Thursday, August 28, 2014

Is Something Hokey in the Pokey?

Every Wednesday morning is a special time for me.  When I awaken I say my morning prayers usually including the Office of Readings or Morning Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours.  Since I use iBreviary on my iPad to do the Liturgy of the Hours, and also because I have a document of the particular prayers that I like to pray daily, I am then ready for my favourite part of Wednesday morning.

I open my email application on my iPad, find the Wednesday morning email with the link to the latest posting from These Stone Walls, the blog of Father Gordon MacRae and click on it, and settle in to read his latest epistle.  Then, I meditate on it, and if I feel the leading write my own posting for this blog largely based on the wisdom emanating from the New Hampshire State Prison for Men, and guidance from Our Lord.  Of course, the one source I can count on, the higher one I hope I hear since the still small voice often times gets drowned out by the noise going on in my own head.

So, this Wednesday I preempted the expected email, and had "http://thesestonewalls.com/" in a window on my browser all ready to go, and clicked.  I was anxious to get to what Father Gordon had to say.  But, nothing had changed from the day before, meaning that the latest posting was the very good posting by Father James Valladares, about the 20 years of wrongful imprisonment of Father MacRae for phantom crimes of child sexual abuse.

No problem.  I was probably early since the usual linking email had not arrived yet anyway.  But, several times through the day yesterday, I checked back, looking for that linking email and just in case the linking email had not gone out for some reason, went back to the blog site These Stone Walls, just to be sure I had not missed it.

I was concerned that maybe something had happened in the hoosegow that had missed my attention, but nothing seemed remiss.  I did think that maybe Father's latest missive had gotten caught in the US postal system.  But, usually the US Posties are pretty good at getting things delivered in a timely fashion.  In Canada where we charge more for postage on mail, delivery seems to take longer, and I often think that here in Canada our Canadian Postal Service charges for storage.

I did not worry, in the sense that I do trust in God that what is, fits His plan, and that everything will work out according to that plan.  But, I was disappointed.  I think that is so, because when Father Gordon writes, it seems to me like he is writing to me personally (as I am sure most of his readers feel) and so not hearing from him seems disquieting, like a very good friend is lost, if even temporarily.

It seems strange to think that here in the outside and allegedly free world, at least free from physical confinement we/I are/am concerned about a prisoner in the US prison system, but I think that those of us who follow the exploits (I have written of these exploits and exploitation recently) of Father Gordon and his very trusty and trustworthy sidekick Pornchai Maximilium Moontri, feel a particular kinship with Father Gordon (and Pornchai) and are lifted up by his faith, hope and love for his fellow prisoners and for us.

So, I was pleased to know this morning that the delay is because of a knee operation that the Editor has had that has prevented her from getting the latest missive from Father G to us.  I can relate to this, as my dear wife had a knee replacement about 5 weeks ago, and it sure put a crimp in our style, these last 5 weeks, though the speed of her recovery with how serious the surgery is amazed me and amazes me.

But, I relate to Father Gordon's editor's pain and life disruption pretty much as I relate to the pain and life disruption of Father MacRae being incarcerated for over 20 years for crimes that never happened.  I can empathize, but I do not really know the pain, physical, mental, emotional or spiritual.

But, then I can empathize with a Saviour who comes to earth and requires his beloved brothers and sisters to put Him to death, only to rise again, though I cannot really grasp what it means.  However, that is where there is a connection that brings things full circle and engages us in the Salvation story of one and all.

Our dear friend Father Gordon as priest and alter christus, like Our Dear Saviour, the one and only Christ, was convicted of crimes that never happened by folks like you and me, and in the case of Father Gordon sentenced to spend the rest of his life behind bars, not a very painful, agonizing but relatively quick death like Jesus, but a death by 1,000 cuts, of day after day, year after year, hidden behind These Stone Walls.

Father MacRae's long march to death does not compare in its totality to the significance of that of Jesus, but it is instead a sacramental re-presentation of the death of Jesus, and so like with Jesus, we await a resurrection of Father Gordon of sorts, which we do not understand or grasp.  And is that not what the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is, a re-presentation of the Death and Resurrection of Our Beloved Saviour?

The created can never suffer as much as the Creator, never love as much as the Creator, or hope as much as the Creator.  But, we are created in the image of the Creator and so we can give what we have in union with Jesus to be signs to our brothers and sisters that He is alive in us, through us, with us and for us.

Recently, at Sunday Mass, the priest, a man I have known almost as long as he has been a priest, had fallen asleep between the morning Masses and the evening Mass that my wife and I like to attend.  So, he arrived at Church moments before Mass and felt unprepared.  He made himself vulnerable to us in his homily as he explained this to us, and then went on to speak extemporaneously for his homily to us.  The words that came from his mouth connected to the readings of the day with clarity and truth, and the music ministry's song selection, which he also touched on had made it all come together as a tapestry.

Then the Eucharist itself began, and he consecrated Jesus with such devotion and love that His Presence became obvious to all present.  When I received Communion I had tears of joy in my eyes, for I knew Who I had just received.

I felt the need to write my priest friend the next day to tell him how awesome that Mass had been, and how his making himself vulnerable to us had been an important step.  He responded that he had felt foolish but believe that the Lord had wanted it that way, that he might be a "fool for Christ."

As I read his note I had a vision, and I have had visions at Mass a few times over the past year or so.  In the vision I saw what I had actually seen during Mass, that the large beautiful crucifix was behind the altar, and our priest was in front of the altar preaching his homily.  Then, in the vision I saw the Holy Spirit descending upon our priest from above the Cross, and a white garment, though whole and complete, coming as from Jesus, and settling around our priest.

I communicated this to my priest friend, but realized that it was not just about him, but about every priest in the world, ever.

And I realize that it is about our friend Father Gordon MacRae.  Why we relate to his writing is that the Spirit is upon him, and he does wear the white garment as well, the garment that joins him with Christ, and connects him to the death of Jesus as a witness (which by the way is what the word martyr means).  There are red martyrs who have shed their blood for their love of Jesus and their fellow man, but not all martyrs shed their blood in death.  Some bleed daily for their love of mankind, quietly, again death by 1,000 cuts.

This is Father Gordon, a free man empowered by the Holy Spirit with the mantle of Jesus Christ upon him, a free man who happens currently to be an unwitting guest of the New Hampshire State Prison foe Men, from where he ministers to inmates and to those who read his postings at These Stone Walls.

May God richly bless him as he shares the love of Jesus with us.



Thursday, August 21, 2014

Exploits and Exploitation

Recently I wrote about what was happening with Father Gordon MacRae and his trusted friend and fellow journeyer Pornchai Maximilium Moontri and their exploits in the faith in response to this article of his.

I read Father MacRae's weekly missive during my Wednesday morning prayer time, and often, I think, God clarifies for me some of what Father MacRae has to say and how it impacts my life, and maybe gives me words to encourage him and Pornchai (at least I hope so).

While reading and praying over Father MacRae's recent article, the word "exploit" came to mind, a word I know, but would never use in conversation.  It is a great word, but not one for common parlance.  But, it was, in fact, a perfect word to describe what is happening behind These Stone Walls.

But since writing that article about their exploits, I could not get the word out of my mind.  I wrote about the noun exploit which means "exciting acts" and also can mean"notable or heroic actions."  But that is exploit as a noun.

But, exploit is also a transitive verb, meaning that it is an action done to another person, thing or group of persons or things.  It is exploit as a transitive verb that has been playing in my mind these last few days.  I think I described the exploits of Father Gordon and Pornchai well enough last week, so now it is time to look at the transitive verb exploit as it relates to them.

I often wonder if what I am writing is honoring to God, and is being faithful to what He is calling me to do.  I not only wonder but sometimes agonize as well.  Most of this particular article was completed by Tuesday of this week, and I thought it would be a second perspective on what I had written in response to Father Gordon's article from last week.

But, for some reason I could not seem to complete it and so it sat on my computer until now.  Apparently, I could not complete it because it was not really a follow up on Father Gordon's article, but somewhat of an explanation of the guest posting yesterday of Father James Valladares, the author of the book Hope Springs Eternal in the Priestly Breast.

Exploit as a verb often means to take advantage of someone or something, such as a farmer who exploits the land he owns to grow crops.  This taking advantage is a positive thing, but much of exploiting is not about beneficial or benign use of something, but of taking advantage of someone or something unjustly or unethically for one's benefit either directly or indirectly.

That brings us back to Father Gordon, and to Pornchai.

Father Gordon, as readers of These Stone Walls, and those who have done their research elsewhere know, is in jail as a Catholic priest convicted for sexual abuse of a minor.  He was convicted in fact, exploited by various persons and groups who derived an advantage by imprisoning him, and his guilt or innocence had little to do with it.

The truth of the matter is that for Father Gordon to have committed the crimes for which he is incarcerated, he would have had to have been places where he was not, and the places where he was and was supposed to have committed some of the offences would have had to be private, such that his actions could have been hidden from others in his office area, which they were not.

In other words Father Gordon was exploited both unethically and unjustly by individuals and groups that conspired to destroy him and his good name, unsuccessfully in the end, I might add.  Who exploited him?

Father Valladares writes of the dichotomy that exists between persons who have accused priests and religious of sexual abuse, where their primary motive is obviously financial gain, and the priests they accuse of crimes from the distant past with no evidence whatsoever.

The exploiters here start with a combination of litigation lawyers, who in a resurrection of ambulance chasers of the medical malpractice run for the money, had shifted their attention to the fiscal treasury of the Catholic Church, and fast buck artists, professional victims who are looking for a score.  Often, this has been the case.

But, even more in the case of Father Gordon MacRae, the criminal justice system in the State of New Hampshire, from the investigator who championed the flawed case against Father MacRae to the prosecutor who pursued the flawed case to completion, to Judge Brennan, the jurist who heard and adjudicated the case, exploited Father MacRae.

Sadly, his own bishop, and now his successor participated in this exploitation, and in fact the whole United States Catholic Council of Bishops tacitly did so and continue to do so, as well.  As the shark feeding frenzy over priest sexual abuse was getting into full swing, the Bishop of the Diocese of Manchester New Hampshire basically accepted all claims of abuse on their face. As Father Valladares points out at least 62 claims of abuse were made against the diocese, and were accepted on their face.

Meanwhile, Father Gordon has continued to be exploited for the last 20 years by the penal system of New Hampshire, since he is in prison on false testimony and conviction.

Alongside him in prison are many other men who were exploited, and I dare say that most to all of them have been exploited in some way in their lifetimes.  But, Pornchai, whose story we know at least some snippets of, is a good example of this further exploitation.

Pornchai was born in Thailand, was abandoned by his mother at age 2, and then recovered by his mother from family he lived with at age 11, and brought with her husband and her to America, against his will.  Using someone for your own selfish purposes is a form of exploitation, and of that his own mother is guilty. But, she delivered him into the hands of her husband, who as Pornchai's step father chose to sexually abuse him for the next 3 years.  He was exploited by those who were supposed to love and cherish him.

Then at age 18, he killed a man, and the exploitation hits kept coming.  Like Father Gordon his defense was inadequate, and so he became a prisoner, and eventually made his way to the New Hampshire State Prison for Men.

A version of Pornchai's story is the story of all prisoners, not that they do not deserve incarceration for what they have done, but that there is more to them than what they have done.  The penal system assigns prisoners a number, by which they are identified.  They are dehumanized and degraded by a penal system meant to protect the outside world from them.  Isn't that a simplified definition of exploitation?

So, here in a state prison, we have two men (and more) who have been and continue to be exploited, and the story could end there and we could go back to our morning coffee, but here the story turns.

The exploitation turns to exploits, and for Father Gordon and for Pornchai, Michel Ciresi and others. Imprisonment turns to freedom.

You may be able to take the priest out of the church, but you cannot take the Church out of the priest, and Father Gordon has continued in his priesthood while in prison these last 20 years.  He had been alter christus for the men in the prison, though many do not know it, and some of them have been Christ for him as well.  So, there have been many exploits of faith over the years, because faith is not extinguished by stone walls.

So, it seems appropriate to me that Father Gordon, Pornchai et al completed the Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus following the retreat format of "33 Days to Morning Glory" by Father Michael Gaitley.

Imagine Morning Glory in a prison.  But, it is, and Father Gordon and Pornchai are no longer the exploited, but are living lives filled with exploits as they explore their journey of faith with Our Blessed Mother as their guide, and Our Saviour as their focus.

There is a lesson for all of us in their story, and the lesson is that we are not the product of what was done to us, even if we conspired in the doing, but we are beloved children of God destined for greater things.  The only thing we have to do is what Mary did, when the angel appeared to her.  We just have to say "Yes."

If Father Gordon, and Pornchai can be free though still housed in a prison, can we not accept the freedom of trusting in God from the prisons of our lives?


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Exploits of Submission to God's Will in a World Falling Apart

Everybody who reads this piece probably wants the same things, world peace, an end to disease, an end to hunger, while at the same time to be left alone in comfort to live life the way they want to. The problem is that having and enjoying the latter personal life is actually in direct opposition to achieving the former objectives. It is in fact because of the latter that the former are impossible.

We live in a world that is falling apart quickly, and is not giving us what we want, even though in all reality our needs are being met or are able to be met.  But then, that is another matter.

So, if the world is not to our liking, we have a number of options.

Here is one I do not fancy, nor should you.  The world lost a great comedic mind the other day.  Robin Williams, who has made my side split more often than I can remember, brought me to tears when I read that he had committed suicide.  I cannot possibly imagine how much he must have been torn apart by depression, by the demons that haunted him.  I cannot judge the state of his soul when he died, but pray that he was able to submit himself to God in that final moment.  But, I do feel saddened at the loss of the laughter he brought to us all, and the subtle wisdom that often was lying beneath the laughs.  The world is not a better place without him in it.

Another option we have is to just do more of what we are doing already, since maybe that is all that is required to get to where we want to be.  However, again, that is not likely going to work.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.

Therein lies the frailty of the human condition.  In fact, in the human condition we are conditioned to respond to stimuli the way that we do.  We are conditioned by our family of origin, by the media, by the events of our lives, and by the devil, who wants to defeat God and take as many of us to eternity in Hell with him.

I hazard to guess that most of us won't take the suicide route, though more do so every day.  No, we are likely to just keep on keeping on as it were, maybe doing more to see if it will help, or getting depressed that what we are doing is not working, and maybe get a prescription for tranquilizers to see if that will help.  That is not meant as a condemnation of tranquilizers, just not an endorsement of them as the be all and end all of solving problems in our lives.

It seems to me that there is another and a better answer.  Individually, we cannot change the world, but we can make a change in our own world.  By that I don't mean a new diet, more or less exercise, better hobbies, more tofu or less steak.

No, I am referring to a change in attitude.

We see the world not as it is, but as we are, or so have said numerous wise ones.  We cannot change the world, nor can we really change who we are.  But, we can change our attitude, and in doing so we can change what we are committed to.

As readers will know, I am following carefully the exploits of Father Gordon MacRae and Pornchai Maximilian Moontri, two inmates of the New Hampshire State Men's Prison over at These Stone Walls, Father Gordon's blog.

I chose the word exploits intentionally because exploits are "exciting acts" and also can be "notable or heroic actions."

You might think that what Bill Gates and his family do on the yacht that they are renting at $500,000 per week for their three week summer vacation is exciting, and that two prisoners in a state prison is hardly up to par with that.  Well, in one sense that is true.  In a couple of weeks, Bill, Melinda and their family and billions will be back in Washington State or wherever, doing whatever with whomever, and Father Gordon and Pornchai will still be in prison in New Hampshire.

But, I am pretty sure that in a couple of weeks Father Gordon and Pornchai and their associates in the NH Pen exploits will have drawn them many steps closer to the Heart of Jesus Christ, closer to their own salvation, and closer to holiness.

On the other hand, Bill, Melinda Gates et al cannot buy that no matter how much money they put up.  It is not for sale.  It is a free gift from Jesus, because He already paid for it on Calvary.

The Gates' can do all the wild and crazy things that money can buy.  Father Gordon and Pornchai operate on a wild and crazy plane that is far higher, far greater, and far wilder and crazier than the Gates family can imagine.  They are operating on a spiritual plane, not merely a physical plane.

We all want freedom, but we want freedom from pain, from suffering, from injustice, from hurt.  Yet, in our daily lives we inflict pain and suffering on those we love, and even more so on those we don't know to love by ignoring their plight.  We inflict injustice on those who come to us for help that we ignore, or treat haphazardly, and we inflict hurt on others emotionally, physically, spiritually and mentally.

The only way to get complete freedom is to give away what freedom you have.  Whatever freedom you or I think we have, give it away. Am I crazy?  Yes, I am, thank you very much and I intend to get crazier every day from here on in.

Father Gordon, Pornchai, and a few other men like Mike Ciresi in the Pen have consecrated themselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  That was a very heroic exploit. Consecration, is a solemn act of dedicating oneself to a higher purpose.  What happened to them in doing that was that their eyes began to open.  I know.  I have done it too, and that is what happens.

By the nature of being incarcerated, they did not have a lot of freedom, but what little they had, they gave away anyway.  They gave it to Mary to take to her son Jesus that He might use it to his greater glory, to their sanctification, and that of others as He alone saw fit.

That eye opening exploit was so miraculous for them there in the prison, that they signed up for another eye opener, a retreat that takes off from their Consecration.  It is called "Consoling the Heart of Jesus", and is such a logical next step.  Somebody said to me a number of years ago: "Anything worth doing is worth doing to excess."

If you are consecrated to Jesus and Mary, then to console the heart of Jesus, Mary's Son is the obvious next step.

Father Gordon in his latest article at These Stone Walls tells a little about this next step.

Father Gordon and Pornchai and their friends have let go of what little freedom they have in a place filled with people who were put there generally because they committed acts that were seriously antisocial, and live in a peace and joy that frankly we cannot really imagine in the comfort of our living rooms, and big screen TVs.

Can we be like Dismas, the good thief on the cross beside Jesus, who in his last moments of life on earth consecrated himself to Christ?  With people yelling at Jesus on the Cross to come down from there to prove He was the Christ, Dismas looked with the eyes of faith, saw who Jesus really was, and trusted Jesus and His Divine Mercy, who told him that he would be with Him in paradise.

That is what Father Gordon and his friends have done.

My wife and I went to a nice restaurant the other day for lunch.  As I looked at the next table I said to the waitress: "I want what they have."  As it relates to Father Gordon and Pornchai, I want what they have.

Any other takers?






Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Transfiguration Behind These Stone Walls

Today is the Feast of the Transfiguration.  It commemorates the day that Jesus took three of His disciples up on the mountain, believed to be Mount Tabor, and there, in an instant, was revealed in all His Glory before them, or at least as much as they could stand to see and live.

This happened just days after He had said to His disciples that: "There are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God."

Transfiguration means a change in form or appearance, or a metamorphosis.  Metamorphosis means a major change in the appearance or character of someone or something.

In fact, we are all called to change our form or appearance, to be conformed to Christ in us.  Where Christ in His Transfiguration was actually changed and it was visibly obvious to the three disciples present, our transfiguration is more like a very slow metamorphosis and as that, might not be as obvious to those around us, as that of Christ was.

But, if we look with the eyes of faith, we can see the transfiguration or metamorphosis of people of faith all around us, as they seek to conform or accept being conformed into the image and likeness of Jesus Christ.

We are created in the Image of God, and so except for the presence of sin in our lives we should be able to see the Kingdom of God present in each other, because we are told and we believe that the Kingdom of God is at hand.

So, it seems appropriate to me at least, that on the Feast of the Transfiguration, we are reminded of how a couple of men have been transfigured, though that transfiguration is not complete yet, maybe not as dramatically as Jesus was on the mountain, but changed from the inside out none the less.

Around this time five years ago, Father Gordon MacRae, a priest, wrongly imprisoned in New Hampshire for sexual abuse that was contrived by a supposed victim to separate the Catholic Church from some of its money began writing the blog that is known as "These Stone Walls."

I did not see the beginning of this blog, but came across it about a year later.  So, though I missed the beginning, I have not missed the point, I hope.  In the 4+ years that I have followed These Stone Walls, I have seen the transfiguration of Father Gordon MacRae, and his trusty sidekick Pornchai Moontri, as they have chosen to grow closer to Jesus Christ.

Noting their Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I have followed their lead, not because I am a sheep, particularly, but because I believe in it, and needed only a little prodding from brothers I have never met to take the step myself.

The Father Gordon MacRae who began this literary part of his own journey of faith is not the Father Gordon MacRae you read today, nor is Pornchai the same.  Both have been transfigured, and readers are the better for it, since we have before us a priest being a priest of God under very difficult circumstances, and a young man as his compatriot, who has fallen in love with our Lord and Saviour.

Father Gordon should never have been in jail, since he did nothing wrong, at least not in a legal sense.  But, I think that he, knowing that he is a sinner in need of the grace of God, knows like all of us, if we would be honest with ourselves and with our God, that our sin is so grave that we, in fact, deserve whatever befalls us, and that life is not fair, because the author of life has a plan bigger than our own personal comfort.

Pornchai, on the other hand might in some sense deserve to be in prison for crimes he committed, but there again, there is more to it than that.  Having read his story, I know that in the circumstances that I have read he was in, bearing in mind that whatever has been written is merely the tip of the iceberg, I might have done exactly what he did.  As well, I would likely have had the same feelings of abandonment, anger and hatred towards those who betrayed me.

But God conspired to use the evil around them to bring them together for His greater Glory, and so with their cooperation he is transfiguring them into His own Image and likeness.

Christ was and is perfect, so His Transfiguration could happen in a fraction of a second.  We, unlike him carry the stain of original sin, and of our own sin, and so ultimately transfiguration for us is a lifelong journey. But transfiguration happens in us more rapidly when we are committed to God's plan for our lives, and when we do not let the stone walls in our lives keep us from the love of God for us, and which we are to share with our brothers and sisters.

Father Gordon and Pornchai have committed to do God's will in a most unlikely venue, and that both blesses all who read These Stone Walls, and also encourages us, who most often are in better circumstances to amend our lives and conform ourselves to God's plan for each of us.

If Father Gordon and Pornchai can tear down the figurative stone walls that surround them, even in the midst of literal stone walls, can we not do the same?  The stone walls in our individual lives, disease, unemployment, poverty, woundedness in our relationships are very real, but must they possess us, or can we take the example of Father Gordon and Pornchai to heart, and accept these trials as part of God's plan for our own transfiguration?

Pray for Father Gordon and for Pornchai that they will be faithful to the calling that God has put on their lives, but pray also that they will be an example to us of what faithfulness to God looks like, that we might follow their example.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

NOTHING SHALL BE IMPOSSIBLE FOR GOD

In this crazy mixed up world we live in where things that we were raised to know were gravely sinful are treasured as good, where wars are breaking out all over, where drought and famine are common, and uncertain and disastrous weather abounds, it is easy to get discouraged for people of faith.  As if these things happening in the world around us are not sufficient to make the stouthearted feel faint, then the attack on Christian faith in general, and on the Catholic Church in particular, might just be enough to do it.

Except, that God is not bound by time or space, and most particularly is not bound by the whims of foolish men.

Into the midst of a world of chaos, the Lord, Our Precious Saviour Jesus Christ, and sometimes His Blessed Mother Mary, has been speaking to individuals around the world, not just in the still small voice from inside, or by using other human beings to encourage and uplift them, but in an audible voice with which He is asking them to share what He is speaking to them.

With this audible voice Jesus has been speaking to one person in Ridgetown Ontario, under the spiritual direction of Father Sam Johnston, a retired priest of the Diocese of London Ontario for a couple of years now.

These words of prophecy are all available on the Internet here at Fr. Sam's blog.

But, the prophecies are getting more profound, and deeper as time passes, and the one received the other day has upped the ante, and so I urge you to read it particularly here.

The title of the prophecy is "Nothing Shall Be Impossible for God".  Christians know this both instinctively and by education, and faith.  But, with all that is going on in our world, we often look at what is happening and project more and more destruction and chaos as time passes, and perceive that all will be lost.

But, in this prophecy, God wants us to know that all is not lost, that He has a plan, that His plan is working, and that YOU are a part of it.

Although I have linked to the prophecy here are some of the profound statements in the start of it:
I am bringing about a time of testing for those who are Mine in this time of grace, I alone know your capability and desire to help you grow into spiritual greatness. 
It shall be a fortifying and building of your character, one which will show you your weaknesses and your potential for growth.
None are in favour of change for it is often difficult, yet because of My great love for you, a strengthening  and purifying is necessary.
So, here we are with an explanation of the times we are living in.  It is a time of testing, in which grace from God exists, and even abounds.  If you are like me, then Jesus reminding us that we are not in "favour of change" tells me that He knows me pretty well. But, I am all in favour of being strengthened and purified, because even I know that I need it.

Also, in the prophecy, Jesus tells us why this is coming about:
Soon enough this time of grace will have come to an end and there will be decisions of morality and faith to be made, you must be ready. 
Your children will seek guidance and direction from you, where previously they would have rejected your advice and example. 
Do not be surprised that it is 3:00 am when you are awakened, the DIVINE MERCY said at this time will reap great blessings for you and for the stranger for whom you pray. 
I understand that you are weary from your day’s struggles, but will you say “no” to the Holy Spirit’s inspiration to pray, would you give up some sleep for them? 
Time is short with many problems and worries bombarding your thoughts these days, but you must not be distracted in your efforts to do good which are necessary in your life. 
There is nothing that shall be impossible for God, I challenge you to think BIG and believe in the love I want to do through none other than you, it is your time now.
I understand that even in the chaos of our times there is great grace present, but this prophecy says that time of grace will come to an end, and in that ending will come Decision time for us on matters of morality and faith.  That means that the time for compromise with evil will have passed.  Who of us has not compromised with evil just to survive?  I know I have done it, and I know some times when I have done it, and I even know how, though I think I will know it even deeper as this period of grace draws to a close.

But, the beauty of God's plan for us here is that our children, who we have seen wandering as in the desert, as we pray for them and sorrow for the difficulties that they encounter, while celebrating their triumphs as well, will seek our guidance and direction.  That is encouraging.

So, this is a call to people of faith to be strong, to pray, to listen for the voice of God, and to help those in need of our prayers, support, and above all love.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Last Fisherman

A novel of the last Pope, the Antichrist and the end of the age by Randy England

Some time ago, I got connected to a site called Tuscany Press LLC.  Tuscany promotes Catholic fiction writers, and I for one am glad they do.

I get regular emails from them because I signed up for Catholic, Ink a weekly newsletter highlighting new Catholic fiction and articles about authors and things going on in the Catholic writer world.  I am happy that I signed up for Catholic, Ink because I have then gone on to purchase several of the novels referred to by clicking over to them on Amazon.  1 Click and the novel is on my Kindle app on my iPad.  Pretty simple.

The other day I purchased 3 new novels that way, and have just today completed reading the first one, "The Last Fisherman."

Randy England told a fictional story of the end of the age, with a credible last Pope and a credible evil Antichrist character.  It was a book I did not want to put down, and so basically I didn't, finishing it in a couple of extended reading sessions.

The good news is that it is a well written story.  The bad news is that if Tom Clancy had written it, it would have been 650 pages longer.  David Baldacci or Robert Ludlum would have only added another 250 to it. So, simply there could have been more detail in character development, and plot thickening.

At first, that irritated me, but then I prayed and thought about it, and came to a different conclusion.

Good Catholic fiction has a somewhat different objective than other good fiction.  Good Catholic fiction should be faithful to the Magisterium (bingo), faithful to the Bible (bingo), faithful to Church tradition (bingo), and it should tweak your faith, and lead you to prayer (bingo).  Though it should entertain you it should leave you thirsty (bingo once again).

In His Message for Lent 1993, Pope John Paul II referenced the words of Jesus on the Cross "I thirst." Mother Teresa subsequently wrote a letter to her congregation about the thirst Jesus has for us, His Beloved. So, it is my contention here that if Jesus thirsts for us, should we not thirst for Him?  Accordingly, then should things that are Catholic that we read or see increase that thirst in us for Our Beloved Saviour?

Clearly, for me at least this book of Mr. England's made me thirst.  I was driving for two hours to Toronto, 120 miles away from home today to visit with my daughter and prayed about "The Last Fisherman" and contemplated as I drove.  In that two hour drive I drew to the above conclusions.  On that basis alone I would rate Mr. England's book a success as Catholic fiction.

Though I enjoyed the book from cover to cover (or at least electronic cover to electronic cover) there was one particular excerpt that caught my attention.  In this excerpt, the new Pope describes a one act play for a non Catholic believer to explain some of the difference between Catholicism and Protestantism.  That alone was worth reading the book, because it was very thought provoking.

This book can be acquired for Kindle or for Kindle readers on other formats here at Amazon.  As of today, the book can be purchased for 91 cents for Kindle.  How can you go wrong with that?



Friday, June 13, 2014

Stop Wasting Time

I am an inveterate time waster.  Since I no longer have a job that I have to get dressed for and get out the door to go to, I don't.  I have my relationship with my wife to nurture, have friends and pursuits that occupy my time, but a lot of time is wasted in my day.

But, I have had a sense that I am called into a deeper relationship with Jesus, Our Lord and Saviour. Anyone who has spent a modicum of time in prayer would probably sense that, so there is not special revelation in the earlier statement.  But, frankly what does that mean - to have a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ?

Fortunately, a new prophecy arrived late last night that gave a clearer answer to that for me.  As I have noted previously, there is a soul under the direction of Father Sam Johnston in Ridgetown Ontario who receives words of prophecy from Jesus that she writes down and which I have the privilege of posting to the internet over at a blog for Father Sam called Life in the Spirit.

As also stated previously, there is no obligation for anyone to believe these words.  They are not approved by the Church, and will not be any time in the near future, since they are not required to be, and there is no move by anyone for them to become official from a Catholic Church perspective.  If you read them and if they support your faith in the teachings of the Catholic Church, in other words if they line up with the Bible, teaching of the Magisterium and Catholic Tradition, then let them draw you into a deeper relationship with Jesus, as this latest prophecy has invited us.

I am finding these prophecies to be getting deeper into us and Him, and how we are to function in Him, and relate to Him.

Here are a few key excerpts from the prophecy starting with the opening lines:
My call to you is continuous, what I am seeking from you is an ongoing personal relationship.
That is a relationship where you will ask Me and tell Me about the small things of your day, important and insignificant things, your hopes and dreams.
So, Jesus, the Saviour of the world is interested in the small things of our days, not just the big stuff, the tiff you had with your wife, or your son or daughter, or your boss,  the anxiety you feel when you have a bad day at the office, factory or other employment.  You know, there are some things you don't even discuss with your spouse, because you do not want to cause stress or strain for him/her, and so you have nowhere to go with these things.  You might go to a friend and unload on him or her about your challenges.

Jesus has told us in other prophecies on the same site to keep our own counsel on many things, and not to blab them to others.  Well, sometimes I need to get it off my chest, and here He says to tell it to Him.

But, it's not all about me and Jesus wants us to think about Him and His needs:
I long for you to be concerned with the things that concern Me also, and how you might be of help with prayer and sacrifice
Tell Me perhaps what made you think warmly of Me today, and what may have caused you sorrow, tell Me of dear friends and family who may have increased your love.
Jesus wants us constantly looking for TRUTH.  For me that is a challenge.  Most times I am more interested in being right than in really knowing the truth.  I mean, I can tell that something is basically true, and if that lines up with what I want it to be, then I often go no further.  Painfully, I find out often that what I thought was true was, but had not gone deep enough and so created a stubborn conflict with a loved one that was not necessary, and was therefor painful when pain was not required.

The prophecy is filled with gems as they always are, and is worth some prayerful contemplation.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Embarking on a Journey

Being thick in the head is a common Irish trait, so I understand.  It is one that I share then with my ancestors. One of my thickest Irish ancestors was my grandfather Anthony Sweet, who died when I was in my 20s, so over 40 years ago.  I loved my grandfather, and this morning I thought of him and that I was named after him, and inherited his stubbornness, because I read the blog post of Father Gordon MacRae, a priest falsely imprisoned for over 20 years now in New Hampshire for sexual abuse that never occurred.

Father MacRae writes often about things that make me wonder which one of us in actually in a prison, him behind physical Stone Walls, or me, in the prison of my own mind, and sinfulness.

Today, Father MacRae caught me off guard again, by expressing an example of his own sin, which mirrors mine in many aspects of my life.  He wrote of a man named Anthony (which brings me to my grandfather and myself) and how he had responded in unpriestlike fashion to Anthony's anger, and stubbornness.

It made me wonder how often I have brought out reactions such as Father Gordon's from people that I have been belligerent with over politics, religion, sports, or whatever.  I am not, of course, trying to remove the responsibility from Father MacRae for his own actions, but having lived most of my life (well all of my life actually) as a stubborn curmudgeon (even before I was old enough to know the word or be able to spell it), I can see how his reactions might be justified, if not Christian.

I was raised by parents who valued education, rational thought, debate and discussion.  We were taught to think.  It was said about my mother, as it has been said about many that she was not always right, but was seldom in doubt.  Since she was the daughter of Anthony Sweet, she passed this on to her son successfully, though I also inherited color blindness from Grampa, and left handedness, two interesting though generally less painful (at least to friends relatives and others) traits.

I had an occasion the other day where people I was with expressed political views that did not conform with mine.  In other words, they were wrong.  I chose not to engage in a discussion (likely to become heated) but just to listen.  I actually learned something, and think I might do it again, and hopefully again after that.  That exchange actually prepared me for Father MacRae's article this morning.

Recently, I began a self guided 33 day retreat called "33 Days to Morning Glory", which I first heard about from Father Gordon, and then from another friend.  It is a retreat about consecration of oneself to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and therefrom to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

As I am getting into this retreat, I am finding that Our Blessed Mother Mary has many gifts in store for us, if we will just learn to trust her, and in turn Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit.  She has a special place in their hearts, and should have in ours as well, since she is the Woman Clothed with the Sun from the Bible.

Father MacRae's article this morning inspired me to continue the retreat that I had every intention of completing anyway, but opened my eyes to some nuances and some of the beauty of God's plan for my life, and for my part in His plan for the life of my loved ones.

It is my fervent hope that I will learn to follow the words of the Universal Prayer from Pope Clement XI, the opening of which is reproduced below:
Lord, I believe in you: increase my faith.
I trust in you: strengthen my trust.
I love you: let me love you more and more.
I am sorry for my sins: deepen my sorrow.
I worship you as my first beginning,
I long for you as my last end,
I praise you as my constant helper,
I urge you to pray for Father MacRae, as he inspires us by his faithfulness, and I also urge you, if you believe it is God's will for you to contribute to his defense fund.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Moral Relativism and Secularism - Products of Christianity

I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Mahatma Gandhi

Christians believe that Jesus Christ always was and is God the Son, one of the three Persons of the Divine Trinity, and as the Son of God He was born of a virgin, here on earth.  Unlike any religious leader before or after Him, he performed miracles, and passed on His power to do the same to His followers.  He alone suffered and died for our sins to conquer sin and death.  One of the reasons that He came to earth was to show us how we are to act towards others.

As Christians, we have been taught by the Master that all life is sacred, that we all (Christians and non-Christians) have been created in God's image, that the child in the womb from the moment of conception is every bit as important to him as all other human beings, that children are special to Him, and that we are to come to Him as little children.

But, more and more Christians have shown themselves to not be different than others who do not believe in Jesus Christ as their Saviour.

If it is clear teaching of Christianity that all life is sacred, WHY do Christians turn from that and support abortion, particularly some of our leaders, like Nancy Pelosi, and the deceased Senator Ted Kennedy?  Why do self proclaimed Christians like President Obama support a woman's so called right to kill the child in her womb at any time until birth?  Why do political leaders like Prime Minister Harper of Canada, the leader of the one party that claims to support the unborn, not stand up for the unborn?  Why is every Christian not united in supporting life?

Recently, I have defended the Catholic priesthood, saying correctly that the instance of sexual abuse by priests and other religious is no higher, lower in fact, than in other places in our society.  Though that is a true statement, it in fact misses the point.  Should Christians in fact be outraged that secular media and society have come down so hard on the Catholic Church?  All Christians bear the shame of the behaviors of some men and women claiming to be of God, who have sexually, physically, and emotionally abused young people in their care.

So, why would there not be moral relativists, and secularists rising up in our societies?  We should be ashamed that Mahatma Gandhi was spot on when he said what was quoted in the sub heading above.

We Christians have shown ourselves to be no different than the worst of the society that we claim is going to hell in a basket.

C. S. Lewis was quoted as saying: “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.”

How are Christians, not just those special people like Billy Graham, Mother Theresa, Pope John Paul II, but you and me, living our lives differently from the main stream to prove the truth of Christianity. 

We will be held to account for not living the Gospel that Jesus gave us.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Casting Aspersions or NOT

The Dangers of Gossip

I  have just finished rereading an earlier posting from Father Gordon MacRae at These Stone Walls..  Readers of this blog may have read other postings I have made about this fine priest.  Please feel free to wander down the left hand side of this page, and click on the links.  Father Gordon, as you might know, ministers in the Men's State Prison in New Hampshire.  Would that he were going there daily to minister, but no, he does it from the inside because, as those who have researched him or even read his own accounts, Father Gordon has been an inmate of that prison for more than 19 years.  You see, he was convicted on no credible evidence of sexual abuse of a child, who was able to suck a significant amount of money from the Diocese of Manchester New Hampshire.

But, Father Gordon is a fine priest, and in my opinion a holy man, though again by his own accounts a sinner.  In that he is a sinner, he is no different from me, or you for that matter.

The big difference between Father Gordon and me, or you again, is that the main prison that he is in is physical, and can therefor be deemed real for all intents and purposes.  The prison that I inhabit, and you I would hazard a guess, is one of unrepentant sin, and diminution of the many gifts that Our Lord Jesus has given to us for our Daily Bread.  So, though I can get up at any moment from this computer and wander outside in the sunshine, I will carry my prison with me.

Father Gordon knows that he is in prison.  Me, not so much!  There is something to be said for the prison that you inhabit being a physical bricks and mortar prison, even if you cannot leave it, for you can see it, you can touch it, you can even taste it, though I would not really want to do that.  In a prison of the physical dimension, you can at least acknowledge it, and thereby choose to not allow it to take over your life, whereas the prison of my own sinfulness follows me everywhere, and impacts my life silently often, or leads me to sinful actions, words, or thoughts.

But that is not the only prison in each of our lives.  We have the ability to imprison others with our tongues, and also with our thoughts.

Father Gordon, in this latest post, wrote about a priest of his diocese who told a person attending mass, when asked about how to visit Father Gordon in prison, to avoid him saying  “He’s dangerous, and you should stay away from him.”  Though this was a blatant uncharitable act, it is not uncommon, and Lent is a wonderful time for us to examine our own consciences about the words, thoughts and deeds in our lives that imprison others.

The woman in this article by Father Gordon wanted to know how to visit Father Gordon in prison.  Jesus himself urged believers to visit those who were imprisoned as though they were Him, and the penalty for not performing acts of love to those less fortunate than ourselves was the ultimate penalty of eternity in Hell  But, her parish priest did not encourage her to live the Gospel, but instead slandered Father Gordon.

For some time now, My Dear Wife and my prayer partners and I have been praying for all clergy in the world to grow in holiness.  We have also been praying for ourselves to grow in holiness and for all of our family members to convert to faith in Jesus Christ or to revert, for all those baptized who have left the faith.

The priests of the Manchester New Hampshire Diocese have shunned Father Gordon, as have their leaders.  Shame on them for this uncharity and slander against one of their own.

But, lest we "Tut, tut", put our thumbs under our suspenders, and then wag a finger at them in our own self righteousness, let us instead look in the mirror and ponder on who that is in physical, mental, emotional or spiritual prison in our sight needs a shoulder to lean on, or to cry on, needs our financial assistance, and most importantly needs our prayers.

Judging another is such an easy thing to do.  It is far harder to look at ourselves.