Letter to the Editor

Provided by Father Frank O’Laughlin (he picks good articles to read)

Benedict’s legacy will be a contested one. “Your wonderful and at times heartbreaking edition of 7 January confirmed everything I felt for this very holy, peaceful, gentle but strong human being. Thank you for a rare, moving and honest series of features”, writes John Elder in our Letters pages this week. “Through his writings he set out in search of lost sheep, lifted me on to his shoulders, and carried me home,” adds Paul Hammond; “His legacy is of a timid man burned by the experience of Nazism then blinded by the glare of modernity who sought guidance by looking in the rear-view mirror”, offers Dominic Kirkham. 

One – imperfect but not unhelpful – way the papacies of Pope Francis and Pope Benedict are characterised is as an echo of the contrasting visions of two of the great theologians of the last century, Karl Rahner and Hans Urs von Balthasar. Rahner saw the grace of God at work in the world, thick with anonymous Christians; Balthasar saw a world of totalitarian nightmares, of nuclear arsenals, labour camps and torture chambers crying out for the abrasive medicine of the Gospel. As we write in our leader this week, “The Balthasar/Rahner debate, the dialogue between Benedict and Francis, is something the Church needs constantly to ponder – without trying to bring it to a simple resolution and without one side demonising the other. For they were both right. Humankind is simultaneously both redeemed and fallen.”

The other link: Why the dialogue between Benedict and Francis is something the Church needs constantly to ponder.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

Camino de Santiago – Last Leg

Me: I am a prideful man. Silence: You are impressed with your accomplishments. I cherish your kindness. Do that.

As I write this I’ve already made it to Compostela de Santiago. Already got my certificate and travel verification of 180 km.

But let’s continue our journey together. This last day unlike the other days, keeping up with the young, a gopher tortoise would move faster than I did.

But I continued to place prayer cards at different churches along the way.

Scenes below

Geese in pen
Cows in pasture
Hey ly Repose
Rained the entire day
Jesus, I trust in you.

Some I took to the final stop and brought them into the Pilgrim’s Chapel.

As it rained I recalled how the priest blessed his sacred ministerial hands with plain water, ‘Lord, wash away my iniquity and cleanse me of m sins’.

In an analogous way, in our common priesthood of baptism we too can say, Lord, wash me of my iniquity and cleanse me of my sins. I prayed it a lot today.

You can too.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

Camino de Santiago – Pain, a New Look

I suppose you think I’m gonna whine about pain. Well, since you asked:

I gashed my knee, I don’t know how. I ache head to toe. I’m still bald.

But I’m smiling.

Just think how many in-pain penitential pilgrams have made this trail? We date the first event with the Apostle James, brother of John. Look at these two markers provided to ease the pain of uncertainty.

When you walk these trails, getting lost time and again, the relief when you see a valid marker!

Pain is a over used term. There are so many other words from use that more accurately describe your feelings and provide a healthier frame of reference.

Same goes for all the basic emotions: Anger, Fear, Sadness, Disgust & Enjoyment. But these are starting points only. We refine by:

1. Naming and renaming until satisfied.

2. Honor it as an authentic expression of your response to a person or event.

3. Make new expressions.

Be creative. See if you can find creative expressions in these photos.

Florida Trail patch FT added by me.

The road ahead changed with perspective. There were two young women on the trail and it was the last 5-6 km remaining. I was overtaking them because they were progressing at a snail’s pace. So…

I reminded them of Rocky Balboa’s theme song: Gonna Fly Now. Complete with me dancing and boxer prancing in an old man sort of way.

Not much immediate impact as they were downright miserable. But I began to hear giggles and the singing. Which required me playing the fool on an unnamed street in Spain. Reframing.

The road ahead is filled with wonder. Put your boxing gloves on.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

Camino de Santiago – Silence

Pilgrim beacon to rest and be restored

Traditional catholic Albergues welcome all pilgrams. The standard is they present a las credentiales, showing the progress of your journey. Theoretically a person is briefed when receiving the booklet prior to the journey.

Social Room. Dormitories are stacked bunks, co-ed with little room but to sleep.
View of Bay, Vigo, Spain.
Portuguese Coastal route

Tomorrow plan.

Silence. I mean this in multiple ways. I could not send Saturday blog due to connectivity. Silence in that these walks offer significant timespans of worldy silence. Here are a few photos so you can imagine how.

But I want to focus on Divine Silence.

Let’s take the Incarnation, discarding a falsehood first. In the incarnation the Father was silent but he was a supreme gift giver: the second and third person of the Holy Trinity. During the Incarnation, the Holy Spirit Permanently came to live in the Blessed Mother, then (simultaneously or in sequence depends on your bias) Jesus was incarnate by the Holy Spirit. All by the silent desire and silent dreams of God.

Please reference Leonardo Boff, Thoughts and Dreams for deeper take.

Saint Joseph is given no speaking lines in the New Testament. Did he speak, yes, two ways. Like the Lord he dispensed divine silence in his action roles. He also spoke words as that’s the only way we know. Know he dreamed.

God dreams of you and then acts on it. Joseph dreamed about Mary and then acted on it. Dream, please.

So I mentioned that this is a penitential pilgrimage. So included in that is a continuous recollection and recounting of my faults and failures. But God went silent. It is tempting to be annoyed with him, yes?

But each fault I brought up silence spoke otherwise. In the silence I went deeper. If you are okay with Freudian or Jung psychology you may recognize the process as root analysis.

Me: I am impatient, Silence: you don’t feel respected. Me: I am prideful, Silence says you covet things you think I will take them away from you.

It is good to confess objective actions as these are the doing. But Silence wants to fix the root cause. The root cause may also be sinful but MORE LIKELY the sin of our refusal to engage the silence that dreams dreams and acts on them.

Comforting Images that only speak when you consider them.

Laundry every other day.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

Good Friday

Greetings on this the Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion
Readings: Is 52:13—53:12; Ps 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-16, 17, 25; Heb 4:14-16; 5:7-9; Jn 18:1—19:42

It is a good Friday because it is a good outcome.
The quintessential expression that God allows evil only to the extent from it the Lord can bring good. Jesus’ crucifixion would make such truth difficult to image. But then the resurrection.

We too must imagine the loving will of God working in, with, through and for us even in the most dire of circumstances.

First reading
Behold the wood of the Cross, on which hung the salvation of the world.
O come, let us adore.

Responsorial Psalm
Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.

Second Reading
Brothers and sisters:
Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens,
Jesus, the Son of God,
let us hold fast to our confession.

Verse Before the Gospel
Christ became obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name which is above every other name.

Gospel Portion
After this, aware that everything was now finished,
in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled,
Jesus said, “I thirst.”

He has won the victory over sin.
His thirst was satisfied.
The thirst of his soul.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

What are you willing to give me?

Greetings on this the Wednesday of Holy Week
Readings: Is 50:4-9a; PS 69:8-10, 21-22, 31 and 33-34; Mt 26:14-25
Notes: It is a Christian axiom to live a self-giving life.

We speak often of servant leadership and lead by example.
Total self-giving is a model of life with real intent and meaning.

BUT Acedia.

The word Acedia means – a form of spiritual laziness due to relaxed vigilance and a lack of custody of the heart (CCC).

One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot,
went to the chief priests and said,
“What are you willing to give me
if I hand him over to you?”
They paid him thirty pieces of silver,
and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.

We are obliged to be diligent of our own spiritual life and attend our own salvation.
Not by measuring the sins of others, but being good custodians of our own souls.

What are you willing to give me?

  • Jesus offers eternal life.
  • Or take 30 pieces of silver.

First reading
See, the Lord GOD is my help;
who will prove me wrong?

Responsorial Psalm
Lord, in your great love, answer me.

Verse Before the Gospel
Hail to you, our King;
you alone are compassionate with our errors.

Gospel Portion
Contrasting Judas, Peter and Jesus (yes, we should do so if only for a moment).
Judas suffered from Acadia in the worst of all ways. Betrayal.
Peter suffered from fear.

  • Judas lost his soul.
  • Peter regained custody of his soul.
  • Jesus never lost control of his custody of soul.

Don’t lose yours either.

What are you willing to give me? Is a good question.
But it depends on who you are asking.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry