Monday, December 24, 2012


[Adapted from a letter written by Peter who has been a true father and mentor to me. This letter was sent to a younger dad and shared with me. In this Year of Faith it is a template for all Father’s seeking to evangelize their children.]

Happy and blessed Christmas!

I hope you and yours will have a wonderful and blessed Christmas!

I think of you often, especially since, judging by the number of conferences you go to and are influential in, I've been there and done that that, but it's incredibly hard to balance all of that with being a good husband and father. Good luck with that! No matter what anyone says, career and family is always a high-wire performance.

Overall I'm terrible at keeping in touch with people. But today I'm interrupting my work to pass on a tip, something that happened in our family accidentally, but that I believe is important for fathers. I do hope you don’t mind or think I'm telling you what to do. But I am convinced that this trick is certainly a key factor in why all my adult children are still open to the church, even if some are not solidly connected.

We always had a problem with the whole wacked-out "let's-protect-our-children-from-the-world" so common among many families.
As Catherine Doherty said at one point, and I am paraphrasing, "It is not right for the parents to choose poverty and impose that on their children -- they will grow to hate the Church!"

The flip side of that was obviously "It is not right for the parents to choose riches and impose that on their children -- they will grow to hate the Church!"

What to do as a father?

I was pondering that for quite some time when, one year at Christmas, Catherine had to go out for an afternoon to do errands in preparation for the 27 people expecting to be fed at our Christmas feast (I never figured out why they criticized us, to our face, for having so many children when we were so poor, but never offered to pay for anything they ate at the feast -- I guess I'm still an innocent on some things!).

Anyway, Catherine was out and what to do with six kids aged 14 to 2 years old?

Religion is a way of living, a community thing, long before it's an idea or Catechism thing, or way of thinking, and yes we could do some more cleaning, or, we could do something else ... but what? Cleaning, teaching, fatherhood, leadership, kids 25 years from now, what to do?

Anyway, because of all the kids we always had rolls of newsprint in the house -- 11 inches by 500 feet or something similar. Inspiration hit me -- the solution had to do with the newsprint, but weirdly enough I had no idea what the solution might be. So I got the newsprint roll and rolled it out across the kitchen and dining room. Still didn't know what I was doing, but Dad messing the place up attracted attention from everyone. "Dad, what are doing?" Still had no idea what was going on, but this is what came out of my mouth "Do you guys know the Christmas Story?" Some said yes, some looked bored, so I said "There are animals in the story! Let's draw it! Somebody get me a pencil or a crayon!"

So I got down on my hands and knees and drew out the Christmas story, including the animals. The kids didn’t like my rendition of the donkey and people and so "improved" them (I'm terrible at drawing ... "DAD! Donkeys have four legs!").

Anyway, we did it again for Easter, and again for the next Christmas and again for the next Easter.

By then Tina was sixteen and we never did it again, for reasons you cannot understand until you've had a sixteen year old girl in the house.

So, what did the kids get out of all that?

1. Dad never gets down on the floor to draw things for us. This story must be really important.
2. It's a story, more than an idea or an entry in a catechism. Stories are more important than anything.
3. Dad may have gotten the story wrong, but that's OK. It's a story and interesting and I'll get it right someday.
4. The story is a communal story -- it's part of our family story and we fit in with the story as individuals and as a family.
5. I can tell the same story to my kids.
6. Going to Church is about stories, and stories are more important than anything because stories make sense of the world.
7. Church is relevant and is always relevant, it has something to do with the story. Hey! This Sunday they said something about that story that Dad drew for us ... must be worth listening to closely.
8. etc. etc. etc.
Anyway, I think it was one of the top five best things I ever did to teach the faith, and not "my" faith but the "Faith", to my kids. It made them open to the capital "F" "Faith" and the possibility of making it their own. I think many parents misunderstand this aspect of passing on the "Faith" ... you as the parent simply cannot pass it on to your kids. What you can pass on is the openness to your kids appropriating the "Faith" and making it their own.

And drawing pictures on the floor is an incredibly effective way of doing that.

I have no idea why I told you this today. Probably never will. Maybe so you could pass it onto someone else?

Monday, December 17, 2012


Many have seen tv news reports of people being surprised by secret Santa’s and I am here to say it’s true!
Today as I put my groceries on the counter the cashier was scanning them as I noticed the prices were being rung up on the screen showing the tab of the man in front of me.
I pointed out her mistake.
“No mistake sir.”
I look at the man ahead of me who flashed a big grin and said: “Merry Christmas!”
Truly there are kind and generous people all around us and I am sure the Lord will bless that good man and his family.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


Over the past two days the world’s media remains filled with the constant re-telling of the horror which has taken place in Newtown Connecticut.
Mostly on the American networks, but also on those from various other countries, the highly emotional argument for and against the American constitutional right to bears arms, the whole issue of guns and violence, unfolds apace with this latest horror, the more horrific since the majority of the victims are little children and their shattered families.
The Governor of the state rightly said evil had visited his state.
Unfortunately, as we all know evil, is never a mere visitor in human life, rather a persistently unwelcome guest that earlier generations of the human family, even before the advent of Christianity, was recognized and faced.
It seems, in our day, we either refuse to face and name evil and overcome it, or we deny evil exists by cloaking it with some presumed right such as the right to kill an unborn child without the same reaction as killing a child already in school.
Walker Percy, though not speaking directly about human on human violence, in his book “Lost in the Cosmos” points to the real evil, the real malaise behind the 21st century blood letting, irrespective of more remote causes such as mental illness, political grievance, resistance to oppression, religious or tribal justifications, and indeed points to the reason why the most dangerous place on earth for any child remains the womb and the most vile weapons on earth are those used by abortionists: Percy writes in part that “….by virtue of its peculiar relationship to the world, to others, and to its own organism, the autonomous self in a modern technological society is possessed. It is possessed by the spirit of the erotic and the secret love of violence.”
If we look deeply into our hearts and souls, with humility and honesty, we will discover the chaos and heartache, the breakdown of the family, the systematic attacks by the media on those who adhere to their Christian faith; the proliferation of all in movies, tv, computer games that are eating away at the culture of life like a cancer, have roots in our own approach to life.
It is not a question of argument, finger pointing, judging others.
It is a question of am I, or am I not, in such a profound relationship with Jesus and the Gospel of Life that I am willing, no matter the cost, to preach the Gospel with my life without compromise?
Percy goes on, drawing from John Cheever, noting that nowadays the “..main emotion of the adult…is disappointment.”
Percy enumerates some of the disappointment and comments on each. Here I will simply enumerate them: “Work is disappointment…Marriage and family life are disappointing….School is disappointing…Politics is disappointing…The churches are disappointing…Social life is disappointing.”
Though Percy does not do so, I will add here that for many, many people the ultimate disappointment is with God!
After all where is God when a massacre occurs?
Since World War II most of the West, but even in their own way the former countries of the Soviet Union, certainly in their own way still China and Cuba, and those perhaps not as successfully, and only for those with an iron grip over their fellow citizens, in some Middle Eastern and African countries, throughout the world we have developed cultures of entitlement to such an extreme that common sense is ground into the dust and a pervasive malaise poisons hearts, minds and souls.
We have become, as human beings, infantile whiners who eschew responsibility in favour of ‘my’ rights with the emphasis on ‘my’ even when cloaked with the veneer of some social purpose; we are materialists with insatiable appetites for the useless which fail to amuse us and enhance our disappointment and malaise to the extent divorce outstrips marriage, non-marital co-habitation, with its internal menu of orientations, risks becoming the norm and children, when not aborted as inconvenient become, and not just for those couples whose orientation guarantees infertility, another ‘item’ on the ‘must have’ list.
The discussion we should be having as human beings, especially as Christians, and not just in the United States but throughout the world, is not about guns, not about mental illness, in a word not about remote or spurious cause and effect, but about the “I” and “Thou” of life.
The real moral issue is about personhood in the redeemed image and likeness of God.
Personhood as in I, disciple of Christ, see and relate to thou who are one like myself: person in His image and likeness.
The disappointed self is, as Percy rightly enumerates, disappointed in everything and everyone around and thus, I stress, becomes famished for meaning and since unless we know Jesus we remain incomprehensible to ourselves, this incomprehensibility becomes a frenzied search resulting in the social chaos, greed, violence, hatred, anger which engulfs the entire human family.
I find it poignant and a caution that it was in the main children, about the age Christ Himself was at the time, who were massacred yesterday as were children massacred by Herod’s soldiers seeking to destroy the One who alone can give meaning to human existence.
We honour the Christ Child by celebrating His birth.
Let us honour the children of Newtown by re-discovering, by becoming anew who we are as persons in the image and likeness of God and let us begin anew to live as real people.

Thursday, December 06, 2012


Jeremiah 20:7 is rather blunt in articulating what happens to someone who is seduced by the Lord and this connects also to an earlier passage: 17:9,10 where the prophet denotes how there is nothing more in turmoil, more torturous than our human heart, lamenting that it seems such protracted and persistent pain is both beyond remedy and understanding.
Right now, I will admit, my state is not one of a beloved who has been willingly seduced by the God who is love.
Rather since He seems to have gone somewhere and left me alone in the stygian darkness, out in the cold, abandoned, neither responding to my pleas nor whines, tears nor shouts, I feel the angry weight of all who cry out to Him and whose words simply echo in our hearts and minds, as if we were in a deep mountain valley hearing only the echo of our own – well of my – words.
This is supposedly the time of Advent, the before time of preparation to welcome Him as love incarnate, love born among us, love who said – who promised - to be with us always [cf. Mt. 28:20] until the end of ‘the age.’
Has the age come and gone yet no one told me?
Frankly, Jesus, where are You?
My being shudders, my heart cracks open.
I sense a hand on my shoulder and one taking me as if beyond geography, beyond place and space, yet not a word as it begins – whatever this ‘it’ is!
Suddenly I am in the depths of a rubble pile. I hear explosions all around, the earth trembles, human moaning is heard. The dust thins somewhat. I see a woman rocking a bleeding child back and forth in her arms. Syria! I hear: “Here I am.”
Just as suddenly I – we – whatever, the place is an alley all dark, wet, cold, and filled with garbage, the smell of rot. I see a youth, clothes matted with dirt, as is his face with one arm exposed. Hanging from a vein an empty needle. He appears dead.
Again I hear: “Here I am.”
The fog is thick, the ground muddy, and the buildings weathered wood grey. Men and women trudge about bent, emaciated, and dehumanized. It is a North Korean labour camp.
This time I admit the anger, the self-centred neediness so much a part of me of late is beginning, it feels, to melt as if I have been encased in black ice when I hear once more: “Here I am.”
On and on it goes, for how long I cannot say, from place to place, or rather more from human heart to human heart, each heart, each person, it seems, alone and in pain, even when in the midst of a crowd, lonely.
People sinning, people being sinned against, people rightly accused of some crime, numerous the falsely accused; battered women, aborted children, abandoned families, homeless and unemployed people, men and women in the violence of war and revolution, in hospitals, prisons, nursing homes or just wasting away, it seems, in little rooms all alone.
It is all too much.
The “I am here.” almost irritates.
Suddenly we are in a monastery of nuns where the women, young and old, are radiant, kneeling in prayer for all the people I have seen, then we are in a desert cave and an old priest is at prayer, finally in an ordinary home where a family, mother, father, three children are praying as night descends.
Now, each time I hear: “I am here.” hot tears run down my face, as my heart is pounding so fast, like I had just run to catch a bus!
Indeed You have seduced me O Beloved.
Yes I am letting myself be seduced.
Yes I have in my self-pity told You I won’t think about You any more or even speak Your Name
Then You came, touched me, took me, showed me how You seduce, love, are faithful to Your promise to be with us always.
Fire burns within my heart.
You are here.
I cannot resist You any more!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


While it is good news that a ceasefire, after days of hateful carnage, has been reached between the Israelis and Palestinians, everyone knows, based on history since long before the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, blood has flowed continuously with its intense current of hatred.
Today is my adopted son’s birthday.
For him, his wife and children, this is a joyous day of love. Truly my heart also is filled with love for him. He is joy for my heart.
I see a direct connection between fatherhood and the failure of Israelis and Palestinians to love one another, to forego resentment, to accept the reality of history, to learn to live together.
We all know both as parents and as persons love and pain are inseparable.
Love costs.
Children grow and in the growing process begin to separate from their parents, become full-fledged adults. Frequently this process is filled with misunderstandings, miscommunication, sometimes, on both sides, a type of rebellion and deep hurts.
As a husband, father, businessman, faithful practising Catholic, enormous are the demands on my son and, if as he does, he keeps things in right order then as his dad I must, with fatherly love, accept the fact the times when he and I can have father/son time, as the years go by, become less and less.
Often this is very painful for me to accept and I need always be on guard against two emotions which can poison everything: resentment that he has no time for me and anger because I let myself be in bondage to resentment.
The challenge as parent of an adult son is to accept with joy and gratitude whatever time he can give, knowing always that the love between us is stronger than any difficulty, is gift to be received with joy.
How does this apply to the battle between Israel and Hamas, the persistent conflict between Arabs and Jews, between Islam and Christianity?
Fatherhood, or rather in the current context of local and global conflicts, the failure of men to be true fathers.
I cannot conceive ever putting my son’s life nor the lives of his wife and my grandchildren at risk because I hate someone else and want revenge.
Since time immemorial blood feuds have only resulted in the extension of feuds far into the future, often so far that the current feuding parties have only handed down distorted memories of the origin of the feud.
When, for example, Islamists harken back to the crusades as justification for the blood soaked hatred of the West, Muslim men are placing their wives and children at risk when they kill the innocent women and children of the West, triggering retaliation just as when Hamas targets Israel it is Israeli women and children who suffer and so Israel targets Hamas and it is the women and children who suffer throughout Gaza.
No sane person will deny history.
Both sides during the period of the crusades did much evil, as both sides prior to and since 1948 have done.
The litmus test for a real man and a real father is how manhood and fatherhood is exercised.
What is the prime gift I chose to pass onto my son[s]?
Hatred, revenge fuelled by edited re-telling of ancient feuds – or – such a profound sense that love is stronger than hate, that a real man is as courageous in protecting his family as he is in seeking peace and reconciliation.
All the blame-game has achieved in the Middle East, and indeed in all conflicts which murder so many women and children, is the perpetuation of hatred and the spilling of innocent blood.
Surely there must be some real Israeli, some real Palestinian men and fathers who will approach each other as brothers and say we will no longer hate, we will no longer tell our children stories of hatred, we will no longer be revengers but as courageous men we will be peace-seekers, peace-achievers so our wives and sons, our children will no longer live in fear.
I know the heart of my own son is a true man’s, a real father’s heart and I am very proud of him.
May every man, Israeli and Palestinian, Christian and Muslim, men of faith, men who have no deity, become real men, real fathers, protectors of women and children.

Monday, November 05, 2012


I gaze upon the golden orb
Full in night sky
Mirror of sunlight and ponder a mystery,
Okay a curiosity I have had since childhood!
When as a Little One Yourself You first looked up
At night, at stars at whose creation You were and called each by name,
Remembering their names, and they see You child on earth
I know they danced for You
Seeing among them, so huge and radiant the far distant orb
Sending such gentle moonlight upon Your Holy Face as creation’s kiss
Of love and gratitude,
Of what did you think?
Did Your heart move, was Your being comforted as mine was
The years I would trudge through snow deep forest after dusk
A hardened logger youth
Each shaft of moonlight elongating shadow trees, turning the snow beneath my feet
As far as eyes could see into fields of diamonds,
I wonder when You walked the earth and in deepest night sought the lonely place,
The mountain top, to commune with the Father,
Did the gentle moon send soft light to keep You company?
Of what did You and He speak those myriad moonlight nights?
I know of only one snippet from one occasion of Your conversation
Under the moon of the Garden of Your agonizing love for Him, for us, for me.
Were the golden shafts of light extra gentle that night, did they turn Your blood-sweat
To glistening rubies?
Yes my sins mined those rubies from Your body and Your heart
Yet You turn in the moonlight and Your eyes glisten with love as You hand them to me as gift
Saying in the moonlight: “All will be well.”

Saturday, October 27, 2012


I have never, as best I recall, written here before for or against any particular party or candidate in any election in any country, until today. However now I cannot be silent because I see more and more an American electorate, if the polls are to be believed and abortion is the prime concern of the alleged majority of American women, heading to the polling stations wading through a river of blood. The incumbent candidate ever since the last televised debate bellows repeatedly about not ‘allowing men in Washington to have control over women’s health’: code for if you don’t vote for me you’ll find it difficult to obtain an abortion. However the challenger is a typically disconnected so-called pro-life person, given the list of exceptions under which abortion would continue. One wonders what has happened to a nation once so proud and self-confident, once so deeply faithful to its Christian roots and heritage, once truly a conglomerate of strong individual families forming the American family. During the four years of the tenure of the current American President several nations have had general elections, among them France and Canada. In the vast majority of countries which have democratic elections the prime issues are life issues: employment, housing, easing the tax burden on families. Daily we are faced with an American election increasingly being fought over assuring the continued slaughter of defenceless pre-born children. Yes I will name him: President Obama, who likes to repeat the first moral duty of the president, is to see to the security of the American people. Translation: of some American people, the ones already born. It is true for every nation that the prime responsibility of the state is the protection of its citizens – most Western democracies fail to protect the most vulnerable citizens, those still in the womb and several through legalizing, or moving towards legalizing, euthanasia/so-called assisted suicide, are starting to fail to protect those made vulnerable by illness or old age. Barely ten days remain before the American people elect a president. How urgently we must pray for a radical conversion and how I weep that a once great nation has come to this, wading through a river of blood on the way to vote.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012


Dear Father this world so deep in the darkness of the culture of death, of hatred, filled with violence and anxiety, urgently needs the peace and life giving luminosity of chastity. Chastity is essentially a gift offered to us. Catherine Doherty has said: “ I give you joy – the immense joy that He alone can give, and that I hope will fill your hearts from now until you meet Him! I give you a lance, gold tipped like the crown that the magi offered Him, to open your heart to Him in everyone whom you meet. I give you myrrh, the symbol of a soul in love with God, who wants to share His whole life of joy, of peace, of suffering. “ The culture of death does not see our priestly vow of a chaste life, a celibate life, as reception of a gift of joy, a joy which should impel us to grab the lance and plunge it into our hearts so that, like His, our hearts are broken open to all in need of Him, that they may enter. Already living temples of the Holy Spirit by Baptism [cf. 1 Cor. 6:19, 20] there is a deepening of our very physical sacredness with Sacramental Ordination, in persona Christi. Truly chastity, our commitment to the celibate life, is intrinsically about what is given to us. In that light, what we are asked to give in return is a little thing, but it means the gift of our whole selves. When we truly give our whole selves, then our lives are joy-filled. It is when we, intellectually or in any other fashion, withhold a single iota of our self-gift to Him, in return for the lavishness of His Self-Gift to us, then increasingly a sourness and hardening of heart takes hold. The Desert Father Abba Gerontius of Petra, addressing those who struggle with temptation but do not act on it externally notes that: “many, tempted by the pleasures of the body, commit fornication, not in their body but in their spirit, and while preserving their bodily virginity, commit prostitution in their soul. ‘Thus it is good, my well-beloved, to do that which is written, and for each one to guard his own heart with all possible care.’ (Prov. 4:23)” We live in an era where our culture has such a materialist notion of the human person, the body of the human person is presented as a utility object, not unlike our cell phones or computers or any other ‘thing’ we make use of in daily life. Indeed we have lost any deep comprehension of the ‘sacred space’ of our beings and there is, I believe, an interesting parallel between the minimalist approach to sacred space, that is the reduction of most churches to sparse space devoid of statues, votive candles, and the increase of immodesty in dress, the disfiguring of the body with piercings, tattoos, among our contemporaries. Confusion reigns everywhere it seems. Luminous chastity, joyful chastity, like everything which flows in the Christian life of discipleship, for all the baptized, not just priests, means a simple willingness to accept the poverty of the human condition, with intimate confidence in Jesus, in imitation of Jesus: “….the temptation story summarizes the entire struggle of Jesus: it is about the nature of His mission, but at the same time it is also, in general, about the right ordering of human life, about the way to be human, about the way of history. Finally, it is about what is really important in the life of man. This ultimate thing, this decisive thing, is the primacy of God. The germ of all temptation is setting God aside, so that He seems to be a secondary concern when compared with all the urgent priorities of our lives. To consider ourselves, the needs and desires of the moment to be more important than He is – that is the temptation that always besets us. For in doing so we deny God His divinity and we make ourselves, or rather, the powers that threaten us, into our god.” ~ Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger The key to luminous chastity, the root of its joy, is intimacy with the Most Holy Trinity. In reality we are talking about a passionate love affair, indeed a type of marriage uniting us and the Divine Bridegroom. It is a choice between the centrality of the one true God in our hearts, or the bondage- worship of a false god. We must daily choose: intimate relationship with the God who gives Himself to us as food of life, or handing ourselves over to be devoured by the evil one, for all false gods ultimately are guises of satan. [cf. 1 Pt. 5:8] “We are those disciples sent throughout the world to spread the “sweet smell” of Christ! To succeed, we too must “shatter” the alabaster vessel of our human nature: we must mortify the works of the flesh, the old Adam which acts as an inner barrier to the rays of the Spirit. The perfume of Christ is given off by “the fruits of the Spirit” (according to St. Paul, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” [Gal.5:22]; if these are in us, then, without our realizing (and of course while we by contrast only smell ourselves giving off the stink of our sins), someone around us may get a whiff of the fragrance of the Spirit of Christ. The world has a great need to smell the perfume of Christ!” ~ Raniero Cantalamessa The Sacred Chrism, with which we are anointed in Baptism, Confirmation and Ordination, is sweet-smelling oil. We are in truth ‘perfumed’ as priests, three times in our lives. Thus anointed we have a critical obligation to struggle mightily, cooperating with grace, that in our lived chastity our purity is not only a luminous witness to Christ – and in baptism we have already become light in the darkness for we are bathed in Christ’s own light poured into us – but also a sweet-smelling testimony. In a word we struggle to be akin to a living thurible. Jesus cries out in the Sixth Beatitude that truly blessed are the pure, the clean of heart [Mt.5:8] for they shall indeed see God. This is not simply a declaration of post death reality for the blessed in heaven, but is a promise of the reality we will experience in this life on earth IF we strive truly to be pure. Again and again the fullness of chaste-joy, the joy which is the essence of our vocation in persona Christi, is participation in His own joy poured into us [cf. Jn.15:11] and is rooted in our intimacy with Christ our Beloved. “If we had a deeper understanding of things, we would be able to comprehend the intimate relation that exists between purity and light, and perhaps we would comprehend with some astonishment that light and purity are two aspects of one same divine reality. The Greeks produced an admirable word to express graphically the idea of holiness: ‘hagios,” meaning without earth. To be pure is to be without earth; that is, to be free of all that is not God……….For souls to be bathed in light, to become light, they need to be purified……For souls to be transformed into the image of God, passing from glory to glory, they must ascend from purity to purity in the continuing effort to become, more and more, glowing crucibles.” Luis M. Martinez Courage Father. Trust Jesus. Cling to our Blessed Mother. All will be well.

Monday, October 01, 2012


Most of the Roman Catholic Church is aware that today is the feast of St. Therese, commonly known as ‘the Little Flower.’ May are not aware however this is also the feast of the Protection of the Holy Mother of God. Celebrated in the Byzantine tradition since around the 10th century it is a day to be profoundly aware of and give thanks to Our Blessed Mother for her love, her powerful intercession when we ask her help and yes for her protection: "Remember us in your prayers, O Lady Virgin Mother of God, that we not perish by the increase of our sins. Protect us from every evil and from grievous woes, for in you do we hope, and venerating the Feast of your Protection, we magnify you."
As is customary I pray St. Therese send everyone a rose this day and here is a prayer from her: May today there be peace within. May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith. May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content knowing you are a child of God. Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise, and love. It is there for each and every one of us.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Most people with access to modern media are well aware that once again the poisonous hatred of one individual has produced something which has gone viral and is being used by others to justify their own hatred. In the midst of all this hate Americans are killed and even more men, women and children fall victims to violence from their own co-religionists. With hatred and violence raging it took much courage and true pastoral love for Pope Benedict not only to visit Lebanon and cry out for peace and for cooperation between all religions, urging in particular the leaders to work for peace, but also it was prophetic for the Holy Father to sign and release the Post-Synodal document on the Church in the Middle East, containing within a plea for communion of love between Christians, Jews, Muslims. We can all choose to be angry, we can all choose hate, we can all bemoan the fact that anarchy and chaos are spreading both within and between nations – or we can heed the call of the Holy Father and become instruments of peace, by loving one another, forgiving our enemies and by persistent prayer for peace. Jesus Divine Mercy revealed to St. Faustina the power of prayer for mercy. In these days when beside all those suffering from violence and hatred, suffering homelessness, unemployment in the global economic crisis, in these days when, as we saw in France and see unfolding in the United States, elections are fought not about ideas but, frankly, by a form of disdain if not outright hatred of the other side – surely, urgently, it is time for every individual, indeed I would urge all parishes, to daily pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy before we all drown in blood, darkness, death, for it sure seems we are very close to a tipping point when there will be no stopping what seems to be coming.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


It is almost the end of the day as I write this. Already here in the north there is fresh snow on the mountains and in the foothills. The harvest is being gathered, leaves are changing, as summer has passed on the mantle of time to the new season. Each of us remembers where we were on this day eleven years ago. I was on an expressway passing along the outer edge of the busiest airport in the country, trying to pay attention to driving while listening to the reports on the radio, having already seen the inferno of the towers on the news before my unavoidable trip began. Out of the corner of my eye, glancing as I had done hundreds of times before on that stretch of highway to see jets taking off just overhead, I became aware there were none! Unbeknownst to me by then all planes had been grounded. Around 11:30 in the evening I arrived at the Motherhouse of my community and noted lights were on in the rooms occupied by the general superior and went up to see him. He was still watching the ongoing news reports and when he saw me quietly asked if I had celebrated Holy Mass yet. I explained I had not having been on the road since early morning. Immediately he turned off the tv and we went and concelebrated the Mass: In Time of War and Civil Disturbance. Today here in the hermitage I celebrated the same Mass, recalling the time some months after this horrific day I was at Ground Zero. All these years since each September 11 it is as if am back there in the company of my firefighter friend who lost so many brothers on that day while he himself with so many other heroes dug through the rubble that very day and for months and months on end to find and honour the fallen. The opening prayer of the Mass echoes every human heart that yearns for the civilization of love: “O God, author and lover of peace, to know You is to live, to serve You is to reign; defend against every attack those who cry to You, so that we, who trust in Your protection, may not fear the weapons of any foe.” “Of any foe!” – our greatest foe is of course the unpeaceful one, the warring one, the one who is the antithesis of love for his entire being is nothing more than hate and darkness. Humanly speaking we Christians and our Elder Brothers and Sisters in faith, the Jewish people, know only too well the human foe and each day the news is filled with the hatred and violent bloodletting which still tears at the so very thin fabric of peace on earth. In essence satan’s prime weapon is to poison one solitary human heart at a time with an attitude towards other human beings which sees other not as one like myself but as UN-like myself. This enables a progression in such a heart from unlikeness, to rejection, to conjuring reasons to hate and the most putrid of the lies used to justify hatred, and its expression in violence against another person or community, is rooted in appeal to religion. No baptized person can claim to be a faithful disciple of Christ if we fail to live out ardently Christ’s command that we love and do good to our enemies [Lk.6:27] and pray for those who hate and persecute us [Mt.5:44]. Just before the superior general and I began Holy Mass that night eleven years ago he said very gently: “Wait. I need to take a moment.” There, standing at the altar before the Pantocrator Icon I heard: “Forgive O Jesus for the emotion of hatred heaving in my heart, help me to love and forgive.” Out loud I said the same thing. Jesus is challenging us when confronted by hatred and violence to choose to rise above, go beyond our emotions and choose love over hate, forgiveness over vengeance. In the Canon of the Mass: Jesus, Who Went About Doing Good, we pray: Open our eyes to the needs of our brothers and sisters; inspire in us words and actions to comfort those who labour and are burdened. Make us serve them truly, after the example of Christ and at His command. And may Your Church stand as a living witness to truth and freedom, to peace and justice, that all people may be raised up to a new hope. We can build no more fitting memorial to those who perished on 9/11 than the civilization of love.

Friday, September 07, 2012


From Syria to Mali, and countless other places our brothers and sisters are suffering in protracted struggles for authentic freedom; from Nigeria to Iraq, people are slaughtered either because they are Christian or because within another religion they belong to the wrong sect or tribe; Europe staggers from financial crisis to crisis, in the United States the never ending presidential election so far seems only to have acerbated divisions both within the major parties and among the general population. The above are just some of the realities causing anxiety throughout the human family, not to mention extremes of weather from flooding to drought; the hundreds of thousands of refugees living in un-availed uncertainty; the millions of men and women persistently unemployed in the chaos of the global economy with the attendant increase in domestic violence, addictions, homelessness, while in the midst of everything abortion continues to be the prime genocide across the globe. The ‘body politic’ prior to the 21st century and modern media was generally considered to refer to the corporate reality of a single nation, yet today with the plethora of international organizations, both political and economic among others, the web of globalization, in reality every human being is more than ever part of, intertwined with, each other. There is upon earth, permeating in various ways, primarily by witness, another body, encompassing all nations and peoples, a body into which any human being may be incorporated with a simple yes to the invitation given to all: “Come, follow Me.” – I speak of the Mystical Body of Christ. The life of this body, which also is the bond uniting the members, flows from, is communicated by Jesus [Jn.15:5] and He is the purpose and source, centre and lavisher of all needed gifts [Jn.15:7-12] so all those faithful to Christ may fulfill our shared baptismal vocation, the vocation to evangelize, doing so as real members of the Body of Christ [Jn.15:16/Col.2:19]. This reality is the Church present throughout the world, fulfilling Her mission which is to proclaim Christ , union in Christ, the entire ‘body’ and each member nourished by Christ [Jn.15:13-15/Ep.1:23/1 Cor.12:12/ 1 Cor.10:17]. If the chaos, brokenness, moral disorder, sickness, violence, divisions in the body politic are to be healed, transformed and a true body politic of charity, compassion, justice, right order to become reality then the witness of the Mystical Body of Christ, of the Church, that is of each of the baptized must be luminous, truthful, courageous and unstinting. More than a century ago St. Pius X, who saw much of what currently faces the Church and the world today in his own day wrote: “The firm purpose and desire……in the work of restoring all things in Christ, reawakens in Our heart a great trust in the all-powerful grace of God. Without that grace We can neither plan nor undertake anything great or fruitful for the good of souls here below…..what prosperity and well-being, what peace and harmony, what respectful subjection to authority and what excellent government would be obtained and maintained in the world if one could see in practice the perfect ideal of Christian civilization….the continued battle of the flesh against the spirits, darkness against light, satan against God …….[the]…sadness and pain these cause is accentuated by the fact that society tends more and more to be governed by principles opposed to that very Christian ideal, and is even in danger of completely falling away from God…..The Church well knows that the gates of hell will not prevail against her…she knows that she will be sorely afflicted…that her followers will always bear the brunt of hatred and contempt, just as her Divine Founder received hatred and contempt…..”To restore all things in Christ” has always been the Church’s motto…especially…during these fearful moments through which we are now passing.” [From IL Ferno Proposito: Pope St. Pius X, 1905] Each generation assumes that whatever crisis is being experienced is the first time in history such a crisis has occurred, or at least of such a magnitude, and certainly contemporary means of instant communication, intertwined economies, enhances the magnitude – yet we see in the powerful words of St. Pius each generation has its own ‘fearful moments’, its own challenge to live in the full dignity of our God-given personhood, in unity of charity with one another, especially within the Mystical Body, for only flowing from there will come about the civilization of love and life. Like it or not, and granted many other nations do not, reality is even with the intensity at which some other nations are scaling the heights to become geo-politically, economically, militarily more powerful, at the moment the United States remains the most powerful and culturally influential nation on earth. Thus still every four years the protracted process of the presidential election is of global import and we all should pray that the American electorate understands this, grasps the reality they are not merely electing a leader of their body politic but a leader whose impact will be upon the entire global family. The Mystical Body of Christ, referred to by Ven. Pius XII as the ‘perfect society’ lives in its members deep within the Heart of Christ and in the nitty-gritty reality of secular society, the national and international body politic. The challenge in daily life, and the critical importance in political life, is are we truly leaven in the dough of society, truly salt and light in the darkness of the culture of death, or do we compromise the Gospel of Life and forget that when we cast a ballot for an elected official we are also choosing their agenda? We need to remember, as teaches the Servant of God Catherine Doherty that “….Catholic faith is not only a matter of attending Mass on Sundays…..Catholic faith is a way of life.” Currently two men who identify themselves as Roman Catholic are the vice-presidential candidates in the current election. Their public statements about their adherence, and to what extent, to clear Catholic teaching should be carefully looked at given that, depending on who is elected president, one of the two will be, as the saying goes, ‘only a heartbeat away’ from that office. Often times it can seem, in any election in any country, that the choice to be made is akin to choosing the lessor evil rather than the dominate good. In Western democracies is has become extremely difficult to find candidates for office who are truly and without prevarication pro-life, pro-family, pro-freedom of religion. Interestingly invited by both parties to give the closing benediction at their conventions Cardinal Dolan clearly cried out for life, for care of the poor, in essence challenging not only the parties and candidates, but the electorate as well, praying in part: “….we praise You for the gift of life. Grant us the courage to defend it, life, without which no other rights are secure…” In the preparatory document for the upcoming Synod of Bishops on ‘new evangelization’ all are urged as “…Christian communities, affected by the strong social and cultural changes taking place [to] once again…find the energy and means to ground themselves solidly in the presence of the Risen Christ, who animates them.” It is not only to be hoped for but prayed for that all Christian electors in the United States will this November be aware of being in Christ’s Risen presence as they make their ballot choice. Aware too that in choosing a candidate they are also choosing that one’s agenda for the United States yes, but as well making a choice of global impact.

Thursday, August 02, 2012


My Grandchildren call me ‘Papere’ – I mention this so you can follow the conversation: “Papere how old will you be on your birthday?” “68” “You are older than Papa.” “Yep, just like he is older than you.” “Will you die?” “Someday – but I have asked Jesus not to come for me before you and your brothers are teenagers so it will be easier for you.” “That’s nice, but you might die tonight!” I chuckled inside and reassured her I was not planning on that and she immediately switched to telling me her stuffed toy Piglet was wearing out and how she needed a new one! The next day a brother priest died and as I was chatting about him with a member of the community who is a couple of years older than I am and we reminisced about the days, now over forty years ago, when the community was not quite twenty years old and most of us not much older. In those days, save for a few weeks in the summer when the river water was warm enough for bathing and we only had one temperamental fresh water well, only the women’s dormitory had enough hot water for showers so after Saturday supper, putting a warning sign on the stairs leading to the dorm, we men had our weekly shower; in the winter months, lasting the greater part of the year in that northern clime, because the community was so poor the small oil heater would be turned off in our dorm from dawn when we headed to the main compound until evening when we returned from the day’s labour and communal life; the chapel was a small affair above the dining room/library and as the community grew the floor started to sag so on Sunday’s most of us would walk to the village church until a decade later we were able to build a large enough church on the property. Of course there are many more memories but what I recall with immense joy is that when we were few and so poor life was simpler! My spiritual director is currently storming heaven for a miracle, namely that I will get to spend what years remain in a more traditional hermitage out in the countryside – one without all the modern comforts of my current urban abode – granted it is in an old building in a poor neighbourhood on the edge of downtown but it really is palatial for a hermit, Lord have mercy! My Granddaughter would like me to move into the new family home in the countryside and assures me the finished basement would be ideal – however I think not – while I might accept living in a cave it is unlikely there would be much solitude with three very loving grandchildren living in the same house! Each of us as we grow older have a larger and larger storehouse of memories and recently I have begun to see a connection with: “Then every scribe who has been instructed in the Kingdom of Heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.” [Mt. 13:52] Memories are occasion to give thanks for our very existence, for all blessings, yes perhaps also to beg forgiveness for resistance to grace, thus we bring out the old. The new – well each moment is a new gift of life and grace which Jesus brings to us and is the opportunity in that same moment of gratitude to love one another all the more.

Saturday, July 28, 2012


We beg You, O Almighty and Eternal God our Father, who through Jesus Christ reveals Your glory to all nations, all people, preserve the works of Your mercy; grant that Your Church, spread throughout the world, continues with unchanging faith to proclaim Your Name, Abba, and to preach the Gospel of Life. We pray You O Merciful Father of might, wisdom, justice, from Whom all authority on earth originates, that all those with governing authority govern rightly, administer and defend Your laws, judge according to Your mercy, defend life from conception to natural death, defend and protect the sacredness of marriage and family life, never over burden citizens with excessive taxes or laws which abridge authentic freedom, and that they care for the poor and the vulnerable. Grant the Holy Spirit to those who govern, with His gifts of truth, wisdom, righteousness, charity, compassion so that those who govern us encourage respect for virtue and religion, proclaim and execute laws replete with justice and mercy which will restrain moral disorder and divisions between peoples. Grant too that the light of Your wisdom shines forth in the deliberations of all national, international, local bodies of governance so that all laws which they frame are for the true good of Your sons and daughters, protect the sacredness of life, of the family, promote the just distribution of the goods of the earth, enhance peace among nations, show due care for the environment, a just wage for workers, proper care of the poor, the sick, the elderly. O Father we commend to Your unbounded love and mercy all our fellow citizens of the earth, may all come to know, receive, follow Your Son Jesus Christ our Saviour, opening their hearts to the sanctifying action of the Most Holy Spirit, living under the protective mantle of love of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary so that everyone will live according to Your Holy Will with true love for one another. We ask this in the Name of Jesus Christ, Your Son Our Lord who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and always and forever and ever. Amen. [inspired by a prayer composed by Archbishop John Carroll in 1791]

Sunday, June 24, 2012


Glenn Beck in a recent interview with the Canadian Sun News Network decried the paucity of sincere preaching from the pulpits, in particular urging us all to live out the Gospel mandate to personally care for one another as Jesus Himself mandates when He tell us that He IS the hungry one, the one naked, lonely, sick, thirsty, in prison. [Mt. 25:31-46] In general western societies have since World War II created a nanny state, a culture of entitlement, resulting in massive government debts, immense human suffering through unemployment, loss of homes because mortgage payments cannot be made and more and more body politics of division if not outright hatred. A friend just returned from an extended trip in Europe and when I asked what most struck them the reply was stark: “People are afraid.” In conversations and through snail and email from around the world more and more I hear how anxious, outright frightened and discouraged people are. We cannot, must not, as Christians simply hunker down and blame the media or the wealthy or politicians, neither can we be active participants in a political correctness which accelerates the shift of contemporary life ever deeper into the swamp of division, hatred, darkness and the culture of death. Each of us, the baptized must to stand up and live the Gospel with our lives without any compromise whatsoever. We must live, pray, yes sacrifice for the conversion of the whole world. I begged the Lord in prayer: “What Lord is the connection, Lord, between the chaos in the global economy, Islamism, abortion, the loss of a sense of sin, the divisions and hatreds, failure to truly live the Gospel?” “Contemplate My broken open Eucharistic Heart.” Like Christ we must have our hearts broken open. [Hos.6:6; Hb.10:5-7; Ps.51:19; Mt.22:37ff; Jn.19:34] Christ loves us with a broken open heart. The Church has always seen in the breaking open of His Sacred Heart the gushing forth of the sacramental life of grace. Standing before our crucified Lord, this river of grace pouring forth, we contemplate the ultimate act of the virtue of trust in and abandonment to the loving will of the Father. Christ’s Holy Resurrection is the glorious love-fulfillment of that trust. Here we discover the source of our own trust and abandonment to the Father’s Holy Will for us, to His love. We must, with intimate confidence in Him, turn to the Holy Spirit, offering Him our hearts as surely as Christ offered His to the lance. [Jn.16:13-15] After His Holy Resurrection Jesus comes to us, as He did to the Apostles, and finds us, often like them, doubting and struggling. He invites us in our pain and confusion to touch Him by touching His Holy Wounds that we might know He is real! [cf.Jn.20:27] That we might believe. It is through the locked door of our hearts, if we open to Him [Rv.3:20], into the deepest regions of our terrified hearts, that Jesus comes and it is in allowing Him to touch those deep wounds that we touch Him. Our most tender Lord does not force Himself upon us, as we read in Revelations 3:20. He comes only as far as the door of our being. There He patiently remains waiting, knocking, and seeking leave to enter. The wonderful thing about allowing our hearts to be broken open is that henceforth there is no longer a closed and locked door barring His entrance! If we yearn in the slightest to understand the wonder of our existence, the true meaning of life, the reality of our being persons of Christ, we must stand at the foot of the Cross, contemplating Jesus of the broken-open Heart. On the Cross Christ has taken all our fear, pain, vulnerability, loneliness, questions, tears, sins, and more than we can ever comprehend, upon Himself. This is ultimate gift of Self. Only if we open wide the door of our being, offer our own hearts to be broken open, will we experience the entrance of Christ into the depths of our hearts, spirits, souls wherein He shall fill us with His own light and salt us with fire that we are able then to go forth and make self-gift to all our brothers and sisters as salt and light [Mt.5:13,14] and truly lay down our lives, moment by moment, as gift of true love, as He has asked us: love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Heavenly Father. [Mt.5:44, 45] The breaking open of our hearts is in essence experience of Eucharistic fullness. It is a deep configuration to Christ wherein Holy Mass and Holy Communion become more than a sacred event we participate in for an hour on a Sunday: Eucharist becomes the sacred reality we live in our very flesh, mind, heart, soul: the praxis of faith in all relationships, choices, endeavours, joys, sufferings, in the public square and political choices, in art, culture, law, philosophy, in all of life. “Broken and distributed is the Lamb of God, broken and not dismembered, always eaten and never expended, but making holy those who receive It.” So exalts the Church in the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom! We must allow the Holy Spirit, in a real way, to break and distribute us to everyone as surely as we receive into our very beings the One broken and distributed to us. St. Paul tells us that we are called to ‘bear one another’s burdens’ [Gal.6:2], and the Apostle adds that it is in bearing one another’s burdens that we fulfill the law of Christ: [cf.Jn.15:17] It is the law of love, the law of gift. We most likely would resist less the movement of the Holy Spirit within us to sanctify us with a broken open heart that we might truly love, if He were to break us open through some sweet mystical experience. In reality our hearts will be broken open through struggle with faith, with God, as Jacob struggled before us [Gn.32:23-33], the reality of spiritual warfare as shown in Revelations chapter 12. When we receive Love’s wound then we enter into a depth of communion of love with the Holy Trinity where ours becomes the beloved’s own experience. [Sg. of Sgs. 5:4] Moment by moment too, in a manner which is quite hidden and a protection from any form of pride, we are broken open, and healed too, through the nitty-gritty of the sacred duty of each moment: in daily life, relationships, work, life! It is then we can rightfully say with the Apostle, and rejoice in its truth and be thankful for the experience[s] of being goaded by the Holy Spirit! [2Cor.12:7-10] Jesus, with great joy, at the very beginning of His public life for our redemption, proclaims the truth of His being sent by the Spirit, the same Spirit who is active within us. [Lk.4:17-19] Because we have free will, and thus a tendency to sin and to a persistent type of attempted self-protecting which actually is a closing of our hearts to Him, the Holy Spirit is necessarily persistent in His work of breaking us open! This is made clear in St. Paul’s extraordinary Letter to the Romans, especially chapter 8, in particular verses 5-9, 14-17, and 26-28. Christ comes without ceasing to the door of our being begging admittance. Of course we all know that as a result of our own sin-wounds and the wounds inflicted upon us by those who have sinned against us we often have hearts like something sealed in a jar or walled up in a tomb. Christ knocks at the door of the tomb in which we have buried ourselves, or where we are held captive by some addiction or fear and He cries out to us: ‘Come out!’ [cf.Jn.11] Christ seeks to shatter the jar of our fears and illusions. If we but allow Him to do so, and allow the Spirit to accomplish His work within us, then we shall experience the joy of a broken open heart which becomes a wide open door through which processes the Most Holy Trinity in communion of love, filling us with the utter fullness of God. [Jn.1:16; 2Cor.4:11; Gal.2:19,20; Gal.3:27; Gal.4:6,7] Faith is the gift whose fruit is trust. Trust is the willingness to say, and mean it no matter what our emotions may be doing at the time: “Yes, you may break me open O Holy Spirit and configure me ever more fully to Christ of the Broken Open Heart. You may empty my being of all that is not holy, set me free from what has me captive, heal my blindness which is so dark because I fear, fill in my poverty due to my sins with the Good News of Divine Mercy, free me from having been pulverized and downtrodden by the allures of the world. Declare within my deepest being the year of the Lord’s favour so that I live no longer, only Christ lives in me!” It is to make St. Paul’s prayer, while on our knees, our own! [Ep.3:14-21] If we willingly, frequently, put our face onto the ground at the foot of the Cross, crying out in all truth: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me a sinner, once we have soaked the ground with our tears, wept for our own sins and those of the whole world, we can lift our eyes towards Him and contemplate with all the love of our broken hearts He who’s Heart they have broken open. There, in the depths of the communion of love, we will come to understand a broken heart is both a loving and an obedient heart. We need this intimacy with the Divine Lover and there is no better time for this contemplative union than when we have received Him in the Holy Eucharist. Only through intimacy with Christ of the Wounded Heart will we ever overcome the fear of having our own hearts broken open. Only through that same intimacy will we willingly embrace the cross daily and follow Him wherever His love takes us. The Holy Eucharist is communion of love. Communion of love is Trinitarian. The heart cannot be without love. Either the heart embraces the reality of Real Love Himself and the Love offered us, or the heart will accept unreality and become captive by some other. When we truly love someone and that love is real and holy we yearn to be with them always, we think about them, make choices with their best interest at heart. In a word we make a gift of ourselves to them. Thus with each Holy Communion our hearts ever more humbly, ever more generously, ever more zealously ask the question about the ‘to do’ aspect of our being [Jn.6:28,29] and live it out precisely by being who we are! At the heart of everything is faith. Faith, as we know, is not only ascent to the truths of faith, but it is also a deep trust in all that the Church asks of us. Faith does not tinker with the content of truth. Humble obedience is the external witness of faith. When we are disobedient, even in little things, we begin to distance ourselves from that obedient intimacy with the Father which Jesus offers us in communion of love. Indeed persistent disobedience leads to an ever greater disconnect between the content of faith, the moral imperative of faith, and little by little we find ourselves seeking to avoid confrontation with ‘the world’ and either become mute in the face of such evil as abortion or, as many Catholics do, advocate for positions absolutely warring against the Gospel of life. Who among us would ever want to hear Love Himself ask: DO YOU ALSO WANT TO LEAVE? That question, in John 6 verse 66, speaks to the heart of our struggle to be truly humble, faithful, obedient disciples of Jesus, true witnesses to the Gospel of Life, for all life flows from He who is our life. Since reality is we cannot love without a broken open heart reality also is that when our hearts are truly broken open we become icons of charity and icons of communion of love. The icon of the perfection of God’s love within us is the obvious love we have for each other. If we allow our hearts to be broken open our hearts will become Eucharistic hearts, filled with the fire of the Spirit, the selflessness of Christ, the love of the Father and then everyone we touch, take into our hearts, will experience radiating from us the splendour and beauty, fire and love of the Holy Trinity and in the midst of this culture of darkness and death the stench of death will be overcome by the perfume of Christ and the darkness will be shredded into nothingness by the Light of Christ.

Friday, June 08, 2012


TWO SPLENDID WOMEN Almost 260 years ago, traveling through the bush of what is now central Canada, a man stopped at a spot which eventually grew into a settlement and then a village named Combermere. Almost a century later a married couple arrived from the United States where they had served the poor in the inner cities and began to serve the poor in the hills and valleys surrounding Combermere. Almost twenty years later the title by which they, and the men, women, priests who joined them in their apostolate, prayed for the intercession and guidance of Our Blessed Mother, was officially recognized by the Church and so little by little devotion has spread to Our Lady of Combermere, whose feast the Madonna House Apostolate celebrates each June 8th, the day on which new members of what is now a worldwide apostolate, take their promises of poverty, chastity and obedience. The full story can be found at: What is remarkable about this, as with the more familiar stories of Our Blessed Mother appearing in places now large and famous, such as Lourdes and Fatima, is how, not unlike Bethlehem, Nazareth in their day, Our Lady clearly prefers to appear in little places, to seemingly little and unimportant people. I find great comfort in that, especially when tempted to want to be noticed myself – there is a great blessing in being hidden. Much easier to serve the poor, everyone, just as Our Blessed Mother did while on earth, does still for everyone on earth, when we are not in the limelight! Some twenty years or so after the original statue of Our Lady of Combermere was blessed a girl was born who today as a woman celebrates her birthday, for she was born on this day and when visiting a shrine of Our Blessed Mother in another country and seeking to be led to meet a good Catholic man to fulfill the vocation of holy marriage, unbeknownst to her at the time when she was born of the feast of Our Lady of Combermere, a boy had been born on the feast of the Presentation of Our Blessed Mother. He would be the man she would meet, love, marry, and with him build the domestic church.[ See:] Two splendid women, Our Lady and Lucille, the woman born on Our Lady of Combermere’s feast day. Two women whom I love and trust, whose guidance and prayer I rely upon.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Ever since some wise man discovered the zero, thus enabling what became mathematics, we have been able to add, subtract, multiple, divide, etc., developing computer codes and such esoteric, yet deemed critically important, statistics as “earned run averages”, stock market averages, currency fluctuations, and literally innumerable other uses of numbers, though some, like tracking how many ‘friends’ one has on social media sites belie a deeper angst which infects much of the human family. I am tempted here to insert various common wisdoms such as ‘figures don’t lie, but liars sure can figure’ and ‘it is never too late to teach an old dog a new trick’, but to pursue such would be to avoid the very tough lesson I am barely on the threshold of embracing! In human terms there is no one more important in my life and whom I truly seek to be a gift to, to love, protect, serve, than my own son and since his marriage his wife and their children have a co-equal share of my heart. Holy Mother the Church, friends, the poor, yes even my enemies are treasured, loved, and when needed, forgiven. Primarily for each one of us love is an act of the will, but we are beings who also have emotions and we all know emotions are about as easy to control as it is to carry a pound of jello in our bare hands, running a steeple chase! Our emotions often behave like earthquakes. It is as if we live on a fault line, the sudden upheavals coming at the least expected and most inopportune moments in our lives. How about the emotional reaction of the disciples wanting to nuke those they felt opposed Jesus [Lk.9.54]! We learn as children, appropriately as it is connected both to playing fair and also teaches deep lessons about accepting loss in life, that some forms of play involve team sports and the team with the most goals, wins. The other team does not. Winning, wrongly interiorized, can lead to arrogance. Loss, wrongly interiorized, can lead to deep wounds woven into self-doubt, even in the extreme a sense of being unlovable which in turn is often expressed as extreme, never able to be satisfied, need for acceptance. If parents pit one child against another, deliberately or inadvertently, that is the ultimate experience of being the losing team. I admire my son and his wife how they manage the extremely important balance of treating each of their children equally with love and attention, yet also have neat little ways in which each child gets the right amount of individual love and attention which affirms to the child they are unique and uniquely loved. Suffice to say my experience growing up was the polar opposite and by the time I left home at fourteen to find my own way in the world more damage was done than then, or even now on the threshold of seventy, I realized or, as recent events have underscored, realize fully yet! Indeed it is a shock to face the fact I am not unlike the labourers who felt they should have been paid more [Mt. 20:1-16]. They were keeping score. I have been doing so most of my life, with more emotional damage to myself and being burdensome to those who love me than I have ever understood, Lord have mercy indeed! Keeping it simple, suffice to say the other day my son did something necessary for his own wellbeing as a hardworking family man which gave him some respite and a relaxing evening. When I heard about it I was frankly deeply hurt at not being included as it is something I have long desired to participate in with him and I went, to be honest, emotionally ballistic. Chatting with a friend I uttered score words, namely how long I have been waiting for……and my friend said very simply: “You are keeping score.” I felt like I have been sucker punched and went interiorly into aggressive denial, but his words would not be silenced in my mind or heart. I began begging the Holy Spirit to settle me down and enable me to look honestly at the implications of my friend’s words and I discovered, primarily about myself, this human bondage to keep emotional score and how damaging it really is. Now in some ways I have been trying to dig myself out of quicksand. Thankfully, I do not have to do it on my own because in the midst of all storms we see Who really is doing the digging out, the rescuing: Mt. 14:23-33. The Holy Gospel is filled with examples of Jesus taking someone by the hand and raising them up from illness or paralysis and so forth and each of these examples of physical healing, the examples of Jesus setting people free from bondage to demons, are applicable. Jesus will, indeed yearns to if we ask Him, raise us up out of, set us free from, emotional turmoil as well. So if I am to be raised up from drowning in, set free from the bondage of keeping score is there a sort of replacement means of score keeping, in other words, is there a way Jesus teaches me to keep score? If we meditate deeply and allow the Holy Spirit to teach us then in passages such as Matthew chapters 5, 6, 7 and 18:21, 22; Mark 10: 29-31; Luke 6:38; John 15:13, just a few examples, we will see that the way Jesus keeps score, as it were and call us to, is never about what I get or what need of mine is met, rather all is about gift, in essence how as Jesus gifts Himself to us is precisely how I am called to make myself gift to other. Sure I am not claiming when it comes to keeping score being converted as yet but thanks to that word from my friend I am no longer comfortable keeping score in the old way plus my eyes are wide open to being aware of what an immense gift my son is – and that, constantly giving thanks, is the essential way too Jesus keeps score, always giving thanks to Our Father and His for love and blessing, indeed Jesus gifts Himself as the penultimate reality of thanks-giving in the Holy Eucharist. So, how have you been keeping score lately?

Friday, May 18, 2012


Ever since President Obama declared himself in favour of gay so-called marriage I have been particularly concerned by his stating how he came to this stance based on consultation with his wife and daughters: in other words rather than assert authentic manhood he caved, rather than lead chose to be led, rather than teach truth he surrendered to the lie that the original human vocation of real marriage, the union in love open to self-gift and new life between a man and a woman, can be distorted by the mere dictates of pretence! There is a cry and deep sorrow at the very center of our world. The cry is wrenched from the hearts of adults but is rooted in the hearts of children. Someday a wise anthropologist, perhaps, will do an in depth study of our culture of death and make the connection between the origins of this cry, this deep sorrow, rooted in the loss of authentic manhood and how we came to suffer such a loss. Perhaps then we will have a better understanding of the complexities of human intercourse which resulted in the 20th century being so soaked on every page of its history with the blood of the innocent, shed massively in war but on an even greater scale through abortion, a river of blood already flooding this new century. How urgently we need to pray that we come to grips with a generation and more of fatherless men, of boys, in the words of Susan Faludi in her work: STIFFED, growing up in “...a culture that has them by the throat.” An adult whose own experience of being fathered, being authentically masculine, was actually that of being father deprived, starved for affirmation and completion as a male, finds himself in a situation ready made for legions of demons to create the evil of lack of courage, inability to be faithful to the command of self-gift. Marriage is the ultimate expression of authentic reciprocal gift of self to other and presupposes both the willing generosity and ability to make the gift. Distortion of authentic marriage, such as advocated by Obama and others, pre-supposes an intellectual, seemingly logical, disconnect between the reality of self-gift being about the other, rather than about myself. We live in such a dark and confused culture, such a disordered body politic, that we take demands for what the ‘I’ wants and devise arguments to make such a demand appear as a ’right’ and as the screams increase in volume gerrymander laws which then form a type of feedback loop so the egotistical ‘I’ is vindicated. This process is only possible when the culture, the body politic, and most disturbing of all large numbers of the baptized, abandon the law of gift for the anarchy of ‘take’! The supreme acts of self-gift are God, creating us in His own image and likeness; the Father loving us so much He gifts His only-begotten Son for us; the Son Jesus laying down His life for us; the Holy Spirit sanctifying us, crying out within us constantly: Abba! Bl. John Paul’s constant teaching on what he sometimes referred to as the ‘law of gift’, is drawn from the Second Vatican Council teaching on the Church in the Modern World, Guadium et Spes # 24, reminding us that we alone of all His creatures, we the human person, are the ones He wanted, ultimately, for communion of love, so the only way then we can discover our true selves is through a sincere GIVING of ourselves. The male person, we men, in face of the constant assault on faith, family, life from the womb to the tomb, as baptized men in particular, need to incarnate in all we do and say the fullness of self-gift. Unless we rediscover our true selves as men the darkness of the culture of death will overtake everything and we will wake up one morning and discover that, unlike the current situation where a type of emasculation leaves us with cowardice and indecisiveness in the body politic, frequently in the pulpit, we shall confront the polar opposite distortion of manhood asserting power if not complete control, namely those who use violence to subjugate their families and terror to cower whole nations. In 1989 Bl. Pope John Paul reminded us all in his letter on St. Joseph that we have a model of manhood and an intercessor for all in good Saint Joseph. Granted the prime icon is Jesus, yet in terms of a guy like us, St. Joseph is the model of self-gift manhood, authentic husband and fatherhood. A whole man, a real man, is a person comfortable in his skin as a man, who embraces life, protects and defends objective truth, thus he protects and defends life. In our culture, however, we have seen a progressive denigration of that which the Father has created: the human person, in the God created beauty and dignity of an equality of person which flowers in the diversity of some persons being created male and some persons being created female. Our media saturated, politically correct chattering classes are willfully blind to the sheer idiotic stance of debasing either gender, to those futile and sacrilegious continuing efforts, in particular, to un-male or un-female children to the point of making adults who are so totally confused about gender they no longer even know they are persons. Each person, each male his maleness and each female her femaleness, has this incontrovertible reality sanctified at Baptism. As men in our very Baptism we are irrevocably and indisputably consecrated as protectors of the domestic church, proclaimers of the Gospel of Life, defenders of the human person, especially in those stages of life – it’s very beginning and natural end, its childhood and old age, its times of sickness or weakness – when life is most vulnerable. To do less is to betray our male personhood and discipleship of Jesus Christ. Saint Joseph is a powerful intercessor for us as we seek to be whole and holy as male persons, mature men with childlike hearts who are at one and the same time son of the Father, father to all our brothers and sisters in Christ, brother to all the children of the Father, through the activity of the Holy Spirit within us by our sacramental baptism and fidelity to self-gift. Just as Bl. John Paul teaches how the Angel introduced St. Joseph to the mystery of Mary as mother, it follows quite simply then none is better than Joseph to introduce we men to, and teach us about, Our Blessed Mother, about self-gift to women, to children, to everyone. This is our vocation, to be protectors of the sacredness of other, of life, of truth. This requires we be real men, holy men, and fatherly men. Men capable of strength, courage, tenderness, love, wisdom, and generosity to provide for and protect those confided to our care: in the immediate wife and children but also our co-workers, the Church, the wider community, in particular the vulnerable pre-born. Saint Joseph was called by God to serve the person and mission of Jesus directly ‘through the exercise of his fatherhood’, as Bl. John Paul reminds us, and we men are likewise called to serve Jesus as well through self-gift to other and in a culture where the one who is allegedly the father of the nation, sort of the ‘man in chief’ has caved to the clamour of the culture of darkness and death, how urgent that the rest of the baptized men stand up in the face of all that is disordered, indeed in the face of satan himself, stand firm and declare enough! Fidelity is this day to day, moment by moment, willingness to give ourselves as gift. Once again, naturally enough, we come face to face with a simple fact: we need faith! Faith is a gift. Increase of faith is a gift we must ask for. The faithful St. Joseph will intercede on our behalf for a constant increase in this gift of faith if we, man to man, ask him. Because of the pulverization of our true understanding of self as a male person and living out of that gift, a pulverization inflicted upon us by the culture of death, we too, even as adult men, can be burdened by the sorrow(s) so common among our brothers. There seems to be, frankly, to a very dangerous degree – dangerous for the faith, the Church, for the vulnerable, especially for the unborn and those weak in anyway, for women and children in particular – a lack of mature holy manliness and is why Bl. Pope John Paul II was seen as such a sign of contradiction because he never wavered when it came to objective truth, never shied away from proclaiming the truth about the Gospel of Life, about the reality of marriage. A man has only to look upon Christ to see himself as God intends us to be and who better to bring us to Jesus but St. Joseph? Love and truth are inseparable. Love is never interested in self. Love is always servant of the other. As we seek to enter ever more deeply into communion of love with the Blessed Trinity, imitating the Trinity’s own self-gift, we must enter more fully into union with Christ the man, the obedient son of the Father. It is to journey, with steadfastness and honour, the pilgrim’s way. Self-gift love costs. It costs the life of Love Himself upon the Cross. Can we love any less? In the Litany of Saint Joseph, noted in the Litany as being strong, obedient and faithful, is also the terror of demons. When we, as true holy men, are by grace also strong, obedient and faithful we too shall be a source of terror for demons, in particular those demons of the culture of death. To become ever more completely that which we are, by gender, baptism, we must, like St. Joseph the good and just man before us, constantly be attentive to the movement of the Holy Spirit within our beings. The Sanctifier at work within us, calling us to ever more complete abandonment to Divine Providence, ever deeper metanoia, that total kenosis where nothing remains in or about us but Christ. The fidelity of which St. Joseph is our patron and model was not for him, nor is it for us primarily a matter of ‘doing’ what needs be done, as important as that is. Fidelity of the true and sacred kind, which implies explicitly the nitty-gritty doing well of the duty of the moment, is first of all a matter of ‘being’: being totally trusting of, and abandoned to, the love and will of the Father for us. We men, indeed all Christian men and women, need to begin again to build anew the civilization of love, the culture of life. Thus we need the grace of a deep interior life for Gospel action flows from deep contemplation. Saint Joseph is the patron of the interior life, having lived and served the person and mission of Christ with fidelity, courage, strength, obedience, selflessness and humility. While being the teacher of Christ in the ways of a man’s life on earth St. Joseph was undoubtedly also a ‘student’ at the feet of the Master, learning communion of love with the Father. Our increasingly fatherless culture has produced generations of children who become adults not knowing the truth, a truth we need to relearn and teach: that we are beloved. St. Joseph will teach us and then affirmed in the truth we are beloved of Love Himself, we will go forth and love. We have not been created primarily, to do great things, rather because we are greatly beloved, we are called to love, greatly. We are called to be faithful to Someone and with, in, through Him to love all others. It is through fidelity to the One who loves us so we are urged on by grace to be faithful in all else. Fidelity to love, to self-gift is heroic, for spouses, parents, for everyone. Fidelity is heroic especially in our day when we witness to the Gospel of Life in the darkness of the culture of death. Fidelity is that manly heroic courage lived at a time when as men we are pulverized from all sides, often simply because we are men, certainly because we are Christian men. Here too we turn to the good Saint Joseph as our model and patron, for he carried within his very being the history of a pulverized people, a history marked by deliverance as well. In his own life St. Joseph suffered much being faithful to his vocation as spouse and protector of his wife Mary and foster-father and protector of the Child Jesus. We men are likewise called to embrace, with courage, the mystery of suffering, the blessedness of suffering. We too are called to be father and protector of the Child Jesus: Christ who comes to us as every man, woman and child on the face of the earth. No human being should be an orphan of our fatherly, manly hearts. Our relationship is communion of love with Infinite of Infinite Love Himself! [Jn. 1:29, 36] St. John also notes Jesus is in motion, coming toward, as He does within us, towards us, every moment of our life. [ibid: 29, 26] How the heart of St. Joseph must naturally have pounded with the pride of a father every time he saw Jesus coming towards him, how his soul must have leapt with joy every time he saw Jesus coming towards him. Jesus comes towards us, walks with us in every moment of our lives, thus every moment is a moment of contemplation in love. So overtaken by the beauty of Christ, the holy allure if you will of Christ, the fire of His love radiating from His Holy Face, those eyes revealing the love of the Father, His disciples couldn’t bear being separated from Him and cried out to know where He dwelt. [ibid: 38] Should not our manly hearts likewise yearn to ask Him that question, the cry of a heart yearning to be in communion of love? Love’s invitation to intimacy is given, inviting us to ‘come and see.’ Always Love gives us freedom. We are free to follow Him, or not. Yet the essence of fidelity is to choose to always be inclined towards Christ, to follow Him; being always with Christ wherever He is in the moment. Where then is Christ in this moment: awaiting us, precisely where the Father wills us to be. The place where Jesus dwells is there. It is to be one with Him in that place He invites us to when He says: ‘come and you will see.’ Only when we follow Him, as St. Joseph did, into the reality, mystery, grace, of each moment, through fidelity to the duty of the moment -–will we dwell truly, live and move and have our being completely, in Him, with Him, through Him, for Him! Then all that we hunger for, seek, do, will be in accord with the fullness of our baptismal vocation and like our model and patron St. Joseph, will we be true whole and holy men. Fidelity is being in relationship with the Father in the place, manner, of Christ’s own relationship with the Father. Our fidelity is within the reality of communion of love with the Holy Trinity and will restore right order in the lives of our brothers and sisters, in our whole civilization. As the courageous and humble man chosen to be the earthly father-protector of the Child and His Mother, St. Joseph, we too must strive to be faithful in the reality of every moment wherein Christ is always ‘walking towards us’. This is the greater truth, the greater reality. Though we may live at a time when we are pulverized by the culture of anger, blame and death which surrounds us, pulverized because we are male, it is a little thing to suffer for and with Christ. St. Joseph suffered and remained faithful and chose the path of love, before he was ever consoled by the angel. Dare we be less of a man than Joseph? Dare we love less?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


What I begin with may seem unconnected to geography, in the broader sense of places on the earth, but actually is connected for I speak of the geography of the mind or the soul. Geography is, among other things, a descriptive examination of the topographical features of, for example, some region of the earth or a planet – well I suggest there is a type of topography of the mind and the soul! We know various regions of the brain contain what is necessary for thought, emotions, mobility, speech, etc. and that certain traumas can impact how well things function, so in a way post a stroke you might say that the geography of the brain is less. PTSD and other traumas impact the emotional regions, the topography – one impact of those, along with other factors, can reduce the creative geographical regions dramatically to the point of experiencing what is known commonly as writer’s block. It has been out of a prolonged period of the latter that I have been reflecting a lot on the human experience of geography as in distances travelled, that is the ever widening outreach of human mobility in general to the various ways in which, as we age or our economic circumstances change, our mobility is restricted to the point where we experience ever less geography. I first began reflecting on ever less geography many years ago when I was chaplain in a nursing home and observed one of the elderly women, who lived in a sort of dorm room with three other women, pushing her wheeled walker down the hall. I was struck by how she kept everything precious to her in a large purse strapped to the walker. She had been a teacher, wife, mother, in a word someone whose area of life and mobility was extensive and for whom old age had reduced everything! As a human family we first began to expand our experience and use of geography by simply walking and it took thousands of years before the domestication of horses, elephants, camels, increased the range of travel. Then canoes, boats were developed, enabling travel not only along rivers and across lakes but eventually even across oceans until contact between peoples of all cultures, religions, languages became common place. Yes not all contact was positive as history teaches us, but contact there was, is. Only with advances in steam technology in the mid-19th century, then the development of commercial aviation, along with the combustible engine, did travel over ever vaster distances by ever greater numbers of people become ordinary, while space travel remains as yet mainly reserved to astronauts or the extremely wealthy. Who knows where the definitive edge of space is, or for that matter the edge of the geography of the internet! We can define the external limits of the human brain but not those of thought, emotion, creativity. When it comes to the soul, the heart, the image which most impresses me for their geography is the tardis of Dr. Who: the external dimensions are fixed but interiorly is a place of seeming infinitude. Such is the garden enclosed of the human heart and soul. Writer’s block then is a rather tough, indeed excruciatingly frustrating experience of less geography on a par with the pain that elderly woman experienced with her world reduced to a small crowded room and a few hallways. Age impacts physical, mental agility and stress impacts creativity agility. For wee the baptized in particular, the reduction of geographical travel, daily life space, even interior suffering such as writers block or other mental, emotional pain, offers us the opportunity to choose what we do with it: agonize with increased frustration or literally offer the pain in intercession for those of our brothers and sisters throughout the world who experience the more nefarious aspects of reduced geography: the homeless who find their world reduced to a few dirty inner city streets and alleys, perhaps on occasion a cot in a shelter; those suffering famine, war, genocide who are pushed off the land where they and their ancestors have lived for millennia; yes for those languishing in nursing homes, those suffering in hospitals, those in labour camps, prisoners in general. When it is the reduced geography of the creative aspects of the intellect needed to write that very painful struggle, experienced as mentioned for many weeks, can be an offering for those suffering depression, ptsd from being on the battlefield, or any form of mental illness or anguish. The Saints learned and have passed onto us, rooted in Romans 8:27 where the Apostle reminds us that by the power of the Holy Spirit all things can work for our good, hence in all suffering by the grace of God through the merits of Jesus’ own suffering, good can be found, purification embraced, life enhanced, for ourselves yes, but by offering what we suffer, grace for others. When the choice is made to offer up whatever we suffer, for the good of others in union with Jesus is made, the geography of gift, of communion of love, is limitless!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Absolute control by the state or a governing branch of a highly centralized institution is the basic definition of totalitarianism and, neo is a fancy way of saying ‘new’.
I mention this at the outset because the Allies fought a multi-year war against the Axis powers in WWII to overcome such horror and waged the cold war for the same reason and rail, rightly, against those governments which continue to oppress their people.
Yet here is what is truly an Alice through the looking glass experience of daily life, more and more in particular in the United States and Canada: national, state, provincial government policies which are truly totalitarian: for example in the US the Obama government imposition upon the hospitals of people of faith to insure contraceptive and abortion drugs; in Canada, one example, the Supreme Court upholding provincial legislation which denies parents the right to exempt their children from classes which impose anti-Christian teaching.
I am reminded of a word from the great Father of the Desert, Abba Anthony, who when asked by his monks what the future held said: “The day will come when the world will go mad. They will come to us and tell us WE must be mad because we are not like them.”
Western Europe, Russia, North, Central, South America in particular are rooted in what is commonly known as Christian civilization and, along with our brothers and sisters of the Jewish and Islamic faiths, share a common heritage rooted in faith in the one true God, the God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
We not only dishonour our ancestors in faith, but also the countless men and women who past and present have laid down their lives to retain our freedom from totalitarianism, when we abandon the clear command of God for our lives and society in favour of a totally disordered, evil and totalitarian assault on freedom of belief and practice.
Bl. Pope John Paul in his homily at St. Catherine’s Monastery on Mount Sinai during the Jubilee 2000 reminds us that “…our faith leads us to become pilgrims in the footsteps of God.”
Where does He lead us?
“…..He is indeed the God who does set His people free as He promised….God seals His love by making the Covenant that He will never renounce….The encounter of God and Moses…enshrines at the heart of our religion the mystery of liberating obedience, which finds its fulfilment in the perfect obedience of Christ in the Incarnation and on the Cross…We too shall be truly free if we learn to obey as Jesus did.”
If we allow governments to take away our freedom we have chosen to become slaves.
It is fundamental, as Bl. John Paul teaches that: “To keep the Commandments is to be faithful to God, but it is also to be faithful to ourselves, to our true nature, to our deepest aspirations.”
There are two ways of becoming an enslaved and oppressed people: 1] an individual or government by sheer force of military might conquer and enslaves a nation; 2] silent acquiescence in the face of totalitarian legislation.
Attributed to the German Christian Pastor Niemoller: “First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. They came for the communists and I did not speak out because I was not a communist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.”
They have come for the Catholics and all believers, they have come for parents: who will speak out?

Monday, March 12, 2012


So millions of people have already viewed the KONY 2012 film yet numerous are the warmongers.
 Millions of our brothers and sisters suffer violence daily.
If we start in Asia, for example being aware of the suffering people of Tibet, North Korea, Burma, then move further on and become aware of people suffering in places like Central Africa, Somalia, even consider the tens of thousands of families in Mexico suffering the death or wounding of loved ones, or simply living in fear, glance at the Middle East and the continuous conflict between the people of Israel, the people of Palestine, then as horrific as the violent Kony is, the daily horror Bashar al-Assad inflicts on his people no less evil, ……well I confess it is difficult to pray for peace without interiorly being filled with a combination of rage and weariness.
When O Lord will You grant us peace?
When will hatred be banished from the face of the earth?
Most of all when will I embrace with a repentant heart, begging the grace to be converted into a man of peace, a true heart of love for every human being, understanding that here within my own heart, my own being, lie the seeds of conflict, of failure to forgive, of harsh judgment, the seeds of war?
So long as I need to have a sense of control in relationships, put any of my emotional, material, even spiritual needs ahead of those of my brothers and sisters, so long as even a hint of resentment is within me, because of a perceived slight or even a blatant aggressive, hateful act against me, then I am part of every disorder and conflict, of every war and hatred.
To be a true person of peace, to plea for an end to war, hatred, anywhere on the face of the earth I must, approaching to stand before the face of the Father in the Name of Jesus to make the plea for an end, for example to the suffering of my brothers and sisters in Syria, I must beg the Holy Spirit to purify me of everything within me that is not Christlike.
Twelve years on since the Great Jubilee I admit, perhaps not unlike most people, rarely do I return to mediate upon the critical teachings of Pope John Paul connected to the Great Jubilee.
The documents of Vatican II continue to be a template for the Church, for all of us, moving in pilgrimage across the ages.
I believe the various teachings of Pope John Paul, in particular his teachings specifically related to the Jubilee are templates for this new millennia, new century.
So I have been meditating on Bl. John Paul’s message for the World Day of Peace, 2000, of which just a few quotes:
“….To everyone I affirm peace is possible….a need deeply rooted in the heart of every man and woman…humanity, however much marred by sin, hatred and violence, is called by God to be a single family…..” [cf. Message of His Holiness Pope John Paul II, January 1, 2000, para. 2]
This understanding of shared humanity, personhood, making us one single family, is critical for if I understand every human being is indeed my brother and sister then whatever happens to them becomes very personal and to intervene to protect them when they suffer becomes truly urgent.
“Clearly, when a civilian population risks being overcome by attacks of an unjust aggressor and political efforts and non-violent defence prove to be of no avail, it is legitimate and even obligatory to take concrete measures to disarm the aggressor.” [cf. para. 11]
It may seem at bid at odds with a message of peace to discover this papal endorsement for such intervention!
It should be noted that later in 2000, coming from an initiative of the government of Canada, which established the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty and first proposed “ responsibility to protect”, in 2006, the United Nations Security Council formally adopted this duty to our suffering brothers and sisters.
How we need to pray the UN will fulfill its duty!
Bl. John Paul teaches for each of us: “….there remains a fundamental duty for all men and women of goodwill…to commit themselves personally to the cause of peace….” [cf. para. 12]
So certain questions then pose themselves, for example: Am I truly at peace with everyone? Is there anyone I fail to love, be patient with, compassionate to? How do I love Kony, al-Assad …whomever?
Our emotions may appear to contradict our hearts.
Love is not a feeling in the first instance but a choice.
Do I choose to love?
Do I choose to be a peacemaker?
Jesus [Mark 9:29] teaches some evil spirits are not easily cast out; there must be prayer and fasting.
Lent is a good time to pray and fast for peace.
Regina Pacis come and help us!