3rd Station: Jesus Falls for the First Time


You are my hope, Lord; my trust, God, from my youth.[ Ps.71:5 ]
We adore You O Christ and we praise You – because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.

O Jesus my Lord and my God – grant me to enter into Your pain and trustful surrender to the Holy Will of our Father.

O Jesus I put my face to the ground in adoration of Your humility whereby You take upon Yourself the totality of human weakness and allow its weight to crush You to the ground. Grant whenever I am tempted to remain in my sin or feel crushed by despair I will put my face to the ground adoring my fallen Lord and draw trusting hope from Your struggling to Your feet and walking forward again.

O Jesus my Lord and my God – grant me to enter into Your pain and trustful surrender to the Holy Will of our Father.

Sometimes Jesus I am tempted when I have fallen into the blackness of ____________ or the sin of ________________ to remain there for the weakness of my faith causes me to doubt Your Divine Mercy. O Jesus through the redemptive grace of Your fall and rising, grant me courageous hope.

O Jesus my Lord and my God – grant me to enter into Your pain and trustful surrender to the Holy Will of our Father.

The deepest pit is that of compromise. The hardest fall is into sin. O Jesus You are the Way, the Truth and the Life – grant I walk always hand in hand with You the Way, speak only You the Truth and choose and always defend Life!

O Jesus my Lord and my God – grant me to enter into Your pain and trustful surrender to the Holy Will of our Father.

O Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mother of Priests – pray for me and all my brother priests that we might follow Jesus, speak truth and defend life from the womb to the tomb.

..Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer.[ Rm.12:12 ]

1st Station: Jesus is Condemned to Death

..the unfortunate have hope..[ Jb. 5:16 ]

We adore You O Christ and we praise You – because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.

O Jesus my Lord and my God – grant me to enter into Your pain and trustful surrender to the Holy Will of our Father.

Jesus I feel alone, condemned by _____________________ and have felt burning within me a spirit of rebellion, anger, rejection, abandonment and loss of hope.

O Jesus my Lord and my God – grant me to enter into Your pain and
trustful surrender to the Holy Will of our Father.

Jesus I renounce any spirits of resistance, rebellion, doubt, distrust, loss of hope and cast such spirits at Your feet for You to dispose of as You will.

O Jesus my Lord and my God – grant me to enter into Your pain and trustful surrender to the Holy Will of our Father.

O Jesus grant me to forgive ____________________ which renders me as one condemned and to love my enemies, do good to those who persecute me, and with every heartbeat to thank-You for first taking upon Yourself every word and act of condemnation ever experienced by myself and every human being.

O Jesus my Lord and my God – grant me to enter into Your pain and trustful surrender to the Holy Will of our Father.

O Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mother of Priests, pray for me and all my brother priests.

..we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom we have gained access by faith to this grace in which we stand, and we boast in hope of the glory of God…[ Rm. 5:1/2 ]

58 – Quotations – Bibliography

[a] Healing Your Family Tree, p.10/John H. Hampsch, C.M.F./Our Sunday Visitor Books, 1989


[b] Catechism of the Catholic Church, # 2158,59, Concacan Inc. – Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1994, for the English translation in Canada


[c] New Seeds of Contemplation, ch. 5 Things In Their Identity, pp.34, 35, Thomas Merton, New Directions Books, 1972


[d] Decree On The Ministry and Life Of Priests, ch. III The Life of Priests, sec. II
Special Spiritual Requirements In The Life Of The Priests, Relation with the World and worldly goods: voluntary poverty, para.17; Vatican Council II, The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, gen. ed. Austin Flannery, O.P., Pp. 895,6; Costello Publishing Company, Northport, New York, 1987


[e] GIFT AND MYSTERY, On the Fiftieth Anniversary of My Priestly Ordination: Pope John Paul II; IX Being a Priest Today, p.84; Doubleday, New York, New York, 1996


[f] Dominum Et Vivficantem {On The Holy Spirit In The Life Of The Church And The World} Encyclical Letter of Pope John Paul II, May 18, 1986; paras. 38.1 & 38.2; Vatican Translation


[g] CHRIST — THE IDEAL OF THE PRIEST, Spiritual Conferences, by the Right Rev. D. Columba Marmion; VII Humiliavit Sempetipsum Factus Obediens, ii Humility and Spiritual Progress, p.119; Sands & Co. ( Publishers) Ltd., London, England, 1952


[h] Living Between Worlds, place and journey in celtic spirituality, Philip Sheldrake, Introduction – Place and Journey, p.7; Cowley Publications, Boston, Massachusetts

[i] CIRCLING THE SUN, Meditations On Christ in Liturgy and Time; 3 The Master of Life, Becoming A Living Flame; p.122; Robert D. Pelton; The Pastoral Press, Washington, DC; 1986


[j] Cistercian Studies Series: Number Fifty-Three, PENTHOS, The Doctrine Of Compunction In The Christian East, V The Causes of Compunction, Pure Love of God, pp.47,8; Irenee Hauser, sj; Cistercian Publications Inc., Kalamazoo, Michigan, 1982


[k] THE SAYINGS OF THE DESERT FATHERS, The Alphabetical Collection, ALPHA, Anthony the Great, # 20; translated by Benedicta Ward, slg, A. R. Mowbray & Co. Ltd., Oxford, England, 1981

[l] op.cit.# 25


[m] Letter of His Holiness Pope John Paul II To Artists, The artist, image of God The Creator, para.1, p. I, Special Insert, L’Osservatore Romano, Weekly  Edition in English, n.17(1589)-28April 1999


[n] ibid. Para. 2 & 12


[o] THE BROKEN IMAGE, Restoring Personal Wholeness Through Healing

 Prayer; Four, The Search For Sexual Identity, Suppressed Masculinity,  Stan’s Story, p.73; Leanne Payne – Crossway Books, Westchester, Illinois, 1981


[p] The OXFORD SHAKESPEARE, The Complete Works, Sonnets; # 129, p.767;

 Gen. Ed., Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor; Oxford University Press, Great Clarendon Street, Oxford; 1988


[q] CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, op. cit., para.395


[r] TRANSFIGURATION of OUR LORD and SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST, Chapter Four, Celebration of Transfiguration, Celebration of our  Divinization, p.65; by Joseph Raya; Madonna House Publications,  Combermere, Ontario; 1992


[s] CRISIS in MASCULINITY, 1 When a Man Walks Alongside Himself, p.19;

Leanne Payne; Crossway Books, Westchester, Illinois; 1985


[t] ADDICTION & GRACE, 1. Desire: Addiction and Human Freedom, Genesis,

 p.13; Gerald G. May, M.D.; Harper & Row Publishers, San Francisco; 1988


[u] ADDICTION & GRACE; 2. Experience: The Qualities of Addiction;

Tolerance; p.26; Gerald G. May, M.D.; Harper & Row, Publishers, San Francisco, 1988


[v] op. cit.p.27


[w] op. cit.p.27


[x] op .cit. p.29, 30


[y] A TRAVELER TOWARD THE DAWN, The Spiritual Journal of John  Eagan, S.J.; ed. By William J. O’Malley, S.J.; 6 Berkeley Sabbatical;  John of the Cross, p.77; Loyola University Press, Chicago, Illinois, 1990


[z] A THOMAS MERTON READER, Edited by Thomas P. McDonnell; Part Two- Magnetic North-Seven: SINCERITY, p.125 – a quotation from No Man  Is An Island by Thomas Merton; A THOMAS MERTON READER ; Published by Image Books, Doubleday, New York; 1989


[aa] ASCENT OF MOUNT CARMEL, ST. JOHN OF THE CROSS; Book 1, Ch. 8, paras.1-3; translated by Kavanaugh/Rodriguez: ICS Publications-Institute of Carmelite Studies, Washington, D.C. – 1979


[ab] Urodivoi ch. 4 repent; Catherine de Hueck Doherty – 1983 edition by Crossroad Publishing, New York…locate and correct/complete reference                                 


[ac] op.cit.

[ad] St. Peter of Damaskos, Bk.1, A Treasury of Divine Knowledge, Introduction: as found in The Philokalia, The Complete Text, Volume 3 –Faber and Faber 1984:Vol. 3; eds. Palmer/Sherrard/Ware


[ae] op.cit. St. Makarios of Egypt, Spiritual Perfection


[af] op. cit. ibid. Freedom of the Intellect


[ag] THE STRUGGLE WITH GOD; 7 The Different Ages Of The Spiritual Life, p. 57; Paul Evdokimov; Paulist Press, New Jersey,1966




[ai] BERNARD OF CLAIRVAUX, Selected Works; The Classics of Western Spirituality; Sermons On The Song of Songs, Sermon 50, III.8,p.245; Paulist Press, New York, 1987


[aj] THE ROSARY OF OUR LADY, Romano Guardini, The Second Joyful Mystery, the Visitation, p.88; Sophia Institute Press, Manchester, NH; 1994


[ak] THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE; translated by John K. Ryan; Book 8, Grace of Faith; chapter 11; paragraph 26; Image, Doubleday,  New York, 1960


[al] NEW SEEDS OF CONTEMPLATION; 33 Journey through the Wilderness; p.239, Thomas Merton; A New Directions Book, New York; 1961


[am] HEART OF THE WORLD; chapter 1, The Flowing Stream, p.19; Hans Urs Von Balthasar; Ignatius Press, San Francisco; 1979


[an] ROBERT BELLARMINE, Spiritual Writings; The Classics of Western Spirituality; The Mind’s Ascent To God, Step Six, The Consideration of Fire, Chapter One-God’s hatred of sin Is like a consuming fire, p.107; Paulist Press, New York,1989



Encyclical of Pope John Paul II; Part II, The Spirit Who Convinces The World Concerning Sin, section 5, The Blood that purifies the Conscience, para.43.1; Vatican Press translation, 1986


[ap] Von Balthasar, op. cit., chapter 5 The Putting-off Game, p.91,2


[aq] THE PHILOKALIA, VOLUME THREE; St. Philotheos of Sinai – Forty Texts On Watchfulness, para.1, p.16; The Eling Trust; Faber & Faber, London, 1984


[ar] Op.cit., para. 7, p. 18


[as] THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ST. JOHN OF THE CROSS; The Ascent of Mount Carmel, Book I, ch. 6, para.3,6; p.85,86; trans. Kavanaugh & Rodriguez; ICS Publications, Washington, DC, 1979


[at] op.cit.bk.I,ch.7,para.1


[au] Pope John Paul II, Angelus discourse, 1 November 1999; L’Osservatore

Romano, Weekly Edition in English, N.44(1615) – 3 November 1999


[av] THE POWER TO ACT – TOWARD A CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE OF TIME; Catherine Dalzell; The Canadian Catholic Review; February 1993,Volume Eleven, Number Two, pp.9,10


[aw] ST.JOHN OF THE CROSS, op.cit., Bk.1, ch.8, para. 7


[ax] TERTIO MILLENNIO ADVENIENTE, Pope John Paul II; II- The Jubilee Of The Year 2000, paras. 9,10,; Vatican Press, 10 November 1994


[ay] DIVES IN MISERICORDIA, [ On The Mercy of God ]; V. THE PASCHAL MYSTERY; 8. Love More Powerful Than Death, More Powerful Than Sin – para. 2; Pope John Paul II, Nov.30.80

[az] SUNDAY SERMONS OF THE GREAT FATHERS; II – ON THE HOLY PASCH, St. Gregory Nazianzenus – found in Vol. II, p.220; Longmans, Green – London, 1958


[ba] DEARLY BELOVED, Volume 3; p.111 – Catherine de Hueck Doherty; Madonna House Publications, Combermere, 1990


[bb] THE ART OF PRAYER, complied by Igumnen Chariton of Valamo; The Inner Closet of the Heart by St. Dimitri of Rostov, ch. 1, p. 43;  Faber & Faber, London, 1966


[bc] THE HEALING PRESENCE, ch.6, p.73; Leanne Payne; Crossway Books, Illinois, 1989


[bd] GRACE IN EVERY SEASON; selections from the writings of Catherine De Hueck Doherty; p.116; Madonna House Publications, 1992


[be] JULIUS CAESAR, Act 3, Scene 1; taken from: The OXFORD SHAKESPEARE, p.612; Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1988


[bf] THE SEED AND THE SOWER, first part: A Bar of Shadow, ch. 2, p.44-5; Laurens Van Der Post; Penguin Books, 1988


[bg] GUADIUM ET SPES ( Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern

 World); PART ONE, The Church and Man’s Vocation, Chapter II, The Community of Mankind, Essential Equality of all Men: Social Justice, para.29


[bh] CROSSING THE THRESHOLD OF HOPE; “ The Pope ‘: A Scandal and a Mystery; pp.4-7; by His Holiness Pope John Paul II; Alfred A. Knopf, Canada, 1994


[bi] SALVIFICI DOLORIS,( On The Christian Meaning Of Human Suffering ),

 V- Sharers in the Suffering of Christ, para. 24.5; VIII- Conclusion paras.,

 31.6,7; Vatican Translation, 1984



 By Mario Bergner; Baker Books, 1995


[bk] POPE PAUL VI — taken from LA VITA QUOTIDIANA DE PAOLO VI, By John Magee in MODERNITE DE PAUL VI, pp.137-39 and quoted by Peter Hebbelthwaite in his PAUL VI THE FIRST MODERN POPE, pp.696-97; Paulist Press, New York, 1993


[bl] THE STRUGGLE WITH GOD, Part II, ch. 2 – Three Aspects of Evil and the Evil One, pp.71-2; Paul Evdokimov; Paulist Press, 1966


[bm] CHRIST THE IDEAL OF THE PRIEST, Ch. V, p. 83; Dom Columba Marmion; Sands & Co., Glasgow, 1952


[bn] THE LORD; XII Gethsemane; pp.382-3; Romano Guardini; Henry Regnery

 Company, Chicago, 1954



Sermon for the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary; pp.84-87; originally published as a translation from Latin to English in 1921 And re-printed in 1984 by the Mount Melleray Abbey Trust


[bp] POUSTINIA; Part II, p.124; Catherine de Hueck Doherty; Canadian Edition,

 Madonna House Publications, 1993


[bq] WITNESS TO HOPE, The Biography of Pope John Paul II; 2- From The

 Underground – The Worker; pp.56,7; George Weigel; HarperCollins, New York, 1999


[br] NEW SEEDS OF CONTEMPLATION; ch. 3- Seeds of Contemplation; p.16;

 Thomas Merton; New Directions, 1972


[bs] A HYMN TO GOD THE FATHER, found in the poetry section of the Divine

 Office and attributed to Ben Johnson; see The Liturgy of the Hours,1976 edition, Catholic Book Publishing Co., N.Y.


[bt] POPE JOHN PAUL II, as quoted in L’Osservatore Romano, N.48- ,

1 December 1999, page 2


[bu1] SOLLICITUDO REI SOCIALIS, encyclical letter of Pope John Paul II;

 IV- Authentic Human Development, para. 30.3; Dec.30,1987


[bu2] CENTESIMUS ANNUS, encyclical letter of Pope John Paul II; IV-Private

Property and the Universal Destination of Material Goods; para.37.1;May 1, 1991


[bv] LABOREM EXERCENS; encyclical letter of Pope John Paul II; I- Introduction; para. 1.2; September 14, 1981


[bw] SETTING LOVE IN ORDER; 6 – Loving the same sex; The Perfect Lover;

 P.116; Mario Bergner – Baker Books, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1995


[bx] VERITATIS SPLENDOR, encyclical of Pope John Paul II; II – The Church

and the Discernment of Certain Tendencies in Present-Day Moral Theology; paras. 32:1,2,3; August 6,1993


[by] CIRCLING THE SUN, Meditations on Christ in Liturgy and Time; 2- The

 Coming Fire, Repent and Believe; pp.62,3; Robert D. Pelton; The Pastoral Press, Washington, DC, 1986


[bz] THE LIVES OF THE DESERT FATHERS; translated by Norman Russell;

 The Additions of Rufinus, XX-15, 448-9; Cistercian Studies Series – No.34, 1981


[ca] DEARLY BELOVED; Letters to the Children of My Spirit; Volume I,

1956-1963; Spiritual Direction and the Heart of a Child – letter of January 8, 1963; Catherine de Hueck Doherty; Madonna House Publications, 1989


[cb] WITNESS TO HOPE; The Biography of Pope John Paul II; 8 – “ Be Not

Afraid! “, a Pope for the World; p.262; George Weigel; Harper Collins,

New York, 1999


[cc] Excerpted with my emphasis from L’ Osservatore Romano, N.52 (1623) – 29

 December 1999 — from the homily of Pope John Paul II, Midnight Mass,

 St. Peter’s Basilica, 1999



 THE HOMOSEXUAL CONDITION -II.; by Gianfrancesco Zuanazzi; as found in L’Osservatore Romano, edition N.18-30, April 1997.


[ce-1,2,3,4] THE SAYINGS OF THE DESERT FATHERS; The Alphabetical Collection, translated by Benedicta Ward, SLG; p.23 # 21; p.80 3 1;P.122 # 2; pp.241-2 # 2; Mowbray, London, 1975


[cf] THE POPE’S CHRISTMAS MESSAGE: ‘ Urbi et Orbi ‘; Pope John Paul II;

L’Osservatore Romano, ( English edition); N.52-29 December 1999



Of Transformation, Part 3, p.55; John & Paula Sandford; Victory House, Inc., Tulsa, OK; 1982


[ch] ADDICTION & GRACE; 7.Empowerment: Grace and Will in Overcoming

 Addiction, p.141;  Gerald G. May, M.D.; Harper and Row, Publishers,

 San Francisco; 1988


[ci] MAY, ibid, p.133


[cj] REDEMPTOR HOMINIS; encyclical of Pope John Paul II; II- The Mystery of

 the Redemption, The human dimension of the mystery of Redemption: para.10.1; March 4, 1979


[ck] THE COMMUNION OF LOVE; ch.16: The Holy Spirit in the conflict between the enemy and the Kingdom of God; p. 191; Matthew the Poor; St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1984


[cl] THE HEALING PRESENCE; CHAPTER 12- Introspection versus True Imagination; pp.156-7; Leanne Payne; Crossway Books; Wheaton, Ill; 1989


[cm] ibid, p.160



By Jerzy Peterkiewicz; pp.70,1; Random House, New York, 1982


[co] THE CONFESSIONS OF SAINT AUGUSTINE; Book 13 – The Creation of

 The World; Chapter 1- Without You I Am Nothing (1); p.335;  Translated by John K. Ryan; Image Books, New York, 1960




 1979; para.11.


[cq] THE SAYINGS OF THE DESERT FATHERS; The Alphabetical Collection;

 ETA; Elias, # 7, pp.71,2; A.R. Mowbray & Co. Ltd., Oxford, reprinted 1983


[cr] op.cit.# 122., p.185


[cs] APOSTOLIC LETTER TERTIO MILLENNIO ADVIENTE; Pope John Paul II; para.56; November 10, 1994


[ct] op.cit.para.59


[cu] DEARLY BELOVED; Letters to the Children of My Spirit; Volume Three,

 1974-1983; Catherine de Hueck Doherty; Experiencing Sobornost – letter dated September 10, 1978; p.163; Madonna House Publications -Combermere, ON, 1990


[cv-1] THE SAYINGS OF THE DESERT FATHERS: The Alphabetical Collection, op. cit; p.28- # 28


[cv-2] ibid, pp.1-9; #’s 3,4,5,7,9,25,32


[cw-1] THE CONFESSIONS OF SAINT AUGUSTINE; op.cit.p.191, para.14


[cw-2] ibid., p.202, para.29



 A SOUL; Third Edition translated from the original manuscripts by John Clarke, O.C.D.; Manuscript A – Chapter VII – First Years in Carmel (1888-1890); p.158; ICS Publications; Washington, DC; 1996


[cx-2] op.cit.-Chapter VIII- Profession, Offering to Merciful Love (1890-1895); P.179


[cx-3] op.cit.p.277


[cy] POUSTINA; 10. Liberation In Christ; p.132; Catherine de Hueck Doherty;

 Madonna House Publications; Combermere, Canada; Canadian Edition, 1993


[cz] FIDES ET RATIO {FAITH AND REASON}; encyclical of Pope John Paul II;

 Chapter VI: The Interaction Between Philosophy and Theology-para.73; Vatican translation, 1998


[da] WITNESS TO HOPE, op.cit.ch.13,p.440


[db] OPTATAN TOTIUS; Sec.III. Major Seminaries; para.4; as found in: Vatican Council II, the Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents; General Editor Austin Flannery, O.P., Costello Publishing Company, Northport, New York; 1987  { italics and capitals for emphasis are mine }


[dc] THE SACRAMENT OF THE PRESENT MOMENT; 4.- Surrendering to God-

 The wonders He performs; pp.38-9; Jean-Pierre De Caussade; translated from the original by Kitty Muggeridge; Fount Paperbacks, London, 1981


[dd] NOSTRA AETATE; Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non- Christian Religions; para.4 {cf. For source footnote [de] }


[de] Pope John Paul II on his visit to the Rome Synagogue as quoted by Weigel,



[df-1] POPULORUM PROGRESSIO; On the Development of People’s; encyclical

 Of Pope Paul Vi; para.31; Vatican 1967


[df-2] ibid


[dg] DEAR FATHER; Introduction-pp.1,2; Catherine de Hueck Doherty; Madonna

 House Publications, Combermere, Canada, 1988


[dh] GIFT AND MYSTERY; CHAPTER IV-pp.44-46; Pope John Paul II;

 Doubleday, New York, 1996

[di] CHRIST— THE IDEAL OF THE PRIEST; VII-Humiliavit Semetipsum Factus

 Obediens, iv.- Priestly Obedience; p.124; Dom Columba Marmion; Sands & Co. Ltd, London, 1952


[dj] GIFT AND MINISTRY, op.cit.p.69


[dk] Marmion, op. cit. P. 174


[dl] THE SPIRITUAL LIFE OF THE PRIEST; “ I Have Called You Friends…”;

 p.10; Fr. M. Eugene Boylan, O.C.R; The Newman Press, Maryland,1953


[dm] THE OXFORD SHAKESPEARE, op.cit.; p.991 – Macbeth, 4.1


[dn] SALVIFICI DOLORIS; Pope John Paul II; paras. 6,7,11,12



P.161; George William Rutler, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1988


[dp] ibid.p.171




[dr] OUR HOPE FOR THE NEXT MILLENNIUM by Father John Hardon,

 Appears in: The Catholic Faith, January/February 2000, Vol.6, No.1,p.7



Letters to the Children of My Spirit, Volume Two, 1964-1973; by

 Catherine de Hueck Doherty; pp.273,4; Madonna House Publications,

 Combermere, Canada, 1990

16 – Asphalt Pilgrim’s Way

IT’S BEEN five weeks since I have sat down to write — weeks in which I have traveled close to 8,000 miles of the nation’s highways. Interiorly only in death will I, or perhaps anyone, know the inward distance.

Since I wrote the previous chapter I have moved twice. First from the rectory in the city where I was assigned some years ago by my Bishop to this industrial city where my spiritual father has said to live, near The Community’s house, while I pilgrim this sabbatical. Then from that first apartment to this house of a friend where I have this little room, dedicated to Blessed Padre Pio, in which to live and write.

The day after moving here the long trip began to visit where decades ago I had been assigned as a layman in the soup kitchen of a great plains city and from whence another trauma occurred like that when the Abbot put me on that train which wrenched me away from my monastic life.

On this latest journey I visited the great mountains of the continent and touched the majesty of our Heavenly Father, or rather was touched by His Majesty.

On that long trip I touched the dying life of my mentor from when I first joined the Community.

Once returned here passed again through the mystery of grief and death, as four friends were called to heaven.

Just the other day I joined the community as we carried the body of my mentor to its final resting place in the sand and rocks at the base of a great hill near the great river, upon which the first martyrs of this continent had traveled in their passion to bring Christ in His Sacrament and Gospel into the lives of our aboriginal ancestors.

After the funeral my spiritual father urged me to resist further travel, to complete this work.

Suddenly a great fear washed over and within my being — having been away from writing for so many weeks, have I lost the flow, the trend, the simplicity, the courage, the ability?

So today since the wee hours of this morning I have fretted, struggled, walked around this house, picked up and laid down again the original notes for this work, unsure, unsure, unsure, until the grace was given: sit, trust, and write.

The man who does not permit his spirit to be beaten down and upset by dryness and helplessness, but who lets God lead him peacefully through the wilderness, and desires no other support or guidance than that of pure faith and trust in God alone, will be brought to the Promised Land. He will taste the peace and joy of union with God. He will, without ‘seeing’, have a habitual, comforting, obscure and mysterious awareness of his God, present and acting in all the events of life. The man who is not afraid to abandon all his spiritual progress into the hands of God, to put prayer, virtue, merit, grace, and all gifts in the keeping of Him from Whom they all must come, will quickly be led to peace in union with Him. His peace will be all the sweeter because it will be free of every care. {al}


It is, then, not some stressful, complex, issue of recall or talent or anything like that.

It is a simple matter of obedience, the duty of the moment.

This sabbatical is to do the will of the Father.

The will of the Father is to write, pray and paint, articulated by the Father’s proximate presence in my life, my spiritual father and his directive to me.

So, I pray, I sit, I am touched by grace, I write.

15 Luke 6:27-26: Another Little Easter

How I love the truth and tradition of every Sunday being celebrated as a Little Easter, for the mystery of His Holy Resurrection is the core reality not only of our Christian Faith, but of the very existence of all creation.

As I celebrated Holy Mass here in the apartment this morning, against a background of sirens, yelling people, on a day when in many countries of the world there are riots, civil war, famine, bombings, hurricanes, brush fires, births, marriages, working, eating, laughing, and, praying, I was so aware of the whole world, the whole human family.

At supper last evening with friends of a friend of mine the husband said he has never met a priest like myself. The difference he said is he finds young priests nowadays are arrogant and have little life experience. You, he said of myself, seem to care about people.

How true it is that a priest must have a passion for people, for his brothers and sisters.

The same passion for them as Christ has.

This came about in the conversation because I was there as much to enjoy their company as to do research for two books I am preparing: one on the priesthood and one on the Gospel and modern economies.

Reviewing the previous chapter of this work on my monastic years there came upon me a temptation to re-write or at least add to the material more details about those years.

I say temptation because in fact that is exactly what it is, a temptation.

It may seem a contradiction, given the detailed openness about the preceding period of my life, and the openness to follow, to be so spare of detail about those years in the monastic desert.

There is no contradiction.

While to a certain extent giving witness, such as in groups like AA, or here, or before a congregation testifying to the marvellous mercy of God in our lives to encourage others to accept Christ as our Saviour, is a holy thing, revealing too much, especially the intimate details between the Divine Bridegroom and we His beloved, is to ignore the sacredness of our being in the depths of our souls, truly, a garden enclosed [Sg. Of Sg. 4:12].

Since it is the Divine Bridegroom Himself who declares the sacredness of that ultimate inner depth, that virginal place within each soul where none other and nothing, no catastrophe, may have entrance save the Divine Bridegroom – and where He is there also is the Father and the Holy Spirit – what occurs there between the Blessed Trinity and the true self — for the false self can never enter this garden — is ineffable.


Not only can it not, but it would be a type of sacrilege to even attempt to express, reveal, to others — and in this case all others are indeed truly ‘ outsiders ‘ — what of love’s dialogue takes place within the garden.

So I prayed before the decision to write no more specifically about the monastic period of my life.

After that prayer the other day the phone rang and it was time to go to The Community’s house near here for the celebration of Holy Mass with my Spiritual Father who was visiting.

Before Mass we had a chance to go for a long walk and speak of many things, including how the sabbatical is going and this work.

During Holy Mass as he proclaimed the Holy Gospel my heart was struck that given what has been revealed so far, in particular the impact upon the hearts of readers of so much being endured at the hands or decisions of others, this may trigger within the reader some painful memories, perhaps even some anger towards those responsible for similar experiences of pain, including the self.

Maybe, even some anger towards God.

Before continuing the writing then, it seemed to my heart, there should be a meditation, a realization that as mysterious as the unfolding of our lives may be there is a sacred purpose to our being, Christ Himself, and that in Him all things are possible, as St. Paul reminds us [Rm. 8:28], keeping in mind that God is never outdone in generosity.


There is a danger — and not an unreal one since I was guilty of such judging and refusal to forgive myself for decades those who hurt me, sinned against me, rejected, abandoned, failed me in anyway — to become so caught up in pain and those who cause pain that we become a prisoner, an addict, of the pain and bitterness and wonder then why it seems all our prayer for relief is to no avail.

Certainly as I rode on the train away from the monastery after being so quickly, and without warning, dismissed, there was in my heart an overflow of stunned bitterness and anger, an acidic mixture which would gnaw at my heart and soul for decades, being added to all too frequently over the years.

I begin this meditation then in hopes it will reveal to your heart dear reader the essence of the monastic years, the truth of the conversion which later in life broke open my heart to Christ, the necessary first step to being freed of all sin and addiction, with an ancient prayer to the Holy Spirit that He will anoint these words of mine for you.

(It is the prayer I always say before any writing, preaching, and teaching.)


The Holy Gospel proclaimed by my Spiritual Father which was the vessel used by the Holy Spirit to pour this meditation into my heart was: LUKE 6:27-36!

This is the powerful: “But to you I say…” teaching where Jesus turns our relationship with others away from self and totally towards the other.

Indeed here too at the very end Jesus takes us beyond imitation of Himself, as critical as that is for us to truly live out the Gospel, further into the immensity and other centeredness of real love, as He calls us to be imitators of our Abba, of God the Father in His lavishness of merciful love [Lk.6:36].

To understand why, after two thousand years of Christianity such a core teaching of Jesus is not yet the ordinary way of daily life for the majority of Christians, there is an important insight found in the autobiography of St. Augustine:

 MY lovers of old, trifles and vanities of vanities, held me back. They plucked at my fleshly garment, and they whispered softly: “ Do you cast us off? “ and “ From that moment we shall no more be with you forever and ever! “ and again, “ From that moment no longer will this thing and that be allowed to you, forever and ever! “ What did they suggest by what I have called “ this thing and that, “ what, O my God, did they suggest? May Your mercy turn away all that from Your servant’s soul! What filth did they suggest! What deeds of shame! But now by far less than half did I hear them. For now it was not as if they were openly contradicting me, face to face, but as if they were muttering behind my back, and as if they were furtively picking at me as I left them, to make me look back again. Yet they did delay me, for I hesitated to tear myself away, and shake myself free of them, and leap over to that place where I was called to be. For an overpowering habit kept saying to me, “ Do you think that you can live without them?” [ak]

If we be honest within our own hearts, when we hear the words of Jesus spoken to us through the Holy Gospel,  for example in His conversation with the Rich Young Man [ Mt. 19:16ff], do we not repeat what rationalizations are whispered to us by our false selves or the father of confusion, the prince of darkness?

In Christian conversation with each other, let alone with those not of faith, do we feel a need to ‘ explain ‘ what Jesus really meant within the context of greedy, self-first modern life?

Are we so fearful of being somehow labelled as conservative or fundamentalist that we fail to conserve, preserve, and radically live the fundamentals of the Holy Gospel?

From pulpits do we hear an unmitigated commentary on how to truly live this passage as spoken by Jesus – a true call to live the Gospel without compromise?

Or do we hear some form of accommodation with the world psycho-tree-hugging-let’s-not-impose-on others babble?


St. Augustine very humbly shows why his conversion was such a long and laborious process. What holds true for the individual soul, as in Augustine’s conversion journey, the long struggle to finally open wide the doors of his being to Christ and with Christ to enter in and dwell from the core of the garden enclosed, appears to hold true for Christianity as a whole.

Hence the humble and passionate plea of Pope John Paul II that, as members of the Body of Christ, the Church, we beg forgiveness of those we have sinned against and be forgiving of those who sinned against us, throughout the entire first two millennia of Christianity.

Broken down into a list of what Jesus, in the passage from St. Luke 6: 27-36, tells us to do truly is a step by step process of loving one another.

A step to becoming in fact what Baptism initiates: our being formed by the Holy Spirit into alteris Christi!:


Love your enemies,
Do good to those who hate you,
Bless those who curse you,
Pray for those who mistreat you,
To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one,
From the person who takes your cloak, do not withhold even your
Give to everyone who asks of you,
From the one who takes what is yours, do not demand it back,
Do to others as you would have them do to you,
Love your enemies and do good to them,
Lend expecting nothing back,
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful!

Our culture, thanks in no small measure to the so-called ‘ talk ‘ shows on television and the so-called reality ‘ shows, as well as the particular slant given reports of various crimes, creates an atmosphere of blame and vengeance.

Our culture also appears to give litmus-test veracity to what our emotions tell us, hence dispassionate objective thinking is an ever rarer commodity in human interaction in our day.

To love my enemy is not a matter in the first instance of emotional response, but rather of a mature, reflective choice of my free will.

In a word I can listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit from the depths of the garden enclosed, or, I can listen to the whisperings of the father of lies from the depths of hell seeping into my subjective and disordered emotions.

Millions of people around the world saw on the television news one evening a man dressed in white, his back to the camera, sitting in a simple cell of a prison, leaning towards, conversing with, the very man who had earlier tried to murder him.

Pope John Paul showed the whole world how to love an enemy.

Now it may be argued that the further proof of this love would have been to see to it that the man was freed from jail.

That would have been a nice gesture, itself assuredly immediately second guessed in the press, but it would have denied the reality of justice which is itself a virtue.

To love an enemy does not mean denial of reality, for love and truth are inseparable.

Most of us will never have to forgive a murderer in the physical sense, though in our violent culture many may face such an heroic challenge to love.

Most of us will have to face those who have killed off our good name, or some joyful expectation, or a relationship, and the inner emotional upheaval can almost equate the emotional chaos and grief of death.

Who hates me is not a question easily answered objectively.

At some juncture in our lives most of us, perhaps especially parents and priests, have had some distraught person scream hatred at us.

But in truth who hates me?

Being a white-male there are those who hate me because I am white, others because I am male. Being a white-male-roman catholic-priest there are those who hate me for any part, or combination of, that definition.

In a word we can identify those who obviously hate us for reasons which, while they have an aspect of the personal about them, really amount to our being hated for generic reasons.

Who hates ‘me’ may require some humble reflection on my part, when that individual, (for please God there not be even one, even more please not more than one,) is known to my heart then Jesus’ command to do good- if I live out that command- becomes an occasion of conversion of my own heart, with its capability for bitterness and hatred, being transformed to a heart like His own { Mt.11:29},by the Holy Spirit at work in the good that I do.

When I’m in the express line at the grocery check-out counter and the old lady in front of me has enough items over the limit to cause a ripple of angry tension to wash along the line, what happens in my emotions is akin to, or at the very least the step-child of, hatred.

It becomes internalized though not as MY hating that old lady but clearly SHE must hate me to be doing this horrible thing to me, which is, causing my rush through life to be slowed down infinitesimally.

Not long after I was ordained I was visiting a confrere in his city and in an area of that city particularly hostile to Roman Catholics. My friend begged me not to walk about with my Roman collar on and explained his concern about the hostility it would trigger.

However I did wear my collar and it did trigger hostility, both verbal and physical by means of being spat upon.

Sometimes we are cursed and mistreated in an obvious way as children or adults, and sometimes it happens in ways that are not so obvious.

In either case our emotions figure in there rather radically and, tragically, our culture is full of so-called experts in various fields who will support, or worse suggest, that such and such an all too frequently emotional based response means of handling the process of vindication of our rights will set us free from the damage done……once the dust has settled the offender may, sometimes justly so, been jailed, sued, fired, divorced etc.,….but are we free?

The key to this whole teaching of Jesus, which does demand a radical living of the Gospel, is found in His final word here: BE MERCIFUL JUST AS YOUR FATHER IS MERCIFUL!

Even before telling us that this is the premise behind all the instructions on how to deal with enemies and attackers and the rest, Jesus tells us just HOW our Heavenly Father is merciful, a truth testified to every time the sun rises or the rains come down to refresh the earth [Mt.5:45]!

Why does all this loving, forgiving, enduring, sharing, gifting to those who clearly are enemy to us stand as so important a foundational reality of true discipleship?

 Jesus tells us quite bluntly we will only enter heaven if we have the heart of a child [Lk.18:17]: To become THAT childlike of heart we MUST love our enemies and do good for/to them!

This was not how my heart moved as the train took me away from the monastery anymore than it had been when seven years earlier the train had taken me away from the city of my birth to the monastery.

But seven years in the desert had planted remarkable seeds in the garden enclosed.

Decades would yet pass before those seeds would spring to life, watered by Divine Grace.

Here my heart felt the need however to insert these reflections lest the reader give in to the modern unwillingness to forgive in this culture of death addicted to a form of justice which is anger and hatred cloaked in lawsuits and so-called tough on crime politics, most anti-Gospel serious of all, Christians adhere to those attitudes!

Most importantly of all though, for the Holy Gospel MUST be the template of my life and not the litmus test I perform on others, I, in the writing of the events of my life, must not fail to reveal how much I have been forgiven, and therefore  I must: ‘go and do likewise’, in imitation of our All-Merciful Father.


14 – Monastic Interlude

MY BEING today is filled with a strange elixir: joy, co-mingled with sorrow.

Sorrow, because I have just been told one of the most important people to influence my life when I was in my twenties, a true father-figure, has incurable cancer, been given a few months to live.

He lives in the far west, near the great mountains which spine this continent and, given my, by choice, reduced circumstances on this sabbatical, getting out to see him will take not only quick and careful planning, but also the permission of my Spiritual Father, who, providentially, will be arriving in this city at The Community’s house tomorrow evening!

Joy because today is the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God.

She is our mother too, given to us by Jesus as He hung dying on the Cross.

It was also just under two decades ago on this very day I first began my studies as a seminarian.

My dying friend, mentor, was the first to encourage me as a writer, the first to commission articles and poems from my heart. He also taught me how to be a real man, servant and respecter of women, to use tools with care and efficiency, to love the land, the Holy Gospel, to respect and trust priests; especially, to care for and serve the poor.

Frankly I don’t much feel like praying today, though I did with peace celebrate the Divine Office and early this morning celebrated the Mass of the feast for the women in The Community’s house and enjoyed breakfast with them.

I don’t much feel like writing today, though I am here at this computer, because the duty of the moment is always the place to be with Christ and grief is part of the elixir of life, but not reason enough to abandon obedience and my obedience is to be faithful to the preciousness of each moment of this sabbatical.

Strange mystery the juxtaposition of today’s experience and the actual text of the original notes to open this chapter:

TODAY my heart is far away from this room, this hill, and this day of fierce cold, relentless wind, and darkening sky.My heart is with Our Lady, watching over the bed of a small child, my niece.A routine eye examination led to the discovery of a tumour.Surgery is to be in two days.It is St. Paul, granted referring to the Baptized, who most eloquently takes the words of Jesus about vine and branches {Jn.15:1-10] into the foundational teaching about being members of the Body of Christ and how the mystery both of suffering and honour in the life of one person becomes part of the life of every baptized person {1 Cor. 12:12,13; 26,27 } hence my profound awareness of my niece and what she is enduring.Of course, baptized or not every human being is a member of the one body of humanity and would that we truly embraced this then no one of us would ever tolerate the rejection, abuse, of another, let alone any form of slavery, war, famine, homelessness and indeed we would finally, as one, rise up and defend each sacred living brother and sister from the womb to the tomb.As the train climbed through the railroad yards, the city of my childhood, streams of smoke from the ancient steam engine billowed past the window, against which I had my face hard pressed, to hide my tears.I did not want anyone to see my tears and so internalized the determination never to cry again, never to be weak, rather to survive, that now, forty years later, I have not yet learned to weep.My emotions were in a confused turmoil.True I was finally making my escape, or at least an escape, from the terror of my life in the city which was now left far behind the train as it was cutting a swath through the falling twilight.It was a solitary escape into an unknown country, not to the celluloid dream factory fantasy with my companion.Yet, strangely, there was ebbing up from some unfamiliar depth within me a rivulet of anticipation, even of joy.If you’ve ever bit into something bitter you know the confused rush for the taste buds and the brain at the conflicting sensation of excitement and bitterness. My emotions were like that as the train rattled its way across rivers, through valleys, up foothills, twilight surrendered to night’s shroud and I slept little in my seat. The shroud was suddenly ripped open by the morning sun and in its brilliant light the day’s trip through towns, villages, forests, took me ever further, it seemed, from chaos into the unknown country of sweet release, and I became ever more enamoured of the beauty of this land.As late afternoon came, the train began to slow as we entered the edge of the village nearest the monastery and at that moment I was given a unique grace. Suddenly there sprang into my heart a word from Sacred Scripture, as if spoken on my behalf, perhaps by my Guardian Angel or Patron Saint or Our Blessed Mother or, through the mystery of Baptism, by Jesus Himself, all I know is it was spoken like another boy millennia ago [ 1 Sm. 3: 11].I anxiously peered out the window and there in the evening light stood the Abbot near a modest car.In that soft light he had about him even more of the radiance of a man of the desert than when I had first met him.He greeted me with genuine joy, put my little suitcase in the back, and we drove the several miles from the village to the monastery.The great gate, electrically controlled, rolled open, we drove through, and it closed upon me.For seven years!

SUDDENLY my heart is moved to radically change this chapter from the original and detailed notes. The original notes cover the full seven years in a manner and detail which reads now, frankly, as a sort of tiresome seventies style rant, the kind we have all been subjected to ad nauseam by countless ex-priests and nuns.

That is not the point of this work, nor would such writing be, frankly, honest.

No, rather my heart is moved to approach those years from the heart of true monastic desert experience itself!

 SO, YES I could spend pages writing minutely about those seven years, the details of monastic life, the impact of the unfolding Second Vatican Council and its aftermath, the loosening, the abandoning of critical aspects of monastic life, tradition, culture, the rapid deterioration of Roman Catholic religious life in general and the flood of departures.But that is not what is in my heart.There is no better text with which to begin the reflections upon the essence of those seven years than this from Paul Evdokimov:

POETS sing of the marvel of a glance that is always unique. The destiny of each one also seems unique. There exists, however, a certain correspondence between the phases of each spiritual life as in the rhythm of different ages. An element remains constant, around which the destiny of each human life is formed. The circumstances change, but the spiritual theme, personal for each one, remains identical through all disguises. Its call and the unavoidable exigency of an answer, this combination of what is given and what is desired, constitute what the Gospel calls, the personal cross of each man. It is inscribed within us at birth; no power can change it. ‘ Which of you being anxious about it can add to his stature a single cubit? ‘ [Mt.6:27]

Whether in the heart of a great city or in the midst of a desert, we cannot flee from this personal theme of our life. It accompanies us and speaks to us at every turning in our road. We can answer differently each time and change our course in one direction or another. We can marry or become monks; we can, like Spinoza, polish lenses or repair shoes like Jacob Boehme. The question, our question, remains identical and fixed in us as a constituent element of our being; it is no longer a question, it is ourselves who are involved.

To understand our ‘cross’ is to foresee the facts of our destiny, to decipher its meaning; it is to understand ourselves. The spiritual life does this; it introduces order, reveals the rhythm of its own growth, and requires a progressive advance. [ag]

 Read too quickly or with a modern western mind that quotation may appear to some as akin to a ‘karma’ or ‘fatalist’ or ‘predestination’ notion of the human person and appear to limit the possibility of any soul ever being freed from some inevitable destiny not of its own choosing.False!Here it is first of all important to hear the voice of Holy Mother the Church Herself:

GOD PREDESTINES NO ONE TO GO TO HELL; for this, a wilful turning away from God ( a mortal sin ) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end. In the Eucharistic liturgy and in the daily prayers of her faithful, the Church implored the mercy of God, who does not want “ any to perish, but all to come to repentance. “ {2Pt.3:9}

Father, accept this offering from Your whole family. Grant us Your peace in this life, save us from final damnation, and count us among those You have chosen. [ah]

 So what then can be drawn from the teaching of Evdokimov and my monastic interlude?What first comes to my heart is that we are deeply affected by the specifics of our ancestral, national, cultural, religious, and family-specific heritage and upbringing.  More and more, both in spirituality and basic psychology, we understand the profound effects of how we develop in early life as a child.This affects both our emotional and spiritual development and the way, therefore, that we make choices, relate to others, self and, of course, to God and the things of God.This is a fundamental dimension of what Evdokimov refers to as the personal cross of each one of us.For example: unresolved childhood fears deeply affect the adult and perhaps there is nothing the adult tries…not therapy…not drugs…seemingly not even prayer or sacraments…which heal this particular fear.Now the adult can fall into the cycle of anger and depression and the ‘why me’ OR embrace the cross, like Jesus in the Garden, faithfully asking always for healing but surrendering to the mysterious yet always tenderly loving will of the Father which permits this suffering.A dear friend of mine suffered terrible panic attacks most of his entire adult life which nothing seemed to avail and then a couple of years before his death in an instant they were gone.For most of my monastic life the things about my personality which had been such a source of confusion and fear were mute and I was able, surrounded by very holy, chaste, wise, hard-working fellow monks, to lead that life with inner peace and joy. However, as Evdokimov notes: we can’t flee from this personal theme in our lives.The essence of all human destinies is unity with the Blessed Trinity in and through unity with Christ.That is the common theme in the life of every created human being…we have come from the heart of the Trinity and a return to the heart of the Trinity is our true destiny.All else is, ultimately, and without repentance, eternally, an aberration.Steeped in the ebb and flow of the certainty of the daily monastic routine, bathed in the melodies and import of the chanting, [in Latin-Gregorian-chant], of the Divine Office, disciplined by the manual labour and spiritual reading, nourished through the sacraments, especially daily Holy Mass and Holy Communion, unbeknownst to the Abbot and my confessor, I was, however, in an albeit gentle, but prolonged, flight from self.Hence, flight from the cross.The purpose of the cross is not in our lives, per se, punitive, for Jesus took ultimate punishment upon Himself for us, but rather purifying, through the death of the false self, the sinful, deviant, self. Our true destiny is to become more and more converted, transfigured in the depths of our being to Christ until Christ is our all and we are all in Him.This means extreme humility, which itself is a grace of illumination of conscience wherein we see ourselves as truly in need of redemption.Only when we truly cry out: LORD JESUS CHRIST, SON OF THE LIVING GOD, HAVE MERCY ON ME A SINNER, will we begin to become true Disciples of Christ, and truly the person we have been created to be.Monastic life in particular, the consecrated/ordained life, sacramental marriage, whatever the will of the Father is for the unique soul, these are the roads which lead to union with Him on the Cross, in the tomb, in Resurrection.But it is NOT the road itself which leads to liberation and transfiguration, rather it is Christ, and unless we walk the road of our lives in union with Him then the road may become a fast-track to no-where and we are lost.Monastic life, being, at least as it was in those days, a way and place of living totally cut-off from the concerns of the world, though at the same time a living powerhouse of intercessory prayer for those living in the world, is a place where the struggle with self and with God, spiritual warfare, the striving to open wide all the doors of one’s being to Christ, is the fundamental purpose of each living moment.This should be true for every human being, especially for every Christian, no matter the ‘ place ‘ or condition of our living.

GIVE ME a man who above all loves God with all his heart, himself and his neighbour in that they love God; but his enemy as one who will one day love perhaps; his parents who begot him with a warm natural love, but his spiritual teachers the more because of grace. Let him deal similarly with the other things of God in an orderly, loving way, despising the earth, looking up to heaven, using this world as if not using it {1Cor.7:31}, and discriminating between what is used and what enjoyed, by the experience of his mind. Let him treat transitory things as passing, necessary for the moment; let him cling to eternal things with an enduring desire. Give me such a man, I say, and I will boldly call him wise, because he recognizes things for what they really are, because he can truly and confidently claim, ‘ He has ordained love in me ‘ (Sg.ofSg.2:4). But where is he, and where will he be found? I ask in tears {Phil.3:18}, how long shall we scent and not taste, seeing our homeland far off, not possessing it but sighing for it. O Truth, fatherland of exiles, end of their exile! I see you, imprisoned in flesh, I may not enter. Muddy with sins, I cannot be admitted. O Wisdom, stretching from end to end, establishing and ordering everything (Wis.8:1), and arranging all things sweetly by enhancing feeling and making it orderly, guide what we do as your everlasting truth requires, so that each of us may securely glory in you and say, ‘ He ordained love in me ‘ (Sg. Of Sg.2:4). For You are the strength of God and the Wisdom of God (1Cor.1:24), Christ, the Bridegroom of the Church and our Lord, God blessed forever. Amen. (Rm.1:25).[ai]

 By the end of the Second Vatican Council and the rapid pace of so-called reform, a painful issue not germane to discuss here in general, there came soon radical changes in all of monastic life, change in the daily routine, how we lived, dressed, ate and eventually countless numbers of monks began leaving and our own monastery was not spared.Vocations seemed to dwindle the more the world and cares and ideas of the world were allowed to penetrate and eventually our numbers were so reduced the Abbot had no choice but to employ ever greater numbers of secular workers, since the remaining monks were too few, and in the main too elderly, to carry on.Being young and strong I naturally found myself spending more time working along side these hired men than with my brother monks.Slowly at first, then more rapidly, I began to become more like them and less like the other monks.When I became aware of this and what it was doing to me spiritually and emotionally I asked to be sent to a therapist but was denied. In those days there was still, in religious circles, a great suspicion of psychiatry.Old emotions, old sexual stirring surfaced and while I did not act on them the inner turmoil began to affect the way I lived.I began skipping the Divine Office, then meals, eating with the men rather than the monks, finding more and more reasons to wear secular clothing and find things to do out of sight of the monastery. I began to smoke again and drink and eventually, with no prior warning or discussion, the Abbot summoned me to his office one day and told me I’d be on the train in the morning, I was being expelled.

IN EVERY Christian life there is a sacred domain of nascent growth in which dwells Christ — a domain in which we are more firmly rooted than we are in our own. There He works and grows, takes possession of our being, draws our strength toward Himself, penetrates our thoughts and volition, and sways our emotions and sentiments, so that the word of the Apostle comes true: ‘ it is now no longer I that live, but Christ lives in me.’ [aj]

Sometimes in life is it difficult to believe indeed that in the depths of an immediate impact upon us of some traumatic event which has all the appearance and taste of gall, the stench of death, Christ is at work.  

13 – Suddenly Crossroads

FIRE TRUCKS roar past the intersection at the corner of which sits this building.

The ground floor apartment in which I write has its only two windows facing the same intersection.

I have taken a break of a couple of hours in this writing, to allow my emotions to settle, to allow my heart to be still.

Listening to the Spirit is vital if this writing is to be truthful but not titillating, void of any suggestion that the events and choices recorded could in any way be excused as other than the wounded reactions of one both sinned against and choosing sin.

 I see this writing as a detailing of how, no matter the actual relentlessness of our capacity for sinful self-destructiveness, God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is infinitely more relentless in His gift of Divine Mercy.

I pray as I write.

I pray that should you be reading this, whatever your state or condition in life, whatever your faith or lack thereof, whatever bondage you have placed yourself, or been placed in, whatever the sin or sorrow – you – reading this, will come to understand that if one person, one soul, as given over to neurosis and sin as I was be saved by His Grace, that is by His very Divine Self, then you- in this moment,  should fearlessly open wide the doors of your being to Him, to Christ Jesus Saviour.

MAN stands at the crossroads between righteousness and sin, and chooses whichever path he wishes. But after that path which he has chosen to follow, and the guides assigned to it, whether angels and saints or demons and sinners, will lead him to the end of it, even if he has no wish to go there. The good guides lead him toward God and the kingdom of heaven, the evil guides toward the devil and ages long punishment. But nothing and no one is to blame for his destruction except his own free will. For God is the God of salvation, bestowing on us, along with being and well-being, the knowledge and strength that we cannot have without the grace of God. Not even the devil can destroy a man, compelling him to choose wrongly, or reducing him to impotence or enforced ignorance or anything else: he can only suggest evil to him. Thus he who acts rightly should ascribe the grace of God to doing so, for along with our being He has given us everything else. But the person who has opted for the path of evil, and actually commits evil, should blame only himself, for no one can force him to commit it, since God created him with free will.

 FALL arrived finally and with it another stage in my journey.Over the years going to the parish school there had been a seemingly constant increase in the number of siblings going with me. Now the six of them would head off without me.I would join my peers and head to the Catholic High School located on the border between the inner city where we lived and the dim beginnings of uptown.Academically this last of my high school years was to be the worst. Emotionally the turmoil was great also.Spiritually, to a greater degree than heretofore in my life, grace would have a modicum, but an important modicum, of victory.Having done rather well in a high school musical by mid-term, with my new companion, I had begun to fantasize we could run away to the west coast dream factory, away from the taunts and fear of exposure and all the rest of it.Yet at the same time part of me did not want to run away with him but to escape even from him.Perhaps nowhere in our culture, or rather at no stage in the life of youth in our culture, is peer pressure, and the non-control of life, more acute than during the high school years.They are mythological in popular culture as the years of endless possibilities, yet in reality they are starkly cruel.I recall the most popular and beautiful girl, someone genuinely kind, became ill with cancer, had a leg amputated, and returned towards the end of second term, showing true courage, but leaving all of us strangely fearful of her as if she might infect us with death; other girls left because they became pregnant: yet no boy was ever dismissed for fathering a child; drugs, which made some people truly weird, rejection of authority, suicide, rejection of organized religion, running arguments about what was happening with, and the implications of, ideas coming out of the coffee-houses, the budding civil rights and other movements: change was cracking the seemingly invincible veneer of the post-war society.Pope Pius XII had died earlier the previous year and the very popular new Pope John XXIII had recently announced the convening of an Ecumenical Council. We had all received the sacrament of Confirmation, the reception of the fullness of the Holy Spirit, as we were told in those days, and had thus become, again as we were told, soldiers for Christ.Spiritual warriors.Bishop Fulton Sheen was a must see regular on the now more popular medium of television and each time I saw his radiant joy I yearned to know such joy and yearned to be a priest.Then other yearnings would stir again and any dream of mine seemed an almost obscene impossibility.I recall during that Lent my priest friend began to speak about choice, I having finally made a truthful confession. It had caused a great sadness in his voice, but he did not berate me, only tried gently to get me to agree things were very wrong in my life and needed to change.Perhaps because he was so fatherly and kind, perhaps because I was just spiritually, emotionally and physically so exhausted, I began to listen seriously and even to remotely consider there might be a slight possibility of actually conceiving of another way of living than that in which I was in such near complete bondage.

WE receive salvation by grace as a divine gift of the Spirit….The Holy Spirit, knowing that the unseen and secret passions are hard to get rid of – for they are as it were rooted in the soul – shows us…how we can purify ourselves from them. [ae]

 Sometimes however we are offered this grace as not the experience per se of some joyful and fire filled illumination of the soul, but rather as the Triune God in a manner withdrawing from the soul, allowing the soul to experience the actual, terrible darkness of sin, which is in truth the soul choosing to turn her face away from Him.That is what He did with me for much of the year and so as the year progressed that inner darkness kept growing within me and along with its growth my now constant state of anxiety intensified.My priest friend was aware of all this and did his best to help, but there was still great resistance within me.I began once again to retreat deep within myself but this time something else began to occur.Undoubtedly it was because of the grace of the sacrament of confession, operative through this compassionate priest.Little by little I was curtailing my sexual activity, even with my companion, and I even stopped shoplifting and all the other things I used to do.As regards my companion this caused some tension and at times the fear of rejection would overtake me so violently I would abandon the changes which were occurring within me.But only for a brief period, for the hunger to be chaste, to be intimate with Christ, for sanity and peace, for rest, was becoming the greatest of all my hungers.That spring we were bussed to the Jesuit University for what was in those days a typical religious career day for a Catholic high school.The huge gymnasium of the university was a kaleidoscopic vision of the pre-Vatican II splendid variety of religious habits of the entire major, and some of the less well known, orders of priests, sisters and monks.I was enthralled.

JUST as the power of evil works by persuasion, not by compulsion, so does divine grace. In this way our liberty and free will are preserved….Grace does not make a man incapable of sin by forcibly and compulsorily laying hold of his will but, though present, allows him freedom of choice….[af]

  I left there with handfuls of pamphlets on the toughest of the monastic orders of the day and began to dream of life in a monastic idyll.During final exams that year I could hardly have cared less about how I would do, indeed I spent more time studying the pamphlets and books borrowed from my priest friend about the Order than studying for exams.Proof being I was informed, as were my parents, that unless I attended summer school I would fail the year.Between the changes within me, summer school, and my companion being sent to camp for much of the early summer, I suddenly found myself less spiritually, emotionally, physically exhausted and actually began to experience something totally new: hope! One morning after serving my priest friend’s Mass I boldly announced I wanted to become a monk and would he help me tell my father.To my surprise after some perfunctory attempts to talk me out of the idea because I was still a teenager, he agreed,One evening he came to the house and spoke at length with my father.The priest left.My father said nothing other than it was high time I was in bed.I didn’t sleep that night.At some point the next day he summoned me and after expressing his basic opposition to the idea nonetheless said he would speak to my mother.Another couple of days went by.I have never been able to find out what motivated them to agree with my choice but finally my father said he had spoken with a navy chaplain who had once been a monk. The chaplain would take me to the monastery for a visit and if the monks agreed to have me then, in the fall when school was to start for the other children, he would allow me to go.Mid-summer the chaplain arrived one morning in his big black Buick and off we went.I had no idea the monastery would actually be so far from the city, nor that it would be, when we eventually after a drive of more than twelve hours got there, so isolated in its valley in a great forest.On the drive the chaplain had alternated between trying to talk me out of my plan, to trying to convince me I should ask to be a priest-monk. But to do that would require I graduate and have strong marks in Latin and the former seemed iffy and the latter was a definite no chance, so I agreed my best bet was to ask to be admitted as a lay-brother.We spent the night in the monastery Guest-house and the next morning we were given the grand tour and then had a meeting with the Abbot.He was an imposing figure, younger and more joyful than I had expected, but amazingly well informed about me, as his questions conveyed.I figured I didn’t stand a chance but at the end of the meeting the Abbot said he’d just accepted another young man of my age and would accept me too.I was both overjoyed and terrified.The trip back to the city seemed to pass in a flash and a blur.My parents were clearly none too happy but stuck to their word and since I had been accepted, they accepted I would soon be leaving home.Within a week my companion was back from camp and suddenly it hit me that going meant leaving him and so I figured if he’d give the slightest hint he wanted me to stay I’d skip the monastic thing and insist we take off for the coast and the celluloid dream factory.I told him by first suggesting we meet in our favourite hang-out, the ruins of an old factory near the waterfront.Once there I rapidly blurted it all out.He stood there silent.He wept a bit.He said he envied me and knew I would be happy.Interiorly I was enraged at him, at me, at God.I tried to convince him it was all a lark as a tidal wave of rejection-emotions pulled me ever downward and I made a move towards him….”NO!”, he shouted, “ DON’T! I can’t touch you anymore. You don’t belong to me anymore. This is wrong. You belong to Him!”With that he shoved me away. I fell backwards and by the time I’d gotten back to my feet he was gone.I stood there in the rubble and momentarily tried to make myself move, to run after him.I didn’t. Instead I stood there, railed against God, life, exhausted myself with emotional confusion and then, suddenly, a deep sense of release enveloped me and I became desirous of monastic life again and headed home.A few days later, my father having shipped out again, my mother with all the little ones to look after, an Uncle and Aunt took me down to the train station, bought my ticket and with my small suitcase put me aboard the train.As the train pulled out of the station and they waved good-bye I felt a sudden sadness, a sort of: Is there no one to ask me to stay?The train rumbled through the old freight-yards were we boys had played chicken, running between the trains and out-running the railroad police; across the edge of the city and the rows of tenements and factories; round the harbour area near the docks, and then out into the hills headed for the village near the monastery. 

12 – Year of Two

THE UNPACKING of basic material to continue this writing, including the binders with my original notes, has gone well.

The heat wave, and we are just a couple of weeks away from autumn, continues unabated.

It is the 23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time and celebrating Holy Mass this morning I was struck by the strange silence.

It was like I was a child from decades ago expecting to hear the various churches of the city ringing their bells, calling the Christian faithful to worship.

Instead all I could hear were the constant sounds of traffic, shouts of people going about doing Sunday shopping, any activity other than worship of Him.

My Mass – His Mass – was then celebrated for this city and the world.

Now it is late afternoon.

The sun broils this city.

Even this tiny apartment is stifling.

I review the notes from years’ past attempts at this writing and find I can do no better than include them as written:

TONIGHT, as I write, it is extremely cold.The wind rises with each passing hour, pulling us towards a new winter storm.It is not the electric lights, which have pushed the darkness out of the window where it belongs, by which I read and write that comfort me during these late night hours.The blue vigil light before the Icon of Mary, red before the Icon of Christ Pantocrator, these comfort me.This writing is serious for my soul.I must witness vulnerably, truthfully, to things which drew me ever deeper into greater stages of sin and darkness, if in the proper stage of this telling the immensity, the lavishness, of His Mercy is to be told with even greater eloquence and as source of confident hope for those who someday may read this.

MOST of the moral and mental and even religious complexities of our time go back to our desperate fear that we are not and can ever be really loved by anyone.

While by now tv was more and more replacing radio, radio still had some strengths, such as quiz shows where schools competed.That year my school was competing on one such show and the nuns made sure those of us not smart enough to compete would be there in the studio audience to cheer our classmates on.I should admit here that in my desperate search for the ultimate male-on-male relationship which would fill my longing for an older brother/father male in my life, and indeed affirm my own being as a male, I had by then my eye on the older of two brothers. The younger was my classmate.In my desperate and vivid imagination the older brother was the living reality of what I sought. However I figured, since he was always in the company of the most beautiful of girls in the high school, he would never notice me.A friend from the tenements next door, who was also in my class, went with me to the radio station for the show.The two brothers were there and I found myself desperate in the extreme in my desire to be noticed, but it appeared not.Once the show was over, our school having won, everyone fled the studio to the nearest greasy spoon to celebrate.My friend and I got some cokes and fries and squeezed into a booth with classmates.The din of shouting teenagers, yelling waitresses and short-order cooks, the blast of rock ‘n’ roll from the various booth players, barely distracted me from my prime preoccupation, wanting to be noticed.At some point my friend jabbed me in the rib and pointed towards the older brother who had gotten his attention and my friend told me: “ He wants to talk to you.”I began to shake so violently inside of myself I was sure it would spill outwards and people would notice.It did somewhat but no one said anything.I elbowed my way through the crowd and the older brother asked if I could ditch my friend and walk home with him.I pushed my way back through the crowd to my friend and told him and he said sure, he’d see me later.It is only with this writing that ‘later’ has truly come to pass as I lift the friend of my youth up in prayer. I was too broken at the time to have ever noticed that he embodied most of what I was looking for. He never did anything violent or sexual to me, even though he came from the most brutal home in the neighbourhood.I know I have been forgiven for two sins committed that night, perhaps the greater being I abandoned my friend.

 … a man’s intellect, clouded by the appetites becomes dark and impedes the sun of either natural reason or supernatural wisdom from shining within and completely illumining it….my iniquities surrounded me and I was unable to see…because of the darkening of the intellect, the will becomes weak and the memory dull and disordered in its proper operation. Since these faculties depend upon the intellect in their operations, they are manifestly disordered and troubled when the intellect is hindered…..

my soul is exceedingly troubled…this is like saying the faculties of my soul are disordered…appetite blinds and darkens the soul because the appetite as such is blind….

every time a man’s appetite leads him, he is blinded….

the man who feeds on his appetites is comparable to a fish dazzled by a light that so darkens it that it cannot see the fisherman’s snares.


THE wind whines stronger now.

The snow has arrived and swirls against the windows.

The wall of this old wooden dormitory, for priests, creaks and snaps in the cold.

Down below in the basement, gorging itself on countless chunks of wood, the furnace bellows hot, dry air into the churning blower and most rooms, save mine with the slightly ajar window, are sleep-comfort warm.

I love the cold!

I stretch from this writing which, in deference to my sleeping brothers, in these deep hours of the night I do the old way, with pen and ink.

Only my ears hear the scratch of nib against paper, whereas a typewriter would thunder its clicks and clacks in the night!

The peace of this evening’s prayer in chapel still seeps out from these walls.

It seemed to my heart’s eye that the sanctuary lamp danced especially with joy tonight as my brother priests and I chanted Night Prayer, hovering with the wings of our sacramental priesthood in sacred care over this house, this community, the whole human family, all creation.

AS WE walked away from the greasy spoon I sensed quickly that, for whatever reasons which were his own, this older of the brothers was making a move towards me.There was within me violent anticipation and confusion.How could I have known at that age it was my soul writhing in fear of the darkness into which I was about to plunge myself?He shared his smokes with me and began talking in a hesitant manner but his purpose was clear.After a few blocks, as fog dampened the night’s darkness, we came to the area of the fish market, the old part of the city where some side streets still were cobblestone; cut past the barns where the horses of the police mounted division were kept and, strangely, I had a little corner of my heart at that moment which hoped some cop would come out and yell at us and maybe whatever spell I was coming under…handing myself over to…would be broken.It was not to be.We cut across the tracks and came to the wrought iron fence of a military cemetery, over which we climbed and there, deep in the darkness among the rows of the dead young men I crossed over from any semblance of normal boyhood into a whirlpool of confusion it would take decades for me to be extricated from.I willingly, but not comfortably as is right, admit at this juncture of my life the Lord could rightly admonish me as He did the People of the Covenant [cf. Ez.16:15], but in my hardness of heart I would not have heard, or if I did hear, would not have listened!  Within days I was so totally committed to this new bondage….yes I know advocates of this disorder would claim it was love, but that is a darkened illusion…I had begun to refuse any contact with the original and violent lad who had me in bondage.This new situation seemed to be one of affirmation of my being, though of course I was ignorant of its true cost.Eventually a weekend came when my new companion was away and the original lad caught me alone near the freight yard, tied me in that isolated area to a telephone pole, partially stripped me and beat me, but I would not forego what had now become important to me.He left me there for what seemed a very long time, but returned and cut me loose and said I was free.Another lie.However I never saw him again in my life.Decades later, with my Spiritual Father, I would make a total act of forgiveness towards him and I now as a priest pray for his salvation.

 ONCE upon a time, God, after having been very angry with the Jewish people, in His mercy and kindness stopped being angry and said, ‘ Come, let us talk things over. ‘ ( Is.1 ). A very strange part of the Old Testament, this so-called anger of God and this invitation to sit down and talk things over. If only it could happen now!

 It would happen to me that same summer not long after the beating and God would come to sit down with me and talk to me in the person of one of the most compassionate and holy priests I have ever met in my life.He was an academic, a professor at the seminary not too far from my home, past the tenements, down an alley, across one of the inner city main streets.I never did find out how my parents came into contact with him or what made them introduce us, but he did take me on, as a priest and in a most fatherly manner.The presenting reason for almost daily contact with him was that, given the seminarians were gone on summer break; he needed an altar boy for his daily Mass.He paid me five bucks a week, plus a breakfast of bacon and eggs, toast, coffee, prepared by the Sisters who looked after such things at the seminary.It was during those breakfast chats that it seemed to me he could read my heart, yet he never condemned, only expressed concern, tried to get me to open up.Though I was never able to fully break through my inability to trust anyone but my own skill at survival, little by little I did heed his urgent advice that if I could not change my ways while in the city, perhaps I needed to ask God to help me escape the city.

BUT, of course, in order for it to happen, several things are necessary.

First, people must believe in God; otherwise how can they ‘ sit down with Him and talk things over ?’ Secondly, those who still do believe must stop being angry against God. For in our days there is less anger of God toward His beloved people than there is anger in the heart of man against God.


WELL of all the notes I have re-written so far for this work those have been the toughest.

Not too many years after that summer, when I was well and truly out of the city, I got a letter one day from my mother informing me that young priest had been killed in a car accident.

Decades later I felt his loss acutely the day of my First Mass, yet his presence also.

Did he know when he was befriending that troubled teenager one day we would be priests forever together?

On my ordination vacation I returned to the city and the old neighbourhood of my youth, where so much was changed.

I went to where the seminary had been.

It was gone.

In its place: a mall.

11 – Five Decades of Sepraration

SOUTHERN CITY heat and humidity have a peculiar languidness about them which these past few days have made it strangely difficult to motivate myself to resume this writing.

Yet this is the reason why the Bishop and my Spiritual Father granted me a sabbatical, why my Spiritual Father chose this southern city with The Community’s house nearby this little apartment as the best place for me to live and do this writing!

The sun has set now, though the sidewalks shimmer still with end of summer heat. People sit outside their apartment blocks, the inner sanctums being broilers unfit for human sleep.

Other people spill out onto the sidewalk from the many bars in this neighbourhood while sirens roar, fights and shouts break the constant hum of traffic, many cars with vacant eyed men at the wheel circling the block seeking the ‘ working girls ‘.

Children, some barely old enough to walk, and most wearing only underwear in this heat, scamper about barefooted, within careful eyesight of elderly Grandparents, while the parents are either in the bars, or a few blocks over sweating away at various parts of the line in the huge, restless, auto plant.

There’s not even a bare whiff of breeze to tease the garbage in the gutters and alleys into a dusty dance-swirl.

Ancient fans whirl with attitude from the walls of the seemingly countless greasy spoons of ethnic-dish delights, pouring into the stale gas-beer-garbage streaked air of the street, the added aroma of fast-fried food and lavishly mounded powdered sugar treats.

Jesus mingled among the crowds of the ordinary people, smelled their sweat and dreams, heard their laughter and anger, ate their food and from the abyss of their…and if we be honest truly we are all ordinary….so of our human restlessness, heard our cry of hungry heart and made Himself the one true and necessary Food for Life!

Without false compassion or blind eye I nonetheless move about, look upon, listen to, smell these all my brothers and sisters with such passionate love at times I feel my heart will break unless I cry out: JESUS IS REAL!

But,  for these months,  that is not what the Spirit wants me to do as I move about the sidewalks and alleys.

Sure as I take my daily walks I can within my heart love, pray, bless….and frankly…and here the canonists and theologians, should such ever read this may find fodder for many a debate, even outrage……sometimes in my heart I will gaze upon a whole neighbourhood or upon one person and declare: I ABSOLVE YOU!

It is strange to walk about in secular dress. It feels as if my skin is missing.

But I am to be, in the main these months of prayer and writing, hidden.

Imagine my joy when I found out the house in which I am to live, which should be ready in a month, with a layman friend and co-struggler, is on the edge of this very poor area in which the little apartment we are now in is located.

To celebrate Holy Mass behind the closed blinds each day, bringing Him among them….the blinds a veil, the apartment a tabernacle….is akin to being a priest in the worst days under Henry VIII or the Nazis or the Communists or Nero, for the hiddenness, not the danger.

The people of these streets mostly do not know they are truly loved, nor even that He is faithfully in their midst, yet each time Holy Mass is celebrated in this little apartment more and more of the words spoken through the prophet Zephaniah grow as graced seed here, for Zephaniah assures us of the joy which is God among us, how He gathers the anawim, all pointing to the One who does this, Christ our Lord. [cf. Zep. 3:17-20]

Looking back over five decades of separation from them, to the streets and manner of living of my troubled youth none, even less so I, would have ever believed that the darkness child of those years would this very day have celebrated Holy Mass as a priest of He who is Light from Light!

AS I CAME to the end of my final year of junior school and the start of high school, I was becoming increasingly reckless, desperate, in my various addictions.Paradoxically the more my sexual adventuring increased so did the variety and intensity of the penitential mortifications I was performing in imitation of what I read in my Lives of the Saints book.Sin or virtue, I practiced neither with moderation. My life was lived at extremes, like the ball in the pinball machines I loved: I bounced and ricocheted between light and darkness.Restless, always filled with anxiety, I classically dreaded the morning and was afraid of night, yet could resist the siren call of neither.Any true drug addict will tell you that their life is as much about the hunt for the fix as it is the momentary elixir of the fix itself.This is definitively constitutive of promiscuity itself.

 Even more so than the sexual acts the hunt is the turn on, because during the hunt for a new encounter the addicted imagination can conjure up the ultimate in affirmation of being, all the while, of course, suppressing any attempt by the conscience to advise the intellect and will of the raw truth that it is all an illusion.

In order to be successful both the hunter and the hunted must de facto agree upon a mutual conspiracy of lie, namely, that instant gratification will fulfill the authentic need for affirmation of being.This lie about what is so desperately sought originates, of course, with the father of lies himself whose goal always is to seduce us into seeking affirmation of being from any source other than the Supreme Being, God our Father.Most tragically and dangerously, since the necessary lie which facilitates the sexual expression of desperate need for affirmation of being inevitably fails, as does the act itself, to produce the longed for affirmation, the process must be repeated with urgent frequency. The limited illusory gratification affect of a simulacrum of affirmation endures for ever briefer moments, while the subsequent emotional crash becomes more rapid and devastating.It is akin to the rush of taste-bud desire for puff pastry which, seemingly due to its shape, colour, smell, promises fulfillment, once bitten into reveals itself to be hollow, a taste illusion, all promise, empty of substance.The satisfaction is immediate, but momentary, and can never satisfy a true hunger for substantial food.Thus I, during the period of my life I speak about here, became more and more reckless in my desperate pursuit of affirmation, of love, and hence anxiously sought new partners like a chaser of the horizon, never admitting that the faster I ran towards the very horizon over whose edges I lied to myself the goal lay, the faster the horizon itself, and its over the edge illusory promise-goal, fled before me.Now all this promiscuous activity necessarily had to occur out of sight and knowledge of the one to whom I already was in bondage.Eventually he would find out about my activity because I would transfer all my desperation onto one person, and at that time the price I would have to pay would be horrific.

THE RINGING phone brought me back from those years of my troubled youth to the present moment.

A friend, a hermit of some years, called to confirm the progress of preparations on the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, Mary deeply participant in the Sufferings of Christ, for his perpetual vows as a consecrated virgin.

Afterwards he asked how this first week of the sabbatical is going, how with the writing.

I am humbled by how important this book already is to so many people, yet it is not even fully written.

 I have no idea if it will ever see the light of day….but I trust it is being written under Your guidance, in Your light.

UNKNOWN to me at the time, indeed something I would not face until near thirty years later, I was rapidly developing a tolerance to the effects, both physiological and emotional, of my addiction.Indeed I admit this was somehow occurring, at least on the emotional level, in the realm of my religious practice as well. In fact, unbeknownst to me at the time, I had crossed over from the authentic practice of religion into the neurotic stage of religiosity.Now it was taking more and more time before the Blessed Sacrament, because of my inner turmoil, more and more elaborate confession strategies…you know the kind where you become vague about the actual sin…more rosaries, more bargaining with God, to produce the temporary lessening of the inner turmoil.As regards my physical mortifications, for example, by now I was walking around with so many pebbles in my shoes when they spilled onto the floor one night as I got ready for bed my brothers burst into peals of laughter figuring I’d been playing in some gravel pit and was too dumb to have emptied out my shoes before coming home.

 Tolerance is the phenomenon of always wanting or needing more of the addictive behaviour or the object of attachment in order to feel satisfied. What one has or does is never quite enough. Subjectively, the feeling might be something like, “If only I could get some more, everything would be fine.”

I would alternate between two opposing types of binges: chastity, which was actually a type of forced denial of what was happening in my life, and, promiscuity, which was actually a variation of denial.On the edge between the former and the latter, so distorted was my sense of sin and of self, I would actually engage in a kind of ‘prayer’ to God that if He would only let me score one more time then I would give up my way of living and turn to Him alone.

 TWO types of withdrawal symptoms are experienced when an addictive behaviour is curtailed. The first is a stress reaction. When the body is deprived of something is has become accustomed to, it responds with danger signals, as if something is wrong.

Again I was too young, had no one I trusted, so at the time which I am writing about, of course, I did not even have the word addiction in my vocabulary, let alone could I have connected my increasingly terrifying anxiety-panic attacks with any symptoms of withdrawal. For me it was all part and parcel of the horror and confusion of my very sad and desperate daily life.Looking back now though it is clear that when I was on the ‘chastity’ binge my moodiness, angry outbursts, grief, sleeplessness, deteriorating school work, hours with tv, etc. were the classic symptoms of someone in withdrawal.In those days I took on more and more activity, volunteering to serve early morning Mass in the prison for girls in the old neighbourhood, a paper route, extra projects at school. I’d drive my bike all over the city for hours on end, make endless visits to different parish churches and pray, very fast indeed, countless rosaries and novena prayers and then suddenly I’d sort of burst inside and of an evening as darkness fell would prowl again or, if that failed, submit to the older lad who had me in bondage and soon repeat the whole cycle again..again..again.All the while the self-loathing, a type of trying almost physically to escape from my own skin, grew and grew.

IF I am addicted to gaining other people’s approval in order to feel good about myself, and if I have become accustomed to established ways of pleasing others, I will experience considerable stress in response to outright rejection. I will also experience a rebound of feeling especially bad about myself.

Obviously all this could not forever be kept from detection by my parents, teachers, or other adults in my life.However I was pretty skilled, though ultimately not completely so, at fending off attempts to get me to reveal exactly what was the problem.I am reminded  of a fable, allegedly of ancient Buddhist origin, about the young Buddhist monk who, frustrated with his failure to progress on the inner path, finally goes to visit the revered old master and asks of him: “ Master, what must I do to be free? “ The old master replies: “Who has you in bondage? “

ADDICTION and its associated mind tricks inevitably kidnap and distort our attention, profoundly hindering our capacity for love. Attention and love are intimate partners; for love to be actualized, attention must be free…..

In the great spiritual traditions of the world, attachments are seen as any concerns that usurp our desire for love, anything that becomes more important to us than God…….

No matter how religious we may think we are, our addictions are always capable of usurping our concern for God……

Another word for it is idolatry. Whether we are conscious of it or not, for however long a particular addiction controls our attention, it has become a god for us….

We are called to grow toward that point at which nothing other than God will be our god.

Given I had no idea of the fact I was addicted per se I naturally had even less notion I was caught up in idolatry, nor that ultimately the battle waging within me was taking place in my soul, for I was in spiritual warfare.In truth I was, interiorly of course, like any child caught up in war, with much of the same devastation to my personhood.By now several of my chums were either in juvenile hall, dead, some by their own hand, had run away or, most of them, fully into the unique world of high school life.God, who is never out done in generosity, clearly was pouring His mercy upon the troubled youth that I was for later in the year two people would enter my life.One, a wise and compassionate young priest, I would respond to and he would be a great help to me.      The other, well I would not say what occurred between us was because he was a gift from     God.       To be accurate he would simply be a lesser evil than the one who had me in bondage.In a not actually healthy way, but nonetheless in some way, he would be a help because, due to him, I would at least withdraw from multiple promiscuity.Ultimately, even in the midst of the neurotic chaos and sinfulness of my life, I was seeking not the ‘what’ of affirmation of my being but the “Who”: God. Granted much of my seeking was akin to a blind man tracing the origin of light in a darkened room.The real seeking was being done by the One sought:

 GOD IS first and foremost the Beloved, the Bridegroom who sues for the love of His bride: us…..in the first place, it should be known that if a person is seeking God, his beloved is seeking him much more. This Incomprehensible One takes the first initiative, He is the hunter, the Hound of Heaven who pursues us out of love. He longs to take His own inner riches and pour His whole-Self into our created capacities for Him, into bottomless caverns of our intellect and will and memory, faculties made for Him.

THE PHONE just went as I finished the above.

A call, from the other side of the world.

From a soul struggling with the very matters under discussion here, with the issue of becoming, or not, a Roman Catholic.

 Again the question of how this work is coming.

What are You telling me, without my ego suggesting anything, O Jesus about this work?


I hear the Lord saying the very words spoken in Jeremiah 6:16!

10 – Induced-Seduced

YOU have been told, O man, what is good, and what the Lord requires of you: Only to do the right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.
[ Mic.6:8 ]

HEADING out to the hospital after Holy Mass on this feast of the Transfiguration, early this morning, I took a moment to pick up the mail.

Later, when I returned from the hospital call, where the elderly man I was to see appeared more alive than worried family had indicated, I opened the mail.

The above quotation was on the back of a friend’s ordination card, on the front a depiction of the Icon: Jesus Pantocrator.

Such passages from Sacred Scripture ought to make it clear to every human being we cannot plead ignorance about what constitutes a right relationship with God, other and self!

That a young man newly ordained, in this day and age, should so understand the import of such a word from the Lord it becomes part of the very ebb and flow of his life, gives great comfort to my heart.

I know this man very well.

He will be a good, humble, holy priest, for he has had a long, painful struggle, from the typical secular-hedonist life of so many of his generation, to a surrender to conversion of heart, to saying yes to the call of priesthood, which is humbling to behold.

He is one of many touched by Pope John Paul II.

The media constantly harps on the Pope’s so-called unrealistic challenges to the young to be pure, kind, generous, self-sacrificing, claiming his words fall upon deaf ears.

That may be true, but his words likewise fall into hungry hearts and there, like the proverbial seed in the Gospel {cf. Lk.8:4-8}, bears fruit a hundredfold.

Today is one of my favourite feasts: His Holy Transfiguration.

St. Matthew with precise language unfolds this tremendous reality for us, revealing the beauty of the Beloved[Mt.17:1-8]!

This is a true feast of hope, and like all the mysteries of our Christian religion, requires participation for what we believe to truly penetrate our hearts.

This is a true feast of tenderness, for here Christ, though at the time the Apostles would not have known this, gives them a gift which will sustain them when He is crucified; will sustain us throughout our own lives if we open our being to this same gift.

This is a true feast of becoming, for here is revealed what, in, through and for Christ, the Holy Spirit works to accomplish in every baptized person.

 BESIDES being the festival of Light, of Brilliance, of Whiteness, and of Glory ( all names signifying divinity ), Transfiguration is also the feast of beauty, of freedom, and of human dignity. From the brilliance of the face of Christ every human face, no matter how ugly and distorted it appears, acquires beauty, dignity, and divine worth. Transfiguration reveals the true meaning of divinization and shows the glorious outcome of our own life in the Parousia.Contemplation of the beauty of Christ on Mount Tabor is the paradigm of our contemplation of the face of God in the beatific vision in heaven.[r]

The rectory is quiet this rainy mid-day of the feast.

Summer is beginning to wane, cooler air to hint of early frosts.

The Bishop’s curt announcement of my ‘leave’ was published today, so soon word will be among the parishioners.

Some will, in their humble hearts, understand the need for a priest to take time to pray, to fast, maybe even to write and paint.

Others will bemoan the waste, since there is such a shortage of priests.

A few, or perhaps many, will be glad to see this outspoken one leave!

All is in Your hands, for reputation is something we mostly delude ourselves about, and over which, in this age of purulent gossip, none can feel secure.

It is an aspect of being poor, hence vulnerable, I cannot yet claim to have truly embraced, but which I accept nonetheless as a reality.

I am deeply aware of the various dangers about writing the story of how it came to be I have such need of His Mercy. The danger of making the terrible, romantic; of readers misunderstanding the seriousness of sin, perhaps even seeking here a justification for hardness of heart; of causing people to miss the point and have an ‘ I told you so’ attitude towards priesthood, as if priestly reputation was not already battered enough.Still, it is writing I have been mandated to do by obedience to my Spiritual Father.Of course there is always within me as I write this, or anything, to do so as an act of, and with, prayer.Not only so as, in this instance, to avoid writing anything sensational, or any error, but so as to write in a way which will further the spread of the Gospel, of those who read crying out: JESUS, MERCY!A boldness perhaps for a writer, but not for a priest.Looking back I understand now a significant misstep in my sexual and emotional development, which development thus became frozen in adolescence for decades, was my relationships with the females in my peer group.I failed to relate to them as persons. I related to them only as objects of my disordered desires and immense need for affirmation, for love.Pseudo-mother, pseudo-wife, was the way I approached them.Some, of course out of their own disorders, responded in kind, while others distanced themselves from me.Often, between their mothers and mine, a combined effort saw to the temporality of such relationships until the hassle became too much exposure for me and I, other than the occasional date for a school dance, pulled away from female persons altogether and developed a mild form of misogyny — not hatred of woman per se but rather a fear which would take decades to heal because it was interwoven with my whole identity disorder of mind ( emotions and reason ), heart and soul.Having no right relationship with my own mother, or with female peers, hence a disordered relationship with the feminine in general I fared even worse when it came to the masculine.Being the oldest male in the home most of the time, with my father away with the navy, I would, when he was away, find myself a type of emotional husband-father figure which, when he would return home, was increasingly difficult to put aside to assume once again my proper place as male-child, son.Pointedly I was deprived of proper maleness formation.

 …..his problem consisted in the fact that he was split off from his masculinity and as a consequence from his real self…..the splitting off began..when he was three years old….to be split off from his masculinity meant he was separated from the power to see and accept himself AS A MAN. His inner vision of himself was sadly wanting…Within his heart there were no pictures of himself as a man and as a person in his own right…inside…there was a peculiar void, a nothingness that he attempted to fill with an unhealthy fantasy life….[s]

The above insight accurately describes how I was becoming.The process of induction by which I sought to bring about the experience of the masculine in my life became itself a major component of the very confusion I was seeking to escape.My escapades with the gang I hung with became increasingly a combination of dangerous adventures, such as playing chicken with freight trains, petty ‘ b and e’s’, and, what can best be termed primitive forms of homosexual activity.For most of the guys in the gang I hung with the latter was a passing phase, soon outgrown as they became more adept and confident with girls.Not so for me.I was so turned inside of myself, split, walking beside myself, living within my own intellect and fantasy world, so repressive of my true emotions, and increasingly so untrusting of others, especially adults and God, hence obsessively needy of another’s arms, particularly male, that I quickly became, long before the term was overused as an excuse to avoid responsibility, a sex-addict.Because I was an instant-need-gratification addict.

 God creates us out of love…Scripture proclaims that this love, from which and for which we are created, is perfect…..I am certain that it draws us toward itself by means of our own deepest desires. I am also certain that this love wants us to have free will…we are not completely determined by our conditioning..our freedom allows us to choose as we wish for or against God, life and love…free will is given to us for a purpose…to love God in return..to love one another….this is the deepest desire of our hearts….our creation is by love, in love,…for love…but our freedom is not complete. Working against it is the powerful force of addiction…addiction USES UP desire…sucking our life energy into specific obsessions..compulsions..addiction is a deep-seated form of idolatry..objects of our addictions become false gods…what we worship, what we attend to, where we give out time and energy, INSTEAD OF LOVE. Addiction..displaces and supplants God’s love as the source and object of our deepest desire. [t]

The addicted heart is a hunting heart, a lonely heart, a vulnerable heart, blinded by compulsion.Only a heart at rest, and the place of that rest must be in God, is a heart aright.The sheer weight of all the confused compulsion, increasing the need for affirmation, intensified vulnerability to a shift from hunter to prey.Word reached me through street gossip among my peers about a lad a few years my senior, a lad of alleged experience in the areas which were confusing me.Even before I had met him, in my interior musings through my fantasy life, I had constructed an intimate, affirming, relationship.My plan was to seek him out and get him to want me.It was the induced journey of moth to flame.By the time I was snared in the relationship he had already begun to be physically more rough, at times administering beatings in ways which would not leave marks greater than those you could get playing ball, at other times through emotional intimidation making me do things for, or with, older boys of his choosing. They were his peers, and some of them were scary.As was this lad’s Great-Aunt who lived in a dark purple coloured house, the windows always shaded. She dabbled in tea-leaves and other strange things and whenever she looked at me my inner being froze.I avoided her as much as possible.Only after my conversion did I understand this woman was involved in the occult and all the dangers associated with that.I have been prayed over and delivered from those influences, but they are difficult to be freed from, extremely dangerous to get involved with, yet in this too this generation is extremely, sometimes wilfully, naive.