Saturday, February 15, 2020



                                             ARISE – GO!

There is a tv ad running during the news lately which shows very bored young people doing various things to relieve their boredom, including allegedly reaching the end of the internet! The joke being that allegedly it is impossible to reach the end of the internet. Of course, the point of the ad is that these young people get up, that is arise out of their boredom and buy a new car, brand X, and all will be well. The dark tragedy of course is that in modern culture we are told ‘stuff’ rather than relationships will fulfill us. In point of fact their ‘arising’ is actually a descent further into this consumerist culture of darkness and death.

The ad did remind me of the story of St. Augustine walking along the seashore pondering and trying to intellectually grasp the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. The Saint comes upon a young boy running with a conch shell full of water which he pours into a hole he had dug in the sand. Back and forth, back and forth so the Saint asks: “What are you doing?” “I am going to put the sea into this hole.” “That’s impossible!” asserts the holy adult, to which the child replies: “I will put this sea into this hole before you will ever comprehend the Holy Trinity!”

Faith teaches us, from Revelation, and the Sacred Tradition of the Church affirms, the reality of the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Perichoresis περιχώρησις is the ancient Greek word which has been used since the early Church Fathers sought to articulate in the poverty of mere human language this splendid mystery. At its simplest the term articulates the infinite of infinite, with no beginning nor end of interpenetrating circulation, that is the ceaseless movement of love between the Divine Persons to/from/for each other.

The immensity of Trinitarian love is such that, again using the poverty of human language, it explodes, shines, shimmers, moves, arises, goes outward: thus, all creation is created and is beloved of the Trinitarian Creator. Within creation the greatest intensity of this Divine Fire-Movement of love is in the creation of we human beings in God’s very image and likeness, and our redemption by Jesus Christ, God-Incarnate, our sanctification by the Holy Spirit.

Since Adam and Eve, we have, and continue to, throw back in the face of God this incredible existence as beloved of the Trinity. That is what sin entails: rejection of being beloved of God by rejecting love.

The unwaveringly faithful intensity of Divine Trinitarian love is such that when we have fallen, wandered or run away, are lost in the darkness, the Father sends the Son to become a human being like us in all things but sin. Jesus Incarnate takes sin upon Himself and loves us literally to death, His death on the Cross, and once He has ascended into heaven we are gifted with the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier.

We therefore can say the origin of ARISE [1], which the dictionary defines as: to originate from a source, to come into being, to exist, is Trinitarian in terms of all that has come to be in creation, ourselves most of all, for the Holy Trinity is the source of all, of every creature who has been, is, ever will be.

If we look at the ‘God said…’ passages in Genesis we can contemplate the ex nihilo [out of no-thing] creative action, movement, of the Holy Trinity in each of the ‘let there be’ and the ‘there was’ statements as movements of God saying ARISE! [Gn. 1: 31 & Gn. 2: 1-25]

The key to all the proceeding reflection is the Incarnation of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, thus the Prologue of the Holy Gospel according to St. John [Jn.1: 1-18] can never be contemplated too much. Indeed, we will reach the end of the internet before we will completely be immersed in the fullness of the Prologue.

We arise into existence by the creative love-act of the Holy Trinity breathing life, human life, personhood, into the matter provided by our mother and father in our mother’s womb.

We are created in the first instance to be beloved of the Trinity, this loving God who is so tender and aware of all He creates, for example: “He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name” {Ps.147:4}. Indeed were we able to count all the stars that exist within the cosmos that mass of creation would be as nothing compared to the absolute unique belovedness of each of us, for while we are all brothers and sisters we are also unique individuals, thus we rejoice and sing with the Palmist: “ I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” [Ps. 139:14]

That we might, when we arise from the womb through birth, then grow through the various stages of life, each itself a type of arising, until the moment comes when the Holy Trinity calls us, through the mystery of physical death, to arise into eternal life, we are accompanied on the journey, strengthened, endowed with all necessary grace and sacraments, because God Himself, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Jesus the Incarnate One, arose, by the power of the Holy Spirit from the womb of Mary, His and our Mother, to dwell among us as a human being, a man like us in all things but sin, arising from the waters of the Jordan with the Father exultantly assuring us Jesus is His Beloved Son to whom we should listen, and the Holy Spirit descends upon Jesus, confirming Jesus’ redemptive mission: all that for we the Beloved of the Holy Trinity!

The word arise occurs numerous times throughout Sacred Scripture and to cite and meditate upon each would take volumes!

By the love-action of the Holy Spirit we arise from the waters of Baptism as co-heirs with Christ, as living temples of the same Holy Spirit, as disciples of Christ, called to be salt of the earth and light of the world in the heart of the human family, so we should take comfort that the Church prays constantly, and invites us to pray, for all help needed as we arise each day, itself a gift, to continue the journey, the pilgrimage of grace.

St. John Damascene in his prayer before going to sleep affirms, and Pope Leo xiii uses the same phrase in his great prayer for protection from evil spirits, from which derives the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel: God arises; His enemies are scattered and those who hate Him flee before Him.

This is the ever vigilant and tender, ever loving and all merciful Holy Trinity keeping us safe from all harm, IF we willingly allow ourselves to be so loved, for true love never imposes, never imprisons, always protects the freedom of the Beloved, hence when Love creates us we are created with free will.

Again we know all this because of Jesus Christ, yet often allow the struggles, pains, challenges, disappointments of life, the sins of others against us or our own sins, to bend us towards ourselves which results in a type of memory asphyxiation triggering a shriveling of our awareness of being beloved and, unless we have recourse to sacramental confession, or as needed spiritual direction, even medical or other therapeutic help, we will be lost – though the Good Shepherd will never cease arising to seek us out and find us, offering to lift us up, that is make it so we arise from whatever quagmire we have lost ourselves in.

While the following references the Apostles-disciples, it applies to each of us and should comfort and affirm how beloved we are, keeping in mind that not every human being arises to a new day of grace from a warm bed, or in the heart of a loving family. Many arise into another day of being homeless, or into brutality, abuse, addiction, in a hospital, nursing home or hospice, into another day in prison or a labour or concentration camp, into a new day of hunger, persecution, prejudice, unemployment, the immense pain of wondering who and why they are, what’s it all about, is there a God, is there love?: Simply to be known and loved by Him, as they do in fact feel known and loved by Him, unaccountably gives a savor of excellence and worth to their poor lives. Just to be with Him is untold treasure. Nothing could be more thoroughly engaging, thrilling, and challenging than His friendship. With Him you feel often thrust to the edge of mental and physical endurance and yet, at the same time, oddly enthralled, rejuvenated by His all-engulfing presence. His very presence awakens in them a deep yearning for fullness of life, for immortality. [2]

THAT is the communion of love, the splendour of grace, the joy of life into which, by the grace-gift of a new day of beginning anew, we arise each day.

As mentioned Sacred Scripture is replete with the word arise. St. John Paul speaks to this referencing the parallel word rise, which also means movement upwards, towards, an invitation to follow, and when applied to communion of love with the Holy Trinity, with Jesus as disciples, it is a vocational invitation: When “His hour” had come, Jesus said to those who were with Him in the Garden of Gethsemane……”Rise, let us be on our way” [cf. Mark 14:42]. Not only He must “be on His way” to fulfill His Father’s will; they, too, must go with Him. That invitation, “Rise, let us be on our way,” is addressed to us…..His chosen friends. Even if these words indicate a time of trial, great effort, and a painful cross, we must not allow ourselves to give way to fear. On another occasion…..Jesus said: “Rise, and do not be afraid!” [Matt. 17:7] God’s love does not impose burdens upon us that we cannot carry, nor make demands of us that we cannot fulfill. For whatever He asks of us, He provides the help that is needed……Rise, let us be on our way!” Let us go forth full of trust in Christ. He will accompany us as we journey……..[3]


[2] FIRE OF MERCY HEART of the WORLD, volume III, MEDITATION ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MATTHEW, Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis, p. 201; Ignatius Press 2012 [underling is of what in the original is in italics and, as the good Sisters of Charity taught us as children, capitalized ‘Him’ where the refences are to Jesus]

[3] RISE, LET US BE ON OUR WAY, John Paul II, pps. 215, 216; Warner Books, 2004

© 2020 Fr. Arthur Joseph

Wednesday, February 05, 2020



This Beloved Icon is called “Unexpected Joy”. The youth kneeling in prayer represents everyone. Has he come for physical, emotional, spiritual healing, burdened by some sin committed? One story about the Icon is that this soul, loving the Holy Theotokos came to pray. To pray before going out to commit a sin. Suddenly Christ’s wounds appeared on the Holy Child’s body and blood began to flow. Horrified the young man – as should each of us before any image of Christ suffering or crucified – asked who’d done this to Jesus and Our Blessed Mother replied: “You and other sinners when through sinning you crucify My Son anew!”

Weeping for some time, coming to understand his need of repentance and mercy suddenly his being was filled with the unexpected joy of forgiveness.

Within the depths of all Jesus gifts us in the Holy Gospels, the night before His crucifixion, His ultimate complete gift of Himself for our redemption, Jesus tells us: “I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” [Jn.15:11]

This is the will of the Holy Trinity for every human being that we be filled with JOY, a divine gift. The acceptance of this gift of joy on earth means living lives rooted in union with Christ, living the Gospel with our lives without compromise. Once we have crossed the threshold of death the ultimate completion of joy becomes our state of being, for we have arrived to be with, in communion of love, the Holy Trinity, our destination from the moment of our conception. We have originated by an act of Love Himself giving us being that we might travel through time to that most precious moment when He calls us to Himself in the eternity of endless, joyous love.

It is rather bizarre that we are at a time in history were people who track such things list the nations of the world in a “happiness” quotient ranking. Happiness is a fleeting emotion whose intensity, or lack there of, depends upon what the self gets to make us happy.

JOY is a gift of the Holy Spirit and enflames charity/love, towards others. We do the giving, not the taking, yet in the very giving our joy increases!

This is Christ’s joy for immediately that He tells us He is giving us His joy that ours may be complete He points to the vessel in which joy comes to us: This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. [Jn.15: 12].

Just as darkness cannot overpower light, death is weaker than life, truth smashes lies, love disperses hate, hate is the total absence of light, life, truth, love and therefore is joyless.

Joy is not the absence of suffering. Joy is the leaven in the loaf of suffering. Suffering is  participation with Christ in His redemptive sufferings, and these days mixed in with all personal spiritual, emotional, physical suffering, there is, for Christians, the communal suffering of striving to persevere in the anti-Christian culture of death: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and God of all comfort, who encourages us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as Christ’s sufferings overflow to us, so through Christ does our encouragement also overflow. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are encouraged, it is for your encouragement, which enables you to endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is firm, for we know that as you share in the sufferings, you also share in the consolation. [2Cor.1:3-9]

In the Litany of Our Lady one of the invocations is: Cause of our joy. She is this cause and source because She gives us Jesus, and Jesus gives Her to us as our Mother.

St. John Paul reminded us: If you really wish to follow Christ, if you want your love for him to grow and last, then you must be faithful to prayer. It is the key to the vitality of your life in Christ. Without prayer, your faith and love will die. If you are constant in daily prayer and in the Sunday celebration of Mass, your love for Jesus will increase. And your heart will know deep joy and peace, such as the world could never give. Pope Emeritus Benedict stresses: Each of you has a personal vocation which He has given you for your own joy and sanctity. When a person is conquered by the fire of His gaze, no sacrifice seems too great to follow Him and give Him the best of ourselves. This is what the saints have always done, spreading the light of the Lord ... and transforming the world into a welcoming home for everyone. Pope Francis teaches: A Christian is one who is invited... to join in the feast, to the joy of being saved, to the joy of being redeemed, to the joy of sharing life with Christ. This is a joy! You are called to a party!

The Church reminds us with Gaudete Sunday in Advent to be filled with joy in anticipating the birth of Jesus and with Laetare Sunday in Lent to rejoice that the splendour of Jesus Risen will be with us anew.

Joy is a gift of the Holy Spirit and as present, and necessary, to us as the very air with breathe, the sunlight which illumines our days, the moon and starlight which guide us in the darkness of night.

Within the depths of the Beatitudes [Mt.5:3-12] we discover the template of lived faith, selfless love, the grace-gift of hope, the way to fulfill our vocation to love one another, dwelling in and radiating the light of Christ who is our joy.

His own abundant joy and trust make Him conclude the Beatitudes with a great cry of victory: “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven” [5:12]. Those who live the Beatitudes on earth are already in Heaven, for they are already living the divine life. Once we are breathing the air of the Kingdom, suffering with and for Jesus can only be a dynamic source of joy, springing from our awareness of identification with Him. [1]

However, neither satan, nor his agents roaming about in the culture of darkness and death want us to be dwelling in FAITH, LOVE, HOPE, LIGHT, LIFE, JOY.

There is a nihilistic lassitude which, being of satan, holds innumerable human beings in its talons, including many Christians.

This expresses itself in the ease with which Holy Marriage is rejected through divorce or couples living together without the joy and grace of the sacrament; in the rejection of the gift and joy of life through abortion and euthanasia; through people in general just being plain cranky, if not hostile, towards one another and when it comes to the political, financial, etc., powers just wandering through the morass as if there is no destination, no hope.

The early monastics knew this was acedia, referred to as the ‘noonday devil’, even though satan arbors light it might seem odd he is active at that time of day when the sun is at its high point – however who in the bright heat of noon has not felt less energetic than in the rest of the day?

Acedia is a state of spiritual, emotional, intellectual, physical, faith, hope torpor with joy draining away through giving into lassitude.

Thus, acedia is also the enemy of living out the great commandment to love one another: In effect, acedia is a sin against charity in two ways, which meet in reality. On the one hand, acedia is a sin against the joy that springs from charity; it is sadness about what ought to gladden us most: participation in the very life of God. On the other hand, acedia is a sin against charity when it crushes or paralyzes activity, because then it affects the deepest motive force of activity, namely, charity, the participation of the Holy Spirit. [2]

There is a treasure within the Church, through the Madonna House Lay Apostolate from its Foundress Catherine Doherty, rooted in Sacred Scripture, which is a great counter to acedia, indeed is a template for joyous daily living of the Gospel with our lives without compromise and this treasure, this template is known as the LITTLE MANDATE. [3]

In coming essays in this series, we will apply this treasure to daily life for all Christians and people of good will.

[1] FIRE OF MERCY HEART OF THE WORLD, Volume III; p. 148; Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis; Ignatius Press 2012

[2] THE NOONDAY DEVIL, Acedia, the Unnamed Evil Of Our Time; Jean-Charles Nault, o.s.b; p.81; Ignatius Press 2015 [underling added]


© 2020 Fr. Arthur Joseph