Friday, December 29, 2006


I must admit, I'm torn.

My regular readers know I'm a huge proponent of the war on terror, and could never claim to be a fan of the world's rabid dictators like Saddam Hussein. Many people defend the man simply because George W. Bush regards him as an enemy; I refuse to put myself in that camp. He has ordered the execution of far more than the 148 victims he was formally convicted for. He did have weapons of mass destruction. He was a monster, ranking in the same league as Hitler (even if his body count of innocent victims didn't climb as high).

And yet as I said prayers with my kids tonight, I found myself telling them about this bad, bad man who did terrible things to his people, and we said a prayer for him, that he would come to know the love of Jesus and would cry out for deliverance.

We can be fairly certain he has heard the Good News, as a Vatican envoy visited him in the 11th hour before the invasion of Iraq to ask why he wouldn't comply with UN weapon inspections. In March of 2003, Brendan Miniter of the Opinion Journal wrote:

When Saddam Hussein met with papal emissary Cardinal Roger Etchegaray in Baghdad a few weeks ago, the Iraqi dictator responded to questions about why he wasn't cooperating with United Nations weapons inspectors by drawing a long knife. Holding it for the cardinal to see, he ran his finger along the sharp edge of the blade--it was an obvious gesture at intimidation.

But Mr. Etchegaray wasn't stricken with fear. He simply reached into his pocket and drew out a rosary.

"We Christians have weapons too," the cardinal told the dictator.

This exchange gives me hope for Hussein's soul, for even he can find redemption at the foot of the cross.

I find that tremendously comforting when I consider my own fallen state. I know, in my heart of hearts, that I am capable of any & all sin. Who's to say that if I were transposed into Saddam's place that I wouldn't have turned out the same way? I'm as big a sinner as the next guy, so to know that so obvious an example of human wickedness is not beyond the mercy of God gives me courage in my own struggles.

Let us all offer a prayer for his eternal security.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Anticipation Fulfilled

Christmas is my favorite time of year. I don't mean in a shallow, gift-giving/receiving way, or even in a spending-time-with-loved-ones way.

This may come as a shock to my more frequent readers, but I love Christmas because of what it represents for me as a Christian.

This is the grandest feast of Christianity. God Almighty, Creator of the Universe, lowered himself to our form and took on human flesh. This is what we call "incarnation" - from the Latin for "to make flesh." This never ceases to amaze me - the all-powerful Lord of Creation wanted to be close to us, his creation, so much that he became infinitely vulnerable. That is the key to any intimacy - for love cannot be fully realized if any sort of hesitancy of self-preservation exists.

This is the model of love God has given to us: be fully open, and if and when that intimacy is broken, accept - with yet more openness - the pain and suffering that comes with the risk. I find that in marriage the same model must apply. I must love fully & completely, and when those moments of micro-betrayal come, I must continue to love. This is immensely difficult, yet it is the same cross that Jesus himself bore for us. When he sacramentalized marriage, declaring it to be a sign of God's love for his Church, he drew an indelible link between sexuality and the nature of God (for more on this, read up on the Theology of the Body). This isn't creepy or weird; it's profoundly beautiful and glorious.

At Christmas we celebrate the beginning of this mystery; the long road to Calvary began this day. God became man. Man, hoping for years upon years for the realization of the Messianic promise, had his hope fulfilled this day. We can understand why the angels sang, "Glory to God in the highest! And on earth, peace to those on whom his favour rests!" Indeed, let us praise God for his mighty works of salvation this day, and let us rest in his favour, filled with peace - assured of his love for us, and aware of the door he has opened for us.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Advent Prayer

I'm thinking today of my friends from elementary school. I could even go up in grades to junior high and high school, and even through my year of theology studies at Aldersgate College. But even more, I can think of the many friends I've made over the last few years in Winnipeg. Of this vast pool of people, a few people have been (and fewer still are) very dear friends. The majority remain friendly acquaintances who I may bump into at summer camp or in a mall or in cyberspace. [I'm thinking of you, Dr. Love!]

Yet even this select few dear friendships are subject to change, and if God ever calls us or them to new venues, the intensity of these friendships will inevitably diminish.

But there is a group of people who always remain in my life - my family. I'm referring especially to my extended family. Every few years I go to a massive family reunion (around 100 people this year) which is named after the patron & patroness of my mom's side, three generations above me. They passed on more than 20 years ago, yet the family that they spawned continues, and with increasing vigor.

To think that the loving actions of those two founders could produce such a lasting legacy! I'm hesitant to start the math required to calculate the exact number of descendants, but to have seeded humanity with 100 people willing enough to enter into Christmas fellowship every three years is a remarkable accomplishment - especially considering how hard it is to form the character of so many people.

So as I wait out these final days of Advent, I'm surrounded with the familial love which resounds from the love of that first Holy Family, and I thank God for that blessing. I especially pray for those people whose families have been shattered and don't know that love - may God break them out of that cycle and introduce them to the fullness of his plan.


I issue a stern rebuke to my readers who have become impatient waiting for my next post. Does it occur to anybody that I may be away for the holidays, or busy with gift-wrapping and baking, or still working on clearing out the blight-monsters from the mystical island of Morrowind?

Ok, so it's a mix of those. Just don't ask me for a pie chart detailing which amount of time has gone into what. :)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Infamy Vs. Tragedy

Think about history for a second. Think about big events from years gone by.

Finish this quote from CBC Radio's The Current, Wed, Dec. 6, 2006 (link to podcast):

This is a day of infamy. It was on this day X years ago that...

If you guessed "the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan," you'd be wrong. No, that iconic event in world history is sidelined, and the famous commentary from President Franklin Roosevelt is ripped from its context to describe another event.

To continue the quote:

...a man carrying several weapons walked into Montreal's Ecole Polytechnique. In one lecture hall he separated the men and the women, and shot the women. He kept going, and all fourteen women were killed.

This was seventeen years ago.

No question, what happened in Montreal was a tragedy, and indeed the day carries horrible memories for the survivors and those who lost loved ones. By no means do I oppose marking this anniversary.

But I must object to the misuse of FDR's famous "infamy" quote in this context. There must be a distinction held between the offenses of a single crazed individual and the offenses of a massive, crazed military. Historically and sociologically, there is no comparison.

Really, I think this was just a cheap trick by The Current's writers to tap into the proximity of the anniversaries, and that's very amateurish in my opinion.

Monday, December 04, 2006


So the story that never was, still isn't.

That is to say, the big to-do earlier this year about Judas Iscariot being a misunderstood zealot, based on the gnostic Gospel of Judas, wasn't all that accurate. The experts who got together and translated the text are now starting to question the accuracy of their translation.

Whoda thunkit?

Well, the Catholic Church, for one.

Turns out, the text was written by a sect called the Cainites sometime in the 2nd century. Says Monsignor Walter Brandmüller of the Vatican's Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences:

The Gnostic sect of the Cainites attributed a positive value to all the negative figures of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures, such as the tempter serpent, Cain - hence their name - Esau and Judas.

So way back then the Church had enemies too, and they were organized enough to publish anti-Christian documents. There is a reason the Church rejected such works when the Canon of Sacred Scripture was sealed.

Welcome Back

I've been inundated with email (ok, maybe that's stetching it a bit) asking where the heck I got off to.

Truth is, I've been in Morrowind. Never heard of it? It's an ancient land, filled with elves and sorcerers and dragons, and I'm a Khajit named Brunos who is exploring it at the Emperor's request.

Gotta love that green armor & weaponry, eh? (It's enchanted glass!) I started out with an iron dagger and an old shirt & pants. Look at me now!

As my parents (hi Mom) and my wife (sorry dear) can attest, I tend to get a bit carried away when my imagination is allowed to run wild with computer games, especially such immersive ones as this one.

But the game is nearing its climax, and I'm starting to miss my legions of fans, so I figured I'd say hi to everybody.

So, hi!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Root Causes

Over and over, in this War on Terror, we hear the glib lefties reprimand the civilized world for ignoring the root causes of terrorism. This, they tell us, exacerbates the problem and makes terrorism harder to fight.

They propose that poverty and oppression are what cause people to strap explosive vests to themselves and get on public buses in Jerusalem. It's the inability of these poor and oppressed to have an effective political voice, so the experts say, that pushes them to extremes.

Douglas Rushkoff opines the same message in the Dec. '06 edition of Discover magazine (p.72). He describes the modern media environment (spanning everything from the mainstream media through the opined rantings of bloggers) as cybernetic, meaning it has the ability to share feedback much more rapidly than before. It is similar to what biologists observe in living systems with massive surface areas like coral reefs or slime molds, which can respond instantly to a need in one isolated sector of the entity. This ability, he suggests, isn't causing anything in and of itself, but is rather showing us new insights into what the origins of certain effects are.

If I understand his point correctly, he is saying that when the blogosphere erupts with outrage over something like tampered photos and exposes the fraud worldwide (to the embarrassment of the mainstream newspapers who had relied on the photos to justify their editorial slants), we witness a wondrous effect of society's core dissatisfaction with the same old biased messages. That dissatisfaction has been around for a long time, and the internet has given many of us the ability finally to speak to it. Take, for example, Kate at When asked why she blogs, she writes:

Until this moment I have been forced to listen while media and politicians alike have told me "what Canadians think". In all that time they never once asked. This is just the voice of an ordinary Canadian yelling back at the radio - "You don't speak for me."

Rushkoff then goes on to suggest what I feel is a bit of a stretch: what we call terrorism is the uncivilized world's dynamic response to what they feel is an injustice. So while Westerners blog to vocalize their opposition to the status quo, the Third World blows up buses for the same reason. Different acts, but same causes.

Never in the history of warfare have we striven to explain the actions of our enemies like we are doing today. Imagine the outcry if some historian tried to explain Hitler's obsession with the Jews. The Nazis, after all, did feel like victims. Karl Stern was a German Jewish psychiatrist who endured the opening years of the Third Reich in Munich. In his book The Pillar of Fire (Image Books, 1951), he relates this tale of a walk he took with his father through the town square during his first visit back to his Bavarian home town, well into Hitler's reign:

[There] was a big showcase, brightly lit, and above it a sign: "The Jews are our misfortune." I knew those showcases. They displayed a weekly paper which was entirely devoted to enlightening the population on the Jewish question. There were detailed stories of, let us say, a Jewish lawyer of Magdeburg who assaulted his non-Jewish secretary; or an orthodox congregation who kept German girls in the cellar of their synagogue for the purpose of commercial prostitution; statistics of the part played by the Jews in the Russian revolution and in the organization of "Wall Street."

If somebody today tried to make this point, he or she would be decried as a bigot and receive condemnations from Jewish organizations around the world. [Don't believe for a second that I am trying to make that point myself!] And rightly so, for even if such a claim were true, it could never justify the actions taken against the Jews in the 1930's and 1940's.

The same principle applies today: even if terrorism is a response to legitimate grievances against the "Great Satan" (and I would suggest that it is more hate-driven than frustration-driven), the responses are completely inappropriate.

Root causes, schmoot schmauses. Terrorism, like firing up the gas chamber, is an unacceptable coping mechanism. That's why we're fighting it.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

I Like What I'm Hearing

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is turning out to be better than even I had hoped.

His recent snub against the Chinese for their human rights abuses, at the possible expense of trade partnerships? How very Catholic of him.

His motion in the House of Commons recognizing Quebec as a nation within a unified Canada? Brilliant, accurate, and well-timed. Take that Gilles Duceppe!

And the announcement today of planning on aggressively paying down Canada's foreign debt? Makes sense to me, speaking from the perspective of a guy doing the same thing with his credit cards.

Keep it up, dude.

OK, I must speak to this. It's been bugging me for months, ever since I learned better.

When you're referring to a non-gender specific individual, the correct pronoun usage is "he/she." To say "they" when trying to avoid using a generic pronoun (now that everybody is afraid of "he") is ridiculous, and indicates a plurality where there is none.

Example: "If anybody wants to go to the park, they should should sign the permission form first." Sounds right? Wrong. "...he or she should sign the permission form first" is the appropriate way to say this.

You may now consider yourself smarter.

Next week: "They're, There, and Their: Why The Confusion?"

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Logic & Error

I read a dangerously written opinion article in the Salem Statesman Journal today. Peter C. Boulay, a former religious brother, speaks with a forked tongue on the Church's stance on contraception.

Most of my readers know that the Catholic Church bans any form of artificial contraceptive behaviour. It always has. Boulay misstates historical fact when he claims that the Church "laid down a tough, absolute law in the [Pope Paul VI's] 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae." The belief was nothing new; what Humanae Vitae did was to solidify it as official dogma. The reason was that 38 years previously the rest of Christianity started to disagree with a ban on contraceptives with the 1930 Anglican Lambeth Conference, as I've written about before.

The concept of shoring up the doctrinal walls against an onrush of questioning is also nothing new. For example, every last item in the Apostles' Creed was laid out in its detail exactly because some heretic tried to change the understanding of an article of faith. The most frequently assaulted beliefs were the ones expounded on, such as the person of Jesus. The Creed defends his consubstantiality with the Father, his miraculous conception, the virgin birth, his passion, his death, his resurrection, his ascension, and his promise to return. Yet the Holy Spirit gets only one item merely stating belief in his existence. Why? Because nobody questioned the beliefs around the Holy Spirit. The Son, by contrast, was such a sign of contradiction in all he did that many doubters were spawned, and thus the deeply held faith of the Church was laid out on paper, when it had been held in hearts long before the questioning began.

In case you're wondering, I learned that concept at Aldersgate College, my Protestant alma mater.

Boulay goes on to accuse Pope Paul VI of a flawed logical conclusion when he affirmed that natural methods of spacing children are acceptable, by referring to the "hapless rhythm method of birth control." The flaw in Paul VI's logic, Boulay says, is that periodic abstinence "could be approved because it retained an intrinsic link to procreation — when, in fact, both partners were seeking to avoid procreation."

But Paul VI was seeking to condemn the desire to divorce the unitive aspect from the procreative aspect of sex, not the desire to postpone pregnancy. He was trying to reinforce the understanding of sexuality as a total gift of self, in a world where it was fast becoming an incomplete offering.

The demand for the Church to approve condom use in Africa has never been higher. The almighty rubber is expected to stem the tide of AIDS, once those abstinent old white men in Rome change a few rules.

Nine years ago I toured Ireland with three friends (one of whom became my wife), speaking in schools promoting chastity. We discovered there that some young boys say they won't use a condom because the Church says it's a sin, yet they don't hesitate to sleep around (also a sin, if memory serves). I found myself not believing their stated reason. They don't want to use condoms because they're selfish. Not that using a condom in illicit sex would be selfless, as it adds another sin and further scars your soul. Adherence to Church teaching isn't like eating at Bonanza's buffet. You don't get to pick and choose what you want.

Yet Boulay's key error hinges on exactly that concept:

Yet Humanae Vitae is not, in its reasoning, as absolute as one might think.

Paul wrote: “A right conscience is the true interpreter ... of the objective moral order which was established by God.”

Thus he left a sort of conscientious-objector status for Catholics who could not believe in the evil of contraception. That was a hole through which marched 97 percent of American Catholic women, according to the government’s 2002 National Survey of Family Growth. Some stayed in the church. Some left. Some were happy. Some were not. All had departed from orthodoxy.

A right conscience is hard to come by. I can't just say, "It feels right for me, so it must be right." I have a responsibility to form my conscience properly.

Compare conscience to driving. As a driver, I can't say, "I feel that, for me, it's acceptable to turn into oncoming traffic. Or go through a red light. Or park in the middle of the freeway." If I drive by the rules, I will never get a ticket and, to the extent within my control, I will never have an accident. A police officer pulling me over when I speed is not out to condemn me; he is out to remind me that my behaviour is dangerous, even if I don't think it is. So it is with the Church admonishing those who fail to see the danger in the contraceptive mentality: she is begging you to turn from your sin and come back to intimacy with your Creator.

One last point: we were created in the image of God. That statement rebounds upon itself. We were created in the image of the Creator. We are an image, a reflection, of the one who caused us to exist. Thus we ourselves, as creations of the Creator, have within us a creative aspect. That is the core of our sexuality, and that is what connects us as sexual beings to the very person of God. This doesn't mean that God is sexual; it means that sexuality is the primary human form of the creative power of God.

When we kink the hose of our sexuality, we are not living up to the image we were created in. God didn't suppress his creative power when he performed the act of Creation - that would be a contradiction of his very essence. In fact, Scripture tells us that God used "periodic abstinence" himself - for on the seventh day he rested, and did no acts of creation.

In stating that Catholics who use natural methods of spacing their children are being contraceptive, Boulay is simaltaneously accusing God of being contraceptive when He rested on that first sabbath. There is a world of difference between doing something, and not doing something.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Buck Can Stop Anywhere It Likes, As Long As It's Not Here

A German woman has successfully sued her doctor for child support.

No, I didn't splice those two sentences together from separate articles. The doctor implanted a birth control device which failed, and she got pregnant.

Naturally, it's the doctor's fault. Um, ok... this is one of those math questions where I'd need to see your work to understand how you got to that conclusion. But I'd still mark your answer as wrong. He's not the one who participated in the child-producing activity.

The real corker here is that the parents are no longer together, and the doctor also has to compensate the biological father for his own child-support payments.

The German newspaper Die Walt picked up the obvious point: "In addition to the highly private inkling that he was not wanted by his parents, he now has official confirmation that he was born by mistake."

But don't worry - if his therapist can't cure him of his low self-esteem or intimacy issues, he now has precedent to sue the therapist for damages.

Who in their right mind will want to be a doctor in this coming era?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Incomplete Morality

A few days ago my wife received an email asking her to sign a petition to be sent to the Prime Minister of Israel, Ehud Olmert. The petition asked him to ban the gay pride parade scheduled for November 10 - which was two days ago.

Turns out the parade was cancelled. From

Organizers backed down from today's scheduled event following the pleas of Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders who called such a public display in the holy city offensive.

The Holy See sent an appeal to Israeli authorities to cancel the parade, explaining that "it constitutes a grave affront to the sentiments of millions of Jewish, Muslim and Christian believers, who recognize the particular sacred character of the city of Jerusalem and request that their conviction be respected."

Sounds good, doesn't it? From that part of the article, it sounds like the homosexual community has practiced what it preaches in terms of tolerance and sensitivity. But keep reading. The real reason they cancelled the parade was:

Authorities asked organizers to scale back the gathering amid reprisal threats after errant Israeli artillery shells killed 18 Palestinian civilians in Gaza on Wednesday.

So the parade wasn't cancelled to respect the religious convictions of the diverse faiths which hold Jerusalem in high esteem (Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Ba'hai). It was cancelled when local authorities reminded the parade organizers that they were about to show their colours in an area known for its random violence.

Were I one to put my own homosexual inclinations into practice & activism, I would be insulted by such a rationale.

As it stands, I am disappointed that the homosexual community had to be fed that line instead of expecting them to respect our sacred ground.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


Today, for my foreign readers unfamiliar with the Commonwealth tradition, is Remembrance Day. It marks the anniversay of Nov. 11, 1918, when the armistice ending World War I was signed. That war was so massive in its scale that the civilized world called it "The war to end all wars." Little did we know that the ending of that war and the punitive conditions imposed on Germany would lay the ground for a second war, more massive in scale and more hideous in its final examination.

Our Canadian soldiers have been over in Afghanistan for at least four years now, but this is the first Remembrance Day in which my thoughts have turned to our new veterans. When I think of a Canadian war veteran, immediately I picture an old man in a beret and a blue blazer, adorned with medals. Today a veteran of WWI, even if you found a man who lied about his age to enlist, would be over 100 years old. Our WWII vets are in their eighties and nineties.

For many years I've been concerned that, once we've lost our remaining vets, the purpose of Remembrance Day would fade into memory like the purpose of Victoria Day or Boxing Day. But this new generation of veterans from Afghanistan has its own memories of the dead to preserve. In a few decades we will have nobody left who was there in Europe to fight against facism. But our new vets will help us to remember that history, for they fight on the foundation their grandfathers laid.

Let us remember with them. Let us thank them for their willingness, for their obedience, for their sense of duty, and for their sacrifice. Let us pray that God will grant them unending peace.

Let us never forget.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Aftermath

I must admit, I admire Stephen Colbert's Colbert Report. For those of you unfamiliar with it, this is a show which profiles the news and current events of the day, but in a satirical format. It's what Canada's own Rick Mercer Report tries to be, only it's actually funny. His critics think he's not funny because they're not smart enough to get his jokes. Colbert's humour is intelligent & sophisticated, so much so that he is called slapstick and juvenile, with one critic even saying he was "sub-Three Stooges."

Well, of course he's sub-Three Stooges - they were the very kingpins of comedy. Everybody else wants to be as popular and as culturally iconic as Larry, Moe, and Curly (yes, I know, and Shemp, and Curly Joe too).

Colbert's style is unique: he pretends to root for the Republicans, but it's an act. Still, sometimes, I like to watch his show and sit back, close my eyes, and pretend that he's really a conservative, and that he really believes in traditional values. His reaction on the night of November 7, when the Democrats took the House and the Senate (or, as Colbert quipped, the terrorists won), was priceless. All fake, all play-acted, yes, but it was still kind of nice to see somebody portray - even satirically - how I felt on a mainstream American comedy show.

Yes, I think the Democrat victory is an unfortunate thing. But then I read James Taranto from the Opinion Journal's Best of the Web Today November 8th column and think it might not be all bad. He makes a few key points:

  • The Republicans deserved to lose. When they took power 12 years ago, they promised smaller government and significant reforms. But the government size grew, deficits appeared again, and spending went up. When polled on who would be more likely to lower taxes & cut spending, Americans overwhelmingly picked the Democrats.
  • The result was not a referendum on the Iraq war. Of the five Republicans who voted against the war, three were defeated. Also, pro-war Joe Lieberman, who didn't receive his Democratic Party's nomination, ran as an independent and won his Senate seat back.
  • It was not a victory for the left. The Democrats openly admit they approached evangelical, socially conservative Christians to run for them, and they may find a hard time controlling that segment of their caucus if they don't change many of their overall policies around issues close to the hearts of those candidates.
  • The "Angry Left" may be rendered impotent. They complained that 2000 and 2004 were stolen elections because they were such close calls. So will they boast that they stole this one for themselves? Or will they fade quietly into the night, never to be heard from again? We can only hope.
David Warren also cast a prediction on this outcome:

...the event might actually free President Bush from many of the restraints of holding Republican factions together. We might paradoxically find that a lame-duck presidency quacks to new life in its final two years, as Mr Bush directs his sights away from mundane politics. He has been consistently underestimated by media that despise him.

All told, it's going to be an interesting two years until the next big election down there. It'll also be neat to observe a liberal America from a Conservative Canada.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Picture This

Imagine a mother with an out-of-control child in the grocery store. The boy is sampling from the bulk bins at will, tipping full shopping carts, whining, crying, bullying, and taunting. Mom is at her wits' end.

Everybody is afraid to do anything. The store manager eventually comes to the scene and politely but firmly asks the woman to control her child. She takes offense at the correction, but she tries to calm her boy down. But he's screaming and flailing uncontrollably and she loses her grip on him, setting off another chain reaction of general pandemonium.

Everybody's staring. The manager keeps asking the boy to behave.

Finally, an off-duty Marine steps in and grabs the boy by the nape of the neck, yelling into his face, "Young man, listen to your mother! This is not acceptable behaviour!"

The boy quiets down, and although still seething with rage, he more or less controls himself, frightened into obedience by the powerful stranger.

Silently, the whole store is relieved that somebody had the brass to get the kid in line. The mom ain't too thrilled however - she's both embarrassed and angry - and the manager is fuming that his soothing words had no effect.

The story hits the media, and while everybody agrees that the boy's behaviour was indeed unacceptable, the Marine is shunted the brunt of the criticism.

"Excessive force" is the term thrown about. "Abuse of power" is another.

This young boy has a name, and I will reveal it: his name is Iraq. Mom is the Hans Blitz & the UNMOVIC (United Nations Monitoring, Verification & Inspection Commission). The store manager is the UN itself, and the other shoppers are the nations of the free world. Our Semper Fi friend is good ol' Uncle Sam himself.

We must not forget, despite all the tactical mistakes made in Iraq over the last few years, that Iraq was not America's problem to fix. The UN demonstrated repeated spinelessness with its repeated verbal reprimands to Saddam Hussein. If America didn't jump in and take charge, by now we'd be hearing about the forty-ninth UN Security Council Resolution denouncing Iraq for failing to disclose the locations of its known stockpiles of WMDs. Or in the words of the Frenchman in Monty Python's Holy Grail, "Now go away, or I shall taunt you a second time!"

Talk is cheap, and therefore easily produced. The UN never would have done anything but talk and talk and talk. There's your global warming cause, folks.

Weapons of Mass Destruction were found. Lots of 'em. I recall seeing at least three separate news reports over the last few years (not even including Senator Rick Santorum's) saying they found some. Want proof? Bizzyblog did a lot of work compiling various news reports. If you doubt the claim that WMDs were found, read that link.

My Americas readers, if you will listen to what a Canadian thinks about your state of affairs, I would encourage you to vote Republican tomorrow. The only way America can stabilize Iraq is via a Republican Senate & House.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Hallowe'en Candy Takers, Spreadsheet Style

Below is a breakdown of who came to my door tonight asking for a trick or a treat. Surprisingly, none of them were willing to see me do a trick, all opting for the treat instead.

I asked everybody, when it wasn't obvious, what they were dressed up as.

Costume Type Quantity Specifics
Black Magic 12 Witch, Warlock
Animals 11 Ladybug, Lion, Dinosaur, Monkey, Leopard, Tiger, Dog, Bear, Bee
Undead 9 Vampire, Zombie
Supernatural Beings 7 Angel, Devil, Grim Reaper
Superheros & Cartoon Characters 7 Spiderman, Shrek, Scooby Doo
No Effort 7
Clowns 6
Pop Culture 5 Alice Cooper, Scream, Anakin Skywalker, McDonald's Employee, Jason
Historical Figures 3 60's Girl, Knight, Island Girl
Far East Characters 3 Ninja, Chinese Woman
Criminals 3 Murderer, Robber
Royalty 2 Princess, Queen Elizabeth
Not Clever Enough For a Real Idea 1 “Your Worst Nightmare” (yeah, I don't get that one either)
Endangered Species 1 Vancouver Canucks fan
Unknown 1 (really, that's what he said: "I don't know."
Career 1 Scientist*

*I gave the scientist four times the amount of candy anybody else got. GO SCIENCE!

Sunday, October 29, 2006


I just saw The Prestige. Amazing.

I delight in movies, or any sort of entertainment, that takes my brain for a roller coaster ride. If you're easily confused and don't like to think, avoid this movie at all costs (you know you're out there!).

But if you like to toss your noggin a good challenge now and then, this is the movie for you.

The American bishops, whose opinions on movies I usually trust, said the film is "more unpleasant than intriguing and all the double-dealing grows tiresome" but this time I beg to differ. It examines how two friends can be consumed by a cycle of hate and revenge, which I think is a very intruiging analysis of the human condition.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Slow Down

The other day, a fella stood behind me in the checkout line at Canadian Tire, itching to pay & go. He was bouncing impatiently on his toes. "I hate lines," he muttered to me. "I can't stand waiting."

It wasn't much of a line; there was only one person in front of me. "Maybe the universe is trying to tell you to slow down," I offered.

"Yeah, maybe," he said, politely turning away. End of conversation.

I'm seeing this phenomenon all too often these days. Nowhere is this more common than on city streets. I've been tailgated by agressive drivers who allow me to examine their middle fingernail when they pass. If I'm doing 82 km/h in an 80 km/h zone, I'm quickly overtaken by every other car on the road. If I'm doing 58 in a 60 zone I create a traffic jam behind me.

Not that I'm innocent of this type of behaviour either: it's easy to fall into frustration with the slow folks in front of me. I am a master at predicting which lane is the fastest one to be in, a skill I picked up a decade ago when I drove taxi.

What's the big hurry? How often have you seen a red sportscar race past you, only to pull up alongside it at the next red light? I chuckle when that happens; not only does that driver look like an idiot, but his mileage and brakes suffer too.

This post-modern obsession with speed is at home too. Microwave ovens, minute rice, fast-forward on the DVD, overnight shipping, high-speed internet, speed dial, quick-release garden hoses... it's very intimidating. If I don't go fast enough, I'll get left behind - or so they tell me.

Yet I once learned something about people who drive motorhomes that taught me a valuable lesson. If the speed limit is 100 km/h (60 mph), they'll set their cruise control at about 97 km/h. When a faster vehicle approaches, it will quickly pass. They've discovered that by doing this, they will avoid most highway traffic, because fast vehicles seem to travel in swarms or packs. The typical hour of highway driving for a motorhome has about 10 minutes of having other cars pass, and then 50 minutes of relative peace.

If the world passes me by, so what? It has very little of value to offer. And the things that are worth noticing can only be seen when I'm not obsessed with efficiency and haste.

I have a friend who will literally spend hours on the phone to save $14 on a plane ticket. If he had instead been engaged in productive work during that time, he could have netted more than enough money to cover his losses - and with much less hassle.

Really, what's the big hurry anyway? Life, while short, is actually quite long. Try waiting one minute without doing anything. Right now.

There. That was hard, wasn't it? Life is filled with those long minutes. Enjoy them. Cram them full of happy memories.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Double-Defiling the Precious

A bit of a furor has erupted over in England, where Cambridge's Addenbrook Hospital has admitted it disposes of the products of abortion in the standard hospital trash incinerator.

The hospital is doing this to save money, as the formal crematorium they use for miscarriages costs a shade more - roughly $40 CAD per fetus.

On one hand I can hardly find fault with the hospital's reasoning: they must see a vast difference between a miscarriage and an aborted baby. Sure, both may physically appear the same, but the difference is one was wanted, and the other was not. Or, more accurately, one mother's hope overcame her fears, and the other mother's fears overcame her hope. So why should the unwelcome baby be treated with as much respect as the one who will be missed?

Now if you, like me, ascribe to the concept of absolutes, you will agree that to solve a problem you must first find the cause of it, AKA the absolute that has been violated. Then you have to get back to that absolute.

In this case, the absolute is Human Life Is Always Precious. Where does this decision find itself in relation to that? By inference, if human life is precious, then in death the former life does not become any less precious. Therefore the physical remains of that life must be accorded due dignity. The hospital has thus violated the absolute of the sacredness of life.

But what I find most interesting about this story is this quote from a woman who had procured an abortion there:

I am furious and very hurt. Imagine my horror when I discovered that my baby was incinerated in the same furnace as the hospital rubbish.

It's easy to jump on a condemnation bandwagon here and say to her, "Serves you right, killing your baby. What right do you have to care about it anymore?" But that is not the Christian way.

We are called to make disciples of all nations. To do that, we must educate the soul; we must catechize. We must help the Christian form his or her conscience properly.

One thing a properly formed conscience does is make us perfectly sensitive to absolutes. Absolutes beckon us. The human soul knows when it has crossed a moral line. Somewhere deep within, this woman knows she did a hideous thing. So much so that when the sanctity of her lost child is violated again, she recognizes it immediately, and reacts as would any mother, abortion or not.

So all is not lost for our unnamed British lady. May God continue to lead her back to himself, the source of all absolute truth.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Monday, October 23, 2006


In World War II, the Mark XIV torpedo was the bane of the U.S. Pacific naval fleet. And it was an American torpedo.

(Bear with me; I have a point.)

This torpedo had a high dud-rate, or rate of non-exploding explosives. The most significant example I know of happened in July 1943. The American submarine Tinosa had spotted a Japanese oil tanker, and having lined her up perfectly, fired a salvo of four Mark XIV torpedoes. Through the periscope, the crew observed two direct hits by the telltale splashes on the tanker's hull, but there was no explosion. At that point the tanker sped up and turned to flee, realizing that she was under attack. Tinosa fired two more torpedoes at the tanker's stern and they made contact and hit, successfully exploding. This crippled the massive tanker but did not sink her, so the Tinosa maneuvered to a new angle of attack and fired a single torpedo at the enemy ship. Again, however, the torpedo was a dud and produced only a splash on the tanker's side.

Seven more torpedoes were fired with the same lack of effect.

Cutting his losses, the skipper of the Tinosa, Lt. Cmdr L. R. Dapsit, ordered his ship back to port, saving his last torpedo for a thorough inspection. He used his tale to begin a lengthy process to convince his superiors that the Mark XIV torpedo was unreliable, and the full tale of the red tape involved can be found here.

The reason I'm referring to this historical anecdote is to announce that my own self-inflicted torpedo, as referenced a few days back, was a dud - and I got the promotion I was so eagerly hoping for.

I hope I didn't bore you before you got to the announcement. :)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Christopher West & Controversy

Recently, in Winnipeg at least, there have been all sorts of people saying that Christopher West is teaching against Catholic beliefs on sexuality.

To fill you in, Christopher West has taken the Theology of the Body series of talks that Pope John Paul II gave early in his pontificate and has "dumbed them down" for easy comprehension. If you've ever read JPII, you'll know he wrote with a style filled with depth and detail - often resulting in the kind of paragraphs that you need to read three or four times because you get distracted by your frequent use of the dictionary.

It's very profound stuff once it's rendered in a simpler form, and I'm blown away by the levels of meaning found in our human form. If the Theology of the Body could be put in a nutshell, this would be it: God created man & woman in his image. We are a representation of a creative God. If God creates us in his image, then to fully participate in our God-imaging humanity, we too much create life in our image. This gives a deep meaning to sexuality, as we are participating in an act that connects us to God in a very mystical way. This also implies that sexuality, as beautiful and powerful as it is, is a mere shadow or glimpse of what God has planned for us in the fullness of our destiny.

You'll pardon me if I quote from C. S. Lewis' Mere Christianity yet again:

The old Christian teachers said that if man had never fallen, sexual pleasure, instead of being less than it is now,would actually have been greater. I know some muddle-headed Christians have talked as if Christianity thought that sex, or the body, or pleasure, were bad in themselves. But they were wrong. Christianity is almost the only one of the great religions which thoroughly approves of the body - which believes that matter is good, that God Himself once took on a human body, that some kind of body is going to be given to us even in Heaven and is going to be an essential part of our happiness, our beauty and our energy. Christianity has glorified marriage more than any other religion: and nearly all the greatest love poetry in the world has been produced by Christians. If anyone says that sex, in itself, is bad, Christianity contradicts him at once.

This is an essential beginning point of the late Pope's messages, which he presented in the late 1970's. Lewis, an Anglican, wrote this in the early 1940's.

Recently Winnipeg hosted a Marian & Eucharistic conference, and the organizers requested that no Christopher West materials be brought to the booths because of some controversy around his writings. Prominent figures in the local pro-life movement are putting out questions on the legitimacy of West's message.

From what I can tell, the controversy deals mainly with West's proclamation that the marriage act mirrors the Eucharist because both are a sharing in the very flesh of the spouse. As a man and woman consummate their marriage with sex, so do we as the Church, the Bride of Christ, seal and enliven our union with Jesus by fulfilling his command to eat his body. By both acts do we become one with our spouse. Sex, as great as it is, is the lesser of the two.

Some prudes turn fifty shades of red when you mention sex in any context, and I think that's where the controversy is found. Like Lewis said, Christianity has always taught that sex is good. If anybody was raised in the Church with an alternate perspective, the only conclusion is that they were improperly catechized. This calls for an effort within the Church to propagate the Christian understanding of sexuality, and that's exactly what West is doing.

If you're interested in receiving a free Christopher West CD for a deeper understanding of what he says, visit The Mary Foundation. Really, it's free (or shipping only, if you're outside the USA), it ships quickly, and there are no gimmicks. Or if you are in Winnipeg, you can borrow mine.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

What Sin Does

It struck me recently that sin is both a cause and an effect of self-centeredness.

I was in a bit of a funk today. I won't give you details, but I was sure in a sour mood. I made some dumb mistakes lately that have caused undue strife in my life with my wife (go figure, that rhymes!) and was letting my awareness of my frailty absorb all my focus.

I went to the barbershop today and, while waiting for my barber to finish with her customer, all I could think about was the messed up situation I got myself into. But then I overheard their conversation. From what I heard, it sounded like he was in the middle of a break-up, and was only going to see his kid once a week.

Immediately I was snapped out of my funk. I realized that despite my own sins, there is still a hurting world out there in need of a Saviour. I realized that if I allow myself to direct all my attention inward, I'll be a pretty pathetic witness to the transformative power of Christ.

People, listen up: sin is the snare that keeps on snaring. It's like drinking salt water: you get thirstier and thirstier but all you can do is keep drinking it, until you die. Jesus came to give us Living Water, and by God, am I thirsty for it. This water satisfies infinitely; it cleanses us and washes our impurities away.

So I resolve to direct my attentions heavenward, and to those around me. This is the model of Christ on the cross - he lifted up his head to drink the sour wine, to give out a loud cry. He stretched out his arms to the world around him. John 19:30 says that he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. I think the order of those two events is important. It's not that Jesus fought against his approaching death and finally couldn't muster the strength. He didn't die, then have his head uncontrollably drop. He bowed his head - which I postulate could represent a form of inward attention - and willingly died. If sin is putting oneself first, and if Christ - sinless himself - took all our sin upon himself, then in that moment when the God-man absorbed our selfishness, we can see the effects of death.

But even in death Jesus is stronger than death. His act of dying was a willful giving up of his spirit - even the weight of all humanity's sins cannot kill him. When U.S. Navy SEAL Michael A. Monsoor threw himself on a grenade in Iraq on Sep. 29, 2006 to save his comrades, it was an act of noblest heroism and selflessness. Sadly, Monsoor was killed. [May God grant you eternal peace, sir.]

Happily, Christ gave up his spirit. He threw himself on the timebomb we had constructed ourselves, knowing that only he could overcome the consequences.

The next time you believe the lie that you can't be a good Christian because of your sinfulness, think of Christ's sacrifice. Think of how his heart burns for his lost sheep. You are his last, best hope for getting the good news of his love out there! Do not believe the lie that you're not good enough. If you and I are good enough for GOD to DIE FOR, then dammit, we're good enough for anything!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

How To Find Evil in Anything

I found a cool site that lets you discern, using numerology, that anything is evil.

For example, check out the result on Dissenting Catholics.

I'd give you the exact result, but the site regenerates it each time which is infinitely funnier.
This Is Fun

Did you ever wonder what it would be like to ride a toboggan inside MS Paint?


Saturday, October 14, 2006

Halos Don't Break

Recently I stumbled across It seemed like a decent Catholic portal at first, as it claims:

Based in wisdom from the Catholic tradition, we believe that the joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the people of this age are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of all God'’s people. Nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts.

Nothing too odious there.

Indeed, they even have a regular column on Catholic sexual norms, and that's usually a topic the liberals weeds among us will avoid, as it's a clear giveaway of their real intentions.

But something didn't smell right, so I spent a lot of time farting around on the site today [that's a metaphor, you hear me? A METAPHOR!], and it's now clear that is just another wolf in sheep's clothing.

They get their name by calling to mind our call to Sainthood (the Halo part), and by recognizing that often our quest for holiness is beset by trials and failures (the Busted part). But halos don't break. Holiness is unbreakable; it cannot be soiled.

People break. People can be soiled.

So that you understand why I believe has it mostly wrong, let me proffer some examples. Let's take the model set before us in Fr. Gerard Thomas (which he admits is a pseudonym). He is "coming out" as a "gay" priest who remains celibate. Yet the "gay" part seems to have confused dear old Father Whatshisname. He was interviewed by managing editor Mike Hayes and editor-in-chief Bill McGarvey. This link is to the first part of the four-part interview, and I'm quoting from various locations throughout the four parts. [The red parts are what I'd be thinking were I present at the interview.] He is remaining anonymous because: religious superiors told me that I could not write or speak about this publicly because he was afraid that people would somehow misunderstand it... I accepted his decision and that's the reason I'm using a pseudonym [you kinda missed the point there Padre] so there are no bad effects of the kind he was worried about [like suspension without pay].... I think if I were to speak publicly and use my own name I'm sure the higher ups would be furious with me [good thing God can't figure out your pseudonym!]. I do take my relationship with my superiors seriously [when you can be caught, anyway] and I do take that promise of obedience very seriously as well.

I don't think you can consider your vow of obedience to be intact on a technicality, Father. But enough of that; just what do you think the will of God is for the "gays" in our world?

Jesus did not try to change people. Jesus tried to help them accept who they were, and it was only when their illness [such as homophobia?] was preventing them from being a member of the community that he was able to do something.

I think that if Jesus was around today he would be hanging around gay men and lesbians because they are the most marginalized group in the Church [actually, I think that honour belongs to conservatives].

I think he'd indeed be hanging around with them, but not because of their marginalization: because he would have pity on them due to the cycle of sin they are stuck in. "Go then, and sin no more," does not apply only to heterosexuals.

There's a disconnect between what Father is saying and what the Church actually believes: "gay" itself is a loaded term; a vocabulatory stick of dynamite. Its usage implies acceptance of the modern cultural arguments around homosexual inclinations, and ignores the possibility of a "gay" man himself ignoring the mold he's supposed to fit into - a mold fashioned by the gay community itself. What the Catholic Church believes regarding homosexuals is that few of them choose it, and that they are called to and capable of living a life of chastity. "They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided." [Catechism source]

Say, Father, we don't have any real statistics regarding homosexual priests. Could you make some up for us?

All the statistics that you read are unreliable, including my own which are largely anecdotal [ooh, goody, I smell an anecdote coming!].... What I did was to set forth a number of 25% of priests who have a homosexual orientation, just to give people a rough context in which to work. The standard figure of 5-10% which is bandied about as the number of gays and lesbians in the general population, is far too low [when we're talking about the priesthood] and some of the more outlandish figures like 50% I thought were far too high, so I thought 25% was reasonable. [I dunno... how about 26.4%? It sounds so much more official.] But once again this is entirely anecdotal and we're never going to know until there are reliable scientific surveys.... I would say a miniscule percentage of that 25 percent are pedophiles [what a relief!].... I would say in general... there's a higher percentage of priests under 50, or under 40, who are gay. I think it would take a sociologist to tell you why that's the case. [You don't trust your own judgment? Um, then why should we?] But I also think that among the guys who are older, there is - —as in the general population - —there's less of a willingness or aptitude to discuss those kinds of things. So there may be precisely the same figure in the older generation as in the younger generation. [So it's either completely different, or exactly the same - gotcha.]

Oh, that's very helpful, thank you.

Tell us, Fr. McFakey, "what do you think a document that celebrates gay men and women in the Church would look like? "

Like nothing we have ever seen before.

Rightly so. Much like a Church document celebrating rhinotillexomania would also be unlike anything we have ever seen before. And by that I mean, thank goodness we've never seen that and never will.

Enough of Fr. GoingToTarshish. What else seems somewhat off about

I did a search for a few keywords on the site's internal search engine:

Word Hits
Poverty 89
Bush 76
Conservative 66
Environment 60
Gay 55
Liberal 46
Abortion 39
Republican 27
Homosexuality 26
Democrat 20
John Kerry 16
Contraception 10
Gore 8
Masturbation 5

This is sounding less and less like a place for "spiritual seekers" to go, and more like a place for Angry Left malcontents.

I found only one article I saw no problems with: More and More Seek a Robust Orthodoxy by Colleen Carroll Campbell. She makes several points that are key to understanding youth and what their needs are in the modern world:

In the course of interviewing some 500 young adults all across America, I found a growing number of them adopting the teachings and traditions of an orthodox Christian faith. These "new faithful," as I call them, have not seen too little of a secular, hedonistic society to understand its allure. They have seen too much to believe its promises. And they have turned instead to an older promise, one rooted in the traditions that their parents' generation rejected: the promise of a life guided by a transcendent vision and ordered by absolute truth.

Amen, sister!

Oh, what's this? Right beside her article is an accompanying piece by Mike Hayes, one of the interviewers of Fr. NOYB above, entitled They're Not in the Pews on Sunday.

By "they," he's referring, of course, to this new wave of faithful youth who were motivated by the call to orthodoxy that John Paul II made his chief mission, and that Benedict XVI is continuing:

I believe their enormous enthusiasm reflects a sense of faith that is miles wide but only inches deep [based on what exactly?].... Where did they go once the moment died down? One place they didn't go was back to church. According to a study by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, only 22 percent of young adult Catholics actually attend Mass weekly [so, what percentage of young adult Catholics are represented in this new, excited-about-orthodoxy generation? Dare to compare?] - a stark contrast to the filled pews of ages past. Undoubtedly there is a small but significant minority of vocal and well-organized young adults whose dedication to the late pope was extraordinary [all coordinated by Karl Rove].... In my experience, many of these young adults will find it difficult to negotiate a world they increasingly realize is no longer black and white but filled with countless shades of gray [It's only because of the attempt to blur the boundaries between right and wrong that we have shades of grey at all].... Who will be this generation's spiritual mentors? [please don't pick Mike Hayes!] While John Paul II and Benedict XVI are admirable men who set the bar of morality appropriately high and may indeed have created a stirring in the hearts and minds of many young adults, they have not aided in creating a spiritual mentoring environment for young adults in conflict. [Yeah, too bad God ain't smart enough to figure out how to "mentor" his own disciples.]

These two articles are compared side by side. So the only glimmer of truth I found on was tainted by "the other view" which puts no trust in the promise of Christ never to abandon his Church.

Now, normally I'd simply never visit the site again. This internet thing, so I hear, is big enough for the both of us. But I'm going to stick around their discussion forums for a bit and raise a little... heaven. Any bets as to how long before they politely ask me to make myself welcome somewhere else?
Ad Limina Comments - Western Edition
Jumping Off the Rooftop

On Oct. 9, the bishops from Western Canada met with Pope Benedict XVI for their Ad Limina visit. I've been publishing my thoughts on the Pope's words to the bishops from other parts of Canada (see these links), and I have been eagerly anticipating this meeting with my own region's shepherds for some time.

The Pope addresses three themes:

1. Confession:

The Bishop's responsibility to indicate the destructive presence of sin is readily understood as a service of hope: it strengthens believers to avoid evil and to embrace the perfection of love and the plenitude of Christian life. I wish therefore to commend your promotion of the Sacrament of Penance. While this Sacrament is often considered with indifference, what it effects is precisely the fullness of healing for which we long. A new-found appreciation of this Sacrament will confirm that time spent in the confessional draws good from evil, restores life from death, and reveals anew the merciful face of the Father.

2. The loss of a sense of sin:

Where God is excluded from the public forum the sense of offence against God - the true sense of sin - dissipates, just as when the absolute value of moral norms is relativized the categories of good or evil vanish, along with individual responsibility. Yet, the human need to acknowledge and confront sin in fact never goes away, no matter how much an individual may, like the elder brother [in the parable of the prodigal son], rationalize to the contrary.

3. The plight of aboriginal communities. He encourages the bishops to:

address with compassion and determination the underlying causes of the difficulties surrounding the social and spiritual needs of the Aboriginal faithful.

The three are tied somewhat together, as the Pope strings a common thread through all of them: Forgiveness.

There were times when I felt that God couldn't forgive me – when I believed forgiveness was a thing I didn't deserve. I believed the lie that I had sinned too much and that God was tired of forgiving me. If I was truly repenting, why was the repetitive staccato of habitual sin coming back again and again in my life? How many times must I do a 180-degree turn on my journey to heaven? In a sense I was getting spiritually dizzy: I would sin, repent, draw close to God, and before I knew it I was stuck in sin again and need to repent once more. It felt like all I was doing was repenting.

I'm still stuck on C. S. Lewis these days. Here's one of his thoughts from Mere Christianity on imperfect repentance:

Only a bad person needs to repent: only a good person can repent perfectly. The worse you are the more you need it and the less you can do it. The only person who could do it perfectly would be a perfect person - and he would not need it.

One day God showed me a truth regarding his forgiveness – in the story of the prodigal son. The Pope uses this parable in his discussion with the bishops, and I'm sure we've all heard it over and over again. Benedict XVI says it is "one of the most appreciated passages of sacred Scripture," and this I believe is because it contains a million truths.

Look at the father in the story. His son has left home and has wasted his life on reckless living. The father, however, never gives up hope, and keenly watches from his rooftop every day for his son to return. When the prodigal son has had enough of the sinful life, he comes home and his father espies him while he is still a far way off and practically jumps off the rooftop to run and welcome him home.

The son has prepared a fine speech but the father won't listen to it; for him it is enough that he has come back.

Now imagine God in heaven, longing with that same heart for all of humanity. We are all his children, the work of his own creative hand, and he is watching the metaphorical road, hoping to see us come back to him. Also consider that there are really very few people, proportionally speaking, who know of the Father's love and strive to be his true disciples.

So imagine one of his precious ones, having gone astray, sullenly coming back home: will not the Father leap down from his rooftop and come running to us? Will he not say to us, "Yes, yes! Come back! I want you by my side! I want to shower you with my blessings and fill you with my love!" There are so few of us who strive to know God – of course he will forgive us when we fall; we're all he's got!

But then… ­forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. Do I forgive as readily and as joyfully as the Father does? Now, as a married man I'll quickly admit that my wife needs to forgive me more frequently than I need to forgive her. But on those rare occasions when I'm the one who is hurt, I hardly find that I'm “jumping off the rooftop” to run and embrace her. It's usually a long, stolid affair where I have to muster up the willpower to suppress the hurt so I can tolerate her tender caresses.

Which brings me full circle to what the Pope said to the Western Bishops:

Commitment to truth opens the way to lasting reconciliation through the healing process of asking for forgiveness and granting forgiveness -- two indispensable elements for peace.

I'm delighted that our Holy Father is emphasizing the importance of this. I hope & pray our bishops will recognize the value of his words, and that we'll see more emphasis on the Sacrament of Penance in the coming months.

Lord, help me learn to forgive as you do.