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