Priestly Mission: Jesus Lover, Priest, Oblation

Here He is!


Our Divine Lover, Priest!


Vested as Priest, placed on the paten of the Cross as Victim-Oblation








Condemned by false testimony, abandoned by those religious leaders who should have protected Him, handed over to the state to execute Him .


His chosen friends, first Pope, first Bishop-priests, betrayed Him, denied Him, fled from Him.


Only She whose own heart had been pierced by the sword of misunderstanding, gossip, rejection, remained – His Mother, and with her, besides her own women friends, one newly ordained bishop-priest. The one portrayed in popular religious imagination to this day as the youngest, weakest of the bunch!


Not  then to the first Pope, nor to those other allegedly strong men, was the Mother confided, but to the one whose strength was not in muscle or age, not in hardness of ego boasting promises to be faithful, but one who truly loved!


Love is stronger!


Of course just as when we celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass nothing else but the bread – wheat ground and baked by fire – appears to be upon the paten; nothing more than wine – from grapes crushed and squeezed until the last drop, and a wee drop of water co-mingled – water of life, of baptism, of slaked thirst, of tears – appears to be within the chalice, so too here: no-thing, no-one is upon the paten of the Cross, within the chalice of suffering but He Himself – yet in truth: ..CHRIST IS ALL AND IN ALL! [cf. Col. 3: 11]


Look at Him!


Contemplate Him!


We become the one we contemplate!


Look past the spittle of hatred and lies, past the scourging of sin of un-forgiveness of our enemies, beyond the apparent powerlessness to the true Beauty of His Face.


Look into those eyes which ever since He first opened them as He lay in the manger have gazed across the millennia upon you at this very moment – eyes which lavish upon one and all, upon you, absolute love, and compassion, pouring forth from His Heart and saying: For you! For you because I love you I am beaten down, rejected, abandoned, lied about, convicted, stripped, sentenced, killed – for You because I love you!


Love IS stronger!


It is a terrible thing to suffer rejection, abandonment, punishment – all without due process, all because liars go unchallenged and many bishops lack the courage { as did their original predecessors } to defend Christ crucified in His priests.


Yes, it is a terrible thing to be persecuted by the Church – but we must as suffering priests never forget we, like all the baptized, are invited to be one with Christ, even in the depths of His suffering, yes, but through Baptism we are also immersed into the wonder of His resurrection!


Love is stronger and like Christ Himself – if we ourselves are to have trusting hope in the strength of love and truth – we must ‘love our enemies and do good to those who persecute us.’


Look at Him!

Contemplate Him!

Love Him!

Trust Him!

Follow Him!


Yes, follow Him even unto the very aloneness of the altar of abandonment, the cross of rejection, the paten of unending waiting, waiting, waiting for Him to grab us by the hand, as He did sinking Peter, and to save us!


Jesus Himself is our hope!







MY SPIRITUAL FATHER recently reminded me that: “ A priest is a real fighter when he can begin again at every moment! “

He is here paraphrasing the wisdom of those most wondrous of all fighters in spiritual warfare, the Fathers of the Desert!

What does it mean to be a real fighter?

 Who has shown us how to fight?

 Why must we fight and whom?





There is within us..a warfare…[aq]

It is by means of thoughts that spirits of evil wage a secret war against the soul. For since the soul is invisible, these malicious powers naturally attack it invisibly. Both sides prepare their weapons, muster their forces, devise stratagems, clash in fearful battle, gain victories and suffer defeats. But this..warfare lacks one feature possessed by visible warfare: declaration of hostilities. Suddenly, with no warning, the enemy attacks the inmost heart, sets an ambush there, and kills the soul through sin. And for what purpose is this battle waged against us? To prevent us from doing God’s will as we ask to do it when we pray ‘Thy will be done’. [ar]

We know from Sacred Scripture the evil one is the real warring enemy [Rv.12:17] seeking always to seduce us into forgetting whom we truly are and by Whom we are truly loved [Rv.2:4, 5].

 St. Paul, for example, [Ep.6:11, 12] is clear on precisely what this warfare really is.

The reality of spiritual warfare is on my heart today not only because of this section of the story of Divine Mercy at work in my soul, just as He is lavishing Himself upon you in this moment, but also because in the mail today letters arrived from souls for whom I am spiritual director.

I see in their lives the battle rages on.

It is a day to dwell humbly in the virtue of trust, to admit that Christ alone is the Real Fighter, the True Warrior, the Victor. Our only weapon is Him, His Holy Name. Our constant battle cry, simply: LORD JESUS CHRIST, SON OF THE LIVING GOD, HAVE MERCY ON ME A SINNER.

It would take decades after I stepped down from that train which brought me back from the monastery, – decades after I sought out the hanging tree and gave myself over to the enemy, became a traitor to the Gospel, embraced the death of distrust rather than the solace of the embrace of Trust Himself, – before I could even admit there was such a thing as spiritual warfare.

As I turn again to the original notes which I use in this writing I am struck time and again by how often, as I lay severely wounded on the field of battle, Jesus and Mary came to my rescue.

SOME years ago I was visiting one of the many cities which, during the sixties, had within it one of the large concentrations of hippies, of flower children.

I strolled in that former area of hippies, now given over to expensive shops, restaurants, galleries, lofts.

In a small urban square is a large bronze figure, put there during that decade about which no one seems capable to recall the truth that, once ideals were displaced by drugs the flowers became thorns, the communes places of rage and despair, where a generation of children were born never sure who was their actual mother and with no hope of certainty as to whom had fathered them!

The statue is charcoal coloured, neither male nor female, bent in upon itself: rigid, hardened by time, mute.

Lead kindly light, amid the encircling gloom,

Lead Thou me on!

The night is dark, and I am far from home —

Lead Thou me on!

Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see

The distant scene — one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor prayed that Thou

Shouldst lead me on.

I loved to choose and see my path; but now

Lead Thou me on!

I loved the garish day, and spite of fears,

Pride ruled my will; remember not past years.

So long Thy power hath blessed me, sure it still

Will lead me on,

O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till

The night is gone!

And with the morn those angel faces smile

Which I have loved long since and lost awhile.

 — John Henry Cardinal Newman


To say that I was in a state of culture shock, future shock, traumatized by the speed at which I had gone from seven years of total isolation from the world of the late fifties into the world of the mid-sixties, is to hardly convey the emotional, intellectual, spiritual, sexual, linguistic, attitudinal, confusion which I experienced.

It was not only among my family, the very city streets and people on them, I moved as a stranger in a most strange land.

The Church itself seemed to be casting off all that had held secure within her for the centuries since Trent, in favour of some apparently ill-conceived attempt, at least by clerics and nuns, to become so relevant they no longer appeared to have a clue as to whom they really were.

Though since I had abandoned faith this latter was rather irrelevant.

Within a week or so of being back in the city I was on the prowl, with limited success.

The appetites were similar to before the monastery; the skills of the hunter were less.

Seven years of chaste living had taken their toll.

Thanks to the tradition of nepotism in the postal service I soon had a job as a postal worker.

I was the typical postman from hell — interested only in the money, often getting addresses wrong, not caring at all about how I did the job — and thanks to the power of the union I had no fear of being fired.

Typical of my attitude was the day I broke a tooth during lunch and so I just dumped the undelivered mail into a corner box and took the rest of the day off to find a dentist.

I was years away from understanding, let alone accepting, the implicit moral contract between employer and employee — a just day of labour for a just wage.

With the good money I was making I soon was able to buy fine cloths, lots of books, material for writing, painting, indulge my passion for movies, going to bars.

I was getting a rapid education into this new culture and learnt quickly how to hold down a job during the week and blend into the hippie culture on the weekend.

Authentic religion was a no go, yet my being hungered for some intellectual affirmation of purpose, of existence, so I studied existentialism and Marxism in my spare time, bought the whole angst idea and Marxist theory.

The imperative impulse for revolutionary re-ordering of society was intensified within me through the experience of delivering mail in the projects, the allegedly wonderful alternative to tenement clusters of inner city slums.

The buildings themselves were not that old but since the poor had been put in there with no change in their educational opportunities, social skills, employment, as is all too well known they quickly became jungles of violence, despair, abuse of drugs, alcohol, children, each other, peopled by the hopeless and the angry.

The buildings were filled with graffiti, garbage, unsupervised children, sullen and violent juveniles, mainly fatherless little families cared for by overworked and exhausted women.

It is the coal I’ll never forget.

The coal which lingers, is treasured, deep in my being as the rock hard symbol of why welfare fails as a substitute for true charity — the dignified loving service of one another.

In the old slums, the thick tenements, part of the rental deal was you kicked in your share of bags of coal or slum-lords would cut the heat.

I had a court-order registered letter which had to be signed for. When the woman had me step inside her apartment, as she searched for a pencil to sign for the letter, I could see the usual chaos of a poor little home, right through to the bathroom and the tub filled with coal.

Had no one from the housing authority bothered to explain oil or gas fired boilers?

THE gas furnace in this little house kicks in regularly as I write this very chill late fall evening.

One great thing about being a priest is I can, during Holy Mass repent, of my failure to be a good, caring postman and rest in the mystery of His Mercy, pray for that woman with the coal filled bathtub and trust in the mystery of His Mercy, rejoice in the Church’s predilection, Her preferential option for the poor.

Her preferential option for everyone!

As my wonderful teacher of writing used to say: “Interruptions ARE my work!”

A soul, utterly fearful of everything about life, just phoned long distance. So I stopped this writing to be attentive.

The Church’s, every Christian’s, preferential option MUST be for everyone, for, truly, we are ALL poor.

IT IS LATE in the night as I resume this writing.

The two main rail lines which run through this neighbourhood rumble as great freight trains haul the materials and goods from this industrial city across the expanse of this great continent.

The factories run twenty-four hours, churning out a seemingly endless supply of cars, trucks, vans, cd players, stoves, refrigerators.

On and on relentlessly workers produce in order to consume what their sweat has made.

Their fear of being alone, poor, urges them to consume, consume, consume, until their muscles burn out from the effort, their hearts suddenly stop beating, drained of all life because they have been devoured empty by their very consumption.

Instead of going into a church and stillness before the Real Presence, when I needed solitude, which an inner ache seemed to be pushing me towards, I’d go back to those places of the waterfront, the old fortifications, abandoned factories, the breakwater, sit, gaze out at the ocean, wonder were the freighters were headed, and what had become of me.

I was living in the family’s home, which was terribly crowded and where I felt like a boarder among strangers.

Parents and siblings alike tried valiantly to assimilate me back into the family as if those seven years of separation had not happened. But I was unwilling to be assimilated.

Even when my father announced he had retired from the navy and accepted a foreman’s job at a major factory in the industrial heartland and the whole family would be on the move again, I welcome to come along, and I agreed, it was simply as one accepting passage in steerage to yet another foreign land.

Deep in my heart was the inner hope that in that place of workers I could affect a Marxist stirring of great social change in the thriving city of factories.

It was also a city of universities, tv and movie production, theatre.

It would be a good place for the restless, needy, famished heart of the hunter to prowl.

The house we were to live in was not quite ready so we all crammed into a little cottage some miles outside the city.

My father traveled back and forth to work each day, while my younger siblings were bussed to school and a couple of the older ones found jobs.

I initially seemed unable to function.


Perhaps it was that the stress of the past few months seized the silence of that isolated cottage.

Perhaps it was simply I finally had no fight left within me.

I had some type of nervous collapse the first weeks there, surely, for I did nothing except sleep for eighteen hours at a stretch, rising only for a bit of food, some water or pop, then slept again.

By the time we moved into the city, ( I had a small room in the basement with the elder of my younger brothers), my brain was mush and I knew if I didn’t force myself to find work and stimulate my intellect I’d sink into such a complete depression I might never recover.

The fastest way to get work, money for books and other pleasures was to take the easiest job, so, back to the Post Office.

The city we were in had lots of flights to other cities, such as the not so distant one where the exploding so-called sexual liberation was at its most unbridled.

My job often afforded me a four day weekend because of alternating shifts and I was making an unnecessary huge amount of money given I had none of the usual expenses of a single person.

 Living at home as I was, long weekends of dissipation were easily indulged in.

Here is a peculiarity of a man with appetites:  he is always dissatisfied and bitter, like someone who is hungry……it is plain that the appetites are wearisome and tiring for a man. They resemble little children, restless and hard to please, always whining to their mother for this thing or that, and never satisfied……A man with desires wearies himself, because he is like someone with a fever whose thirst increases by the minute and who feels ill until the fever leaves. [as]


In the city where I traveled most often to satisfy my appetites lived a cousin whose own confused hungers were a cover for mine.

She was only too happy to accommodate my need for secrecy as she knew I would likewise never reveal her life either.

Little by little, with my poetry, looks, intellect, radical ideas, capacity for drink and drugs, I began to move in circles of the art world, hippie world, emerging radical politics, the drug world, with ease and increased popularity.

Not knowing, but when I suspected suppressing, that each movement in those various worlds was splitting me off from myself more and more, I came to accept the constant terror of knowing I was incessantly walking beside myself.

The double life I was leading, dutiful hard working son in the city of my family, acting out various roles in the city of my degradation, meant a constant increase of tension and anxiety.

Fear was the only constant in my life which transcended all the roles I was acting out.

The only antidote to such inner fear is exterior terror and so, like most addicts, I became addicted to danger.

In a movie theatre.

Early afternoon.

Maybe six people in the place.

Hunters all.

Man sits right next to me in a row where all other seats are empty.

Makes his gesture, and then gets up.

I know where he is going.

Accept the invitation even though all my instincts scream: danger.

It is the scent of danger which has me seduced.

Mid-activity I am being strangled with my own scarf.

Couple of vice-squad wandered in at that point.

The man and I covered for each other.

The cops left.

The man had lost interest after that and left without saying a word.

The real horror of that experience is not what it appears to be, that I was almost murdered.

In so far as that fact goes it was not my first brush with a possible violent death.

Nor would it be my last.

The real horror was that I was getting so out of control, becoming so controlled by my appetites and addictions that the experience of being strangled was a hedonistic elixir.

Torment and affliction is the…kind of damage the appetites cause in an individual…similar to the torture of the rack, where a person has no relief until freed from the torment of being bound by these cords…A person is tormented and afflicted when he reclines on his appetites as is a man lying naked on thorns and nails. Like thorns, the appetites wound and hurt, stick to a person and cause him pain….[at]


FINALLY the urgency to get beyond the passages written this day has eased and blessed fatigue is setting in.

How hard it is to recall those terrible years, knowing that they are not the darkest yet to be written about.

Were it not this sabbatical duty of the moment to write this I would likely have taken the binder notes and burned them…then suddenly my heart understands it is a good and holy thing that confession be wearying, painful, cause for weeping, experience of true penthos.

What a gracious and all merciful Father You are to forgive us so much!

How You infinitely honour the sacrifice of Your Son who poured Himself out drop by drop to the last drop of redemptive love that we might have mercy, again, again, again, again.

THROUGHOUT human history, within the ebb and flow of every civilization, cascading across time as bearer of the nation’s, the tribe’s, a family’s hopes, dreams, joys, sorrows; erupting from the deepest regions of the human heart; firing the imagination, pleading for mercy, lamenting, praising, vibrating a tiny bone which electrifies the brain and shudders the heart; soaring across the planets; strolling through the seasons; as solitary as a single voice lulling the Newborn to sleep in ancient cave, after the glorious clamour of celestial hosts, as tempestuous as the heated blood of opera, music is as if there were a permeable spot within heaven’s veil through which, under no doubt the incalculable interior pressure of the infinitude of Beatitude eternally sung, drips into creation angelic love song to Love.

Resonating within the human heart and soul, man takes his own capacity for speech and it is uttered melodiously, mingling with the sound of wind, dance of sunlight, choral of bird, tintinnabulation of first rounded metals, sensing too if tree were but dried and shaped and strung the very tears of angels would vibrate as violin, viola and join the every growing orchestra of the Children of God crying, crying, crying: Hear us O Father, bring us through the veil into the eternal dance and never ending song of Your glory!

These thoughts began to stir in my heart as I strolled about the neighbourhood along the railroad tracks, praying over the pulsating city, this dark, wet, late fall evening, praying the Sorrowful Mysteries as the millennia of sorrow seeps away into the dark mists of history’s night, while among the small houses of the countless factory workers strings of Christmas lights perform their own dance of anticipation that He will be born anew and hope will be the most universal aspiration of the human family as we cross the threshold of the new millennium.

Then I sat here at my desk, fired up the old computer to begin this writing and was moved to place a new CD in the machine…..ah how this poor priest is humbled by the stuff of his art…no music of fountain pen as it dances across paper, not even the experience once mine to sit, eyes closed, fingers barely touching a friend’s violin as I, the hearing one, kept my other fingers on the cheek of a deaf child to show her how the fingers could hear and through my fingers on that shaped wood, bowed with love by the elderly musician I heard for the first time!

 Now I listen as Chopin’s Ballade No.1, Op.23 in G minor, played exquisitely upon a finely tuned piano, travels through the mystery of lazar and electrical wire, magnified in headphones, sweeps through my ears, and dances across the pathways of my mind, dagger like plunges into my heart wounding my being with sheer delight!

….the pilgrim Church on earth lifts her gaze to heaven, to the immense throng of men and women to whom God has given a share in His holiness……Dear friends, this is our future! This is the most genuine and universal vocation of all humanity: to form the great family of God’s children……[au]


The sixties!

Sometimes I wonder if all of us who were young adults in the sixties need some kind, still, of spiritual purging of the impact upon us, physically, psychologically, intellectually, socially and above all within the depths of our souls.

Art, literature, music, hair styles, scientific effort, weapons of war, terrorism, drugs, sex, religion, Berlin Wall, Cuban missile crisis, drought, revolution, civil wars, Viet-Nam, assassinations, riots, Vatican II, the pill, Humane Vitae, the love which dare not speak its name by then never hesitating to scream, the Green Revolution, the millions of Red Guards terrorizing an entire nation, walking on the moon: and seemingly an entire generation either face down dead in rice paddies or walking dead stoned all across the globe in search of the ultimate affirmation of their being, denied them by the very means, mostly, of their searching.

My heart sees in the sixties generation the breaking out from the dusty shelves of philosophical disputation in the lives of the children of flowers and communes a nexus between the theories of the Enlightenment and the completely selfish determinism of the Utilitarianism mindset, resulting by century’s end in the inevitable materialist satiate of soul.

It is said that modern man has lost the experience of sin; unfortunately for him, he has not. Frequently he has no experience of anything else………Where sin goes unrecognized, so does salvation. More precisely, when the Christian word ‘sin’ no longer  evokes the modern experience of that reality, the offer of ‘salvation’, so expressed, will find few takers. People will look elsewhere for what they need to be saved from time experienced as dread and the bringer of death. [av]


Only now in my life do I dimly begin to understand that the immense effort and energy expended, so I thought, in the search for self and for some tangible affirmation of my being, was indeed that horizontal opposite: flight from true self.

Because I was fleeing the true self, my very being, this necessarily drew me into the constitutive flight from the Original Being, the Eternal One, the unique source and sustenance of my being: God the Father.

By this time in my life flight became not only a pedestrian activity, an interior struggle, nor merely flight by means of the drug induced wings which sheared the normal functions of the human brain off from any true experience of the mind as a touchstone for grace, but, the actual experience of flying.

With the need to replace immense inner panic with some more controlled fear, hence a powerful antidote to the fear I could not, would not face, flying was the ideal solution being at one and the same time terrifying in its experiential definitude and symbolic in its obvious aloofness.

Of course it also allowed me to extend the range of my hunter’s roaming for hedonistic adventure and enhanced anonymity.

I began to fly to various cities virtually every weekend, exhausting myself with terror and pleasure, arriving at work the following Monday barely aware of my environment, pulsating with the determination to forge through time with a frantic rapidity towards the advancing Friday of flight.

To use the old adage I was indeed burning the candle at both ends and my life was as a result becoming a pool of pungent tallow.

Like most other human beings my first flight was of those incredible first experiences which become a litmus test before which subsequent repetition of the activity always fails to excite as sweetly.

The jet left the city near midnight during a snowstorm and seemed, by sheer force and shudder of its engines to claw its way up some atmospheric mountainside until it reached the peak!

I was as one inside a Jona whale’s belly of steel and aluminum, not though as fleeing prophet, though now I understand the prophetic aspects of flight.

Once we were high enough in the night storm that I could no longer marvel at the toy-town aspects of lit city beneath I became so totally aware there was, discounting the jets hull, nothing beneath my feet, nothing but this throbbing jet belly between me and the ground, the sought for definable terror took hold and overwhelmed the normal state of panic in which I existed.

Some hours later as we began the descent towards the city I was traveling to the sheer beauty of flight, its mystery, the incongruity of the earth bound out distancing the winged creatures for whom the sky was originally blessed, took hold and I almost prayed.

But I did not.

To pray implied a taste for reality, for which, at that juncture, I had a total aversion.

For this is a characteristic of the person who is blinded by his appetites; when he is in the midst of the truth and of what is suitable for him, he no more sees it than if he were in the dark. [aw]


IT IS, [as I continue this written pilgrimage across the mystery of a life wherein the truth where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more, must by now be surely self-evident], the last morning of the last day of the last Liturgical Year of the last century of the Second Millennium of His Holy Incarnation!

For some weeks now I have written many letters, articles, poems, traveled, in a word struggled against this, which means frankly I have struggled against the ‘goad’ of His Holy Will, until finally grace conquered.

Truthfully I was given the grace to say yes to grace, and these past couple of days I have resumed this work, having been granted the further grace to accept a particular poverty, difficult for any writer, that my obedience is NOT, per se, for my writing ever to see the light of day.


{There was just a phone call, which has left me smiling, for I had outlined my whole day on a separate sheet, alternating this work and prayer, and planned an evening’s painting. My spiritual father has stressed the need during this sabbatical for suitable time for recreation and friends have offered a movie, right in the middle of MY schedule! }


My obedience is the Holy Will of the Father, which is, that I write.

Publication is His will to permit or not.

{I said yes to the movie.}

Again I draw from the original notes for this:

THE OVERCAST sky is swollen with yet another winter storm, soon to be born upon the wind.

The chickadees gorge themselves on seeds from the feeder outside my window, while frequently blue jays swoop down from the cedars trying to steal the food of the little ones.

Here in this priests’ dorm the raspy coughing of brothers not yet healed of the flu mingles with the constant hum of the blower, pushing wood furnace heat from the basement into each of these small rooms, which house the awesome mystery of weak men strengthened by sacramental ordination so that even our experience of the flu becomes a fragment of oblation!

It is the seventh and last Sunday of this season of Ordinary Time.

We have touched today the threshold of Great Holy Lent!


The turning, returning, season of grace.

The time to turn away from sin, self-preoccupation, other idols, and re-turn, or rather by a yes to grace be turned once more towards, enter the embrace of, the One Holy God, Father, Son, Holy Spirit.

O that every breath I take be Triune!

The season of metanoia, conversion, change of heart.

Those embraced in my childhood with all the passionate exuberance of giving up candy and saying extra prayers with exhilarating fervour; the less childlike Lents of my monastic days, when the fasting was deep, the hunger true, the silence profound, the metanoia exquisite, if painful.

As Lent most often in these climes occurs in the dead of winter, one of my un-Lent-Lents, my non-turn-return ones, was, unbeknownst to me at the time, a lent of great grace in the person of a woman.

I’d been doing community work with ex-cons, becoming rather close to one in particular. Sadly, not from any altruistic motive. He shared much in common with me, age, artistic talent, brokenness.

One day he suggested I come with him to the city where his family lived and meet THE woman in his life.

At first I was disturbed by this, rather desiring there be no woman in his life. But in spite of my own weirdness we were friends and I was always up for another trip.

It was an uneventful journey, and no surprise at all his family lived in the local projects.

His family embodied all the unfortunate stereotypes of project housing family life, yet their kindness to, and acceptance of me was genuine, though I was a bit taken aback at their casual assumption my friend and I would be sleeping together.

It was an approach to homosexuality I’d never encountered before and its affect upon me was to cause an inner sense of shame and confusion, feelings I immediately suppressed due to their potential danger of twisting into mature reflection.

After being there for two days and still not having met the woman of his life, in the evening while we were having beer and shooting pool in the neighbourhood hall I pressed the point, suggesting she was a mythical cover-up among his wider group of friends, those ignorant of his actual predilection.

He ignored my dig by assuring me I was to meet this very real woman the next day.

Morning came and he awakened me early.

We had some coffee and then got in his car and drove to the downtown, stopping in a lot across from an immense grey stone building, clearly built at the end of the nineteenth century.

It was a hospital!

Even at this very moment as I write these lines, reliving what I now know to have been, with the woman, a major graced friendship in my life, I recall nonetheless the deep sense of unease, indeed of being appalled, as we walked ever deeper, it seemed, into the bowels of that huge hospital complex, filled with the chronically, terminally ill.

Not the well insured ill either, but the poorest of the poor.

The hospital itself was poor: paint peeling, worn linoleum floors, ancient, rebellious elevators, windows of cracked glass in warped wooden frames which teased light through brownish grime to the music of incessant drafts while the entire place smelled heavy of the detritus human beings.

After walking some time down a particularly pathetic corridor in that palace of pathos we entered a room which seemed medieval in its atmosphere of the dark and hopeless rage of a putative existence.

I could not have been more wrong.

The putative existence was not that of the person in this room, rather it was the chosen state of attitude, purpose, of late twentieth century medicine which seeped into that room like some overflowing cesspool, whose waves slapped against the diamond hard soul of the room’s occupant, yet were incapable of drowning her.

As my senses tried to interpret the paradox experience of repulsion and being drawn towards the image before me, ‘ it ‘ , moved slightly and announced ‘ I AM ALIVE.’, and I staggered backward a step for the announcement was not of the fact of this woman.

It was He who spoke within me.

That was too much to bear.

On the bed before my eyes lay a mere hint of a human being, a woman whose body was all skin, bones, every limb twisted out of normal shape, eyes sunken as if they almost were not there, yet as they moved to search who has entered the room they flashed like the turning lamp of a lighthouse!

Tubes were running from various parts of her body, some upwards towards glass bottles of clear fluid, or cylinders of oxygen beside the bed, or downwards towards containers hidden under the bed.

The tv, small, black and white, fuzzy of picture, hung from a short chain embedded in the ceiling. It swayed ever so slightly, as if asserting it would un-expectantly crash to the floor. All the while the sound blared. A film of plastic was crudely tapped over the window, billowed by the pressure of winter’s wind, sounding as if enraged at its denied entry. An old iron radiator leaked steam with a constant hiss, but appeared unwilling to heat the room, which was cold indeed.

My entire being wanted to flee.

My entire being wanted to be accepted.

THIS was THE woman?

My friend motioned me closer to the bed in which lay what appeared to my rational being as more a creature of some medieval peasant’s nightmare than a human being, must less a woman whom I had just seen my friend bend down and kiss as if she were the Blessed Mother herself!

Indeed my friend, as he turned and motioned to me after he kissed her, was radiant. His eyes, normally hard, cold, cosmic black-holes, shimmered with brightness and tears.

I approached as easily as one cutting a path through dense jungle or swimming in a sea of molten lead, trembled as I bent down and barely brushed with reluctant finger tips the protruding collection of small bones which hinted at being a woman’s hand.

I would have been safe had I not dared glance towards the face and was struck in the core of my being by a glance from those heart-reading eyes.

She smiled silently and landed a dried flesh extremity upon my hand and declared: “ I think we shall become the best of friends. “

This was too much.

The leper’s kiss.

I fled in a heat of outrage that my friend had dared subject me to this encounter with horror.

Indeed I was in such a rage that when, about a half-hour later, my friend emerged from the hospital and was walking towards me, leaning against his car in the parking lot across from the hospital, I screamed my rage. We almost came to blows.

When the next day we returned to the city in which we were living, and he dropped me off, I walked wordlessly away from the car.

It didn’t take long after that incident for the friendship to dissolve.

Years later I heard he died in some prison.

Some years after my first meeting with her, in the meantime she had started writing to me and I was, at first strangely, almost as one mesmerized, compelled to write back, I found myself living in the same city.

By then the power of her insights, the passion of her compassion had touched me deeply and we were, indeed, the best of friends.

During the years I lived in the city I would see her often.

Many of her friends became mine, for she little by little roped us all in as volunteers in the seemingly endless projects she organized for that phenomena we have come to accept as a whole class of putative persons: poor, handicapped, elderly, homeless, unborn.

Though I was an atheist at this juncture she unabashedly spoke of the Suffering Christ, of the Loving Christ or the marvel of a life lived in complete union with Him.

These conversations were not easy for it could take her ten minutes of immense struggle to weave together the few words needed to form a complete sentence.

This created silence between the words, a silence like the jewellers cup bearing molten gold and each moment of silence tipped that fire-fluid into the recesses of my heart.

From this, the first of several “THE” woman-women in my life, comes my own passion for the anawim.

She told me once of the only gift she begged from her Divine Lover, having been crippled and abandoned at the outset of her teenage years with a disease that promised death, but failed to deliver: “ My one is to walk once more before I die.”

The last time I saw her was a few days before leaving the country on a planned Christmas holiday.

I had just completed the last of her Christmas cards, which I would write and then she would somehow manage to sign with her name. We agreed I would visit her immediately on my return and tell her all about the trip.

On my return I was met at the airport by my best friend, whom I’d met through her, and he told me what had happened:

       He and a couple of her friends had brought her to the hospital chapel for Midnight Mass.

At Communion time she had suddenly stood up and out of her special wheelchair and walked up to the astounded priest to receive her Lover Christ in the mystery of Holy Communion.

That evening she had died in her sleep.

She was not the first woman to have crawled a great distance in faith and hope to touch Him [Mt.9:20ff]!









Priestly Mission: An Apostolate of the Heart


                                  Priestly Mission:  An Apostolate of the Heart

Many years ago, in the first attempt at this site for hope in the lives of priests, we ran the start of a series urging all priests, in particular those enduring punishment for actual sins/crime as well as those falsely accused, but suffering the same fate nonetheless, to embrace a life of expiation, becoming living oblations, victim-souls, holocausts of love, of Love Himself.


In the intervening years the site underwent a couple of revisions, this being the latest.

To be honest, abandoned because I, Fr. Joseph, endured a prolonged period of discouragement within five years of struggle for vindication of innocence, which, like most falsely accused priests ended in being exiled nonetheless – for in this current climate an accusation is tantamount to automatic conviction, at least in the eyes of the institutional church!- the aforementioned series was abandoned.

Some months ago a truly faithful Catholic Layman, the webmaster of this site actually, challenged Fr. Joseph to face reality, in a word to embrace the full implication of being, irrespective of ‘official status’, or living conditions, In Persona Christi.

So, as you have already seen, the entire site has been upgraded.

 Admitting I gave into discouragement, here I am, ready to walk with my suffering brothers into the mystery of unsought after suffering, to struggle to embrace the cross, to be truly one with Christ.

The Servant of God Catherine Doherty, Foundress of the Madonna House Apostolate, taught repeatedly: In God every moment is the moment of beginning again!

Going over the struggles of the past few years and the final decision of the CDF barring me from ever again exercising ‘public’ ministry, such as in a parish, but allowing me to live as a priest, celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass [ alone in terms of the presence of another human person, of course wherever and whenever Holy Mass is celebrated the entire Heavenly Court is present] and, with spiritual direction, a good therapist and support prayers, encouragement of family, of friends as well finally coming out of discouragement [ just a first baby step on this journey],  the beginning again moment is here!

Before writing this I spent time reflecting on the central lines in her offering as an oblation, of the Doctor of the Church, St. Therese of Lisieux:

In order to live one single act of perfect love, I OFFER MYSELF AS A VICTIM OF HOLOCAUST TO YOUR MERCIFUL LOVE, asking You to consume me incessantly, allowing the waves of infinite tenderness  shut up within You to overflow into my soul, and that thus I may become a martyr of Your Love, O my God!

In the great Easter Sequence we begin our joyous praise and love of the Risen Jesus Christ by crying out:

Victimae Paschali laudes immolent Christiani!- Christians, offer to the Paschal Victim sacrifice and praise!

Cross and Resurrection, suffering and joy, love and pain – these are inseparable realities of a fully alive Baptized human being and even more so are they constitutive of  life of a priest.

However it has come to pass, because of our own actions/choices or the caprice of those with power over accused priests, all caught up in the maelstrom know the stark reality, in the depths of our beings, indeed as a daily challenge, of having before us the choice between blessing and curse, life and death [cf. Deut. 30:1 & 30:19].

On the very threshold of the beginning of Resurrection history, the very threshold of the beginning of the pilgrimage through history of the nascent Church, the threshold of the beginning of priestly life and service across the millennia, in the full light and joy of His Holy Resurrection the first offering, even before praise, we are called to offer is sacrifice.

 This opening stanza of the Sequence echoes the cry, the supplication, we all offered at the foot of the Cross on Good Friday in company with Our Blessed Mother, herself a holocaust of love, for Love, to Love:

…..Listen to my fond request: let me share your grief….in my body bear the death of your dying SON…wounded with His every wound……

When life was unfolding as apparently it was meant to, within the rhythm of parish life, I daresay all the above prayers, words, about joy and suffering, choice, sacrifice, etc., while no doubt embraced with a sincere heart, were nonetheless sort of benign – certainly not as excruciating close and raw as any priest suffering imprisonment, abandonment, rejection, exile, banishment from ministry, reputation of good name lost, enduring poverty, illness, old age, depression, discouragement, etc., etc., now experiences as daily reality.

It may well seem we have not chosen curse, it has been thrust upon us; we have not chosen death – depression is a living death; life seems to have ended, at least the life we assumed would be ours when we were ordained; blessing? Where is that?

But, in point of fact, the choice IS ours to make, no matter what our circumstances are, in prison or not, reduced to the ‘lay’ state or not, indeed whatever our situation the choice is ours: anger, resentment, etc., etc., which is to chose curse and death – or – without counting the cost, without self-pity, denial, bargaining etc., etc., to choose to become, truly in persona Christi oblation, victim, holocaust.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in Me and I in him will bear much fruit….By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit….As the Father loves Me, so I also love you. Remain in My love…” [cf. Jn. 15: 5-10] 

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in His footsteps. [cf.1Pt.2:21]


THERE is a personal grace in this writing, as well as, since it is written under obedience and in fidelity to the duty of the moment, a grace for you whose eyes fall upon these words in this moment.



The Spirit tells my heart to give a glimpse of the grace so others might come to trust Him.

The glimpse I am moved to give is simply this: it is part of the original satanic lie hissed to Adam and Eve that there will come a moment in our lives when God abandons us.

The truth is, it is we who deny Him a place within us, and we deny the truth He is with us.

We abandon Him.

Indeed in so doing we abandon our true self.

That is why, among many reasons, hopefully by now most of them self-evident, I keep mentioning that this writing is NOT so much the story of my particular life, as it is the proclamation, the account of the persistence, the tender, faithful, relentless, seeking, calling, inviting, all-loving, redemptive, activity in the soul, mine, yours, of the Blessed Trinity, through the mystery of Jesus, the reality of Jesus, He whose Incarnation, Passion, Death, Resurrection makes real the fact of our being, and of our being beloved children of the Father.

The true teacher here is NOT this neurotic, sinful priest commanded to write.

I have been given the grace to understand, a grace of insight, as never before in my life how so much evil came to pass within my life.

The gift of conversion and healing entails such struggle.

 Often too there is much resistance until finally grace overcomes what holds us in bondage, layer after deeper layer, after deeper layer, until it is finished — usually at the moment when we are laid deep, deep in the earth under layers of earth when we have come finally to surrender to Love!

One of the great spiritual tragedies of internecine warfare within the Church today is rooted in the refusal of many of Her children, especially bishops and priests, the teachers and shepherds, to accept the clear truth of the Holy Gospel.

This is particularly so when it comes to denying the reality of satan and his permitted assault on the followers of Christ, and the constitutive reality of sin and its aftermath.


When a soul comes to the priest for instruction, seeking truth, and is told such things as satan, mortal sin, hell, etc. are medieval notions best left aside by we enlightened moderns, the soul is relentlessly pushed back by such fatherly betrayal into the very clutches of evil, evil which the soul had come to the priest to be delivered from.

The more priests refrain from truth-speaking, from exercising our ordained paternal authority to enlighten, encourage, absolve, deliver, the firmer the grip of the evil one upon the person of the child of God, upon their very soul, upon the entire world.

Factually the abomination of the desolation occurs within the soul, the living temple of the Holy Spirit, more horrifically than anything we can image in an external structure.

This occurs when souls are denied sacramental solace by priests who have surrendered truth of faith to the illusion of modern scepticism.

This loss of faith/refusal to believe, by priests, results from the failure of priests themselves to approach each other for spiritual direction, authentic confession of sins, humble supplication for healing of interior neurotic wounds, those bitter roots and inner vows which form the sins of our youth, and unhanded over to Christ, hobble our adulthood.

Scripture is filled with stark descriptions of the hobbled soul in bondage to disorder and sin: Dn.9:27; 11:31. Often these passages are narrowly understood as end time prophecies, but everything in Scripture has a personal aspect to it, a teaching for us or a warning: Mk.13:14; Mt.24:15.

I have long wondered what my own personal ‘original’ sin was, how I came to close myself off to the activity and voice of the Holy Spirit, to allow the one who should never stand within my being enter as abomination and render me desolate.

How could this happen, or rather how could I choose this at such a tender age?

Why, within a few hours of arriving back in the city of my youth did I seek out a particular place, as if going to a shrine?

I’D BEEN back in the city but a day or so when this compulsion overtook me, with relative ease as I recall, that I should seek out a particular place, a place of horrific death in the last century, a place which was no mere place but more a thing, a living thing consecrated to death, the hanging tree.

I am deeply aware of the danger in writing about evil spirits, satan, the devil, demons, all names for the same spirits of evil, cast from heaven (Rv.12) because of their free-will, irredeemable sin against the Holy Triune God.

The danger is not merely to myself, but to others if this writing triggers extremely dangerous curiosity.

Or an equally disordered scepticism.

So as I write these lines I am in constant prayer for the protection of Our Lady and St. Michael the Archangel, for inspiration from the Holy Fathers and Doctors of the Church, so that I write truth, truth which is cautionary for souls.

CHRIST is a witness. He came down from heaven to destroy the work of the devil, that is, sin (1Jn.3:8). This is why He is called ‘the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world (Jn.1:29). Who can explain or even imagine all that Christ suffered to destroy the work of the devil and to satisfy perfectly the justice of God? ‘Though He was by nature God, He emptied Himself, taking the nature of a slave ‘(Phil.2:6). ‘Being rich, He became poor for our sakes ‘(2Cor.8:9). He ‘had nowhere to lay His head ‘(Lk.9:58), although He made heaven and earth. ‘He came into His own, and His own received Him not ‘(Jn.1:11). ‘When He was reviled He did not revile, when He suffered, did not threaten, but yielded Himself up to him who judged Him unjustly; who Himself bore our sins in His body upon the tree ‘(1Pet.2:23, 24). ‘He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even death on the cross ‘(Phil.2:8). ‘By His stripes we were healed ‘(1Pet.2:24). At last mocked, spit upon, scourged, crowned with thorns, crucified in complete shame and excruciating pain, He poured out all His Blood and His Life. He bore all this to destroy the works of the devil and wipe out our sin. [an]


Places where there has been, things used for, in either the ancient or near past, violent death, occult activity, blasphemy, satanic ritual, unless these places, things, are reclaimed for Christ, in Christ, through Christ, by the power of His Redeeming Cross, Blood, Name, such places and things will remain cesspools, swamps, bogs, of devouring evil.

There is a defined limit to the movement and power of the evil one and his minions as is attested to by Sacred Scripture and Church teaching, which we should never forget because it is as seriously dangerous to over-estimate the power of evil as it is to under-estimate same.

Scripture shows us the limits the Lord Himself has placed upon the evil one [Jb. 1:6-12; 2:6], as well as the fear evil spirits have in the presence of Jesus [Mk. 1:23, 24], and the power Jesus has over them [Mk. 5: 9, 10 & 12].

The Church herself in her Catechism teaches:

The devil and the other demons were indeed created naturally good by God, but they    became evil by their own doing……{# 391 CCC*} Scripture speaks of a sin of these angels. This ‘ fall ‘ consists in the free choice of these created spirits, who radically and irrevocably rejected God and His reign…..The devil ‘ has sinned from the beginning ‘; he is ‘ a liar and the father of lies ‘. {# 392 CCC*}

 The power of satan is, nonetheless, not infinite…It is a great mystery that Providence should permit diabolical activity, but ‘ we know that in everything God works for good with those who love Him. {# 395 *Catechism of the Catholic Church}


The evil one then can only suggest, what is accurately called ‘tempt’ the soul, us, to sin, to choose against God’s love for us.

Satan CANNOT make a soul commit a sin.

We have free will and must, in order to sin, freely choose to follow the evil idea, in a word to cooperate with the evil one.

The imminent danger in minor cooperation with evil, known as venial sin, is the progressive weakening of our free will and the increased predisposition of our will towards greater evil, known as mortal sin, the deadly sinning which, persisted in, leads necessarily towards such a distortion of our freedom that in extreme cases we will hand our will over to satan, i.e. become actually in bondage to, if not possessed by, an evil spirit.

We, I, You, and no one else bear the responsibility for our choices and the repercussions of those choices.

True, the sins of others against us may, because of the severity of the impact of the sin against us, damage our notion of self, weakening our will, our emotional stability, render it more facile for us to choose evil and more of a struggle to choose good. Nonetheless, we remain with a free will and therefore responsible for the choices we make.

In this spiritual warfare we have the person, the victory, of Christ Himself as our encouragement. Through His Passion and Death, His Redemption of us, by the power of the Holy Spirit operative in the Sacraments, especially of Baptism, Confession, Holy Communion, we have the forgiveness of our sins, the grace to begin, with God, anew, moment by moment to choose the life of goodness over the death of evil.

Christ’s own struggle with the evil one is amply attested in the Holy Gospels, very dramatically at the outset of His public life in Matthew 4:1-11.

Another example from Matthew of the struggle with evil, which illustrates both that which occurred within my soul during my monastic years, and what happened to me when I returned to the city.

The passage is found in Matthew 12:43-45 and illustrates the true conversion is not just the action of Jesus setting us free but what happens if we fail to live in the reality of conversion. We cannot be passive!

When I returned home from the monastery I had within me a closed heart, a shutting down of my baptized self, soul, mind, heart, will, towards any and all activity of God within me.

Now partially this was due to the fact that while, through entrance into and life within the monastic vocation I had, in a true sense, been freed of the evil I had clung to prior to my monastic life, and thus to a real degree the house of my soul was indeed tidied and swept clean, I had not invited Christ to occupy the house of my being.

Because there had been no work done to deal with the ‘why’ of my previous life of sin, there had been no invitation to Christ to fully occupy my being.

This thus enabled those tendril roots to spread and grow, to become eventually the returned evil spirit with his legion of seven worse than him. They occupied the place within me which belongs to Christ but which was empty of Him because I had never invited Him to enter. Even when I sometimes desperately went through the motions I never trusted He actually would enter as the fullness of my being.

The means by which I sustained the new occupants within me was to deliberately silence the voice of my conscience, which in fact means I deliberately chose to ignore, to render myself deaf and oblivious to, the voice of the Holy Spirit.

…..the conscience is ‘the most secret core and sanctuary of a man, where he is alone with God, whose voice echoes in his depths ‘. It ‘can…speak to his heart more specifically: do this, shun that ‘. This capacity to command what is good and to forbid evil, placed in man by the Creator, is the main characteristic of the personal subject. But at the same time, ‘in the depths of his conscience, man detects a law which he does not impose upon himself, but which holds him to obedience ‘. The conscience therefore is not an independent and exclusive capacity to decide what is good and what is evil. Rather there is profoundly imprinted upon it a principle of obedience…..the conscience is the ‘secret sanctuary ‘ in which ‘ God’s voice echoes ‘. The conscience is ‘the voice of God ‘….[ao]


The result of remaining an empty house upon my return from the monastery, and the result of my free will choice to remain empty, was of my being seized by an urgent need to seek out that place of the hanging tree and, frankly, the tree itself, to touch it, feel its raw bark against my cheek, to hopefully find there the original lad, the one who though he had held me in bondage, had tortured me and beaten me when I wanted someone else, and from whose grasp I illusory supposedly had escaped, been free of while in the monastery. This need for him seized me urgently still with an intensity as if it had never left me…which it hadn’t in the bitter, deep rooted depths of my being.

It was that lad who had first introduced me to this place, this thing of dark, cruel, death. It was within its shadow that I consciously committed my first mortal sin in the clutch of that same lad.

Though I myself was but a lad at the time, I was old enough to choose.

 I chose death, darkness, evil.

I choose immediate gratification over trust and waiting upon the Lord.

Now I was returning to that thing, to distrust.

I have no patience with those who advance dubious evidence to suggest, actually to propose, as excuse and justification for activities, the origins of, sexual deviance, homosexual or otherwise, as being irrevocably bound up in the genetic roots of persons.

Even if that were so, as language skill is bound up within those same genetic roots, someone has to loosen the skill, teach the child to talk by first speaking to, and with, the child.

Patterns of behaviour are learned, from those who are already practitioners.

The informing and forming practitioner need not necessarily be an adult, they may be a peer, but, if only the truth would be told, when it comes to sexual deviance, sooner or later within the scope of promiscuity of all kinds will be found elements, if not overt practices of, black oracles, occult activity, satanic games, pornography, mind/mood altering drugs, abuse of power, use of violence and, of course, recourse to being habitués of places like the hanging tree.

This was the world, the world of the dark, the lost, deaf, blind, addicted, the habitués of the underbelly of cities, the corridors of political, social, philosophical, ethical, eventually even theological manipulation to achieve an evil agenda, the agenda of the licentious, that I was seeking to enter as surely, if not at the time as clearly aware as I am able to be in retrospect, as I sought out the place of the hanging tree.

Found there the place from which to suspend the last vestiges of dignity and conscience.

I DON’T WANT TO. I know I should, but I don’t want to. I’ll pretend I’m deaf; I’ll curl up and show my bristles. Let him touch me who dares! The arrow of the Call, sharply aimed, ricochets off. My skin is thick and weather-proofed. The Demand slides from it like water from a duck’s feathers. I stand on my rights, bestowed on me from the highest source in virtue of the nature which I have received, which I am, in virtue of the instincts and habits which are implanted in me and which strive for life and development. Let no one contest these rights, not even the highest authority! And even if someone should dare, let him know that I don’t want to do it.

  Soft it approaches, almost inaudible and yet quite unavoidable: a ray of light, an offer of power, a command that is more and less than a command — a wish, a request, an invitation, an enticement: brief as an instant, simple to grasp as the glance of two eyes. It contains a promise: love, delight and a vision extending over an immense and vertiginous distance. Liberation from the unbearable dungeon of ego. The adventure that I always longed for. The perfect feat of daring in which I am sure to win only by losing all. The source of life opening up inexhaustibly to me, who am dying of thirst! The gaze is perfectly tranquil, having nothing of magical power or of hypnotic compulsion: a questioning gaze which allows me my freedom. At the bottom of it the shadows of affliction and of hope alternate.

I lower my eyes; I look to the side. I don’t want to say ‘no’ in the face of those eyes. I give them time to turn away, time to withdraw into their cave of eternity, time to grow dark, to be blurred. I am not at home: ‘The master says he cannot see you at the moment’. I give those eyes time to disappear again behind their heavy lid, the curtain of eternity. For a second, precisely at the moment when I know it is too late, a nameless sorrow makes me tremble: happiness has been forfeited, love mocked, and no one can bring them back to me! The prison door thuds into its lock: again I am prisoner in what is to me so dead and so hated – myself [ap]


It is late in the evening of the first day of writing again and I am tired and need pray, need celebrate Holy Mass… need, but not in the negative sense…I need the way you feel when you do not turn away from the eyes of the Divine Lover and you need linger within those infinite streams of love which flow from the Risen One.

It is time to be bathed in light.

This is our hope, is it not, that no matter how often we turn away from those eyes, He is always seeking a moment within which to gaze upon us again, to offer us again the opportunity to look at Him straight in the eye and say: YES!

Ah Jesus, I yearn that You should pass by this way again this evening, gaze that I might linger within the Light of Your Eyes!

How come we remember the Holy Gospels so narrowly that we recall the walking away sad, but not Love’s Gaze? {Mark 10:21}










Chaplet of St. Padre Pio

Today is the feast of this great priest and in this Year of the Christ I encourage all priests and everyone who prays for priests to renew their relationship with St. Padre Pio, or if he is not already one of your Heavenly Companions, then I urge you to get to know him.

There are many excellent books available about his life.

Today I also wish to encourage use of what is known as the Chaplet of St. Padre Pio.

While an actual chaplet, consisting of a Crucifix, medal and three sets of beads can be aquired, the Chaplet can also be prayed without the particular beads.
It is a simple yet powerful prayer, especially in this troubled times.

Prayed 9 times, after, as in all prayer, indeed in at the beginning of everything we do as Baptized persons, signing ourselves with the Sign of the Cross, we pray:

O Jesus, full of grace and charity, Victim for sinners, so impelled by Your love of us that You died on the Cross, I humbly beg You to glorify in heaven and on earth St. Padre Pio who generously participated in Your sufferings, who loved You so much and laboured so faithfully for the glory of Your Heavenly Father and for the good of souls.

With confidence, I beg You to grane me, through his intercession………………..which I ardently desire.

In conclusion are prayed: 3 Our Father, 3 Hail Mary, 3 Glory be….


SO HERE I am trusting the grace of obedience. The grace of the duty of the moment as I begin once more to write!

The old binders of notes from years ago are on this desk, vigils are lit before my icon wall, prayer prayed while writing becomes prayer.

Outside this little room in this little house, built like all the others in this area during the last great war of the world, to house the workers who made the weapons, trucks, bombs and other utensils of fraternal destruction, the mid November winds blow from across the great inner seas of this continent, harbingers of the snows which even now determinedly ascend from the arctic wilds, and the western altitudes of the Rockies!

How my being rejoices each year as winter approaches with its vastness of liturgical riches from Advent to Easter, its frozen stillness, the cities ablaze with lights from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Even the children of commercial darkness cannot easily resist the allure of light even if they refuse to adore Light from Light.

IT HAD all happened so quickly.

One moment I was a monk, struggling with the survival of my vocation.

One moment more and I was dressed in outdated secular clothing, sitting on a torn upholstery seat in a train wrenching me across the broken expectancy of the adolescence dreams which had been mine seven years earlier.

Now I was a work hardened, somewhat handsome, raw young adult returning to a world no longer the one he had left.

 I was an immigrant heading into new country.

What had happened to me?

How had my seemingly unchangeable until the grave monastic life ended so abruptly?

What had I missed?

What was wrong with me?

Why was God hurting me again in my life?

Why didn’t He like me anymore?

What would I do?

What would become of me?

What had become of me?

Where would I live?

Why would I live?

Who would I know?

Who would want to know me?

Well, if I was out of the monastery without explanation other than, as the Abbot intimated, there had been a consensus among the monks I didn’t any longer have a vocation, and, if God was allowing me to be tossed from the safety of that idyll into the jaws of terror and confusion, then I might as well be out of the church, out of faith, out of God.

Indeed it seemed to me it would be folly to remain close to a deity so easily fickle as to change His mind when such change meant so much pain.


Distance from such a God would be wise indeed.

I remembered the grainy photo I had seen in a major news-magazine showing the shadowed nude body of a young man in the new style of ads.

Perhaps I could find him and he would be for me what God clearly could, or would not be: the affirmation of my being.

I recall reading somewhere John Henry Cardinal Newman, in a sermon; spoke of how doubts arise from disobedience, which itself is rooted in a life corrupted by bad company or evil books. This all, ultimately, ends in disbelief, which is the deliberate chosen refusal to believe, to reject the gift of faith, and is one of those genres of sin which is terrible above all: sin against the Holy Spirit.

PRISONS OF FINITUDE! Like every other being, man is born in many prisons. Soul, body, thought, intuition, endeavour; everything about him has a limit, is itself tangible limitation; everything is a This and a That, different from other things and shunned by them. From the grilled windows of the senses each person looks out to alien things which he will never be. Even if his spirit could fly through the spaces of the world like a bird, he himself will never be this space, and the furrow which he traces in the air vanishes immediately and leaves no lasting impression. How far it is from one being to its closest neighbour! And even if they love each other and wave to one another from island to island, even if they attempt to exchange solitudes and pretend they have unity, how much more painfully does disappointment then fall upon them when they touch the invisible bars — the cold glass pane against which they hurl themselves like captive birds. No one can tear down his own dungeon; no one knows who inhabits the next cell. [am]


SOMETHING exploded as I wrote out the above paragraph from those original notes which never came to my heart before about Von Balthaser’s cryptic, yet profoundly insightful, notion of the human condition: not only, which is why I use the quote, does it reflect how I was when, literally, my face was against the ‘ cold glass pane ‘ of the train compartment, but there is also here, as everywhere if we dare open wide the doors of our being, the tender presence of Christ seeking to penetrate through the pane, of our pain: He gazes, He speaks, He touches….{Song of Songs ch.2:9, 10 & ch.5:4}

In a few hours I would be back in the city, which was no longer my city.

A city which, as the train entered its outskirts was a foreign country.

I was returning to a place in which the remnants of my family lived, but which was a building I had never inhabited, peopled by persons I’d never really met.

I was terrified.

Undoubtedly, looking back these forty years, I was having a nervous breakdown.

I could not afford to be that vulnerable.

I needed to survive and I would.

The tree of addiction, that towering mass of sin and neurosis which overshadowed my being may have been cut down, its parts burned in my monastic life of penance, but the roots had lain dormant, for none had known, least of all my own self, of the need to uproot them.

Now, even as the train rumbled into the unfamiliar yet recognizable city, those roots became tendrils which would become a new great thorn tree and engulf my being.




……the Lord’s eyes are upon the reverent, upon those who hope for His gracious help……[Ps.33:18]

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.

Thank-You Jesus for placing upon Your shoulders this first priestly stole and taking upon Yourself the weight of every stole across the ages and once thus vested taking the first steps up to the altar of Calvary, grant I place my own footsteps always in Your, grant I embrace the cross every time I reverently place the stole upon my shoulders.

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 the cross is that of _______________________and I confess my fear of pain and suffering, my struggle under what seems too heavy a cross to bear. Often times it is the weight of my sins, my wounds, the weakness of my lack of trust, which causes me to flee the cross.

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

It is true O Jesus that the spittle of _______________hit Your Holy Face first, that the slap of _____________wounded You first and the scourging of ___________________tore Your Sacred Body first and the real weight of the cross You invite me to carry in Your footsteps presses upon You first – so I beg of You Jesus for myself and all priests to always remember with gratitude this truth and grant us courage to take up our cross, which is Your Cross, in confident hope and to follow You.

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, grant to me and all my brother priests true humility.

…..hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit…..[Rm. 5:5]

Prayer is Union with God

Prayer is nothing else but union with God. When one has a heart that is pure and united with God, he is given a kind of serenity and sweetness that makes him estatic, a light that surrounds him with marvelous brightness. – St. John Marie Vianney

Guilt and Mercy

You don’t need to wallow in guilt. Wallow in the mercy of God. When you are guilty, say so to God through a confessor. Acknowledge your problems and sins. The moment you have stated them, God puts His Hand over you and you are a newborn babe. – St. John Marie Vianney