Wednesday, May 15, 2019

THE SIXTIES HAVE OVERCOME US ~ PART 5~A


                                       

In an interview with Theodore White, published in Life Magazine in the December 1963 issue, Jacqueline Kennedy, widow of the American President, John Kennedy, assassinated weeks before, stressed, referencing what by then was the mythological name given to her husband’s presidency: ‘Camelot’, from the Arthurian legend, is quoted as saying: “There’ll be great presidents again, but there’ll never be another Camelot….”

In fact, over the decades since Kennedy’s presidency, argued about and in some cases dismantled by historians, would come to resemble more a Shakespearian tragedy rather than the brightness of Camelot. Certainly, looking at the history of the Kennedy clan from Joseph senior to the death of John Kennedy junior, as ends Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, how often must have the family felt; A glooming peace this morning with it brings. The sun for sorrow will not show his head…For never was a story of more woe. [Act 5, scene 3]

President Kennedy’s assassination in November shocked people around the world, yet he was the fourth US President to be murdered while in office, and not the only world leader, or independence or civil rights leader, among them civil rights leader Medgar Evers, to be murdered in 1963.

The tragic history of that year also witnessed continuous revolutions, civil wars, the emergence of terrorism, such as in Canada where a group called the Front de Liberation du Quebec, FLQ as they were dubbed in the media, began its bombing campaign which would culminate in their murder of a Quebec cabinet minister and kidnapping as well of a British diplomat in late 1970, when the then Prime Minister would impose martial law until the FLQ were weakened almost to oblivion, but it would take almost three decades and two referendums to put the issue of independence if not to rest at least render it comatose.

1963 while not the bloodiest year of the 20th century where wars and death camps, genocide, abortion, spilled so much blood it is a wonder the very oceans did not turn red, did take its place on the continuum of hatred, terrorism, extremism, and wacky theories about religion, environment, gender, which wound the human family to this day.

It was also in 1963 that with their victory in the battle of Ap Boc, the Viet Cong increased the swamp of an unwinnable war, for the Republican South and the Americans, into which the Americans, rather naively had they but learned from the experience of the French, or the British in India, wandered deeper and deeper, with increasing drug use among the troops and other disorders which, with at the time PTSD not being recognized, would permanently scar the returning soldiers.

While the anti-war movement increasingly meshed with the civil rights movement the violence by police and others against the protestors, infamously with the murder by KKK members of four little girls when their church was bombed in Birmingham Alabama, would also sow the seeds of the types of hatred, extremism, to this day of the so-called Alt-right, neo-Nazis groups in the US and many other countries: for when good people, Christians especially, try to confront evil directly, evil will triumph by seducing us into using similar methods, for example the evil of those who claim to be pro-life attacking abortionists.

St. Maxmilian Kolbe defeated the evil intent of the Nazis who would have murdered a young husband and father by, as Christ calls us all to do, laying down his life for the young husband and father. Nazism was ultimately defeated, the priest, Fr. Kolbe, canonized, and another Pole, who suffered under the Nazis occupation of his country, became pope and a saint himself, St. John Paul II.

“I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well.” [ Mt.5:39]

On the 11th of April, five years into his pontificate, Jean xxiii issued his encyclical Pacem in Terris, addressing it not only to the Catholic Church but to all of mankind.

Before considering this critical encyclical, not just for the time when it was published, but given the current world situation, its prophetic nature, it should be noted that when Pope John xxiii, and his successors, including Pope Francis, write about the human condition, about war, genocide, revolutions, oppression, the sacredness of the life and dignity of human beings, these are not men, priests, Pontiffs, divorced from the harsh on-the-ground-reality of what they speak about: Pope John xxiii was drafted in the 1st World War into the Royal Italian Army as a stretcher-bearer and would have experienced first hand the wounds and deaths on the battlefield, in the 2nd World War he was Apostolic Delegate in Turkey and at great personal risk thwarted many Gestapo attempts to send Jewish People to the death camps; Pope Paul VI was hounded during WWII by Mussolini’s Fascists because working in the Secretariat of State he tirelessly helped in the hiding of Jews from the Fascists and the Nazis and worked to protect refugees; John Paul i, the first pope born in the 20th century, was living in Fascist-Nazi Italy, not involved in the war directly as he was a student, newly ordained priest, pursuing a doctorate; John Paul ii worked in forced labour during the Nazis occupation of Poland and steadfastly stood up to the communists who took over after the war, and he too, during the war helped our Jewish Brothers and Sisters; Pope Benedict lived under the Hilter regime, was drafted into the military and deserted rather than participate in the war, then was held for months by the Allies as a prisoner of war in a camp without proper shelter or food; Pope Francis was a Jesuit priest and superior during the dictatorship in Argentina, the so-called “Dirty War”, and experienced first hand the violence of the regime.

From the time of the Apostles, and the great letters/epistles of the nascent Church to our own day, we are blessed with a treasury of over two millennia of papal and conciliar documents.  Pacem in Terris certainly ranks among the major documents in the treasury.

The opening paragraph places the issue of peace and all human struggles and needs in the fertile ground of revelation: Peace on Earth—which man throughout the ages has so longed for and sought after—can never be established, never guaranteed, except by the diligent observance of the divinely established order. [1]

Given contemporary anxiety over ‘fake news’ and the amount of disinformation available in social media early on the Pontiff stresses that human beings have:… to be accurately informed about public events. [1] As well, and the struggle for this in our own day with Islamists, for example, attacking Christians around the world: Also among man's rights is that of being able to worship God in accordance with the right dictates of his own conscience, and to profess his religion both in private and in public. [1] With the refugee and migrant crisis around the world, oppression and restriction on movement and assembly in numerous countries this applies in our own day: Again, every human being has the right to freedom of movement and of residence within the confines of his own State. When there are just reasons in favor of it, he must be permitted to emigrate to other countries and take up residence there. The fact that he is a citizen of a particular State does not deprive him of membership in the human family, nor of citizenship in that universal society, the common, world-wide fellowship of men. [1]

More than half a century after Pope John xxiii cried out for the sacredness of human life to be protected, the anti-life forces remain an evil to be resisted in this era of abortion, euthanasia, relativism: ….the right to live involves the duty to preserve one's life; the right to a decent standard of living, the duty to live in a becoming fashion; the right to be free to seek out the truth, the duty to devote oneself to an ever deeper and wider search for it. [1]

This critical encyclical touches on virtually every challenge to individuals and nations, of whatever dominate religious tradition, to learn how to lead lives that are peaceful and without sin, in our families, nations, between nations: ……mutual ties between States must be governed by truth. Truth calls for the elimination of every trace of racial discrimination, and the consequent recognition of the inviolable principle that all States are by nature equal in dignity…..Truth further demands an attitude of unruffled impartiality in the use of the many aids to the promotion and spread of mutual understanding between nations which modern scientific progress has made available. This does not mean that people should be prevented from drawing particular attention to the virtues of their own way of life, but it does mean the utter rejection of ways of disseminating information which violate the principles of truth and justice, and injure the reputation of another nation. [1]

Another point the Pontiff makes, very relevant in our own day of terrorism, extremist governments, tensions between nuclear powers: ……people are living in the grip of constant fear. They are afraid that at any moment the impending storm may break upon them with horrific violence. And they have good reasons for their fear, for there is certainly no lack of….. such weapons. While it is difficult to believe that anyone would dare to assume responsibility for initiating the appalling slaughter and destruction that war would bring in its wake, there is no denying that the conflagration could be started by some chance and unforeseen circumstance. [1] And this, long before state actors were hacking into and manipulating elections in democratic countries: Furthermore, relations between States must be regulated by the principle of freedom. This means that no country has the right to take any action that would constitute an unjust oppression of other countries, or an unwarranted interference in their affairs. On the contrary, all should help to develop in others an increasing awareness of their duties, an adventurous and enterprising spirit, and the resolution to take the initiative for their own advancement in every field of endeavour. [1]

Written with the war in Vietnam raging, numerous countries wherein the people were enduring revolutions, violent oppression by dictatorial regimes, what pain in his heart the beloved Pontiff must have endured, given the decades he had lived himself through wars and revolutions in perhaps the bloodiest century in human history.

The angst within the human family which the compassionate Pontiff addressed with such truth-speaking would continue to deepen throughout the course of the decade, indeed continues to inflict much of humanity still today.

Clues to the depth of this angst are found not simply in news reports nor the clamour of those who are trying to reshape society or the Church or truth through various actions, philosophies, laws, or various violent means such as terrorism. Indeed, an overwhelming amount of contemporary literature fiction, music, films, tv shows reveal the depths of this angst.

In 2016 ITV in England began a mini-series called UNFORGOTEN, about a team of police officers investigating what are commonly called ‘cold cases.’ Fascinating is how much the series reveals contemporary angst and the influence of relativism in the lives of the officers, the victims, their families and the perpetrators of the crimes.

From the series’ opening credits song “All We Do” written and performed by Anthony West and Josephine Vander Gucht: “All we do is hide away. All we do is, all we do is hide away. All we do is chase the day…..All we do is fade…..All we do is play it safe….live inside a cage…..All I did is fail today….All we do is lie and wait. All we do is, all we do is lie and wait. I’ve been upside down. I don’t wanna be the right way round. Can’t find paradise on the ground.”

Already diagnosed with stomach cancer the previous autumn, by May the Holy Father was bedridden, and he died on June 3rd. Known as “Good Pope John” he would be canonized by Pope Francis and now is rightly called St. John XXIII.



[1] All quotations are from the official Vatican translation, with the paragraphs from which the quote is taken enumerated after the link: http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-xxiii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_j-xxiii_enc_11041963_pacem.html

1, 12, 14, 25, 29, 86, 90, 111, 120



© 2019 Fr. Arthur Joseph


Monday, May 06, 2019

THE SIXTIES HAVE OVERCOME US ~ PART 4


                                      

Throughout 1962 the violent chaos in the former colonies of the European powers continued, as did the sufferings and imprisonment of thousands in countries such as those under the heel of the Soviets, in the Soviet Union itself, in China, North Korea, Cuba, as well as  countries in Latin America and Asia where dictatorships held sway.

1962 saw the publication in Russia of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich: “You should rejoice that you're in prison. Here you have time to think about your soul.” “Freedom meant one thing to him—home. But they wouldn't let him go home.”― Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn. While situated in a gulag camp of the 1950’s, and not available in English until 1963, it was the start of lifting the veil on the gulag and what being sent there did to people.

Around the world such camps of human suffering exist to this day.

Unrest continued in the United States as the civil rights movement became more widespread, including the riots when the first black student, under the protection of US Marshals, would register and begin studies at the University of Mississippi.

That started a movement where by today there is nothing exceptional about campuses in the US and most democratic countries having multi-racial student bodies and faculties.

The past of human history, never more so than in salvation history, is prologue.

Cuba and events surrounding Cuba, though mostly late in the year, would dominate as ‘world news’, almost, but not completely, overshadowing the beginning of the Second Vatican Council.

Rachel Carson would publish her main work SILENT SPRING, decrying the overuse of, and environmental impact of, pesticides, asserting that:  The most alarming of all man's assaults upon the environment is the contamination of air, earth, rivers, and sea with dangerous and even lethal materials. The human race is challenged more than ever before to demonstrate our mastery, not over nature but of ourselves. [1]

With the war raging in Vietnam in late 1962 the US would begin using Agent Orange: When man disobeys God and refuses to submit to his rule, nature rebels against him and no longer recognizes him as its "master," for he has tarnished the divine image in himself. The claim to ownership and use of created things remains still valid, but after sin its exercise becomes difficult and full of suffering (cf. Gen 3:17-19). [2] The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters. [3]

Darkly, evilly, tragically, there is a nexus between environmentalists and those anti-life groups pushing for abortion, thus raising the question: for whom are all the environmentalists saving the planet?

If we take into account all the children not born because of the contraceptive mentality, abortions, [the World Health Organization estimates well over forty million abortions a year] epidemics, casualties of war, famine, euthanasia, and other factors continuing to spread since the sixties, Bricker and Ibbitson, in their seminal work EMPTY PLANET, are correct to suggest that: The great defining even of the twenty-first century – one of the great defining events in human history -  will occur in three decades, give or take, when the global population starts to decline. Once that decline begins, it will never end. [4]

On October 11th St. John xxiii opened the Second Vatican Council, saying in his address: The great problem confronting the world after almost two thousand years remains unchanged. Christ is ever resplendent as the center of history and of life. Men are either with Him and His Church, and then they enjoy light, goodness, order, and peace. Or else they are without Him, or against Him, and deliberately opposed to His Church, and then they give rise to confusion, to bitterness in human relations, and to the constant danger of fratricidal wars. We feel we must disagree with those prophets of gloom, who are always forecasting disaster, as though the end of the world were at hand. [5]

Five days later it began, and for thirteen days in October the Cuban Missile crisis brought the entire human family to the brink of elimination during the nuclear stand off between the US and the Soviet Union.

What began with the opening of the Council as an event experienced as hope for the entire human family, everyone alive at that time experienced being catapulted into thirteen days of absolute terror and uncertainty.

The first was to experience the immensity of the Light, Christ Himself, brought to everyone by the Church.

The second was to experience the intense cold darkness of satan and his minions.

The wise know it takes at least a century for the full grace of a Council to penetrate the Church and the human family, perhaps longer for an end to post-council arguments pro and con. We still have a long road to travel before 2062!

Countless volumes have, and still are, being written about the Council itself, analysis of the documents.

How well the actual conciliar and  post-conciliar documents are read, studied, lived remains an unanswered question, though as began in the sixties and continues to this day, even given the best efforts of Pope Paul vi and his successors, the aberration known as the ‘spirit of Vatican II’, another disorder rooted in the sixties, continues to wound the Church and the entirety of God’s people.

As George Weigel, in a 2001 commentary notes: [The Council]…..was a summons to the Catholic Church to think of itself less in institutional terms and more as an evangelical movement in history” a movement which best served the modern world by telling the world the truth about human origins, human nature, human community, and human destiny……Pope John Paul II, who was one of the youngest Council fathers during the first period, has insisted for almost four decades that the Council can be grasped in its essence only if we think of it as an epic spiritual event, at which the Holy Spirit led the Catholic Church into a new encounter with modernity precisely for the sake of evangelizing the modern world……[6]

Within a year the holy Pope, now St. John xxiii would die, the young President Kennedy who stood up to the Soviets would be assassinated.

What was emerging at the end of 1962 was an ever thickening, darkening shadow of the culture of death which, with the lethality of those green clouds of chlorine spreading from the German lines into the trenches of WWI, was bringing the ever spreading blindness to objective truth and morality which has us living daily in the anti-Christian culture of death.



[1] SILENT SPRING, Rachel Carson, Houghton Mifflen Press, 1962

[2] SOLLICITUDO REI SOCIALIS, ch.4, para. 29; Pope John Paul II, December 30, 1987

[3] Laudate SI’, para.2, Pope Francis, May 24, 2015

[4] EMPTY PLANET, preface p. 2; Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson; Signal, 2019

[5] http://vatican2voice.org/91docs/opening_speech.htm

[6] https://www.firstthings.com/article/2001/06/thinking-through-vatican-ii



© 2019 Fr. Arthur Joseph


Thursday, April 25, 2019

THE SIXTIES HAVE OVERCOME US ~ PART 3


                                           

When the various ‘right’s movements unfolded in the sixties, confusion, wounds, anger began to take root and spread.

We see the ongoing damage, flowing from the unintended consequences of sixties international ethical disorders, and the displacement of millions of people, this Good Friday, as Pope Francis led the Stations of the Cross in Rome, using meditations written by Sister Eugenia Bonetti, a Consolata sister who works with suffering women and girls on the streets of Rome:  What a thirst for vengeance we see all around us! Our societies today have lost the great value of forgiveness, a gift second to none, a cure for wounds, the basis of peace and human coexistence. In a society where forgiveness is seen as weakness, you, Lord, ask us not to stop at appearances…… For you knew very well that true justice can never be based on hatred and revenge. Make us capable of asking for and granting forgiveness. [1] There is an echo in the words of St. John xxiii convoking the Second Vatican Council: Today the Church is witnessing a crisis underway within society.[2]

Isaiah prophesied of Jesus: So He shall startle many nations….[Is.52:15], this is also the mission of the Church, of every Christian, for in Baptism we become participants in the prophetic mission of Christ.

If people are not startled by the Church, by Christians, then we must confess we have allowed ourselves to be compromised by the world, repent and begin again!

In 1961, St. John xxiii, wrote an apostolic letter on the Holy Rosary, "Il religioso convegno" appealing for the recitation of the Rosary for peace among the Nations. The Pontiff notes:…. the general feeling of acute anxiety about the problem of peace…….reminding us that all peoples, even those who are not Christian, are praying for peace. [3]

In 1961 the peoples of earth had good reason to be anxious: atomic weapons were still being tested, as were ever longer-range missiles; revolutions, civil wars were raging in Africa, Latin America, Asia; the Freedom Riders were being attacked in those early days of the Civil Rights movement, onto which a plethora of emerging ‘rights’ groups were starting to hitch their wagons; Kennedy would cut off diplomatic relations with Cuba, be suckered by the CIA into the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion, whose repercussions, within a year, would bring the world to the brink of nuclear war; on Broadway a play would be presented called: Big Fish, Little Fish, in which play the matter of male homosexuality was explored for the first time in such an open, albeit theatrical, setting; society in general was changing rapidly in ways, at the time, few understood the implications of.

There was a lot of work going on to prepare for the Second Vatican Council in 1961!

Some great events in salvation history seem to unfold without anyone not involved noticing, even when that event is a gift for the whole Church, a whole nation, the world community.

As an example, in 1961, Catholicism, which had been rooted in Norway since the 11th century and virtually disappeared when Norway was ruled during the years of the Reformation, by Lutheran Sweden, saw the ordination of the first Norwegian Catholic priest in 500 years, and subsequently the first Norwegian bishop.

The post-war Church, by this time showing signs of the precipitous decline to come, in North America and Europe to the greatest extent, nonetheless the trend was, and continues to be in Africa and Asia, the polar-opposite.

1961 was not a year of blatant clues to the future, indeed the year in the sixties when things would really explode was still some seven years away, but the seeds of the turbulence, the gathering of the waves of the tsunami were approaching.

The zeitgeist of the sixties is rooted in the so-called ‘beatnik’ era of the late 1940’s, 50’s into the 60’s.

It is extremely rare for a new era’s zeitgeist to originate amongst the rural population. Good and bright as they are, the demands of rural life rarely afford the luxury of disputatious exploration afforded urbanites, not all of whom are necessarily university graduates or well off financially, but do live in an environment where the cunning can find the needed food, shelter, a variety of stimulants to ‘enhance’ their so-called intellectual – often pseudo-intellectual – explorations. These tended, in the fifties and sixties, and even in our own day, to lead deeply into sexual, gender, ‘spiritual’, etc. confusion and increased pressure on governments, frequently of the left, to legalize these confusions, not unlike the chaos in the world of St. Augustine’s time, who stresses that: He who becomes the protector of sin shall surely become its prisoner.

A salutary warning not just for government leaders of all stripes, but for clergy and Christians in general who compromise with the world.

The so-called ‘hippie’ generation of the sixties would take the dangerous explorations of the ‘beatnik’ generation to new depths of darkness through the use of psychedelic drugs, almost de rigour in the early days of sexual, ‘spiritual’, political adventurism, until those and other axial shifts became embedded and we continue to live in the expansion of the culture of death and darkness rooted therein.

True some of the shifts, such as deeper equality between men and women, resistance to oppression of minorities, beginning with the civil rights movement, the struggle to de-conflict the human family, have within them a dimension of good not contradictory to the Gospel.

However, as parents for generations have told overly adventurous children, it seems we adults have forgotten the adage of knowing when to ‘leave well enough alone!”

In May 1961, St. John xxiii would release his social encyclical MATER ET MAGISTRA/Mother and Teacher, a document which focuses on Christianity and Social Progress, but which contains
within prophetic insights into what was coming.

The Holy Pontiff begins with: Mother and Teacher of all nations—such is the Catholic Church in the mind of her Founder, Jesus Christ; to hold the world in an embrace of love….. She is "the pillar and ground of the truth."  though the Church's first care must be for souls, how she can sanctify them and make them share in the gifts of heaven, she concerns herself too with the exigencies of man's daily life, with his livelihood and education, and his general, temporal welfare and prosperity.

Pope John references Pius xi, who taught:….. what the supreme criterion in economic matters ought not to be. It must not be the special interests of individuals or groups, nor unregulated competition, economic despotism, national prestige or imperialism, nor any other aim of this sort. …..On the contrary, all forms of economic enterprise must be governed by the principles of social justice and charity.

Pope John is also prophetic about what is unfolding in the sixties and still governments interfere: …..Certainly one of the principal characteristics which seem to be typical of our age is an increase in social relationships ….This development in the social life of man is at once a symptom and a cause of the growing intervention of the State, even in matters which are of intimate concern to the individual, hence of great importance and not devoid of risk.

One of the trends surfacing on the threshold of, expanding through the sixties, echoing still in our day, was the siren song of the alleged danger of ‘over population’, which the Holy Father noted: …..there are those who hold the opinion that, in order to prevent a serious crisis from developing, the conception and birth of children should be secretly avoided, or, in any event, curbed in some way. ……Human life is sacred—all men must recognize that fact. From its very inception it reveals the creating hand of God. Those who violate His laws not only offend the divine majesty and degrade themselves and humanity, they also sap the vitality of the political community of which they are members.  ….We must reaffirm most strongly that this Catholic social doctrine is an integral part of the Christian conception of life.

With the contraceptive/abortion/homosexuality mentality [infecund by its very reality], poisoning more and more the lives of men and women throughout the sixties and beyond, it would fall to his successors, Paul vi, and John Paul ii, to take defense of the sacredness of human life: of pre-born children, the sacredness of sacramental marriage, into the heart of the battle St. John xxiii saw unfolding.

Towards the conclusion of this critical social encyclical, prophetic at its core, the Holy Father shines a light on the challenge of those times, a challenge still facing the Church, all Christians: The Church today is faced with an immense task: to humanize and to Christianize this modern civilization of ours. The continued development of this civilization, indeed its very survival, demand and insist that the Church do her part in the world. …. She is the Mother and Teacher of all nations. Her light illumines, enkindles and enflames…. She is ever powerful to offer suitable, effective remedies for the increasing needs of men, and the sorrows and anxieties of this present life.  [4]

1961 was also a year when many clues to what lay ahead were missed, likely because their full impact would not emerge until either the end of the decade or until the unfolding of the last thirty years of the 20th century and throughout the first decades of the 21st. A few examples: Margaret Mead became a darling of those in the sixties engaged in the sexual revolution, in particular because of her debateable conclusions about the sexual mores of Samoan teenagers; Carol Rogers, pushing a personalist approach to psychotherapy would be embraced by American Women’s Religious orders, with devastating results, as their example of rebellion would spread throughout the Church, including the disrespectful challenging of St. John Paul on his pastoral visit to the United States [5]; in December the United Sates would officially commit itself to the Vietnam war.

At times all of us are tempted to leave our vocations…..Remember the story which I tell you about our Bishop Founder, Archbishop Neil McNeil of Toronto, who, when I told him that I wanted to leave….bade me get a crucifix off the wall. When I did so, he told me to look at the other side; then he asked me for whom did I think it was reserved. I reluctantly answered: “For God’s friends.” He quietly went on saying: “Child, do you want to abandon the Cross, and leave God alone there? Do you truly expect Him to be happy about that? He who is so lonely? So few want to share His place with Him.”  [6]

 © 2019 Fr. Arthur Joseph

[1] From the 7th Station Meditation: http://www.vatican.va/news_services/liturgy/2019/documents/ns_lit_doc_20190419_via-crucis-meditazioni_en.html

[2] Apostolic Constitution, Humanae salutis:  https://jakomonchak.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/humanae-salutis.pdf

[3] p. 357; Journal of A Soul; Image Books 1980

[4] MATER ET MAGISTRA: http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-xxiii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_j-xxiii_enc_15051961_mater.html

Cf. paras.: 1, 3, 37, 39, 59, 60, 187, 194, 222, 256, 262

[5] https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1979/10/08/a-challenge-from-nuns/55441365-443c-4349-9928-247665173d2a/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.5e30266890f2

[6] Dearly Beloved, Volume One, by Catherine de Hueck Doherty, pp. 215,216; Madonna House Publications, 1998

NB: A good resource is: E. Michael Jones’ study: Degenerate Moderns: Modernity as Rationalized Sexual Misbehaviour. Ignatius Press 1993






Wednesday, April 10, 2019

THE SIXTIES HAVE OVERCOME US ~ PART 2


                                    

When considering the sixties generation, we should be aware in many countries they grew up in families which had been deeply impacted by WWI, by the Great Depression, by WWII, and the Korean war. They also had grown up in the atomic era.

A reading, for example of writings of Pope Emeritus Benedict in the days leading up to the Second Vatican Council reveal his growing awareness and concern about the state of post-war and post mid-century humanity, culminating in this from the Council’s Document on the Church in the Modern world, attributed to the then Fr. Ratzinger, a petri, that is a theological advisor to the bishops at the council: The truth is that the imbalances under which the modern world labours are linked with that more basic imbalance which is rooted in the heart of man. For in man himself many elements wrestle with one another….. he suffers from internal divisions, and from these flow so many and such great discords in society……Thinking they have found serenity in an interpretation of reality everywhere proposed these days, many look forward to a genuine and total emancipation of humanity wrought solely by human effort; they are convinced that the future rule of man over the earth will satisfy every desire of his heart. [1]

Two years before the start of the sixties a woman who had been a nurse with the Russian Imperial Army in WWI, survived the Russian revolution, lived among and served the poor during the Great Depression and WWII, and after the war founded the Madonna House Lay Apostolate, which now has houses around the world, wrote in a letter to her community, on Oct. 1, 1958: I understand perfectly that modern youth has been grievously wounded by history, whether or not they realize it. Two world wars and a depression have affected both parents and children. They are also influenced by the atomic age which causes fear of destruction. [2]

Less than ten years after that letter, P. F. Sloan would write a protest song, which in 1965 rocketed to the top of the charts when released as a single sung by Barry McGuire. The song: Eve of Destruction: “Don’t you understand, what I’m trying to say?......Can’t you see the fears that I’m feeling today? Ah, don’t you believe we’re on the eve of destruction.”

Unless we understand the extent of the emotional, spiritual damage done, to the grandparents and parents of the sixties generation, the profound damage done to that generation, then we will fail in our efforts to understand the spread of that damage into our own day as we approach the end of the second decade of the first century of the third millennium.

The point of these essays is not to dissect the events of the sixties per se, rather to look at the impact of the sixties on faith, family, life of the Church, and the eschatological impact. Before the Second Vatican Council, partly in response to the Reformation, partly in response to upheavals and revolutions with an attendant anti-church spread of laws and mentality, the mindset of the various popes from then to the Council, and of ordinary Catholics, was dominated by a siege mentality, an us against the world one which is antithetical to our Gospel mandate of preaching the Gospel to all nations, to everyone. Wherever that vacuum exists satan whispers into minds and hearts the ideas and morals of secularism which people will then implement to fill the void.

By 1960 the political shifts, the emergence of new nations as the colonial powers were ousted, the beginnings of the various civil rights and other rights movements, the spread of student revolts on campuses, of the defeatist philosophies of modern existentialists: Sartre comes to mind, who felt everything [and everyone] becomes without reason; Simeon de Beauvoir, who asserted she was way too smart to be known or loved, thus she had only herself; Abbey Hoffman, who maintained only the young could have valuable ideas.; Timothy Leary, who recommended the use of hallucinogens to discover self! These and others set the foundations of ever deepening nihilism, hedonism, relativism, loss of faith.

The Church, and not just by Her opponents from outside, is often accused of being behind the times, which is disingenuous because the Church, all Christians, are called to be in and not of the world, and unlike current social media, cannot, must not, make selfie focused instantaneous judgements or proclamations that make Christianity comprised with and complicit in the darkness of the surrounding culture of relativism, darkness and death.

Experience teaches that, for example, failure to exercise the virtue of prudence by social activists, governments, indeed parents, that is to think before speaking, consider before acting, in the main has devastating and unintended consequences, the old saying: you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube.

Hence the wisdom, contrary to Hoffman’s ideology, of Pope Francis when it comes to the world of ideas: …..young people are also urged “to accept the authority of those who are older” (1 Pet 5:5). The Bible never ceases to insist that profound respect be shown to the elderly, since they have a wealth of experience; they have known success and failure, life’s joys and afflictions, its dreams and disappointments. In the silence of their heart, they have a store of experiences that can teach us not to make mistakes or be taken in by false promises…..It is unhelpful to buy into the cult of youth or foolishly to dismiss others simply because they are older or from another generation. Jesus tells us that the wise are able to bring forth from their store things both new and old (cf. Mt 13:52). A wise young person is open to the future, yet still capable of learning something from the experience of others. [3]

The too narrow understanding of catechesis as instruction for adult converts, the equally narrow assumption those baptized as babies some how, almost by osmosis, gain an in depth understanding of Catholic faith reveals the growing impoverishment of souls as the sixties unfolded.

Restricting catechesis to Sunday homilies is insufficient.

Before the sixties emphasis was often less on the Gospel and more on the dangers of sin and hell, sometimes exaggerating Church teaching on both. Since the sixties with the reform of the liturgy and emphasis on preaching upon the Sacred Readings, a laudatory change, unfortunately there is also, since the sixties, either too much of the priest’s agenda, drawn from compromise with the world, such as over emphasis on vague, or even counter to the faith, notions of ‘inclusion’, or an outright failure to proclaim the Gospel of Life.

Creative imagination of love is needed to take seriously and institute adult re-education programs, re-evangelization: "I sense that the moment has come to commit all of the Church's energies to a new evangelization and to the mission ad gentes. No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church can avoid this supreme duty: to proclaim Christ to all peoples" (St. John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, no. 3); "Our own time, then, must be increasingly marked by new hearing of God’s word and a new evangelization. Recovering the centrality of the divine word in the Christian life leads us to appreciate anew the deepest meaning of the forceful appeal of Pope John Paul II: to pursue the mission ad gentes and vigorously to embark upon the new evangelization, especially in those nations where the Gospel has been forgotten or meets with indifference as a result of widespread secularism" (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Verbum Domini no. 122).

Since the destination of every human being, every soul, is Christ, eschatology must be a central aspect of this formation for the Nietzschean assertion that God is dead, with John Robinson adding fuel to that dark fire, in the sixties, became the mindset that leads to the multiplicity of ‘spiritualities’, the allure into emptiness of Buddhism, Hinduism, both of which Hollywood and rock stars promoted, as those proponents also led the way to promiscuity, drug and pornography addictions, nihilism, hedonism, and relativism, which, when imbedded in minds and hearts, with its adamant denial of objective truth, makes any dialogue about the living-all-loving-present Divine Redeemer Jesus and the Gospel, virtually over before it has begun.

Worn out by the failed extremism of liberals on the left, including Catholics, and others, throughout the sixties, and wisely not giving into the extremism of neo-extreme right-anti just about everybody not of their ilk, a passivity has taken hold of too many people, including Catholics and Orthodox and other Christians, who may still be Sunday-observant but have otherwise given up.

We know from tragic experience that a factual event, such as the collapse of the twin towers on 9/11, can trigger a panic, a stampede of people away from danger. Likewise, we know a non-event, a rumour, indeed a lie, can also trigger a human stampede, often with people being trampled and seriously injured or killed.

Satan, the father of lies, can trigger a more subtle form of stampede, one that moves methodically over time within the human family, destroying minds and souls to the point where people deny objective truth, morality, suffer loss of faith, deny God is, of it they concede He might be, clearly He hasn’t anything relevant to say about how humans should behave or live together as one family.

Satan achieves this in a manner not unlike that used by Indigenous people for thousands of years to hunt buffalo: dressed in wolf and coyote skins the young warriors would run towards the herd to stampede the herd of buffalo over a cliff and then walk down and harvest the meat and skins they needed. Legend has it one curious young warrior positioned himself at the bottom of the cliff to watch the herd fall. He was crushed to death, hence the place to this day is known as Head-Smashed-in-Buffalo Jump.

Satan hunts human beings, immortal souls, and uses lies, rumour, distorted philosophies, self-centeredness, and a myriad of other tricks to herd people over the edge of the abyss into the chasm of the culture of death and darkness.

Sadly, too many people, including Christians, in these days are like that young warrior, passively watching our brothers and sisters, the human family, fall over the cliff, thereby getting crushed by the darkness of the culture of death in the process: “I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” [Rv.3:16] How urgently we must heed this warning and draw comfort from Divine Mercy who always comes to our assistance: Then I passed by and saw you struggling in your blood, and I said to you in your blood, “Live!” [Ez. 16:6] and being strengthened by Christ’s promise: “…..behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” [Mt.28:20], we will have the courage of the martyrs to bear witness to Christ and the Gospel of life, to fulfill our vocation to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth. [5:13-16]



[1] Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World; para. 10; http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19651207_gaudium-et-spes_en.html

[2] Dear Beloved, Letters to the Children of My Spirit, Volume One, 1956-1963; p.88; Madonna House Publications, 1988

[3] para.16; CHRISTUS VIVIT OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS TO YOUNG PEOPLE AND TO THE ENTIRE PEOPLE OF GOD  http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20190325_christus-vivit.html

© 2019 Fr. Arthur Joseph


Saturday, March 30, 2019

THE SXITIES HAVE OVERCOME US ~ PART 1


                                        

Feedback and conversations with people about the series “The New Reality of War”, led to much reflection on the origins of the state of the human family in these days of such anxiety, hatred, violence, divisions, poverty within the human family.

These are the days within Christianity of Holy Lent, the liturgical season, wherein we are called to look deep in our own hearts that they be cleansed of all that is not of Christ, which is asking for the grace of metanoia: conversion of heart. It is the time to do penance, that is sincere acts of self denial, extra generosity to the poor that we might be more faithful disciples of Christ.

Open to me the doors of repentance, O Lifegiver… in Your compassion, deliver me, purify me by the loving kindness of Your mercy. Lead me on the paths of salvation, O Mother of God….. [taken from a Hymn of the Russian Liturgy for Great Lent]

History is replete with axial moments, stages, when things shifted with usually a clear demarcation of what proceeded and what has followed.

Drawn from a Protestant hymn from 1900, the great song of the 1960’s was: WE SHALL OVERCOME, the song of the civil rights and other ‘rights’ and anti-war movements yet we, the human family, nor any ‘rights’ group, completely overcame anything. Rather the 60’s, the social shifts, philosophies, angers, denial of God, truth etc., have overcome us and continue to ripple through the human family ever more destructively.

The 60’s became the era of the age of blame, anger, ‘me’, the end of ‘other’ before self, the end of forgiveness as primary to Christian fidelity to Christ, for too many Christians live, even when the cause of their pain may be legitimate, in bondage to resentment and refusal to forgive. That latter is an emotional and spiritual quagmire in which satan wants people trapped, the trap being bondage to whatever evil or pain was inflicted on the person in the first place.

While the end of the First World War almost, but not entirely, halted the more than five centuries of European imperialism, [ the reasons for which were not unlike Germany’s justification for WWI, taken to the extreme by the Nazis:  Lebensraum: “living space”], after the Second World War new actors began to spread their own versions of Lebensraum, most notably the Soviets [now still as Russia] and China. With revolutions, many nations threw out their oppressors, resulting often in dictatorships and seemingly incessant civil wars, of which many, both dictatorships and civil wars, continue to this day. At the same time the social upheavals within traditional democracies set in motion axial shifts, which continue to rumble through the lives of ordinary human beings, like an endless tsunami with profound impacts on family life, the lives of working people, and an increasing loss of faith within Christianity. Equally rooted in the 60’s is the reality, given most ‘democracies’ today stress they are secular societies, the only permissible ‘phobia’ now is that which attacks, demeans, discriminates against Christianity.

While the 1960’s appeared to be a new era of hope, how quickly things would change! By 1968, the whole thing had gone sour with assassinations, the emergence of terrorist groups, chaos within the Catholic Church and a plethora of unintended consequences to the supposed gains of the various ‘rights’ groups.

Not primarily civil rights legislation passed in many countries, nor the scientific and technological advances, as many assume, but a shift in the fundamental approach within the way society functions as regards faith, family, and in a major way how economies/businesses function, things unraveled.

By way of example when it comes to business/corporations:  an awareness of the needs of workers and the surrounding communities has been replaced with a fixation on shareholder profits, opening the path to globalization, hiding income from the revenue stream of national governments, money laundering, an increased suppression of unions, the moving of factories ‘off-shore’ to decrease costs and enhance profits.

On the whole matter noted above in the shift in businesses and how they operate, St. John Paul in his Encyclical Centesimus Annus, is not only giving us an overview of the great social encyclical of Pope Leo xxiii, but an in depth study of humanity and the world situation which, while written in 1991 could have been written today: …the purpose of a business firm is not simply to make a profit, but is to be found in its very existence as a community of persons who in various ways are endeavouring to satisfy their basic needs, and who form a particular group at the service of the whole of society. Profit is a regulator of the life of a business, but it is not the only one; other human and moral factors must also be considered which, in the long term, are at least equally important for the life of a business. [1]

It is folly in seeking to understand any era to simply study sources from that era. Research should include looking at sources as far back, sometimes even to antiquity, as needed, as well as current sources.

The 1960’s impact on faith and family continues to increase today, while beneath the surface growing anger and hopelessness among significant portions of the population in numerous nations has resulted in extremism, left and right, angry rather than dispassionate-centrist populism and an endless attempt for aggrieved groups to re-write history, demand ever greater financial and other forms of compensation and the embarrassing parade of national and international leaders apologizing incessantly in the name of people alive today for the sins of ancestors, as if some how the blame is irremovable, thus increasing the angry divisions in many nations and fueling the hate of extremists.

How did it all go so wrong so quickly, how did we who sang and marched and worked to overcome injustice, discrimination, poverty, etc., be overtaken by what was set in motion as  presumed good for the human family, and has now become the albatross of chaos, evil, the darkness of the culture of death?

Some clues to the answer can be found in a study of the rise of the Nazis to power [2] as well as a careful study of ancient Rome, of countries such as France, the United States, Germany, England, Russia when social, cultural, religious, agrarian, industrial, political upheavals occurred.

Applicable as much today in the age of terrorism, social upheaval, abortion, euthanasia, etc., as when written, these words from Ven. Pope Pius xii from 1945: As interpreter of the universal anguish by which almost every nation is grievously distressed, We desire to leave nothing undone within Our powers that may mitigate these numberless miseries or that may hasten the end of such great destruction. We know well that the resources of men are unable to heal these great injuries. We know that the human mind, especially when hate and rivalry have blinded it, cannot easily determine a just and equitable solution of affairs along with a fraternal agreement. It is therefore necessary to implore the Father of light and mercy repeatedly. He alone, in the midst of such violent disturbances and tumults, can persuade those concerned that too many catastrophes and devastations have been piled up in a fearful mass, that too many tears have been shed, and that too much blood has been spilled. Therefore divine and human rights demand unequivocally that such hideous slaughter cease as soon as possible. [3]

It is unworthy of we the baptized, and an implicit criticism of God for having breathed life into us at this specific time in salvation/human history, to whine incessantly, or fearfully, that we live in the age of darkness of the culture of death whose immediate roots are in the turbulence of the 1960’s.

Through baptism we are participants in the prophetic mission of Christ, and as Jesus teaches us:  “A prophet is not without honour except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” [Mk.6:4]

Our native place is this earth, our kin are every human being, our house the particular country in which we live.

A prophet….lives close to God……if men [sic human beings] followed the teachings of Jesus, all personal, all social, all national, all international problems would be solved. [4]

Satan wants us to stay in the shadows, to keep the light of Christ hidden deep within us, rather than for us to be shining lights in the darkness, but the consequences of this, added to the amount of time, emotional strength, wasted on simply bemoaning the culture of death, is, [hopefully unintended yet nonetheless real] complicity in the very anti-Christian, anti-life culture which engulfs us.

Alexis de Tocqueville, who wrote the two volume Democracy in America [1835 & 1840] “…was convinced that democracy could not survive the loss of Christian faith…..’one must maintain Christianity within the new democracies at all cost.’”  [5]

In the aftermath of the WWII, as the restoration of the devastation sought to restore the human family, that restoration was uneven and sometimes as bad as the war itself: Eastern Europe became a Soviet prison, China and other countries experienced bloody revolutions resulting in oppressive dictatorships. Western Europe, Canada and the United States in particular saw a baby boom, a virtual flood of men into seminaries, monasteries, religious orders, while convents were bursting at the seams, the economy was in a boom cycle, materialism gaining ground until the logical sequence of nihilism, hedonism, atheism, became the selfie-taking dehumanizing world of today.

Yet, beneath the surface of the apparent resurgence of faith, growth of the so-called middle class, after WWII, dark forces were at work, satan for sure, his human agents as well.

Four events would happen at the end of the 1950’s which would be the first signs an axial shift into a new era was beginning: Pope Pius xii dies and is succeeded by John xxiii [6] who will stun the Church and indeed the world when within months he announces that he will call for a second Vatican Council; a young Polish priest, Karol Wojtyla will become a bishop; not really understood at the time as to the implications, the first human being, in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, at the time known as the Belgian Congo, would die of HIV, AIDS.

[1] cf. para. 35 ~ http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_01051991_centesimus-annus.html

[2] The Death of Democracy by Benjamin Carte Hett published in 2018, is particularly informative.

[3] https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/document/communium-interpretes-dolorum-interpreter-of-the-universal-anguish-281

[4] The Gospel of John, volume 2, p. 51; William Barclay; Revised Edition The Westminster Press 1975

[5] The Benedict Option, p.89, Rod Dreher, Sentinel 2018

[6] Beyond the scope of this essay to consider in detail, the death of Ven. Pus xii also began the purifying from the Church those remaining pockets of the pernicious heresy of Jansenism which infected the Church from the 17th century for three hundred years. The first major weakening of that heresy was not the various condemnations by Popes over the era, rather it was the autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux, and St. Pius x urging frequent Holy Communion. The documents of Vatican II, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the spread of devotion to Divine Mercy, St. John Paul’s theology of the body were/are instrumental, though sadly neo-Jansenism is prevalent in extreme conservative Catholicism in our day.

© 2019 Fr. Arthur Joseph




Friday, February 15, 2019

IT HAS COME TO THIS


                                                          

As a child

the crunch of boots

on frozen snow

made me laugh, filled with joy.

This dark, frigid night,

was warmed earlier with soup,

at the shelter.

But not allowed to stay,

too violent is how they identify me.

They did tell me to be careful,

the windchill, they said, is minus 40.

Here, in this alley, scrapped by city plows

down to bare pavement,

huge piles of snow, on either side,

are like arms, arms too distant to embrace.

I ache to be embraced.

Cannot remember when last that was.

No crunching of snow underfoot now.

Even if the alley were snow covered,

worn running shoes would make no sound.

They do not protect my feet, which are freezing.

I tremble, shake violently really, from cold and pain.

If you find this and notice the words are wavy, and spotted

with blood,

it is I shake and the blood on my fingers,

is sticky on this pencil

I found with this cardboard in a dumpster.

Let me tell you it was not the blade entering

my body which hurt.

It was when it was pulled out that I spasmed,

as if molten metal had been poured into the wound.

Why was I attacked and stabbed?

Because they found me alone and because,

though each of us on these streets is already

a gaping wound because of our history,

in our anger, in our hopelessness, in our despair,

we wound each other anew.

God, I am some cold. I hurt.

God?

I seem to have known You long ago when I was a child.

Do You remember me, see me, hear me?

Are You there?

Are You here?

So cold, such pain, one more line, then I must lie down, rest.

So, if you have found this, remember me.

Once I had a name but have forgotten it.



[In memoriam for a young man found frozen to death in this city. His name remains unknown.]



© 2019 Fr. Arthur Joseph










Thursday, January 17, 2019

LIVING IN THE NEW REALITY OF WAR - PART 6


                                   

                               A TEMPLATE FOR HOLINESS, HOPE, PRESEVERANCE

Our vocation, through Baptism, as faithful disciples and soldiers of Christ, in the heart of the world, within the human family, in the heart of the Church, is to be love. [cf. Jn.13:34; 15: 12-14; 1 Thess. 4:9; 1 Jn.2:7-10; 3:23; 2 Jn. 1:5-6]

An Indigenous elder speaks gently to his grandson: “There are two wolves inside everyone which are always at war with each other. One of them is a good wolf and represents things like kindness, bravery and love. The other is a bad wolf and represents things like greed, hatred and fear. The grandson stops to think about this for awhile, then he looks up and asks: “Grandfather, which wolf wins the war?” The grandfather quietly replies: “The one that you feed.”  [1]

While it is easy to assume the enemies of faithful disciples of Christ constantly feed the bad wolf, we need to be humble enough, honest enough with ourselves about which wolf we are feeding.

We may fall into satan’s trap of suggesting we can get away with just giving the bad wolf tidbits, rather than a full meal. The danger is the bad wolf, like satan his mentor does when we give into any temptation, becomes more aggressively demanding and fear can cause us to abandon caring for the good wolf and just feeding the bad one.

We need to be nourished with the sacraments, reflecting upon Sacred Scripture with priority to the Gospel, with the Holy Rosary and other times of prayer, using sacramentals, reading the lives of the saints and their writing, in a word being nourished through all such means by the grace of the Holy Spirit.

Some, rightly, will challenge the above and note that in the lives of the saints we see that even when they were totally faithful to the will of God in the present moment, even when they were filled with faith, lived truly holy lives – or perhaps because of their very fidelity – suffering was seemingly never absent, rejection, persecution, sometimes even the profound pain of the dark night of the soul, the profound absence of God, all this they experienced as we do.

There is no quick fix, no magic elixir, nothing that exempts faithful followers of Christ from the Cross, however we can trust that the will of God, always an invitation never an imposition, only takes us/invites us, where His grace will sustain us.

We are mistaken to understand love as primarily or only a feeling, likewise with faith, hope, forgiveness of self and others.

Pure, true love is an act of the will, a choice expressed in words and actions, so are faith, hope, charity, kindness, patience, etc., and when such virtues are lived out when the night is at its darkest, the burden-bearing of the actions of others at its heaviest, when the enemy and his human cohorts are most fiercely attacking, that is when the choice to love, to believe, to endure, to be faithful in the precise moment we are living, is truly to be living holiness, radiating the Light of Christ.

We should rejoice in and be comforted by the very fact we are living in these times because the Trinity granting, us life and grace in these times, shows the love and confidence God has in us to be His faithful disciples and witnesses in these very days.

Pope Francis, who understands very well the reality we are living in has given us a wonderful pastoral gift of encouragement, his call to holiness in the modern world: “REJOICE AND BE GLAD” (Mt 5:12), Jesus tells those persecuted or humiliated for his sake. The Lord asks everything of us, and in return he offers us true life, the happiness for which we were created. He wants us to be saints and not to settle for a bland and mediocre existence. The call to holiness is present in various ways from the very first pages of the Bible. We see it expressed in the Lord’s words to Abraham: “Walk before me, and be blameless” (Gen 17:1)…… The Holy Spirit bestows holiness in abundance among God’s holy and faithful people, for “it has pleased God to make men and women holy and to save them, not as individuals without any bond between them, but rather as a people who might acknowledge him in truth and serve him in holiness”….. Let the grace of your baptism bear fruit in a path of holiness. Let everything be open to God; turn to him in every situation. Do not be dismayed, for the power of the Holy Spirit enables you to do this, and holiness, in the end, is the fruit of the Holy Spirit in your life (cf. Gal 5:22-23). When you feel the temptation to dwell on your own weakness, raise your eyes to Christ crucified and say: “Lord, I am a poor sinner, but you can work the miracle of making me a little bit better”. In the Church, holy yet made up of sinners, you will find everything you need to grow towards holiness. The Lord has bestowed on the Church the gifts of scripture, the sacraments, holy places, living communities, the witness of the saints and a multifaceted beauty that proceeds from God’s love, “like a bride bedecked with jewels” (Is 61:10)…… At times, life presents great challenges. Through them, the Lord calls us anew to a conversion that can make his grace more evident in our lives, “in order that we may share his holiness” (Heb 12:10). At other times, we need only find a more perfect way of doing what we are already doing: “There are inspirations that tend solely to perfect in an extraordinary way the ordinary things we do in life”. When Cardinal François-Xavier Nguyên van Thuân was imprisoned, he refused to waste time waiting for the day he would be set free. Instead, he chose “to live the present moment, filling it to the brim with love”. He decided: “I will seize the occasions that present themselves every day; I will accomplish ordinary actions in an extraordinary way”……. I would like these reflections to be crowned by Mary, because she lived the Beatitudes of Jesus as none other. She is that woman who rejoiced in the presence of God, who treasured everything in her heart, and who let herself be pierced by the sword. Mary is the saint among the saints, blessed above all others. She teaches us the way of holiness and she walks ever at our side. She does not let us remain fallen and at times she takes us into her arms without judging us. Our converse with her consoles, frees and sanctifies us. Mary our Mother does not need a flood of words. She does not need us to tell her what is happening in our lives. All we need do is whisper, time and time again: “Hail Mary…”



[1] An ancient Cree Legend quoted by Ken LaPointe in: Rouleauville, The Cradle of Calgary, © 2008-2018 by Ken LaPointe and (BVC)

[2] On The Call To Holiness in Today’s World: paras 6, 15, 17, 176: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20180319_gaudete-et-exsultate.html



© 2019 Fr. Arthur Joseph