Tuesday, January 26, 2021



 Many people have written, phoned, stopped to chat when I am out walking – chatting six feet apart through masks is weird – expressing their stress trying to sort through the tsunami of information as to what is actually, objectively true and what is not. This is not a new phenomenon in human communication but in this oddly ‘new normal’ there does seem to be more intense confusion. Only Christ our Light can disperse the shadows of confusion, Only Christ is our hope and peace. This essay is an attempt to look at the issue of truth and non-truth, through Christ who is always with us, walking with, listening to, comforting and teaching us as He did with the disciples on the road to Emmaus. [Lk.24:13-35]

“What is truth?”

St. John 18: 38 Pilate asks that question of Jesus, yet he remains so disinterested in the answer he does not bother to pay attention to reality.

Most acutely since the pandemic, be it about politics, the virus, climate, gender identity, Church teachings, science, etc., etc., we seem to be stuck in a daily whirlpool of excessive information, with little communal agreement on what is factual truth and what is not.

It is fundamentally relativism, and no little fear mixed with anger, run amok. Relativism being the individual decides what is true subjectively, not objectively. The fear-anger is we live in a time when uncertainty from day to day terrifies, for more than ever we are experiencing how little control we have over most things, experiencing our vulnerability and powerlessness. So, when gathering information, trying to make some sense of things, there is a tendency to seek that which confirms our preconceived notion of how things out to be, thus, paradoxically, while that may momentarily give a false sense of reassurance, if we can find information that confirms our notion, eventually, inevitably, the reassurance dissipates like mist in the morning sun and morphs into fear-anger, because there is no communal consensus to support us.

Ultimately truth is not some piece of information, much less an opinion, nor is it what the majority with power or the minority demanding some right insist it is.

Truth, first, now, always, is a Person, the Incarnate One who is the way, the truth, the life. This is Jesus who is with us: St. John 14:1-31. Jesus, and the Holy Spirit who enables us to cry out: Abba! Father! It is the Holy Trinity who gifts all grace needed for us to discern in our own lives, and within the communal life in time and history, what is of truth and what is not.

This can be a painful process of facing the truth about our wounded selves, so we take heart and hope in St. Paul’s: ……Therefore, that I might not become too elated, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong. [2 Cor. 12:7-10]

 God the Holy Spirit IS the Spirit of Truth. We should constantly ask, when checking any source of information, for prudence and discernment before accepting the information at face value.

…the Logos, the truth in person, is also the atonement, the transforming forgiveness that is above and beyond our capability and incapability…..Yet the yoke of truth in fact became “easy” (Mt. 11:30) when the Truth came, loved us, and consumed our guilt in the fire of His love. Only when we know and experience this from within will we be free to hear the message of conscience with joy and without fear……Truth is controversial, and the attempt to impose on all persons what one part of the citizenry holds to be true looks like the enslavement of people’s consciences. The concept of “truth” has in fact moved into the zone of antidemocratic intolerance. It is not now a public good, but something private. It may perhaps be the good of specific groups, but it is not the truth of society as a whole. To make this point in other terms: the modern concept of democracy seems indissolubly linked to that of relativism. It is relativism that appears to be the real guarantee of freedom and especially of the very heart of human freedom, namely, freedom of religion and conscience. [1]

Satan is the father of lies, the seducer with untruth, like a snake spewing venom he spits disinformation. Too often we narrow our understanding of St. Peter’s warning about the devil seeking whom he may devour [1Pt.5:8] to vigilance against being tempted to obvious sins: avarice, judging others, lust, etc., and are less vigilant about temptations which can poison the mind, destroy relationships, wreak havoc in the heart of families, parishes, society in general: Preventing and identifying the way disinformation works also calls for a profound and careful process of discernment. We need to unmask what could be called the “snake-tactics” used by those who disguise themselves in order to strike at any time and place……The strategy of this skilled “Father of lies” [Jn.8:44] is precisely mimicry, that sly and dangerous form of seduction that worms its way into the heart with false and alluring argument…..there is no such thing as harmless disinformation; on the contrary, trusting in falsehood can have dire consequences. Even a seemingly slight distortion of the truth can have dangerous effects. [2]

……man has a natural right to be respected. He has a right to his good name. He has a right to freedom in investigating the truth, and—within the limits of the moral order and the common good—to freedom of speech and publication, and to freedom to pursue whatever profession he may choose. He has the right, also, to be accurately informed about public events…….Hence, before a society can be considered well-ordered, creative, and consonant with human dignity, it must be based on truth. St. Paul expressed this as follows: "Putting away lying, speak ye the truth every man with his neighbor, for we are members one of another."….. And so will it be, if each man acknowledges sincerely his own rights and his own duties toward others…..[3]

There was a time when the fundamental principle for reporting the news was that the five w’s had to be verified by at least two reliable sources: Who, What, When, Where, Why. Nowadays the main and social media blatantly state, for example, a plethora of reports overusing expressions such as: all scientists agree, the medical profession agrees, economists state, our experts tell us, as if these experts are the sole custodians of what is true, indeed their credentials are often questionable, yet their opinion[s] is/are stated as fact. Hence the whirlpool of information/disinformation spins with all the more vigor, trapping more and more people in, at best, bewilderment, at worst deception.

Within modern society the communications media play a major role in information, cultural promotion, and formation. This role is increasing, as a result of technological progress, the extent and diversity of the news transmitted, and the influence exercised on public opinion. The information provided by the media is at the service of the common good…. Society has a right to information based on truth, freedom, justice, and solidarity: The proper exercise of this right demands that the content of the communication be true and - within the limits set by justice and charity - complete. Further, it should be communicated honestly and properly. This means that in the gathering and in the publication of news, the moral law and the legitimate rights and dignity of man should be upheld…….. The means of social communication (especially the mass media) can give rise to a certain passivity among users, making them less than vigilant consumers of what is said or shown. Users should practice moderation and discipline in their approach to the mass media. They will want to form enlightened and correct consciences the more easily to resist unwholesome influences. By the very nature of their profession, journalists have an obligation to serve the truth and not offend against charity in disseminating information. They should strive to respect, with equal care, the nature of the facts and the limits of critical judgment concerning individuals. They should not stoop to defamation………Society has a right to information based on truth, freedom, and justice. One should practice moderation and discipline in the use of the social communications media. [4]

As exhausting as it may be to sort through the tsunami of information from a seemingly ever expanding means of communication, Abba Gregory said, “These three things God requires of all the baptized: right faith in the heart, truth on the tongue, temperance in the body.”  [5] Right faith includes calling upon the Holy Spirit for prudence and discernment, truth on the tongue means not to repeat, verbally or social media-wise anything that is not clearly, objectively true, and in the context of this essay temperance in the body means not to browbeat those who disagree with whatever information we are insisting must be accepted.

To disagree is a matter of freedom. To give into anger or other strong emotions towards the person who disagrees with us is to seek to control the other.

Ultimately satan’s goal is to deceive, disrupt, divide us within ourselves and between us and others: family, friends, fellow parishioners, fellow citizens, nation against nation, religion against religion.

But 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]

Trapped in the whirlpool of deception we will soon forget who we are, persons created in the image and likeness of God: Children of the Father, Disciples of Christ, Living Temples of the Holy Spirit, unless we cry out for freeing and healing light, that we never succumb to deception.

A prayer for the help of the Most Holy Spirit: Spirit of Truth prevail, show me where I am wrong, make of me a real person.


[1] FAITH AND POLITICS, Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI; selected writings; pp. 130-131, 133; Ignatius Press, 2018

[2] POPE FRANCIS, REBUKING THE DEVIL; PP. 53-55; 2019, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

[3] Pacem in Terris, encyclical of Pope John XXIII; paras 12 & 35; April 1963


[4]   https://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/_INDEX.HTM                                                                           paras: 2493, 94, 96, 97, 2512

[5] THE SAYINGS OF THE DESERT FATHERS, The Alphabetical Collection; translated by Benedicta Ward, slg; p. 45; A.R. Mowbray & Co. Ltd. 1981

© 2021 Fr. Arthur Joseph





Wednesday, January 13, 2021




Lockdowns, partial and about as far as they can get, lockdowns lifted, briefly, imposed again, time and time again such that time, in this pandemic, has become an odd, uncertain experience, divorced from the rhythm of life before all this began.

Some places around the world have instituted curfews, taking away those remaining hours when one might have strolled with family or friends, gone for an after-work bike right, skate, play hockey with friends. Another disruption of time as we had experienced it.

This evil virus has indeed run amuck. It is as invisible as it is persistent. It’s impact is the visible in the lives of our brothers and sisters who contract it, become ill or die; upon the overworked doctors, nurses, EMTS and other caregivers; the general destruction of what used to be ‘normal’ in most of daily life; most damaging of all are the restrictions on communities of faith: in some places outright closure of places of worship.

Living with all the physical, economic, emotional, spiritual impact of this pandemic, time for many has become amorphous. Yet this is not so in reality, for time, is rather a gift, given to each of us in the exact measure needed for us to become saints. True we may experience time in a variety of ways, not even as a delightful gift given us by Our Beloved Father, but as a burden.  Many teenagers experience time as slow because they are, often, in a rush, while elderly often experience time as moving too quickly. When anxious for human contact in this isolation, and an affirming word from those we love, emotionally our inner voice may scream ‘they never call’, translation: ‘they don’t care’. Even more painful is when God seems to take His time, lots of it, before answering our prayer and here it is the voice of satan who hisses God doesn’t care.

Listening to our inner raw emotional voice, worse to the hissing liar satan, is to waste the precious and holy gift of time.

St. John Paul II teaches about time: In Christianity time has a fundamental importance. Within the dimension of time the world was created; within it the history of salvation unfolds, finding its culmination in the "fullness of time" of the Incarnation, and its goal in the glorious return of the Son of God at the end of time. In Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, time becomes a dimension of God, who is himself eternal. With the coming of Christ there begin "the last days" (cf. Heb 1:2), the "last hour" (cf. 1 Jn 2:18), and the time of the Church, which will last until the Parousia. From this relationship of God with time there arises the duty to sanctify time. This is done, for example, when individual times, days or weeks, are dedicated to God, as once happened in the religion of the Old Covenant, and as happens still, though in a new way, in Christianity. In the liturgy of the Easter Vigil the celebrant, as he blesses the candle which symbolizes the Risen Christ, proclaims: "Christ yesterday and today, the beginning and the end, Alpha and Omega, all time belongs to him, and all the ages, to him be glory and power through every age for ever". He says these words as he inscribes on the candle the numerals of the current year. The meaning of this rite is clear: it emphasizes the fact that Christ is the Lord of time; he is its beginning and its end; every year, every day and every moment are embraced by his Incarnation and Resurrection, and thus become part of the "fullness of time". [1]

That is the context, the true experience of time in these days, remembering as we pray in the Preface of the 1st Eucharistic Prayer for Reconciliation: Never did You turn away from us and, though time and again we have broken Your covenant, You have bound the human family to Yourself through Jesus Your Son, our Redeemer, with a new bond of love, so tight it can never be undone. [2]

It is within the above reality we have come to the lines in the Little Mandate: Preach the Gospel with your life – without compromise! Listen to the Spirit. He will lead you.

Before speaking/preaching the Gospel to anyone it is essential we first plunge into the depths, not merely the word-text, but the depths of the Gospel, contemplating, and being attentive to the primary teacher of the Gospel, the Most Holy Spirit who came upon Christ at His baptism in the Jordan, was with Jesus every step of the way from His Incarnation to His Ascension, then at Pentecost came upon the whole Church and comes to each of us in Baptism.

Thus, before we preach to others, filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit, we will lead lives which radiate Christ, becoming less “I” and more Him until, like the Apostle, in truth we will no longer live but Christ truly lives in us. [Gal. 2:20]

To paraphrase St. Paul VI, we will discover very quickly negative reactions from people if we preach, indeed likely we will actually be preachy, before being living, radiant witnesses to Christ, seeing such light flowing from us people will indeed pause and be attentive to the proclaiming of the person and words of Christ.

Some may argue that’s all fine and dandy, but we are in lockdown, or bedridden in a hospital or nursing home, live alone, have a job, a family to care for, etc., etc. All true enough yet people see, know how we live, love, speak with others, whatever our day to day circumstances.

When we are offering our sufferings in our hearts to the Lord in union with Him, do our job, care in the many ways needed for our family, pray the Holy Rosary, participate in Holy Mass, even if in these trying times it is remotely via the internet, all this is preaching the Gospel with our lives, without compromise.

Remember that as Christians we are called to be apostles of the Good News continually, everywhere. We witness to Christ by our presence, by the way we sit, talk, eat. We evangelize at every second of the day and with each breath we take. [3]



1] http://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/apost_letters/1994/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_19941110_tertio-millennio-adveniente.html  para.10

2] https://theeucharist.wordpress.com/index/appendix-of-eucharistic-prayers/eucharistic-prayer-of-reconciliation-i/    italics and underling are mine

3] LIVING THE GOSPEL WITHOUT COMPROMISE; p. 86; Catherine Doherty; Madonna House Publications, 2002


© 2021 Fr. Arthur Joseph


Monday, January 11, 2021

ST. JOHN 12: 21-25


                                                       ST. JOHN 12: 21-25

It is now 2021!

We have entered the second year of the global covid pandemic which continues to surge and, as viruses do, is mutating.

The strain, on people’s faith and trust in God, among other stressors, has become intense.

These words from St. John Paul are a comfort: The reality of faith, of hope and of charity. The reality of suffering sanctified and sanctifying. The reality of the presence of the Mother of God in the mystery of Christ and His Church on earth: a presence particularly alive in that portion of the Church which consists of the sick and the suffering. [1] On this reality of the presence of Our Blessed Mother in these days of suffering and spiritual warfare Pope Francis reminds us: Monks of old recommended, in times of trail, that we take refuge beneath the mantle of the Holy Mother of God: calling upon Her as “Holy Mother of God” was already a guarantee of protection and help, this prayer over and again: “Holy Mother of God,” Holy Mother of God…..the Mother protects the faith, safeguards relationships, saves those in storms and preserves them from evil….Where our Mother is at home, the devil does not enter in. Where our Mother is present, turmoil does not prevail, fear does not conquer. [2]

The above from the two Pontiffs, as with the writings of the Fathers of the Church down to those of the Saints such as St. John of the Cross, St. Therese of Lisieux, even the great monastic rules of St. Benedict and St. Basil, the Canons and Prayers of Holy Mass/the Divine Liturgy, all are rooted in, trace back to, Sacred Scripture through immersion in Lectio Divina, in English: Divine Reading.

It is called divine reading because Sacred Scripture is not to be approached like reading any other text, our ‘reading’ should be prayerful, attentive, the source of inspiration for daily life.

The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures just as she venerates the body of the Lord, since, especially in the sacred liturgy, she unceasingly receives and offers to the faithful the bread of life from the table both of God's word and of Christ's body……. For in the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven meets His children with great love and speaks with them; and the force and power in the word of God is so great that it stands as the support and energy of the Church, the strength of faith for her sons, the food of the soul, the pure and everlasting source of spiritual life. Consequently, these words are perfectly applicable to Sacred Scripture: "For the word of God is living and active" (Heb. 4:12) and "it has power to build you up and give you your heritage among all those who are sanctified" (Acts 20:32; see 1 Thess. 2:13). [3]

Given the length of time since last a meditation was posted, best to begin with the last verse immersed in and continue from there.

Now there were some Greeks among those who had come up to worship at the feast. [v. 20]

We owe much to the Greeks, such as the roots of philosophy. The Greeks were great searchers for answers to all life’s questions, hence they also sought for faith, exploring many religious traditions, seeking to appease their innumerable gods, and this led many to seek the knowledge faith in the One True God, many converting to Judaism. Some while believing in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, did not embrace the fullness of Judaic practice. It was of these Greeks, known as proselytes, who approached Philip: They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. [vs. 21,22]

Jesus having previously told His disciples not to go to the Gentiles [cf. Mat. 10:5; 15L24], among whom were the Greeks, it is understandable Philip would have conferred with Andrew and they decided to approach Jesus on behalf of the Greeks. St. John does not indicate if then the Greeks were invited to speak with Jesus, however His words certainly are a powerful teaching for the Greeks, all others present, and for us in this immediate moment:  Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. [vs. 23,24]

So crucial are these words of Jesus regarding why He must die and what results from His death that the Synoptics quote it as well: (Mk 8:35; Mt 16:25; Lk 9:24; Mt 10:39; Lk 17:33).

We ourselves are plunged into the depths of this teaching through sacramental Baptism wherein we are plunged into Christ’s death and brought forth as a new being in His Holy Resurrection.

Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves Me must follow Me, and where I am, there also will My servant be. The Father will honour whoever serves Me. [vs. 24, 25]

Here we have both an admonition and a promise.

The first is a warning that if we prioritize a life lived outside of union with and fidelity to Christ we may well die unrepentant and suffer the loss of the life we have been created for, an eternity of communion of love with and in the presence of the Most Holy Trinity, whereas if we prioritize a life of fidelity to Christ and live the Gospel with our lives, loving one another, therefore loving and serving Jesus in everyone, then indeed, in this and in eternal life as faithful servants of Christ we shall be with Him forever, this being the honour the Father will lavish upon us.

Commenting on the above passage Archbishop Fulton Sheen notes succinctly: No real good is ever done without some cost and pain to the doer. [4]

[1] PRAYERS AND DEVOTIONS, 365 daily meditations; Pope John Paul II; edited by Bishop Peter Canisius Johannes Van Lierde, o.s.a; pp.86,87; Viking, 1994

[2] POPE FRANCIS~REBUKUING THE DEVIL; p. 138; United States Conference of Catholic Bishops; 2019

[3] http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19651118_dei-verbum_en.html  see chapter VI, para. 21

[4] LIFE OF CHRIST, Fulton Sheen; p. 267; Image Books, 1990

© 2021 Fr. Arthur Joseph