Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Desert Fathers

A certain man said that there were once three men who loved labours, and they were monks. The first one chose to go about and see where there was strife, which he turned into peace ; the second chose to go about and visit the sick ; but the third departed to the desert that he might dwell in quietness. Finally the first man, who had chosen to still the contentions of men, was unable to make every man to be at peace with his neighbour, and his spirit was sad ; and he went to the man who had chosen to visit the sick, and he found him in affliction because he was not able to fulfil the law which he had laid down for himself. Then the two of them went to. the monk in the desert, and seeing each other they rejoiced, and the two men related to the third the tribulations which had befallen them in the world, and entreated him to tell them how he had lived in the desert. And he was silent, but after a little he said unto them, ' Come, let each of us go and fill a vessel of water '; and after they had filled the vessel, he said to them, ' Pour out some of the water into a basin, and look down to the bottom through it,' and they did so. And he said to them, ' What do you see ? ' and they said, ' We see nothing.' And after the water in the basin had ceased to move, he said to them a second time, ' Look into the water,' and they looked, and he said to them, ' What do you see ? ' And they said to him, ' We see our own faces distinctly '; and he said to them, ' Thus is it with the man who dwells with men, for by reason of the disturbance caused by this affair of the world he cannot see his sins ; but if he live in the peace and quietness of the desert he is able to see God clearly.'

Friday, September 8, 2017

Commentary on Sunday's Roman's reading

<snip> First, we need to remember that sin is a lack of love.  Ultimately, the popular sins of our society, which tend to be sexual in nature, are failures of love, failures to act in others’ best interest and to treat them with their full dignity as persons.  Masturbation, pornography, cohabitation, divorce, homosexual practice, contraception, abortion are acts of non-love, even if we mistakenly think, in the moment, that we are “loving” someone by committing or condoning one of these acts.

There is a common error, widespread in the contemporary Church, that love or mercy override the moral law.  This misunderstanding arises from a misreading of some things that St. Paul says in his epistles, in places where he contrasts "law" and "faith", for example.  The problem is, in most of these cases St. Paul means "the Old Testament Law" or the "Old Covenant" when he speaks of the "Law"; and "faith" means "faith in Christ" or simply "the New Covenant."  Now, the Old Law of the Old Covenant was not always loving.  Because of the "hardness of heart" of Israel, Moses permitted some things that were contrary to love.  For example, he permitted men to divorce their wives, even though this was contrary to love (Deut 24:1-4).  Jesus removed all these concessions that Moses introduced into the law of the covenant people in the Sermon on the Mount.  So Jesus says, "You have heard that it was said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him write her a certificate of divorce,' but I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for porneia, causes her to commit adultery ...."  What happens in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7), then, is that Jesus realigns law with love in the New Covenant, such that the moral teaching of Jesus (and by extension the Church) is never contrary to love.  Thus, for Christians, we can never say, "The right thing to do is X, but the loving thing to do is Y."  Nor can we ever say, "The moral thing to do is X, but the loving thing to do is Y."  Christian morality, or "the moral law", always follows love, and vice-versa.   If we think that there is a conflict between what is right and what is loving, either (1) we have misunderstood the nature of what is right, i.e. morality, or (2) we have misunderstood the nature of love.

Love has an objective aspect.  It has to be based on truth. It’s not just a subjective feeling.  You may really like someone, but if you mistakenly give them poison rather than medicine, your act is not objectively loving.  Society has completely lost sight of this fact.  Love is now confused with “niceness,” with complying with whatever a person wants. And Christians are viewed as unloving when they will not condone or cooperate with or agree to the delusions or falsehoods that some people in society want to insist upon. The Catechism is actually quite good about how the moral law follows love and vice-versa, and in its treatment of offenses against the Ten Commandments, it explains why different sins are actually a failure of love.

Secondly, a rebuke, when made with a correct intention, is also an act of love.  It is not loving to overlook the fact that people are in sin.  Of course, it is also quite possible to rebuke people out of arrogance and self-righteousness.  And, sometimes, we may have a right intention in offering a rebuke, and nonetheless be perceived as arrogant, which is painful.  Sometimes we want to avoid the risk of being perceived as self-righteous, so we avoid confronting others in love.  Sometimes our failure to rebuke is motivated by self-love.  We want to avoid the pain of possibly being rejected.  Truth and authenticity are sacrificed for the sake of social comfort.  If Pope Francis had shrunk from speaking clearly about chastity to young people in his address quoted above, he would have been failed to love them, because love tells the truth and points people toward goodness and beauty, not merely pleasure and physical comfort. <snip>

Dr. John Bergsma

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


If I spend my life in
which colour or define my surroundings,
Then loneliness or isolation
could be my lot.

But if by Grace I can own
and detach from my definitions of externals;

Then I can live in the present
and my soul can be:
like a tranquil lake,
whose waters well up from the purest sources of the spirit and,
untroubled by news coming from the outside,
like a clear mirror reflecting one image only,
that of Christ. 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Friday, April 21, 2017

Adapting the Liturgy

Even today, a significant number of Church leaders underestimate the serious crisis that the Church is going through: relativism in doctrinal, moral and disciplinary teaching, grave abuses, the desacralization and trivialization of the Sacred Liturgy, a merely social and horizontal view of the Church’s mission. Many believe and declare loud and long that Vatican Council II brought about a true springtime in the Church. Nevertheless, a growing number of Church leaders see this “springtime” as a rejection, a renunciation of her centuries-old heritage, or even as a radical questioning of her past and Tradition. Political Europe is rebuked for abandoning or denying its Christian roots. But the first to have abandoned her Christian roots and past is indisputably the post-conciliar Catholic Church.


Sunday, April 9, 2017

One of the Twelve by Fr. Paul Scalia

Like Judas, we grasp for things – for money, possessions, power. In a word, for control, trying to keep our dependence on God at bay. Like him, we tend to superficiality, making our faith only a matter of human wisdom, interesting insights, psychological comfort rather than an encounter with the Word made flesh. We adopt a worldly view of religion rather than put on the mind Christ.

The Catholic Thing

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Hermitage 2017

Distant view of the hermitage.

Same view magnified.
[Click on pictures to enlarge.]

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Spring melt.

The road through the valley near the hermitage.

The hay-field by the road.

Monday, January 30, 2017

For Critics of which I am one.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. Theodore Roosevelt

*     *     *

Judgment is but a mirror that reflects the insecurities of the person who’s doing the judging.


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Life of a Hermit

A day in the Life of a Hermit
By Br. Bruno Watson-Colter
September 2015

He shall sit alone, and he shall be still; for he raised himself above himself.
Lamentations 3:28.
* * * * *
Our abiding presence in the desert is justified only when we are there for Jesus’ sake.

To enter really into the desert where we are called by God, we have a decisive choice to make: everything must be built on the Son of God, who came to put himself under the Father’s guidance in the solitude of the Judean desert.
Jesus is the source of life in the desert by the simple fact that he is, by nature, a luminous beacon, a focus of attraction for those whom the Father has placed in his interior school.

Walking in the desert is to advance in silence behind the Guide. It is to follow Jesus.

Carthusian Matins.
* * * * *
Although, in retrospect, I have had this calling since I was a little child, it was later in life that I understood and embraced it. Early in the last course of Nathanael (2009-2012).

I wrote Archbishop LeGatt telling him of my vocation to silence and solitude and that led to an opening up of a period of discernment with him. As part of the discernment process I had to write a plan of life which might simply be said to be a defined spirituality and a schedule of activities over a day, week, and year of my prayer life in the context of the Liturgical year in the life of a desert dweller. Although a schedule might be the first thing one might look at for understanding who a hermit is, it is not the core.

A hermit’s primary relationship is with God; from there everything else flows. Silence and solitude, along with the vows one takes, in my case in Archbishop Le Gatt’s hands, are means to support and express this relationship.

When all is said and done, with silence and solitude doing its work, what is left of a person is God’s love for everyone in the world; indeed, for His whole creation. A hermit’s ‘Plan of life’ is not meant to be the final say in how to approach our Lord but it is a tool to help the hermit keep his eye on the goal in the present moment.

In time, the fullness of transcendence is gradually understood to be immersion into the fullness of reality. It is not a floating around in a mystical mist or a “high” of some description. But it is being fully involved in the present moment as it comes and goes. Mystics seek God as He is; most others seek God as they imagine Him to be! A hermit’s job, then, is not to produce anything but be a witness to the primary relationship in humanity’s life: with God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. To move past the understanding part, in the end, we will never understand God completely, and to grasp in faith God’s invitation to each of us and be willing to lose control in embracing His will.

Simplicity in living one’s life flows from accepting that the evil in our world is also present in our own hearts and allowing God access so that healing, in time, can take place.

This detachment and offering of self to God opens up a hermit to be an anonymous conduit for the love of God. It is a re-framing of the classic question of WHY to the answer WHO: our Triune God.

I retired from the working world at the age of 60 to try out the Hermit life style and live on a small pension. I celebrate all of the Liturgical Offices (Breviary) as well as Lectio Divina (reflective reading), including time for various prayer forms which includes intercessory prayer. Please send your intercessions to:  c/o the Archdiocese of St. Boniface as I am a member of the diocese since having taken my vows in Archbishop LeGatt’s hands.

Genesis Hermitage.