23 April 2014

Kurt Carlsen, a captain who stayed with his ship, SS Flying Enterprise

MV Sewol, 16 April 2014 [Wikipedia]

The Holy Week ferry disaster has brought grief to the whole of the Republic of Korea, especially as so many lost were high school students. President Park Geun-hye described the actions of the captain and some crew members of the Sewol as 'akin to murder'. I wouldn't be inclined to so describe Captain Lee Joon-seok and his companions. What really happened will eventually come out in court or through official investigations. I'm certain that none of the crew intended that the ship would sink or that anyone would die as a result. But if the captain was among the first to leave the ship, as reported, that was inexcusable.


Costa Concordia during salvage operation [Wikipedia]

The trial of Captain Francesco Schettini of the Costa Concordia that foundered off the Italian coast with the loss of 32 lives on 13 January 2012 is still ongoing.


SS Flying Enterprise, 10 January 1952 [Wikipedia]

When I was in Grade 2, a time when few had telephones, Ireland had no TV, when the internet wasn't even a dream in someone's imagination, the national radio station broadcast only at certain times of the day and evening and people depended on newspapers as their major source of news, I along with everyone else was utterly enthralled by what was happening to the SS Flying Enterprise, a cargo ship that began to founder in stormy weather off the south coast of England.

On 21 December 1951 the Flying Enterprise left Hamburg, Germany, under Captain Kurt Carlsen, a Dane who lived in New Jersey, USA. It carried ten passengers. In those days many cargo ships were allowed to have up to twelve passengers.

On Christmas Night the ship ran into a storm as it approached England and and by 28 December was listing at an angle of 45 degrees. The crew and passengers were evacuated on the 29th, one passenger drowning but everyone else was rescued. Captain Carlsen remained on board. A number of ships came to accompany the distressed vessel. The tugboat Turmoil arrived on 3 January and its mate, Kenneth Dancy, who died last year at the age of 88, joined Captain Carlsen on the Flying Enterprise the following day.

The Turmoil took the distressed ship in tow on 5 January heading for Falmouth in the south-west of England, but five days later the cable broke at around 01:30 on 10 January. Captain Carlsen and Kenneth Dancy abandoned ship nearly 14 hours later. Within an hour the Flying Enterprise sank.

People, including children, were talking about nothing else. We waited anxiously for each bulletin on the radio, for each issue of our morning and evening newspapers.

Captain Carlsen became an international hero. He refused to let himself become a wealthy 'celebrity' and went back to sea. At a reception for him in Woodbridge, NJ, where he lived he said, My boss sent me out a few month ago with a beautiful ship and I come back without it.  He told the people that the warmth of their welcome had more than compensated for my little inconvenience out in the Atlantic the last three weeks. He died in 1989 at the age of 75.

Here is a contemporary newsreel of the saga of SS Flying Enterprise.


The Apostleship of the Sea, under the patronage of Our Lady Stella Maris, serves seafarers in many ports throughout the world.

Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee
Rembrandt, 1633. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston [Web Gallery of Art]

19 April 2014

'He saw and believed.' Sunday Reflections, Easter Sunday

Passignano, 1600-25, Pinacoteca, Vatican [Web Gallery of Art]

The Easter Vigil in the Holy Night

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa) 

At the Mass During the Day

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)                                  

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)


Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.

From The Gospel of John 

I remember as a young priests, maybe in the summer of 1969 about six months after my ordination, celebrating Sunday Mass in the chapel of the Irish Sisters of Charity (now the Religious Sisters of Charity) in Stanhope Street, Dublin, where I had made my First Holy Communion on 20 May 1950. the beautiful chapel is no longer there.

I remember clearly that my mother was at the Mass and that I preached about the Resurrection, probably quite eloquently and certainly with conviction.

However, it was only when my mother died suddenly less that two years later that I got any real grasp of what the Resurrection is. Within hours of receiving the news at breakfast time in New York, where I was studying, I felt its truth in my very being.

I preached again about the Resurrection in the presence of my mother's remains at her funeral Mass, again with conviction and maybe with some eloquence as before. But my conviction, my faith in the Resurrection, was now rooted in my heart, not just in my head.

After the Mass my father, a man of deep quiet faith who went to Mass every day of his life right up to the day of his own sudden death in 1987, told me that he had felt utterly desolate going into the church but now felt at peace. A cousin's husband thanked me for speaking about what really matters. Nearly 40 years later a fellow Columban, who had been present
while a seminarian, told me that he still preaches in his funeral homilies in Japan whatever I had said at my mother's funeral Mass. I really have no idea what I said but I remember vividly the change in my understanding of the Resurrection during those days.


But the hope that the Death and Resurrection of Jesus is not only for us as individuals. It can bring hope and reconciliation to a whole nation. In 1994 in this overwhelmingly Christian nation, more than half of its then between seven and eight million people Catholic, between 500,000 and 1,000,000, mostly members of the minority Tutsi people, were slaughtered between 7 April and the middle of July.

In the video above a man who live through it, probably as a child, says outside a church in Kigali, the country's capital, Today's Mass was about Resurrection. And I believe that one day the souls of the people we lost will resurrect. Sister Mujawayezu Marie Anastasie, a survivor of the genocide,  says, I think now that things are like before, even better than before. People are good to each other, talking. People trust each other. For what I see it seems OK but I do not know what's inside a person's heart.

Sister Mujawayezu's words express some uncertainty but trust and hope win out. This is a fruit of the Resurrection, that God's love has conquered evil and death. And the Rwandan Genocide was the result mainly of neighbour killing neighbour. There have been reports and photos in the media in recent weeks of individuals who had killed other individuals not only asking forgiveness of someone they had widowed but working with that widow to enable her to have a livelihood.

It is acts such as these that remind us of the truth of the Resurrection, of the presence of the Risen Lord among us, still carrying the scars of his Crucifixion, as the people of Rwanda who have asked for forgiveness or who have forgiven their former enemies still carry the scars of 1994.


The civil war in Rwanda was short and brutal. That in Lebanon lasted from 1975 to 1990 with an estimated 120,000 deaths and about a million leaving the country. Today it is affected by the ongoing civil war in neighbouring Syria.

The people of Lebanon are Arabs, nearly 40 percent of them Christian. Most of those are Maronite Catholics who have always been in full communion with Rome. The vast majority of Christians in the Middle East are Arabs, in Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Syria. They are descended from the very earliest Christians. Islam originated nearly six centuries after the death and Resurrection of Jesus.

Like the people of Rwanda, the people of Lebanon carry the scars of their civil war. But the Christians there also carry the living grace of the Resurrection of Jesus. I have used the video below a number of times before but I know of no more joyful proclamation of the Resurrection than Jesus is Risen, sung here in Arabic in a shopping mall in Beirut three years ago at Eastertime.

No translation is necessary, though you can switch on the English captions. You can see the look of surprise on the face of a Filipina taking caring of a child and the look of delight on the face of a young Muslim woman.


Resurrexit sicut dixit, Alleluia!

He is risen as he said, Alleluia!

Happy Easter!

14 April 2014

The Stations of the Cross with the Masters; Reflections by Fr William Doyle SJ


Tintoretto, 1566-67, Scuola Grande di San Rocco, Venice


Around the judgement seat are grouped a motley crowd. Men and women of every rank, the high-born Jewish maiden, the rough Samaritan woman; haughty Scribes and proud Pharisees mingle with the common loafer of the great city. Hatred has united them all for one common object; hatred of One Who ever loves them and to their wild fury has only opposed acts of gentle kindness. A mighty scream goes up, a scream of fierce rage and angry fury, such a sound as only could be drawn from the very depths of hell. “Death to Him! Death to the false prophet!” He has spent His life among you doing good – Let Him die! He has healed your sick, given strength to the palsied, sight to your blind – Let Him die! He has raised your dead – Let death be His fate!


El Greco, 1600-05, Museo del Prado, Madrid


Away from the palace now a sad procession is winding. On the faces of the multitude a fiendish joy is written, they have had their wish and now issue forth to glut their eyes on the dying struggles of the suffering innocent One. Painfully He is toiling up the long narrow street, narrower still from the crowds that line the way; each step is agony, each yard of ground He covers a fresh martyrdom of ever increasing suffering. With a refinement of cruelty His enemies have placed upon His shoulders the heavy, rough beams which will be His last painful resting place.

Cruelly the heavy beam weighs upon His mangled flesh and cuts and chafes a long, raw sore deep to the very bone.


Raphael, 1517, Museo del Prado, Madrid


Bravely has our Lord borne the galling weight of His cross; bravely has He struggled on, tottering and stumbling, longing for a moment’s rest, yearning for a respite however short. But rest He will not, that He may teach us how unfalteringly we must press on to our goal. But nature will have its way. His sight grows dim; His strength fails and with a crash our Saviour lies extended on the ground. Oh! if you have not hearts of stone let Him lie even thus, poor, crushed and broken thing. If you have but one spark of compassion left, one tender feeling of sympathy urge Him not on awhile, so spent, so weary. On a poor maimed brute you have pity – think of the sorrow of Him extended there.

Fourth Station: Jesus meets his Blessed Mother

The Seven Sorrows of the Virgin: Mother of Sorrows
Albrecht Dürer, c.1496, Alte Pinakothek, Munich


To sensitive souls the pain they cause others is far worse than any sufferings they may endure themselves. They may have much to endure, but to see others in pain causes them deeper grief. Jesus and Mary meet. Alone He could have suffered with joy so that she, His dearest Mother, might have been spared the agony of seeing all He must endure. With one look of pity Jesus reads the anguish of that cruelly lacerated heart; with one long gaze of infinite love and pity Mary sees the depth of her Son’s woe, His long hours of torture, His utter weariness, His sorrow, His grief, His anguish. May she not help Him? At least lift for one moment that cross?

Master Thomas de Coloswar, 1427, Christian Museum, Esztergom

When God lays a cross upon us, some misfortune, some unexpected burden, instead of thanking Him for this precious gift, too often we rebel against His will. We forget that our Saviour never sends a cross alone, but ever sweetens its bitterness, lightens its weight by His all-powerful grace. With reluctance, with unwillingness, Simon bears the cross of His Master. At first his spirit revolted against this injustice, his pride rebelled against this ignominy. But once he accepted with resignation, his soul was filled with heavenly sweetness, he felt not the weight of the heavy beams, he heeded not the jibes of the multitude but pressed on after His Master, proud to be His follower.


El Greco, c.1580, Museo de Santa Cruz, Toledo

As the sorrowful procession moves slowly on, a woman, who with anxious gaze has watched its approach, steps forward and wipes the sacred face of Jesus. It is a simple action, yet reveals the kindly thoughtfulness of a charitable heart. Gladly would Veronica have done all in her power to lessen the sufferings of the Lord, to ease the dreadful burden which was crushing Him, to show some mark of sympathy and compassion. That little act of love touched the broken Heart of Jesus; He wipes the clotted blood and streaming sweat from His Face, leaving His sacred image stamped on the veil of Veronica; but deeper and more clear cut did He impress on her heart the memory of His passion.



Rubens, 1634-37, Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels

Jesus falls a second time, crushed beneath the weight of His awful sufferings which are fast draining His strength. Exhausted and spent He lies upon the rough-paved ground, a cruel resting place for His bleeding, lacerated body. Vainly He tries to rise, for love impels Him on to the consummation of the sacrifice, but His tottering limbs will not support Him and once again He falls upon the ground. Again the soldiers with fiendish brutality drag Him to His feet with coarse jibes and mocking laughter, with kicks and blows they drive Him on, pulling Him now forward, now back, striving if possible to add to the sufferings of the patient victim.


Jacopo Bassano, 1550-55, Szépmûvészeti Múzeum, Budapest

The disciples of Jesus have deserted their Master, and fearful for their own safety, have abandoned Him to His fate. Peter who would die for Him, Matthew who left all to follow Him, are far from Him now and dread to be pointed to as His friends. Yet Jesus is not alone. A few, a faithful few, remain beside Him still, poor, weak women, but strong with the courage of love. The brutal crowd surge round, inflamed with hate and lust for blood; but they offer Him the tribute of a woman's heart the silent tears of sympathy.

“Weep not for Me,” He says, “weep rather for those who unlike these My executioners will one day crucify Me again with full knowledge of what they do.”


Ninth Station: Jesus falls the third time

Christ Carrying the Cross
Hieronymus Bosch, Palacio Real, Madrid


The hill of Calvary is almost reached, the hour of the great sacrifice is at hand. Still the heart of Jesus thirsts for suffering to show His great, His all devouring love for us. Again He falls! With limbs all bruised and broken, with a body all one raw, red, quivering sore, each step He took was agony. But to fall thus helpless on the ragged ground, to be kicked and beaten as He lay with nerveless limbs all paralyzed with pain must have been to His high-strung, delicate frame a thousand-fold martyrdom. The executioners were alarmed. Was death going to rob them of their victim and cheat them of the joy they promised themselves as their victim writhed in the agonies of death?

Tenth Station: Jesus is stripped of his garments

The Disrobing of Christ (El Espolio)
El Greco, 1577-79, Sacristy of the Cathedral, Toledo


At last He stands upon the hill of shame to pay the price of our redemption. In the eyes of His Eternal Father, a sinner laden with the crimes of a wicked world; before men, the most abject and abandoned of creatures. A brutal soldier advances. He lays his hand upon the garment of Jesus and roughly tears it from His sacred shoulders. The cloth has sunk deeply into the gaping wounds left by the recent scourging, and driven deeper still by the weight of the cross and the oft-repeated blows. With a horrid, rending sound the wounds are torn open afresh, the sacred blood gushes forth anew and bathes His limbs in its ruddy stream. It is a moment of awful agony.

Eleventh Station: Jesus is nailed to the Cross

Christ in Agony on the Cross
El Greco, 1600s, Art Museum, Cincinnati


Upon His last resting place Jesus lays Himself down. No soft bed, no easy couch to ease the agony of His aching limbs, but a hard, rough beam must be His place of death. Meekly He extends His arms, those arms ever open to welcome back the repentant sinner, and offers His hands to be pierced as the Prophet had foretold. A long, blunt nail is placed upon the palm: a heavy, dull thud, the crunch of parting flesh and rending muscle, the spouting crimson blood which covers the face and hands of the hardened soldier and Jesus is fastened to the cross. Come, sinner, gaze upon your work for you have nailed Him there! Your sins it was which flung your Saviour down, your sins which drove the iron deep into His sacred flesh.

Twelfth Station: Jesus dies on the Cross

Christ on the Cross, with the two Marys and St John
El Greco, c.1588, National Gallery, Athens


Upon the cross He hangs now, the most abject and despised of all men, the butt for vile jests, a common mark for all to hurl their jibes at. There He hangs, in agony no human lips can tell, no mind conceive, an impostor, a vile hypocrite, a failure. “He came to make Himself a King! See, we have crowned His brow with a royal, sparkling diadem. He sought a kingdom! From that elevated throne let Him look upon the land which will never be His now. He threatened our Scribes with woes and punishments, let Him look to His own fate and if He has that power which some say was His, let Him come down now from the cross and we too shall believe in His word.”

Thirteenth Station: Jesus is laid in the arms of His Mother

Pietà (The Lamentation of Christ)
El Greco, 1571-76, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia


Mary stands at the foot of the cross to receive in her arms the lifeless body of her Son. Once more His head is resting on her bosom as it used to do long years ago when a little child He nestled to His Mother#s breast. But now that sacred head is bruised and swollen, stamped with the cruel mark of the mocking diadem; His hair all clotted with the oozing blood, tangled and in disorder. Even she, upon whose heart is stamped every lineament of her Son’s dear face, can scarcely recognise His features now. On every line is marked the anguish of long drawn agony, of torture and agonizing pain, of woe, unutterable woe, of sorrow, suffering and abandonment.

Fourteenth Station: Jesus is laid in the tomb

The Entombment of Christ
El Greco, 1560s, Alexandros Soutzos Museum, Athens


The final scene of the awful tragedy is drawing to a close. Reverently the faithful few bear the dead Christ down the hill of shame, that body from which all the care of loving hands cannot remove the marks of the cruel scourge, the rending nails, the lance’s gaping thrust. Into the tomb they bear Him, the burial place of a stranger, best suited to Him Who during His life had not where to lay His head. Reverently they lay Him down; one last, fond embrace of His own Mother before they lead her hence, and then in silence and in sorrow they leave Him, their dearest Master, to the watchful care of God’s own angels. Sin has done its work! Sin has triumphed, but its very triumph will prove its own undoing.
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All paintings from Web Gallery of Art

Reflections by Fr William Doyle SJ from Remembering Fr William Doyle SJ


Fr William Doyle SJ was finally appointed during World War I chaplain of the 16th Irish Division, serving with 8th Royal Irish Fusiliers, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, 9th Royal Dublin Fusiliers, 6th Royal Irish Rifles and the 7th Royal Irish Rifles. Having fulfilled his priestly duties in an outstanding fashion for almost two years, he was killed in the Battle of Ypres on August 16, 1917, having run “all day hither and thither over the battlefield like an angel of mercy.” This good shepherd truly gave his life for his sheep.
Fr Doyle’s body was never recovered.
Fr William Doyle SJ (3 March 1873 - 16 August 1917)
Many thanks to Pat Kenny, blogmaster of Remembering Fr William Doyle SJ.

09 April 2014

'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' Sunday Reflections, Palm Sunday Year A


Christ's Entry into Jerusalem
Melozzo da Forli, 1477-82, Fresco, Basilica of Santa Casa, Loreto [Web Gallery of Art]

The Commemoration of the Lord's Entrance into Jerusalem


Gospel Matthew 21:1-11 (New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, Canada)

When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately. This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,

“Tell the daughter of Zion,
Look, your king is coming to you,


    humble, and mounted on a donkey,

        and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”



The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,

“Hosanna to the Son of David!

    Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”


When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”


The following Hymn to Christ the King may be sung during the procession.


Chorus:

Gloria, laus et honor tibi sit,
     rex Christe redemptor,
cui puerile decus prompsit
     Hosanna pium.

Glory and honour and praise be to you,
     Christ, Kind and Redeemer,
to whom young children cried out
     loving Hosannas with joy.

El Greco, c.1608, Szépmûvészeti Múzeum, Budapest [Web Gallery of Art]


Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)                                  

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)

Gospel Matthew 26:14 – 27:66 (New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, Canada) 

The response for today's Responsorial Psalm is My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? ('abandoned me' in the NAB Lectionary), the last words of Jesus according to St Matthew, whose version of the Passion is read today. The readings carry that theme, explicitly or implicitly. The Prophet Isaiah says, I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting. The church applies these words to the sufferings of Jesus. Yet there isn't total abandonment: The Lord GOD is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame.

Psalm 21 (22) is fulfilled in the Passion and Death of Jesus. St Paul in the reading from his Letter to the Philippians speaks of the self-emptying of Jesus: Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

An tAthair Pádraig Ó Crolaigh (Fr Patrick Crilly) of the Diocese of Derry, Ireland, reflects on this in his poem An Crióst Tréigthe (The Abandoned Christ). I have added my own English translation.


An raibh sé ina aonar ar feadh a shaoil,
Was he alone throughout his life,
An Críost seo scartha ón Trionóid naofa?
This Christ separated from the holy Trinity?
Ar chrothnaigh sé an dá phearsa eile,
Did he notice the absence of the two other persons,
Nó an raibh sé in aineolais orthu?
Or was he unaware of them?

Agus i ndiaidh fhás na spioradáltachta ann,
And after the growth of spirituality in him,
I ndiaidh greim a fháil ar a cheangal le Dia,
After he grasped his connection with God,
Ar fágadh in aonar arís é ar an chrois
Was he left alone again on the cross
Gan a fhios aige cén fáth ar tréigeadh é?
Not knowing why he had been abandoned?

Nuair a fhuair sé bás ar an chrois,
When he died on the cross
Ar ócáid cheiliúrtha é filleadh abhaile?
Was going home an occasion of celebration?
Nó ar bhraith sé tréigean a dhaonnachta
Or did he feel the abandonment of his humanity
I gcumha a shaoil abhus mar dhuine?
In the loneliness of his life here as a human being?

Ag leanúint Chríost dúinn i mbeocht an tsaoil
In following Christ in the living of life
An mbuailfimid lena thréigean siúd?
Will we encounter his abandonment?
An féidir linn a bheith Críostaí
Can we be Christian
Gan casadh sa saol leis an Chríost tréigthe?
Without coming across the abandoned Christ in life?

Poem taken from Brúitíní Creidimh, published by Foilseacháin Ábhar Spioradálta, Dublin, 2005. The title could be translated as 'Mashed Potatoes of Faith'. Potatoes are the main staple in Ireland.

Father Ó Crolaigh, I think, is teasing out some of the meaning of St Paul's words today: Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Jesus wasn't acting or engaging in any kind of 'drama-drama', as we say in the Philippines. He truly suffered a sense of being forsaken, of being abandoned, to the very depths of his being. He did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. We see that in the Garden of Gethsemane when the three Apostles closest to him fell asleep during his hour of greatest need. His cry from the Cross, Eli, Eli, lema sabachthaniMy God, my God, why have you forsaken me? comes from the innermost recesses of his heart, from a sense of even his Father having abandoned him.

One of the forms of feeling abandoned that I have come across in recent years in persons I have met and in my reading is a sense of disillusionment with the Church. In some predominantly English-speaking countries Church leadership has lost much of its moral authority because of the way it has been seen to have dealt - or not to have dealt - with the awful reality of some priests having abused children and adolescents.

Many older persons in Western countries are bewildered by the reality of the younger generations having abandoned the Church to a large degree, not a few having abandoned Christianity itself. Maybe some have abandoned the faith because they see the Church, and by extension Christ himself, as having abandoned them. That should be a fearful thought for those who see themselves as followers of Jesus with the responsibility of making him known to the world.

In more and more families spouses are abandoned by their husband or wife, children by their parents. Though it's not as great a phenomenon now as it was in the 1970s and 1980s, friends have expressed to me their sense of having been abandoned by their priests who left. I know from friends who have left the priesthood that their decision to do so was often very painful and not taken lightly but I have rarely heard one who has made that decision express any awareness of the pain it has left in others.


Pope Francis has spoken a number of times about the 'throwaway culture' that has resulted in the killing of humans considered 'unnecessary' and in the slavery of others, as he did last January in speaking to diplomats assigned to the Vatican (above).

Jesus in his experience of being abandoned, forsaken, has carried the pain of all who go through that to whatever degree and from whatever cause.

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THE DONKEY
by G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936)

When fishes flew and forests walked 
And figs grew upon thorn, 
Some moment when the moon was blood 
Then surely I was born; 

With monstrous head and sickening cry 
And ears like errant wings, 
The devil's walking parody 
On all four-footed things. 

The tattered outlaw of the earth, 
Of ancient crooked will; 
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb, 
I keep my secret still. 

Fools! For I also had my hour; 
One far fierce hour and sweet: 
There was a shout about my ears, 
And palms before my feet.