himself.

When our secret fears have us in bondage, if we examine them/it objectively, we will discover an inner conviction that the threat/person triggers within us a profound awareness of being vulnerable, powerless and a deep sense there is no one, perhaps not even God, more powerful than what we fear.

Even though over and over and over again Jesus, in the Holy Gospel, tells us not to be afraid and over and over and over again offers us His peace, even we the baptized, these days, are extremely fearful, both communally such as regards terrorism, and bearing secret fears within ourselves.

Here He is, our fearlessness and our peace!

Pope John Paul, who endured many public fears in his life, such as what he and his nation endured under the Nazis in WWII, may well have had secret fears as well – certainly after he was shot he would have lived with the reality of being vulnerable to assassination and yet here we have the Great Pope who wrote an entire encyclical on Divine Mercy and urged, through the private revelations to St. Faustina, devotion to, that is absolute trust in, Divine Mercy.

Mercy, that is the lavishness of love and peace we so need in these anxious days of human history and in our own deep selves where secret fears dwell, is the core of the person and message of Jesus – the key, of course, is to choose to take OFF the mask of fear, even better to refuse it when offered in the first place; the key is, even if my emotions are spastic with deep terror, to choose with my will not only to say but to live: JESUS I TRUST IN YOU!

Towards the end of the hymn about secret fears we pray the truth that: The Gospel speaks…Your love…O help us live what we believe.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010


Today with the birth of Our Blessed Mother, within the entire graced reality of creation, of salvation history, an immense portal of light and hope has opened!

So O Holy Mother, how do we thank-you for your FIAT, for your love, your protection?

The ways are countless, even should we try and count them, for to love you is to heed your word spoken to us at Cana when you pointed to Jesus and urged us to have intimate confidence in Him and to live and be all He asks.

So indeed we love you to the ultimate “..depth and breadth and height..” our souls may reach and even when we may feel God is distant or nor human being on earth calls us by name, nonetheless even then we shall though “…feeling out of sight, for the ends of being and ideal grace…” we shall love you with our “..childhood’s faith”!

Indeed O Holy Mother Mary we shall love you with “..the breath, smiles, tears…” of our entire lives and, please that He should will it for all eternity we shall even “ you better after death.”

{see the sonnets of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Sonnet 43 – also of note it does seems, thanks to the hard work of our Webmaster, that we can once again update: }

Monday, August 30, 2010


Years ago a Rabbi penned a book which, at the time, was very popular, and in a sense dealt with the above question by discussing what impact there is upon a good person when bad things happen to them.

The Book of Job, a reference point for Rabbi Kushner whose faith was shaken by the death of his son, and many other parts of Sacred Scripture shed light on the goodness of God, to be sure, and His love for us, to be sure, and shine light on the whole, very human, emotional strain and confusion which hits us whenever we experience the incomprehensible, like the death of a child, or try being one of the Chilean miners or their families or an abused child still unreached by a rescuer or…………

To wonder under extreme stress if perhaps I am the one person God does NOT like should not be dismissed as merely a human reaction.

We need to recognize that within the darkness of our emotional pain lurks the same hateful deceiver who approached God and sought leave to break the faith and trust in God who is love within the heart and soul of Job.

Certainly I willingly admit that when my PTSD is triggered I often think I AM the one person God does not like – yet in truth our very existence testifies that we are beloved for we exist because Love Himself love’s us and has given us breath of life.

Many, many years ago a friend who struggled with depression and alcoholism, told me about the one word from Scripture he turned to whenever he felt not merely disliked by God, but hated by God and could feel himself slipping into the abyss of blackness which is depression or yearning to forgo sobriety and return to the bottle.

I awoke this morning totally stressed and confused by what the bishop dumped on me the other day, and his frankly callous and arrogant way of treating not merely a man, one of his flock, but a priest, one of his sons.

Since the Bishop stands in the place of the Good Shepherd emotionally, as I kept thinking, thinking, thinking it, God was doing this to me so obviously God doesn’t like me and then I shocked myself when I formed the thought: God hates me!

Just as suddenly I was given the grace to remember the Scripture my friend so loved, but it has taken until now, late in the evening, for me to truly open my being to this powerful word, this so human cry: Psalm 69!

There is, of course, the paradox that while our emotions, and the great deceiver, seek to convince God does not like us, the hunger to be loved actually urges a cry to Him:

“Save me, O God: for the waters are come even into my soul” ~ shock, extreme stress, depression, really do penetrate deep within our being and we can feel, and in a real sense are “….stuck fast in the muck….” and often we feel that this pain, rage, loneliness, chaos is indeed a massive “…tempest which has overwhelmed me.”

The Psalmist continues with blunt words about the growing strength of those “…who have wrongfully persecuted me….”, such enemies may be external in the human sense: false accusers, bigots, abusers, or the evil one who is involved in all enemy activity since he IS the essential enemy of every human being – or it may be our own emotions.

From the 6th to the 20th verse there is a mixture of real humility and almost a type of trying to convince God we are not so bad after all, that is we endure these things for Him so, the unspoken plea is, love me! Save me! Hear me! Love me!

Then, suddenly, verse 21: “And they gave me gall for my food, and in my thirst vinegar to drink.”

Now it becomes clear, the depths of the truth that we are beloved of God, for Matthew [27:34] and Mark [ 23:27] see the direct link from this Psalm to the mixture offered to Jesus on the Cross, which was refused by Him because it was a type of painkiller.

Jesus endured all to the last drop of His Blood and so in truth while the initial wail of the Psalmist and us is our own, it is Jesus who takes our wail into Himself and cries out to the Father.

In his Angelus address yesterday Pope Benedict reminds us that because of the entirety of the human condition Jesus “took the lowest place in the world ~the Cross~ and by this radical humility He redeemed us and constantly comes to our aid…..therefore, we gaze upon Christ as a model of humility and gratuity: from Him we learn patience in temptations, meekness when we are offended, obedience to God in suffering….”

The ‘lowest place’ Jesus takes on the Cross is not just in terms of societal position, but is also the lowest point in any human life – such as that into which the good Rabbi was plunged when his son died, or any incomprehensible depth of degradation, pain, aloneness imaginable, or experienced.

This IS where Jesus is because we ARE loved.

He comes to our aid not to immediately alleviate whatever we are enduring, but so that we are not alone. He Himself IS our endurance!

As I was finishing this I took a break to check the day’s mail. In it was my monthly copy of the Madonna House paper: Restoration.

It is late and I am tired so I was going to leave it for tomorrow to read when my heart was moved to glance through it and in bold print the heading of a brief and powerful piece: DOES JESUS LOVE ME?

The priest-author includes the classic lines of a familiar child’s hymn: “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong. We are weak, but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so.”

Perhaps in this moment we don’t ‘feel it’ but if we open the door of our being where He is constantly seeking leave to enter [Rev. 3:20] Jesus will indeed show us He is real and He really loves us!

Saturday, August 28, 2010


The webmaster is hard at work trying to get Joomla!, the system used for the site, to figure out the problem, but so far it appears they have not gotten back to him.

I will keep everyone posted.

To say I am stressed and confused these days, as are hundreds of priests who get summoned, accused of something and not given any rights or process, would be the classic understatement.

I mentioned I love the title of Our Lady Undoer of Knots and a dear friend sent this prayer, which I pray through the intercession of Our Blessed Mother:

Dear God:

Please untie the knots that are in my mind, my heart and my life.

Remove the have nots, may nots, might nots that may find a home in my heart.

Release me from the could nots, would nots and should nots that obstruct my life.

And most of all, Dear God, I ask that you remover from my mind, my heart and all my life all of the ‘am nots’ that I have allowed to hold me back, especially the thought that I am not good enough. Amen.

Prayer to the Virgin Mary as Untier of Knots:

Holy Mary, full of the presence of God during your life you accepted with great humility the Holy Will of the Father and the legacy of your Son Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Evil never dared to entangle you with its confusion. Since then you have interceded for all of our difficulties. With all simplicity and patience you have given us example on how to untangle the knots in our complicated lives. By being our Mother forever, you arrange and make clear the path that unites us to Our Lord. Holy Mary, Mother of God and ours, with your maternal heart untie the knots that upset our lives. We ask you to receive in your hands ( mention who or prayer request) and deliver us from the chains and confusions that have us restrained. Blessed Virgin Mary, through your grace, your intercession and by your example, deliver us from evil and untie the knots that keep us from uniting with God, so that once free of every confusion and error, we may find Him in all things, have Him in our hearts and serve him always in our brothers and sisters. Mother of Good Counsel pray for us . Amen

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Well the brief meeting was held with the bishop today after a second summons, in which I was told no need to bring a canonical advocate, but I could bring a priest friend.

The moment he and I walked into the bishop’s office I knew something was afoot because the bishop had the top canonist in the diocese at his side.

The bishop said a complaint, dating back 6 years, has been made about confession and he must report it to Rome.

I point out I was suspended more than six years ago, do not hear confessions, do no participate in parishes, do not do spiritual direction.

Apparently that is irrelevant.

So I ask when, where, who, what?

The reply from the bishop was he can’t tell me, he simply has to send everything to Rome and they will decide.

So much for due process.

I left.

This is the way priests are treated today: accusations are accepted at face value and everything goes to Rome and the priest, denied fundamental justice rights such as who has accused him of what, when and where is denied this information.

Is this is now what the bishops consider the way of shepherds, of being fathers to their priests.

Rather hard to love the Church, to have faith after such an afternoon – pray I do not lose my faith.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010



First Jesus was mocked, slapped, spit upon, tortured, demeaned as a human person and then He was forced to carry the very instrument of His execution to the place where He was to be killed. [St. Matthew 27:27-31; St. Mark 15:16-20; St. John 19:1-16]

Sometimes Jesus when I read the attacks in the media against the Church, the Holy Father, or experience the weight of parishioners complaining, brother priests and others gossiping, when my own emotions are in a turmoil of neediness, or satan is hounding me with disparaging thoughts – well I am so overcome with fatigue and discouragement I feel like quitting and seeking a return to the lay state, for it all seems just too much.

Why did I endure all the mockery and abuse, the violence? Because I love you and so that any blow of any kind which causes you pain in body, mind, heart, soul know that the greatest amount of the pain comes to Me first so you never have to endure all of it nor endure it alone. I love you and am with you.

To love Me is to love and forgive everyone and never to mock, abuse, hurt anyone, nor to seek fulfillment of your own needs. Tough as it is, to be priest is to be for others, as I am, never seeking to be served, only to serve.

Yes at times you are exhausted, lonely, discouraged – seize those moments to comfort Me is the profound aloneness of My suffering.

In this you will comfort Me with your love.


I fall under not only the weight of the Cross but under the weight of all human sin and sorrow of all time [Isaiah 53:4-6].

Forgive me Jesus if my contemplation of You in Your Passion is filled with so much complaining! Yes I am weary, yes the pain in the Priesthood, the Church, in the lives of billions of my brothers and sisters wearies me for I feel so powerless.

This why I embrace the vulnerability of powerlessness Myself, so no matter what seems to overwhelm you, in your weakness My strength becomes yours. Do you know I fall for you personally? Yes! I do so because I love you and so that whenever anything weighs you down you will come to Me and rest in My Heart, allow Me to help you bear your burden. This is when My power is greatest in your weakness and when My grace is sufficient, when you no longer rely on yourself but come to Me.

I could not have given my life for you, could not have lived, do live for you had not My Mother, Your Mother too, Mary, said yes to the Father and become the Spouse of the Holy Spirit that I might have life as a human person [St. Luke 1:26-38]. Immediately like all expectant mothers Mary shared her joy with family, and went to help someone else [St. Luke 1:29-56]. When I was born she did not keep me to herself and Joseph, My foster-father and guardian, but presented me to everyone, as she does to you [St. Luke 2:15-20; St. Matthew 2:9-11]. My Mother was always so aware of those in need I performed my first miracle for her and everyone should follow her guidance when she says of Me to you: “Do whatever He tells you.” [St. John 2:5]

Yes Jesus because Your Priest St. John at the foot of the Cross accepted on behalf of all human beings, of priests in particular, Mary as our Mother, I thank-You for this immense gift. Help me to be faithfully her priest-son and all priests to love her as You do.

It was painful for Me to see My Mother as I carried My Cross, but also a consolation for Her presence showed Me love and gave me strength.

In all your tribulations, when you are tired out, look to Her and she will give you the same love and strength.


As they were leading Him away they seized on a man, Simon from Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and made him shoulder the cross and carry it behind Jesus. [Lk. 23:26;Mk.15:21;Mt.27:32]

You pierce my heart with light O Jesus, light which sings within me: forget self O Priest for you are priest to bear the burdens of every human being.

Simon was a good man, a worker, husband and father. It is true the soldiers forced him to help Me, but once he began to carry the Cross with Me he did so voluntarily.

Why did I allow Myself to be helped? So that Simon might be close to Me and be an example for you on how to meet Me through voluntarily helping others. Always be aware of those around you, the lonely person, the stranger, and the one other human being who needs the gift of your presence in their life.


By now My face was swollen, covered with spittle and dust, and I did not look very beautiful [Isaiah 53:2-3; Psalm 27:8-9].

The further I journey with You O Jesus, conversing with You it is as with the disciples on the road to Emmaus [Lk. 24:13-25].

Opening Scripture, and therein to Your own Heart, I see to be priest is to be Your hands, washing the weight of life, the grime of sin, the tears of pain from the face, the souls of everyone.

Yes let me love humbly, generously, never seeking to be noticed but only to be radiating Your Holy Face.

In My eyes every human being is a real person, beautiful, important: no matter their age, colour, size, religion, or any reason you may think makes sense NOT to see another human being as one like yourself – none of these mean anything.

Every human being is beautiful to Me: YOU are beautiful to Me.

Real ugliness in the world is loneliness, abandonment, rejection, hunger, hopelessness.

You can wipe the tears from the faces of all human beings, your brothers and sisters who suffer – and be wiping the grime from My Face too – when you reach out with love and help anyone in need.

Save me, O God! The water is already up to my neck! I am sinking in the deepest swamp, there is no foothold; I have stepped into deep water and the waves are washing over me. [cf. Ps.69]…..he took fright and began to sink…Jesus…held him….[Mt.14:22-33]

When I sense I am sinking, falling, darkness engulfing, sooner or later I begin to bend towards myself, rather than place my face on the ground and look to You O Jesus – grant never again do I take my eyes from You.

In this moment as you look at Me fallen to the ground, pushed down under the weight of all and everyone I bear My Cross for, see, and do not be afraid, for in all this, I love you and am with you.

Jesus wept…[Lk.11:35]

You know O Jesus in this culture of death many women are angry, many murder their unborn children. You know O Jesus in these days the darkness of women and children being battered and abused, even by priests, poisons many souls into incomprehensible depths of despair.

How as priest am I to forget self and bring love and hope to all women and children?

Weep! Ask the Holy Spirit for the gift of tears and co-mingling them with Mine. It is good to shed tears when we see someone suffer and from our tears to be moved with love’s creativity to serve those who suffer.

For it is when I am weak that I am strong. [2Cor.12.10]

What a paradox, or so it seems! You the all-powerful one collapsed on the ground, weak, powerless because You choose to be so that I might finally learn, understand, embrace the grace of having a heart transformed into Your own meekness and humility, becoming likewise as pliant and submissive as the bread on the paten, the wine in the chalice to the action of the Holy Spirit.

Now you begin to truly be one with Me in My redemptive suffering, to be fully priest!


Blessed are the poor in spirit….[Mt.5:3:12]…..I was….naked…[Mt. 25:31-46; Jn.19:23,24]

Security of food, shelter, clothing, affirmation, these I cling to out of a deep fear I admit. Yet here You are O Jesus hungry, thirsty, naked, rejected – I do believe in Your love, You call to cling to no-thing, no-one but You, yet my faith is weak – heal my unbelief!

Life is all about love! You exist because the Father and I and the Holy Spirit, God, created you out of the reality of I AM Love so that you might be loved with infinite of infinite Triune love.

When death comes, the very reality I endured for love of you so even in death you will not be alone, Love will ask only one question: “Did you love Me?”

I will know You love me now and know your answer will be “Yes I have loved You!”, because you will care for Me now by clothing the naked – with clothing if need be, if their nakedness is because somehow they are different you will clothe them with acceptance; if any human being suffers in anyway as best you can you will love Me by being their voice – you will speak for the unborn, for the discriminated against, for the persecuted – in a word you will speak for Me and you will by My voice in the world and in all this I will know you love Me!

"This is Jesus…”[Mt.27:33-54]
This has been long journey of love for You, this journey of life and hope, of mercy, begun at the moment of Your Incarnation when You were conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb, this journey when You smiled upon the Shepherds and the Magi, this journey of learning from St. Joseph how to be a man, a worker, this journey from across the years of life, healing, teaching, forgiving, has come to this moment when, just as bread is laid on the paten in Holy Mass, and wine is poured into the chalice, You are laid now, nailed now to the paten of the Cross, soon to be poured out into the chalice of my life, of everyone’s life who will accept You, open the door of our being to You. [Rv.3:20]

You too have already been on this long journey of life with all its joys and sorrows, all its expectations and disappointments, all its wonders, discoveries, challenges.

Life is beautiful.

Life is gift.

Life is not a problem to be solved but experiences to learn and grow from.

Life is to give the gift of love.

Life is precious.

You are precious.

You are loved.

Each Gospel passages reveals to you how I died and what I say to you from the Cross as death came ever closer until the moment when I was ready to embrace death, to surrender fully to My Father, to hand over My spirit, for no one took My life, I gave the gift! You know how to slip into the depths of a cool river on a hot day – so in the heat of each day enter the depths of My Gospel, My life [St. Matthew 27:33-56; St. Mark 15:22-41; St. Luke 23:33-49; St. John 19:17-37].

My Lord, My God, My Beloved, My all!

There is much to say to you about this unfolding of My death! Importantly see how from the Cross I forgave and gave hope of eternal life to the Good Thief executed beside Me, how I asked Our Heavenly Father, My Father and your Father, to forgive and how, with St. John standing there at the foot of the Cross representing every human being I gave Mary My Mother to you as your Mother too.

This is what love does: love puts others first; love is what I give much more than what I look to get, even when I really want to be loved.

This is why I allowed My Heart to be opened with a lance, not only so blood and water, Baptism, Holy Eucharist, all sacraments and grace might flow to you, but so that My Heart is an open door for you to enter whenever you wish.


Mary as My Mother was the first human being to hold me, and rightly to Her I was given when taken down from the Cross. The smiling baby at the beginning of this journey of love and mercy for you, now the deceased adult, once more in her arms [St. Matthew 27:57-66; St. Mark 15:42-47; St. Luke 23: 50-56; St. John 19:38-42].

O Holy Mother of Priests, Totus Tuus!

In this moment remember life on earth is a journey from the doorway of birth in time and history to the great door into eternal life, eternal love.

I am with you so no need to rush.

Death will come naturally at a time My Father allows for each person. Sometimes the death of a young person, or the way someone dies, even the death of a very old person, seems unreal, certainly if it is someone you love who dies it can be very hard to face.

Have no fear.

I am with you and I am with everyone at the moment of their death. No one really dies alone. [St. John 14:104]

You will see the grave is not a permanent place! [St. Matthew 27:59-61]

When someone you love dies and is buried or cremated it can be very hard to believe death is a beginning and not an ending.

The pain in your heart, the sense of emptiness and powerlessness often is extremely acute.

Be not afraid.

Love is stronger than death.