Tuesday, November 17, 2015


It has been done before in New York, London, Spain, Ottawa, this evil you the haters claim to be doing in the name of, fulfilling the will of, God and in the name of a religion whose faithful adherents reject you.

The greater rejection is the very God whose name you blaspheme by your words and actions wants nothing to do with you, He rejects you, and for a Father to reject His child means that child has closed their hearts to love, mercy and truth.

You have always failed, will always fail.

Yes you kill and maim but you have not and will never win.

You seek to instill fear.

Look around you!

Our reaction is to become more loving, caring, tolerant, forgiving, FREE, bolder and courageous.

You move us to prayer, we who, unlike you, do indeed know God our Father and His holy will.

True, we may fail, often, to be as holy as He asks us to be, but so utterly confident are we in His merciful love we can always repent, and do, try again, and do.

You will always fail because He asks of every human being to love our enemies, to do good to those who persecute us, and we do love and we do forgive, but our love and forgiveness also gives us that strength to fight, and we are mighty warriors through our military, and you will loose.

Love is stronger than death and hate, for love is life and truth.

We Christians allow that Christians worship in various ways in different denominations, and that’s okay, we love one another, respect each other.

You, so filled with hate, so filled with darkness, are blind to the dignity and beauty of all other human beings because you have chosen to hand your souls over to the prince of darkness, the blinder of souls.

You claim to be on a mission to impose – yes impose for your greater fear is the God-given freedom of human beings – yes impose what you claim is His law, but His law is that we love and care for one another.

It is satan’s kingdom of hate and death and no other you are imposing.

You do not know, nor us, nor your very selves.

If you knew you are human you would know Him and would drop your weapons, forego your hate, rush to Bethlehem, and adore Him who comes among us as a baby, a child, as every human being starts life – for He is truly God and truly one of us, Prince of Peace, the all-merciful.

He would smile upon you, forgive you, ask you to become lovers and agents of peace.

We know Him and His love, which is why you can never overcome us for we are His.

We see Him and love Him in every other human being. He comes disguised sometimes as a prostitute or homeless person, as a Jew or Buddhist,  as male or female, elderly or young, hungry or thirsty and every way we welcome another human being and care for them we are touching and being touched by Him, disguised as He may be.

Thus we cannot, will not ever hate you: so when you claim we do once more you are deluded and liars.

Give it up. Your hatred is pointless and is dragging you into hell.

We will pray He be merciful to you and likely this will anger you too.

Nothing is sadder than seeing human beings choosing to be forever wandering the endless deserts of hatred and darkness.

Come, meet the Holy Child, let Him love you, let His radiant light free you from eternal darkness.




Friday, October 16, 2015



                                                                        PART 2

Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion. How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties? “If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of the new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away”. [para.120]

Frankly it is beyond dumb to advocate saving rain forests if we continue to murder the unborn children in the millions as we do each year.

Rachel Carson’s famous SILENT SPRING, may well come to pass because within the saved rain forests no sound of a human voice, to replace the absent birdsongs of evening, will be heard either.

The primary target of the culture of death is no whale nor tree, but specific individual pre-born human beings or human beings deemed, because of perpetual disability or so-called terminal illness become targets for those advocating euthanasia.

There is a 1990 essay from Walker Percy, published in the collection SIGNPOSTS IN A STRANGE LAND, Percy notes that: Americans are the nicest, most generous, and sentimental people on earth. Yet Americans have killed more unborn children than any nation on earth. Now euthanasia is beginning….


Pope Francis: Human ecology… implies another profound reality: the relationship between human life and the moral law, which is inscribed in our nature and is necessary for the creation of a more dignified environment. Pope Benedict XVI spoke of an “ecology of man”, based on the fact that “man too has a nature that he must respect and that he cannot manipulate at will”. It is enough to recognize that our body itself establishes us in a direct relationship with the environment and with other living beings. The acceptance of our bodies as God’s gift is vital for welcoming and accepting the entire world as a gift from the Father and our common home, whereas thinking that we enjoy absolute power over our own bodies turns, often subtly, into thinking that we enjoy absolute power over creation. Learning to accept our body, to care for it and to respect its fullest meaning, is an essential element of any genuine human ecology. Also, valuing one’s own body in its femininity or masculinity is necessary if I am going to be able to recognize myself in an encounter with someone who is different. In this way we can joyfully accept the specific gifts of another man or woman, the work of God the Creator, and find mutual enrichment. It is not a healthy attitude which would seek “to cancel out sexual difference because it no longer knows how to confront it”. [para.155]

In a lecture given at Cornell in 1985, Walker Percy has this to say, as quoted also in the book: SIGNPOSTS IN A STRANGE LAND: Every age, we know, is informed by a particular belief or myth or worldview shared in common by the denizens of the age…..the consciousness of Western man, the layman in particular, has been transformed by a curious misapprehension of the scientific method….It….takes the form of a radical and paradoxical loss of sovereignty by the layman and of a radical impoverishment of human relations – paradoxical I say, because it occurs in the very face of his technological mastery of the world and his richness as a consumer of the world’s goods. [op.cit.p.210]

Ever since Adam and Eve fundamentally betrayed each other with the blame game and denial around their mutual act of disobedience, stress and conflict became part of the most sacred vocation of marriage; once Cain slew Abel, jealously, hatred, poor self-image, violence, murder seeped into family life, and so on throughout the entire Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament, everything we contend with in daily personal, family, communal, body politic, religion, global relationships is all there, right in our face, all the time.

Only if we are steeped in the Gospel, live the Gospel with our lives without compromise, in a word follow Jesus and do as Jesus would have us do, is there any hope of our rediscovering and reclaiming personal, familial, communal sovereignty.

The prime purpose of business, of labour unions, of government at all levels, of common law, constitutional law is to form community.

NOT communities but community.

This community, this one global family, this great tree if you will of humanity, will by its very nature have branches:  not every family member  sings the same, dances the same, prays the same yet, please God, everyone WILL know that they are, we are, one family, a common-unity: community.

The global anxiety, restlessness, estrangement from other which nations experience daily, as do workers in the same office, on the same factory floor, students in the same university class, people in the very same pew in church, comes from the loss of sovereignty living in a world dominated by science and technology, relativistic mind sets in universities and the media, and an increasing xenophobic furtive glancing at other, be they living down the street or across an ocean.

We live in fear.

We are right to be afraid.

But we fear the wrong things.

We fear the vagaries of the economy, terrorists, climate change, self-serving politicians, being labelled by those whose disdain for people of faith cloaks an overall disdain for human beings in general.

We refuse to embrace the only fear we should have, which is a gift of the Holy Spirit and without embracing His gift, without living in the light of His gift, none of what Pope Francis is asking of us: to be converted, to love one another, to live as one human family and care for our common home, will ever come to pass and those other fears will drive us, lemming like, over the cliff into the abyss of oblivion.

Archbishop Luis Martinez in his book THE SANCTIFIER teaches: There is fear…that is called filial…This is the gift of fear which is directed by the Holy Spirit…It is a filial fear, a noble fear, born from the very heart of love…the beginning of wisdom, because, in order to possess divine wisdom, we need to unite ourselves so closely to God that nothing can separate us from Him. The gift of fear unites us with God in this way. It hinders us from ever separating ourselves from the Beloved….[op.cit.pp.130/131]

In our over medicated, so-called politically correct, relativist society the most common neurosis is chronic anxiety, in a word we are running scared because we lack a proper openness to another gift of the Holy Spirit: understanding.

This refusal to understand, and accept, the truth we are creatures – albeit endowed with immortal souls as children of the Divine – who are called to live and move and have our being in Him who created us, Love Himself, to be His beloved – this refusal imprisons us in bondage to ignorance.

Everything in the cosmos, every cloud, breeze, raindrop, snowflake, every blade of grass, tree, creature of the plains, the forests, the seas and most especially every other human being testifies we have originated in the creative act of love by Someone:

The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament shows the creation of His hands. Day to day utters speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voices are not heard. Their proclamation went forth into all the earth, and their words to the end of the world……The fear of the Lord is pure, enduing unto ages of ages…[Ps. 18(19)vs. 1-5 & 10]

Our pilgrimage through life is the opportunity to be in right relationship with Him, with self, with other[s] hence the true antidote to anxiety, restlessness, and discombulation in life is this holy, filial fear, loving awe and communion of love with Him.

This pervasive anxiety and fearful restlessness, this daily discombulation erodes the moral fibre of our lives, increases self-centeredness and deafens us to the cries of our suffering brothers and sisters, blinds us to the conditions in which millions are forced to live.

Thus Pope Francis cries out: Our difficulty in taking up this challenge seriously has much to do with an ethical and cultural decline which has accompanied the deterioration of the environment. Men and women of our postmodern world run the risk of rampant individualism, and many problems of society are connected with today’s self-centred culture of instant gratification. We see this in the crisis of family and social ties and the difficulties of recognizing the other. Parents can be prone to impulsive and wasteful consumption, which then affects their children who find it increasingly difficult to acquire a home of their own and build a family. Furthermore, our inability to think seriously about future generations is linked to our inability to broaden the scope of our present interests and to give consideration to those who remain excluded from development. Let us not only keep the poor of the future in mind, but also today’s poor, whose life on this earth is brief and who cannot keep on waiting. Hence, “in addition to a fairer sense of intergenerational solidarity there is also an urgent moral need for a renewed sense of intragenerational solidarity”. [para. 162]

If we look at recorded human history what is striking is how rarely do human beings consider the impact of choices and actions much longer than a few days ahead, indeed frequently rarely beyond the immediate moment!

Yet choices and actions have real consequences for ourselves, those we are in relationship with, whatever our state in life, and even greater are those of nations upon human beings within and beyond our borders.

When we make career choices/vocation choices, such as when we proclaim ‘I do.’, during sacramental marriage or ‘Here I am.’, during ordination, as but two examples, no one can see far enough in the future to foresee what the challenges of living out commitment will entail.

Thus our yes to other, to vocation, needs be renewed daily.

However, as Pope Francis is stressing, we do have a certain capacity to see and understand the impact of some choices in life.

A simple example: if we disregard others, indeed our own welfare, and drive drunk there is a extremely high probability we will crash into another car and injure or kill, possibly self, certainly others.

In a sense we ‘drive’ economy, politics, culture, environment, among others, by our choices and actions today and Pope Francis is asking us when making decisions to look beyond the self, beyond the narrow confines of our own nation, city, etc., and to consider the impact on our brothers and sisters elsewhere in the world today – but not only today, the impact tomorrow and all remaining tomorrows of human history.

The Gospel intends us to attain to true simplicity: simplicity in the sense of an inward unity of life. Such simplicity contrasts, in the first place, with the disunity of in the soul of those who lives are filled, now by one thing, now by another; who lose themselves in the motley variegation of life, who do not seek for an integration of their actions and conduct by one dominate principle. [ from Dietrich von Hildebrand’s TRANSFORMATION IN CHRIST]

What is the one dominate principle we should live by?

This in My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. [Jn. 15.12]

Only if we live by the above dominate principle will we be able to take to heart, to implement in our daily lives and relations with others the urgent appeal by Pope Francis: …..our planet is a homeland…humanity is one people living in a common home. An interdependent world not only makes us more conscious of the negative effects of certain lifestyles and models of production and consumption which affect us all; more importantly, it motivates us to ensure that solutions are proposed from a global perspective, and not simply to defend the interests of a few countries. Interdependence obliges us to think of one world with a common plan. [para. 164]

In the section where Pope Francis tackles the issues of governance and political and other choices about facing the challenges in our care for our ‘common home’ he states: A politics concerned with immediate results, supported by consumerist sectors of the population, is driven to produce short-term growth. In response to electoral interests, governments are reluctant to upset the public with measures which could affect the level of consumption or create risks for foreign investment. The myopia of power politics delays the inclusion of a far-sighted environmental agenda within the overall agenda of governments. Thus we forget that “time is greater than space”.... that we are always more effective when we generate processes rather than holding on to positions of power. True statecraft is manifest when, in difficult times, we uphold high principles and think of the long-term common good. Political powers do not find it easy to assume this duty in the work of nation-building. [para. 178]

The oft quoted in literature and song, often used in funerals oddly enough, words from Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 is a powerful statement about the mystery, indeed the grace of time.

Each of us is given the optimum allotment of time necessary for us to become saints, to live out our vocation in life, both the general vocation of all human beings to at least live faithfully according to natural law with charity towards all others, and for the baptized to live out our primary vocation to preach the Gospel with out lives without compromise,  within the sacredness of the particular vocation to Holy Marriage, Priesthood, Religious Life or the hidden but equally powerful vocation as a consecrated single person.

The teaching on time begins: To everything there is a season, and time for every matter under heaven. [Ecc.3:1] and there follows the long list of just what there is time for: birth, death, sowing, harvesting – all the way down to: A time to love and a time to hate; a time of war and a time of peace. [v.8]

Obviously there are times we should not make use of such as to kill or hate. The permissive will of God may allow time for evil but we should reject using time that way and always choose to protect and love.

Truly that is time well spent!

Time is ours to use well, or to waste.

Time is fast paced as we all know.

A moment is just that, a moment.

As the saying goes: use it or loose it!

Reminding us that the fullness of time is actually eternity St. John Paul in TERTIO MILLENNIO ADVENIENTE para.10, teaches: ….that Christ is the Lord of time; He is its beginning and its end; every year, every day and every moment are embraced by His Incarnation and Resurrection, and thus become part of the “fullness of time.”

What strikes me within the teaching of Pope Francis is it moves me to look at just how environmentalists, for example, have been using time in recent decades, along with governments, enormous amounts of time spent on conferences about how things are and what we ought to do, on projecting this or that reduction of pollutants etc., etc., and in all this time it sure seems all that conferences and governments do is all agree things are rather awful and then they push the goal posts further away.

Makes one want to scream: STOP! – and to pose the question: How about taking the time NOT to jet around the world to another conference but to walk along a river bank and clean it up?

Just seems we are blathering time away to the point of catastrophe rather than being humble enough to stop, look closely at the place in time we live and what little thing can be done to repair our common home right here, right now.

To borrow from Ed Sheeran’s powerful song for the film THE HOBBIT THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG: “I SEE FIRE”, a song which is truly a lament: ….

Prepare as we will

Watch the flames burn auburn on

The mountain side

Desolation comes upon the sky…..

….I see fire

Hollowing souls….

I hear my people screaming out…..

The overriding lesson, there for all to see and act upon or not, in the LORD OF THE RINGS and HOBBIT books and films is a stark one, echoed in the song above and stated clearly in this encyclical: when we are in bondage to self interest our hearts become cold and hard, our ears deaf to “my people screaming out.”

We are fickle.

After years of our brothers and sisters being brutalized in Syria, Nigeria and other places suddenly one photo – it should be noted not the first such photo – of a drowned child has the world in guilty uproar.

What about the screams of the unborn being aborted, of women and children in our own neighbourhoods being abused,  the often muted cries of the homeless, etc., etc.?

Time is short.

Evil triumphs when good people are deaf and, frankly, lazy in the face of cruelty and injustice.

We will never heal the environmental wounds of our common home so long as our hearts are not healed and our ears not open to our screaming brothers and sisters exhausted and hopeless in their immediate pain.

These days to waste time that should be spent protecting the unborn, helping the expectant mother, feeding the hungry, and yes caring for migrants and refugees, as our priority, our first step towards caring for our common home – such waste is evil and in the end one wonders who will there be to live in the common home?

To borrow from the artist Enya from her poem-song ONLY TIME:

Who can say where the road goes

Where the day flows, only time

And who can say if your love grows

As your heart chose, only time.

Because time is God’s gift to us it is we who determine what time ‘says’ by how we use the time allotted to us.

Abortion, hatred, terrorism, extremism, displacement of innocent people, growing unemployment and resulting domestic stress, self-centeredness and innumerable other things which so hurt human beings, all these we can and must take the time to face and work towards overcoming and healing.

Only then will we be able to truly care for our common home because we will make those who live within our common home our first priority, something Pope Francis clearly understands.

The two are interconnected at their core: The majority of people living on our planet profess to be believers. This should spur religions to dialogue among themselves for the sake of protecting nature, defending the poor, and building networks of respect and fraternity. [para. 201]

Many things have to change course, but it is we human beings above all who need to change. We lack an awareness of our common origin, of our mutual belonging, and of a future to be shared with everyone. This basic awareness would enable the development of new convictions, attitudes and forms of life. A great cultural, spiritual and educational challenge stands before us, and it will demand that we set out on the long path of renewal. [para. 202]

Yet all is not lost. Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start, despite their mental and social conditioning. [para.205]

…..In the face of the so-called culture of death, the family is the heart of the culture of life”…. we also need the personal qualities of self-control and willingness to learn from one another….since the teachings of the Gospel have direct consequences for our way of thinking, feeling and living…..Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience….. In calling to mind the figure of Saint Francis of Assisi, we come to realize that a healthy relationship with creation is one dimension of overall personal conversion, which entails the recognition of our errors, sins, faults and failures, and leads to heartfelt repentance and desire to change. [cf. paras. 213 to 218]

The ‘personal conversion’ urged is not an intellectual exercise, though likely there will be a degree of learning, reflection, even study to enable a change of intellectual assessment of things.

However true conversion is, literally, conversion of heart, as Pope Francis stresses: We are speaking of an attitude of the heart, one which approaches life with serene attentiveness, which is capable of being fully present to someone without thinking of what comes next, which accepts each moment as a gift from God to be lived to the full. Jesus taught us this attitude when he invited us to contemplate the lilies of the field and the birds of the air, or when seeing the rich young man and knowing his restlessness, “he looked at him with love” (Mk 10:21). He was completely present to everyone and to everything, and in this way he showed us the way to overcome that unhealthy anxiety which makes us superficial, aggressive and compulsive consumers. [para. 226]

A few days ago I went to the local shoe repair shop in the nearby mall. I had not been there before but I needed to replace my belt which was worn to the breaking point. I picked out a simple black leather belt and went to pay for it.

While making change for me the cobbler, a man elderly like myself, uninvited I should stress, leapt into a tirade against certain groups of human beings that caused me to feel I was in the presence of if not an actual Nazis certainly someone filled with the same hatred.

So long as human hearts are polluted with hatred, discrimination, violence no amount of effort, policies, laws, etc., can possibly impact damage done to our common home through polluting air, water, earth.

Love alone is stronger than hate and death.

A pure heart alone is strong enough to restore right balance and order between earth, air, water, other creatures and one another as persons.

Thus Pope Francis notes: Care for nature is part of a lifestyle which includes the capacity for living together and communion. Jesus reminded us that we have God as our common Father and that this makes us brothers and sisters. Fraternal love can only be gratuitous; it can never be a means of repaying others for what they have done or will do for us. That is why it is possible to love our enemies. This same gratuitousness inspires us to love and accept the wind, the sun and the clouds, even though we cannot control them. In this sense, we can speak of a “universal fraternity”. [para. 228] We must regain the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world, and that being good and decent are worth it. [para. 229]

The priority of the human person is and must always be the foundational stance in any discussion of the environment, indeed of economics, politics, and all aspects of shared life on/in our common home and Pope Francis consistently connects the Divine, the natural, the human: The universe unfolds in God, who fills it completely. Hence, there is a mystical meaning to be found in a leaf, in a mountain trail, in a dewdrop, in a poor person’s face. The ideal is not only to pass from the exterior to the interior to discover the action of God in the soul, but also to discover God in all things. [para. 233]

Manifestations of God’s actions in the material world, and consequently in human souls who are open to His loving and sanctifying action, can be contemplated within the reality of matter:  a human being, water, and oil as sacred Chrism, in Baptism and Confirmation,  bread and wine in Holy Eucharist, blessed oil in the Anointing of the Sick, a baptized, confirmed man, Sacred Chrism in ordination in Persona Christi, a baptized man and a baptized woman in Holy Marriage and a human being in sacramental confession – these are the external elements, matter if you will, necessary for sacraments which become real and sanctifying, effective by the action of the Holy Spirit: The Sacraments are a privileged way in which nature is taken up by God to become a means of mediating supernatural life. Through our worship of God, we are invited to embrace the world on a different plane. Water, oil, fire and colours are taken up in all their symbolic power and incorporated in our act of praise. The hand that blesses is an instrument of God’s love and a reflection of the closeness of Jesus Christ, who came to accompany us on the journey of life. Water poured over the body of a child in Baptism is a sign of new life. Encountering God does not mean fleeing from this world or turning our back on nature….For Christians, all the creatures of the material universe find their true meaning in the incarnate Word, for the Son of God has incorporated in his person part of the material world, planting in it a seed of definitive transformation. “Christianity does not reject matter. Rather, bodiliness is considered in all its value in the liturgical act, whereby the human body is disclosed in its inner nature as a temple of the Holy Spirit and is united with the Lord Jesus, who himself took a body for the world’s salvation”. [para. 235]

It is striking, when the Holy Father speaks about the Holy Eucharist, if we take the time to step back and reflect, the extent of  divine and human activity necessary for the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and reception of Holy Communion: a farmer must prepare a field, plant the seed, harvest the wheat which the labour of others gets to the mill, grinds into flour, bakes and shapes while still others labour to produce the linens, vestments, liturgical books, candles, paten, a priest is needed, altar servers and readers and, critical, the active participation in the liturgy of the communicants.

This whole process of divine and human activity the Church recognizes in prayer at the Offering of the Gifts in Holy Mass: Blessed are You, Lord God of all creation, for through Your goodness we have received the bread we offer You: fruit of the earth and work of human hands, it will become for us the bread of life. [Roman ritual]

Pope Francis reminds us: It is in the Eucharist that all that has been created finds its greatest exaltation. Grace, which tends to manifest itself tangibly, found unsurpassable expression when God himself became man and gave himself as food for his creatures. The Lord, in the culmination of the mystery of the Incarnation, chose to reach our intimate depths through a fragment of matter. He comes not from above, but from within, he comes that we might find him in this world of ours. In the Eucharist, fullness is already achieved; it is the living centre of the universe, the overflowing core of love and of inexhaustible life. Joined to the incarnate Son, present in the Eucharist, the whole cosmos gives thanks to God. Indeed the Eucharist is itself an act of cosmic love: “Yes, cosmic! Because even when it is celebrated on the humble altar of a country church, the Eucharist is always in some way celebrated on the altar of the world”… The Eucharist joins heaven and earth; it embraces and penetrates all creation. The world which came forth from God’s hands returns to him in blessed and undivided adoration: in the bread of the Eucharist, “creation is projected towards divinization, towards the holy wedding feast, towards unification with the Creator himself”....Thus, the Eucharist is also a source of light and motivation for our concerns for the environment, directing us to be stewards of all creation. [para. 236]

Again I am struck that fundamentally the heart of this papal teaching about our common home and call for better care of our common home is his recurring emphasis on the ecology of the human heart, of profound priority for respect for human life, of care for the vulnerable pre-born child, the poor, the hungry and thirsty among us, also a constant reminder to all of us that neither we nor the earth nor anything in the cosmos is self created: The Father is the ultimate source of everything, the loving and self-communicating foundation of all that exists. The Son, his reflection, through whom all things were created, united himself to this earth when he was formed in the womb of Mary. The Spirit, infinite bond of love, is intimately present at the very heart of the universe, inspiring and bringing new pathways. The world was created by the three Persons acting as a single divine principle, but each one of them performed this common work in accordance with his own personal property. Consequently, “when we contemplate with wonder the universe in all its grandeur and beauty, we must praise the whole Trinity”. [para. 238]

While reflecting upon this encyclical I have been reading Harper Lee’s novel GO SET A WATCHMAN, which led me to re-meditate upon the scripture source of the novel’s title which is drawn from Isaiah 21:6: For thus the Lord said to me: “Go set a watchman for yourself and declare whatever you see.”

When cities were walled and gated, such as Jerusalem at the time of Christ, a large part of the effectiveness of such a defence depended upon the eagle eyes of the watchmen, usually stationed in high towers or along the ramparts.

In a sense Pope Francis is acting as a watchman for the whole human family, calling out as warning what he sees as the approaching enemy, if you will, when it comes not only to the environment but to the whole economic, moral and social order of the human family.

While the Holy Father is in a unique position to be such a watchman every human being should be a watchman, especially the baptized being watchful as St. Peter urges: Stay sober and alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, solid in your faith. [1 Peter 5: 8-9]

Many communities have groups such as neighbourhood or rural watch, while many postal carriers, for example, are aware of the elderly and watch out for them especially in times of extreme heat or cold. In a sense the meteorologists, more commonly known as the weather forecasters on television, also stand watch as do our military and police.

Each of us should ask ourselves how we stand watch not only over our common home but especially over one another with true charity and compassion.

As God asked of Cain so He asks each one of us where is your brother, your sister? In all of Sacred Scripture there is only one detailed account of the Last Judgement and it is all about how we loved, watched out for one another by the way we care for, or not, for each other. [cf. Mt. 25:31-46]

I am reminded of the words from Walt Kelly, placed in the mouth of his character Pogo, from the comic strip of the same name, and used on an Earth Day Poster in in 1970: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

When we fail to watch out for, to care for one another, to stand for life, truth, charity, compassion, justice, we become disconnected from one another and society becomes riven with discrimination, anger, despair and people living in such turbulence become disconnected as well from our very selves, bent towards ourselves in an egotistical, darkening mood which leads to the kind of greed that has no respect for human life or any other creature and our communion with God frays and eventually ruptures completely.

It is then we discover what true loneliness is.

The Father is the ultimate source of everything, the loving and self-communicating foundation of all that exists. The Son, his reflection, through whom all things were created, united himself to this earth when he was formed in the womb of Mary. The Spirit, infinite bond of love, is intimately present at the very heart of the universe, inspiring and bringing new pathways. [para. 238] The divine Persons are subsistent relations, and the world, created according to the divine model, is a web of relationships. Creatures tend towards God, and in turn it is proper to every living being to tend towards other things, so that throughout the universe we can find any number of constant and secretly interwoven relationships. This leads us not only to marvel at the manifold connections existing among creatures, but also to discover a key to our own fulfilment. The human person grows more, matures more and is sanctified more to the extent that he or she enters into relationships, going out from themselves to live in communion with God, with others and with all creatures. In this way, they make their own that Trinitarian dynamism which God imprinted in them when they were created. Everything is interconnected, and this invites us to develop a spirituality of that global solidarity which flows from the mystery of the Trinity. [para. 240]

Pope Francis in chapter IX, the final section of the encyclical uses the expression BEYOND THE SUN as its title.

It is very evocative and hearkens back to a time when, we were not hampered in our ability to be awed by the beauty of sunrise and sunset by having discovered it is not the sun which moves up and down but the earth itself. On the other hand the knowledge that our common home is in motion has led some to refer to it as ‘spaceship earth’! Not such a bad expression when you think about it for a ship is a type of home both for passengers and crew, humanity is renewed after the flood by those who had been kept safe in the ‘ship’ of Noah, when the little ship of the apostles was about to be overwhelmed by the sudden storm on the sea Jesus calmed the wind and the waves and the Church is still referred to as the bark of Peter:  At the end, we will find ourselves face to face with the infinite beauty of God (cf. 1 Cor 13:12), and be able to read with admiration and happiness the mystery of the universe, which with us will share in unending plenitude. Even now we are journeying towards the sabbath of eternity, the new Jerusalem, towards our common home in heaven. Jesus says: “I make all things new” (Rev 21:5). Eternal life will be a shared experience of awe, in which each creature, resplendently transfigured, will take its rightful place and have something to give those poor men and women who will have been liberated once and for all. In the meantime, we come together to take charge of this home which has been entrusted to us, knowing that all the good which exists here will be taken up into the heavenly feast. In union with all creatures, we journey through this land seeking God, for “if the world has a beginning and if it has been created, we must enquire who gave it this beginning, and who was its Creator”. Let us sing as we go. May our struggles and our concern for this planet never take away the joy of our hope. God, who calls us to generous commitment and to give him our all, offers us the light and the strength needed to continue on our way. In the heart of this world, the Lord of life, who loves us so much, is always present. He does not abandon us, he does not leave us alone, for he has united himself definitively to our earth, and his love constantly impels us to find new ways forward. Praise be to him! [paras. 243-45]

May we all take to heart the fundamental call from Pope Francis to be converted, to love each other as Christ loves us in the right order of fullness of human life: God first, next my brother/my sister, and I am third.

From such love and humility will come the triumph of the Gospel of life and when the ecology of the human heart is in right order the way we interact with the natural environment of our common home will be transformed.                      







Thursday, October 15, 2015



                                                                           PART 1


WHEN Pope Francis released his encyclical in June of this year the media stressed it was another example of this Pope’s being in line with the popular mood around the issues of the day and went all gaga over it for a few days.

Then the encyclical sank from the media like a stone dropped into a still lake, the ripples visible briefly and the surface of the lake returns to its placid normality,  with nary a sign remaining that a stone had been dropped into the lake.

Not only has the secular media’s interpretation of the encyclical proven to be self-serving, it also misses the point.

Hopefully this commentary will show that while Pope Francis is teaching “on care for our common home”, he is teaching first and foremost about the ecology of the human heart as foundation to addressing the environmental challenges faced by the entire human family.

The title of the encyclical comes from a canticle of St. Francis praising the Lord through all aspects of this planet earth on which we live [para.1] and the Holy Father speaks of the earth crying because of what we have done/do [para. 2] yet immediately the Holy Father stresses all is a matter of what is within and flows from the human heart: The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. [para. 2]

Echoing St. John XXIII, who addressed his seminal encyclical PACEM IN TERRIS to “all men of good will”, [para. 3] Pope Francis enunciates his desire to: …. address every person living on this planet……to enter into dialogue with all people about our common home. [para.3]

This is striking for two reasons in particular: 1] He is reaffirming his role as shepherd and father of every human being, not just Catholics and 2] Dialogue means there is something important to discuss because the search for truth, identification of issues, discovery of solutions means, in this context especially, neither side of the issue can claim definitively to have the answers.

The destruction of the human environment is extremely serious, not only because God has entrusted the world to us men and women, but because human life is itself a gift which must be defended from various forms of debasement.  [para.5]

Implicit in this teaching is a challenge to those who put saving forests or whales ahead of saving pre-born children from being murdered in the womb,  and to those who, on the other hand, while seeking to protect pre-born children often lack compassion in their hearts for those who have committed or advocate for abortion.

Often this latter group denies any human responsibility for the wounding of the earth.

Pope Francis leaves little wiggle room in his moral challenges throughout the encyclical.

It is not a matter of the Holy Father saying we must all be totally pro the global warming side. He is stressing we MUST all be pro EVERYONE and everything God has gifted to us.

Perhaps we cannot directly do anything, for example, to prevent a child being murdered in the womb, but we can each day in our hearts adopt and pray for the protection of every child at risk; perhaps we cannot directly do anything about the condition, for example, of the world’s oceans but we can recycle.

If we focus, without taking concrete action, over how many millions of children are aborted or likewise without concrete action over the condition of the oceans, the sheer magnitude of evil will overwhelm and discourage us.

For thirty of His thirty-three years on earth Christ did ordinary little things each day, like every human being. He did them exceedingly well.

We need humble confidence in the powerful impact of little things done well, the accumulation of which – imagine if all seven billion of us smiled at each other, a little thing, each day – will transform human life and the environment.

That like his namesake Pope Francis is a human being of love, hope, joy shines through in simple, clear teaching such as: Rather than a problem to be solved, the world is a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise. [para. 12]

Then Pope Francis articulates his appeal to the whole human family:  The urgent challenge to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change. The Creator does not abandon us; he never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us. Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home. [para.13]

Among other serious challenges, which must be confronted, if we are to respond in the affirmative to the Holy Father’s appeal, are those of global terrorism, rooted in irrational hatreds, and the chaotic fragility of the global economy, both issues which relentlessly increase the numbers of displaced people throughout the world.

In the universal sense the earth is our ‘common home’, but for millions of our brothers and sisters, those in refugee camps, the homeless and others, they literally have no home. Jesus Himself intimately in His public life took upon Himself, into His Heart, this stark reality which is the daily life of millions: The Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head. [cf. Mt. 8:19-22; Lk. 9:58 ff.]

Pope Francis, reflecting on “what is happening to our common home” stresses: Our goal is not to amass information or to satisfy curiosity, but rather to become painfully aware, to dare to turn what is happening to the world into our own personal suffering and thus to discover what each of us can do about it. [para.19]

One dimension of this is opening our consciousness, our hearts, to a degree of authentic intimacy, with every human being, especially the poor and vulnerable, which should include also a type of intimacy with all creation.

We tend, mainly, to be somewhat unconsciously aware of the sun, moon, stars [if we can see the stars at night for artificial light in urban areas is so ‘polluting’ the sheer wonderment of the night sky is not visible in all its splendour]; likewise the immense extent of concrete and asphalt in our cities, the density of high rise buildings separates most of us from access to soft earth underfoot, to the wonders of dense forest populated by creatures of the forest.

Metropolises of more than a million, to several millions are commonplace in our era.

The state of the world’s oceans is rather a remote fact for those living in such density in modern cities.

Violence, vermin, garbage, loneliness, these are the immediate ‘environmental’ stresses experienced day in and day out by our brothers and sisters in the millions, in particular the homeless.

This is central to our opening our hearts to becoming “…painfully aware…”, and throughout the encyclical Pope Francis interweaves his concerns about the environment  and his passionate concern for and love of the poor, a concern and love ever since his election he has ceaselessly challenged us all to embrace and respond to.

Thus, for example, when speaking about drinking water Pope Francis, after reminding us that access to safe drinking water is a foundational and universal human right adds: Our world has a grave social debt towards the poor who lack access to drinking water, because they are denied the right to a life consistent with their inalienable dignity. This debt can be paid partly by an increase in funding to provide clean water and sanitary services among the poor. But water continues to be wasted, not only in the developed world but also in developing countries which possess it in abundance. This shows that the problem of water is partly an educational and cultural issue, since there is little awareness of the seriousness of such behaviour within a context of great inequality. [para. 30]

Here again is a place where we who cannot do the macro, directly supply water to those who have none, can do the micro, namely take a serious, objective inventory of our personal water use/waste.

Throughout the encyclical Pope Francis issues stark warnings about the potential repercussions of our behaviour: Greater scarcity of water will lead to an increase in the cost of food and the various products which depend on its use. Some studies warn that an acute water shortage may occur within a few decades unless urgent action is taken. The environmental repercussions could affect billions of people; it is also conceivable that the control of water by large multinational businesses may become a major source of conflict in this century. [para.31]

Throughout the encyclical Pope Francis speaks specifically about other environmental issues besides water in some detail, often weaving in, as noted above, references to the impact not solely on the ‘natural’ environment but on our lives as well.

Some sections read somewhat technical and feed directly into the debate, for example, between those who see humans as the primary, almost the exclusive agents of what less and less is called ‘global warming’ and more frequently the rather porous ‘climate change,’ and those who see any climate change as merely ‘natural’ occurrences.  Likely the objective truth is some of both: the human and the natural.

Since this commentary is attempting to focus on the Holy Father’s words connected to the environment of the human heart most of the above noted will be skipped over.

The human environment and the natural environment deteriorate together; we cannot adequately combat environmental degradation unless we attend to causes related to human and social degradation. In fact, the deterioration of the environment and of society affects the most vulnerable people on the planet: “Both everyday experience and scientific research show that the gravest effects of all attacks on the environment are suffered by the poorest”. [para.48]

This is another example of what strikes me as the dominate teaching, namely that our prime reason for having concern about, caring for our ‘common home’,  is because it is we human beings who live in – yes IN I would stress, not on – this common home.

When I was a boy in high summer only the wealthy could afford air conditioning, which in the years immediately after the war was one of many things which were both rare and expensive.

Those of us who lived in tenements because of poverty or small flat tar roofed working class houses would sit out on fire escapes or front stoops until the wee hours of the morning when things might cool down enough for a couple of hours of fitful sleep.

Exhausted men would head off to work, exhausted mothers to care for their families come morning , with no relief from the heat of the day the even more exhausted men would return in the evening, the even more exhausted women tend to supper, try to comfort their children.

Such is still reality for millions of people today, no relief from summer’s heat and in some countries serious diseases, like malaria, flourish compounding the suffering.

It needs to be said that, generally speaking, there is little in the way of clear awareness of problems which especially affect the excluded. Yet they are the majority of the planet’s population, billions of people. These days, they are mentioned in international political and economic discussions, but one often has the impression that their problems are brought up as an afterthought, a question which gets added almost out of duty or in a tangential way, if not treated merely as collateral damage. Indeed, when all is said and done, they frequently remain at the bottom of the pile…… we have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor. [para.49]

Implicit in the above is a call to metanoia, the conversion of heart which is essential if we are to hear the cry of the poor, let alone the cry of the earth.

I know an internationally renowned environmentalist who jets all over the globe, owns more than one mansion, is totally for abortion. Facts, not a judgement on the person, who is both seriously dedicated to their cause and very eloquent about it to boot – however while I have seen them in various documentaries about the plight of this or that species of plant or animal I have never known them to visit a refugee camp and experience the plight of our brothers and sisters who live there.

 The environmental conditions of such places are horrific and directly impact human beings.

We need to strengthen the conviction that we are one single human family. There are no frontiers or barriers, political or social, behind which we can hide, still less is there room for the globalization of indifference. [para. 52] Disregard for the duty to cultivate and maintain a proper relationship with my neighbour, for whose care and custody I am responsible, ruins my relationship with my own self, with others, with God and with the earth. When all these relationships are neglected, when justice no longer dwells in the land, the Bible tells us that life itself is endangered. [para. 70]

In the whole second section of the encyclical, from which the above is taken, Pope Francis does a great teaching on the truth of Who has created us, and all of creation, why we exist and are beloved:  In the Judaeo-Christian tradition, the word “creation” has a broader meaning than “nature”, for it has to do with God’s loving plan in which every creature has its own value and significance. Nature is usually seen as a system which can be studied, understood and controlled, whereas creation can only be understood as a gift from the outstretched hand of the Father of all, and as a reality illuminated by the love which calls us together into universal communion…….Every creature is thus the object of the Father’s tenderness, who gives it its place in the world. Even the fleeting life of the least of beings is the object of his love, and in its few seconds of existence, God enfolds it with his affection. Saint Basil the Great described the Creator as “goodness without measure”,…while Dante Alighieri spoke of “the love which moves the sun and the stars”….Consequently, we can ascend from created things “to the greatness of God and to his loving mercy”. [paras. 76/77]

Like St. John Paul II, who while having an openness to the theories of evolution, always stressed that the factual beginning point, point of origin of everyone and all created things is God Himself, Pope Francis is also clear on this point: Human beings, even if we postulate a process of evolution, also possess a uniqueness which cannot be fully explained by the evolution of other open systems. Each of us has his or her own personal identity and is capable of entering into dialogue with others and with God himself. Our capacity to reason, to develop arguments, to be inventive, to interpret reality and to create art, along with other not yet discovered capacities, are signs of a uniqueness which transcends the spheres of physics and biology. The sheer novelty involved in the emergence of a personal being within a material universe presupposes a direct action of God and a particular call to life and to relationship on the part of a “Thou” who addresses himself to another “thou”. The biblical accounts of creation invite us to see each human being as a subject who can never be reduced to the status of an object. [para. 81]

At the same time: The ultimate destiny of the universe is in the fullness of God, which has already been attained by the risen Christ, the measure of the maturity of all things…Here we can add yet another argument for rejecting every tyrannical and irresponsible domination of human beings over other creatures. The ultimate purpose of other creatures is not to be found in us. Rather, all creatures are moving forward with us and through us towards a common point of arrival, which is God, in that transcendent fullness where the risen Christ embraces and illumines all things. Human beings, endowed with intelligence and love, and drawn by the fullness of Christ, are called to lead all creatures back to their Creator. [para. 83]

At the end of the Canon of the Mass, known as the Fourth Eucharistic Prayer, the Church, having articulated our common yearning to be admitted with our Blessed Mother, the Saints, all the faithful departed into heaven affirms:…There, with the whole of creation, freed from the corruption of sin and death……

The whole of creation!

Creation not as we now experience it, this adversarial reality between weather and human beings, certain creatures who pose a real danger such as poisonous snakes, disease and so forth.

The ‘whole of creation’ means precisely the one freed from sin and death.

Before original sin there was no adversarial status in the Garden.

Indeed before Cain slew his brother there was no adversarial status between human beings.

If we be converted, if we strive to lead lives, as Pope Francis urges, which are truly human lives, lives of loving concern for one another, the necessary first step in caring for our common home, then we shall not only see but dwell within what the author of the book of Revelation was granted to see and what is asked in the Canon of the Mass: Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.  I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” [21: 1-4]

Pope Francis affirms that: God has written a precious book, “whose letters are the multitude of created things present in the universe”….We can say that “alongside revelation properly so-called, contained in sacred Scripture, there is a divine manifestation in the blaze of the sun and the fall of night”…. Paying attention to this manifestation, we learn to see ourselves in relation to all other creatures: “I express myself in expressing the world; in my effort to decipher the sacredness of the world, I explore my own”……[para. 85]

Further on the Holy Father stresses that: A sense of deep communion with the rest of nature cannot be real if our hearts lack tenderness, compassion and concern for our fellow human beings. It is clearly inconsistent to combat trafficking in endangered species while remaining completely indifferent to human trafficking, unconcerned about the poor, or undertaking to destroy another human being deemed unwanted. This compromises the very meaning of our struggle for the sake of the environment….. Concern for the environment thus needs to be joined to a sincere love for our fellow human beings and an unwavering commitment to resolving the problems of society. [para.91]

However this communion, a communion of love, will not, cannot, occur unless I truly know who I am as person, person created in the image and likeness of God: person who has breath of life because Life Himself, Love Himself has created me, person who is of the same flesh and blood, same immortal soul, is same beloved of God as every other human being.

Therefore since One alone is the Lord and Giver of Life, One alone has the right to take life: abortion is therefore the ultimate act of usurpation and idolatry, of arrogant murder.

Moreover, when our hearts are authentically open to universal communion, this sense of fraternity excludes nothing and no one. It follows that our indifference or cruelty towards fellow creatures of this world sooner or later affects the treatment we mete out to other human beings. We have only one heart, and the same wretchedness which leads us to mistreat an animal will not be long in showing itself in our relationships with other people. Every act of cruelty towards any creature is “contrary to human dignity”….We can hardly consider ourselves to be fully loving if we disregard any aspect of reality: “Peace, justice and the preservation of creation are three absolutely interconnected themes, which cannot be separated and treated individually without once again falling into reductionism”….Everything is related, and we human beings are united as brothers and sisters on a wonderful pilgrimage, woven together by the love God has for each of his creatures and which also unites us in fond affection with brother sun, sister moon, brother river and mother earth. [para.92]

Throughout the encyclical there is a striking expectation, perhaps even a degree of assumption, that human beings, not necessarily in general but at least those who will read, heed, implement the call within this teaching of the Holy Father, truly know who we are, or if not are at least open to metanoia, that profound conversion of heart which will indeed bring us to truly consciousness of self in relation to those like myself, every other human being, and in right relationship with all of creation, rooted of course in communion of love with the Holy Trinity.

Such authentic consciousness for many in our day is hampered in general by the vicissitudes of life in the 21st century, a time wherein if we are not numbed by extreme poverty, living in places of daily terrorist violence and various forms of oppression, are numbed by living in nations whose culture is ever more deeply enmeshed in the culture of death, darkness, nihilism and where for many ‘social media’ are the sum of their ‘contact’ with other human beings.

In Germany in 1940, a people either in bondage by the Nazis or part of the evil of Nazism, a man wrote a book: Die Umgestalgung in Christus, which because the Nazis forbade the author to publish in Germany, ultimately did not see the light of day in English until after the war.

Finally in 1948, titled in English: Transformation in Christ, the book was published.  The author: Dietrich von Hildebrand.

I mention that background because in the common human pilgrimage as we move from childhood through the latter stages of life to discover the truth of: who am I; why am I?, is a struggle which occurs in the actual context of the place, culture, time in which we live and therefore often times external forces beyond our control may either enhance or impede our quest.

The gift of faith is a critical component because, frankly, if we do not know Christ we will remain forever incomprehensible to our very selves and therefore to Other who is God, and to other as other human beings, while other as all creation will be for us like a child chasing bubbles on a summer’s afternoon – the bubbles either float away beyond reach and sight or if caught and touched burst without leaving a trace.

Unconscious man entrusts himself to the flow of events, without setting them at a distance; therefore he is incapable of surveying them. Though he may have single impressions of great intensity, no single fact will reveal itself to him in its full significance and purport, for each lacks connection with the other, and above all, with the primal cause of being and the ultimate meaning of the world. His life is wrapped in a cloud of obscurity. Perhaps such a person will receive, time and again, a strong religious impression, and in its consequence grasp, for a moment, the metaphysical situation of man; but he fails to awaken once for all, and no sooner is his mind distracted by some other impressions than the sphere of ultimate reality has again vanished from his sight.  [von Hildebrand, Transformation in Christ, Ignatius Press edition, p. 65]

Pope Francis teaches: In the Christian understanding of the world, the destiny of all creation is bound up with the mystery of Christ, present from the beginning: “All things have been created though him and for him” (Col 1:16)….The prologue of the Gospel of John (1:1-18) reveals Christ’s creative work as the Divine Word (Logos). But then, unexpectedly, the prologue goes on to say that this same Word “became flesh” (Jn 1:14). One Person of the Trinity entered into the created cosmos, throwing in his lot with it, even to the cross. From the beginning of the world, but particularly through the incarnation, the mystery of Christ is at work in a hidden manner in the natural world as a whole, without thereby impinging on its autonomy. [para.99]

This connects to von Hildebrand’s: Only the Christian can be truly conscious in the full sense of the term. For he alone has a true vision of reality proper and a true conception of God and the supernatural realm, from which everything derives its ultimate meaning. [op.cit.p.66]…..It must be the purpose of a true Christian that his entire life be suffused by the light of truth, the lumen Christi. [ibid p.68]

Once our lives are entirely suffused with the light of Christ then we can incarnate this teaching of Pope Francis:  Neglecting to monitor the harm done to nature and the environmental impact of our decisions is only the most striking sign of a disregard for the message contained in the structures of nature itself. When we fail to acknowledge as part of reality the worth of a poor person, a human embryo, a person with disabilities – to offer just a few examples – it becomes difficult to hear the cry of nature itself; everything is connected. Once the human being declares independence from reality and behaves with absolute dominion, the very foundations of our life begin to crumble, for “instead of carrying out his role as a cooperator with God in the work of creation, man sets himself up in place of God and thus ends up provoking a rebellion on the part of nature”. [para.117]