I AM in the desert.

But it’s like the desert at night, when the moon rises over the dunes,
and a billion stars fill the sky.
It is quiet, and cool… but the thin light of the heavens,
and the moonlit Host of daily Mass,
make the burning sands bearable and the vast emptiness
an invisible void.

The New Ark



A READING from the Divine Liturgy this week has lingered with me:

God patiently waited in the days of Noah during the building of the ark. (1 Peter 3:20)

The sense is that we are in that time when the ark is being completed, and soon. What is the ark? When I asked this question, I looked up at the icon of Mary……… the answer seemed that her bosom is the ark, and she is gathering a remnant to herself, for Christ.

And it was Jesus who said he would return “as in the days of Noah” and “as in the days of Lot” (Luke 17:26, 28). Everyone’s looking at the weather, earthquakes, wars, plagues, and violence; but are we forgetting about the “moral” signs of the times Christ is referring to? A reading of Noah’s generation and Lot’s generation–and what their offences were–should look uncomfortably familiar.

Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.Winston Churchill

IF only we understood what is lost when we let ourselves become forked by the two pronged skewer of pride.

The one prong is defensive: “I am not wrong, or as bad as you say.” The second prong is despair: “I am useless, a worthless failure.” In both cases (often the second prong follows the first), the person expends great energy hiding a basic human truth: the need for God.

Humility is the crown of the Christian. The adversary does everything in his power to prevent us from coming before God with our genuine sinfulness, failure, and character flaws. Such honesty is rewarded by God, and paradoxically, becomes a vessel of strength.

As long as the devil keeps you on his fork, strength is kept at bay, and your crown is left in the treasury of God.

AT a time when the “religious” in the world are strapping bombs on their bodies and blowing themselves up; when missiles are being launched in the name of biblical land rights; when scriptural quotes are taken out of context to support self-interested rights–Pope Benedict’s encyclical on love stands as an extraordinarily bright beacon in the darkened harbor of the earth.

This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
(John 13:35)



AS I walked the aisle to Communion this morning, I felt as though the cross I was carrying was made of concrete.

As I continued back to the pew, my eye was drawn to an icon of the paralyzed man being lowered in his stretcher to Jesus. Immediately I felt that I was the paralyzed man.

The men who lowered the paralytic through the ceiling into Christ’s presence did so through hard work, faith, and perseverance. But it was only the paralytic–who did nothing but gaze at Jesus in helplessness and hope–to whom Christ said,

“Your sins are forgiven…. rise, pick up your mat, and go home.”

Gandolf… the Prophet?



I WAS passing by the TV as my children were watching “Return of the King”—Part III of The Lord of the Rings—when suddenly the words of Gandolf leapt straight from the screen into my heart:

Things are in motion which cannot be undone.

I stopped in my tracks to listen, my spirit burning within me:

…It’s the deep breath before the plunge……This will be the end of Gondar as we know it……We come to it at last, the great battle of our time…

Then a hobbit climbed the watchtower to light the warning fire—the signal to alert the peoples of middle earth to prepare for battle.

God has also sent us “hobbits”—small children to whom his Mother has appeared and charged them to set the fires of truth ablaze, that light may shine in the darkness… Lourdes, Fatima, and more recently, Medjugorje come to mind (the latter awaiting official Church approval).

But one “hobbit” was a child in spirit only, and his life and words have cast a great light across the entire earth, even into the dark shadows:

We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of the American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel and the anti-Gospel. This confrontation lies within the plans of divine providence. It is a trial which the whole Church . . . must take up.  —Cardinal Karol Wotyla who became Pope John Paul II two years later; reprinted November 9, 1978, issue of The Wall Street Journal

    WE must learn to see every imperfection as just more fuel for offering.’ (Excerpt from a letter from Michael D. Obrien)

FROM a song I never finished…

Bread and Wine, on my tongue
Love become, God’s only Son

A remarkable reality: the Eucharist is the physical form of pure Love.

Divisions Beginning



A GREAT division is occurring in the world today. People are having to choose sides. It is primarily a division of moral and social values, of Gospel principles versus modern presumptions.

And it is exactly what Christ said would happen to families and nations when confronted with his presence:

Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three… (Luke 12:51-52)