Thursday, April 29, 2021



                                          See, days are coming—oracle of the Lord GOD—when I will send a famine upon the land: Not a hunger for bread, or a thirst for water, but for hearing the word of the LORD. [Amos 8:11]

With this ongoing pandemic, with more and more variants, there is such a hunger and thirst within the human family. Many of our brothers and sisters are stressed with the increase of loss of income and increasing food prices, with isolation, a type of famine from in person human contact, hungering for relief from stress, and with a thirst for real hope.

In his catecheses on prayer Pope Francis urges: We all have something to learn from the perseverance of the Russian pilgrim, mentioned in a famous work on spirituality, who learned the art of prayer by repeating the same invocation over and over again: “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Lord, have mercy on us, sinners!” …... He only repeated this. If his life received graces, if prayer became so warm one day as to perceive the presence of the Kingdom among us, if his gaze was transformed until it became like that of a child, it is because he insisted on reciting a simple Christian exclamation. In the end, it became part of his breathing.  The story of the Russian pilgrim is beautiful: it is a book that is accessible to all. I recommend you read it; it will help you to understand what vocal prayer is. Therefore, we must not disregard vocal prayer….. Please, one must not succumb to the pride of scorning vocal prayer. It is the prayer of the simple, the one Jesus taught us: Our Father, who art in heaven…. The words we speak take us by the hand; at times they restore flavour, they awaken even the sleepiest of hearts; they reawaken feelings we had forgotten. And they lead us by the hand towards the experience of God. And above all, they are the only ones that, in a sure way, address to God the questions that he wants to hear. Jesus did not leave us in a fog. He told us: “when you pray, say this”. And he taught the Lord’s Prayer (cf. Mt 6:9). [1]

Pope Francis is calling not just the Church, East and West, but the whole world to pray throughout May for an end to the pandemic, with particular emphasis on prayer through the intercession of Our Blessed Mother who is our refuge, protectress, perpetual help. [2]

Within the treasury of the Church, we have prayers and litanies for every situation in life, the greatest of these being, East and West, the Divine Liturgy/Holy Mass. The one particular reference Pope Francis makes above is to THE WAY OF THE PILGRIM: …aware of our weakness and placing all our trust in the Lord, we should love His commandments more than life and direct all our attention to acquiring the habit of ceaseless calling on the name of the Lord. [3]

The great weakness we all human beings must face each day, at times excruciatingly, is when it comes to things like this pandemic we are powerless. True we can fight with all available resources and develop vaccines and follow distancing and other protocols but no single nor massive group of human beings can control this pandemic.

The Church has always had the duty of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel. [4] This duty is not an institutional one of the Church but a duty for every member of the body of Christ, in order that, guided by the Holy Spirit, we may all proclaim the Gospel of Christ, the Gospel of Life and Hope.

Besides the obvious reading of the signs of the times, for which Pope Francis has called for a month of prayer that the ‘sign’ of the pandemic end, there are other signs of the times in which we live that also should be brought to prayer: all the incidents of civil wars, oppression of peoples, the divisive arguments in the various print, television, radio, internet media about the pandemic, vaccines, government abuse of power under the cloak of public health measures and restrictions, the raw physical, emotional, spiritual stress of these times.

Only with the help of the Most Holy Spirit will we have the grace not to fall into any of the swamps of the cacophony of loud and contradictory voices. No one should risk in these days of agenda driven media of any type, to trust as objectively true any contemporary information, nor should we stress ourselves trying to sort through all the racket and agendas.

It would be less stressful, less emotionally and spiritually damaging to go find a massive haystack and search for the proverbial needle, and when taking in any contemporary information these days to do so while not merely taking a grain of salt but an entire fistful.

We need to ask the Most Holy Spirit to renew within us one of His gifts poured into us at our baptism, which both protects us from being overwhelmed by the tsunamis of information that keep rolling over the human family and gives us the strength to endure in these times: the gift of fortitude.

The Holy Spirit moves us by this gift so that we are able to overcome difficulties, to avoid dangers, to have confidence. “I can do all things,” exclaimed the Apostle Paul, “in Him who strengthens me.”……..The Holy Spirit is within us, and we can receive His efficacious aid whenever it is needed…..His graces and gifts are found in the sanctuary of our souls, and so we carry the divine world within us. [5]



[3] The Way of the Pilgrim and The Pilgrim Continues His way; Helen Bacovcin translator[author is reputed to be an unknown 19th century peasant] p.185; Image Books, 1978

[4]   para. 4

[5] THE SANCTIFIER, by Most Rev. Luis M. Martinez, pps. 137 & 140, 141; St. Paul Editions, 1982

© 2021 Fr. Arthur Joseph


Saturday, April 03, 2021



                              ALREADY IN ROME: CHRIST IS RISEN! GLORIFY HIM!

Easter, for Christians is a celebration in and with faith, for others, in many countries, it is merely a long holiday weekend. For the second time in this pandemic, it is understandable that the vast majority of people are exhausted. The physical and mental stress of lockdowns and isolation, isolation especially from family, while particularly hard on the elderly, are compounded by the increase of mental illness, domestic violence, racism, and the seemingly unending, relentless tsunami of covid, ye or nay conspiracy theories, ye or nay vaccine arguments; then there is the proliferation of demonstrations, some violent, against government imposed restrictions on daily life, including the assault on religious practice through restrictive measures and in some countries using the pandemic as an excuse to enact laws which restrict freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.

It is as if for more than a year we have been living and wandering in desert darkness.

In his General Audience address, before the Triduum, Pope Francis reminded us: Ever since Jesus took upon himself the wounds of humanity and death itself, God’s love has irrigated these deserts of ours, he has enlightened our darkness. Because the world is in darkness. Let us make a list of all the wars that are being fought in this moment; of all the children who die of hunger; of children who have no education; of entire populations destroyed by wars, by terrorism. Of the many, many people who, just to feel a bit better, need drugs, the drug industry that kills … It is a disaster, it is a desert! There are small “islands” of the people of God, both Christian and of all other faiths, that hold in their heart the desire to be better. But let us tell the truth: in this Calvary of death, it is Jesus who suffers in his disciples. During his ministry, the Son of God disseminated life by the handful, healing, forgiving, reviving… Now, in the hour of his supreme Sacrifice on the cross, he brings to fulfilment the task entrusted to him by the Father: he enters into the abyss of suffering, he enters into these disasters of this world, to redeem and transform. And also to free every one of us from the power of darkness, of pride, of resistance to being loved by God. And this, only God’s love can do this. By his wounds we have been healed (see 1 Pt 2: 24), the apostle Peter says, by his death we have been reborn, all of us. And thanks to him, abandoned on the cross, no-one will ever again be alone in the darkness of death. Never, he is always beside us: we need only open our heart and let ourselves be looked upon by him. [1]

If during this pandemic we allow ourselves to pay more attention to the cacophony of news and social media, go down and linger in rabbit-holes of conspiracies, or bend towards ourselves ceaselessly lamenting all that is happening in the world, thus being emotionally so stressed that our faith, our prayer lives, like water run through our fingers, shattering like glass on the ground. This because we deliberately or inadvertently listen to that black hyena, satan, who whispers the lie to us that we must take care of ourselves, cherry pick ‘truth’, trust no one, not even God for clearly, look around, He has abandoned us.

Lie, lie, lie!

The first step to easing the emotional, physical, spiritual stress of these days is to forget self, stand up, raise our eyes, look to Jesus on the Cross, our Lover and Redeemer, keeping vigil until His death and then to go, lay our heads against the stone rolled over the entrance of His tomb and wait!

Even if in forgetting self we can’t go physically to meet and comfort someone else we can phone, text, skype, write a letter. Most importantly since our brothers and sisters are suffering all over the world: in hospitals, old age homes, prisons, labour camps, migrant camps, in places of war and hunger, homeless in back alleys or shelters, we can follow the urging of St. Theodore the Studite: We should pray and lament for the world……should not be concerned just with ourselves, but also lament and pray for the whole world. [2]

We, as people of faith, should ask the Holy Trinity, these days of such suffering in the human family, to accept our acts of faith and fidelity to Christ and the Holy Gospel, from our loving hearts, as proxy for the whole human family, as theirs.

Roman Catholics and Orthodox embrace with joy the truth Christ remains with us: loving, glorified, in the Holy Eucharist and each time we receive Jesus in Holy Communion we are loved, vivified, glorified as salt of the earth and light in this darkness. Love, His love pouring out from our hearts is more powerful and real than any darkness, hate, discouragement, if we truly love everyone as He loves us.

Light: the whole universe breathes light because it is the indivisible syllable of Light that from the beginning has spoken the universe itself into life. Light: more than ordinary air, a synonym for blood, the secret face of love…..Somewhere, sometime, Easter happened in you, even if it was only the moment of your conception. Somewhere, the light shone in you, and your heart know that this light is your life. Your heart know that if you keep looking, you will see the face of Light, and hear His voice speak your name. Then you will live because you have heard the voice of love. Then as you name the one who is the glory of love made visible, you will see light everywhere. It will be Easter. Always……….Light everywhere. “I will be with you all days, even until the end of the world” (Matt.28:20)………..Light everywhere. Light: Jesus the Christ risen from the dead. [3]


italics are mine

[2] PENTOS, The Doctrine of Compunction in the Christian East; Irenee Hasher, SJ; pp.42,43; Cistercian Publications, 1982   italics are mine

[3] CIRCLING THE SUN; Meditations on Christ in Liturgy and Time; Robert D. Pelton; pp. 85 & 89; The Pastoral Press, 1986 [out of print] italics are mine

© 2021 Fr. Arthur Joseph