Sunday, June 21, 2015


When Pope Francis released his encyclical LAUDATO SI: On the Care of our Common Home typically the media lifted a few phrases designed to render people on either side of the environmental debate apoplectic.

Currently I am doing a careful meditative reading of the encyclical which, surprise and spoiler alert, fundamentally is focused on the ecology of the human heart.

In a few days I will begin work on a commentary, for today a simple story about two girls and a green worm, which is also about the human heart.

It is my custom when travelling by bus or on the light rail system in this metropolis to pray the Jesus Prayer and the Rosary for everyone I travel with and in the neighbourhoods we travel through.

The main distractions these days are people chatting loudly [which made sense on the old phone system of my childhood which was invariably so weak loudness was necessary] on their ubiquitous cell phones seemingly so oblivious to the fact others can hear, the speakers reveal intimate details about relationships, health, criminal charges etc., you are left wondering whatever has happened to a sacred sense of self.

However the very day the Holy Father’s encyclical was released on the bus was a different distraction triggered by two young girls sitting in front of me, each one on the aisle seat either side of the aisle and obviously close friends.

Teenagers, they initially were chatting back and forth, often their sentences piling onto each other, of things girls of that age loudly talk about when suddenly one of them, pointing down to the seat opposite and ahead of her said: “Wow! Look at that!”

Admittedly I glanced and noticed one of those little green worms, which often hang from tree leaves this time of year, hanging from the edge of a seat.

Her friend noted the creature was cute and said they needed to get it and protect it until they could take it outside.

So between them, with their small purses they nudged the worm from its perch onto, in turn, their purses and kept transferring the worm back and forth as their hands got tired from constantly twisting their purses so the worm could slither around and not fall off.

About twenty minutes later when the bus arrived at the terminal where they got off I watched as they walked to a nearby tree and placed the creature in its new home.

St. Francis was smiling I am sure!

Pope Francis would be proud of them too.


Tuesday, June 09, 2015


For the first time in more than a quarter of a century a Police Officer has been shot and killed in the city where I live.

The vast majority of men and women in this and countless other cities around the world when they leave home for their daily work do not step into the stark reality of deliberate confrontation with evil.

Police Officers, not unlike Gandalf, stand between us and those who spew hatred and violence, seeking to destroy the lives, even the very person of fellow human beings.

By their very uniforms and courageous presence, more than any particular weapons they may carry, Police Officers declare: “YOU SHALL NOT PASS.”, and sometimes, as has happened in this city, such a stance costs an Officer, a fellow human being, their life.

Such a murder tears asunder the Officer’s family: spouse, children, parents, siblings, and tears into the hearts of fellow Officers locally, across the nation.

Suddenly a memory came. A memory nearly seventy years in the past.

We were all very small children born during the war heading to school. Many of us were orphaned, though I was not, but all one way or another were living with the absence of a father.

At the busy intersection near the school, in the middle of the road, on his seemingly huge black horse, each morning assuring our safe passage, was a Police Officer.

Some child started calling out a greeting, picked up by the rest of us, which looking back makes sense, though I recall at the time telling myself the man on the horse was not whom the child claimed, calling out each morning: “Hello Officer Daddy.”

The Officer never responded by word.  He just smiled and with his commanding presence made sure we crossed in safety.

Tragically now there are two small boys, sons of the slain Officer, who will never utter ‘Daddy” again. No longer will that good man, husband, father, come through the door to have them run into his arms.

Parents, always hug your children.

I am old enough to be aware amongst the tens of thousands of police in this country not every single one is imbued with integrity – but then in what profession, what group are the ranks therein made up solely of saints?

In the Holy Gospel according to St. John police officers were sent to arrest Jesus [7:32], however the police did not and when challenged by those who had sent them why they had not arrested Jesus said: “No man ever spoke like this man.” [7:46]

Commenting on this event in his book LIFE OF CHRIST, Ven. Fulton Sheen notes: The very fact that the policemen had an overwhelming impression made upon them and yielded themselves to His fountains of benediction was an indication of the power He had over men of good will. The vocation of a policeman was sanctified that day when these officers refused to arrest the Saviour.


  Police Officer's Prayer to St. Michael

Saint Michael, heaven's glorious commissioner of police,
who once so neatly and successfully cleared God's premises
of all its undesirables, look with kindly and professional
eyes on your earthly force.

Give us cool heads, stout hearts, and uncanny flair for
investigation and wise judgement.

Make us the terror of burglars, the friend of children and
law-abiding citizens, kind to strangers, polite to bores,
strict with law-breakers and impervious to temptations.

You know, Saint Michael, from your own experiences
with the devil that the police officer's lot on earth is not
always a happy one; but your sense of duty that so
pleased God, your hard knocks that so surprised the
devil, and your angelic self-control give us inspiration.

And when we lay down our night sticks, enroll us in your
heavenly force, where we will be as proud to guard the
throne of God as we have been to guard the city of all
the people. Amen.