IN THESE EARLY DAYS OF THE GREAT JUBILEE I am profoundly conscious that it is the Jubilee wherein grace is intensely Eucharistic.

Catching up on my reading over the recent feasts of the Christmas season my heart leapt with joy as my eyes fell upon these words of Pope John Paul II:


The Eucharist constitutes the culminating moment in which Jesus, in His Body given for us and in His Blood poured out for our salvation, reveals the mystery of His identity and indicates the sense of the vocation of every believer. In fact, the meaning of human life is totally contained in that Body and in that Blood, since from them life and salvation have come to us. In some ways, the very existence of the human person must be identified with them, so that this existence is fulfilled in so far as it can, in its turn, make of itself a gift for others. [bt]

I resume the telling of this story of Divine Mercy and Divine Persistence in the life of one soul, one sinner — but a Mercy and Persistence lavished upon every soul, every sinner — writing during this night of the Eighth Day, His Holy Resurrection.

When I arrived here in The Community yesterday, Easter Sunday, at noon, I was told my dear Father Confessor of so many years, and whom while I lived here I had the honour to serve and watch over while he was in the main infirmary, had just entered his final sanctifying agony.

For the next twelve hours I kept vigil, praying over him the ancient prayers for the dying, giving him the Apostolic Blessing, and, as I prepared to leave in the early hours of yesterday morning, I bent down and kissed his feet in honour, his hands in gratitude, his forehead in love.

Early in the morning, just before dawn, like Jesus who at that hour would arise and go off to a lonely place to pray, this holy priest, who had faithfully served in persona Christi for sixty-one years, showed himself faithful to the end, as he arose and took the hand of the Risen One and Our Lady and was taken up into heaven.

Today I write in late afternoon.

These past couple of days the men have dug through the frozen earth in the new cemetery by the iced shut river, so that the body of this holy priest might be placed in the earth beside the much younger priest we buried just a few weeks ago.

Brother priests, local people, Community members from far and wide, we all gathered for the sacred ritual of human grief and the sacred mysteries of the heavenly liturgy of hope.

Prayers, holy water, incense, tears — all were lavished with love.

Then, so quickly it seemed I was standing at the mouth of the grave, a shovel full of earth in my hands, my stole gently dancing on the wind as I spilled the earth down and upon his simple wooden casket and the business of burial was done.

I walked off by myself then across the snow covered field, among the birch and pine to the river’s edge.

How many spring, summer, fall days had I worked this area, cutting trees, hauling rocks, smoothing soil, to prepare this final resting place for my brothers and sisters, without truly appreciating in the depths of my being that it would be indeed, brothers and sisters, beloved ones who would be laid to rest here.

How often it is in life we do things without truly understanding what it is we do until there is a moment such as when I stood by the river, when the full impact of what we have done, what we are about, sears across our mind, imagination, heart.

It is a moment of sacred illumination when we come to understand, at least a bit, that true reality is more invisible than visible.

All is grace.

It is thousands of miles between that frozen river’s edges, that moment of profound grief and gratitude, perhaps somehow though not such a great distance in the heart, and Mexico!

All is grace.

So dear confessor, dear priest, dear brother, dear friend, dear Father, who came to know the secret depths of my utter need of Divine Mercy, and through the sacraments of your priestly ordination and dispensing of mercy in confession, you too of the poetic pen, who showed me, taught me, formed me to be a compassionate confessor myself, encouraged my writing, told me constantly to trust I am a child of the Father, who always spoke so trustingly of Our Blessed Mother — adieu: to God!

AN intense winter rain pours down this afternoon as I write these notes from so many years ago.

It is the same time of year as the Mexico blessing.

Almost thirty years since that mysterious encounter with Our Blessed Mother and as I re-read the notes and write them up in a readable form my entire being is struck once again by the immense lavishness of Divine Mercy!

In the center of every human heart, the depths of the soul, the garden enclosed where the Triune God and the real I, the true self, are alone in intimacy, God Himself is there, seeking always to invite, engage, the soul in a dialogue of such profound intimacy we discover there the essence of actual relationship: creature to Creator, child to Father, sinner to Redeemer, beloved to Lover.

It is here, in this sacred solitary aloneness where no other being, no catastrophe may enter, where the soul is most purely free to ascent or refuse Divine Intimacy, that the Holy Spirit Himself, the Sanctifier, the Purifier, may, if only the sinner will cry out for mercy, enact the holy activity of repentance and conversion, quickening the soul deadened by the crushing weight of sin, back to real life — the life of sanctifying grace, the life of participating in the life of the Blessed Trinity, a restoration of being child of the Father, disciple of Christ, responder to the action of the Holy Spirit.

Evangelicals have a notion of this in their concept of ‘being born again ‘, Roman Catholics experience this every time we avail ourselves of sacramental confession, every human being, not yet baptized, enters into this splendour the moment they open their being to the invitation to accept Christ as Saviour and fulfill the necessary steps for preparation for, and then receive Baptism.

No soul is, in a sense, immune to this Triune Divine urgency which is a continual action of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to awaken in each soul a response.

Every soul, because this same God has so generously endowed each of us with free will, is free to refuse to respond.

Horrifically such a refusal, if persisted in until death has overtaken us, results in the eternal damnation of the soul, for such persistence is a refusal of Divine Mercy and only those souls who have given their ascent to their need of mercy can receive mercy.

This is the essential experience of the God-given endowment of what is referred to as the conscience, which is NOT some self-generated moral compass but rather is the very voice of the Holy Spirit within us.

At its most basic it is the very Law of God inscribed upon our hearts at our creation.

Baptism and Confirmation enhance this actual grace of conscience into the sanctifying grace of dialogue with the Holy Spirit.

The essence of such dialogue is that we have a listening heart.

Thus, as a man created in the image and likeness of God, possessed of an immortal soul within which is the garden enclosed, the place of encounter and intimate converse, and further as a baptized and confirmed man, one who had frequently in his younger years been bathed anew in grace through sacramental confession, nourished and sustained by the Very Person of Christ Himself in Holy Communion, when I boarded the jet, making use of leftover funds from the insurance claims after the robbery, for the sojourn in Mexico with my companion, it was as one still being sought by my Father, still being sought by the Good Shepherd, still being called to by the Holy Spirit.

No salutary purpose would be served by detailing anything about that sojourn other than the key event.

God has so lavished Himself upon us at our creation, which is itself a true experience of ex nihilo, for while it is true that He has ordained a human mother and father must be the providers of the physical material, collaborators in the creation of a new human person, He Himself creates each soul, therefore each person, breathing His self into us. So we come to be. In this Divine Love-Lavishness He makes it so that no matter what surface agitations of mind, will, imagination there may be, deep within the garden enclosed is a calm clarity.

We are free to choose to open wide our being to the clarity, to open wide our being to what the Spirit speaks in the intimate dialogue in the garden enclosed, or not.

If we heed, we co-operate with grace.

If we do not heed, He will speak again and again, so long as we live on this earth.

The emphasis, in the truth that with God every moment is the moment of beginning again, must be on God!

He, as it were, begins anew in every moment of our existence, calling us into relationship with Himself.

It is the hallmark of Divine Mercy that He never ceases, as long as we live on this earth, to invite us into relationship with Him.

I cannot emphasize this too much because, as must be apparent already in this story of one sinner in need of mercy, my unheeding, my resistance, my fleeing from Him, my constant dissipating of my inheritance from my Father, seems never ending.

What, I pray, is more graphic, more obvious, most consistent, is the consistency of graced-moments of opportunity to begin again.

All from Him.

All from His love.

All from His lavishness of mercy!

Some twenty-years before this trip, one summer’s afternoon when the elderly man, later in this life to become himself a priest, who was my teacher and mentor as a writer, was showing me how to make an article tauter, he spoke to me of his own conversion experience and the importance in his life of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Indeed at the end he stated in a way which I never forgot, and which exploded anew in my heart as the jet came over those mountains and strenuously dipped towards the Mexico City airport, “ If you are ever in Mexico go to the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe and open your heart to her love! “

Now I was arriving in Mexico.

Now I was arriving in the city of her shrine.

Now I was remembering.

Now resisting, determined to have any and all experiences but that of going to her shrine.

Grace operates within even that which seems absolutely in opposition to grace.

There is perhaps no better example of this, though not necessarily as a clear answer to the question of why or how God could operate in such a manner, than the life of Job or that of Hosea the prophet.

In the former we see how God permits evil to befall his beloved Job, not as punishment per se, but so Job may exemplify absolute trust in, and surrender to, the loving will of the Father.

In the latter we see through Hosea, called by God not to abandon his adulterous wife, the exemplification of the Tremendous Lover Himself who will constantly grant a new beginning to each one of us IF we will allow Him to take us back, again and again and again, like the woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, the woman who washed His feet with her tears, like the prodigal son, like frightened servants at Cana, like Peter after his repeated denials. We must come to that moment of truth where we admit to Him our adultery, our arrogance, our running; our denial has so exhausted us, because we have finally tasted fully of His mercy and strive to “go and sin no more.” [cf. Jn.8:11]

Perhaps the hardest thing to admit, to accept, in this mystery of the life of grace, is that conversion does not mean He will prevent us from ever again experiencing sin or weakness or the damage done to ourselves by our sinning — hence, for example, an adulterous spouse may still find themselves divorced; an alcoholic may still die of liver ailment; someone else may suffer from aids, smokers from cancer; thieves and murders and others still be sent to jail; consecrated persons be evicted from their religious communities or the active exercise of their priestly ministry in public— and Pope John Paul II, famously recorded by television cameras forgiving the man who tried to kill him still did not walk the man out of his prison cell.

Sin has consequences and His Divine Mercy does not necessarily, nor I would suggest normally, spare us from the purifying opportunity of those consequences.

That is perhaps the hardest of lessons for Christians to learn and accept.

I have learned it intellectually in my life, that is, I know it to be true.

I have not yet accepted it emotionally and still have this attitude that God is not playing fair, a sort of ‘why I am being punished since I said I was sorry ‘childishness, which itself is the experience of the consequences of sins perpetrated against my being in childhood.

Thus once again I can only, in my MISERIA lay face to the ground and wait in trust upon the fullness of HIS MISERICORDIA!

Thus it was that upon our entering into the airport reception area we were met by two young men, clearly out to hustle tourists.

Thus it was that through them, due to the battle raging in my soul over to, or never, approach the shrine, we ended up with my asking to be driven past there in the dead of night when the place was safely shut-down.

Thus it was that my companion determined since the next day was Christmas day we should return there for Mass.

Thus it was that in spite of my fearful reluctance I ended up at her shrine.

NIGHT HAS fallen as I resume this writing.

It is, for this northerner, a seemingly strangely warm night for January, but apparently not, as I had assumed, typical for this southern city in winter. Nor in the north, as I saw on this evening’s news, where it is warm like late spring. The prognosticators suggest this is further proof of global warming.

My heart simply recalls these words of Pope John Paul:

When man disobeys God and refuses to submit to His rule, nature rebels against him and no longer recognizes him as its ‘master’, for he has tarnished the divine image in himself. The claim to ownership and use of created things remains still valid, but after sin its exercise becomes difficult and full of suffering.[bt1]

Man thinks that he can make arbitrary use of the earth, subjecting it without restraint to his will, as though the earth did not have its own requisites and a prior God-given purpose, which man can indeed develop but must not betray. Instead of carrying out his role as cooperator with God in the work of creation, man sets himself up in place of God and thus ends up provoking a rebellion on the part of nature, which is more tyrannized than governed by him. [bt2]

Everyone we human persons are in relation to: God, other, self — as well as everything created, the whole order of nature — all our relating is impacted in a determined way by our sinfulness to increased chaos, by our holiness to increased restoration of all persons and things to Christ.

If we are indeed in a period of unnatural global warming, it is because those of us with the dominate cultures of the industrialized world are greedy. Our sin of greed is the prime source of environmental chaos.

When we willingly, motivated by the highest degree of charity, simplify our standard of living, the natural environmental balance will be restored. A Christ-centric restoration alone will bring this about.

CLOSE TO noon the next day, which was Christmas Day, we traveled across the largest city, at least in population, on the face of the earth, to the shrine.

As we journeyed, by subway, bus, taxi, on foot, I observed the people and was struck by something in my heart I could not exactly define, save to say that even among the poorest, perhaps particularly among the poorest, I saw a radiance in their eyes my being could only yearn for.

Yet seemed to fear at the same time.

When we arrived in the plaza my friend said he would find out when Mass was.

I shuddered interiorly.

I urged him to climb the great stone stairs, go to Mass if he wished, I would wait for him right where I was.

He tried to get me to go with him, but knowing full well how utterly stubborn a person I am, he finally went ahead without me.

The plaza was filled with people, with families, many of whom smiled at me as I stood there at the base of the steps, some even calling out to me the traditional greeting for the feast.

I began to look all the way up the great staircase to the basilica itself, to notice the many pilgrims, some black clad old women alone, some men by themselves as well, dressed in their best, many poor people dressed in all they appeared to have, children, adults, large groups, small family groups, some people dressed in classic peasant garb, all of them ascending the stairs on their knees, praying the rosary.

Was it that I was becoming intrigued by what could be drawing them?

Was it a type of shamed unease as a result of standing there like some rock in a fast flowing stream of people, around whom they were forced to find a path?

All is grace.

Slowly, experiencing a persistent and ever more violent interior shudder, I climbed the great staircase.

The closer I got to the basilica entrance, the more I could hear a chorus of human voices, speaking, praying, and singing.

Outside the noon sun pounded heat and light upon me, each step became a twin effort against the exterior heat and the interior angst.

As I approached the portico my ears detected, from amongst all the other sounds and voices, the words of the central moment of Holy Mass, the consecration.

The urge to enter was immense.

The fear, of a more weighty immensity.

Now I was standing inside, at the very back, and as my eyes adjusted to the shift in light could make out high and way at the front the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

I made to flee!

Only my extreme upper body appeared capable of movement.

I could tilt my head, raise my eyes, look towards the image.

All other movement was impossible.

Terror seized my whole being.

Yet it was not now a fearful terror so much as an experience of awe, of desire.

Suddenly from the very core of my being an awareness which urgently rose to a thought which gave way to a yes of my will:


Suddenly, with a gentle jerk, my body had movement again.

I was stunned.

I turned, fled down the stairs, bumping into a black dressed elderly woman who grabbed my wrist, looked deep into my being, and assured me Nuestra Madre had heard my cry. As Our Lady herself said to the holy Juan Diego: I am the Mother of all who love me, who cry to me, who have confidence in me.

This is, as St. John tells us in the Holy Gospel [ Jn. 19: 26,27]how Our Lady fulfills the mandate Jesus gave her from the Cross, indeed how we fulfill our part for the ‘home’, into which St. John and we are to welcome her, is the very depth of our being, heart, soul.


Words From St. Teresa

Let nothing disturb you, let nothing dismay you, all things are passing, God never changes.


Patience attains all that it strives for.

He who has God finds he lacks nothing: God alone suffices.

It is love alone that gives worth to all things.

Accustom yourself constantly to make many acts of love for they enkindle and melt the soul.

Pain is never permanent.

Be gentle to all and stern with yourself. ~ St. Teresa of Avilia

Prayer to St. John Vianney

St. JohnO Holy Priest of Ars, the infamous attacks of the devil which you had to suffer and the

 trials which disheartened you by fatigue would not make you give up the sublime task of converting souls. The devil came to you for many years to disturb your short rest but you won because of mortification and prayers.


Powerful protector, you know the tempter’s desire to harm my baptized and believing soul. He would have me sin, by rejecting the Holy Sacraments and the life of virtue. But good Saint of Ars dispel from me the traces of the enemy.

Holy Priest of Ars, I have confidence in your intercession. Pray for me during this novena especially for … (mention silently your special intention).


O HEAVENLY FATHER it has pleased You in the mystery of Your incomprehensible — yet as tangible as the very reality of my existence — love for me, and the billions of my brothers and sisters on the face of the earth in this moment — that we should have crossed the portal into this new millennium, the third of Your Only-Begotten Son’s Holy Incarnation.

Father, my mind can describe relevant theological facts, my mind can list pertinent observations from nature, even my imagination can gaze as far as my eyes are able into the night sky and marvel that wherever that place is where what is created is not there You are still, You who reveal to us the ultimate purity of being: I AM WHO AM.

Father, both faith and reason sear across my being as the double-edged sword of Your word, revealing yet not defining, touching yet not overwhelming, inviting me to be Yours through obedience to Your Holy Will, written in tenderness upon my heart in the moment of my creation by You — a tenderness which in the same moment blesses me with free will.

Father, for my existence, for the blessing of every moment of life, for the gift of Your Son, for trees, water, stars, snow, rain, food, shelter, for all that is life, for my brothers and sisters, for my enemies, for those who love me, for those who do not, for the gift of the Holy Spirit, for everything — thank-You Father.

O LORD AND SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST, how aware I am that through the mystery of Holy Baptism I, as a member of Your Mystical Body the Church on earth, am a living treasury of faith, of the Holy Gospel, and as an ordained priest, of the treasure of sacramental life.

Jesus, how my being yearns to truly know You, to follow You into the depths of Your Holy Mysteries, to live the Gospel with my life without compromise.

Jesus, how my being yearns, how I burned with love and desire as I watched the television images of my brothers and sisters across the earth welcome the new millennium. I burned with love for every human being, burned with a desire everyone should not only come to know You and Your Holy Gospel, but that everyone should be in relationship with You and that we should all love and serve one another.

Jesus, by the will of the Father and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit I have been ordained in Your person as priest — in the pure stillness of this dawning of the New Year, New Century, New Millennium, in the rushing lavishness of grace in this Great Jubilee Year — grant I be not only a good and holy priest but truly priest of the poor, the wounded, the anawim.

O MOST HOLY SPIRIT, if we are to move across this new year, century, millennium, with lives that are peaceful, holy and without sin, then we must come not only to know You, but to love, trust, accept and obey all Your movement within our beings.

Holy Spirit, illumine everyone on the face of the earth, not as judgement or condemnation, but as gift of that enlightenment which renders us desirous of surrendering to Your sanctifying activity within our lives and all creation.

O MOTHER MARY, Mother of the Children of this new time, of this new opportunity to begin again in Christ in this moment of grace, intercede for us that we may open wide the doors of our being to Him, without fear.

Asking Our Lady

Our LadyRemember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help or sought your intercession, was left unaided.

Inspired with this confidence, I fly to you, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to you do I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful.

O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in your mercy hear and answer me. Amen.




Queen of the Rosary, sweet Virgin of Fatima, who hast deigned to appear in the land of Portugal and hast brought peace, both interior and exterior, to that once so troubled country, we beg of thee to watch over our dear homeland and to assure its moral and spiritual revival.

Bring back peace to all nations of the world, so that all, and our own nation in particular, may be happy to call thee their Queen and the Queen of Peace.

Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for our country. Our Lady of Fatima, obtain for all humanity a durable peace. Amen.


Mother of grace,
Mother of mercy,
Shield me from the enemy
And receive me at the hour of my death.



CHRISTMAS EVE 1999 and I sit in the tv room of the house of priests.

We have gathered because of the live broadcast from Rome of the Opening of the Holy Doors in St. Peter’s, the Proclamation of the Holy Year, the Great Jubilee 2000 by Pope John Paul II.

Even now as I write these words several days later my heart is still seeing so brightly the person of Pope John Paul, now called in my heart: The Great!

The image which most shines in my heart is the moment when this elderly man, priest, bishop, Vicar of Christ, Peter in the flesh, was kneeling on the threshold of the Holy Doors which he had just pushed open.

At first the camera was behind him, showing the interior of St. Peter’s still in darkness for the Pope had not yet walked through the doors carrying the Holy Gospels — Christ our Light had not yet entered and torn asunder the darkness.

Then suddenly there was a camera view of the Pope from within the basilica, which showed him bathed in light!

There he was, aged, kneeling, vested in a brilliantly coloured, cope which shimmered in the light coming from behind him.

The Pope knelt very still, head bowed.

Suddenly my heart was transported back across the decades and I beheld the younger man, the forced-labourer in the Solvay chemical factory under the Nazi occupation:

Fellow workers also remember Karol Wojtyla praying on his knees at the Borek Falecki plant, unafraid of ridicule and seemingly able to tune out the racket around him to concentrate on his conversation with God. [bq]

It snows now as I resume these notes.

It is a storm worthy of the majestic ones in Mark Helprin’s “A Winter’s Tale “!

Perhaps it comes from the long winters where I grew up, the joy of being all dressed in white, more so bathed in the purity of grace at my First Holy Communion. Maybe the connection placed in my heart by Our Lady of the Snows between the onset of winter and the wonder of His Incarnation — whatever the originating blessing, I love winter!

It is for me the season of tranquility, contemplation, journey inward, vast expanse of the great liturgical feasts, one expectant stillness after another, prelude to the spring explosion of Easter joy!

Lavishness of snow.

Lavishness of grace!

From this Lent’s extra spiritual reading, an apt description of how I came to be, for more than a decade, mired in the ever deepening chaos of sexual depravity, emotional confusion, all under the guise of modern personal, individual freedom.

It was, of course, in truth, a living in the constant state of mortal sin.

The mind that is the prisoner of conventional ideas, and the will that is captive of its own desire cannot accept the seeds of an unfamiliar truth and a supernatural desire. For how can I receive the seeds of freedom if I am in love with slavery and how can I cherish the desire of God if I am filled with another and opposite desire? God cannot plant His liberty in me because I am a prisoner and I do not even desire to be free. I love my captivity and I imprison myself in the desire for things I hate, and I have hardened my heart against true love. I must learn therefore to let go of the familiar and the usual and consent to what is new and unknown to me. I must learn to ‘ leave myself ‘ in order to find myself by yielding to the love of God. If I were looking for God, every event and every moment would sow, in my will, grains of His life that would spring up one day in a tremendous harvest. [br]

It would be years, and take a complete exhaustion of my physical and emotional resources, before I would lose my love of my own captivity.

It would take the death of Pope Paul VI before I would begin to accept in my own being the sowing of His grains of life and more, only by His grace, surrender to their taking root.

In those days the man I lived with, and thought I was in love with, [though in reality it was desperately needed affirmation from him rather than love], he and I, kept getting promotions in our different professions.

This made it possible to eventually move from our small apartment into a much better one, in a more upscale area of town.

The point of work, for us, was to have money for indulgence.

The point of indulgence was to relieve the inner fear and desperation for affirmation which was a constant of my existence.

Those were the days before aids; hence any deleterious impact by the prevailing std’s could be dealt with by antibiotics.

Emotional strain was dealt with more by cover-up than facing reality.

Perhaps as a society, certainly as individuals, and I was guilty of this at that time myself, we were overly adept at denial.

Cross-culturally internationally we are still in denial over even the most blatant costs of hedonism, which is destructive and sinful, so far-reaching in its inevitable, tragic consequences.

What of the souls lost?

Those were also the days of what I have come to call, among otherwise well intentioned priests, religious sisters, even significant numbers of non-catholic Christians, the bondage of relevance.

Everyone, it seemed, experienced an urgent need to make the Church relevant to the modern world, according to the so-called ‘spirit’ of Vatican II.

Most of those who wandered into the subculture of hedonism, anger towards God and Church, found themselves subsumed.

Recalling those years and begging God’s mercy not only for my participation in those sins, but for my time as an advocate for legal and theological change to accommodate the culture of self-centered hedonism, my heart cannot refrain, since I would suggest as we enter the 21st Century, the 3rd Christian millennium things are still grossly disordered, from posing the question, first to my own heart, but as priest necessarily to all: WHAT WILL SAVE US FROM THE WRATH OF GOD IF WE DO NOT SOON REPENT? begging of the Holy Spirit that He penetrate the depths of our souls with this truth, a truth which is hope-filled, which calls to true conversion of heart: 1 Peter 2 :24.

The other day I was in a local parish church. The pastor needed a time away to rest and recover from severe bronchitis and I was asked by the Bishop to cover for the priest.

One afternoon, I was sitting in the confessional, the curtain slightly ajar that I might see clearly the tabernacle to contemplate He who dwells there.

In those quiet moments I could also observe the people, mostly elderly women, who slipped quietly into the Church, knelling before Him in silent prayer.

Often they prayed their rosary beads.

I found myself reflecting what a powerhouse of prayer they are, radiating as only another woman can, utter confidence in the maternal intercession of the woman who is the Mother of God, our Mother Mary.

I often think, when those good women add the prayer of the Angel of Fatima, given to the three Fatima children, and through them to the whole Church, therein is to be found the prayerful intercession of thousands of ordinary Catholics throughout the century, praying for souls like my own, even in those days when I was an atheist-hedonist: O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of Thy mercy.

Of course my heart clearly knows, and accepts, the truth that I am that sinner most in need in the first rank. Nonetheless I am also confident when I pray the rosary that Jesus accepts the plea for whichever soul He chooses.

Each day as a priest I lift up with gratitude all those, as yet unknown to me, faithful people of prayer, living and dead.

Such prayer-warriors, such uplifting assistants, trace their mission back through the ages to Moses at prayer on the hill: Exodus 17: 11-14.

The most dramatic grace I experienced in the period of which I write here was due, I truly believe, to the intercession of such prayers as those of people faithful to the rosary, being offered even in this moment all over the world.

This prayer is particularly efficacious because Christ suffered for us and is therefore our perfect prayer Himself to the Father.

All prayer comes to the Father only through Christ, which grace then was to come into my being after the robbery.

It was a Friday evening and I had the weekend off from my duties.

My roommate happened to return to the apartment at the same time I did.

He noted the door was ajar and at first thought he or I had left it opened when the splintered wood around the lock made a different scenario obvious.

We stepped into the foyer and it was bare.

Even the carpet was gone.

Indeed the whole apartment, save for a near dead geranium tossed with its now broken clay pot into the kitchen sink, was all that remained of the furnishings, carpets, dishes, cabinets.

Though our personal papers were left scattered on the study floor, the filing cabinets in which they had been contained were gone.

Subsequent investigation by the police revealed neighbours had seen a moving van and assumed we were moving out.

Those thieves were never caught, our possessions never recovered.

But then, the truth be told, another thief had long before stolen what alone was of value from the depth of my inner being.

It was simply that now the apartment resembled my soul. [cf. Mt. 6: 19-21]

Standing in that cleaned-out apartment there had been a flicker of light somewhere deep in my being. In the true self, my soul.

That could have been a moment of metanoia had I simply said: Yes!

I preferred my captivity.

My heart recalls as I write that a line from a poem:

For sin’s so sweet, As minds ill bent

Rarely repent, Until they meet

Their punishment. [bs]