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Wednesday, September 09, 2020

How can high level bankers and financiers hold their heads high in public?

I thought I'd open a savings account today until I received over a dozen sheets of paper, printed on both sides, from the bank with more fine print than it would take a lawyer to figure out. When I got to the tables indicating the interest rates, at first it looked really good. If I could manage to put together $5,000 I'd get 5% interest per year, which nowadays is pretty good, right? It seemed too good to be true; so I looked more closely and discovered that, in fact, that was too good to be true.

What is really being offered is 0.05% on a balance of over $5,000. That works out to 5 hundreths of one percent, or, to be even clearer, 5 ten thousandths. So for $5,000 that would amount to total interest per year of $2.50. I had to double check with the calculator, and sure enough, multiply 5,000 by 0.05% and that is what you get, $2.50.

It's a joke. The high level bankers are playing with the hard-earned money of the entire population of our countries and making record-breaking profits - I hate to think of how they must be treating their employees - and giving us just about nothing in return, except perhaps some security and guarantee against robbery and fraud. These past decades, banks have made insane profits, which may explain the foolhardiness with which they made speculative investments, some of which caused the financial crisis of 2007-2008. Those who made and promoted those risky investiments obviously didn't care about the people whose money they WERE PLAYING WITH. It was all about GREED and CAREERISM. 

The next step we might anticipate is that banks'll try to convince us that we should PAY THEM for the privilege of allowing them to play with our money, our hard-earned savings. That would be the limit. 

All that is because our entire financial and economic system is based on the principle of debt and credit. When you start out in life you have all your potential before you: youth, strength, ability to learn, ability and willingness to apply yourself to tasks and jobs, and much more. In the eyes of our financial and economic system, all of that - all of YOU - is worth NOTHING.

You have to take out a loan, to apply for credit, in order to have any value at all, and your value is only as much as you OWE. It's a new or old form of slavery which defines your worth by what value you have to the one who holds over you a debt. That is as close a definition of slavery as I can think of, with the exception of freedom of movement and of speech; although in many places these are limited as well. 

I recall reading somewhere that when industrialists and capitalists of the industrial revolution first offered salaries to workers - a specific wage for a specific duration of time worked - that citizens generally balked at the offer. They were actually offended because common sense told them that this arrangement was nothing more than a volunary form of slavery because their time would no longer be their own and they would, in effect, belong to the owners for the duration of their work period.

In actual fact, initially and for a number of decades, working conditions grew increasingly horrendous as capitalist industrialist owners of factories put the "squeeze" on workers to extract as much labor and output from them as they possibly could for as little remuneration as they could get away with in return. Typical factory, store, and restaurant workers in the early decades of the 20th century would work six days at 10 to 12 hours a day for $7 a week. It often cost them $6 a week to share a bed with other workers, which left them with only $1 a week to eat, clothe themselves, and buy medicine. Many poor women who were single parents had to "sell" themselves in order to feed their children. 

Original catholic activists like Dorothy Day and Catherine Doherty cried out loud on behalf of the poor. even embarrassing Church leaders - bishops and pastors - to finally come to recognize that the Church was doing NOTHING for the poor and poor workers. Before and after the "Great Crash" of 1929 there was nothing like health care, employment insurance, social welfare, retirement funds, or even soup kitchens. At best there was only a bit of simple neighborly help by those good people willing to notice and bring some limited comfort to the trouble of their neighbours. 

The very first soup kitchens were set up by Dorothy Day at the Catholic Worker New York in 1933 and by Catherine Doherty at Friendship House in Toronto in 1931, in Ottawa in 1936, in Harlem, New York in 1938, and in Chicago in 1941. Those movements rose and fell and engendered many others as social awarness and responsibility grew in the general population of our countries and in other lands as well. 

These prophetic leaders and activists and the movements they generated arose from their faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Lord, and by prayerfully looking to Him, his life, death and resurrection; seeking from the Gospels light that could be shed on the many ethical and social issues of the day that were having deleterious impacts on the lives of the general population: war and peace, wealth and poverty, the privileges of the rich and powerful versus the constraints on the poor and helpless, issues of exploitation and violence, the insensitivity of public and private institutions and of the ordinary citizen to the trials, tribulations, and suffering of the disenfranchized. 

Originally, Dorothy Day was caught up with the work, writings, speeches, and public manifestations by communist and socialist activists, but she shortly experienced a religious conversion and from then on she followed none other than Jesus Christ. Such as the faith and motivation of Catherine Doherty, who unlike Dorothy, followed Jesus Christ from her childhood. Having experienced the "downside" of communism in Russia from 1917 to 1920, Catherine strove all her life to bring the Gospel to bear on the troubles of the poor and oppressed in order to bring a better light to bear on their lives than anything that communists and socialists might claim to bring. 

Catherine read what the popes had been writing since the beginning of the industrial revolution about the plight of exploited workers and she won the approval of popes she met who encouraged her to persevere in her labours. Pope Paul VI even said to her that on her and her work and others like her depended the survival and progress of the Church herself. That is why she became such a thorn in the sides of bishops, cardinals, and priests who had not caught up to the rapidly deteriorating living conditions of ordinary people from the mid-1800's to the mid-1900's. It took time, but church people increasingly became aware and mobilized into action for the poor and dispossessed of the Earth. 


Health Care - in Canada: Medical Care Act of 1966 - in Saskatchewan 1st provincial hospitalization plan in 1957 - in U.S.A. teachers set up first plan in Texas in 1929; Blue Cross began in 1936 and Blue Shield in 1939; Medicare and Medicaid came in 1965

Employment Insurance - in Canada: Unemployment Insurance Acts of 1940 and 1971 - in U.S.A. the federal-state Unemployment Insurance (UI) Program created in 1935

Social Welfare - in Canada: Social Welfare created in 1940's; in Québec in 1958; in Ontario the first step was the Workmen's Compensation Act of 1914 for destitute persons over 70 - in U.S.A. the National Welfare system was created in 1935; from 1910 to 1915 32 states enacted workers' compensation insurance 

Retirement Programs - in Canada: the Registered Retirement Annuity was created in 1957; followed by the Canada Pension Plan in 1965 by Lester B. Pearson - in U.S.A. the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad established in 1884 the first pension plan by a major employer (at 65 workers for 10+ years could retire for 20 to 35% of wages; in 1875 American Express created the first private pension plan for the elderly and disabled; by 1926 there were around 200 private pensions by larger employers. Plans continued to develop in the 1900's but less and less employers offered them since the 1990's. The U.S.A. never developed a country-wide pension plan, reflecting its capitalist foundations and principles. It's every man for himself and every woman for herself. You don't plan, you don't get. 


We have forgotten the original reasons why people were willing to suffer brutality at the hands of police called by the capitalists when workers began to demonstrate in order to convince fellow workers to unite and form unions. They desperately wanted to win the authority to negotiate with the capitalist owners on behalf of the workers in order to seek better hours, safer working conditions, and better pay.

Human nature being what it is, many unions developed into caricatures of what they were originally intended and designed to be, trying to control plants and production and to dictate conditions to the owners without reference to the costs of production and the profit margins. In the past several decades many factories and businesses have closed or sold out because of unreasonable demands by unions, whose representatives lived on the union dues paid by the very workers whose jobs they destroyed. 

The best balance I have ever seen between workers, owners, and bankers is in the entirely worker owned and operated collection of companies developed originally in the Basque country of Spain in the 1950's by Catholics which has become a multinational corporation. Workers actually own the various companies and the supervisors and managers must report to them. 

Instead of companies being owned by a handful of people, who can sell the company and dismiss the workforce at any time and retire with their profits to the Caribbean, the companies are actually entirely owned, operated, and managed by the workers themselves. We're not talking about communists or socialists here, because initially these were good Catholics and I would suspect that a good number of them still are. They haven't upset political institutions but on the contrary have been the economic and social backbone of their peoples and states.

No worker loses his or her job unless they don't want to work, and they are evaluated by all the workers at general meetings. No one earns more than 5 or 6 times the one who earns the least. Their collective profits and pension funds are reinvested into more development, education, and savings. They have developed their own university, and all the towns in which they have companies and workers are doing very well because of the great benefits generated by this cooperative movement. This amazing, creative, and cooperative movement is called Mondragon Corporation. Check it out. 

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

DAY 146 of the COVID-19 WORLDWIDE PANDEMIC in 2020

Good morning sisters and brothers of Humanity on our Planet Earth in the Star System SOL,

I hope this finds you all well, and I hope that if you have rain, that you may find it soothing to listen to the rain fall.... I further hope that the following words will be soothing to any who may be feeling any kind of stress, for any reason at all, which is bound to happen to all of us from time to time....

For many years now I have come to understand in my own experience, I believe the Lord has taught me, that his ways are not our ways, as He says in the Old Testament so often to his people. One of the ways of the Lord is that He governs us under what Saint Pope John Paul II called "the law of the gift", which he liked to apply to Marriage, but it is also a universal principle eminently applicable to every dimension of our human life: God is a self-bestowing God, He gives Himself. The Father gives Himself to us through his only-begotten Son, the Son gives Himself as the human man Jesus and does so to the end on the cross and continues to give Himself now in the Holy Eucharist as well as in his being the divine "Word of God", and the Holy Spirit pours Himself into us as what Jesus called "living water".

God the Most Holy Trinity calls us to be governed by this same principle, never out of fear - see how often God says "Do not be afraid." The Word of God said this to his people whenever a heavenly messenger addressed a member of the Chose People, and Jesus also said this to his disciples and to people. We are to imitate God in the gift of self, and of course, this can only be done in freedom and with generosity, which means there can be no coercion.

I regularly have occasion to apologize, in a sense, for my enthusiasm, when this causes others to feel under pressure to be a certain way or speak a certain way or do a certain thing; which is generally very far from my intention. It is for each of us to understand that we stand freely before God and in the face of each other. One of the consequences of this is that we need to wait on one another for a response fully from freedom which in turn can allow for a movement, "un élan", an impulse of generosity, which itself generally is produced as a radiance of gratitude; gratitude for all that we have already received from this God who gives Himself so liberally, so completely, so extravagantly, and so universally.

Since the divine law which governs us is divine love, itself a process which unfolds in freedom and generosity, then we can breathe easily, and allow ourselves to open up to the three divine persons in trust, and rather than force ourselves into becoming saints, simply allow them to fill us with the Holy Spirit and gently guide us, from moment to moment and situation to situation, into living in a way by which we gradually make of our life more and more a gift of love for others, beginning with our spouse, then our children, then our immediate family of origin and our extended family, and finally to our neighbor, to the stranger, and even to any and all enemies.

If we truly love, then we do no wrong to our neighbour as Saint Paul wrote in Romans 13:10, and if we love Jesus, then we will obey his' commandments as reported in his Gospel by John in 14:15. Gratitude, love, freedom, and generosity are like a kind of spiritual dance which exists in the peace God gives and which generates divine joy. In turn these enhance the freedom, peace, and gratitude of all who observe them in others. I am very far from experiencing these in perfection, but I have tasted enough of them to know that they are true and real, and that they are precious graces from God, which are very highly desirable for ourselves and for others.

May we all be governed by these wonderful principles....

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

It may be legal, but it remains offensive

The year was 1969

Churchill Falls Labrador Corporation and Hydro-Québec signed a deal with the latter investing about half and taking the added risk of covering potential cost overruns in exchange for a long term fixed rate which, at the time, indicated no risk for the CFLCo due to the fact that energy prices in the world had been stable since 1950. It took a few years for the dam to be built and for electricity to begin to flow out, but already by then the world had dramatically changed.

The Montreal La Presse on February 16, 1971 reported the signing of an international deal initiated by OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which - following on the Middle-East conflicts involving the State of Israel - decided to stop letting the world push them around. They had oil and the West wanted it; so they decided it was time for the West to pay the piper, as it were.

I recall seeing - from 1969 to 1972, the year that I learned to drive - the price of gasoline go from $0.29 to $0.39 and then to $0.49 for one imperial gallon. Around 1980 we went metric; so that would have been $0.064 to $0.086 to $0.108 per litre! We're talking 10 cents a litre here! Then during the '70's the price kept creeping upwards with OPEC firmly holding the reins: $0.54 per imperial gallon in 1973; $0.63 in 1974; $0.80 in 1975; $0.87 in 1977; $0.92 a gallon in 1978; and finally, in 1980, we went metric and now it was $0.296 a litre = $1.34,6 for one imperial gallon; while in the UK and Europe and even in the U.S.A. it was twice or three times that much.

Our world had radically changed in just a few years

So, while the ink on the agreement was barely dry and the electricity started flowing out of Churchill Falls, Hydro-Québec was making a mint and Churchill Falls Labrador was getting crumbs. It was a swift kick to the head and they realized they were screwed, and screwed for the next 65 years! Meanwhile, Hydro-Québec was waltzing to the bank like someone holding a humongous winning lottery ticket.

In the best of all possible worlds, either Hydro-Québec or Québec leaders or the population itself might have realized the lopsided stakes here, and someone could have taken the bull by the horns and said to Churchill Falls, "Look, I know we have a signed agreement, and we're not obligated to do any more, but, this is ridiculous. Here's what we'd like to do. You're stuck at the 1969 price which is now increasing geometrically with no sign of stopping. We have to pay back our investment, but it won't kill us to increase what you get to 10% maybe as much as 20% of whatever increases in price we get. If the price goes down, so will yours, of course." I don't know, anything along those lines would have been a civilized thing to do, a gentleman's offer and gesture, a sign that we still have some class.

But no. On the Québec side, we walked away like the proverbial lotto winner or casino winner, laughing all the way to the bank. As for the people on the other side, "f.... 'em!" "They signed just as we did; so they can live with it now." Yeah, right.

What we did is worthy of the worst rogue capitalism for which North America is known, and more especially, our immediate neighbours to the south. Just look at and listen to their leader, President Trump, and you'll see this brand of rogue capitalism at work. Any competitor is a enemy to crush to the ground so that it will never rise again.

Does this make any sense, but at all?

What about the facts?

Admittedly, without Hydro-Québec taking the risks and investing as it did, Churchill Falls would never have been built, and Newfoundland-Labrador would have nothing at all to show. So, according to the letter of the law, Hydro-Québec was and is fully entitled to a good return on their investment and proper compensation for taking the risks by assuming any potential cost overruns. It could have decided to invest on Québec territory instead. The "new Québec" after Jean Lesage's win in 1960 was only 9 years old and there was a lot of work to do to bring the province into the 20th century in many ways. Still, though, according to the CBC to Churchill Falls Labrador Corporation's $2 billion in profits, Hydro-Québec has taken in $28 billion! That's 1,400 %! That's a humongous amount of profit... no kidding!

To laugh at the other partner for a few years would be quite understandable and forgivable, but to "stick it to them" for the past 50 years and to go on "sticking it to them" until 2041 is a bit much, don't you think? Hell, we could triple their take at $6 billion and still get $24 billion for Hydro-Québec's coffers, according to those reports. That's doable. Clearly, we could do much better, which would help Newfoundlanders solve their current extreme financial crisis, and we'd still be taking in billions in PROFITS, because the price of electricity isn't showing any signs of collapsing!

How to understand this?

Clearly, the players here are not interested in being or living or acting as gentlemen. Heck, not even as people of the same species living on the same planet! It's all about making the maximum profit and to hell with everybody else.... "Hey Mom, look at how well we're doing over here!"

I have always been proud to be Canadian, proud to be a Quebecer, proud to be a Montrealer, but today, I am ashamed. I have friends in Newfoundland-Labrador, and when I see their questioning looks, I have no answer to give them, and I can only hang my head, because I have been silent for all this time in the face of a social scandal of human proportions. And this is only one of the many scandals and incongruities of our generations that we have witnessed and about which we have done little or nothing. Well, no more....

Sadly, it's past the time to wake up and smell our planet falling apart

The glaciers are melting at an exponential rate, to the point that scientists are embarrassed to make any predictions about how fast it will accelerate, but the writing is on the wall: sooner than we think, hundreds of millions of people living along ocean coasts will be flooded out and displaced. We think we've been in crisis mode with Covid-19? We haven't seen anything yet! Just wait until those millions of people cross into neighbouring countries just to survive and see what happens then....

We're like people in a rowboat on the ocean having an argument, and one guy decides to stick it to the others and punches a hole in the boat... "So there! That will show you who's boss around here!" Not so smart, as water quickly rises in the boat and the sharks circle around just on the other side...."

Even kids know all about getting along and cooperating. We were kids once and we learned that lesson, but we've forgotten it. Well, it's high time we learn it again, because time is running out. We of the human species currently occupying Planet Earth, we are in actual danger of going extinct, and it could very well happen in our lifetime; unless we wake up fast and start working together.

So, Hydro-Québec, buckle up and start talking nice to the other guys and gals

Okay, so I may be sounding naive here, right? But I'm a believer; so that means that I live primarily driven by hope. Why? Because I know that very soon we will all find ourselves standing in the presence of the Creator of the Universe, the One from whom we come and to whom we are all going, whether we believe that or not, and whether we like that or not. He is kind and gracious, but also just. He was warned us that if we are harsh to others, then we will get the same treatment. If we are kind to others, then we can expect to find kindness from Him as well.

So, Hydro, it's never too late! You can still come out of this smelling like a proverbial rose if you take the initiative and "make Churchill Falls Labrador Corp. an offer they can't refuse"... to give our good neighbors in Newfoundland-Labrador a break they sorely need and surely deserve. It's high time we do the right thing so we can look at ourselves in the mirror and, finally, not have reason to feel bad, to be ashamed of our cavalier treatment - FOR THE PAST 50 YEARS - of these good people. Yes, we took risks and were assured a good deal, but this has gone WAY, WAY, WAY beyond that. It's time.

Feel free to pass this on, to "pay it forward"

Even if we're stuck to a wheel chair and only able to type on a keyboard with the look of our eyes through an adapter, there's a lot we can each do to help make this world a little better. We can do a lot through just a few words at the right time, in the right place, to the right people.

As Pope Francis keeps saying, the Earth is our common home. So, I say, let's not treat it like a toilet, because that would mean that we are living in a toilet. Let's not treat it like a garbage dump, because that would mean that we are living in a garbage dump. Neither of those attitudes would reflect very well on us; so let's encourage one another to "rise to the occasion" and make a difference.

Check out the film "Tomorrow. Demain." to see how many people are already choosing a proactive course of action in their lives and improving the world around them for others.

Pope Francis will be receiving young people who want to make the world better be constructing an economy that puts people and our common home first, ahead of profits, and certainly not profits at all cost, even at the cost of destroying our common home. Check it out - the gathering planned for November 19-21, 2020 is being called "Economy of Francesco".

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Abortion is a failure of manhood more than a woman's choice

Are you shocked? I don't think any thinking person should be shocked by such a statement, at least no Christian or human being familiar with Christianity should find it shocking. Why is that?

From a Christian perspective on pregnancy

Today Roman Catholics and others observe the solemn memorial of the Nativity or Birth of John the Baptist. Of what significance might the birth of a baby boy two millennia ago be for humanity today?

True, his pregnancy was a pleasant surprise, even considered miraculous, because his mother Elizabeth was "getting on in years"... in other words, she was old, even elderly, well beyond child-bearing years. God had to send the Archangel Gabriel with a message for Elizabeth's husband, the priest Zechariah, while he made the offering of incense in the Temple in Jerusalem. The message is that God was granting him and his wife a favorable answer to their lifelong prayers for a child.

Because they were both beyond child-bearing years, Zechariah reacted with scepticism to the angel's message; as a result Gabriel struck him dumb until the day God's promise would be fulfilled.

When Mary, the bride of Joseph of Nazareth (they had not yet come to live together to seal their union), visited her cousin Elizabeth, who was now 6 (lunar) months pregnant, the child in Elizabeth's womb "leaped for joy" and Elizabeth was "filled with the Holy Spirit" and she proclaimed Mary blessed, for she too was now pregnant with a child by God's direct intervention.

Fine, but those women wanted to get pregnant and have a baby

True. Elizabeth had long wanted a child but was found to be barren; while Mary (Myriam) was too young to have even thought much about having a child. Tradition is though that she very much wanted God to grant Israel the long-awaited and promised Messiah who would save his people.

Granted that "ordinary" women today may not necessarily have any interest in having a baby at any time soon or even ever. That is the situation in the developed West but not necessarily elsewhere or at any other time in history. Why is that?

Let's recap historically relations between women and men / between men and women 

Throughout history, women have considered childbirth as coming to the fulness of their womanhood and that children were the "glory of woman" and having more children was simply adding to their wealth. It was a woman's joy, serenity, and satisfaction to have a man who respected her and prized her for all that she brought to their joint family.

To the extent that her man did not rise to the occasion, then to that extent did the woman suffer and was deprived of that satisfaction and blessing. If her man was not a good father, then the burden of parenting fell heavily on her shoulders alone, and the children were deprived of proper fathering.

Male adult human beings who rose to the occasion and became truly men manifested respect for all women and particular devotion and loving service to their own wife, whom they cherished for her own self and all the more for the children she bore to him to grow their family.

Such a man taught his children, both girls and boys, to respect their mother as he did his wife, and to show her nothing but love, obedience, and grateful attachment.

Saint Pope John Paul II on women (and by extension on men)

In 1995, in anticipation of the Fourth World Conference on Women to be held that September in Beijing, Pope John Paul II wrote his "Letter of Pope John Paul II to Women" addressed to all women in the world and to every woman. He acknowledged with regret all that has been done historically to deprive women of recognition of their own proper dignity and to exploit them in various ways and so to make their lives miserable and to hinder them from fully developing themselves and making their full contribution to human society. In particular, he wrote:
"9. Progress usually tends to be measured according to the criteria of science and technology. Nor from this point of view has the contribution of women been negligible. Even so, this is not the only measure of progress, nor in fact is it the principal one. Much more important is the social and ethical dimension, which deals with human relations and spiritual values. In this area, which often develops in an inconspicuous way beginning with the daily relationships between people, especially within the family, society certainly owes much to the "genius of women". 
Here I would like to express particular appreciation to those women who are involved in the various areas of education extending well beyond the family: nurseries, schools, universities, social service agencies, parishes, associations and movements. Wherever the work of education is called for, we can note that women are ever ready and willing to give themselves generously to others, especially in serving the weakest and most defenceless. In this work they exhibit a kind of affective, cultural and spiritual motherhood which has inestimable value for the development of individuals and the future of society."
Earlier in his text he recalled how it is related in the Book of Genesis that God created woman after he had created man; so that she could be a helper to him, and he to her. There is a profound truth told here that we human beings are created in God's image and likeness, and that we exist and live in God's image and likeness precisely in our complementarity as male and female, female and male.

It might be a startling deduction to say that whenever we act exclusively as male or exclusively as female - without the active complementarity of the other - then we can be expected to be and to act "less humanly" or "with less humanity". Men need to "make room" for women in order to develop, become, and act "more humanly"; just as women need to "make room" for men in order to develop, become, and act "more humanly".

A perspective on humanity - man and woman - uniquely shared by Jews and Christians

Even from an aesthetic, literary, and anthropological point of view, it is significant to note that the creation account relates how it was that during the 6 days of creation, God at each stage looked upon all that He had made "and God saw that it was good". It was only after the Creator had "created humankind in his image", creating them "male and female", and after having commissioned them to have dominion over all of creation - that is to assure order and proper development among all living and inanimate creation - and after having shown them all that they had to eat; that
"God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good." 
It can be said that woman - especially in light of chapter two of Genesis - was God's final creation, and from a certain point of view, his masterpiece. Pope John Paul II appreciates woman from this very point of view in coining the phrase "genius of women" to portray women's unique and irreplacable capacity and determination to give life and nurture life, especially with those who are the most vulnerable and needy.

There is an expectation, then, which is not specifically spelled out but which follows of necessity and logically, which is an expectation that men would rise to the occasion and acknowledge, first of all, this "genius of women" and, secondly, in deep gratitude show women the utmost respect and support with all affection of heart, respect of intellect, and generosity of soul. After all, only a fool would neglect or discard his most valuable treasure, only a brute would treat his treasure with contempt, and only a pirate would treat his treasure as a commodity to be sold, bought, or traded.

Sadly, men have all too often behaved towards women precisely as fools, brutes, and pirates; hence all the sad human history of the abuse and mistreatment of women and the inevitable consequences of impoverishment of the whole society. To the extent that male and female infants are abused with such harsh treatment; to that extent they are deprived of their full right and possibilities to become fully man, fully woman, and fully human.

How does this "truth" about humanity revealed by God shed light on our current situation?

It is logical and honest to derive from human history the conclusion that, left to her own devices, a woman would want to experience the fullness of her femininity, of her womanhood, and bear one or more children to a loving man, her husband, and in this way to make her unique contribution to build their family and help to develop society.

I would submit, then, that whenever a girl or a woman is inclined to reject this dimension of her being; it is very likely that this is primarily because she has been deprived of sufficient or even of any fully developed men in her family of origin. She has not known any man strong enough, developed enough, loving enough to assure her that as his daughter she is fully wanted, loved, appreciated, safe, and free to breathe, move, live, develop, rejoice, and have her being as woman. She has probably not known any brother with similar dispositions towards her. She may even have been abused in any number of ways, overtly or in hidden but equally damaging ways.

Why would such a woman, cut off from anything beneficial in her society, want to have children, only to have them share in the miserable conditions which she has known and in the despair of ever finding anything better?

Human society's criminal neglect of respect for the proper dignity of women

On the basis of this study, then, I would like to submit that the current trend of abortions worldwide is a true plague, a worldwide pandemic, far more serious than Covid-19. The various agencies that keep track of abortions publish a conservative estimate that there are some 40-50 million induced abortions (separate from miscarriages) worldwide each year, which translates to 125,000 to 137,000 daily.

Why would so many woman, who by their very nature would want to bear their children into the world and see them live and prosper; why would they submit themselves to the extremely violent procedure of having their baby poisoned by chemicals, or sucked out and shredded live by vacuum, or killed by means of any other equally violent procedure?

The facts speak for themselves. Rarely does the man who impregnated that woman accompany her to the abortion clinic. He may not even accept to take responsibility for his part in the conception of the infant. Even if he does take his responsibility and does accompany her, he still does not understand or refuses to acknowledge the violence of the abortion procedure, and failing to do so, he also fails in his role and responsibility to protect his woman from experiencing any harm to herself or her baby.

A further fact, which is undeniable due to the sheer volume of documentation and social tracking, is the growing absence of men in families and households: men are increasingly conspicuous by their absence as husbands and by their absence as fathers. The result is that the girls they have conceived are much more likely to experience lifelong abuse and misery, and the boys they have conceived are far more likely to die young by a violent death or sink into a miserable life of crime and violence. It is a vicious circle that begins and ends with men's failure to respect their women, from their mothers and sisters to those with whom they engage in irresponsible sexual relations.

This situation is "the human condition" and not just the crime of one generation

In God's self-revelation to the people of Israel, the Creator manifested his sympathy with all human suffering, and in particular, with this failure to connect in love and respect between the generations.
23 "Lo, I will send you the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. 24 He will turn the hearts of parents to their children and the hearts of children to their parents, so that I will not come and strike the land with a curse." Malachi 3
It is clear, then, from this prophetic word given by the prophet Malachi in the 5th century B.C. that God renders the diagnosis that human society will remain "cursed" until and only until the hearts of parents turn to their children and the heart of children turn to their parents. The only effective remedy and prescription for this "dis-ease" can only come from God when He sends Elijah again to his people. Jesus acknowledged that John the Baptist was indeed Elijah come again to turn human hearts back to God and, consequently, back to each other.

So where to we go from here?

Since we are given to understand that, left to herself with true men in her life, any woman would want to bear to term and to life any child she would conceive, rather than destroy it; it remains, then, for us men to rise to the occasion and become those men God intended us to be and for our society to manifest in all that we say and do the utmost respect for women, all women, regardless of their state or condition in this life.

Every woman is God's masterpiece, the one most likely to make visible the Creator's generous giving and sustaining of life; for this reason alone she deserves every support to fully realize the fullness of her womanhood, whether or not she elects to have children of her own. It is only with the full support of the men in her life that, even in the face of an unwanted pregnancy, any woman would follow her own feminine nature and bring that life to term in order to allow it to live and have its opportunity to develop and have a life. It is then the responsibility of society to assure that any unwanted child find a home where it will be wanted, cared for, and loved for its own sake and not for exploitation.

There are many, many woman now on record who, having once been staunch defenders of women's rights to abort unwanted pregnancies, now have come to reverse their views with the conviction that the abortions they had were truly violent procedures that had lasting negative impacts on them, not to mention the deadly impact on the infant of ending its life. It is through faith in God that many of these women have experienced forgiveness and peace and were then able to forgive themselves and all those who failed to support them. Only with forgiveness were they able to experience deep healing in their own person and in their womanhood.

It is our place to acknowledge these women and be grateful for their courageous testimony in the face of aggressive opposition from those still committed to the defence of what they call women's right to choice. They don't realize the incongruity of their stance in denying the equal value and right to the choice to refuse abortion and instead choose to nurture life to birth and beyond.

As men fail to fully develop their manhood, they simultaneously hinder womanhood to develop

It is ironic but understandable that there is such opposition in our human society and culture and such aggressive resistance and even violent action against the Judeo-Christian Scriptures and convictions about the "culture of life". The "Ten Commandments" and all ethical thought related to them are said to put unfair limits on human beings' rights to choose and enjoy life. The evidence is in by now that the rejection of this "religious anthropology" results in the most dire consequences and misery. There is no such thing as "free sex" or "free enjoyment" of anything, because to every action there are all the inescapable consequences.

Human ingenuity and industry created "the pill" in 1961 to help regulate irregular cycles experienced by some women, but then it was found that it also acted as an abortifacient. It interrupted conception or the process of conception. Humanity embraced it with reckless abandon.

In 1968 Saint Pope Paul VI published for his encyclical "Humane Vitae" to everyone in the Church and to all people of good will, which was an eloquent reflection on the beauty of human love and family, he warned that to try to exert control over the human process of conception with artificial means of birth control would have dire consequences. He was ridiculed, as most true prophets usually are. Sadly, subsequent events demonstrated only too truly how right he had been.

When people claimed to have mastery over their fertility and "their own body", they simultaneously rejected God's authority and mastery over their mortal lives. The results have been catastrophic and uncontrolled separations and divorces, all time low respect for women by men, the reduction almost exclusively of woman to sexual objects, astronomical numbers of abortions, abandoned children, absent husbands and absent fathers, unfathered generations of children, increased crime rates among those unfathered children, increased rates of homelessness among children and youth as well as of prostitution and other crimes, increased rates of human trafficking and of the slave trade, especially for the purpose of sexual exploitation, increased rates of self-mutilation and suicide, increased desire for euthanasia or medical assistance in dying... and the list of woes goes on and on.

What if a woman really does want to be free to enjoy sex without consequences?

Human nature being what it is, I don't deny that a woman might indeed want to taste what appears to be the freedom from consequences with which some or even many men seem to enjoy their sexual pleasure. However, in such a case, I don't think it would be defensible to claim that such a stance may be an advancement, progress, or elevation for the woman; rather, it would be a step back, a descent into depravity, the kind that tragically far too many men for far too long have perpetrated, dragging down with them their unfortunate spouses and families.

The only men who can in any way enjoy sex without consequences would be those who ignore or silence their consciences, or who have so often trampled on them as to render them inert and unable to rouse them to better motives and higher goals. The killer may feel badly after the first murder, but with each successive one he will feel less and less badly about it and may end up justifying himself with the thought that their victims "deserved what they got". So too the thief may feel justified to take from the rich in order to alleviate his own poverty or that of others.

The impulse to "enjoy sex without consequences or responsibility" can only cause a person to change and become depraved, one who is more and more inclined to objectify others and use them as objects for their own pleasure, separating those others in their mind from any reality of being persons in their own right with a unique life, personal feelings, permanent value, and a proper destiny of their own.

Whichever of us, woman or man, still has a sense of what is right and what is wrong before God, then that one has a responsibility to care for oneself but also care for the other by resisting the other's plea to do what is wrong - however attractive that thing may appear to be or may be represented to be, or however frightening the right thing may appear to be. If one doesn't stand for what is right, then one becomes responsible not only for one's own downfall, but also for the downfall of the other. Like it or not, we're literally all in this together, and we either navigate or sink together.

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem is defending women from pressure to abort

Elected in 2019 as the first woman Governor of South Dakota, Kristi Noem has signed several pieces of legislation to come to the defence of pregnant mothers and of unborn children, not least of which is a piece to criminalize pressure put on pregnant women / mothers to abort their child. Her personal and political priority is to defend and promote the family as the most important unit of society. This is a kind of socially responsible leadership that our world needs but has sadly been lacking far too long.

Governor Noem deplores the lack of serious commitment in her country overall to value the family, and worse, the apathy that allows any and all other considerations and motives to undermine and erode the family, in particular by failing to support the parents as well as the children. Governor Noem is certainly taking the lead among U.S. politicians and is truly setting an example for all of us, not just politicians, to emulate and to follow.

In light of the tragic reality of the unequal and unjust burden of responsibility left to be carried alone by women - especially when there is an unexpected pregnancy - it's high time for all of us to stop the accusatory and aggressively divisive rhetoric and for each of us take our responsibilities seriously, roll up our sleeves, and support and accompany pregnant women rather than dump the entire burden of responsibility for them to carry alone. It's time for men to "man up" and for women to "circle the wagons" and for men and women together to "bite the bullet". We'll all be better for it.

God's offer of forgiveness and life is still valid and on the table. It is up to each of us to accept.

From a strictly human point of view - in light of the inherent weaknesses in us due to the human condition - there at first appear to be no solutions in sight for any of these social ills, which are rapidly disintegrating the fabric of our society. The only truly effective solution ever devised is the one offered by God and clearly revealed for all of humanity to discover, consider, and welcome.

He sent his divine Son into this world with the indispensable help of a woman - his mother Myriam - to take on a human existence by which He came to be known as Jesus of Nazareth, son of Myriam of Nazareth and of Joseph the carpenter of Nazareth. By the manner of his life, ministry, signs and miracles, then by his passion, death, and resurrection, Jesus revealed and demonstrated the quality of God's stable and unrelenting love as that of the Father's unconditional love for us.

It is a love that desires to enter into a mutually loving relationship and therefore asks for a true return of love, and we can only return God's love in a true, honest, and transparent way. This requires that we admit the ways in which we have failed women, failed men, failed our children, failed our society, failed each other, and failed ourselves. We need to repent and seek forgiveness, but it is a wondrous forgiveness that has already been given to the last drop of Jesus' human blood.

God the Father's forgiveness and his offer of a relationship of love through his Son Jesus Christ, is a wondrous transformation that can only happen within us by the intervention and power of the Holy Spirit, and it is a gift ever awaiting our wanting it, our consent, our confession. Authentic love that seeks the good of the other is like true friendship - it cannot be forced or demanded - and like true friendship, it can only be freely given as a gift without strings attached. So it truly is up to each of us.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Compare Covid-19 to all other deaths worldwide

Hello, It is interesting to see how global media are making such a case of deaths caused by the Covid-19 disease, which in turn is caused by the virus SARS Cov-2. It appears that the media are dramatizing the situation a little to excess perhaps.

While it is true that SARS Cov-2 is invisible and undetected until symptoms appear - unless one is tested and found positive during that incubation period - which does cause this virus to be scarier than others we have suffered in the past; one might wonder why the threat is being overly dramatized.

Perhaps it is because as a society and culture we have put the whole notion of death and dying so completely out of our conscious minds that any new threat looms larger than it actually should. Check out the data for yourself below, as compiled with the help of WORLD-O-METER.

And then, of course, there is the taboo subject of abortions... those little, defenseless human beings that are ripped out of their mothers' wombs before they have a chance to fully gestate and be born into our world... a world which has become so very hostile and inhospitable for anyone who is not wanted, for one reason or another.... Food for thought and reflection....

Deaths Statistics Worldwide – 2019-2020 

How many people die each day and each year from:                             DAILY                         YEARLY

                        (Daily deaths per sub category)

Cardiovascular diseases                                                                   48,742                      17,790,830

Cancers                                                                                               26,181                        9,556,065

Respiratory diseases (10,724) & 
Lower respiratory infections (7,010)                                              17,734                        6,472,910

Digestive diseases 6,514, Neonatal disorders 4,887,                 (all related to hunger)
Diarrheal diseases 4,300, nutritional deficiencies 740,
Protein energy malnutrition 635, Maternal disorders 531      17,607                        6,426,555

Diabetes 3,753, liver diseases 3,624, 
Kidney disease 3,370, hepatitis 346                                               11,093                        4,048,945

Tuberculosis 3,243, HIV/AIDS 2,615, 
Malaria 1,698, meningitis 789                                                          8,345                        3,045,925

               Hunger    (See all related diseases & disorders)                    8,219                        2,999,935

Dementia 6,889, Parkinson’s disease 933                                       7,822                        2,855,030

Road injuries 3,406, drownings 809, 
Fires 330, poisonings 198                                                                  4,743                        1,731,195

OTHER CAUSES                                                                                    3,227                        1,177,85

Suicides 2,175, Alcohol use disorders 507, 
Drug use disorders 456                                                                      3,138                        1,145,370

COVID-19    (projection) 11’19 – 11’20                                           2,334                            852,060

               Homicides 1,111, wars & conflicts 355, terrorism 72              1,538                           561,370

Heat 146, natural disasters 26                                                              172                             62,78

TOTAL DEATHS                      WORLD-O-METER                                        160,895                     58,726,825


ABORTION                                                                                           44,569                      16,267,685

REAL TOTAL DEATHS                                                                                     205,464                     74,994,510

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Communing with God in our everyday life

It is easy for living human beings at any time to feel anxious and troubled. What are we to do at such difficult moments?
First, we are simply to remember that we are right now exactly where God wants us to be... because we are always in the presence of the most Holy Trinity... so at any moment we can stop, close our eyes or look up into the sky, breathe deeply and slowly and then just breathe normally... and become aware of the heat inside our chest... there in our heart is also the center of our soul, our spirit, and we can notice that our breath and this heat are one and the same... There is also the divine light coming from God and shining within us and upon us.... So we can just realize that God in 3 Persons is ALWAYS present and active... so I can allow myself to become passive and receptive... and let God hold me, shine in me, purify me, warm me, comfort me, heal me, and continue to do all that He wants to do within me, as I continue to breathe in and out, in and out.... Then as any concerns come up, I can simply notice them, and hand them over to God, as I continue to breathe in and breathe out.... We can carry on this way until a natural conclusion and then simply get back to our normal active life and family tasks and activities. Repeat this process as often as needed in all simplicity... sometimes as simply as remembering to breathe, conscious of the movement from God into you and from you into God.... Christ is risen, alleluia! Alleluia!

Saturday, April 04, 2020

A Catholic view of life and death inside a worldwide pandemic

We've heard of, read about, and even studied plagues, epidemics, and natural disasters that have occurred throughout recorded human history. Until now, our perspective has generally been that of the outsider looking in from outside, from a safe distance.

In recent decades there have even been several feature length films on the theme of worldwide plagues or pandemics, which for the most part convey an "end of the world" sort of danger and suspense, including hoped for heroes who lead the containment of the outbreak and the discovery of effective treatments and vaccines.

Now, suddenly in February, March, and April 2020 we all find ourselves no longer outsiders peering into such a threat to the survival of humanity from outside, from a safe distance. Collectively, we find ourselves waking up progressively to the shocking reality and truth that we are, all of us, INSIDE of a worldwide pandemic. We are the human species, immersed in the biosphere on the surface of Planet Earth, under attack by the rapid and invisible propagation of a novel coronavirus - SARS CoV-2 - which, upon entering human air passages, causes the illness Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019).

This virus, like all such microorganisms, knows no boundaries, no distinctions of language, color, racial or ethnic origin, age, or gender. It is airborne and can also cling to inanimate surfaces, and it is otherwise helpless, needing our help to find its way into our nose or mouth and beyond into our airways, where along it can land, secure itself, and attack healthy cells. It is RNA and incapable of reproducing by itself, and needs to attack a healthy cell in order to make copies of itself and propagate, and in the process, compromise our lungs and breathing passages, thereby producing symptoms of illness and, in the worst cases, causing death.

We human beings living all over the Earth find ourselves without distinction all in the same boat. We are all under threat. Our various civil and religious leaders are trying to mobilize our cooperation to modify our behaviors and adopt safety practices to limit the propagation of this deadly virus. It is a common and worldwide appeal to our collective sense of responsibility, to no longer think only of our own selves and personal interests, but to put the health and well being of others first.

We are coming to understand during this crisis that she and he is most human who is able and willing to take good care of herself / himself, and in addition also commits to joining our collective effort to do all that is personally possible for them to do in order to advance the common good, protect the health and safety of all - especially the most vulnerable - and to count on our collective effort rather than only on oneself.

As Catholic Christians our faith helps us to rise to the occasion of this "best quality of humanity" that takes care of itself while also putting a shoulder to our common load and challenge. People who take the path of this fullness of humanity may do so simply as a best strategy for their own survival and / or that of their family, friends, and community. Without faith in God they may even commit their efforts for "the good of humanity" as a noble ideal.

What Jesus Christ offers us is to be - through personal experience and faith - so convinced of God's love for us that we can in our turn live out of selfless and even self-sacrificing love for others and even in a return of love to God. Jesus' resurrection reveals our common destiny beyond death in life that is eternal in the company of God, the Eternal One. The "price of admission" is complete trust in this love of God, which we are to demonstrate through our unreserved and unconditional service of our neighbor, of all without distinction, even to the point of offering our life. 

Saturday, February 15, 2020

The pain of not being able to find a priest

Are you a young engaged couple looking for a bilingual priest to marry you?

Increasingly in various parts of the world, and even here in our western societies, it is becoming difficult to find a priest. You might be a young couple in love and you want to get married in your own language in your favorite parish church, but the priest there can't speak your language. So you go looking for a priest who can and you find just how difficult it might be. Priests are older, fewer, and laden with more and more duties. Our priests in many places are suffering a similar fate to lay people in the workplace where, in order to "maximize profits", more and more corporations are eliminating posts and expecting current workers to not only continue doing their own job but, in addition, taking on the jobs of those who have been "downsized", or "excessed", or "reduced"....

The big picture, at least in part, when people make requests of the Church...

One reason for a possible delay in obtaining a bilingual priest to serve you is simply the current conditions in our society and our Church. When I was a boy, the vast majority of people went to Church on Sunday to worship the Lord... we would join the crowds of neighbors all walking to Church. At the same time, the devotion to God and prayerfulness of people and their support of the Church and generosity of both service and contributions raised very high the "good reputation" of God as well as of his Church in society. New parishes were established and new churches built throughout the 1940's to the 1960's because all the churches were literally full to overflowing with 4 to 5 Masses in the church and perhaps 3 to 4 Masses in the basement every Sunday. Most parishes saw anywhere from 5,000 to 15,000 people every Sunday.

Many young men were therefore encouraged to heed the Lord Jesus calling them to follow Him and join the ranks of his priests at the service of the People of God. Moreover, the generous support of the large Sunday assemblies permitted the local parish to care for the people as well as for their buildings and services. In addition, parishes were receiving enough donations to be able to send their share to the Diocese to enable the Archbishop to assure a number of services needed by everyone but unavailable in parishes.

Then everything changed...

Then came the great prosperity and the emerging "middle class" of the 1950's because of the industrial development brought about, ironically, by the tragedy of World War II, followed by the "sexual revolution" of the 1960's, the abandonment of faith, of the Church, and of God by a large proportion of the population in the 1970's, a kind of "love affair" of society with science and technology in the 1980's (which trend continues until today) and simultaneous distaste for God, faith, and religion, and, sadly, in the 1990's began the coming into broad daylight of the hidden scandal of sexual abuse, clericalism and the abuse of power and authority in the Church.

There has probably always been some sexual misbehavior since the turning of the first human beings away from God. More seriously, there has probably always been the risk of sexual abuse of children within the family circle - by a parent or relative or family friend - due to psychological trouble and emotional immaturity in adults close to children. Also well documented is the risk and occurrence of abuse of women by their husbands or by their parents, and other causes of distress.

Unfortunately, the sexual abuse of children is such pure evil that until our times people could simply not believe that such things could possibly be happening. It is a fact that when a child tried to tell its mother that it has been harmed by the father or uncle or someone else, that all too often the mother just could not believe it, and the child remained isolated.

Until the 1990's not enough was understood about the condition of adults who molest young children; so it was simply seen as a "sin" about which the "sinner" could be expected to feel sorry, repent, and never do it again. What social science research finally discovered is two things. First, that the pedophile who abuses small children has a pathological condition by virtue of which he or she is incapable of realizing the harm they are doing or to stop or "repent". Second, and much more important, the sexual abuse of a child is a very serious crime because of the profound harm done to the child.

The sexual revolution of the 1960's and the abandonment of morality generally in the 1970's by society caused a proliferation of abuse, and many of those who might have been restrained by fear of punishment in the past now no longer felt such restraint and this evil increased. It is now being documented that in a number of seminaries a "homosexual culture" took root which drew in men with unhealthy sexual lifestyles and psychological immaturity; while at the same time trumping the seminary's important duty to "filter" candidates and offer the appropriate formation. This brought new challenges that have to be resolved and a new urgency to face these challenges and work together to find lasting solutions. Thankfully recent popes have taken some important measures and there is reason to hope that they will continue to do so.

The dramatic social upheaval of the 1960's and 1970's caused many serving priests to become aware of doubts regarding their faith and their vocation, and probably more than 1 out of 10 left the priesthood. This trend continued until today when, occasionally, in the face of all these challenges, a priest becomes discouraged and finally leaves the priesthood, but does not necessarily become any happier than he was before.

The crisis of faith...

Social upheaval throughout human history has affected individuals, families, and the whole society. The very dramatic upheavals of the past century have profoundly destabilized human life and family life as well as the whole society as we can see with all the suicides, gender and other identity issues. Troubles in the lives of adults have also had dramatic impacts on children and the young, often affected by such hard changes in their own lives as separation or even divorce by their parents, then having to go through shared custody with their estranged parents, or else being affected by such changes in other people close to them.

Many people have never really experienced the love of God, or struggle in their life because they find God too invisible, too silent, and find their faith almost reduced to insignificance in the face of all the dramatic troubles in society, in the natural environment, and in life in general.

Many people feel their faith is strong when they feel close to God or have the impression that they feel his love for them, but then they feel they have lost their faith when they no longer feel close to God, or don't feel his love, or feel isolated or abandoned in the face to troubles and suffering.

The truth is that - like in the poem "Footprints in the sand" - when we feel close to God it is simply that God is carrying us by his grace. Then, when we feel alone or abandoned by God or suffer because He seems to be silent and invisible, those are the times when God has so much confidence in us that He set us down on our own two feet and says, "Okay, you can do it, go now and play, and know that I am with you."

God is merciful toward his children...

By the grace of God, the taboos preventing us from facing our challenges, from talking about evil wherever it occurs, and from fighting to resolve it and prevent it from happening again, many of these obstacles have finally begun to unravel, and society now feels that it is able to face these wrongs and try to set them right.

God is purifying his Church and is using his Church to bring to the whole society his healing for all that is sick and distorted in persons, family life, and human society. God heard the cries of his children, and in the 1990's the scandal of abuse was brought out into the light of day, thanks be to God.

So how does all this have anything to do with you finding a bilingual priest?

So, now Church authorities are taking strong measures to resolve the problem, to alleviate the suffering of the victims, and to change ways of doing in order to weed out any who might be inclined towards such evil behavior and acts. You need to understand that over the past few decades many priests have left, many have died, the number of those coming forward to replace them has trickled to almost none, the priests we still have are now all older, some of the young who joined us have become discouraged or ill or left their vocation.

In addition, new burdens have been added to the shoulders of the good and faithful priests who, though aging, continue to serve the Lord and his people. Now that instead of 75% of Catholics going to Church on Sunday in Québec, Canada, it is more like 5%. In a typical inner city parish instead of Sunday offerings around $4,000.00 they probably don't get even $1,000.00. Most of our churches are in disrepair and have plaster falling, stones falling out of the walls, leaking roofs, bad plumbing, furnace problems, and the list goes on.

Many beautiful churches have been condemned as unsafe, closed, and the parishes dissolved because they had been abandoned for decades with only a handful of people going on Sunday and an accumulated need for urgent repairs in the millions of dollars for each church. Most parishes can't even afford to give their priests the proper salary, or have a full time secretary, or even give a proper salary to their janitor. There is only so much that volunteers can do.

So, what are your options?

When I was young, Mass was in Latin, but we followed the Latin prayers with a parallel English text in our missal prayer book. You want to marry at a French church, fine. The priest assigned there speaks French; so he can celebrate your Mass in French and allow you to say your vows in English. He can obtain the text from an English parish. You can read your vows to each other from an index card. No matter the language, the Mass is always Jesus offering Himself to his Father and inviting us to join Him in offering ourselves also to the Father.

Most of our priests are of retirement age, but by the grace of God, they continue to be dedicated and motivated to serve; however, we must all acknowledge that we cannot expect a 70 or 80 or even 90 year old priest to be able to function as though he were still 30 or even 50.

Your desire to have an English Mass in a French church seems simple, but because of the current conditions of our whole Church, is very difficult to fulfill, in fact, it is becoming increasingly impossible. You need to decide what is most important for you... is it the French church or getting married in English or what?

The important thing is that no matter what you decide, God loves you and is with you both and your families. Our Lord Jesus is asking you to be merciful and to feel somewhat sorry for the troubled state of his Church. Society in general has a lot of contempt for the Church, for priests, and even for God. More than ever, as Jesus continues his work of salvation on Earth, He needs our help and our support in any way we can. We all need to do our part.

It is time for Christians to believe in the face of great unbelief, because God is calling us to Himself...

In addition, I believe that God wants everyone to demonstrate a little more respect for Him, for his Church, and, yes, even for his priests. There is something schizophrenic about a society that has contempt for clergy today but then tomorrow wants favors from them, or that turns its back on God and his Church on Sunday but when the occasion arises expects the Church to still be there for them. That would be like expecting doctors, nurses, teachers, police, and firemen to continue serving us while simultaneously cutting their salaries down to 10% of what they have been getting. That would be like no longer repairing your home but expecting it to continue to be in top shape for the next 50 years. It's time for Alice to come back from wonderland.

I have been a priest for over 36 years and I am delighted to have been called by the Lord. I can't say that I am always happy, but my life is punctuated by incredible joy, peace, and the love and mercy of God. It is amazing for me to see the "hand of God" at work in people's lives, to see the gentle flow of "living water" from the Holy Spirit heal, grow, and refresh people from within. Jesus continues to be amazing as Lord, King, Messiah, and High Priest.

We need to encourage men who are hearing Jesus call them to "not be afraid" and to explore the possibilities they have for responding to his call. Please pray for these men every day, and as we all begin once again to truly put our trust in God; then He will manifest his power to save in amazing and even dramatic ways. The whole Bible makes it clear, though, that God wants our faith. He wants us to show that we believe in Him, demonstrate that we want to know and do his will, manifest clearly our willingness to obey Him, and He will most certainly act.

May God bless you both and your families, the Father, and the + Son, and the Holy Spirit.