Friday, May 18, 2018

I HAVE BECOME A STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND


                                          

When I was mandated to enter the hermitical life, my spiritual director told me, by checking the news channels of various countries, to stay aware of everything impacting our brothers and sisters throughout the world, amid the culture of darkness and death, to treasure every human being in my heart, offering each Holy Mass, everything I am and do as intercession for everyone, with love.

As I write, millions are anticipating a joyous event, the marriage of Prince Harry and Megan, while yet again there is grieving in the Unites States in the aftermath of yet another school shooting.

This is the intense paradox of human beings – our capacity to love, to commit to one another, to life, and our capacity for hate, hate that morphs into violence.

In his book KING LEOPOLD’S GHOST, Adam Hochshild makes a seminal statement:  ….the world we live in – its divisions and conflicts, its widening gap between rich and poor, its seemingly inexplicable outbursts of violence – is shaped far less by what we celebrate and mythologize than by the painful events we try to forget. [ from: Ch. 19- The Great Forgetting, 1999 ed.]

In 1826 James Fenimore Cooper published his THE LAST OF THE MOCHICANS.

What is fascinating about this novel is it shows how the European powers, in their conquest of the Americas, took advantage of the pre-existing hatreds, wars, cruelty, slavery existing among the Indigenous peoples by, for example the French and British, who used these pre-disposed enemies of each other, such as the Iroquois and the Huron, to further their attempts to dominate the fur trade, gain more territory.

Cooper, long before Hochshild, shows a fundamental sin among human beings: hatred morphing into violent attempts, sometimes successful, to dominate those deemed ‘not like us’.

Nowadays individuals, groups, even governments expend inordinate amounts of energy in the blaming of others for all woes, even engaging in revisionist history to assert their insatiable demands for re-dress, going so far as to override natural law, which is Divine Law, itself inscribed in every human heart, when it comes, for example, to the sacredness of human life from the womb to the tomb, the sanctity of Holy Marriage, the objective God created reality of us as human persons who, in His image and likeness are indeed, male and female.

In stark contrast to this hate filled, blaming, death dealing, divisive, cognitively dissonant century, is Jesus.

Jesus who teaches us how, by His words and example, to de-poison our hearts, to escape the painful bondage of memories we cling to with anger, bitterness, blaming, for in refusing to forgive, in refusing to allow the open wounds to be healed by choosing not to be a perpetual victim never able to be satisfied with any form of re-dress, be it through the justice system, financial compensation, having society change to adjust to us, in a word only imitating our merciful and forgiving Jesus can we be restored to the sanity with which we were born, only through authentic forgiveness and loving those who have hurt us can we finally become mature, free, whole, indeed holy, persons: Mt. 18: 21-25; 6:95; Lk. 23-24.

Every race, religion, nation, tribe, clan, family, individual on earth, because satan and sin exist, has been/is sinned against or has/does sin.

This is the stark reality of having free will, a gift so precious God does not take it away from anyone, no matter how that person may abuse freedom to hurt, damage, dominate other[s].

Satan wants victims to be perpetually so.

Christ wants victims to be healed and set free, but that means exercising free will to accept the offered healing.

When as an individual person, or as a member of a group of persons sinned against, we refuse to forgive those who have/or the one who has sinned against us, we remain prisoners, perpetual victims and the victimizer retains their power – a share of satan’s power – over us.

Thus, refusal to love, to do good to those who persecute, to forgive our enemies, means allowing poison to become such a part of us our minds, hearts, bodies, souls are perpetually infected.

We can become enmeshed in a culture of victimhood, become insatiable with a relentless demand for a redress than can never cleanse us of the poison or free us from the dank and lonely prison we refuse to leave, even when, as He did for Lazarus, Jesus flings open the door, calls us forth, orders we be unbound.

St. Matthew chapter 5 is the template for becoming unbound, unvictimed, freed, is the template also for authentic Christian living.

It is within this, frankly insane 21st century, I have become a stranger – which I take as a blessing – living amid a human family, in a country, I no longer recognize, understand less and less.

Somehow it as if we have become bit players in the Scottish play!

From: The Tragedy of Macbeth: Act 4-Scene 1: William Shakespeare: Second Witch: By the pricking of my thumbs, Something wicked this way comes. Open, locks, Whoever knocks! Enter MACBETH: How now, you secret, black, and midnight hags! What is't you do? ALL:  A deed without a name. MACBETH:  I conjure you, by that which you profess, Howe'er you come to know it, answer me: Though you untie the winds and let them fight Against the churches; though the yesty waves Confound and swallow navigation up; Though bladed corn be lodged and trees blown down; Though castles topple on their warders' heads; Though palaces and pyramids do slope Their heads to their foundations; though the treasure Of nature's germens tumble all together, Even till destruction sicken; answer me To what I ask you.

Macbeth himself embodies the hubris and narcissism so prevalent in our contemporary society.

By using this character and his story Shakespeare has given us a study of the psychology of, indeed the philosophy of evil we would do well to study, that we might defend against evil with all the tools given us by the Holy Spirit.   

The ancient Greeks with their panoply of gods, associated stories, their philosophies, had a fair grasp of the human condition.

Our modern word Hubris derives from the Greek concept of extreme overconfidence in oneself, including behaviour which challenges the gods.

Narcissus, the son of a river god and a nymph, was in bondage to pride to such an extent he disdained others, even those who loved him, so the gods dispatched one of their own, Nemesis, to deal with him. She lured him to a deep pool of water where, seeing his own reflection, he was transfixed. Unable to turn his gaze away from himself, he lost his will to live and died.

In Western countries it is the hubris and anti-god pride of baptized men and women in government, the supreme courts, universities, etc., who, having discovered they are smarter than God, have set in motion the relativism, and all the culture of death flowing therefrom, as a tsunami of darkness engulfing human beings.

Blindly carrying on their agenda, with apparently no idea they are so embedded in cognitive dissonance it escapes them they are being persistently seduced by the god Nemesis, a.k.a., satan.

“The devil is a great liar. Don’t talk to him or even get close. He tries to seduce and like a chained rabid dog, if you caress him, he bites…….He has this ability; this ability to seduce. This is why it is so difficult to understand that he is a loser, because he presents himself with great power, promises you many things, brings you gifts – beautiful, well wrapped – -‘Oh, how nice!’ – but you do not know what’s inside – ‘But, the card outside is beautiful.’ The package seduces us without letting us see what’s inside. He can present his proposals to our vanity, to our curiosity…..“  [excerpts from a homily of Pope Francis, May 8.18]

We need to see evil for what it truly is: the disingenuousness of those who rail about climate change and keeping fossils fuels in the ground – all the while unwilling to forego the diesel trucks that bring their organic food to market; past the mentality which ignores the stark reality no matter how many laws and temper tantrums to the contrary, no two people of the same gender can ever have a true marriage, and it matters not a wit the extent of liturgical babble, no woman can be ordained in persona Christi, because what is lacking in the first example is common sense and honesty and in the latter two examples, are the essentials for the Holy Spirit to make sacrament real: proper matter and proper form.

And to another He said, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.” But He answered him, “Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” [Lk.9:59-60]

It is a struggle as I write this to avoid the pitfall of listing and detailing all the various elements of contemporary life in my own country and throughout the world which have led to the awareness I am indeed – and frankly blessedly so – a stranger in a strange land.

The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about Him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted and you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” [Lk. 2:33-35]

Then the dragon became angry with the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring, those who keep God’s commandments and bear witness to Jesus. [Acts. 12:17]

As far back as 1979, writing under his given name of Karol Wojtyla, in his book SIGN OF CONTRADITCION, St. John Paul teaches that whoever is:….strong with the strength given him by faith does not easily allow himself to be thrust into the anonymity of the collective….

Jesus comforts, strengthens, mandates, reassures us in our vocation to be signs of contradiction in imitation of Himself.

We should not fear what they may to do us, anymore than St. Maxmilian Kolbe or St. Benedicta of the Cross, both martyred in the past century by the Nazis.

Jesus assures us He has come to bring fire upon the earth, the fire of love, of metanoia, of life [cf. Lk.12:49], that by the power of the Holy Spirit and the sacrament of Baptism we are indeed, amid the culture of darkness and death: light! [cf.Mt.5:14].

Become strangers in this strange land of the 21st century we need not fear being lost, for we only need keep our eyes fixed upon, our hearts attentive to He who is our way, our truth, our life. [cf. Jn.14:16]

Already in the 3rd century men and women had gone deep into the deserts, away from the chaos, to pray, fast, intercede for the human family.

Among the greatest of these: Abba Anthony, known as the friend of God.

Aware the future – for these holy men and women of the desert kept informed about the outside world – was likely going to be even more chaotic, some of the monks came to Abba Anthony before he died and asked his vision of the future: “The day will come when they will come to us and tell us we must be crazy because we are not like them!”

As a stranger in this strange land of Canada, this strange land of Western democracies I note: the day has come.
























Saturday, March 31, 2018

RESURRECTION PLACES


                                                        


In the rubble of Eastern Ghotua, in hearts of the terrified,

HE IS RISEN!

In silent cloisters, deep in monastic hearts,

HE IS RISEN!

Where my brothers and sisters sleep in alleys,

Hearts wounded with illness, addiction, yearning

Simply to be called by name,

HE IS RISEN!

As watered is poured upon the heads of catechumens,

Baptismal fire alighting hearts,

HE IS RISEN!

In wearied hearts in labours camps, angry hearts in prisons,

Broken hearts in solitary, ever slowing hearts in hospices,

Caring hearts in hospitals, hearts of the sick, the lonely,

Elderly hearts, adult hearts, youthful hearts, children’s hearts,

HE IS RISEN!

Not knowing of Him hearts, rejecting Him hearts,

Hearts which brim, overflowing and pressed down with

Love, for Him, for others,

HE IS RISEN!

Cold hearts, angry hearts, hating hearts, violent hearts,

Hungry hearts, thirsty hearts,

In all,

HE IS RISEN!








Sunday, March 25, 2018

THE NEO-NAZISM OF THE LEFT


                                                  

I have noted a common theme, through various e and snail mail, skype, phone chats with people: there is a global fear, discouragement, feeling overwhelmed by the culture of darkness and death.

Most noticeably, faithful Catholics and other Christians feel, with the incessant demeaning of the Faith by society in general, by laws in democratic countries, by blood elsewhere, Christianity is undergoing an intense persecution.

Prior to Ash Wednesday then throughout Lent, with the help of the Holy Spirit and Our Lady, I try and be attentive to a theme, a focus of prayer and spiritual reading.

This year it is to reflect upon the deadly poison of Neo-Nazism of the left!

Flowing from that to pray and fast for the conversion, especially of ersatz democracies, led by governments so obsessed with relativism they are arrogant in their hostile disdain for anyone who stands for the sacredness of life.

How have we come to this?

I find clues, and words of encouragement in an eighty-year-old papal encyclical.

May the holy time of Lent and Easter, which preaches interior renovation and penance, turn Christian eyes towards the Cross and the risen Christ; be for all of you the joyful occasion that will fill your souls with heroism, patience and victory. [1]

Sometimes explicit, but always implicit in every lie and deception of satan is erosion of trust in the victory of Christ, crucified and risen from the dead. Worn down by such evil deception and lies, some people become angry with God or the Church, and walk away; others pick and choose among the teachings of Christ and His Church those teachings which allow compromise with the surrounding culture; some will even cross over to the anti-Christ, anti-life side.

In so doing they become enemies of their very selves.

To assume neo-Nazism merely refers to right-wing extremists, who violently oppose anyone they deem not themselves, is a dangerous mistake.

It is fundamentally a satanic deception which has seduced Christians, and society in general, to be blinded by the flash, deafened by the noise, of extremists, failing to discern the pervasiveness of those elements of actual Nazis ideology which have morphed into the stark reality of the current culture of darkness and death.

The priest's first loving gift to his neighbours is to serve truth and refute error in any of its forms. [2]

At enormous cost of blood, and treasure, the Allies eventually defeated the Nazis.

However, much like fighting massive fires in the boreal forests of Canada, just extinguishing what is visible does not mean the fire has been eliminated. Boreal forest floors in large areas are composed of peat. When peat is wet, as is normal, no problem, but if because of lack of a winter snow cover, or a prolonged period of drought, the peat dries out, it can ignite. Smouldering peat remains active below the surface, even throughout the winter, usually unseen until conditions trigger a surface fire and another major conflagration in the forest.

Neo-Nazi ideology is the smouldering peat, the smoke from which spreads as the darkness of the culture of death, poisoning every mind, heart, soul it penetrates.

Our pastoral heart knows no deeper pain, no disappointment more bitter, than to learn that many are straying from the path of truth. [3]

Any reading of historical accounts of the rise of Nazism, its visible endurance to the end of the Second World War, shows a mixture of hatreds using eugenics, racism, lies, distorted revival of Teutonic myths, use of the occult, relentless propaganda, terror, abortion, euthanasia to wield power and attempt to reshape civilization, ultimately compromising and corrupting those who should have, like Gandalf, stood firm and proclaimed “You shall not pass!”.

True, some religious leaders, secular leaders of various professions and regular citizens, did stand up, many of them paying the ultimate price of martyrdom.

In the immediate post-war there was a period from around 1946 to the Second Vatican Council, when foundational Christian values still held sway, in government and society at large. Then, apparently out of the blue, everything seemed to come unglued, in the Catholic Church, other mainline Churches, society in general.

With the legalizing of abortion, the spread of moral relativism since then: The experiences of these last years have fixed responsibilities and laid bare intrigues, which from the outset only aimed at a war of extermination. [4]

This war of extermination continues against pre-born children, with an ever-expanding list of justifications through judicial activism, with euthanasia increaseing the murder of human beings, and with the ever-expanding variety of ‘sexual orientations’, the extermination of authentic personhood is well underway.

Liberalism’s deceptive propaganda would have society at large believe Pope Paul VI pulled his teachings on contraception and abortion out of thin air, when this immutable truth-teaching  of the Church, sustaining both Divine Law and natural law, is rooted in the millennia: Those who use abortifacients commit homicide~ St. Clement, pope & martyr, AD 88-100; The woman who purposely destroys her unborn child is guilty of murder. The hair-splitting difference between formed and unformed makes no difference to us.~ St. Basil the Great, AD 330-379.

The original Nazis co-opted a significant portion of the medical community, the judiciary, and, if not by their action, certainly by their lack of courageous resistance in word or deed, Catholic and Protestant clergy.

Neo-Nazis today, hiding under the cover of progressive liberalism, in government, the judiciary, academia, the media, have utter disdain for anyone who objects to any immoral law, because they know Catholic and other resistors pose no real threat.

Why?

When it comes to the weakened influence of the Catholic Church, upon so-called liberal democracies, so long as the Bishops, in Canada for example, insist on being agents of the state when it comes to legal recognition of ‘church’ marriages and insist on government money for schools, hospitals, church run social programs, etc., they/we, their priests, religious, laity, are totally compromised.

We know Jesus tells us: "give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God." [Mk.12.17], but He does not tell us to get Caesar to give us back anything, rather Jesus tells us: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? …….So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. [Mt. 6:25-34]

There is an example to consider: The Servant of God, Catherine Doherty, Foundress of the Madonna House Lay Apostolate, forbid members to accept any government funding for any of the mission houses and service to the poor. To this day, some seventy years since their founding, the community simply begs for all that is needed to sustain the mission houses and provide for the poor. In a recent begging letter, this line: In many cultures ‘begging’ appears to be something demeaning, but in my heart it is a ‘song’-something of beauty that points ourselves and others toward a total reliance on the Lord’s providence.

How can we preach to suffering parishioners, urge people to embrace and live out Humane Vitae, the Gospel of Life, be faithful to the sacrament of Holy Marriage, comfort parents worried about their teenage children, truly be, as Pope Francis urges: a poor Church, a field hospital Church -  ever utter words like ‘faith, trust’, as bishops and priests, if our people see us always at the government trough, rather than trusting our Heavenly Father will see to our needs?

Are we, Catholics, no longer the: ….Christianity which keeps a grip on itself, refuses every compromise with the world, takes the commands of God and the Church seriously, preserves its love of God and of men in all its freshness, such a Christianity can be, and will be, a model and a guide to a world which is sick to death and clamors for directions, unless it be condemned to a catastrophe that would baffle the imagination. [5]

There are Catholic priests, religious, laity -adherents of other religions too, and people of no religion, who strive to overcome Neo-Nazism as exemplified by the edicts/laws of government, judicial activism, erroneous and poisonous teachings, actions of various professions and schools of thought.

Critical in this defense of truth is supporting families, which means, we begin with Mothers and Fathers: …. Catholic parents. Their rights and duties as educators, conferred on them by God, are at present the stake of a campaign pregnant with consequences…… the violation…. is nigh, and it will be every one's duty to sever his responsibility from the opposite camp, and free his conscience from guilty cooperation with such corruption. The more the enemies attempt to disguise their designs, the more a distrustful vigilance will be needed, in the light of bitter experience. [6]

Is the great and final catastrophe nigh?

Perhaps.

I do believe there is still time to repent, to be converted anew, to take a courageous stand for Christ, for truth, for the Gospel of Life.

Our wholehearted paternal sympathy goes out to those who must pay so dearly for their loyalty to Christ and the Church; but directly the highest interests are at stake, with the alternative of spiritual loss, there is but one alternative left, that of heroism. [7] 



{Quotes are from: 1-7 paras. 42, 36, 2, 4, 19, 39, 21 of Mit Brenneder Sorge, encyclical On The Church and the German Reich, Pope Pius XI, Passion Sunday, March 14, 1937}





















             


Friday, February 23, 2018

O BLESSED HOST


                                                             O BLESSED HOST

Reading the Diary of St. Faustina this morning was struck by this litany. A good prayer for this Holy Season of Lent.




O Blessed Host, in whom is contained the testament of God’s mercy for us, and especially for poor sinners.

O Blessed Host, in whom is contained the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus as proof of infinite mercy for us, and especially for poor sinners.

O Blessed Host, in whom is contained life eternal and of infinite mercy, dispensed in abundance to us and especially to poor sinners.

O Blessed Host, in whom is contained the mercy of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit toward us, and especially toward poor sinners.

O Blessed Host, in whom is contained the infinite price of mercy which will compensate for all our debts, and especially those of poor sinners.

O Blessed Host, in whom is contained the fountain of living water which springs from infinite mercy for us, and especially for poor sinners.

O Blessed Host, in whom is contained the fire of purest love which blazes forth from the bosom of the Eternal Father, as from an abyss of infinite mercy for us, and especially for poor sinners.

O Blessed Host, in whom is contained the medicine for all our infirmities, flowing from infinite mercy, as from a fount, for us and especially for poor sinners.

O Blessed Host, in whom is contained the union between God and us through His infinite mercy for us, and especially for poor sinners.

O Blessed Host, in whom are contained all the sentiments of the most sweet Heart of Jesus toward us, and especially poor sinners.

O Blessed Host, our only hope in all the sufferings and adversities of life.

O Blessed Host, our only hope in the midst of darkness and of storms within and without.

O Blessed Host, our only hope in life and at the hour of our death.

O Blessed Host, our only hope in the midst of adversities and floods of despair.

O Blessed Host, our only hope in the midst of falsehood and treason.

O Blessed Host, our only hope in the midst of the darkness and godlessness which inundate the earth.

O Blessed Host, our only hope in the longing and pain in which no one will understand us.

O Blessed Host, our only hope in the toil and monotony of everyday life.

O Blessed Host, our only hope amid the ruin of our hopes and endeavors.

O Blessed Host, our only hope in the midst of the ravages of the enemy and the efforts of hell.

O Blessed Host, I trust in You when the burdens are beyond my strength and I find my efforts are fruitless.

O Blessed Host, I trust in You when storms toss my heart about and my fearful spirit tends to despair.

O Blessed Host, I trust in You when my heart is about to tremble and mortal sweat moistens my brow.

O Blessed Host, I trust in You when everything conspires against me and black despair creeps into my soul.

O Blessed Host, I trust in You when my eyes will begin to grow dim to all temporal things and, for the first time, my spirit will behold the unknown worlds.

O Blessed Host, I trust in You when my tasks will be beyond my strength and adversity will become my daily lot.

O Blessed Host I trust in You when the practice of virtue will appear difficult for me and my nature will grow rebellious.

O Blessed Host, I trust in You when hostile blows will be aimed against me.

O Blessed Host, I trust in You when my toils and efforts will be misjudged by others.

O Blessed Host, I trust in You when Your judgments will resound over me; it is then that I will trust in the sea of Your mercy.

+Most Holy Trinity, I trust in Your infinite mercy. God is my Father and so I, His child, have every claim to His divine Heart; and the greater the darkness, the more complete our trust should be.

Monday, February 19, 2018

CULTURE OF GUNS & DEATH


                                                   

Once again, with the high school massacre in Florida, we see the vaunted American notion of exceptionalism has a very deep dark side to it.  Equally vaunted, the American right to "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness", is overwhelmed by the “right to bear arms”.

Every country, my own included, has its own murderous history.

However, compare the Five Eyes countries [ Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States: so-called because their intelligence services cooperate closely] and we find, considering mass shootings as involving the killing of at least ten people, Australia tightened its strict gun laws after the last mass shooting there in 1996; there is no legal right to own a gun in Canada, which tightened its gun laws after the last mass shooting in 1989; likewise New Zealand – 1990 their last mass shooting and the United Kingdom, 1996 the last one there.

Each of those countries emphasizes strict background checks: criminal, domestic violence, mental health of applicants for gun licences.

So, what then, in the United States, makes the situation so different and perplexing for the rest of the world?

It is too easy to presume it is primarily because of the legal right to own guns in a country with virtually no restrictions on the type of weapons, including military type weapons, nor the number of weapons a person may own.

The Second Amendment to the US constitution in and of itself is not the problem.

The lack of restrictions regarding weapons designed for military use, and the lack of strict licencing requirements, such as the mandatory background checks among the other Five Eyes countries, exacerbates the problem of easy access to assault weapons which the deranged can use with such horrific effect as in Florida.

There is, however, a more fundamental issue not discussed in the US, nor in any of the Five Eyes when it comes to violence, to the murder of one human being by another, an issue which in Holy Lent we all should consider for while certainly efforts, real, courageous efforts, should be undertaken in the United States to begin to control the millions of weapons held, and sadly so often used, by the citizenry,  all of us must seriously undertake the work of resisting the deepening darkness of the culture of death within each of the Five Eyes, countries whose Christian tradition reaches back millennia, but also countries which have chosen to become post, even anti-Christian.

The Preface for Holy Mass of the First Sunday of Holy Lent reminds us that Jesus “…taught us to cast out the leaven of malice…..”

It is clear, from the details of the first recorded murder in human history, Cain’s murder of his brother Abel, Genesis 4: 1-8, malice is always present when one human being murders another.

Each of us has undoubtedly at some point allowed the emotions of jealously, malice, anger, perhaps even hatred to stir within us, but most human beings are able to, by grace, embrace and be faithful to the commands of Christ to love one another, do good to those who injure us, to pray for, to forgive our enemies. [cf. Jn. 13:34,35; Mt. 5:43-48 & 6:9-13]

We should focus this Holy Lent on the urgent need for each of us to disarm our own hearts, to embrace and live out the Gospel of Life, for as St. John Paul reminds us in his encyclical of the same name: The Gospel of God’s love for man, the Gospel of the dignity of the person, and the Gospel of life are a single and indivisible Gospel. [Op.cit.2.4]

Of all the Five Eyes Canada alone is the most anti-life, having no abortion law whatsoever, hence babies may be murdered right up to the moment of breach, and Canada also allows assisted suicide. The other Five Eyes have varying degrees of abortion laws, none of them allow, yet, assisted suicide.

Quoting the Second Vatican Councils’ document, on the Church in the Modern World, St. John Paul stresses the passage remains relevant today [Op.cit.3.3]: …..whatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia or wilful self-destruction, whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself; whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where men are treated as mere tools for profit, rather than as free and responsible persons; all these things and others of their like are infamies indeed. They poison human society, but they do more harm to those who practice them than those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are supreme dishonour to the Creator. [para.27].

A prayer response then to the mass shooting in Florida, to the culture of darkness and death engulfing the world, is to pray throughout this Lent for the conversion of the entire human family from all forms of hatred and violence, for the healing of the mentally ill and better health care for them, that men and women would choose, rather than murdering their pre-born child, to seek out adoptive parents, that individuals and families will choose hospice care, rather then enabling self-murder.

Meditating anew this Holy Lent, by choosing St. John Paul’s The Gospel of Life, for Lenten spiritual reading, will strengthen our resolve to live the Gospel with our lives without compromise, loving one another, including our enemies, and little by little, we will push back the darkness of the culture of death.

Here, as St. John Paul urges, we turn anew to Our Blessed Mother, for She helps us in the great struggle of life …between good and evil, between light and darkness…[Op.cit.104.3], quoting the Sequence for Easter Sunday the Pope reminds us anew “Death with life contended: combat strangely ended! Life’s own champion, slain, yet lives to reign.” The Lamb who was slain is alive….He alone is master of all the events of history: He opens its “seals” [cf. Rev. 5:1-10] and proclaims, in time and beyond, the power of life over death. [Op.cit.105.1,2]








Saturday, January 27, 2018

73 YEARS SINCE AUSCHWITZ LIBERATION: HAVE WE LEARNED ANYTHING?


                

The embedding within my heart and memory of the SHOAH, the holocaust, was as a small child when newspapers and magazines produced photographs of the starved, wide eyed with terror survivors and of the ovens, the piles of bodies and newsreels when I was somewhat older, my heart pierced by the images of children rolling up their sleeves to show the tattooed numbers, which, bluntly ‘thinged’ them, reduced them and their elders from human persons to disposal units of slave labour and worse: disposal sub-humans.

The arrival in the city, sometimes on what in those days were called ‘tramp steamers’, meaning they were at the bottom of the shipping pile, sometimes in Third Class on less than luxurious liners, between the end of the war and as late as 1951, of so called ‘displaced persons’ from Europe was a steady flow of the traumatized, the survivors, the widowed, the orphaned, the frightened.

There being virtually no impediments for even young boys to wander around the docks we would, if one of those vessels of human sorrow was unloading the broken seeking hope, seeking life without terror, go and watch and be overwhelmed because both the reality of what caused these men, women, children to be arriving and the obvious hatred which was the core cause, our little brains could not fully comprehend.

Later in life, before becoming a priest and after, I was humbled to learn in conversation with survivors, not just Jewish Brothers and Sisters but a priest from Poland who had himself been stenciled and put in a camp, what evil truly is, what evil does and how otherwise apparently sane human beings, with power, factually ersatz power but bloody destructive nonetheless, can do to their brothers and sisters.

Elie Wiesel [tattooed as A-7713] who survived both Auschwitz and Buchenwald writes: “Never shall I forget that night, that first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night….Never shall I forget that smoke…..{from his book NIGHT}

St. Maxmillian Kolbe did not survive, offering his own life in exchange for that of a young husband and father, who did survive.

Love is stronger than hate and is the victory, rooted for believers in God who is Love, for those who do not know Him rooted in simple faith in the foundational reality we are all human beings, each a person.

But, but, have we learned anything since the SHOAH and its six million slaughtered, since the horrors of WWII with its fifty million dead and additional tens of millions wounded, widowed, orphaned, displaced?

We live when the new normal is the violent hatred of Islamists spreading terror and death among fellow Muslims and throughout the world, when a nation ostensibly faithful to its Buddhist tradition, a religion which like Islam claims to be a religion of peace, slaughters the Rohingya and casts them out of their homeland; the new normal of not knowing when some hateful nut will plunge the world into nuclear war; the new normal when otherwise normal people elect governments which slaughter the unborn, allow the sick and elderly to be euthanized.

Today, with solemn ceremonies we make a show of remembering and honouring the victims of the SHOAH.

Yet our memory is selectively simplistic.

To remember means to learn from the remembering.

To honour the victims means never to ourselves be victimizers.

Each needs to look deep into our heart, especially those corners in shadow where lurks evil spirits of harsh judgement, rejection, hatred, a hunger for vengeance.

We need to ask Christ to purify our hearts that we exercise only the power of love, that we stop electing politicians who are anti-life, for their hands are overflowing with the blood of our brothers and sisters, blood which splashes on us each time we cast a ballot unless we choose life and vote accordingly.

73 years since.

Are we finally willing to learn?




Wednesday, January 17, 2018

THE POWER OF LITTLE


                                                          



Decades ago my then spiritual director told me he had been praying for me and heard in his heart from the Lord to tell me the Lord wanted me to do: “Exceedingly little things for love of Me!”

I should note that at the time I was pastor of three parishes, frequently giving missions in other parishes, giving lectures, writing, teaching – sort of big stuff, at least for a priest.

Learning to do little things, things that mostly go unnoticed, was/is a tough lesson to learn, to do, to trust.

Examples of the power of little from Scripture are numerous, among them, these from Jesus Himself: St. John tells us how Jesus used a little of His own spit and some earth to make mud and heal a man’s blindness [Jn.9:6ff], St. Luke tells us how Jesus took a few little fish and loaves of bread to feed thousands [Lk.9:16ff], St. Mark reveals to us the power of a cup of water [Mk.9:41ff], and St. Matthew reveals to us how we shall be judged upon little things like giving someone attention in various ways [Mt.25:31ff] – all examples and more of Jesus simplifying life for us to do little things, for each  other, thus for Him.

Long before I was a priest, I was on staff in a soup kitchen [ bus fare in those days was only 25 cents].

One day I observed and overheard a conversation between an elderly man and a very young man.

It was a bitterly cold winter day and the older man was going to take the bus to the shelter while the young man wanted to take the bus across the river for, he said, a chance for a job.

The old man said that all he had was 25 cents.

The young man was crestfallen.

The old man gave him his quarter – a little coin really.

Not everyone will ask for help, no matter how little the help they need may be.

However, big need or small need, if we are always waiting to be asked we will miss vital clues about need.

Yesterday I was on one of the smaller buses used on routes with not a lot of demand. One woman had been waiting at the stop with me and we had been chatting about family. When we boarded the bus, there was only one other passenger, an elderly woman.

When there was a pause in our conversation about family the other passenger said: “I have no one.”

Almost in unison the other woman and myself said: “We’re here, you have us.”

Awareness is the key to the power of the little.

Awareness of other.

If we are other aware, rather then predominately self-aware, then we will hear clearly, see clearly, and love’s imagination will reveal to us the myriad of little things we can do – and their power will do what it did for that woman on the bus: she smiled for she had been recognized, embraced as a person, included.






Saturday, January 13, 2018

WANTING TO BE GOD


                                                          

Many years ago, a wonderful priest who, from the founding of his community until his death was the general superior, told me of getting a long and excruciatingly detailed letter from the superior of one of the congregation’s mission houses and how he had sent the letter back with this comment under the end of the letter: “You want to be God, job already taken!”

The other day I chuckled when Pope Francis told this old bromide in an address, one I have heard from other priests over the years:  An elderly woman came to confession and spent a long time listing the sins of others until finally she stopped expecting absolution. The gentle priest said to her: “Wonderful. Now that you have listed the sins of our neighbours, how about confessing your own!”

Ever listed God’s sins?

There is throughout the human family a dangerously dark, angry, violent tendency, today perhaps more than ever in human history, to judge, condemn, blame and when we do so, when we give into xenophobia, racism, blaming, rejecting we are factually accusing God of sin.

Since everyone is made in His image and likeness to evaluate, judge another human being is to accuse God of the sin of creating a flawed, broken, less than worthy of existence someone.

To objectively state that Islamist terrorists are doing evil acts is not only appropriate but shining a necessary light into the darkness – however to name an individual, be they a terrorist or……[choose one] – as evil is to usurp what is God’s alone, judging, for He alone sees what is the actual state of our hearts.

When I was working in the inner city, long before ordination, in a soup kitchen, there was a woman who even among the homeless was rejected, abused, because she was not just a prostitute but one totally lacking in any degree of self-respect.

Yet one day when a huge, drunk man was attacking me she used the only talent she had to distract him, lead him away, and literally saved my life, for I was being attacked by the man using a broken beer bottle, trying to slit my throat.

A few days later the police found her body in a ravine.

Jesus said of another woman, and I say in His Name of that woman, much has been forgiven her because she loved much [Lk.7:36-50] and indeed she showed, for me, that greater love of which Jesus tells us [Jn.15:13].

Globally everyone in the 21st century is reading back into history to find reasons why everyone outside our own group is to blame for all our groups’ perceived wounds, frustrations, etc., etc.

While objectively in the past one group did do horrible things to another, to be in bondage to blame and unceasingly demanding some form of compensation/redress ultimately is wasted energy and simply prevents any form of healing or reconciliation – be it unfolding within groups, between nations, religions, within families etc.

Our time and energy, our love and creative energies are better spent discovering how we can heal internally, that is within the group, between nations, within marriage and family, etc., indeed be healed ourselves.

The way is found within the Person of Christ, within the Gospel, within the moral and social teachings of the Church.

No amount of changing of laws, no amount of money will heal one single wound.

Only love is strong enough, creative enough, generous enough to heal and renew.

Nations do it, religions do it, populations regarding government do it, management does it, workers do it, spouses, parents, children, siblings, neighbours, friends, even we against ourselves do it: judge, blame, reject, wallow in unrelenting stress and an ever growing disconnect from love, peace, unity, all because we fail to head Christ’s admonition and warning about the consequences of judging and judgement: Matthew 7:2 & Luke 6:37.

We need to rediscover the difference between objective observation, for example Islamic terrorism is evil and therefore must end, and judgement: naming so and so as an evil person.

Only when, with putting on the eyes of Christ, I see other as one like myself, beloved child of God who is love, will true healing and reconciliation be possible.

The objective observation [the polar opposite of judgement] is necessary if we are to identify and respond as needed to any threat to human beings/society – thus we all need to re-learn and live out, without compromise, both the entire Gospel and the teachings of the Church, such as in Bl. Pope Paul’s Humane Vitae and St. John Paul’s The Gospel of Life.

Failure to do so, and quickly, means we are persistently, all along the way poisonously, angrily judging and condemning, heading towards and off the proverbial cliff, only this time our whole civilization will crash and burn. [Lk. 13: 1-5]