Thursday, December 21, 2023


                                                  UNCOMFORTABLE QUESTIONS

In her book WAR, how conflict shapes us, Canadian historian, Marget Macmillan, quotes this from Pericles: But the man who most truly can be accounted brave is he who best knows the meaning of what is sweet in life and of what is terrible, and then goes out undeterred to meet what is to come. [1]

Do we not need, in our politics, civic life, lives of faith more men and women who can be counted brave?

The truth is out there, but sometimes a great deal is harder to find than the less complex, more appealing disinformation that obscures it. [2]

Götterdämmerung refers fundamentally to the collapse of a society or regime marked by catastrophe violence and disorder, such as that of the Nazi regime and the other axis powers of the 2nd world war. The more common notion is “Twilight of the Gods,” a Wagnerian dark opera in his Ring series.

Even the most cursory glance at daily news from around the world reveals numerous wars, in the Holy land, Ukraine, Yemen, Sudan and countless internecine disruptions in the body politic of countries from the US, Canada, Great Britain, etc., etc.

As well recently Pope Francis stripped an archbishop from Texas of the bishop’s diocese and demoted a Cardinal, taking away his salary and grace and favour apartment, amounting to a shot across the bow of any who, like those two, challenge this Pope.

When two people request a blessing, even if their situation as a couple is “irregular,” it will be possible for the ordained minister to consent. However, this gesture of pastoral closeness must avoid any elements that remotely resemble a marriage rite. This is what is stated in the Declaration “Fiducia supplicans” on the pastoral meaning of blessings, published by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith and approved by Pope Francis. “Fiducia supplicans” begins with the introduction by the prefect, Cardinal Victor Fernandez, who explains that the Declaration considers the “pastoral meaning of blessings,” allowing “a broadening and enrichment of the classical understanding” through a theological reflection “based on the pastoral vision of Pope Francis.” It is a reflection that “implies a real development from what has been said about blessings up until now, reaching an understanding of the possibility “of blessing couples in irregular situations and same-sex couples without officially validating their status or changing in any way the Church’s perennial teaching on marriage.” [3]

While I don’t expect a full blown Götterdämmerung within the Catholic Church, for none of Francis’ questionable decisions have been ex-cathedra, but are therefore just one’s man’s ideas, an open schism, worse than that of Archbishop Lefebvre and his associates is not beyond the pale.

Shall we ask what naivete embraces the dubious expectation of the above that none among those asking for or those administering such ‘blessings’ won’t cross the Rubicon into various simulacrums of marriage?

There are many uncomfortable questions which need to be asked in the light of day but as regards the state of the Church under this Pope, that of the body politic in our countries and the growing divisions within our nations and between nations, in this age of AI, and deliberate misinformation, discerning objective truth is akin to organising a bowling match in quicksand!

I am also of the generation before vaccines for childhood diseases where common and so things like measles, chicken pox, etc., were ubiquitous, the most devastating was polio and I remember the last major polio epidemic before the Salk vaccine when classmates ended up in iron-lungs or dead.

Also in those days, before the internet, and the plethora of news sources, both legitimate and otherwise {and it is not lost on me I am using the same system to ask uncomfortable questions}, news programs on radio, and then on television, were presented by ‘news readers’, in Canada on the CBC and Radio-Canada, following the tradition set by the BBC. The News Readers, mostly male, were trained to annunciate proper English.

Does anyone hear or speak proper English these days of schoolteachers who push agendas rather than actual education! Likewise newspapers tended to shy away from mere commentary and struggled to adhere to the 5 W’s – Who, What, When, Where Why!

These are the days when parental rights are made subservient to agendas such as so-called climate change and gender dysphoria where teachers allow little munchkins to choose their own pronouns.

Apparently gender dysphoria is a contagious disease! And “trans” identity has become another overflowing bin of rights!

When did rights become a major instrument used to herd the woke cats of liberalism?

Thus the polio epidemic was reported on, not analyzed to death. Unlike with covid which to this very day is a slippery snake issue with people shouting from their silos not hearing, let alone listening, to one another. Even more contentious is the whole matter of vaccines.

How has it come to this? From whence the utter distrust of mainstream media? My own suspicion is the roots are to be found in the depths of the Vietnam war and the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Because the Warren commission report was so badly handled and because the reports out of Vietnam about the war contradicted the ever increasing body bags returning to the US, the seeds of the choking weeds of distrust were sown. Canada by contrast to Our American cousins, when we had our troops in Afghanistan, was vividly open about casualties:

Nonetheless, opinions about that war and the other issues referenced above and below are marked by raggedly sharp divides.

Again the uncomfortable question: why have we become such obstreperous citizens one towards another?

Are we Christians no longer the people of the Beatitudes and the Great Commandment to love one another as Christ loves us?

Do we not see the direct lines between the violent weapons in our hearts, thoughts, rhetoric, and the violence all around us? Do we no longer embrace the Holy Gospel as the sacred word of God but merely as a text to be parsed?

I grew up in a military family, my father served in the Royal Canadian Navy throughout the entire Battle of the Atlantic, the longest battle of the Second World War.

A great Uncle lived with us who had been gassed in the Battle of Ypres:

His lungs were burned by the gas and he never fully recovered.

Empires fell because of that war and areas like the Middle East were carved up by the winners, as were other German territories around the world, themselves due to conquest.

It has become popular, among the liberal elites in what used to be called ‘the new world’ to pander to notions of nonindigenous citizens as settlers and colonizers.

Which native North American tribe invented higher mathematics, discovered equivalents to penicillin, invented the wheel?

True in the early days both across north, central and south America, sometimes aided and abetted by the Church, unholy things were done to the conquered peoples, who today, nonetheless have among their ranks mathematicians, doctors, lawyers, judges, and in the case of Canada a Governor General!

Why do the woke chattering classes fail to mention the positives?

When I was growing up this country and most of the Americas and Western Europe, celebrated our Chrisian heritage, yet the EU deliberately, in spite of the pleas of St. john Paul II, excised that two millennia heritage from its constitution and the woke crowd never utters Merry Christmas, just a languid Happy Holidays begging the question which holidays.

The origin of the word holiday goes back to old English and derives from holy day.

 A final and hopefully really uncomfortable question, asked of myself as well; Who is Jesus for You?

Ultimately no Jesus, no humanity. No Christ Child, no babies will survive any war. No baby Jesus in a cave with His homeless parents, no hope for the myriad homeless on the streets of our cities, no crucified and Risen Christ in transubstantiated bread and wine and we will all starve to death!

We are called to see the face of Christ…in His death He went into the deepest heart of creation – its emptiness- and when He rose, He took our flesh and filled it with the glory of God. The face of Christ is shining now in every human face…. God’s love is not bound. There is order in God, but it is the order of Father, Son and Spirit communing in inexhaustible love. Infinite being is infinite, boundless love. [4].

Christ’s love, trinitarian love is all fire and light. Everything alive on earth, every ocean, river, drop of water, all require light. We humans require light, no light, no ability to see the wonders of His love all around us, throughout the human family and the cosmos!

Light penetrates, enlightens, gives and sustains life!

We use the word radiant and radiates when speaking of another’s smile, newborn babies trigger such radiance when we smile at them.

 No wonder our true God, who is Light from Light came to dwell among us as one like us in all things but sin as a newborn and left us as a glorified, radiant, risen adult after pouring Himself out for us to the last drop of His Blood and Last breath of life, the light from His eyes gone when He said, “It is finished!”

It is light and fire radiance of the Risen Christ Himself we receive in every Holy Communion.

Who is Christ for me?

My Beloved everything. Christ is all, and is in all. [Col. 3:11]



© Fr. Arthur Joseph, 2023

[1] WAR how conflict shaped us, Margaret MacMillan, top of page 20;

Penguin Random House Canada, 2021

[2] from The Last Train by Peter Bradley, p. 296 Harper North, 2022

[3] from the Vatican news site:

[4] pp. 65, 67, 133. From Circling the Sun by Robert D. Pelton, the Pastoral Press 1986, currently Out of Print.