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!