Friday, February 23, 2018


                                                             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



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



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



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



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]