Wednesday, December 31, 2014


During Christmas while Midnight Mass was being celebrated by the members of his community – and further west where I live over 2,000 miles away I was just preparing for Mass – a most beloved friend, brother priest, mentor was literally taken by the hand, by Our Lady I am sure, and brought into heaven to meet the Holy Child in person.

More than 40 years this priest was in my life here on earth teaching me much about interior silence, holy conversation, the preciousness of every human life and of every moment of each life.

Tonight, this end of one chronological year and the threshold of the 15th year of this first century of the third millennium since the Holy Child Jesus was born in chronological time, inspired both by the life of my priest-brother and a musical written by Jonathan Larson, who lived for fewer years than the forty plus of the fraternity with Father, I find myself asking: do I get the preciousness of every human life, of every person?

Do I get the preciousness of every moment of life, for all is gift, all is grace.

Larson lived, struggled, suffered for his art and in his relationships and died suddenly the morning of the first preview performance Off Broadway of his semi-autobiographical musical RENT.

The story begins with the principal characters singing the dominate question flowing from a simple mathematical fact of how many minutes there are in a year: Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes!

The opening lyrics repeat the phrase: Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes, three times and then the question is posed: how do you measure, measure a year?

The media in their year end measuring tend to focus on the past year’s disasters, scandals, mass murders, acts of terrorism, weather extremes, and epidemics. Sometimes they throw in one or two cute stories so we don’t all end the year totally depressed and hopeless.

Larson has his actors respond to the question with:

“In daylights, in sunsets

In midnights, in cups of coffee

In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife

In five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes

How do you measure, a year in the life?”

How do I, how do you, how do we measure the past year of grace?

Larson then in the next verse three times asks: How about love? How about love? How about love?

Larson’s answer:  Measure in love.

Father, to the best of my knowledge, never ‘measured’ in love: he simply loved.

Loved Jesus, loved our Blessed Mother, loved everyone, especially the poor, the needy, the seekers, the wounded, the confused, the frightened.

True love is not what I seek from another but what I can gift to the other.

True love never counts the cost.

True love never compromises the truth but is able to witness to the truth without diluting the love.

Likewise authentic love never dilutes truth.

Absolute life-giving, truth-bearing love is the Child in the Manger become the Man on the Cross who dwells in the Holy Eucharist that our beings might be permeated by Him; who walks with us as surely and as intimately as He walked with the disciples on the road to Emmaus, listening to our confusions and fears, hopes, dreams, sorrows, needs and lavishing Himself upon us.

Frankly rather than take the measure of the five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes of the past year, which I leave to Divine Mercy, Father’s life and teaching, his love, and yes Larson’s question, moves my heart to look forward, to make a simple resolution for the five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes of 2015: to love-truly and truly-love.




Saturday, November 29, 2014


Like many people around the world I have followed the events in Ferguson, praying for reconciliation and healing, reflecting as well upon the corrosion of democracy the more we chose to abandon authentic faith and praxis, that is the daily living of the Gospel, the preaching of the Gospel with our lives without compromise.

My purpose here is not to analyze the tragedy of the shooting of the young man in Ferguson Missouri some months ago, nor to comment on the reaction/actions of those citizens who have taken to the streets protesting the Grand Jury’s decision – rather it is to reflect upon the over arching reality of the constant weakening of societal stability, impact of loss of authentic moral principles, rooted in a loss/weakening of faith in Judeo-Christian based cultures.

In a recent address to the European Parliament, Pope Francis posed the following questions to the continent, questions which can also be asked of all ‘new world’ countries since our religious and cultural roots, [ after those of the First Peoples who where here when the Europeans arrived ], originate in Christian Europe:

 “…. we can put the question: “Where is your vigour? Where is that idealism which inspired and ennobled your history? Where is your spirit of curiosity and enterprise? Where is your thirst for truth, a thirst which hitherto you have passionately shared with the world? The future of the continent will depend on the answer to these questions.”

If there remains in the United States, but not only there, after the bloodletting of the last century, such deep racial and religious divides and hostilities; if extremist fundamentalism exists not only outside of the Americas and Europe but within, even if not as violent as Islamist forms are; if anti-Christian bias in media, film, other forms of ‘art’ has become the acceptable form of intolerance, then the above questions need be posed to each of our hearts, but especially to our politicians at every level, for they are supposed to be leader-servants of ours and not followers of their own whims, agendas, ambitions.

In his stage play and film, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS, author Robert Bolt has his hero St. Thomas More state:

“When statesmen forsake their own private conscience for the sake of their public duties, they lead their country by a short route to chaos.”

How often do we hear political leaders claiming to be Christian, frequently to be Catholic, state in various ways how while they do not ‘personally’ adhere to whatever the immoral proposal may be, nonetheless not wanting to ‘impose’ their personal belief on others they will vote in favour of abortion, euthanasia, removal of visible Christian signs from the public square at Christmas, making right ‘in law’ various disorders which assault marriage and family.

If leaders wonder why, in a situation such as the Ferguson tragedy, their moralizing at such junctions is received with either disdain or people simply not trusting, it is because lack of authentic moral leadership day in and day out means in a crisis people find it difficult, if not impossible, to trust such leaders when leadership is most needed – for like the solitary child who alone spoke the truth “The Emperor has no clothes!” leaders who fail to lead but merely follow special interest groups or their own lust for re-election are devoid, naked of true strength, the strength of calibre which comes from knowing the true origin of their authority: “…all government comes from God…The state is there to serve God…” [Romans 13: 1ff]

St. Paul outlines as well our obligations as citizens however and if we wish to have leaders whom we can follow then we needs be very careful whom we elect, which means we must have solid moral roots ourselves.

Here too the example of St. Thomas More is critical, as noted St. John Paul in 2000 when he named More as patron of politicians:  “….it is helpful to turn to the example of Saint Thomas More, who distinguished himself by his constant fidelity to legitimate authority and institutions precisely in his intention to serve not power but the supreme ideal of justice. His life teaches us that government is above all an exercise of virtue. Unwavering in this rigorous moral stance, this English statesman placed his own public activity at the service of the person, especially if that person was weak or poor; he dealt with social controversies with a superb sense of fairness; he was vigorously committed to favouring and defending the family; he supported the all-round education of the young. His profound detachment from honours and wealth, his serene and joyful humility, his balanced knowledge of human nature and of the vanity of success, his certainty of judgement rooted in faith: these all gave him that confident inner strength that sustained him in adversity and in the face of death. His sanctity shone forth in his martyrdom, but it had been prepared by an entire life of work devoted to God and neighbour.”

“Unwavering in…rigorous moral stance”!

A question we and our leaders need to pose of our hearts.




Saturday, November 15, 2014



From time to time I like to relax by reading a novel, in particular those by Tom Clancy, Agatha Christie, the major Russian novelists and others.

While novels are fantasy, often times they do contain salient truths, social commentary; along with the occasional insight that bespeaks wisdom.

Such as this from Clancy’s novel THE BEAR AND THE DRAGON: “There are those who say what evil we see in the world is just the absence of good. But we know better than that. There is a devil in creation, and that devil has agents among us, and some of those agents run countries! Some of those agents start wars. Some of those agents take innocent people from their homes and put them in camps and murder them there like cattle in a slaughter house. Those are the agents of Satan! Those are the devotees of the Prince of Darkness. They are those among us who take the lives of the innocent, even the lives of innocent little babies….” [p. 482]

Too often when we are confronted with obvious evil there is a tendency to explain it, if not outright pretend it is something else, by using terms rooted in pseudo-psychological or social conditions catch-all phrases.

The inability or unwillingness to call evil that which is evil actually weakens our ability to discern and choose the authentic good.

As a result we find ourselves enmeshed in a relativistic, nihilist, ego-centric culture exhausted by the twin weights of fear and hopelessness.

The cultural, in particular media, assault on Christianity/Christians has led to a protracted period of two extremes wherein some Christians are so radically intolerant they obsessively see satan and evil everywhere and others have gone turtle.

When Pope Francis speaks with compassion many, again in the media in particular, truncate his statement thereby creating the erroneous impression he is about to water down truth and when the Holy Father articulates truth unequivocally, such as about the evil of euthanasia, the very same people become angry and hypercritical.

Love and truth are inseparable.

There is no authentic compassion without love rooted in truth.

Love without truth becomes emotional indulgence of the disorder, the evil, all around us.

Truth without love is not only blinkered but often becomes a sledgehammer with which to bash those not yet fully on the road from darkness into light, error into truth, complicity in evil to unabashed joy in holiness.

It is easy enough to list what is disordered in our world.

Truth demands we list those by what they are: evils.

Kidnapping and selling off women and girls in Nigeria, for example, is first and foremost NOT some disordered act of terrorists.

It is evil perpetrated by agents of the Prince of Darkness.

We need to look at things with eyes enlightened by truth.

We need pray and fast for the fullness of Christ and His Gospel to penetrate and change every human heart.

 We must pray that the cold, violent, hateful darkness of evil in all its guises be banished from the earth, along with all agents of evil.

In His merciful love for us God gives us all the help, indeed all the weapons we need to both name and overcome evil.

Besides Christ our Victor, Mary Our Mother,  there is also the Prince of the Heavenly Host to help and protect us and thanks to Pope Leo XXII we have this powerful prayer:

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host -
by the Divine Power of God -
cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.






Friday, November 07, 2014



Even a hermit has to leave the silent hiddenness of the hermitage from time to time for necessities such as groceries.

Always when I do so I pray for everyone I meet, or whom I see even without any direct interactions, especially that everyone will come to know Jesus, know they are beloved and follow Him.

Rarely, if someone speaks with me, am I asked if I am Christian.

However the other day, waiting for the bus near a mosque, a man approached and after an exchange about when the next bus was expected he spoke about the world situation, assuring me he was not like those who claim to be of Islam but betray the faith with their hatred and violence.

You could see in his eyes a mixture of fear, confusion, and the weight of it all.

After I assured him no right thinking person would ever confuse the actions of someone claiming to be of a faith, actions totally against the tenets of the faith – for example people claiming to be Catholic yet supporting the murder of the as yet unborn children – with the authentic faith.

He then asked if I was Christian and upon my saying yes said: “We believe in the Koran in Jesus too and the Virgin birth, but not that He is God.”

I simply smiled and said we are all children of the same Father.

He smiled in return, my bus arrived, I shook his hand, blessing him in my heart and we parted as he was waiting for another bus.

Speaking about an image of the Child Jesus hanging in his community’s chapel, in his book, CIRCLING THE SUN, Fr. Robert Pelton writes about how he venerates the image and adds: The smile of the Infant holds the secret of everlasting life.

I love that image, and I never leave the chapel without kissing it and asking Christ to share His secret with me. But sometimes when I look at this Infant, I remember a story I read long ago. A certain captured Crusader and his Muslim jailer had learned enough of the other’s language to speak together of their lives and of those deep differences that had so ironically brought them together. One day as they talked, the Muslim said, “But who is your God that you speak of the place where he was born and the place where he died?”

Shyly, the Crusader said, “I’ll show you.” He reached under his tunic and brought out a small wooden image of Christ held in the arms of His Mother. The Crusader point to the Infant and said, “There. That is God!” [op.cit.pp.25/26]

When the notion of God is imprisoned in such as allows human beings to slaughter others while shouting that God is great, or the notion of God is imprisoned in phrases such as assuring one another that He is on OUR side, hence a notion of a god who prefers one set of people to another; when our understanding of god[s] is like that of the Ancient Greeks or Romans then we are confronted with a deity [or deities] made in our own image, hobbled by our own morality, hatreds, impulsiveness.

To embrace that truth of: “There. That is God!” means to embrace the truth the Father so loves us He sent His only begotten Son to become one like us in all things, which is the vulnerability of life in the womb, of infancy, of growing and maturing and all that entails, ultimately embracing, by choosing to lay down His life for our redemption, the stark reality of end of earthly life: death!

Fr. Pelton refers to the reality that God is Child as ‘the scandal of the Gospel’.

True enough.

But the Incarnation and Birth of Jesus the Holy Child is a scandal that permeates and upsets human history, virtually every disorder we accept in modern life from abortion to sexual disorder to the dishonouring of the sacredness of marriage between one man and one woman, to inaction in the face of poverty, hatred, etc., etc.

Soon we will enter the Holy Season of Advent, the journey to Christmas, the birth of the Child.

The airwaves will be saturated with advertisements for the must haves presents; news media will report ad nauseam about Christians battling to have crèches in public places or the media will drag out the usual assortment of anti-Christian, especially anti-Catholic talking heads or documentaries to dispute the truth about Jesus.

Yes, the scandal of the Gospel continues.

Deo Gratias!


Sunday, October 26, 2014


With Canada still reeling from the terrorist attack on two soldiers in Quebec, encompassing the death of one and serious injury of the other, suddenly a second terrorist murdered a soldier on guard duty at the Tomb of the Unknown and then attempted to murder political leaders within the hallowed precincts of the nation’s parliament.

Meanwhile with ISIS continuing its murderous rampage Boko Haram kidnapped more women and girls in Nigeria while the Ebola plague shows no signs of letting up.

Millions of people around the world can remember where we were on 9/11, especially in the United States.

Now many will remember, for generations, especially in Canada, where we were when first two Canadian soldiers were run down by an Islamist in Quebec, with one of the soldiers being killed, and then when the Ottawa attack by another lone wolf terrorist occurred, again with a soldier being killed.

There are two very serious errors occurring among both some media commentators and ordinary people in the light of Islamic terrorism, including the lone wolf attacks as well as those from the groups terrorizing so many countries.

The first error is the rather spurious attempt to reduce chosen evil and hatred to ‘root causes’ as remote as the crusades or as recent as the life history of the individual lone wolf terrorists.

No amount of Islamist claims to being in line with Koranic teachings can change their lies into any semblance of truth.

Using God in any manner as justification for the violent acts of murder, rape, enslavement of others, or acts such as occurred in Ottawa is the ultimate act of blasphemy and, frankly, merit divine wrath – which is God’s alone to enact.

The second error is to confuse authentic Islam and adherents to Islam, with the insanely evil words and actions of those who choose evil over good, lie over truth, death over life, and hatred over love.

When what was disingenuously labeled  as ‘the troubles’ in North Ireland, actually civil war, was raging to tarnish all Catholics with the actions of the IRA or all Protestants with the actions of the Loyalists would have been as erroneous as today to tarnish all our brothers and sisters of the Islamic faith with the evil of the terrorists.

It is as unlikely democratic nations can prevent most acts of lone wolves with their evil and disordered agendas, just as, tragically happened yet again in the United Sates, authorities can prevent school shootings.

Yes we all can and should be vigilant, citizens who truly care for and look after one another, especially those who are hurting.

However to dangerously curtail the freedoms which differentiate us from those agents of evil seeking to violently impose their disorder on others, would be to choose defeat over victory.

Likewise to give into fear, despair or even worse to misread Sacred Scripture and see this battle between good and evil as signs of the apocalypse, betrays a lack of faith, of intimate confidence in our All-merciful Father, in Jesus our Redeemer, in the Holy Spirit the Sanctifier.

Jesus very clearly taught about ‘wars and rumors of wars’ and natural disasters as part of the reality of life, stressing that while all these things will come to pass, and more, ‘the end is not yet.’ {Mk. 13:7 ff; Mt. 24: 6 ff}.

The challenge facing the entire human family in face of terrorism, and plagues like Ebola, facing floods, drought, is, both as individuals and nations, not to be bent towards ourselves, not to be greedy.

The challenge for Christians is to live the Gospel with our lives without compromise – both as individuals and as believing communities.

There is enormous pressure to compromise around all life issues from abortion to euthanasia, from the sacredness of marriage to courageously speaking truth.

In the same Gospel passages referenced above Jesus cautions us to not allow anyone to deceive us.

Compromising with secular values is to surrender to total deception.

There is hope, for love is always greater, stronger.

While many were laying flowers and wreaths at the tomb of the Unknown, two powerful images were frequently replayed on newscasts.

The first was showing the men and women who ran towards, not from, the memorial, to administer aid and comfort to the soldier who had been shot.

The other showing Imams and some of their people approaching with flowers to lay at the tomb, to honour the fallen when from the surrounding crowd a non-Muslim man emerged and embraced one of the Imams, showing anew love is stronger.

Those two examples are the ‘true north, strong and free’.



Tuesday, September 09, 2014


For more than a century the Sisters of St. X served Catholics and non-Catholics alike as teachers and nurses and then in the mid-sixties they embarked on a journey where today many of the schools and hospitals are closed, their order has had to combine with several others in order to finance care for an ever aging and ever dwindling number of Sisters. The healthier among them, all having decades ago abandoned their distinctive habit, community life, the charism of their Foundress, now mostly live in their own apartments, wear makeup and jewelry, dress like any lay woman and on their web site they stress personal choice in apostolic activity [i.e. join us and you can do your own thing] and state as well their main focus is ecology and mother earth.

Not to be outdone many religious orders of men have gone the same way.

I used to visit in my own diocese, and those I would travel to for lectures or missions, the monasteries of a contemplative order of Nuns dedicated to the mission of prayer for priests, but they too took a turn and soon were leaving the enclosure to get their hair done, had a tv in the refectory so they could watch their programs during meals.

Little by little this international order has closed most of its monasteries.

As dioceses throughout North America and Western Europe in particular have watched vocations drop among the above consequences also included that of closing or twinning parishes:  often times to settle arguments about location a new church building is built and these are notable by three things commonly missing: 1] central placement of the Blessed Sacrament; 2] a dearth of stained glass windows and statues; 3] rare if ever Exposition, Benediction, Forty Hours, use of incense.

Finally the poverty of liturgical celebration is exacerbated by the far too often wimpy, politically correct, let’s not upset anyone homilies.

Perhaps it can be argued that before the sixties religious Priests, Sisters, Brothers, Nuns did lead very strict lives, sometimes did wear habits that were either too cumbersome or flashy;  perhaps churches were overloaded with statues; perhaps all sorts of things needed reform and updating.


However we have gone very, very, very, very far down a road wherein ignoring the wisdom of St. Paul we find ourselves under attack from all sides NOT because of the quality of our holiness and courage in face of the world, the flesh and the devil, but BECAUSE our hesitancy to be holy makes our moral stances opaque and this simply enrages the world and its media all the more against Christianity.

St. Paul tells us clearly, definitively: You must live your whole life according to the Christ you have received – Jesus the Lord; you must be rooted in Him and built on Him and held firm by the faith you have been taught, and full of thanksgiving. Make sure that no one traps you and deprives you of your freedom by some secondhand, empty, rational philosophy based on the principles of this world instead of on Christ. [cf. Col. 2:6-8]

Consider, not what radical Islamists think but what the ordinary Islamic believer thinks about modesty, drugs, abortion, homosexuality, pornography, just as a few examples, not to mention the priority given to family life, and then think when was the last time any bishop or priest you know had the courage to speak clearly, with the authority of a true father, about such matters.

Pope Paul VI warned about the smoke of satan penetrating into the Church and as serious as the sins of abuse are, in many ways we have allowed that to distract from the other tentacles of the smoke strangling courage out of the ministerial lives of our bishops and priests.

How often when some American or Canadian young man is reported killed on some mission for the Islamists are they identified as former Catholics and yet who has heard a bishop or priest address this issue and why these young men allowed themselves to be seduced by an empty pseudo religious philosophy filled with hatred and violence?

Too many current politicians and supposed religious leaders, too many media pundits operate as if the majority of people want to live in nations filled with the chaos and disorder of easy access to drugs, no limits on sexual behaviour, the breakdown of family life, political correctness run amok.

None of our governments seem to have the courage to rein in the courts and remind them they may interpret the law but they cannot make law.  At the same time politicians need to be reminded they are NOT elected to be some power elite, rather their job is to be our servants, ensuring our safety and right order in our nations. Being an elected representative of the people is NOT a licence for any politician to attempt to reshape the nation according to their own personal whims, which increasingly in our days means doing so by pandering to small pockets of noisy and well funded people with very personal and self-serving agendas that have total disregard for the Christian roots of Western democracies.

When you see young people tattooed to the hilt, body pierced to the point it looks as if they have been subjected to some form of torture, when you have a society whose members increasingly refuse to comprehend male is male and female is female; a society so disordered that parents now identify and demands rights for their allegedly transgendered pre-adolescent children and a culture where more and more children have two ‘moms’ or two ‘dads’, who should be surprised if the young look at the namby-pamby play it safe liturgical bankrupt Catholic life that silently ascents to such disorder and chaos and so they say “I’m outta here!”, leave in search of something/someone promising moral clarity, stability, acceptance.

Street gangs and Islamists, like the Hitler Youth of another era, share a common trick: give the lost youth a sense of purpose and belonging and in time you can get those young to do whatever you want.

That happens to be the old adage: “Give me the boy and I will give you the man.”

If we Christians could rediscover truth-speaking courage in our homes, parishes, schools; if bishops and priests could become anew true fathers with courage and compassion, shepherds willing to be martyrs for their faith and flock, then the young would not lose faith or hope, would not be seduced by the diabolical evil of Islamism.

Our political systems, our very culture have become disordered; our priests, sisters, brothers have become invisible; our churches lack passion and life so our parishes are wilting on the vine.

We need to wake up!

When I was at Ground Zero with a New York Firefighter friend a few months after 9/11, standing and praying at the edge of that immense wound in the heart of New York, I was profoundly aware we had been given a warning, and not by the terrorists, and a call to repentance, not by them either.

Have we been listening?

It is far too easy to blah-blah about historic grievances among Islamic peoples or the failures of Christianity, to blah-blah about rights while being silent about responsibility all the while ignoring the inner rot and disorder all around us which is the fault of no one but ourselves.

Salt deteriorates cement and rust weakens steel and bridges eventually collapse; viruses like Ebola devastate with painful rapidity.

There are attitudes and choices deteriorating more effectively than salt the religious, moral, political structures of our nations and they are rusting away to the point of collapse and a virus of religious and political cowardice is rapidly infecting the entire body of faith.

We need to wake up!

We need to convert!

We need to repent!

There is little time left.



Thursday, August 21, 2014



                                      {A letter for a friend about to enter the seminary}

Dear Brother and Friend, how I chuckled interiorly the other day when you asked me to review an essay for your blog and we had the discussion about ‘waiter’ and ‘server’ and you said nowadays waiter is not the term, server is – I chuckled because when I was an altar boy many decades ago we were know as ‘altar servers’ not ‘altar waiters’!

So, belatedly I concede server is the better word – especially for one heading to priesthood for above all else we might consider about priesthood being servant, like Jesus Himself who came to serve and NOT to be served, as priests we must always serve and NEVER seek, nor expect, to be served.

Over the past week since we said our goodbyes as you headed off on the great adventure-pilgrimage towards priesthood I have found myself reflecting anew on the gift and mystery of priesthood.

You will find the seminary library filled with books by Fathers of the Church, Popes, bishops, priests, saints, and some of those saints extraordinary laymen and women, far more articulate than I would ever claim to be about such a stupendous vocation, such an unmerited gift, such an inexhaustible chalice of joy – which of course we carry in the earthen vessel we are.

Steep yourself in the wisdom and grace of such texts. Take them to heart and strive to follow the wise counsels therein, but above all deep in prayer be attentive always to the Holy Spirit, never let go of the hand of Christ, stay deep in childlike confidence in the presence and love of Mary, Mother of Priests.

After thirty years of priesthood I can assure you I am but a mere beginner. Ordination is an event, the indelible and irreversible transfiguration, transformation, sanctification of a mere man, by the power of the Holy Spirit, into the very person of Christ.

Just as the externals of the bread and wine at the consecration show no apparent visible change the reality we know is that bread and wine are no longer what they appear but have become in truth Jesus: Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, Jesus Risen from the Dead therefore He feeds us, permeates us with His very glorified self.

Ordination does not heal emotions, prevent sinning, reduce waist lines, impart unshakeable faith or grant some type of magical powers.

Ordination makes of a mere man another Christ, configures us so we fit well with Him upon the Cross, enables us to exercise in His Person, with His authority, sacramental efficacy, especially to dispense mercy in confession and to feed our brothers and sisters with His Self-Gift in the Holy Eucharist and therefore I beg you once you are ordained willingly 24/7 be available for confession and daily celebrate Holy Mass.

Be in the confessional every day even if no one comes – allow you heart to experience His own Heart aching for the return of the Prodigal and if/when some prodigal approaches welcome them with open arms, with love, joy, compassion.

Celebrate daily Mass, even if no one shows up – for the power of Holy Mass extends throughout the entire universe, to the throne of God, into every human life on earth, to the awaiting souls in purgatory.

Be not a priest of the rectory but of the streets and the homes, the offices and the factories, hospitals and prisons, nursing homes and the alleyways and ravines and other places where those who, like Jesus who had nowhere to lay His head, await in hope.

Be not a priest of career or ambition, of ease or fine food, of vacations in excess or more at ease in the homes of the rich and powerful, rather be a priest of humility and poverty, of rejoicing amongst the poor.

If the rich and powerful befriend you so they can help you serve the poor and serve the poor themselves then by all means be present to them, but if being with them tempts you to pride or ease, flee!

Be a priest however who seeks the poverty hidden behind wealth and power, and seek to understand and serve those who are hiddenly poor with the same passion and compassion as you will serve the more visibly poor.

Be a priest of ceaseless prayer, interceding for an end to the evils and hatreds, the violence and death, the oppression and starvation, the plagues and wars, the abortions and other murders, the addictions and loneliness which wound and burden countless of our brothers and sisters.

Be a priest who embraces with joy the Cross, the gift and mystery of suffering and struggle, be a priest confident in Divine Mercy, trusting of grace, courageous in fidelity, consistently every moment of every day willingly laying down your life, by serving always, by martyrdom if He asks, be it the martyrdom of loneliness, rejection, sickness, isolation or, as possible in this day and age, by blood.

Be a priest fearless before the face of evil, confident in your priestly power, His power, to cast asunder evil spirits, to ripe to shreds the curtain of darkness with the Light of Christ, to overcome the culture of death with the Gospel of Life.

Be a priest who is a true son of the Blessed Virgin Mary, giving all of yourself to Jesus through Her in absolute service of our brothers and sisters and thus you will always be a priest of joy!


Monday, July 28, 2014


One hundred years ago the First World War began and so rampaging would be the rivers of blood the map of the world would be re-drawn, empires would fall, oil would become a dominate factor in political alliances, seeds of hatred would be sown and the world reaps still the harvest of greed, hatred, retaliation and we are once more awash in the blood of our brothers and sisters.

Two friends phoned over the past few days and their words have given me pause.

The first told me she cannot handle watching the news anyone more because such intense emotions of discouragement and fear are triggered.

The second friend told me he keeps remembering the Holocaust and with the slaughtering of the innocents in the shooting down of the Malaysian jetliner, the mounting toll of killed and wounded in Gaza, and Israel, finds himself wondering where God is.

Where indeed!

How easily when confronted with the incomprehensible extent of our human capacity of evil hatred and violence we blithely ignore these are human actions and wonder where God is, after all, it IS His fault we human beings have freedom.

Irrespective of which side may objectively, in any conflict, be more or less the aggrieved party, both sides steadfastly maintain it is the other side who is the real perpetrator of violence.

Of course, in the end historians maintain it is the victor who writes history.


Certainly the victors tried that in the Paris post WWI peace conference.

How’s that been working out do you think?

Where is God?

The Hamas Islamists, and their ilk throughout the world, even while committing atrocities on a scale not seen since the Nazi or the Pol Pot regime, can be heard screaming that God is great – as if slaughtering His children could ever call down anything other than His anger – yet they are calling upon the same God as their Israeli opponents, as the Christians Islamists murder on a daily basis.

During the American civil war both President Lincoln and General Robert E. Lee sincerely believed they were God’s instruments and send hundreds of thousands of men and boys into battle as canon fodder – most of whom on both sides were practicing Christians, Protestants and Catholics alike.

Perhaps it can be argued that in the Old Testament God seemed to use human beings to achieve His purposes through battle, even at times appeared to directly intervene so ‘His” side would win.

This says more about the uninformed primitiveness of our ancestors than anything else.

Certainly once God entered human history through His Incarnation, life, death, resurrection, teaching us how to authentically live as children of the Father, waging war in the name of God is a non-starter.

True, we human beings are endowed by God with free will, free to use this freedom to choose love or hate, forgiveness or vengeance, life or death, war or peace.

If we choose love we may be hated, rejected, persecuted; if we choose forgiveness we may be mocked, held hostage, enslaved;  if we choose life we will be labeled anti-choice but we will stand before Him on the awesome day of judgement with our hands blood free.

If like my one friend the news discourages and frightens, if like my other friend the extent of violence and hatred tears at faith in a loving God likely it is because, or rather given what is happening across the world it seems to me, God simply has withdrawn for a time, left us to our own devices in our freedom.

I suspect He is waiting to see if, when we tire of the sounds of exploding ordnance and the screams of our brothers and sisters drowning in their own blood, we will once again be still, listen, hear Him knocking at the door of our being, will bid Him enter, will sit with Him, listen and follow and live out what He teaches us.

On the bus the other day the man sitting next to me watched a group of women and children, obvious with their mode of dress Muslim, and he complained at length about all these damn immigrants, spoken with vitriolic hatred.

One little cancer cell is not too dangerous but if it splits in two, or joins with another one, little by little cancer can spread and if not checked kill the human being, the person who body is infected.

One person with such hatred as that man on the bus when they find others of like mind begin to infect the whole body of a nation with xenophobia and disordered politicians can use this to insight disorder in a nation or between nations and the hatred spins out of control and innocent people flying overhead are shot down, or people just seeking to live out their daily lives are pounded by thousands of rockets fired by haters whose violence ends up subjecting their brothers and sisters, those who do not hate, do not fire rockets, to the terrible retribution which follows.

In his book, LIFE OF CHRIST, Ven. Sheen, commenting on the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes [Mt. 5], stresses that if anyone seeks to put the Beatitudes into practice that person will: “…draw down upon himself the wrath of the world…” because “…One way to make enemies is to challenge the spirit of the world.”

Comingled with hatred always there is greed: greed as lust for vengeance, land, power, control, ethnic or religious dominance, etc., with, in the end, the greedy in their lustful hatred becoming so enmeshed in what so quickly spirals out of control, develops a momentum of its own [ the First World War is a classic example of all the preceding] will find themselves in terms of chronological/historical time, trapped in a quagmire of unending violence and even if the violence should cease the poison of suspicion will spread until there is another conflict – and – in terms of eschatological time, that is Kairos, the Lord’s time, will find themselves more suddenly than expected before His awesome judgement seat, the blood of their brothers and sisters dripping from their souls and hearts, pooling at their feet, crying out to the Lord for justice.

Jesus, of the meek and humble Heart, throughout the Sermon on the Mount shows us clearly the alternative, reveals in the Beatitudes what is true courage, true humanity, true love, true life.

He calls us to the courageous beatitude of poverty of spirit, exemplified in that selflessness which seeks not more for me but generously gives to the hungry, the naked, the thirsty, the sick, the lonely, the stranger, the imprisoned – always having right order: God first, then my brother and sister and I am third.

Be it the one on one abuse of a family member or an act of violent crime such as purse snatching, drunk driving, bank robbing, bullying etc., or those larger hate-filled acts of violence from 9/11 to the actions of Boko Haram, ISIS, Hamas, Ukrainian rebels – rivers of the blood of our brothers and sisters soak the earth carrying the voices of our brothers and sisters crying out to God.

Jesus beatifies such pain and mourning, assuring comfort, the comfort only He can give, His peace in this life, His eternal embrace in the next.

Jesus stresses that not might but meekness ultimately, beatifically will triumph and such persons will inherit the earth; blessed, sacred fulfillment as persons comes not to extremist haters and terrorists but to those children of God who both hunger for and work for authentic righteousness which is the building of a peace-filled civilization of love through living out the Gospel of Life.

Each Beatitude is not only a promise of what the kingdom of heaven holds for us but of how reality can be, should be, the lived experience of life on earth within the human family.

The catastrophe, perhaps unimaginable but tangible already, is coming because we have chosen to drown in hatred and blood and the rivers are raging, the flood is spreading, the cold darkness is engulfing the earth.

Time is short.

Again from Ven. Sheen: “The Sermon on the Mount is so much at variance with all that our world holds dear that the world will crucify anyone who tries to live up to its values. Because Christ preached them, He had to die. Calvary was the price He paid for the Sermon on the Mount.”

How urgent it is we Christians begin to truly live the Gospel with our lives without compromise as living icons of Christ, of the Gospel of Life, icons of hope, peace, love.


Monday, July 14, 2014


Here in the heart of the city, where cement and asphalt are more prevalent than trees and lawns, unless you have a place to live, or can get inside the mall some dozen blocks away from where I write, shelter to cool off – alternately shelter in the winter to get warmed up – is rare and difficult to find.

Let most of us when I reflect upon the plight of the homeless my first thought is their need for shelter, food and water, water especially in this extreme heat and humidity which has endured for two weeks now.

Given the heat I go very early in the morning, usually just after dawn, for my walk.

It is a time not merely for exercise but to pray for everyone who lives in the neighbourhood, works in this area, trolls the alleys to dumpster dig for food or bottles that can be turned in at the recycle plant for some cash.

Many of the elderly people I chat with who dumpster dive do so to stretch their pension so they can pay rent or buy food.

It is mostly the younger ones who are seeking money to feed their addictions.

This area is a mixture of apartment buildings, halfway houses, and the usual sprinkling of small shops, crack houses, and, to use the old expression: ‘houses of ill repute’.

The city has been spending millions to spruce up the area, actually planting trees where there is a strip of grass between the curbs and the sidewalk and has held open house meetings for input from people who live here as the city finalizes plans to begin next spring when roads, sidewalks, streetlights, water and sewer lines will all be renewed, combined with a program called “in-fill”, where the small, very old pre-war houses, which occupy lots considered too big, are torn down and replaced with duplexes, in a effort to get more families into the area.

Walking past one of those new places with, literally, a white picket fence along the front I noticed the sign – the wording of which would be too harsh and gross to put here exactly, so an edited version:

Would you vile people stopping using this fence as a place to eat and relieve yourself.

I was stunned by how the very sharp style of handwriting contrasted with the harshness of the message.

More importantly I was struck by how, while knowing and trying to be faithful to the words of Jesus: “I was hungry, thirsty, a stranger….” I have never given much thought to some very human and basic needs of the homeless.

Always grateful for food, shelter, clothing I am not aware of having given thanks for access to a bathroom, to shower and clean myself, to, as we say ‘go to the bathroom’; access to machines, soap and water to clean my clothes; a refrigerator in which to keep food fresh, a stove to cook upon, plates and utensils to use while having a meal.

As terrible and stressing a thing as it is to be homeless, to scrounge  in dumpsters for food or empty cans and bottles to trade for food, how much like salt ground into wounds having no place for other basic bodily needs.

While giving thanks for what I have until now taken for granted, it is also time to pray cities will become inventively compassionate and establish safe and secure public washrooms especially in neighbourhoods where the homeless are, water fountains to slake their thirst in the hot days of summer.

This far north, cities do a rather good job of shelter in the winter, of roaming vans with hot soup, blankets, and sleeping bags – but even in winter a hot shower, a bathroom, a place to get or clean clothes would be such a gift.




Wednesday, July 02, 2014


Canada is a country born of conversation and compromise which led, 147 years ago, to a group of British colonies forming a confederation.

Canada is an ongoing project!

However over the near century an a half through wars and economic ups and downs a constitution has been forged, a charter of rights woven into the fabric of national life, the freedom which allows for diversity reflecting cultural origins, innumerable ways of religious expression, or none at all, form the vibrant mosaic of national pride and unity.

Our American cousins celebrate their national unity and joy on July 4th with Independence Day.

We celebrate on July 1st with the apt title: Canada Day.

It is the people’s day.

From the smallest village to the national’s capital, across the six time zones, coast to coast to coast the day of national pride and sheer joy culminates with fireworks, that explosion of colour and light which thrills children and allows adults to relax for a while and see the world through the eyes of a child.

My family has a great friend who invited us to join him for the evening to observe the fireworks high above the river valley in the heart of the city.

I emphasis high since the balcony sits some thirty-two stories up and I am terrified of heights.

However given we all entered the building several levels underground and the elevator moved quickly, smoothly, I did not really understand how high up we were until stepping not exactly onto the balcony but taking my place at the open balcony doors with my feet firmly planted inside the apartment!

When I was a boy I had no fear of heights, nor as an adult working a job which more often than I care to remember involved being on high rise roof tops trying my best to talk some troubled soul from jumping.

I never failed to rescue the potential jumpers, or rather I understand now, more accurately,  by grace, no one for whom I was the person on scene ever jumped.

It was after years of that work fear of heights took hold and last evening was the first time in almost thirty years I had even come close to being not merely up high but actually looking out from the height!

My family’s friend, my son and his wife, the three little grandchildren were all out on the balcony enjoying the view, watching fireworks from various outlying towns and villages light up the horizon as we all chatted and waited for the main event, the city’s fireworks, to begin.

The children were excited, sometimes running around the balcony or jumping up and down, occasionally the youngest was jumping up and down close to the railing – which made me rather more fearful.

You know how sometimes you have a thought meant to be inside the brain, and there only, yet that thought doesn’t stay there!

It escapes from the mouth!

Yep I blurted out at the youngest: “Stop that! You’re scaring the %#%#% out of me!”

Thankfully I realized immediately I needed to get a grip and was able to settle down.

Shortly thereafter the fireworks began.

Then something happened unexpectedly within me, or rather several things happened which I see now as grace: I forgot my fear and mingled with the booming of the exploding fireworks heard clearly the children expressing their delight and excitement, the adults too; at that height the marvelous kaleidoscope of  colours and shapes often seemed to be opening like huge arms inviting an embrace and I found myself filling with gratitude that I live in such a marvelous country, in such freedom while simultaneously being aware of He who IS Light from Light, who calls us to be, tells us we ARE, the light in the world.

After the show was over and we were preparing to leave my daughter-in-law and I had a brief chat and she looked at me, radiating love and beauty and said about my fear of heights – though my heart heard it as a word about all fear: “You have to let it go.”

It strikes me as a bit of a paradox that to overcome fear of heights I have to allow myself to be lifted up!

Lifted up as a little child, by Him, into His arms to be held next to His beating Heart.

Lifted up to be with Him on the Cross, the meeting place between us and the Divine Bridegroom.

This lifting up includes a willingness to lift up our hands in prayerful supplication, to lift up our hands to receive Light Himself in Holy Communion whereby His Risen Glorious Light permeates our beings more marvellously than those fireworks lit up the sky.

As the Apostle reminds us “…we, with our unveiled faces reflecting like mirrors the brightness of the Lord, all grow brighter and brighter as we are turned into the image that we reflect; this is the work of the Lord who is Spirit.” [2Cor.3:18]  

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Boko Haram, ISIS, increasingly it seems there is an extreme, and growing, disorder of violent hatred within Islam which is spreading across the world.

What to think of a religion which, most recently in Sudan, sentences to death an expectant mother for the crime of becoming a Christian?

Indeed while it is apparently true that the majority of our brothers and sisters who adhere to the Islamic faith do NOT engage in the atrocities committed by the numerous killing machines such as Boko Haram, the deafening silence from the Islamic community on the one hand, and the hateful encouragement of some Imams on the other hand to such groups to war their evil war against others suggests that something extremely dark and evil is spreading throughout the religion of Islam and poses an enduring threat, first to human beings in places like Nigeria, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Somalia, and indeed throughout the entire world.

Admittedly the major western powers have been tepid in the extreme in their response to the countless acts of violence, to the kidnappings, in particular of children and women, to the multi-year slaughter in Syria – much like the way countries were dismissive of the pleas from Ethiopia, in another era, before the invasion of Poland or of China before Pearl Harbour.

I do not believe, given that these terror groups are clearly composed of people devoid of any moral center, there is any ‘military’ solution to such extensive evil.

It is not just that these Islamic terror groups hate and target non-Muslim peoples, but within Islam itself terror groups slaughter and kidnap those deemed not to belong to the right sect.

From the terrorized towns and villages of Syria and Iraq to those of Nigeria, to the homes of Western families where a place at the table is vacant because one of their own has become radicalized and slipped out of home and country to join some terror group, tears of blood, tears of despair, flow like rivers throughout the human family.

It would both be too easy, and to be participant in evil, to hate any people of the Islamic faith.

Likewise however not to have a heart aching for the millions in refugee camps seeking to flee the terror, not to be troubled deeply in our souls for the safety of our Sudanese sister, all the women and children kidnapped in Nigeria, is to surrender to evil.

Admittedly it has taken me some time to be able to compose these reflections with any degree of interior peace, true love for and prayer for the conversion not only of the perpetrators of violence, blasphemously claiming to be doing so in the name of God, but indeed for the conversion of everyone to Jesus.

In the face of such immense bloody evil, such hatred as spread by Islamic terrorists what defense do we truly have?

The Holy Rosary, the beads of hope.

Each bead drawn through our fingers as we pray is like a step across a bridge of love, each bead drawn is like one more tear wiped away from the face of a mother whose child has been kidnapped, each is a link in a chain of hope, a step on the footpath to freedom.

Declaration of praise and glory before the awesome mysteries and reality He loves us so He IS Incarnate for us, suffered, died, rose, for us, sends constantly the Holy Spirit upon us to vivify and strengthen, to enlighten and encourage – and all this and more is offered to every human being for whom we should, dare I say MUST, pray through Our Blessed Mother.

The Rosary is never a merely personal prayer: it is an act of prayerful love for all our brothers and sisters.

Only light can disperse darkness, only love can vanquish hate.

Our Lady of Fatima taught the children in the Cova da Ira, and teaches us after each decade to embrace the humility which alone can vanquish the pride of those who do evil: O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, and lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy.