Yesterday the Vatican issued a statement of guidelines for dealing with cases of abuse against minors.


It is a terrible fact that in the past real victims of abuse where mostly ignored, priests moved around.

It is a horrific fact that this added to the immense pain of victims and perpetuated abuse.

It is a stark reality that the damage done will likely never be healed, or at least not for generations.

Now in these days there are mechanisms in place which, if we be truthful, while they may reduce such crime, will not eliminate it completely.

To think otherwise is naive; to claim otherwise is a lie.

What can be stated truthfully is that now, at least, victims are listened to, their accusations investigated, justice and due compensation of all forms is rendered to them.

This is a good.

What is not so good is that those with power in the Church from the Pope down to the local Bishop have swung the pendulum so far to the opposite side from failing victims to an obsession with tossing priests under the bus.

Since 1066, at least in most English speaking countries, there has been a constant struggle for justice, for civil rights, for due process.

What is happening within the Church, well not within the Mystical Body of Christ to be sure, but certainly within the Vatican is the persistent erosion of any adherence to fundamental human rights, to due process.

Rather than cases being dealt with by the normal tribunal process, it is the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which handles all cases where there is an accusation of the crime and sin of abuse by a priest, religious or any lay person over whom the ‘church’ can exercise power.

A few points: 1] there is no appeal of a decision by the Roman Pontiff; 2] the appeal ‘judges’ in the CDF are the very same persons who hand down the initial judgement [unlike in most legal systems where appeal is made to a higher court composed of different judges]; 3] the CDF has its equivalent of a prosecutor but no one to defend priests; 4] cases are handled in written form – it is as if an American charged with a crime in Buffalo had his case handled by a court in Paris, in abstentia; 5] finally while bishops can draw whatever funds they want from the diocesan treasury to mount a case against a priest, canon lawyers in Rome charge thousands of dollars to defend a priest, a fee beyond the meagre resources of most priests.

While I will not deal with the Vatican Guidelines in total, there are few points I will raise which should give every priest, indeed anyone who believes in the rule of law, in unbiased justice, indeed in the Gospel of compassion, reconciliation, conversion, serious pause.

[The direct quotes are in capitals and the full document is available online.]


Nowhere are there clarifications of what the terms are for an accusation to be considered credible.

This is a serious flaw and throws the doors wide open to immense damage being done to priests because it is an invitation to anyone to accuse and for any bishop to toss the case to Rome, even when church law does not compel him to do so.


Whom are they kidding?

With the modern media in a feeding frenzy against the church and priests as it is, with various social media spreading unfiltered and unverified information willy-nilly, with various well-funded and very hostile groups on the watch for any whisper of an accusation and bishops who publicly pull priests from their parishes the above assertion is not only untenable but is cruel.


Since bishops tend also to be the primary prosecutor and judge we have truly now entered the realm of Star Chamber machinations.

Early on in the document the assertion is made that: THE ACCUSED CLERIC IS PRESUMED INNOCENT UNTIL THE CONTRARY IS PROVEN.

It does seem those with power in the Vatican have their heads in the sand when it comes to conviction by media, by being pulled from the parish.

Finally the last quote I will reference is this: THE BISHOP HAS THE DUTY TO TREAT ALL HIS PRIESTS AS FATHER AND BROTHER.

Really: priests are summarily removed from their parishes, in the main not given an alternate place to live, frequently have their salaries and benefits cut, rarely can afford defense attorneys or canonical advocates, bishops tend NOT to visit priests in prison, bishops tend even when the accusation is false to abandon priests, tossing them onto the public welfare rolls rather than care for them, indeed the church has to date done absolutely nothing for accused priests.

The Vatican cannot chastise governments or politicians who fail to ensure respect for human rights and due process when it continues down this dark and dangerous road, eroding more and more due process for priests.

You do not ensure the safety of a single child by holus-bolus tossing accused priests under the bus, dumping them onto secular welfare rolls, in essence hiding them under the radar.

You do not ensure your credibility in the face of victims of abuse when you dismiss priests from the clerical state and effectively lose any control over them.

You do not witness to the wider world the critical dignity of the human person, the foundational importance of natural law, due process, human rights when you turn the CDF into a Star Chamber.

In such a climate you do ensure that truly twisted and evil priests, not yet found out, will become more adept at hiding their crimes and disorder and you further ensure that all accused priests, in particular the falsely accused, will be prone to depression, loss of faith, suicide.

In the face of all this my prayer is very simple: Grant O Jesus to Your Church and those with power in Her the grace of compassion and courage, compassion for victims and sinners, courage to spare no expense in caring for victims, courage to ensure transparent due process for the accused and grant O Jesus most critical of all an end to all priestly crime and sin and our complete sanctification.

Fr. McNulty

I am more and more aware that at some level, the mystery of Faith remains ever-wrapped-up in everyday life and I’m finding it more joyful each year to unwrap it and recognize it there. ~ Fr. Pat McNulty, Priest of Madonna House.

St. Alphonsus

He…that leaves off prayer will leave off loving Jesus Christ. Prayer is the blessed furnace in which the fire of holy love is enkindled and kept alive. ~ St. Alphonsus de Ligouri

From Catherine Doherty

Through her liturgy, the Church points to the fact that the Cross and the empty Tomb are inseparable.

 In this way, she teaches us all about hope. She says, in effect, that when things seem all wrong, practically hopeless, that this is the time when hope should be its strongest. ~ Catherine Doherty





IT IS evening, before the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. I continue my meditations on the various teachings of Pope John Paul II given this Christmas as he inaugurated the Jubilee Year.


This is from the traditional Urbi et Orbi ( to the city of Rome and to the world ) message before the Pope gives his blessing. This special message and blessing is given only twice each liturgical year: Christmas and Easter.

We turn our gaze to You, O Christ, Door of our salvation, as we thank You for all the good of the years, centuries and millennia which have passed.

We must however confess that humanity has sometimes sought the Truth elsewhere, invented false certainties, and chased after deceptive ideologies.

At times people have refused to respect and love, their brothers and sisters of a different race or faith; they have denied fundamental rights to individuals and nations.

But You continue to offer to all the splendour of the Truth which saves.

We look to You, O Christ, Door of Life, and we thank You for the wonders with which You have enriched every generation.

At times this world neither respects nor loves life.

But You never cease to love life; indeed, in the mystery of Christmas, You come to enlighten people’s minds, so that legislators and political leaders, men and women of good will, may be committed to welcoming human life as a precious gift.

You have come to give us the Gospel of Life.

We lift our eyes to You, O Christ, Door of peace, as, pilgrims in time, we visit all the resting places of the victims of brutal conflicts and cruel slaughter.

You, Prince of Peace, invite us to ban the senseless use of arms, and the recourse to violence and hatred which have doomed individuals, peoples and continents.

“To us a son is given.”

You, Father, have given us Your Son.

And You give Him to us again today, at the dawn of the new millennium.

For He is the Door.

Through Him we enter a new dimension and we reach the fullness of the destiny of salvation which You have prepared for all.

Precisely for this reason, Father, You gave us Your Son, so humanity would know what it is that You wish to give us in eternity, so that human beings would have the strength to fulfill Your mysterious plan of love.

Christ, Son of the ever Virgin Mother, light and hope of those who seek You even when they do not know You, and of those who, knowing You, seek You all the more.

Christ, You are the Door!

Through You, in the power of the Holy Spirit, we wish to enter the third millennium.

You, O Christ, are the same yesterday, today and forever (cf.Heb.13:8). [cf]

OUT OF the blue one day my companion announced he had accepted a job in another city and would be moving out.

The emotional impact upon my narcissistic being was pretty severe.

Yet at the same time, deep in the garden enclosed, I was aware this was indeed Jesus offering me in my sin induced wilful dark ignorance blindness a chance to take His hand and be led outside the village.

Yet again!

Perhaps this time I would walk even further with Him from the village and not hesitate at the nearest outskirts.

However, as shall soon become clear, I was to make a pretty common mistake and in so doing compound the error by failing to truly listen to my spiritual father.

The graced event, though not recognized at the time as an occasion of grace, which had motivated me to get off drugs had been that traumatic experience when I almost overdosed; a similar experience had started me on the road of overcoming my heavy drinking, again not understood at the time as an occasion of grace, namely, I was so drunk one night in a disco that I had danced for hours within inches of large speakers with the resulting damage to my eardrums, which took weeks to heal. During that time the pain, and constant ringing in my ears, was a salutary reminder of the stupidity of the inebriated.

This departure of my companion, and the necessity therefore of my finding my own place to live, and a more secure paying job than free-lance work, was itself a graced moment.

However, as mentioned, I did not take time to be still in prayer and listen to the Holy Spirit before formulating a plan. Once formulated I did not trust or accept the concerns expressed by my spiritual father, but forged ahead, literally, on my own.

Freud speaks of a ‘flight into health ‘, which is not a healthy journey at all.

In the spiritual life, the life of faith, there is a type of ‘ flight into holiness ‘, which rather than being a true pilgrimage towards union with Christ is in actual fact a flight from the necessary conversion ( metanoia ) and abandonment to the Father (kenosis-emptying of the self ) which the Holy Spirit seeks to achieve within us.

Instead of using the time available to me for job hunting I used it to plow through the stories of the Fathers of the Desert. Filled with romantic images of desert life I decided I would instantaneously transform myself from a man who was barely returned to the practice of the faith, and still living in the dark ignorance of his addictions, into a desert dweller in radical emulation of those heroic saints — true saints radically wiser than I, then, OR now!

Unwittingly, and this is something I have only discovered in my heart as I write these lines, I was duplicating my very ‘flight’ pattern from when I had first arrived in the city a decade before after being ousted from The Community.

Then too I had sought to, frankly, assuage my fears, placate my God, through plunging myself into a way of life which, it seemed to me, would by its very construct, militate against the disordered tendencies within me — namely atheism and hedonism.

Sanford speaks of ‘performance orientation’ and May speaks of ‘autonomous willpower ‘.

…soon after the glow of conversion dies down, performance resurrects with a vengeance……Many come into the fullness of the Holy Spirit only subsequently to crack up because that un-dead area of flesh throws them into an inner striving no one can live up to! [cg]

For the power of addiction to be overcome, human will must act in concert with divine will. The human spirit must flow with the Holy Spirit.

Personal power must be aligned with the power of grace….It is surely impossible by autonomous willpower alone; the addicted systems of the brain are too numerous and overwhelming. It is also impossible if there is only an intellectual attempt to align the will with grace…The alignment of our will with God’s must happen at a heart level, through authentic choices of faith that are empowered by God. [ch]

It would be a painful process of accepting failure before I would begin — by grace obviously — to accept the truth of those statements.

In the meantime, as a performance oriented personality in full energetic flight towards I had deluded myself, conversion and holiness through the effort of my very sharp intellect and strong autonomous willpower, I ignored the recommendation against the move from my spiritual father and forged ahead on my own.

So, in spite of the clear, profound concerns, yet not an outright telling me not too, (here I used a type of rationalization common when we ignore the will of God expressed through a spiritual father) I managed with the help of friends, to find a very tiny basement apartment in an old building on the edge of the inner city.

The little apartment was across a narrow hall from the furnace room of the building. The apartment had a small bathroom, a ‘main’ room which was slightly more than four feet wide and about ten feet long. In this room as a small refrigerator and an old fashion electric stove. Then there was the bedroom, which was even smaller. There was no window in it. There was a window in the main room. Just up near the ceiling, which itself was just over a foot above my head.

The window was two feet long and a foot high and covered in coloured paper.

The place was as close as I could get to a desert cave without actually being in a desert.

I moved in there with my books, typewriter, some holy pictures, icons and statues given by friends, some of whom thought I was doing something holy and some who thought I was just nuts.

However both groups in their kindness helped me move.

I had just enough money to cover first and last month’s rent, buy a little bit of food.

Once everyone had left that first night I sat in the semi-darkness.

The little window gave onto the alley, at ground level, so even though it was not yet sunset, only weak light entered.

Suddenly I knew myself to be terribly alone.

Later that night, and only now, in light of the words from Sandford and May, plus the maturing, healing, effect of grace over these decades, do I understand that, alone with a tender miracle from Our Lady, it was also an acute experience, psychologically, physically, with a spiritual component to it, of withdrawal.

As May notes:

In Scripture, nothing portrays our vulnerability to grace more profoundly than the imagery of the desert….Humanity’s struggle with addiction is a journey through the wilderness of idolatry where temptations, trials, and deprivations abound, but where God’s grace is always available to guide, protect and transform us. [ch]




Sometimes there are offered to us gifts of words which truly touch the heart.


I have been blessed in my priestly life to meet many men and women who both live our their primary baptismal vocation within the vocation of holy marriage and parenthood and within that truly use the talents given them, especially as witnesses to Christ through marriage and family life and through art.

Not only do I know, and yes admire and learn from these many years, James and Ellen and their sons, but with the two books recommended here was graced to read them in manuscript form and be further blessed.

Rather than do a detailed review here I will simply post the link to Full Quiver Publishing and say that the first novel, “Emily’s Hope” will heart-touch and inspire and the second, “In Name Only” will open a wonderful door to encouragement and trust.







RECENTLY IN L’OSSERVATORE ROMANO, there has been, at least in the English edition which I receive each week, a continuing series on the pastoral challenge presented by the world-wide phenomena of an apparent increase in the incidence, and acceptance of, overt homosexuality.


The striking fact of this series is the solid pastoral compassion ( love ) and the equally solid orthodoxy (truth) setting before the eyes and hearts of all people Church teaching of revealed truth about the dignity of the human person and the holy mystery of human persons being endowed with pro-creative capability.

While in the early stages of the healing process, begun under the guidance of my spiritual father, I could not have articulated the following, I was becoming aware of the same facts: 

The homosexual condition is difficult, sometimes tragic, and not only because of the obstacles it can encounter in society and the injustices of which it can be victim, but also because of its narcissistic quality. This quality is expressed in the continual attempts at ‘self-recovery ‘ and in searching for the ‘better self ‘ or the ‘ missing self ‘ in another person. [cd-1]

This latter point about the attempts at self-recovery, seeking the missing self, would for years be a type of false-start distraction for me.

To be sure, during the same period, I would indeed embrace the call to chastity, return to the faith and sacramental life, and discern my true vocation and so forth.

But in a strange way, rather than seek Christ in and for Himself, there would be a degree of seeking to find in a relationship with Christ, in the life of grace, even in discernment of vocation, a type of self-recovery, of finding the missing-self, which would significantly interfere with what true conversion is ultimately about: I NO LONGER LIVE, CHRIST LIVES IN ME!

The homosexual approach is really one of identification and possession. According to Miller it is easier for two homosexuals to regard each other as narcissistic extensions of themselves than to be involved in mutual exchange. [cd-2]

This, especially in the early stages of conversion and healing, is extremely difficult to face, because the intricately crafted illusion of mutuality, of giving to the other in same-gender relationships, belies the self-centered and other devouring truth.

It means accepting that beneath the intricacies lies the chasm of sheer loneliness which is the stillborn child of the constitutive non-complementarities inevitable in homosexual so-called, in reality pseudo, unions.

Only Christ can fill the void — and it is, as in the actual beginning — the Spirit Himself who hovers over the void and re-creates, restores, Christ and His Life within us.

If not only those who struggle with homosexuality, but with any form of other involved sexual adventurism, of self-gratification, be humble, that is truthful, all such activity will then be confessed as the idol-worship narcissism search for the self from whom I have become split, beside whom I walk, in dark ignorance.

The common notion of the Greek myth about the god Narcissus is that he fell in love with himself — which is true to a point. The point being he fell in love with what appeared as his self-reflection when he gazed into the water. In fact what he saw was a distorted ( by the very nature of the refracting reality of water and light), and inverted ( the mirror principle ) image of himself, a false-self.

That is the tragedy of narcissism.

It is not even love directed towards the real self — rather it is a disordered love directed towards the false-self. Ultimate egoism!

Socarides says without hesitation that in a homosexual relationship each partner plays his role, ignoring the complementarity of a sexual union, as if the act were consummated in ‘splendid isolation ‘ from the other individual, simply as a stratagem for portraying a one-sided emotional conflict. Every homosexual encounter is primarily concerned with disarming the partner by means of seduction, prayer, power, prestige, effeminacy or masculinity, in order to derive satisfaction then from the loser. [cd-3]

This should be so obvious as to not need comment.

However it is bound to be vehemently denied because, if accepted, then the whole infrastructure of the so-called gay culture begins to unravel — the whole point of the ‘ bar-scene ‘, for example, is to go ‘ cruising’, that is to seek out a sexual conquest.

Hans Giese rightly stresses that the ‘foreground ‘of the homosexual syndrome comes from ‘clinging to the self ‘. The move towards the other is not completed, while the move towards one’s own sex is shorter, less costly, simpler; but, since one fears the risk of failure, to take this step involves a new risk, that of egotism. Bergler also maintains that the dominate note is always emotional detachment from the other and the focusing of interest on mere gratification. [cd-4]


Here we have a vital key to the extremely dangerous practice of suggesting an attempt at heterosexual marriage as some type of ‘ cure’, and, equally the danger of admitting persons to consecrated life who have not at least shown a free and peaceful acceptance of the gift of chastity — for that egotism will express itself in non-genital forms such as materialism, authoritarianism, gluttony, tv-addiction, alcoholism etc.

Since the root cause of homosexuality is a non-completeness of being, the ‘ cure ‘ is the restoration of, that is the completing of, the real person.

Hence true conversion, which may include therapy, a profound sacramental and prayer life, the vigilance of fasting, these are crucial.

No less crucial, especially for the soul struggling to hold on tight to the hand of Christ the Healer leading us out of the village of sexual disorder, of incompleteness as person, and very crucial for all pastors of souls, who are the bringers of the gender-blind, wounded, to Christ, is to embrace with humility the possibly very long, try and try again, aspects of the healing pilgrimage to the far outskirts of the village.

Kardiner notes that the majority of these experiences are due to casual encounters and are ‘ one-night stands ‘, i.e., the essential element is the value the experience has for the imagination and not the lasting human relationship. This easily leads to the desire of arousal for its own sake, to repetition and finally anonymity, the discovery of the other not being worth the effort….In short, for the homosexual there is the proximate danger of falling into such anonymous, repetitive and even more demanding sexual behaviour that it becomes a kind of addiction……[cd-5]


An incident from my own life illustrates this point.

Being a true addict I also became addicted to more incautious forms of anonymous encounters and found myself one evening in the clutches of a sadist with a knife at my throat.

I survived the ordeal, but it did not lessen my addiction.

With every grace of conversion and healing the soul is invited to trustingly join Christ in the desert where He Himself battled and defeated the tempter.

It is Christ who wages the greater battle in the spiritual warfare encountered by every soul. Seeking to actively participate with Christ, which is to co-operate with Christ’s healing action, each soul must willingly embrace the battle, and endure, by the gift of grace, grace of perseverance and trust.

Satan, who has long claimed the soul for his own, will, of course, seek to discourage, frighten, entice, cajole, and seduce the soul back from intimacy with He who is our Life, our Light, the Way and the Truth. Satan wants to drive the soul back into the dark ignorance.

Some words of encouragement and wisdom then from those early great spiritual warriors, the Fathers of the Desert:

A brother asked Abba Agathon about fornication. He answered, ‘Go, cast your weakness before God and you shall find rest.’ [ce-1]

Abba Theonas said, ‘When we turn our spirit from the contemplation of God, we become the slaves of carnal passions. ‘ [ce-2]


The following shows how priest-confessors must not only be compassionate but willingly take on, help carry the burden, of humble and contrite hearts — it is the mysterious and blessed vocation of being a co-struggler:

It was related of a brother who had committed a fault that when he went to Abba Lot, he was troubled and hesitated, going in and coming out, unable to sit down. Abba Lot said to him, ‘What is the matter, brother? ‘He said, ‘I have committed a great fault and I cannot acknowledge it to the fathers.’ The old man said to him, ‘Confess it to me, and I will carry it. ‘Then he said to him, ‘I have fallen into fornication and in order to do it, I have sacrificed to idols. ‘The old man said to him, ‘Have confidence; repentance is possible. Go, sit in your cave, eat only once in two days and I will carry half of your fault with you. ‘After three weeks, the old man had the certainty that God had accepted the brother’s repentance. Then the latter remained in submission to the old man until his death. [ce-3]


Another aspect of the above example is that once we have confessed our sin, received absolution, we must not only fulfill the penance given to us, as act of our co-operation with grace, but we must enter the struggle for purification, inner healing, release from inner-vows — a struggle which may be brief or of long duration — praise to His Holy Will in all such matters — and also we need to remain humble, docile, in true, trusting, acceptance of the directives from, obedience to the guidance of, a holy spiritual father.

The final example shows what to the overly sensitive modern, rationalistic mind may appear as pretty rough justice! In truth, it is our failure to comprehend the raw reality of spiritual warfare — the struggle to overcome our tendency to sin — that may cause some to miss the point of the example that follows. Here, truly, the heart needs to listen.

The point is basic — confession of sin, struggle to repent and open our beings to purification and healing by the Holy Spirit — the restorative power of the Holy Eucharist — communion of love — for the point of conversion is that we be restored to Christ so that: I NO LONGER LIVE, CHRIST LIVES IN ME.

The length of any struggle should never discourage us.

The victory is Christ’s.

Christ IS our co-struggler, for He struggled and overcame temptation, sin and death before, and for us.

Christ IS our salvation; our healing; our communion; our Way, Truth, Life.

Christ IS everything.

Our joy: to struggle.

He has come that His joy may be in us so that our joy may be complete.

Christ’s joy is that He has accomplished our salvation.

Abba Phocas also said, ‘When he came to Scetis, Abba James was strongly attacked by the demon of fornication. As the warfare pressed harder, he came to see me and told me about it, saying to me, “Tomorrow, I am going to such and such a cave but I entreat you for the Lord’s sake do not speak of it to anyone, not even my father. But count forty days and when they are fulfilled do me the kindness of coming and bringing me Holy Communion. If you find me dead, bury me, but if you find me still alive, give me Holy Communion.” Having heard this, when the forty days were fulfilled, I took Holy Communion and a whole loaf with a little wine and went to find him. As I was drawing near to the cave I smelt a very bad smell which came from its mouth. I said to myself, “The blessed one is at rest. “ When I got close to him, I found him half dead. When he saw me he moved his right hand a little, as much as he could, asking me for the Holy Communion with his hand. I said to him, “I have It. “ He wanted to open his mouth but it was fast shut. Not knowing what to do, I went out into the desert and found a piece of wood and with much difficulty, I opened his mouth a little. I poured in a little of the Body and the Precious Blood, as much as he could take of Them. Through this participation in the Holy Communion he drew strength. A little while after, soaking some crumbs of ordinary bread, I offered them to him and after a time, some more, as much as he could take. So, by the grace of God, he came back with me a day later and walked as far as his own cell, delivered, by the help of God, from the harmful passion of fornication.’ [ce-4]


Perhaps, you the reader are not in bondage to any sexual sin, to any kind of fornication.

Whatever the sin struggled with, whatever the addiction, whatever the doubt, whatever the depths of bitter-roots or the tenacity of inner-vows, Christ IS the only Way, the only Healing, the only Truth, and our only true Life.

In the Roman Liturgy, the central act of faith, the sacred celebration of the summit of sacramental, of faith life, is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Before the reception of Jesus Christ, in His Real Presence, in the reality of His Body and Blood in Holy Communion, priest and people proclaim out loud together a vital prayer — do we contemplate these words enough — do we utter them from the depths of our being as the opening wide of the doors of our being to Him?: LORD, I AM NOT WORTHY TO RECEIVE YOU, BUT ONLY SAY THE WORD AND I SHALL BE HEALED.






THIS MORNING I spent several hours in prayer and the celebration of Holy Mass.

A great joy permeated my being. Joy and gratitude for this extraordinary grace of these months in semi-solitude, to write, pray and paint.


What a lavishness of grace for my own being in this Jubilee Year.

What a Gospel ‘talent’ not to be wasted but rather, by fidelity to the duty of the moment as a priest-writer, to labour with words until the work is done.

Then: to let go of it, for the Lord to use, as He wills.

Even if that use means, once written, this work, through the discernment of my spiritual father, is never published.

So as I write in my heart echo lines from Psalmist seeking discernment, understanding, giving praise and crying longing. [Ps. 119: 169-176]

IT IS a great mystery that God, Father, Son, Holy Spirit, does not force Himself upon us, does not, when we yearn for true conversion of heart, remove from us our freedom to resist His invitation to repent and return to Him. 

The extraordinary grace, the seed-sowing within the depths of my being of His word:’ come home My child’, poured into my being during that charismatic rally at the time of the death of Pope Paul VI on the feast of the Transfiguration.

To be accomplished, this transformation — for He so wills it — my free-will consent and co-operation with grace were/are required.

Only when I would truly open wide the doors of my being to Christ would any conversion take firm root, repentance begin to flower. Only when I would humble myself, by grace of course, and have recourse to sacramental confession, wherein my sins would be forgiven, might the healing process — Christ Himself, the Healer — become increasingly efficacious, as the Gospel reveals. [Mt. 9:1-8]

The trees are all in bud as I write once again.

Warm spring rains fall upon the small patch of grass outside my basement window. I can hear, but not see, little rivers of water washing across the parking lot, some ten feet higher up the slope from my window.

This is my basement cave!

In the old days a priest serving an institution, such as this home for the infirm, would have been granted a decent set of rooms — nowadays no one has much respect for themselves, let alone for others.

The priest is seen as a sort of unavoidable nuisance. Handy to have around when someone is dying, but otherwise best he remains hidden in his ‘cave’.

In my first few weeks here it was difficult to be down in here. Now it is a place for my heart, in the great hermitical tradition of all those who voluntarily have entered actual caves over the centuries to be alone with You.

I must not waste a moment of this precious space or time.

The news today announces Pope John Paul is off to visit Lebanon, a place soaked with fraternal blood through inter-religious civil war and hatred.

Why do we hate so much?

In mid-fall of the year of three Popes my new spiritual director contacted me by letter and phone.

Eventually I began to visit him, to open my heart, to attempt to listen and even to go to confession truthfully.

This was very difficult the first few times, for it meant admitting not only my sinfulness but my absolute need of God.

Fall unfolded into winter. I still found myself occasionally engaged in my habitual patterns.

However there was waging within me a true struggle against the satanic darkness and neurotic fears which had such a hold on my being, and, a real hunger to enter into the light.

Looking back I understand now part of the struggle was an inner expectation of spiritual magic. Namely, that it sufficed I wanted to be converted, healed, set-free from what had me in bondage — but converted, healed, set-free WITHOUT the divinely ordained ordinary process of progressive conversion, healing, release.

Only decades later would I appreciate what tremendous patience my impatience, and easily provoked discouragement, exacted from my spiritual director, whom I came to see more accurately as not only the friend of my soul but as my spiritual father, which is how I see him now.

My heart has come to see in the progressive process of conversion, healing, release — (keeping in mind, of course, that God sometimes does grant the miracle of an instantaneous conversion) — what appears to be the ordinary pilgrimage, wherein the Holy Spirit divinizes the soul, of which the Gospel account of healing found in Mark 8: 22-26 illuminates the mystery of progressive healing.

Here is what this Gospel passage says to my heart:

THERE is a place to which we must all come, — Christ Himself being the actual ‘place’ — being brought there by our brothers and sisters through their prayer for the conversion of sinners. That place is also the Church — participation in the sacramental life of the Church specifically.

THIS is the place per se of encounter with Christ, Saving Healer, who draws us to Himself because He loves the Father and loves us.

He is, in a sense, drawn to us through His own love for the Father and for us.

Our being drawn to Him is assisted through the plea on our behalf of our brothers and sisters at prayer, of Holy Mother the Church herself at prayer for the conversion of the world.

Critical is the prayerful intercession also of our Blessed Mother Mary, and of all the Saints and Blessed in heaven.

CONFESSION of our blindness is essential.

Perhaps, as would appear to be the case with the blind man in this Gospel passage, if not by spoken articulation, at least by the eloquent poverty of simply being in the place of encounter with Christ.

WE MUST be touched by Christ, therefore when He offers His hand to us to lead us into the depths of repentance, conversion, release, healing, we must accept — always we are endowed with free-will — His touch.

WE MUST willingly be led by Christ away from the place/places wherein we dwell in the dark ignorance of hell — for our blindness is not only interior but is exacerbated and facilitated by our dwelling in the places and companionship of accomplices.

SPITTLE is used here by Christ because He had not yet shed His blood — His Heart had not yet been torn open by the lance so the ‘ blood and water ‘ [ Jn.19:34] — the river of sanctifying grace, of sacramental life — was not yet pouring forth upon us.

It is sanctifying grace through the sacraments — especially of Baptism, Confession, Holy Eucharist — which the Holy Spirit uses as the forgiving, converting, releasing, healing touch of Christ.

ONCE touched the question posed is a query by Christ of the soul ascertaining the soul’s co-operative willing participation in the forgiveness-­converting-healing-releasing-sanctifying process which unfolds through the holy action touch of Christ Himself.

THE SOUL’S response is not merely affirmative but an accepting admission of struggle — the blindness is deeply bitter-rooted, the blind attitude deeply inner-vowed as a commitment to rebellion against the very Eternal Father who so loves us He has given us Jesus, who with the Father, so loves us the Holy Spirit is given to us to Purify and Sanctify every soul who believes in Him and willingly receives Baptism, gateway to all sacramental life.

THE SECOND touch — maybe for some of us more resistant, more deeply wounded, more profoundly addicted to our blindness, a third, fourth, innumerable touches  are required— in either case there will come what is the final touch of complete healing, total conversion, absolute release — the grace of communion of love, union with the Holy Trinity.

EVERYTHING  now is seen distinctly, that is, our true relationship with the Trinity, our brothers and sisters, self, — we see clearly everything about life, about the danger of temptation, the destructive folly of sin, the absolute need we have of Divine Mercy.

DO NOT EVEN GO INTO THE VILLAGE is the divinely uttered, tender yet imperative caution.

We MUST heed this urgent Divine admonition NOT to return to the place and accomplices of our dark ignorance.

Such a return would be a refusal, a rejection of the very grace just given, a turning away from the Divine Self-Giver, Giver of Light, Truth, Healing, and Salvation.




MY COPY of L’ Osservatore Romano has just arrived. I’ve been earnestly waiting for it for days — to meditate upon Pope John Paul’s homily during Midnight Mass and the Opening of the Holy Doors for the Great Jubilee Year, which we have entered.



So incredible are the words of the Holy Father my being cannot continue any writing unless I transcribe the core of his words — for since this work is essentially about Divine Mercy, Divine Love being greater than our capacity to sin, these words of the Pope, my heart is convinced, are, as it were, a verbal portal through which the remainder of this book must pass.

The Pope speaks:

“Hodie natus est nobis Salvator mundi “….For 20 Centuries this joyful proclamation has burst forth from the heart of the Church…the Angel repeats..to us…” Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy..to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour…welcome these comforting words…in them the “ today “ of our redemption becomes a reality.

….We are spiritually linked to that unique moment of history when God became man, taking to Himself our flesh.

Yes, the Son of God, of one being with the Father, God from God and Light from Light, eternally begotten of the Father, became incarnate from the Virgin Mary and assumed our human nature. He was born in time. God entered history. The incomparable eternal “ today “ of God has become present in everyday human life.

“Hodie natus est nobis Salvator mundi “….We fall down in adoration before the Son of God. We unite ourselves in spirit to the wonder of Mary and Joseph……..

……..At the feet of the Word Incarnate let us place our joys and fears, our tears and hopes. Only in Christ, the new man, is true light shed upon the mystery of human existence.

………You O Christ, are the Only-begotten Son of the living God, come among us in the stable of Bethlehem!…….

……..Ever since the night of Bethlehem, humanity knows that God became man: He became Man in order to give man a share in His divine nature.

You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!….the Church greets You, the Son of God, who have come into the world to triumph over death. You have come to illuminate human life through the Gospel…..You are our hope. You alone have words of eternal life.

You who came into the world on Bethlehem night, remain with us!

You who are the Way, and the Truth, and the Life, guide us!

You who came from the Father, lead us to Him in the Holy Spirit, along the path which You alone know and which You have revealed to us, that we might have life and have it in abundance.

You O Christ, the Son of the living God, be for us the Door!

Be for us the true Door…….

Be for us the Door which leads us into the mystery of the Father. Grant that no one may remain outside His embrace of mercy and peace!

…….Mary, dawn of new times, be at our side as we trustingly take our first steps……..[cc]