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.


NB: Until the glitch with the is resolved I will post items here. The "Hope" site can still be visited, it is a posting glitch only which is the problem.

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: An intimate walk with Jesus as we open our hearts to Him and listen.


His agony was such He sweated blood in the Garden; Judas betrayed Him; the Disciples fled and abandoned Him; Peter denied Him; the witnesses lied; Pilate condemned Him. [St. Matthew 26:36-27:26; St. Mark 14:32-15:15; St. Luke 22:39-23:25; St. John 18:1-19:16]

When I was a boy all seemed so simple, clear. To be a priest meant a life of service, but also a life of acceptance.

Now, it seems, to be a priest in this climate of suspicion caused by the horrific sins of a few, is to live with fear.

I thought, Jesus, things would be different!

I entered into My passion and suffered so all priests, especially in these days would be strengthened to be one with Me in the fullness of Priesthood, which means, in My person to be both oblation and the one who offers.

I suffered because I love you and so that in every moment when you feel overwhelmed with fear or grief, when you feel alone, betrayed, rejected, lied about, condemned or simply are wondering about who you are, about life, about Me – well I am with you in the depths of your heart, in every moment of your life so, in truth, even if you feel unloved or alone, I love you and am with you.

To love me is to love everyone, especially the lonely, the unpopular, to actively be My listening heart, My outstretched hand for them.

Site Glitch!

Dear Friends we have prepared a lot of new material for the "HopeforPriests" web site, however there is some glitch in the posting system. The webmaster has been contacted and hopefully will be able to solve the problem and the new material will appear soon.

Thank-you for your patience.

Fr. Joseph

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Decades ago when I worked in a street clinic as a counsellor, a lawyer asked if I would visit a man in the local jail who was up on very serious assault charges.

The lawyer was concerned because the man was refusing a plea bargain which would get him a reduced sentence.

Several things are deeply imbedded in my memory: the very loud sound of the various air locks on the outer and inner doors, the weight of an atmosphere of despair which pervaded the interview room.

I listened to the young prisoner, a veteran of Viet-Nam and, though at the time there was no clinical definition for it, I now understand he was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, commonly called today, if little understood by non-sufferers, as PTSD.

Simply put this young man not only did not deny his crime but was very articulate in why he should try for the longest term possible because: “I don’t know what is happening in my mind but I know if I am released like this I will do something worse. Please sir, convince my lawyer to let me choose.”

Perhaps not as selfless an act as a fireman running into a burning building, or other such examples, even of the martyrs for the faith, but in his own way this man, as best he could with the brokenness in which he was engulfed, was in a sense, indeed I believe in the eyes of the All-Merciful Father, laying down his life for his friends – granted those friends in his mind were potential victims should he ever be released – yet here was a young man choosing the unimaginable horrors of a prolonged incarceration, rather than risk hurting others because the trauma from war had so damaged his capacity for non-violence.

I have never forgotten him and bring him daily to the altar in Holy Mass.

This is, admittedly, a follow up to yesterday’s post: A REAL PANIC ROOM because I believe more needs to be said, as much to honour that man as to plead for compassionate understanding for all who suffer the aftermath of trauma and indeed as a prayer that, frankly, our Bishops begin to understand what happens to accused priests, in particularly the falsely accused and subsequently exiled and abandoned priests.

These days there are lots of books and professional journals which teach about PTSD and so here I will only note a few salient facts without attempting a full clinical discussion, since that is not the purpose here.

What is the purpose? To show an aspect of the current crisis in the Priesthood not faced and also an aspect of the mystery of suffering without anything being wasted.

PTSD is triggered, indeed implanted deep in the imaginative centres and the emotional centres of the brain, and even can impact upon those aspects of faith and trust in one’s soul, because of either personally experiencing some traumatic event [witnessing a murder/being a victim of abuse]….in other words the trauma may occur ‘outside’ of me or ‘within’ my very being.

However many events, other than the two examples above, can also trigger PTSD such as suddenly and without warning being fired from a job, or abandoned by a spouse, or being falsely accused and, worse, when you know you are innocent of the accusation being, as is so common within the Church because of the unlimited power of the Bishops, punished without due process.

However it comes to pass that a person is wounded by this very serious reality of PTSD the clinical manifestations range from nightmares, flashbacks, panic attacks, and constant fearful anxiety that the original trauma will be repeated.

Thus there are many triggers – and if you are someone who is married to or employs or has some authority over a person with PTSD and don’t know they have it you can trigger serious upheaval unknowingly – but if you do know and fail to exercise common sense and trigger an upheaval, well that is a gross act of callousness.

There is no magic bullet, no quick fix. Most sufferers will likely have to endure periodic onsets of the trauma’s impact the rest of their lives, though some forms of therapy and proper medication may enhance the suffering person’s ability to cope and lead a pretty normal life in marriage, work, priesthood, faith.

The sufferers, in terms of the Gospel, will find, with prayer, nothing is wasted if we in our brokenness, powerlessness, embrace Christ’s own vulnerability both when he observed traumatic suffering while He walked the earth and in His own Person in His Passion and Death for us.

In my own life I admit PTSD was triggered by the false accusation and the way that was dealt with by the ‘church’, small ‘c’ deliberately for it is human beings, albeit Bishops, who exercise the power and NOT Holy Mother the Church, our Mother.

After a couple of years of intense therapy and mild medication I was able to enter the hermitical life and service of the poor and, this is crucial: to have the love and support of other human beings, such as when my family urged me to move across the country and live near them, in a place where I could also serve the poorest of the poor, the homeless, I jumped at the chance.

Sometimes a word said, a news report about some priest, would trigger a mild attack, but nothing too serious.

Then five years ago I was in a serious car crash caused by a man who ran a red light and then days later when a priest friend, helping me deal with that trigger, took me out to dinner, his car was smashed into by someone else running a light.

Back to serious therapy [which is ongoing] back to the meds because the crashes were shouts of “you are vulnerable, you are powerless, you always will be hurt!”

After three years we had begun this winter to start winding down the therapy. There is joy in my hidden life of service.

The local bishop knows all this and yet even when I told his secretary about the PTSD he refused to give any indication why I was being summoned and after I stood my ground the secretary called back and cancelled the summons.

The bishop knows where I serve, where I live, who has contact with me, where my confessor lives, what my contact numbers are, email is………..he could easily contact me himself!

I am not angry with him, he didn’t give me PTSD, just disappointed in the way he is handling this!

I urge everyone, wife/husband/bishop/chancery official/employer – whoever you are from whatever source, especially if you have authority in the military these days or over first responders – USE CHARITABLE COMMON SENSE – know the persons you are exercising authority over and be sensitive to what pain they carry.

Finally, to all those who like myself bear this suffering, these words from the Servant of God Catherine Doherty from one of her Staff Letters: "The Apostolate of suffering is God’s hurricane of love, for pain and suffering – His Cross – are His greatest gift to us. In so many words it means that He has found us worthy to really be co-redeemers with Him, to really enter into His passion, and therefore, to really be sharers of His eternal glory, love and joy. Those touched by His tender hand of love can become ‘victim souls’, in truth and in joy."

We can be in the deepest darkness and confusion, rattled by the most intense panic attack, weighted down by oceans of unrelenting tears, totally discombobulated because the PTSD is in full whirlwind within us – no matter – we give Jesus who we are, as we are, poor, wounded, vulnerable, hurting, powerless, because we love Him and our suffering is intercessory love for one another.

Thus nothing is wasted, all the fragments are gathered up as prayer for those who hunger for Him!

Friday, August 20, 2010


{Students may experience terror when summoned to the principal’s office; workers when summoned by the boss; others who awaiting the result of a serious medical test, when summoned by the doctor – in a word most people experience panic at some time in life, others either from childhood trauma, or returning military persons from a prolonged time in battle may suffer post-traumatic stress for years, perhaps the rest of their lives. I pray this may speak to everyone who experiences the high anxiety of being vulnerable or powerless.}

Some years ago a movie came out in which a terrorized family sought refuge in a panic room, a supposedly secure place of protection until the danger would pass.

The premise of the movie seems to be the place of danger, of panic, is outside and so fleeing to an interior space of thick walls and thicker doors means safety, that is, no need to panic, you are safe, rescue is coming.

But what if there is no such place of safety, because the terror, the danger is experienced inside your very being?

One of my priest heroes, ordained at the outset of the Second World War worked tirelessly as a young parish priest, teacher, chaplain for various groups until one day he collapsed and was sent to a small northern community where he was able to rest, be cared for, and eventually, was assigned as their chaplain, a role of loving and wise service he gave for the next near forty years of his life.

I first met him when I joined the community. At first I was very uncomfortable in his presence because he obviously suffered from constant panic attacks, something I had endured, with absolutely no understanding of why or from what trigger, my entire life.

Obviously I expected him to be a tower of strength and stability, which mostly he was, but not on the really bad days when I would serve his morning Mass throughout which he would be shaking severely. Sometimes Mass took barely ten minutes. After Mass he would literally run to his room.

Eventually a new medication helped ease the worst part of the attacks. We became closer. He grew in my heart and respect as I began to see the real man, the true priest of great wisdom, holiness, compassion, and charity.

Suddenly one day, the constant panic was gone and the last three years of his long life, were filled with inner peace.

I mention the above because in my own life I would be in my mid-fifties before another priest, actually my Spiritual Father, who also is prone to the impact of stress from his many responsibilities asked in spiritual direction one evening if I was on any medication to help and I explained how no doctor had been able to treat me even though I had consulted many physicians and psychiatrists and even a herbalist.

He immediately recommended a doctor he knew who was also a married Deacon and a therapist.

By the second session this good doctor, we always started with prayer, made the connection between being born during the war, the home life, etc., etc., in a word he got to the probable roots of this chronic panic state and how imbedded it had become over fifty years in my whole way of coping with life, and so through therapy, mild medication, suddenly life, and priesthood especially, became something to live with joy.

I was like Peter sinking beneath the waves yet now through my Spiritual Father and this good Doctor I was experiencing the hand of Christ rescuing me from the prolonged process of drowning, inner waterboarding if you will, and of touching the hem of His garment, thus the decades of emotional bleeding was stilled.

So for a few years all was well – and then came a huge setback with the false accusation, denial of due process, being sent into exile.

One of the origins of the original state of panic is rooted in whenever I was summoned as a child to the basement it meant being punished with a beating; whenever I was summoned as a child to the principal’s office it meant being punished with a beating with the strap; whenever I was summoned to the local dentist, who worked out of his basement, such a room already a real place of panic for me, he would do his work on my teeth without using anything to reduce the pain, even when doing extractions.

My life growing up was filled with places of sheer terror.

The Bishop’s room in the Chancery used to be a place of joyful encounter with my Shepherd, until that fateful day when that room too became a place of panic.

Bishop’s these days, because of the actual sins and crimes of a few priests, treat all accused priests swiftly, firmly, with an obvious lack of tenderness, or understanding.

After that multi-year process of trying to get someone to listen to the truth, to at least have due process which the Church brags about but rarely grants, I was suspended from public life as a priest and entered the hermitical life.

I now live a hidden life, serving the poor, spending my days in prayer and because of the trauma of being falsely accused have been diagnosed with post-traumatic-disorder.

The local bishop knows all this, and yet without warning or explanation, [ my own bishop has not spoken to me in over seven years and this local bishop not in two], had his secretary call me with a summons to his office: immediately!

I asked why, what about and she said she did not know. I said well in that case I will only come with a witness, so ask the Bishop if I need bring only a friend or a Canon Lawyer.

A couple of hours later, without an answer to that, and without explanation, because according to her the bishop is not comfortable talking over the phone, the summons was cancelled, “until we call you sometime next week.”

Now I am in a REAL panic room, interiorly in my emotions, struggling to do the duty of the moment, to trust Jesus, a tough row to hoe I must admit.

It does seem our bishops have lost common sense, or compassion, harsh as that may sound, because if you know someone has already suffered, already is nervous about sudden orders to appear before you, why not pick-up the phone and be forthright: is this just for a chat to see how I am doing – or – is this something serious where I should have someone there both to protect my rights and as a witness?

Common sense in the current climate between bishops and priests means doing the very simple things needed to have everything in the Light of Christ.

Jesus says He did not come to break the bruised reed or quench the flickering flame.

Thursday, August 05, 2010


As I continue to clear the clutter off my desk, finding scraps of paper with various notes and quotations, memories return as well!

From Dietrich von Hildebrand: “We must have an unconditional readiness to change in order to be transformed in Christ.”

When I was a child the Sisters of Charity, who taught in the parish school, had us commit to memory a simple prayer, rooted in the Gospel, a pray which indeed opens us to the ‘unconditional readiness’ of which von Hildebrand speaks: Jesus meek and humble of Heart, make my heart like unto Thine own!

This brings me to another of my priest-heroes from my youth, Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val.

Born into an aristocratic family in 1865 he would live through the turbulence of the late 19th century and the early 20th century, becoming a priest in 1888, Archbishop in 1900, Cardinal in 1903.

He would serve the Church in various countries and in high office, for example as confidant to and Secretary of State for St. Pius X.

In all the years of his priestly life, the holy Servant of God, whose cause for canonization is progressing, was accustomed to pray ardently for humility, for constant “unconditional readiness” to be ever more fully “transformed in Christ.”

Having found again the litany here below amidst the clutter of my desk, it is high time I begin praying it again!

The Litany of Humility

O Jesus meek and humble of heart, Hear me.

From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being loved, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being extolled, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being honored, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being praised, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being preferred to others, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being consulted, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being approved, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being humiliated, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being despised, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of suffering rebukes, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being calumniated, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being forgotten, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being ridiculed, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being wronged, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being suspected, Deliver me, Jesus.

That others may be loved more than I,

Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I,

Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That in the opinion of the world, others may increase, and I may decrease,

Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be chosen and I set aside,

Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be praised and I unnoticed,

Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be preferred to me in everything,

Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may become holier than I, provided that I become as holy as I should,

Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.