WE HAVE entered the last Advent of the century and the millennium!

If the fearful pundits, secular and religious both, are right and the world will soon end then truly this writing is the ultimate futility!



Returning to the original notes I took a moment to reflect on the powerful words [Mt.26.40; Mk.14:34; Jn.18:1; Lk.22:46; Jn.14:31] of Jesus the night of the penultimate vigil of prayer.

As I write these lines out by hand in the middle of the night, this Holy Thursday morning, when such tremendous reality unfolds, I stand in awe before the holy elasticity of time, history, space, as lived reality experienced by those who live, move, have their being permeated by the Sacrament of Baptism, animated by the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist!

My heart has come to understand the angel given to Jesus in the Garden of Olives, [Lk.22:43] IS the Angel of Encouragement…encouragement that in my life I be like the olive and allowed myself to be torn from the tree of my self-existence, pressed into the chalice of oneness with Him, crushed with His Cross that the oil of my being be poured out as love’s salve in service to my brothers and sisters.

To keep vigil during the night is an ancient tradition in the life of the Church and one I am moved to keep – from time to time.

This vigil I struggle with the mystery of time…waste too much time writing about time.

NOW, on sabbatical, these many months later, much time having elapsed, I cut severely those original notes, shamed at the amount of intellectual pertinence I spent time putting into words on paper.

It is now Holy Saturday and I have kept vigil two nights in a row.

Yesterday was NOT a day for words.

Nor questions as kneeling before the Cross THE Answer to all possible questions, is contemplated.

Yesterday was a day to stand outside the brokenness of ordinary time in utter silence, bowed low to the ground before the crucified One, being bathed in His Blood and drawn by that rushing river of mercy into His own time.

It is to be immersed in the timeliness and timelessness of Unconditional Love.

Now we prepare for the essential vigil of all vigils: the Easter Vigil…to keep watch before the tomb knowing in the unknowing what shall happen has happened!

Time is indeed fulfilled by the very fact God, in the Incarnation, came down into human history….man rises from the earth and returns to it [Gn.3:19]: this is an immediately evident fact. Yet in man there is an irrepressible longing to live forever…Christian Revelation excludes reincarnation, and speaks of a fulfillment which man is called to achieve in the course of a single earthly existence…..through a sincere gift of self, a gift which is made possible only through his encounter with God. It is in God that man finds his full self-realization: this is the truth revealed by Christ. Man fulfills himself in God, who comes to meet him through His Eternal Son. Thanks to God’s coming on earth, human time, which began at Creation, has reached its fullness. “The fullness of time” is in fact eternity, indeed, it is the One who is eternal, God Himself. Thus, to enter into “the fullness of time” means to reach the end of time and to transcend its limits, in order to find time’s fulfillment in the eternity of God.

 In Christianity time has a fundamental importance……In Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, time becomes a dimension of God…..From this relationship of God with time there arises the duty to sanctify time……..In the liturgy of the Easter Vigil the celebrant as he blesses the candle which symbolizes the risen Christ, proclaims: “ Christ yesterday and today, the beginning and the end, Alpha and Omega, all time belongs to Him, and all the ages, to Him be glory and power through every age for ever.”….The meaning of this rite is clear: It emphasizes the fact that Christ is the Lord of time…The solar year is thus permeated by the liturgical year, which in a certain way reproduces the whole mystery of the Incarnation and Redemption, beginning from the first Sunday of Advent and ending on the solemnity of Christ the King, Lord of the Universe and Lord of History. Every Sunday commemorates the day of the Lord’s Resurrection.[ax]








Publishers are well aware of the importance of book covers – for often time when browsing for ‘just something to read’ an eye-catching cover frequently triggers a purchase.



I mention this at the outset of this review because when the first word in a title is: GOD and the title declares something He is doing, and beneath that is the picture of a radiant woman in procession with lighted candle and under that teasers about the content of the book such as: journey, Jewish, Christian, struggle, disease and gulag – well you can be pretty sure this will be a page turner!

However once begun this is no page turner in the usual sense, rather this is a book which moves mind, memory, heart to reflection, and much more!

Many books for priests are written by priests – some books neither written by priests, nor specifically for priests, are treasuries of insight which we need both for our ongoing journey of faith and to be more truly servants of those who come to us seeking hope, mercy, faith.

The book reviewed here is precisely that treasure of a book!

Written by a woman I know well, and have come to know and treasure even more through accompanying her in reading this book to places, even in my own heart I often avoid visiting, I confess writing here the struggle is against revealing too much and depriving thereby others having the same experience.

Approached with mere curiosity, or worst with a voyeur attitude and the reader will miss the power, beauty, indeed the grace of being offered, rather invited, to journey with a woman on “this adventure, this quest for ‘life in abundance’ promised by Christ….” as Miriam writes in the Preface.

As mentioned I have known Miriam, the way we most know one another, for decades and she is a most beloved sister, friend, co-struggler on this great adventure of life – however in this book it is as if I am graced to know the real woman, the real disciple, the real servant of the poor – because in her book Miriam speaks words, experiences, fears, poverty, persistent faith – like pools of cool water in the immense desert we all must cross to reach the threshold of eternal paradise – pools of cool water were we may slake our thirst and journey some more.

Here is one example from her diary notes of January 20, 1997:

“Lord, why is it so painful?” He pointed to the crucifix. “Yes, but you suffered for us!” “All suffering is united with my suffering.” “Are you sure these aren’t just my neuroses?”

“I died for those too.”

GOD CALLS ME MIRIAM by Miriam Elizabeth Stulberg is available from:




I CELEBRATED Holy Mass before starting to write again. A votive Mass of Our Blessed Mother under her title, Pillar of Faith.

As I lifted the chalice, filled with Himself, my eyes fell upon the icon of the Twelve Apostles holding up the Church. My heart became instantly steeped in this awesome mystery of being priest.

A sudden urgency took hold to finish this book .



Then, just as suddenly, as I descended the chalice, my heart had a profound understanding of the mystery of His time.

One day in those turbulent sixties while I was working on a painting commissioned by one of the many cognoscente of surrealism, I suddenly found myself weeping.

A week or so later, while traveling by bus between cities, again tears streamed from some un-aware region of my being.

Over succeeding weeks these fits of sobbing became intense, and frightening.

I finally faced the fact something was terribly wrong and, through a doctor in a street clinic I volunteered at, found myself a psychiatrist.

By the second session the psychiatrist declared he could indeed cure me of my angst, but in so doing I would be drained of my artistic powers and that I should choose, art or inner peace, but that he could not give me both.

It is indicative of just how interiorly wounded I was that I believed him and opted for art.

The sixties!

So I returned to my self-destructive, walking beside myself, split from self, illusory existence, for it was no ‘life’.

However the All-compassionate, All-loving Father, who is constantly calling us to Himself….the sound of His voice is the beating Heart of Christ, IS Christ Himself, His word….takes even our most screwed up, our most unintended, inclination to prayer as eloquent plea from a pure child.

The Father does this through the inexhaustible movement of the Holy Spirit within the baptized soul.

Since we are so confused by emotion, wants, even needs, etc., etc., we really do not know objectively the grace needed, hence the Holy Spirit within the baptized speaks passionately and eloquently for us{Rm.8:26,27}.

The shrink may not have understood my tears but with each one taken, and folded into the Spirit’s inexpressible groaning, they became the Surgeon’s lance, cutting deep into my soul allowing the pus of sin to drain. {Deut.4:29, 30}

It was late one night, I was hanging out near the bus depot with a small band of fellow hippies, when a tall man, poorly dressed, long haired and bearded, yet older than most of us, approached.

He’d been tossed out of the depot by the cops and sent towards us, being told by them we knew where to sleep.

He followed us down into the cavernous reaches of an underground parking garage where a steam vent afforded warmth for sleeping in the exhaust laden air.

In the morning when the depot had reopened the man took us to its greasy spoon and bought us pancakes and coffee.

He told us of a place far to the north that none of the group but myself recognized from his description.

It was then that I knew this man of beard and pancakes was a priest!

Soon he was gone towards the bus bays and we wandered off towards the financial district to panhandle food and drug money.

As we walked I wondered about a priest who looked like that, slept on a steam grate, appeared so deeply sad, yet with some protective aura around him which, although he seemed not to want it, kept him from ultimate harm.

[ I would not see him again for many years until, coming from many adventures, even time in the desert caves of the Holy Land, he too would join The Community and we would become the closest of brother priests…….but such lay years into the future from the period of which I now write.]

It was a short time later that a letter arrived from, of all the women in my life, exception of the primacy of Our Blessed Mother, THE woman in my life, the Foundress of The Community.

Our correspondence, since the late fifties, had been unusual and erratic.

 Her letters always short and totally on point.

      Mine, as I look back, rather self-serving pathetic!

This time she wrote, commandingly of : “…a priest I know will be good for you. He is a former..monk like you and he has come to join us. You should really meet him.”

Even as I write these recall lines my being burns with an inner fire, for in that brief letter was contained an ineffable grace for the rest of my life.

Although I originally had no intention of going to see this priest I was nonetheless curious at least to see The Community, meet the woman with whom I had over the years exchanged letters.

However, left to myself, I would probably never have made the trip but within days of receipt of the letter my father announced he and my uncle where going to that area to fish, their wives to shop in country stores, why didn’t I come along and go visit the community I often spoke of.

My next memory is of standing alone in the cold rain of a fall day, heavy mist rising from the great river, a small grouping of buildings looking rather poor, and a man not much older than myself rushing towards me as if we were long lost brothers.

It was the priest she had written about.

He was dressed in secular clothing with an unfamiliar styled cross hanging from a slight chain around his neck.

He ushered me across the muddy lot into a tiny log cabin, its shelves lined with rocks and crafting equipment.

A small card table stood in one corner laden with unknown tools and a couple of ash trays.

He lit a cigarette and began to talk at a rapid, enthused pace, peppering me with his answers to questions I hadn’t asked.

Questioning me with his answers.

I smoked one cigarette after the other, my mind dazed by nicotine overload and swirling emotions triggered by this accelerated flow of energy from the priest.

I have no memory of conversational detail.

Just a series of memories of rapidly moving events, for suddenly the priest told me not to move and he rushed out of the cabin.

My eyes, being as I was having a massive panic attack, searched the rocks on all the shelves as if I were looking for a clue.

The door of the cabin swung open, the priest came in followed by a man with slicked black hair, wearing a cross like the priest’s, but not a priest, and I do remember this man’s words: “ Father has told me all about you and you are just the kind of man we need to help with our summer program. I want you to go home, settle your affairs, come back and join us! See ya!”

He left.

It all seemed a done deal.

The priest said he thought it would be a good idea that I take time over Christmas for a retreat in my former monastery before coming to join The Community.

He blessed me and left the cabin.

I recall sitting there, smoking, listening to the rain beat against the tar paper shingles of the roof, wondering what had just happened, suddenly aware that, at least in the moment, I was no longer panic filled.

The woman I had sought to meet, I never did see on that trip.

Once home, within weeks I had quit my job, packed my few belongings, boarded a train for the monastery.