Wednesday, February 25, 2015


LENT: A Christian liturgical season which begins with a profound act of humility, bowing one’s head before a priest so that ashes may be sprinkled on the head or etched on the forehead in the form of a Cross, as the words are prayed reminding us of our origins traced back to when Adam was formed from the dust of the earth and God breathed life into him, as He breathes life into each of us at conception – life in His own image and likeness;  or other words may be used to remind us to repent and believe the Good News, which is the Gospel of Life, Redemption, Mercy.

It is a time for forty days of fasting and prayer: fasting from food, yes, perhaps also fasting from negativity, a time of charity, giving generously to the local food bank or perhaps of our time visiting the sick, the lonely.

Throughout the season we journey ever more deeply into the grace of Baptism, strive to live out ever more fully discipleship as living temples of the Holy Spirit, members of the Body of Christ on earth, journeying with Jesus from His time in the desert, throughout His public life, being with Him in the Garden, on the Cross, awaiting at the tomb for His Glorious Resurrection.

A good  simple prayer which can be prayed repeatedly throughout each day, taken from a longer prayer of St. Ephraim: O God purify me a sinner and have mercy on me.

For every human being we can also pray: For the sake of His sorrowful passion have mercy on us and on the whole world, for Jesus tells us: The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel. [Mk. 1:15]

Caliphate: In a recent article in The Atlantic, What ISIS Really Wants, Graeme Wood gives an in depth analysis of this genocidal construct, of its fanatical adherence to a pick and choose interpretation of passages from the Koran to justify an apocalyptic war against non-believers: that is against anyone who does not believe as they do and dictate: in a word they are at war against humanity.

In their blood thirsty pathology, among other things, ISIS has as its goal to bring about an apocalypse that, according to the above article: ….the caliphate will expand….Some believe it will then cover the entire Earth….An anti-Messiah, known in Muslim apocalyptic literature as Dajjal, will come….and kill a vast number of the caliphate’s fighters, until just 5,000 remain, cornered in Jerusalem. Just as Dajjal prepares to finish them off, Jesus – the second-most-revered prophet in Islam – will return to Earth, spear Dajjal, and lead the Muslims to victory.

In regards to the above apocalyptic notion: in the first instance it betrays an absolute ignorance about the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Jesus, true God and true man, our Risen and all-merciful Redeemer : "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” {Jn. 3:16}, and secondly like all apocalyptic movements throughout history several themes are common: self-righteous arrogance, assertion of being the ‘chosen’ few and an utter hatred, a murderous hatred, of everyone else and, of course, a sort of being smarter than God who, in their minds, is too slow off the mark in bringing about the destruction, of and harsh judgement upon, His own creation, His own children.

ISIS by fermenting hatred, by its use of violence, is in bondage to its own self-created delusion, a form of active despair and reduction of the human person to a mere chess piece on the board of a bent toward self unfolding of history’s demise.

It does appear ISIS members, and others of like mind, measure themselves by their capacity of hate and their obsessive love of death.

Hope: Christians, hope-filled children of light, of life, bearers of love, we measure ourselves not by any ideology, philosophy, nor even theology, but by a person and view His life as template for every human life.

Jesus shows us by His very life, as well as in His words, that we are called not to hate but to love, not to kill but to heal through forgiveness, not to dominate over others but to serve, reminding us that the greater love is to lay down our lives for other. [ see the entire Gospel]





Friday, February 06, 2015


Jesus conquered death by His death on the Cross, that death no longer be an end, but the beginning of eternal life in the embrace of communion of love with the Most Holy Trinity.
Jesus tells us: Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God still, and trust in Me. There are many rooms in My Father’s house; if there were not, I should have told you. I am going now to prepare a place for you, and after I have gone and prepared a place for you, I shall return to take you with Me, so that where I am you may be too. You know the way to the place where I am going…I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. [Jn.14: 1-7]
Today in Canada the Supreme Court struck down laws which prevent assisted suicide/euthanasia, though the decision is stayed for twelve months to allow parliament to, or not, re-write law regarding end of life.
The Psalmist says: Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me…..[Ps. 23: 4]
Every human being by some manner: gently in their sleep because of extreme old age, perhaps not so gently due to a particular illness, and yes in traffic or plane crashes, work accidents, drug overdoses, murder, in war, all of us someday, at some hour, will die.
It is Jesus whose redemptive death and resurrection assures us the valley of death is a walk-through, a doorway into eternal life.
Some seventy years ago, having cost the lives of close to fifty million men, women and children in the death camps, through the bombing of cities, among that number the lives of close to twenty-five million military dead, World War II came to an end.
This massive bloodletting on the Allies side was in response to the death-dealing machinery of the Axis Powers reducing human beings to a disposable commodity in the lust for power, conquest, and ethnic dominance.
What have the so-called victorious, mainly at that time, Christian countries, achieved since that, clearly now pyric, victory over evil?
Made marriage through divorce a serial affair and no longer a lifelong sacred vocation; enabled the prevention of new life being conceived through various unnatural means; blithely slaughters the pre-born person by the millions through abortion; by verbal and legal fiat assumes God [nature for unbelievers] cruelly creates male and female persons, but either out rightly in the ‘wrong’ body or more frequently men and women choose physical relations with their own gender to the point where without blinking an eye they allege ‘marriage’ – revealed in its disingenuousness by the clamour of the same people to be allowed children through surrogates or by adoption creating an ersatz ‘family’ and now, the logical next step of people and nations who have abandoned any pretence to be truly disciples of Christ, true adherents of the Gospel of Life assisted suicide/euthanasia is becoming slowly but surely the norm in a culture of death, a civilization of darkness.
One alone is the Lord and Giver of Life.
In the 4th Preface in Masses for the Dead the Church prays and proclaims: …it is at Your summons that we come to birth, by Your will that we are governed, and at Your command that we return, on account of sin, to that earth from which we came.
Both birth and death are ‘one ofs’, we are born once and die once.
True we can be born prematurely, we often erroneously say someone has died before their time, meaning simply grief at the unexpectedness of it, and, we can experience ‘clinical’ death, such as cessation of breathing, heart beating, but for a very, very limited in minutes length of time within which we can be resuscitated, but such an event is not actual death.
Birth, because we are created in the image and likeness of God with immortal souls is an eternal beginning.
Death is the definitive end of the life of the body in its current form.
The soul never ceases to exist.
In the general resurrection we, that is those graced with heavenly life, will be given a new body.
What form will that body have is unknown other than we can be sure such a body will be flawless, never endure any form of pain or death.
Since death is a once only reality no one asking to be put to death, which is the unvarnished reality of assisted suicide/euthanasia, can possibly truly know what they are asking.
In truth what is being asked for, pushed forth by those young and healthy enough in the main to push yet another aspect of this ‘my-way-all-about-me-relativistic-instant-gratification-gerneration’ is for cessation of pain which, subjectively they deem to be too much.
We have lost the ability to clearly understand the distinction between pain and suffering.
Pain is mostly the impact of some physical experience: a cut, a broken limb, ravages in the body caused by some allergic reaction or other disease while suffering, while it is commonly a component of certain pains, can occur without physical pain, such as the intense suffering of grief over the death of a beloved one, loss of employment or some other loss or stress.
Dentistry, when I was a boy, compared to today, was rather primitive. Nowadays with various pain suppressants, different types of equipment, such as high speed drills, lasers, pain, and  suffering as well, is mitigated.
More critically advances in anesthesia and surgical procedures have greatly reduced pain and suffering when it comes to treating sick persons, while hospice care assures comfort and companionship for the terminally ill and of course proper use of pain medication is not merely morally acceptable but comes also within the realm of charity towards one’s neighbour.
Where things become muddied and immoral is rooted not simply in a society addicted to relativism around life and the sacredness thereof, but also in a blatant refusal to understand the reality of suffering and its meaning, especially for we the baptized.
The fundamental universal purpose of every human life is to come to know the God of whom we are beloved and to strive to live according to His loving will for us.
This is deeper and more completely revealed within Christian life through baptized discipleship in Christ and is briefly summarized in these words from the Fourth Canon of Holy Mass: ….that we might live no longer for ourselves but for Him who died and rose for us, He sent the Holy Spirit from You, Father, as the first fruits for those who believe, so that, bringing to perfection His work in the world, He might sanctify creation to the full.
In his 1995 encyclical The Gospel of Life, St. John Paul teaches and reminds us that:   At the other end of life's spectrum, men and women find themselves facing the mystery of death. Today, as a result of advances in medicine and in a cultural context frequently closed to the transcendent, the experience of dying is marked by new features. When the prevailing tendency is to value life only to the extent that it brings pleasure and well-being, suffering seems like an unbearable setback, something from which one must be freed at all costs. Death is considered "senseless" if it suddenly interrupts a life still open to a future of new and interesting experiences. But it becomes a "rightful liberation" once life is held to be no longer meaningful because it is filled with pain and inexorably doomed to even greater suffering…..Furthermore, when he denies or neglects his fundamental relationship to God, man thinks he is his own rule and measure, with the right to demand that society should guarantee him the ways and means of deciding what to do with his life in full and complete autonomy. It is especially people in the developed countries who act in this way….. In this context the temptation grows to have recourse to euthanasia, that is, to take control of death and bring it about before its time, "gently" ending one's own life or the life of others. In reality, what might seem logical and humane, when looked at more closely is seen to be senseless and inhumane….. Absolute respect for every innocent human life also requires the exercise of conscientious objection in relation to procured abortion and euthanasia. "Causing death" can never be considered a form of medical treatment, even when the intention is solely to comply with the patient's request. Rather, it runs completely counter to the health- care profession, which is meant to be an impassioned and unflinching affirmation of life….
I confirm that euthanasia is a grave violation of the law of God, since it is the deliberate and morally unacceptable killing of a human person. This doctrine is based upon the natural law and upon the written word of God, is transmitted by the Church's Tradition and taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium… [op. cit. paras. 64: 1,2,3; 89.3; 65.4]
Finally I know of no better teaching on human suffering than St. John Paul’s Apostolic Letter of 1984 On The Christian Meaning of Human Suffering.
The Holy Father in paragraph 19 teaches us, reminds us that: One can say that with the passion of Christ all human suffering has found itself in a new situation….In the cross of Christ not only is the Redemption accomplished through suffering, but also human suffering itself has been redeemed……In bringing about the Redemption through suffering, Christ has also raised human suffering to the level of the Redemption. Thus each man, in his suffering, can also become a sharer in the redemptive suffering of Christ.
I read some episcopal statements recently, and today, on the whole matter of doctor assisted suicide/euthanasia and, frankly, I find them weak, overly focused on laws and politicians.
We need, all of us priests and bishops, lay people, to become rooted in reality that the satanic clamouring of the enemies of the Gospel of Life and the Civilization of Love drown out such rather vague, moralistic statements.
Instead we should be teaching in pastoral letters, from the pulpit, in parish study groups, in our families the Gospel of Life, drawing on the treasury of truth and wisdom found in the papal teachings referenced here, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
We need to awaken our brothers and sisters, perhaps even ourselves, before our entire civilization somnambulates so far along we fall over the edge into the depthless pit of everlasting loveless darkness.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015


A week or so ago I had to go to the bank and then for some groceries which meant traveling on public transit, standing in long lines in the bank and at the checkout in the store.

Voices all around!

In the evening I watched a powerful documentary on CNN which focused on four survivors of the Holocaust.

More voices!

While listening to all the voices on the buses, in the bank and check out lines – not choosing to eavesdrop, but people sometimes are so loud you cannot but hear, two things came to my heart: first I recalled the powerful scene in the movie “The King’s Speech” where ‘King George’ bellows: “I HAVE A VOICE!”, and second was struck by how vital inter-personal dialogue is for every human being.

Mostly the poor, the homeless, the dependent on state welfare do not, or if they do it is often muted because their voice is mostly reduced to pleading their case for assistance or begging on some street corner or at the door of some church for spare change, experience ‘having a voice!’

Rarely do the non-muted voices among us engage them in real conversation, seek out their story, and show recognition of them as persons, as ones like ourselves.

One of the perhaps not stressed enough aspects of the Holy Gospels is of Jesus the listener to the poor, the rejected, the hurting; of Jesus the converser with them.

So what voices did I hear on the buses and in the lines at the bank and grocery store?

I heard the voices of the poor, the mentally ill, the addicted, the injured, the widowed, the single parent, the angry, the depressed, the lonely.

Whom did I hear?

The Christ of many disguises present in each person who is a brother, a sister of mine.

Did I recognize, willingly, anyone as one like myself and converse with them?

Of course, though sometimes such as with those in rough shape because of drugs or mental illness,  it took an effort to overcome automatic inner reactions of recoiling, nonetheless I would speak, mostly though listen, when possible, and always smile.

Did I see beauty and Jesus before me?


I note how I reacted, what I did and saw to make the point it is how we are with others, that is BE with others which most powerfully reveals Christ and the Gospel to them

 Witnessing by presence to other is more powerful than words.

Ah, the voices of the survivors of the holocaust in the documentary, as proving the point, impacted, impact me still less than seeing them – the witness of their very aliveness!

“Voices of Auschwitz” is the title of the CNN documentary which first brought back memories and then taught something wonderful about the human person, particularly those interviewed in the documentary.

The first memory is from when I was about five years old and saw some of the first still pictures about the death-camps. I was visiting my favourite Aunt and Uncle and asked why all the people in the pictures were naked, not understanding they were images of murdered people.

My Aunt gently explained how they were dead, not naked by choice, but the evil actions of the Nazi and how it was to stop those who committed such evil that my father and uncles had gone to war.

The second memory is being present at a talk given by a woman survivor of Dachau and the Rabbi of her synagogue, and while the woman spoke about her time in the camp, her life since then as wife, mother, grandmother, the Rabbi spoke about the theological/faith challenges posed by the immensity of the Shoah.

The three women and the man who were, truly are, the “Voices of Auschwitz” took my breath away, not primarily by the content of what they told, more it was the powerful dignity and radiant beauty on each of their faces.

The faces of evil, ISIS being currently a prime example duplicating the Nazis before them, are dark, angry, and almost unhuman.

The faces of those who have been assaulted by evil and come through evil’s attempts to destroy reveal the true beauty of the human person made in the image and likeness of God.

Joy, strength, courage, dignity shine forth from such of our brothers and sisters be they survivors of the death camps or any other horror.

True not all who survive get beyond the evil to a place of new life and peace.

Some victims of evil remain broken their entire post the horror lives.

This is why we must never forget those who laid down, lay down, their lives to keep us safe and secure be they military or police; why we must never forget the holocaust and stand firmly against anti-Semitism in all its guises; why we must be people who love and never hate and defend life from conception to natural death.

Why too, for today as I finish writing this the world is confronted by another ISIS act of brutality in the murder of the Jordanian pilot, we must pray for an end to Islamic terrorism everywhere it sheds blood and sows hatred around the world.