Monthly Archives: June 2014

“We often feel that Christianity is not all it’s cracked up to be. This Pentecost, the Church provides a beautiful antidote to that sinking feeling, but it is easy to miss it.” Tom Hoopes


Today as we meditate upon the incomparable gift of the Paraclete, I was blessed with yet another gift, an answer to what I as a Catholic have long thought of as “Bono Syndrome” – you know, Bono, as in U2. The group will always be associated in my mind with the lyrics to their hit, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For:


I believe in the Kingdom Come

Then all the colours will bleed into one

Bleed into one.

But yes, I’m still running.

You broke the bonds

And you loosed the chains

Carried the cross of my shame

Oh my shame, you know I believe it.

But I still haven’t found

What I’m looking for….



Sadly, this has been the experience of many a believer. When Marx famously slurred religion as “the opium of the people,” he missed reality by a mile. For so many of us, our fervent belief in Christ and in His promises can be the source of a world of pain, as our hopes and dreams collide with His very human body.


To this, Tom Hoopes at The Gregorian Blog replies with a little-known prose version of the prayer many of us have been praying for the last 10 days:


Come, Holy Spirit, and from heaven direct on man the rays of your light.


Come, Father of the poor, come giver of God’s gift. Come, light of men’s hearts.


Kindly Paraclete, in your gracious visits to man’s soul, you bring relief and consolation. If it is weary with toil, you bring it ease; in the heat of temptation, your grace cools it; if sorrowful, your words console it.


Light most blessed, shine on the hearts of your faithful — even in their darkest corners; for without your aid man can do nothing, and everything is sinful.


Wash clean the sinful soul, rain down your grace on the parched soul, and heal the injured soul.


Soften the hard heart, cherish and warm the ice-cold heart, and give direction to the wayward.


Give your seven holy gifts to your faithful, for their trust is in you. Give them reward for their virtuous acts, give them a death that ensures salvation, and give them unending bliss.


Tom contends that Christians suffer from a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of God the Holy Spirit and of the grace He bestows. God, according to Tom:


…is not a narcotic and he is not a means of escape and he does not interfere with man’s freedom. …what he brings isn’t an artificial relief, but grace. Grace is not a peace drug…”


Go read it for yourself. May the Spirit rain down His grace upon our parched souls.



On the solemnity of Pentecost


Deo omnis gloria!

My coworkers and I often just have to shake our heads in disbelief. Working in a medical office as we do, we see a lot of sick people who want to be well. They are sick of being sick. Many of them will insist emphatically that they will do anything, “whatever it takes,” to regain their health, and yet… when the doctor starts making his recommendations, their “anything” turns into “anything but that!”


Yep, one of the sad truths of modern medicine is that, even in this world of miracle drugs, you still have to take your medicine. That’s reality. No getting around it….


We Christians often react the same way when God tries to straighten us out. We pray and pray for a cure to our perceived ills, and God provides one. Our reaction sounds a lot like “Thanks, God – but no thanks!” We are following in the footsteps of our spiritual ancestors as encountered in the Old Testament as well as in the New. Naaman the leper, having explored every avenue of healing available to him in his native land, travels out of desperation to the Jewish prophet Elisha. Elisha, for his part, doesn’t even bother to speak to the man; he sends a servant to announce to him “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.” This prescription was not exactly received in a spirit of thanksgiving:


Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.


Lot’s wife was yet another noncompliant patient. The Lord in His mercy wanted to save her; all He asked was that she not turn around and look back. In the New Testament the rich young ruler was eager to inherit eternal life, but he found the prescription too difficult to fill; “Sell everything you have and give to the poor…. Then come, follow Me.” What? You mean I have to do something I’d rather not do? Can I negotiate a better deal, Lord?


Fortunately for Naaman the leper, his servants were more level-headed than he:


Then his servants came near and spoke to him and said, “My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child and he was clean.


This good advice, of course, is exactly in accord with the directions given by the Blessed Virgin to the servants at the wedding feast of Cana. It’s simple, yet profound: Do whatever He tells you. Like it or not, you have to face reality – He established His Church upon Peter (Mt 16:18), His Church is the pillar and foundation of the truth (1 Tim 3:15), and if you want a remedy for your ills, you will need to receive His Body and Blood from that Church (Jn 6:53). Don’t even try to negotiate; there is no better deal. He’s the Great Physician, and He’s written His prescription. Now it’s up to you to get it filled.



On the memorial of St. Charles Lwanga and companions


Deo omnis gloria!