Monday, March 15, 2021



There is a foundational aspect to the line of the Little Mandate [1] Love……, never counting the cost., we will now reflect upon for it is rooted in both the Great Commandment  [Mt. 22:35-40; Mk. 12:28-34; Lk. 10:27] and in Jesus’ further teaching on love: “…. 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. 13:34,35]

In some respects, love is a translucent reality, with a type of fragility about it because we are emotional beings, prone to misunderstandings and snap judgements if we experience other failing to respond to us the way we truly need or simply want.

In other respects, love, not the emotional aspect but the cause of our existence, the purpose of our lives, in a most sacred way through baptism, is a foundational reality.

Love and pain are inseparable as constitutive of our lives because while we hunger, and rightly so, to be beloved, and we are because Love Himself, the Holy Trinity, has created us as beloved persons, we keep tripping over the complex aspects of ‘human’ love: eros and philos, and the challenges of living out, by first accepting it, agape.

Eros is highly emotional and physical as it is romantic love, but often the love aspect gets trampled on by sheer lust and becomes demanding ‘love’, which is not authentic love at all. Philos is mostly authentic love of deep friendships, a treasured experience in anyone’s life and while it too can become demanding of other, usually is mutually kind and somewhat selfless.

Only agape, because it is the love of God poured into us, unconditionally, and the way we are called to love one another and self, is the experience of the pure reality of love, which love is always self-gift without any insistence that we be beloved from other in return.

Unfortunately, it is only in the Greek that Jesus’s triple ask of Peter if he loves Jesus is clear, so here the Greek is inserted in italics: When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you agape Me more than these? He said to Him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I philos You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” He then said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you agape Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I philos You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you agape Me?” Peter was distressed that He had said to him a third time, “Do you agape Me?” and he said to Him, “Lord, You know everything; You know that I philos You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep. [Jn.21:15-17]

By the time the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles Peter would grow from philos love to agape love to the point of that no greater agape than to embrace martyrdom for Christ.

The commandment laid down in the New Testament demands from man love for others, for his neighbours – in the fullest sense, then, love for persons. For God, whom the commandment to

love names first, is the most perfect personal Being. [2] Within the agape of sacramental marriage the desire and act of eros – if self-gift dominates all aspects of the desire and act – becomes purified of lust and thus the marriage bed becomes a type of altar where the self-sacrifice of spousal self-gift is offered as holy oblation.

Aided by the Most Holy Spirit we can not only love others and self as Jesus, the Father, the Holy Spirit love us, unconditionally, but also embrace the struggle and cross of loving without counting the cost. No easy task that, but it is when we forego counting the cost that the emotional component is purified and loving, that is agape-unconditional-self giving to other loving, becomes true joy, joy whose origin is the Holy Spirit’s gift to us.

The key to the grace, indeed the mystery, of actually loving as Christ does, without counting the cost, is to take up, as faithful disciples of Christ, our shared carrying of His Cross, that is to carry our cross of which the transverse beam is our very selves, the beam which stretches from horizon of our birth to horizon of our earthly death, pierces through the veil between time and eternity,  and the upright beam, divine ladder which enables us to move upward from being, as it were, planted on the earth, through every stages of our life, the lives of the human family whom we love, serve, pray for, right to were we are stretched out, crucified, face to face, eye to eye with the Crucified One Himself, Our Beloved, in whose arms we shall die and be lifted up with Him, by Him, through Him, into the heart of the Holy Trinity.

One way to understand this, appreciate it with joy and trust, is to stand contemplating Jesus on the Cross, arms outstretched, cruciform.

This is the month of March, traditionally, as is each Wednesday, dedicated to St. Joseph, whom Pope Francis speaks eloquently about in PATRIS CORDE [3], and therein gives us examples of loving without counting the cost we can surely imitate as we strive to live out the LITTLE MANDATE.

Pope Francis begins by asserting St. Joseph loved WITH A FATHER’S HEART…….that he had courage to become Jesus’ legal father, indeed St. John Paul calls St. Joseph the Custodian, thus the protector, of the Redeemer.

The following are words by Pope Francis about St. Joseph revealing how St. Joseph is the model of loving authentically, like Christ, like Our Blessed Mother, without counting the cost:…..He turned his vocation to domestic love into a superhuman oblation of himself, his heart, and all his abilities……Even through Joseph’s fears, God’s will, His history and His plan were at work. Joseph, then, teaches us that faith in God includes believing that He can work even through our fears, our frailties, our weaknesses…..In every situation, Joseph declared his own “fiat”, like those of Mary at the Annunciation and Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane…… We should always consider whether we ourselves are protecting Jesus and Mary, for they are also mysteriously entrusted to our own responsibility, care and safekeeping. The Son of the Almighty came into our world in a state of great vulnerability. He needed to be defended, protected, cared for and raised by Joseph. God trusted Joseph, as did Mary, who found in him someone who would not only save her life, but would always provide for her and her child. In this sense, Saint Joseph could not be other than the Guardian of the Church, for the Church is the continuation of the Body of Christ in history, even as Mary’s motherhood is reflected in the motherhood of the Church. In his continued protection of the Church, Joseph continues to protect the child and his mother, and we too, by our love for the Church, continue to love the child and his mother…..Joseph acted as a father for his whole life. Fathers are not born, but made. A man does not become a father simply by bringing a child into the world, but by taking up the responsibility to care for that child. Whenever a man accepts responsibility for the life of another, in some way he becomes a father to that person……Joseph found happiness not in mere self-sacrifice but in self-gift. In him, we never see frustration but only trust. His patient silence was the prelude to concrete expressions of trust. Our world today needs fathers. It has no use for tyrants who would domineer others as a means of compensating for their own needs. It rejects those who confuse authority with authoritarianism, service with servility, discussion with oppression, charity with a welfare mentality, power with destruction. Every true vocation is born of the gift of oneself, which is the fruit of mature sacrifice. The priesthood and consecrated life likewise require this kind of maturity. Whatever our vocation, whether to marriage, celibacy or virginity, our gift of self will not come to fulfilment if it stops at sacrifice; were that the case, instead of becoming a sign of the beauty and joy of love, the gift of self would risk being an expression of unhappiness, sadness and frustration…..We need only ask Saint Joseph for the grace of graces: our conversion.

Let us now make our prayer to him: Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary. To you God entrusted his only Son; in you Mary placed her trust; with you Christ became man. Blessed Joseph, to us too, show yourself a father and guide us in the path of life. Obtain for us grace, mercy and courage, and defend us from every evil. Amen.



[2] LOVE AND RESPONSIBILITY, Karol Wojtyla [John Paul II]; p.40; William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd, 1981 ~ italics are mine

[3]       Italics are mine


© 2021 Fr. Arthur Joseph



Saturday, March 06, 2021



HOPE is a word often uttered as casually as asking someone ‘how are you?’ The interlocutor is not seeking a detailed list of how one is doing, rather it is a type of casual and somewhat sincere greeting. So, saying to someone we hope everything is going well for them is of the same ilk.

Far from its use referencing a gift of the Holy Spirit, the word hope for many simply means expectation of something material such as hoping for a raise at work or fine weather to go skiing, or that our favourite team will win the game.

The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts……[1]

It is precisely because the Church, and all Her baptized members, are endowed with the virtue of hope at Baptism that every hope of every human being, no matter what is actually contained in those hopes, are taken into the heart of the Church, the hearts of all Christians.

Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ's promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit. "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful." "The Holy Spirit . . . poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life." The virtue of hope responds to the aspiration to happiness which God has placed in the heart of every man; it takes up the hopes that inspire men's activities and purifies them so as to order them to the Kingdom of heaven; it keeps man from discouragement; it sustains him during times of abandonment; it opens up his heart in expectation of eternal beatitude. Buoyed up by hope, he is preserved from selfishness and led to the happiness that flows from charity……..Christian hope unfolds from the beginning of Jesus' preaching in the proclamation of the beatitudes. The beatitudes raise our hope toward heaven as the new Promised Land; they trace the path that leads through the trials that await the disciples of Jesus. But through the merits of Jesus Christ and of his Passion, God keeps us in the "hope that does not disappoint." Hope is the "sure and steadfast anchor of the soul . . . that enters . . . where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf." Hope is also a weapon that protects us in the struggle of salvation: "Let us . . . put on the breastplate of faith and charity, and for a helmet the hope of salvation." It affords us joy even under trial: "Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation." Hope is expressed and nourished in prayer, especially in the Our Father, the summary of everything that hope leads us to desire. [2]

Like all gifts of the Holy Spirit hope is offered, not imposed. We must accept and live rooted in all His gifts, such as the gift of hope, which can be a tough thing to do in this seemingly unending pandemic and the stress of lives turned upside down, not merely because of the virus but the sheer unceasing pressure of government edicts about masks, social distancing, the outright closing of places of worship or restricting how many people can attend and interfering with aspects of the Liturgy such as distribution of the Precious Blood.

There is both a graced and emotional component to hope: joy!

Here too it is a choice. If we obsess about the latest news, from whatever source, about the pandemic stats, the arguments about the vaccines, or focus too much on isolation, how food and everything we need keeps increasing in price, then the very size of our self pity swimming pool where we hold, all alone, self pity parties, will sap away our strength to live, to hope, to keep our gaze on Christ our hope who loves us so.

Granted it may be these days we only see the eyes of another above the compulsory masks, or see their actual beautiful faces via video chats, in all cases the truth is we actually see, in every human face, the beautiful Holy Face of Christ and His eyes burning with the fire of His love for us. Indeed: It is only in the eyes of another, in the face of another, that we can find the icon or image of Christ. There are many ways of praising God, many ways of praying to Him, many ways of searching for Him. But today there is one great way, one profound way, one gentle, tender, and compassionate way. It is by a person-to-person love…..[3]

Spiritual warfare is the moment by moment reality of life, and in this pandemic it is intense and may well be felt as simply too much on top of all the impact of the pandemic. This is what satan wants us to think so that we will bend towards ourselves, abandon hope, faith and trust in the God who loves us, redeems us, strengthens us, is Himself our hope, dwells with us every step of the way on our pilgrimage to Him from whom we originate.

Yes it is reasonable, even necessary, we pray for an end to this pandemic scourge. Our Elder Brothers and Sisters in faith, the Jewish people, struggled on the long journey of forty years in the desert and during the Holocaust as well. Surely in both instances some gave into despair, some felt God had abandoned them, but those who kept faith, continued to hope, reached the Promised Land in the first instance, and in the latter were alive when the camps were liberated.

In the first centuries of the Christian era our ancestors were martyred by the thousands, as has happened across the millennia to this day, in the death camps of WWII, the Russian Gulag, the modern concentration camps of today, and we are also persecuted not by blood but in various nefarious means by leftist governments and media.

This is what is means to be faithful disciples of Christ: “If the world hates you, realize that it hated Me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. Remember the word I spoke to you, ‘No slave is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.”  [Jn. 15: 18-20]

St. John Paul II reminded us that: “Christ, Crucified and Risen, is our only true hope.”

No vaccines, changes of government, economies, etc., etc., can give true hope, only Christ. Our

loving task, through prayer, word, gesture, is to radiate Christ to everyone so that in the darkness of this pandemic everyone, in the Light of Christ, has true hope.

[1] Gaudium et Spes, # 1 ~ italics are mine

[2] Catechism of the Catholic Church, paras: 1817, 1818, 1820 ~ italics are mine

[3] LIVING THE GOSPEL WITHOUT COMPROMISE, Catherine Doherty; p. 17; Madonna House Publications, 2002 edition, italics are mine.



© 2021 Fr. Arthur Joseph