Monday, March 5, 2012


Watch this, it's powerful to see an Archbishop, my Archbishop, in tears over the abuse of children. It shows what drives this man to do what he does. I hear he does not have the support of his clergy that he might like and I don't agree with him on everything but he is obviously a man who cares and wants to do the right thing. He is right that this will not be over soon. Even when all the abusers among the clergy have been identified and dealt with there is still the abusers among the laity. The victims and their families still carry their pain and the hurt from that spreads. It feeds indifference, scepticism and hatred. It distorts relationships and places blocks on the path to God and His Church. I think too this report is a little too heavy on the Vatican. It's as if the interviewer wanted the Archbishop to blame Rome for everything. The bishops had all the canon law they needed (the Murphy Report said so) but they did not use it. The were 'pastoral' with the abusers and failed to be shepherds to the victims. The acquiesced with the psychologist of the age and forgot the wisdom of the ages: that sin needs to be named, confronted and dealt with especially among the clergy. Why though did they pick a parish like Allihies, Co Cork (Diocese of Kerry)? Why go to the back end of the country when they were interviewing the Archbishop of Dublin? Was there no parish in Dublin that might give an interview?

Friday, March 2, 2012


Whenever a penitent in the confessional tells me a particularly gruelling litany of sins or is weighed down with guilt I usually begin my response with "Welcome to the human race". We are all in the same boat, we have all fallen short of the glory of God. Christ falls three times on this journey to Calvary and death. He does not fall into sin but he falls because there is a limit even to what His perfect human body can endure. He has been beaten, tortured and abused. He has endured unjust imprisonment, an illegal trial and condemnation. They who ought to have welcomed Him and worshipped Him have rejected Him and chosen another. Christ stumbles under the weight of such appalling suffering and He falls. Yet there is more to this. He wishes to console us. Christ falls too so that we do not despair in the midst of our trials but He gets back up so that we do not stay down. That's the difference between sinners and saints, the saints get back up after they fall. Of course we do not get back up by our own power but by His grace and our grace-empowered will. We have to choose to keep on going. We have to choose not to despair in the face of our own limitedness and failure. We should not expect that the cross is easy to bear. Others may or may not want us to change, to be converted. Even when they do they may want us to change according to their standards. True conversion is according to the standards of God. It is the will of the Father that we must seek and do. We may be buffeted and abused by friend and foe, our efforts judged harshly, opposed, or impeded. We may find our path blocked and redirected with those we had thought on our side letting us down and turning away from us at the very time we feel most in need of support. We may come to believe we are on our own. Christ has already walked this path and the saints have followed Him. It is He who carries us and it is He who picks us up. We are never alone. We are always in His arms.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


We are so accustomed to the cross that it does not hold the horror for us that it did for those of the Roman world. Fr. Robert Barron explains this very well in his series Catholicism which I highly recommend. For the peoples of the Roman Empire the cross was a sign of a method of execution of unbelievable cruelty and means of oppression. It was a symbol of criminality of the worst kind and a brutal form of justice. It is this sign that Jesus embraces and transfigures through His obedient love. He empties Himself by means of the cross and it becomes a seat from which He teaches and proclaims and a throne from which He rules and dispenses justice and mercy. But first He must take it up. First He must embrace it and with it the injustice of His situation. He has already suffered but He will not stop until He has drained the cup of all that separates Man from God. He takes up the Cross and He takes us up with it. He carries us and our sins, our banishment from the Divine Presence, and He carries us. He makes His act of loving obedience, His self-emptying worship of the Father ours. His taking up of the Cross is the root of our repentance for it is through Him that we return to the Father. For the ancients Atlas carried the world upon his shoulder but it is Christ who has the heavier burden for He carries us and all that separates us from God on a human shoulder. Here Divine Justice meets Divine Mercy and they are revealed to Man. Lent is a penitential season, a time to make up in some small way for the sins we have committed, to undone the harm done to ourselves, to others and to the world and the offence given to God. Let us then walk with Christ as He carries us to Calvary. Let us, in however small a way, take up the crosses of each day and follow Him.


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