Thursday, July 15, 2021




                                Begun, in March of 2020, at the suggestion of someone whose love and wisdom I trust, the way things within the human family in virtually every country on earth, have unfolded, and continue to unfold, I discussed with two other people I trust about ending this series and beginning in due time a new one with a broader scope given the current conditions within the human family.

Close to 18 months into this pandemic with the almost innumerable casualties, death cutting a wide swath among the infected, with the hardened positions, the inflexible attitudes, of those both who accept it is a pandemic, those who do not, between those who get vaccinated and those who refuse to, there is so much anger and hatred within the human family, on a scale that in the past would have been constricted by geography.

Nowadays with the internet and ever-expanding social media sites, akin to the infamous clouds of gas that drifted silently, like huge green snakes, across the battlefields of WWI, we are increasingly loosing a willingness to accept objective fact. Facts have become the bailiwick of groupthink on both sides of virtually ever issue from the pandemic to………..each of us can fill in the blank, likely with a long list of contentious issues.

In mathematics we all learn as children that 1+1=2.

Today 1+1=equals whatever I say it does.

Anger and division flows between individuals, families, citizens, and governments, like an unending lava flow: hot, deadly, destroying everything in its path.

As a result, we live in nations where, democracies or totalitarian, politicians of all stripes, at every level of government from national to local have usurped the right of the people to have true freedom of government for the people. Thus: “Unlimited power in the hands of limited people always leads to cruelty.” ― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

“Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.” ― Victor Hugo

How much longer will this night last is unknowable, that at some point we will return to what was allegedly ‘normal’ before the pandemic is a mythological tapestry still being woven by the dreamers.

It is highly probable, besides new covid variants, there will be revolutions, wars, national bankruptcies, increased bitter and vengeful divisions within families, within nations, between nations, simply because we have become, in such a short time, more than ever preoccupied with self, with our own ideas, interpretations of the issues of the day.

“I” dominates. Other is no longer seen as one like me.

You are either with me or against me: with me tolerated friend, against me hated enemy.

Part of this tragedy is self-hatred has become as common place as the air we breathe.

All the above spills out of the stressed minds and wounded hearts of countless people I hear from, good people who unwittingly as they speak are crying out like the Psalmist:  Save me, God, for the waters have reached my neck. I have sunk into the mire of the deep, where there is no foothold. I have gone down to the watery depths; the flood overwhelms me. I am weary with crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, from looking for my God. [Ps. 69: 2-4]

There is no way, individually or collectively as the human family, by our own wits, we can get ourselves out of this global swamp. No amount of science, money, government legislation, revolutions or riots, no screaming arguments, nothing humanly devised can save us.

Individually and collectively, we need to cry out, like Peter sinking beneath the waves: “Lord, save us.”: [see Matthew 14:22-33].

Jesus stretches out His hand, for He loves us and wants to lift us out of the swamp.

The way we grip His hand and hold on tight – and this is our hope – is to live out: 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.’ [Mk. 12: 28-24]-and- You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for He makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. [Mt. 5: 43-45]

© 2021 F. Arthur Joseph



Monday, July 05, 2021



 Pray, fast. Pray always, fast. [1]

The template for this is Jesus in the desert [Mt. 4:1-11] where He both prays and fasts and rejects satan’s traps. There is frequently intense spiritual warfare when we are in prayer, so trusting the source of the gift to pray is critical: ….the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.[Rms.8:26].

All of creation prays, the whole cosmos prays, every creature prays by the very nature of their being reflections of the glory of the Most Holy Trinity. The stars and suns shimmer, the planets rotate, light travels, sound travels, the wind blows, rain and snow fall, trees, plants, grasses sway in the wind, dance really, mountains and hills, rocks and valleys, oceans waves and all creatures beneath the water, birds of the air and creatures like deer moving on the earth – all by their very existence pray. [Daniel 3:56-88]

When we ask: Let my prayer be incense before you….[Psalm 141.2] we can be confident it is so: Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a gold censer. He was given a great quantity of incense to offer, along with the prayers of all the holy ones, on the gold altar that was before the throne. The smoke of the incense along with the prayers of the holy ones went up before God from the hand of the angel. [Rev.8:3,4]

Both prayer and fasting are very simple, easy to fulfill, however both can also be experienced as burdensome if we complicate matters by seeking to do either by our own efforts, for in essence neither should be primarily about us. Yes, both have a personal aspect, but that should be secondary to a focus on the Holy Trinity, with love and adoration and intercession for others, specific individuals and for the entire human family.

Jesus taught us one prayer, the Our Father which contains all aspects of humble, loving, recognition of right relationship with Our Abba – love, trust, dependence – and essential petitions for self and others.

There are many other forms of prayer: the Psalms, Holy Rosary, Litanies, and the most perfect form of prayer, which itself contains the Our Father: Holy Mass/Divine Liturgy.

We can easily, throughout the day or evening, while doing necessary tasks like dusting or washing dishes, and also perhaps taking a few moments in stillness to pray with the prayer drawn by the Desert Fathers from the prayer of the Publican, [Lk.18:9-14]: ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ The Desert Fathers thus prayed: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me a sinner. At night the beating of our hearts testifies to our loving prayer, awaiting either the grace-gift of a new earthly day or the arrival of the Divine Lover Himself, come to take us home. [Jn. 14:1-3]

A critical aspect of prayer, which we glean from all the times in the Holy Gospels we see Jesus

going off by Himself to pray, is the aspect of intimate conversational prayer with the Most Holy Trinity. This is not to try and get the Father or Jesus or the Holy Spirit to speak with us like we would expect in conversation with another human being, rather it is to trust Love Himself is attentive, and that we can speak unabashedly whatever joys, sorrows, doubts, burdens, gratitude, needs, fill our hearts. It is to have the heart of a child who chats with their parents or grandparents.

The ‘always’ aspect of this line from the Little Mandate is no burden since our hearts beat all day long, for our very existence is prayer, and fidelity to the duty of the moment is itself prayer. There is no dichotomy between the serving actions of Martha and the contemplative stance of Mary in the presence of Christ. Indeed, action must lead to contemplation and contemplation to action, the mobius strip of living the Gospel with our lives.

Fasting itself must be marked with love, lack of self interest, be done as act of intercession and remembering, intercede for Divine Mercy for our sins and those of the whole world and remembering that our real needed food and drink is the Holy Eucharist. Fasting should not be restricted to food. Indeed, better not to fast from food of any kind, or any kind of drink if we are unwilling to fast from a very long list of unholiness from self-interest, ego, judging others, etc. etc., etc. Yes the classic form of fasting, such as is common practice during Lent is blessed, but fasting from actions and attitudes that hurt or demean, judge, or reject others, etc., is very much blessed.

The absolute depths of Pray, fast. Pray always, fast, is best shown by the following: One day Father Lot went to Father Joseph and told him, “As far as I can I keep my rule. I eat little, I pray and I am silent. I work with my hands and share my bread with the poor. As best I can, I strive to purify my heart. What else should I do?” Then Father Joseph stood up and stretched out his arms, and from his fingers shot tongues of fire. “If you want,” he said, “you can become a living flame.”  After that quotation from the Desert Fathers, Pelton continues: To become a living flame: that is the Gospel proclaimed by Jesus the Master. That is what He Himself is, the blazing sun who lights the whole world………There is no secret about the nature of that fire. It is simply love……It is the living Spirit of the living God, alive in us. It is the Holy Spirit who pours God’s love into us and makes us living flames……Our Lord and Master has made Himself our food and drink as He has made Himself our fire and light. It we remain inconsolable until our own prayer pierces the clouds and the Father makes us also living flames, the reason is that our burning is ultimately for others. Everywhere our sisters and brothers are dying of hunger, cold, and disbelief. It we refuse the humility of Christ and the fire of His love, who will feed them or warm them – or light their way home to the tenderness of the Father? [2]


[2] CIRCLING THE SUN, Meditations on Christ in Liturgy and Time; pp. 122 & 123; Robert D. Pelton; The Pastoral Press, 1986 [out of print/italics and emphasis mine]

© 2021 Fr. Arthur Joseph