Thursday, April 16, 2015

All Things Turn to Good

Recently at These Stone Walls, the blog of wrongly imprisoned Roman Catholic Priest Father Gordon MacRae, there was a guest posting.  Now, normally I want to know what Father Gordon has to say, because like regular readers of TSW, I derive much in the way of spiritual direction from the wisdom that he writes.  From a prison cell in the New Hampshire State Prison for Men, Father Gordon, who has never seen the internet has an internet ministry to many.

But, his internet ministry is largely the fruit of a hands on ministry to his fellow prisoners, and a storytellers gift.  The story of and by Alexander Page, called "Turning a Page: A Long Lent Toward Easter Sunrise" is an example of the fruit of his efforts to bring Jesus to his fellow prisoners.

Like all followers of These Stone Walls, and its principal character, Father Gordon MacRae, I deplore the injustice done to Father Gordon, the comedy of errors, surrounded by lies and deceptions built by the protagonists in his court case from over 20 years ago.  It was an unmitigated fiction perpetrated by those who were caught up in the mass hysteria that surrounded the scandal of Catholic leaders being caught in sexual abuse.  That the instance of abuse was far lower than in what we might call polite society, was lost.  That the lack of credibility of some proportion of the claimants, and particularly the one in this case, was hidden from open court also contributed to the travesty of justice that Father Gordon and many other Catholic clergy had foisted upon them.

So, when word came out yesterday through These Stone Walls latest posting "Judge Joseph LaPlante Denies Priest's Appeal", like all followers of TSW I was stunned and saddened.

Some of the hardest words of scripture for me have been these words of Saint Paul in James 1:2: "Consider all these trials joy." These words were particularly ludicrous to me at first, when about 12 years ago, I was in an automobile accident, in which I incurred my 9th or 10th concussion.  My next several years were spent in quiet rooms, trying to get through painful days and nights, and maintain some sanity.  By the grace of God I was able to fashion a new life for myself and with and for my family, that though very different from our previous life has had many blessings in it, and so I can now agree with Saint Paul.

One of the things that has been helpful to me over the last several years has been the writings of Father Gordon MacRae who has lived James 1:2 for over 20 years.  So many of us have benefited from his written ministry, and his faithful following of Jesus in trials and tribulations.

But, when is enough, enough?  The simple answer is that enough is enough when Our Lord says it is enough.  If God would not spare His only Son, will he spare us from those things that join us to Him and His Son, and Holy Spirit?

So, this week we grieve along with our friend, a friend who most of us have never met, yet love dearly, at another giant stone placed in front of him.  It might have been nice for us to awaken next Wednesday morning to read of Alexander Page and his conversion story, which Father Gordon was instrumental in.  For then we could see the point in it all maybe.  But, that would make us like Thomas who had to see the wounds to believe.

Jesus said that those who believed without seeing were and would be happier.  Surely Thomas had seen the Lord perform miracles at other times and places while he traveled about with Him.  So, he had seen much, and yet he was overtaken by disbelief.

We like Thomas have seen the Lord act in and through Father Gordon in the conversion stories of Pornchai Moontri, Michael Ceresi, Anthony Begin, Alexander Page, and probably many others we do not know yet.

So, if the Lord who performs miracles of the heart has allowed Father Gordon to be crushed some more in this film noire that is his life, dare we not believe in His Infinite Mercy, Justice and Love for Father Gordon, and for us all?

In almost all cases of injustice we hear about or come across, we are seemingly powerless to do much, if anything about them.  Yet, we have the greatest power that exists on this earth, the power to storm heaven with our prayers and petitions, and watch the Lord of the Universe as He answers our prayers in His own inimitable style.

So, we must watch as "All things turn to good for those who trust in the Lord." (Romans 8:28)  We must gird up our friend Father Gordon with our prayers, lest the circumstances of his life overwhelm him.

Our priests must not be allowed to fall in loneliness and despair, when we can speak our love to them, and when we can speak to God of our love for them.

God of Mercy, we call on you to lift up our brother from his trials, that he might overcome them as it suits your perfect plan and will, and draw many into your loving embrace.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Divine Mercy is at Work

I read this morning with sadness the analysis of the denial of Father Gordon's habeas corpus writ at These Stone Walls. It seems another door has closed, or has it?

This effort to free Father Gordon MacRae from the false imprisonment he has endured for over 20 years has been undertaken by a professional legal team experienced in righting wrongs and has been supported by the prayers and financial contributions of many faithful Christians. So, we must know that this outcome fits perfectly in God's will. To our mind's eyes the outcome is unreasonable and unfair, and, as Ryan MacDonald points out in the article linked above, is anything but justice. Justice may be supposed to be blind, but she is not supposed to be deaf, dumb and stupid as well.

But, this is man's justice, not God's justice. God's justice is mercy. God is never blind to the sorrows of His Children, and He answers prayers, though He does so in His own way and in His own time.

With some of that in mind I asked God in prayer "Why?" this morning as I contemplated the injustice of it all. I confess that I was somewhat surprised at my own question. First, I was surprised at its brevity. It was one word only, "Why?" and the answer to that question is, as we often say, above my pay grade. I would have apologized for such an impertinent question, but I was distracted by what appears to me to be an answer, still above my pay grade to understand, but one I will set out below.

I am still shocked that I would ask such a one word question. It is not like me, but the word tumbled out of my mouth, as though it were inspired.

As God sometimes does with me He spoke and showed me a picture. The picture was a visualization of the words, and as the picture was profound, the words themselves have since disappeared in my mind, while the picture has remained with me.

In the picture, which was more a video than a picture, I saw there was a wine press. In the wine press were many faithful followers of Jesus, and they were being pressed. But there was two kinds of pressing going on.

Beneath the wine press was a large pool of blood. I was given to understand that the blood was the blood of the red martyrs, those who were crushed to death, until their blood flowed. I also came to understand that that blood was to be mingled with the blood of Jesus and would somehow flow across the planet as part of the salvation of many souls.

But, white martyrs were also being crushed in the wine press, and there was a clear plastic line, such as is used in tapping maple trees, and the "liquid" that was being crushed out of the white martyrs was flowing through this line to a cauldron where all the impurities were being boiled out of it. At first when I saw the cauldron, the word cauldron came to me, and I thought I had made it up, as I scrambled to understand the vision in front of me. It was only as the vision drew to a conclusion that I had some understanding of why a cauldron was being used. The impurities were the sins and imperfections of the white martyrs that were mixed in with the good they had done. The then purified water flows to a gigantic vat and Jesus pours it out with the water that flowed from His side upon the earth for the sanctification of souls.

The water from the pressing of the faithful being crushed is not as plentiful as the blood of the red martyrs. It does contain some impurities that would be purified instantaneously by a death in the name of Jesus Christ, and these impurities are removed in the cauldron. In offering themselves to the Sacred Heart of Jesus for His bidding, and for a great many of them Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, many of their sins had already been purified from them.

But, God is able to use all things that the faithful offer up to Him of themselves, and what is impure He purifies.

In a prophecy published yesterday from a person under the spiritual direction of Father Sam Johnston, a retired priest of the Diocese of London Ontario, entitled "Because You are Believing", the Lord said:
I am wounded by observing those who are lukewarm, self-reliant, and who have no need of My help, they are not acting as Christians for this would involve looking fervently at the Cross.

I am forming you who have died to self and giving you grace upon grace, there are some who will not accept the graces being offered to them and so I am prepared to give you an abundance of graces.

Suffering and pain are the means that I may use to perfect those whom I especially call to minister to the many who are in great need of Salvation, I do not send you alone, I and My Mother Mary assist you.
It seems that Father Gordon is being crushed and pressed for his own sins, but even more so for ours, and for the sins and needs of many he might never meet or imagine exist. His sufferings may be great. They sure appear to be to me as an observer.

The Office of Readings this morning, which I read shortly after this vision had the following Psalm in it and concluded with the Psalm prayer which follows:
Psalm 38 (39)

Lord, hear my prayer: do not be deaf to my tears.What, now, can I look forward to, Lord? 
My hope is in you.
Rescue me from all my sins,
do not make me a thing for fools to laugh at.
I have sworn to be dumb, I will not open my mouth:
for it is at your hands that I am suffering.
Aim your blows away from me,
for I am crushed by the weight of your hand.
You rebuke and chastise us for our sins.
Like the moth you consume all we desire
– for all men are nothingness.
Listen, Lord, to my prayer:
turn your ear to my cries.
Do not be deaf to my weeping,
for I come as a stranger before you,
a wanderer like my fathers before me.
Turn away from me, give me respite,
before I leave this world,
before I am no more.

Psalm Prayer

Through your Son you taught us, Father, not to be fearful of tomorrow but to commit our lives to your care. Do not withhold your Spirit from us but help us find a life of peace after these days of trouble.
What is equally telling is the antiphon that accompanied the above Psalm, which was the second Psalm in the Office of Readings and the antiphon for the third Psalm:
Ant. 2 Hear and answer my prayer, O Lord; let me not weep in vain, alleluia.
Ant. 3 I have put all my trust in God’s never-failing mercy, alleluia.

God, who is Lord of us all, does not need to share with us any part of His plans, but sometimes He does, and I think He might be doing so now, because of the gravity of the times.

Our friend Father Gordon MacRae is most definitely one of the white martyrs of our age. The white martyrs are signs and symbols to us of how the devil and this world he still has much power over will use whatever is at their command to crush the good out of people. But Our Lord is very efficient, and where the devil tries to crush the life out of the faithful, the Lord magnifies the juice of that crushing, joining it with the blood and water of His own martyrdom.

Father Gordon and all those who support him are doing all they can to free him from false imprisonment, storming the gates of heaven on his behalf and spreading the message of his false imprisonment. Yet, he remains in prison, and the turns against him are at once ludicrous, and incomprehensible. Yet, they happen.

And yet, Father Gordon remains faithful to his vocation as a priest of God, an alter christus for us, and for the inmates in New Hampshire.

Let us continue to pray for him, that he will resist all temptations to lose hope in these great difficulties, and let us be inspired by his firm faith, knowing that if he can survive these challenges to his faith, our challenges are much smaller, and so we can use his example and the love of God for Him to be a beacon for us as well.

May God Bless Father Gordon MacRae each and every day, and may the Mercy of God shine forth for us all to see.