Monday, October 26, 2020




Little – be always little! Be simple, poor, childlike.

In this line of the Little Mandate [1] we encounter the word ‘poor’ for the third time.

We know children are little in stature, until later in life simple in their needs and poor in their utter dependence.

The call to littleness, simplicity, poverty, childlikeness is not a call to change, per se, externals, rather it is a matter of the heart, of such complete imitation of Christ, who first came among us as a little child in Mary’s womb and first visible to us as a little child in a manger; Christ who was little among us because as St. Paul reminds us: Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus, Who, though He was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, He emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. [Phil. 2:5-8]

We can ask for the grace to be little, simple, poor, childlike through this simple prayer the nuns taught us as children: Jesus meek and humble of Heart, make my heart like unto Thine own.

Meekness and poverty in spirit are two of the blessings in the Beatitudes: Mt: 5:3-12.

That simple yet powerful pray to the Sacred Heart enables us to enter into St. Paul’s prayer for us that Christ will: grant you in accord with the riches of His glory to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner self…..[Eph. 3:16], for our true selves are interior rooted in heart and soul, for we are essentially little children of our Heavenly Father, sons and daughters through Baptism in Christ, by the Holy Spirit.

Further He chooses to be one with those sometimes referred to as ‘little people’: the poor, outcasts, prisoners, all those, anyone we consider as ‘other, that is, not like us, so much so we will be judged on how we loved Him or not, cared for Him, or not, in ‘other’ thus embracing them as one like us: For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink, a stranger and you welcomed Me, naked and you clothed Me, ill and you cared for Me, in prison and you visited Me.’  [Mt. 25:35,36].

In his commentary on Mt.25:31-46, Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis [2] teaches how because through the enfleshment of Christ in the Incarnation none can have God as Father who does not have Christ as brother and it is therefore impossible for us to claim Christ as Brother, God as Father who does not see himself and live concretely as brother of every other human being, with everything that implies. Such brotherhood tends toward total identification, so that in my brother I can see only my own flesh……we are children of God, not each by virtue of his own separate existence, but only in the One Child – so that numerically we are many children but in mystical reality only One Child – so, too, Christ’s self-identification with human flesh and the whole human condition makes of all brothers but one single Brother of Christ, the One Child of God.

Pope Francis, using the Parable of the Good Samaritan teaches us: The parable is clear and straightforward, yet it also evokes the interior struggle that each of us experiences as we gradually come to know ourselves through our relationships with our brothers and sisters. Sooner or later, we will all encounter a person who is suffering. Today there are more and more of them. The decision to include or exclude those lying wounded along the roadside can serve as a criterion for judging every economic, political, social and religious project. Each day we have to decide whether to be Good Samaritans or indifferent bystanders. And if we extend our gaze to the history of our own lives and that of the entire world, all of us are, or have been, like each of the characters in the parable. All of us have in ourselves something of the wounded man, something of the robber, something of the passers-by, and something of the Good Samaritan. [3]

The Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Mother, exemplifies living out the call to be little, simple, poor and childlike by her response to the Archangel Gabriel: I am the handmaid of the Lord; in her Magnificat prayer: ….He has looked with favour on His lowly servant. She is silent when the Shepherds, later the Magi, come to see the Child Jesus, follows with simplicity the Lord’s word conveyed through Joseph to flee into Egypt and then to return to Nazareth; when the wine runs out at the Cana wedding she simply points to Jesus and urges the servants to obey Jesus. Indeed, nowhere in the Holy Gospels does she focus attention on herself, she simply is present, lovingly present, including during Christ’s crucifixion, accepting wordlessly to become our Mother and then in silent prayer is with the nascent Church at Pentecost. She lived a mostly hidden life with Joseph and Jesus, the hidden life of a widow and of a mother whose Son left to fulfill His public mission. Had she performed any miracles or lived a life other than that of littleness, simplicity, poverty with her childlike heart surely one of the Evangelists would have recorded the miracles.

She was one with all her brothers and sisters, everyone, in her love and care tending to their needs, actually living out the Gospel with her life, without compromise, the Gospel Jesus had gone to preach but which she knew in her heart.

Jesus teaches us: “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven…..” [Mt. 18:3]

Catherine Doherty taught this prayer: Lord, grant me the heart of a child and the awesome courage to live it out.

Prayed daily, frequently each day, we will have hearts more and more like those of Jesus and Mary and more and more we will live out littleness, simplicity, beatitude poverty and be childlike, authentic brother/sister to everyone, that is to Christ, for like Christ we shall indeed live as children of our Father, and thus as real persons, true members of the one human family wherein we are, in Christ, ONE!

The final word is from St. Paul: I, then, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. [Ep.4:1-6]



[2] FIRE OF MERCY HEART OF THE WORLD, Volume III; Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis; p.838; Ignatius Press, 2012 ~ Italics are mine


© 2020 Fr. Arthur Joseph



Monday, October 12, 2020




 CONSOLATRIX AFFLICTORUM, in English consolation/comfort of the afflicted, is one of the beautiful titles of Our Lady in the Litany of Loreto.

With the current rapid surge of Covid 19 cases around the world, who among us is not afflicted one way or another through suffering the disease itself, loss of spouses, children, friends, or work, of ability to pay rent or buy food, of human companionship because of isolation, having such infrequent contact with others we feel abandoned, alone, rejected even.

There is no panacea for all of this. While it is both a Gospel and life experience truth that the more we care for others, step outside of ourselves, the more we will know true love, His love, thus be less stressed by all of this, more at peace, it is also true pandemic anxiety, like the virus itself, is invasive so waves of anxiety may still afflict us.

At times we all experience the stress of mask wearing, social distancing, restrictions on gatherings, even in Church, that at times we may feel it has all become too much. The daily global, national, local body counts common during a war and lists of the wounded, these ceaseless news reports on how bad things are, or may become, have made of the news media itself an affliction compounding stress. Avoiding such news reports is a great de-stressor. 

It is time for us with trust to, to pray until this too shall pass.

It is also time to pray a “Pandemic” litany for the intercession of our Blessed Mother: Mother, this covid enemy is like satan, unseen yet prowling to see whom it may devour, this is a frightening affliction: protect and comfort us please O Mother.

Mother, millions of our sickened brothers and sisters are isolated in hospitals, their suffering immense, absence of visits from family and loved ones, heart wrenching: Mother, protect and comfort them please.

O Mother, throughout the world doctors, nurses, caregivers, first responders lay down their lives daily to care for the sick under immense stress: Mother protect and comfort them please.

O Mother, countless men and women around the world work to ensure we have police and fire protection, keep the food and other supply chains moving, collect the garbage, keep the streets clean, the lights on, the internet working, supply shelter and food for the homeless, all under the stress of knowing in their jobs they might get infected and bring the virus home, what an immense burden: Mother protect and comfort them please.

O Mother, numerous are the enslaved women and girls around the world, all the more vulnerable in this pandemic, numerous are our brothers and sisters, the elderly, men, women, children, languishing in refugee and migrants camps as if dwelling in petri dishes of disease, hopelessness, violence, loss of their dignity as persons: Mother protect and comfort them please.

O Mother, mothers and fathers, married or single, bear the daily challenge and worry about the health of their children, how to feed, cloth shelter them as purveyors of housing, food, etc., continue to increase their prices and then there is the stress of sending their children to crowded schools or educating them at home where predators are prowling the internet: Mother protect and comfort all parents and children please.

O Mother, in the darkness of this pandemic so many of our brothers and sisters have aggravated mental illness, addictions, suffer domestic and other forms of violence, are seen as other, rather than as one like ourselves: Mother protect and comfort each one please.

O Mother, governments, and health officials, making some decisions for the health and welfare of the people, also are making decisions draconian in nature, causing anger and divisions, which in some cases explode in various forms of violence and people taking risks with their health and at a time when closeness with Christ and grace in the liturgy is needed, governments have closed places of worship of all religions or restricted the numbers who may attend, please convert our government and health leaders to a more realistic and compassionate approach to the people: Mother comfort and protect us please.

O Mother, for Catholics and Orthodox in particular these stringent laws force many to be denied access to Holy Communion, a form of spiritual starvation; likewise, our brothers and sisters of other religions, their suffering too is acute: Mother open the places of worship please and comfort and protect us.

O Mother, numerous are our brothers and sisters in this pandemic suffering anxiety, depression, loss of faith, or never had belief in God who is Love, some even feel abandoned by Him, intercede for the gifts of faith, peace, healing for all who suffer emotionally and spiritually: Mother protect and comfort us please.

 O Mother, crush anew the head of satan and crush his minion this virus: Mother protect and comfort us please.

We are not orphans: we have a mother in heaven, who is the Holy Mother of God. Because she teaches us the virtue of waiting, even when everything seems meaningless: she always trusts in the mystery of God, even when He seems overshadowed by the world’s evil. In times of difficulty may Mary, the Mother whom Jesus has presented as a gift to all of us, always make our steps sure, may she always say to our hearts: “Get up! Look ahead, look to the horizon,” because she is the Mother of hope. [1]

REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to you, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to you do I come; before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in your mercy hear and answer me. Amen.


[1] AVE MARIA, The Mystery of a Most Beloved Prayer; Pope Francis; p.118; 2019 Penguin Random House LLC [italics are mine]

© 2020 Fr. Arthur Joseph






Thursday, October 01, 2020




 When, in the Little Mandate, Jesus says follow Me [1a], this is from the Holy Gospels. We know to follow Him is to go wherever He goes as His disciples, ultimately into the tomb to be taken by Him into Resurrection.

In the Little Mandate He articulates specifically how we are to follow Him: going to the poor, being poor, being one with them, one with Me. [1b]

Teaching the Staff of Madonna House Apostolate about poverty our Foundress, Catherine, has written: …..poverty always goes hand in hand with utter trust in God. [2]

Actual trust in God is an overarching act of faith.

Emotions are both a richness, the high of loving and being loved by God and other, and a frequent descent into the poverty of our powerlessness, particularly in this pandemic.

We are mercurial in the poverty of being creatures, beloved human being creatures with free will who assume, reactively, from God whom we love, depend on, that YES is precisely what we are due, and NO is precisely mean-spirited rejection.

Yet how frequently do we pause after a YES and say thank-You?

It is St. Luke who recounts for us the healing of the ten lepers with only one returning to thank Jesus: St. Luke 17:11-19.

The first instruction in this passage from the Little Mandate is: going to the poor.

Before the pandemic it was, by way of example, a simple thing to do: volunteer in a soup kitchen, visiting the sick in hospital, shut-ins, helping at food banks, etc.

Not so much with the pandemic unless we use loves creativity – like volunteer to sit outside the window of elderly in a care-home, using our cell phones to speak with them; drop off food at the door of the food bank; by phone or using the internet communicate with friends and family who are isolated.

In prayer, being aware in our hearts of the homeless poor, prisoners, people in refugee camps, when can go to them through prayer which is an act of love and compassion.

Being poor, His next word, may pose the question ‘how’?, particularly with the restrictions of movement and person to person contact in this pandemic.

Understandably as human beings living in a materialistic world we often tend to think and choose based on stuff. Stuff we convince ourselves are things we need, when in fact we do not. Want them, yes, need them, no. Here is where we need to invoke the help of the Holy Spirit with simple and humble hearts for the grace to discern between need and want. Seeking His help is embracing our own poverty.

In this pandemic the entire human family shares the poverty of vulnerability.

No matter how rich an induvial may be, no matter how powerful and rich a particular country may be with scientists and technology, every human being experiences this vulnerability, the physical, emotional, spiritual stress of a poverty never before experienced on such a total scale, or personally. Famines may strike a particular region, for example, but famines are understandable: crops fail, food lacks, malnutrition sets in and the world community responds with food aid and eventually the crisis of people suffering is overcome.

No barren fields with winds visibly whipping away the topsoil, no drought withering the crops before our eyes, this impoverishment’s agent is invisible to the naked eye, strikes at whim, kills.

We are experiencing the poverty of vulnerability in extremis.

It is vital we remember in this, as in all things, we are not alone for He who is with us embraced poverty and vulnerability to the ultimate of both and so Jesus we may refer to rightly,  as THE POOR ONE, THE VULNERABLE ONE.

The great Pauline hymn of Christ’s Kenosis and the First Beatitude are interwoven: Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but also everyone for those of others. In your minds you must be the same as Christ Jesus. Who, though He was in the form of God, He did not cling to His equality with God but He emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. [Phil. 2:2-8]. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. [Mt. 5: 3].

As with everything Jesus does and teaches all is about love. Inviting us in the Little Mandate to be about the poor – going to the poor, being poor, being one with them, one with Me – also is all about love. The fullness and simplicity of real poverty has less to do with the material aspects of life, everything to do with love: ……You shall love your neighbour as yourself. [in Mat.22:35-40; Mk.12:28-34; Lk. 10:25-27] and as we know we shall be judged on how we loved everyone, in particular the poor, judged in light of  the great “I was” identification of Jesus with the materially and spiritually poor, which is each of us in our needs: Mathew 25: 31-46.

The love Christ means is a live current that comes from God, is transmitted from person to person and returns to God. It runs a sacred cycle reaching from God to an individual, from the individual to his neighbour, and back through faith to God. He who breaks the circuit at any point breaks the flow of love. He who transmits purely, however small a part of the love, helps establish the circuit for the whole. [3]



[2] DEARLY BELOVED Letters to the Children of My Spirit, Volume One, 1956-1963, p. 62; Catherine de Hueck Doherty; Madonna House Publications, 1989

[3] THE LORD, by Romano Guardini; p.70; Henry Regnery Company 1954 [Italics are mine]


© 2020 Fr. Arthur Joseph