Monday, May 18, 2020



Whenever a priest celebrates Holy Mass/the Divine Liturgy, the entire Heavenly Court: the Holy Trinity, Our Blessed Mother, all the Angels, Saints, Martyrs, all the blessed who dwell therein, are present, surrounding the altar, filling the church, no matter how grand or small the edifice, with all the radiant love, joy, light which flows upon us, and, if we open wide the doors of our being, permeates us!

Psalm 149.9 proclaims the truth that: the Lord delights in His people, that’s each one of us first individually, for are all His children, and then communally as one human family. Through Baptism we become members of the body of Christ, and this too is both an individual and communal reality, as St. Paul teaches about the body of Christ: If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honoured, all the parts share its joy. [1Cor.12:26]

Blaise Pascal in his Pensées, a series of reflections on faith and life, urges us: “In difficult times carry something beautiful in your heart.”

The greatest beauty we can carry in our hearts is Christ Himself, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit delights in dwelling within us and if we strive to be true disciples of Christ then it is the beauty of the Holy Trinity which will radiate from our hearts upon all our brothers and sisters, for indeed these are the very difficult times when beauty is needed, a beauty which gives hope.

It is when we open our hearts also to the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit within that, we who have been created as delight of God, therefore for happiness, the real happiness which is gift, not the ersatz happiness of mere pleasure, experience the Holy Spirit’s gift of joy, which is also to experience the true freedom of the children of God.

Therein that freedom is experienced also the consolation of hope.

The freedom of the children of God is living in but not of the world, living not bent towards ourselves but walking open hearted, towards others in imitation of Christ, protected, comforted, interceded for and loved by those who have gone before us and now dwell in the eternal happiness, beauty, joy, that is the eternal communion of love with the Most Holy Trinity who delights in us.

Every time we pray-proclaim the Apostles’ Creed we profess belief in the Communion of Saints.

Communion with the saints: "It is not merely by the title of example that we cherish the memory of those in heaven; we seek, rather, that by this devotion to the exercise of fraternal charity the union of the whole Church in the Spirit may be strengthened. Exactly as Christian communion among our fellow pilgrims brings us closer to Christ, so our communion with the saints joins us to Christ, from whom as from its fountain and head issues all grace, and the life of the People of God itself" [1]

Sometimes by ancient tradition, sometimes by designation at the time of their canonization, those in the heavenly kingdom, who have traveled the road of life, been pilgrims of the Absolute before us, are known as the patron saints of a particular country, city, town, village, parish, among these would be St. Kateri Tekakwitha, Protectress of Canada, while others are patrons of various professions such as St. Joseph patron of carpenters, others, like St. Jude, intercessor for ‘impossible situations’, are called upon for various needs.

While it is wonderful all the gestures of gratitude to the doctors, nurses and others caring for us, protecting us, assuring there is food, etc., it also is a time to call upon those Saints who are patrons both for those who care for us, and indeed for those sickened, physically or mentally, by the virus or the impact of isolation.

When this link appears:   scrolling to ‘saints in the medical field’ shows not only the patron saints of doctors, such as St. Luke, and nurses but also those of, for example EMTs, or police officers for whom St. Michael the Archangel is one of the patrons.

Jesus’ promise not to leave us orphans, Jn.14:18, encompasses the Communion of Saints, whose Queen is our Blessed Mother, whom Jesus gave to us when St. John at the foot of the Cross stood in his own person and as representative of each one of us: Jn. 19:26,27.

Besides the intercession, love, protection of the Saints, closeness to them, for they all struggled, suffered, fell, sinned, confessed, began again, should deepen our hope, enhance our joy, strengthen our faith.

Unfortunately the best link I have found for Saints in a time of plague, which this pandemic is,  has bothersome ads, ads on internet sites being another form of plague, it is worth checking out:

Yep, time to turn again to St. Monica, the patron saint of those in need of patience!



[1] para. 956

© 2020 Fr. Arthur Joseph


Wednesday, May 13, 2020




It came as somewhat of a shock to realize I have not worked on this commentary since the feast of St. Joseph, spending so much time focused on the Covid 19 Hope essays! However, that is actually part of living out selling all you possess and to: Give it directly, personally to the poor. [1]

While time is a gift given to us, and not per se something we possess, by and large we do control how we use the time gifted to us.

Helping one another in these dark days is both true charity and dispossession, the giving directly to the poor and everyone, in various ways, not all of them economic, is vitally important.

Some people, mostly unknown to us, do choose to sell or give away everything they possess and embrace a life of total poverty such as the ancient mendicants, and modern mendicants, continue to do so. Not only within Christianity but in other religions as well.

While St. Francis and his companions started out that way the expansion of their vocation from itinerant preachers to pastors of parishes, and other works, means more communal living and possessing what is necessary for their apostolate. St. Mother Teresa’s Sisters, Brothers and Priests live a stricter poverty, as do the men, women, and priests of Madonna House. Again, it is a matter of the particular vocation and apostolate.

Each of us who live other vocations, such as in Holy Marriage, as parents with children, consecrated men and women virgins living in the world, hermits, etc., need also to stand humbly before the Holy Spirit asking Him, as He will, to enlighten us how to be dispossessed, to give what we do possess directly, personally to the poor. Here too the guidance of a priest-spiritual director will help ensure that, for example as parents, we do not deprive the family of what is necessary.

Satan, if he cannot seduce us with obvious evil will use another pernicious tactic, that of seducing us with what appears to be a good, extreme dispossession: selling/giving away so much that we impoverish our family or are no longer able to properly care for our own lives.

The key is to understand the difference between need and want. I need good food to eat. I may want the best filet mignon several times a week, rather than say fish or less expensive cuts of meat. By ‘selling’ my want and embracing the selflessness of need, the difference in money saved becomes a gift I can give directly to the poor such as by keeping a few dollars in my pocket so I don’t pass by my homeless brother or sister begging for help but can give them, thus giving to Christ Himself, what I have.

Material dispossession and material generosity are comparatively easy next to cooperating with the Most Holy Spirit to be dispossessed of the false self, the self that strives to always be the center of attention, have the last word, have one’s opinions dominate conversations, the false self which seeks the first place in every aspect of life, is more interested in being loved and accepted than loving and accepting etc., and etc.! Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after Me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.” [Mt.16:24ff] “…..everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be My disciple.” [Lk. 14:33]

To deny the self is to deny the false self, the egocentric self, the self who, if we be brutally honest, often acts, thinks, as if smarter than God. It is these possessions we truly need to be unburdened of, for they are the chains that bind us, weigh us down, keep a wall we build brick by brick between ourselves and God who is love. It is to sink more and more into the quagmire of a aloneness which destroys marriages, alienates parents from children, citizens/neighbours from one another and on the grand scale breeds hatreds, discriminations, conflicts/wars between nations. Only when we dwell within union with His Most Sacred Heart will we become poor as He became poor for us and then be able to see self and other as He sees us and love one another accordingly: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy, and My burden light.” [Mt.11:29] “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” [Jn.13:34] “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength…..You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” [Mk.12:30,31]

“What then is it that we have to bring to the poor? First, it seems to me, the realization that we are the poorest of the poor. Secondly, a realization that unless we truly love ourselves, we cannot even begin to love our neighbours…..Among the ways of loving ourselves is this acceptance of our poverty which acknowledges that we are totally dependent on God, and which acts, therefore, always according to His will. But to act according to God’s will, one must empty oneself of all self-centredness, selfishness, egotism. Positively, one must have a listening heart that is free, poor, one that listens to the quiet voice of God and follows it.” [2]




[2] The Gospel Without Compromise, pp.101 & 106; Catherine de Hueck Doherty, 1989, Madonna House Publications.


© 2020 Fr. Arthur Joseph






Saturday, May 09, 2020


Any writer knows the experience of when words flow; the same with composers and the music, artists and the brush strokes on the canvas, homilists when the words of Sunday’s Readings are so luminous the homily is like a polished gem. Then, there are times when the essay appears finished, the last note has been inserted in the melody, the final stroke of paint applied to the canvas, the homily is being preached and suddenly the interior voice shouts: REALLY! WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?

Recently I have noted in phone calls, email, snail mail from people in my age group, I am turning 76 this year, a level of fear, actual terror among some ending up in a nursing home or even terrified to go to emergency at a hospital, an understandable fear, in these dark days, among the most vulnerable of ending up dead. Not just dying but doing so alone.
So, I started writing about the particular fear and isolation of the elderly, researching from various sources and countries the death rate among the elderly, be they in care homes or hospitals and how various countries are dealing with, because often it is indeed dealing with, rather than caring for, the elderly.

When doing research before writing, and when needing a break from intense writing, one diversion is to visit sites like the Hubble Telescope and see the beauty of the stars. The other day I was contemplating a bright star circling a black hole and two things struck: 1] with decades of abortion we have murdered, consigned to the black hole of unlived history, uniqueness of personhood of innumerable pre-born human beings and thus eliminating as well the potential, for example, of some becoming scientists who, if living among us today, would likely already have either prevented the pandemic or discovered the needed vaccine; 2] with the disproportionate death toll among the elderly again uniqueness of personhood and of critical cultural, historical, faith, life memories, are being sucked into the black hole of forgetfulness.

That was when I went off track, failed to listen to my heart, to grace and wrote emotionally so when proof reading what I believed was the essay ready for posting my heart yelled at me: REALLY! WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? So, as the saying goes, back to the drawing board which for this priest-hermit means silent prayer, swimming in the seas of the Divine Offices, Holy Mass, Sacred Scripture, spiritual reading until the mud of ego is washed away and the Holy Spirit has a clean slate to compose upon so that I write words from Him poured into my heart in the common language of the children of God: love.

In these fearful days, the challenge for each one of us is, in any creative way we can, to love and support each other, to proclaim hope and strength to each other, which means abandoning the culture of egocentrism and, in imitation of Christ, being other centered.
During the days of the above I was graced to realize I lack understanding, true understanding of self, faith, of the current situation and so I have been graced in silence to re-discover this gift of the Holy Spirit first in a treasured tome, THE SANCTIFIER, a tremendous volume on the Holy Spirit, His sanctifying action, gifts, and insight; also through one of many letters St. John Paul wrote, the one TO THE ELDERLY, by then himself also elderly He addresses us, as “…my elderly brothers and sisters.” [2]

In a special way, the gift of understanding supposes the knowledge, the perfect comprehension, of our end. [1] Our end of course, the whole reason of our being created as persons in the image and likeness of God, the whole purpose of the Incarnation, life, passion, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, the whole gift to us in Baptism of the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier Himself, Who teaches us to trust Jesus: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in Me. In My Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to Myself, so that where I am you also may be.” [Jn.14:1-3]

Likewise, when we have a perfect knowledge of our end, our will is bound to it, for essentially we already possess that ultimate end by possessing God in our heart. This is the work of the gift of understanding; by it the Holy Spirit moves us so that we can penetrate the depths of all supernatural truths and thus attain our eternal salvation. [2] This happens IF we strive to be faithful to: Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after Me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.” [Mt.16:24]

Understanding is one of the gifts of contemplation…..One might say that contemplation is the very beautiful light of those who love……[3] Again, this presupposes fidelity as disciples of Christ who assures us: …. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you know Me, then you will also know my Father…….If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows It. But you know It, because It remains with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” [Jn.14:6,7 & 15-18]

Every day let us say to the Lord, as did Bartimaeus, the blind man of the Gospel: Lord, that I may see! [4] Striving with our intellects, overloading our brains with the ceaseless and often contradictory news about the virus itself, the extent of the pandemic, etc., etc., by our own efforts assures we will be overwhelmed. It is the Holy Spirit Who graces us to understand and embrace, in union with Christ, this current heavy weight, the sharing of Christ’s Cross as faithful disciples, as we cry out: Lord, that I may see: see the hope, which is all around us, see the love which embraces us, see the opportunities to refrain being bent towards ourselves and choosing to reach out to others with love, compassion, hope, understanding, being as Christ names us:… the light of the world……. your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father. [Mt:5: 14 & 16]

Without commentary these words of wisdom from St. John Paul addressed to the Elderly, a gift to everyone. [2]

Human experience, although subject to time, is set by Christ against the horizon of immortality. He “became a man among men, in order to join the beginning to the end, man to God”…… Old age is the final stage of human maturity and a sign of God's blessing…….In the past, great respect was shown to the elderly. “Great was once the reverence given to a hoary head”, says Ovid, the Latin poet…. Centuries earlier, the Greek poet Phocylides had admonished: “Respect grey hair: give to the elderly sage the same signs of respect that you give your own father”……. And what of today? If we stop to consider the current situation, we see that among some peoples old age is esteemed and valued, while among others this is much less the case, due to a mentality which gives priority to immediate human usefulness and productivity. Such an attitude frequently leads to contempt for the later years of life, while older people themselves are led to wonder whether their lives are still worthwhile……“Rise in the presence of one with grey hair; honour the person of the older man” (Lev 19:32). Honouring older people involves a threefold duty: welcoming them, helping them and making good use of their qualities. In many places this happens almost spontaneously, as the result of long-standing custom. Elsewhere, and especially in the more economically advanced nations, there needs to be a reversal of the current trend, to ensure that elderly people can grow old with dignity, without having to fear that they will end up no longer counting for anything. There must be a growing conviction that a fully human civilization shows respect and love for the elderly, so that despite their diminishing strength they feel a vital part of society. Cicero himself noted that “the burden of age is lighter for those who feel respected and loved by the young”…… Dear elderly friends who feel insecure because of ill health or other circumstances, I assure you of my closeness and affection. When God permits us to suffer because of illness, loneliness or other reasons associated with old age, he always gives us the grace and strength to unite ourselves with greater love to the sacrifice of his Son and to share ever more fully in his plan of salvation. Let us be convinced of this: he is our Father, a Father rich in love and mercy!.... Christ, having crossed the threshold of death, has revealed the life which lies beyond this frontier, in that uncharted “territory” which is eternity. He is the first witness of eternal life; in him human hope is shown to be filled with immortality. “The sadness of death gives way to the bright promise of immortality”…… In Christ, death — tragic and disconcerting as it is — is redeemed and transformed; it is even revealed as a “sister” who leads us to the arms of our Father……earthly life is not the ultimate value, in such a way that the twilight of life can be seen — from a Christian perspective — as a “passage”, a bridge between one life and another, between the fragile and uncertain joy of this earth to that fullness of joy which the Lord holds in store for his faithful servants: “Enter into the joy of your master” (Mt 25:21)…… “Iube me venire ad te!”*: this is the deepest yearning of the human heart, even in those who are not conscious of it. Grant, O Lord of life, that we may be ever vividly aware of this and that we may savour every season of our lives as a gift filled with promise for the future. Grant that we may lovingly accept your will, and place ourselves each day in your merciful hands. And when the moment of our definitive “passage” comes, grant that we may face it with serenity, without regret for what we shall leave behind. For in meeting you, after having sought you for so long, we shall find once more every authentic good which we have known here on earth, in the company of all who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith and hope. Mary, Mother of pilgrim humanity, pray for us “now and at the hour of our death”. Keep us ever close to Jesus, your beloved Son and our brother, the Lord of life and glory.

Nota Bene: Tomorrow being Mothers’ Day let us all be lovingly creative, if our Moms are in nursing a home out of reach of personal visits, or if they live with us, to express our love and gratitude for the gift they are and let us not forget to be grateful for Her loving protection for us to the Most Holy Theotokos, Mother of everyone.

[1] The Sanctifier; Most Rev. Luis M. Martinez; p.177; [2] op. cit. p. 178; [3] ibid p. 180; [4] ibid p. 184; St. Paul Editions, 1982
NB: Excerpts are from paras: 2, 8, 9, 12, 13, 15, 16, 18 * Bid me come to You!

© 2020 Fr. Arthur Joseph

Friday, May 01, 2020


Latin scholars debate the translation of Pope Francis’ motto: MISERANDO ATQUE ELIGENDO. Some translate it as: by giving mercy and choosing; others as: pity and choosing. The official Vatican translation is: by having mercy and by choosing. [1] In essence since he was a bishop when he first chose the motto it is a declaration of seeking to faithfully follow Jesus and to love and serve others with compassion.

So far in my life, from Pope Pius XXII to Pope Francis, [2] I have lived during seven pontificates. None has been without their critics, and not just in the secular media. The harshest critics are found among Catholic clergy and laity. It has been ever thus since St. Peter and likely will be so to the end of time, even when, as with St. Pius V, St. Pius X, St. John XXIII, St. John Paul II, the Pope is an obvious saint.

No baptized Christian, pope, lay person, clergy, religious, should expect to be any more popular than Christ Himself, who still elicits harsh criticism, even after laying down His life for us: You will be hated by all because of My Name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved. [Mt. 10:22] and the reality that: …..we hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body. [2 Cor. 4:7-10]

Too many critics of Pope Francis fail to study his life, to actually read his writings as priest, bishop, pope.  In their humanity, like each of us, popes, while striving to be faithful to Christ, the Gospel, our baptismal vocation, are not perfect. So, either we trust that popes are chosen by the Holy Spirit, in which case we should be humbly faithful to the Holy Father, through which we are faithful to the Holy Spirit, or we don’t.

During this global pandemic crisis, in the stormy seas of daily life and stress, Jesus is with us, hearing our cries, personally with us Himself and in His successor to St. Peter Pope Francis, who constantly shows himself as parish priest to the whole human family, seeking to strengthen and console us.

Refusing as always to participate in spurious debates about Pope Francis being this or that, here are some of his words as bishop and latterly as Pope. They reveal the heart of this disciple of Christ, this priest, this pontiff.
The covenant of love and fidelity lived by the Holy Family of Nazareth illuminates the principle which gives shape to every family, and enables it better to face the vicissitudes of life and history. On this basis, every family, despite its weaknesses, can become a light in the darkness of the world. [3]

Mercy is the Lord’s most powerful message. It’s not easy to trust oneself to the mercy of God…..but we must do it!.......Our Lady best transmits to the faithful the joy of God’s word. [4]

The Lord consoles by making Himself present in the midst of the community and showing His  resurrected wounds, wounds flowing forth with peace, peace that conquers all fears. [5]

Do not be afraid to bring Christ into every area of life, to the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away, most indifferent. [6]

It is modesty that, as well as the truth, guards the goodness, beauty, and unity of being. [7]

By being born in a manger, God himself launches the only true revolution that can give hope and dignity to the disinherited and the outcast: the revolution of love, the revolution of tenderness. From the manger, Jesus proclaims, in a meek yet powerful way, the need for sharing with the poor as the path to a more human and fraternal world in which no one is excluded or marginalized. [8]

Jesus waits for us, He goes ahead of us, He extends His hand to us, He is patient with us. God is faithful. [9]

It is traditional in this month to pray the Rosary at home within the family.  The restrictions of the pandemic have made us come to appreciate all the more this “family” aspect, also from a spiritual point of view….. I am also providing two prayers to Our Lady that you can recite at the end of the Rosary, and that I myself will pray in the month of May, in spiritual union with all of you…. [10]

[4] Pope Francis in His Own Words; edited by Julie Schwietert Collazo and Lisa Rogak; pp. 58 & 86; © 2013; New World Library
[5] The Church According to the heart of Pope Francis; p.114; © Magnificat Inc.
[6] Fioretti, The Little Flowers of Pope Francis; p.170; Andrea Tornielli; © 2014 Ignatius Press
[7] The Way of Humility; Jorge Mario Bergoglio – Pope Francis; p. 34; Ignatius Press 2014
[9] THE NAME OF GOD IS MERCY; Pope Francis; p.86; 2016, Random House

[10] Pope Francis’ letter for special praying of the Holy Rosary in May with a prayer for these times:  
© 2020 Fr. Arthur Joseph