Sunday, September 4, 2016

Would I Have Chosen Differently?

Here is the testimony of a courageous woman I know - Lori-Lou. She is courageous because she is willing to share publicly her regret of having an abortion, to share her woundedness so that others may give pause and identify with her, and to share the healing she has received so that others may have hope! She is among the most joyful women I know.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

My Soul Woke Up...

Dokan Mountain at Sunrise
By Rawen Pasha (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

I am just ending my annual visit to Madonna House Apostolate. It has been a blessed time. Today, Fr. Michael W. gave as part of his homily a text written by Catherine Doherty. It is part of Catherine's constant dialogue with the Saviour. I could not help but think that these very words could also be from the mouth of St. Mary of Egypt. I offer them below for your own conversation with the Saviour.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Somewhere along the road of life, by the grace of God, my soul woke up, and its hunger became a fire, a fire that consumed me, ate me up, with its intense, devouring heat.

I could not rest anywhere except in motion—in a motion that led me to God. That is how I began the journey inward, that long, endless journey that every soul must undertake if she is to meet her God.

It is a strange journey, across arid plains and verdant valleys, and deserts—a journey of many crossroads and endless sharp turns that confuse and clamor for a rest. But the hunger for God knows no rest. So I go on and on and on.

Yes, it is a strange journey that slowly makes me shed all the baggage I took for it—the baggage I took for it before I knew that it was too heavy a load for this kind of journey.

I don’t know where I left it—somewhere back there by some crossroad. Now I am baggage-less, but somehow still too heavily burdened.

My hunger drives me on. But now for speedy traveling, it demands that I start shedding my clothing.

There on this stone I must lay the cloak of selfishness that kept me warm. I am cold without it, but I can walk faster, as my hunger urges me to.

Here, on this branch, I must hang my dress of self-love and compromise with the world. I shiver now in earnest, but my feet seem to have wings.

Yet this sheltered rock begs for my underwear. Slowly, reluctantly, I shed one by one my undergarments. Here goes self-indulgence. Tidily, next to it, I lay greed for possessions and love of ease and comfort.

Next, not so tidily, go, helter–skelter, all the things in me that are not God’s. Lord, behold I stand naked before thee, with wings on my feet. Now my journey inward will be swift.

But it is not. For I still stumble and fall and walk haltingly—inches instead of miles—while the hunger for God flays me and urges me to make haste.

Oh, I had forgotten my shoes, the heavy, comfortable shoes that shielded my feet from the cutting stones, from the sharp pebbles.

I must unlace my shoes, my comfortable, stout shoes, the last covering of my naked body—the last stronghold of my non–surrender to God.

I hesitate. The narrow path upwards is so hard. It has so many sharp stones, so many knife–edged pebbles.

But the hunger for God flames in me, a furnace of fire unquenchable: the fire of love, of passionate utter love of God.

I must go on, on that journey inward that alone will bring me face to face with him for whom I hunger constantly, without ceasing.

Quickly I bend. With hasty, clumsy fingers I unlace one shoe, then the other. My eagerness is becoming part of my hunger. Recklessly I throw one shoe this way, the other that, not caring whither which falls.

And now I am free. I am free and naked and my feet have huge wings that carry me across the sharp stones and the knife–edged pebbles, without harm. Now brambles and thorns that edge the path open up and point the other way.

I am a naked soul, free and untrammeled, driven by the hunger of my love for God. Driven by my love for God—on and on—on this journey inward.

I did not know it was going to be so easy, now that I shed all my garments.

But now I know. For my hunger is being assuaged, satiated, filled, even as I fly on my winged feet along the steep path upward.

It is being filled, that hunger of mine, so much, so well, that I can feed others with the surplus of the food given to me so abundantly.

Yes, my soul hungered for God before it was even clothed with flesh.

God meets half way the soul that starts on its journey inward, provided that the soul, driven by its hunger of love for him, strips itself naked.

That is the secret of his love and of his kingdom that begins even on this earth.

But the price, I repeat, is nakedness complete—even unto discarding shoes.

- Catherine Doherty, Strannik, Madonna House Publications

Monday, February 22, 2016

In Your divine compassion...

In Your divine compassion, accept me as I now repent. I have wasted my life like the Prodigal, but I cry aloud to You: I have sinned, and have no need of others to accuse me; for I myself bring before You all my shameful acts.

I have forsaken the foods of angels, and like the beasts have fed upon evil wickedness. But now that I turn back, receive me as one of Your hired servants, O heavenly Father.

O faithful, let us all forsake the night of lustful pleasures and hasten to the light of truth, that we may be counted worthy to share in the feast of radiance and joy.

(Ode 1, Monday of Third Week of the Great Fast)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Years ago

Years ago, beyond my memory,
my father stood with his arms outstretched.
With his words of encouragement,
I reached for him,
and, with exhilaration in eyes and breath,
I took my first steps —
from infancy to childhood.
Years ago, faded in my memory,
my father stood with his arms outstretched.
With his words of encouragement,
I looked to him,
and, with exhilaration in eyes and breath,
I caught my first fish by myself —
from childhood to adolescence.
Years ago, recent in my memory,
my father stood with his arms outstretched.
With his words of encouragement,
I embraced him,
and, with exhilaration in eyes and breath,
I departed on my own journey —
from adolescence to adulthood.
Years ago, still fresh in my memory,
my father stood with his arms outstretched.
With his words of encouragement,
I imitated him,
and, with exhilaration in eyes and breath,
I trusted and submitted to the One-Who-Is —
from adulthood to sonship.
Love... love... love, never counting the cost.
Present now, no need for my memory,
my Father stands with His arms outstretched.
With His words of encouragement,
I bow before Him,
and, with exhilaration in eyes and breath,
I desire and ask for the enlarging of my heart —
now and forevermore.

July 19, 2015

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Everybody wants to do his own thing

Everybody wants to do his own thing. Foolishness for Christ's sake, my beloved ones, is doing not what you want but what He wants, and doing it totally, completely. - Catherine Doherty

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Surely the Lord is in this place and I did not know it!

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation of the Mother God. This is a feast of the impossible becoming possible - God taking on our flesh. Today, we dwell in the midst of this mystery of the Incarnation. From the hymnography at Vespers for the feast:
Gabriel stood in your presence, O holy Virgin,
and revealed the eternal plan to you.
He greeted you and announced:
Rejoice, O earth that has not been sown!
Rejoice, O burning bush that was not consumed!
Rejoice, O unsearchable depth!
Rejoice, O bridge which leads to heaven;
O high ladder which Jacob saw!
Rejoice, O vessel of divine manna!
Rejoice, O invocation of Adam!
The Lord is with you.
We heard five readings from the Old Testament last night - two from the Triodion, and three from the feast itself. One of my favourite readings is the one about Jacob dreaming of the ladder.
Jacob left Beer-sheba, and went toward Haran. And he came to a certain place, and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your descendants; and your descendants shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and by you and your descendants shall all the families of the earth bless themselves. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done that of which I have spoken to you.” Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place; and I did not know it.” And he was afraid, and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” (Gn 28:10-17)
"Surely the Lord is in this place,and I did not know it." Fr.Peter Galadza served Vespers and ended with a very short exhortation that just as our Lord was incarnate in the womb of the Virgin, and nobody knew, he was still present. We get a sense of this we we read the account of Mary visiting her cousin, Elizabeth, and how the child in her womb leaped for joy. Fr.Peter encouraged us to go out to the places in the world where people would think that God is not present, and be that one who glorifies God by pointing out this presence. As the fast is mitigated on this feast, I went to a pub with a very good friend, enjoyed a beer, and we shared how the Lord was active in our lives.

I went for a good long walk today. I was thanking the Lord for all the good He has done not only in my life, but in the lives of so many others whom He brings into my life. As I approached the end of my walk, a very tall young man met me on the sidewalk and he seemed to want to say something to me. I stopped. Opening a feta cheese container, he asked if I was hungry. He offered me some homemade sweet squares. I declined (I was walking because I am too fat!). He then told me that he didn't want to offend me, but wanted me to know how much the Lord loves me. I smiled so very wide saying, "Oh yes! How I know that! I am a Christian too!" He smiled. His look gave me the impression that he has had a "close encounter"with the Lord; he was exuding such a joy from within.

We spoke a little longer and shared names. His name is Mitchell. I told him that I was a Ukrainian Greek Catholic priest. "A what!?" I repeated and explained a bit further. I also shared that today we are feasting because of our Lord being conceived in the womb of Mary. He nodded that he understood. I then shared the story of Jacob's ladder, and Fr. Peter's exhortation from the night before. I explained that he was doing exactly what we were told to do last night- go out to all the world and share the Good News, the simple news that the Lord loves us and desires that we love Him and each other. He wept joyful tears.

We parted offering each other a blessing. And I wept. What GIFTS the Lord delivers unexpectedly. Pure serendipity! Surely the Lord is in this place!

Say a prayer for Mitchell.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Untitled Poem 3

the suffering of the child
heralds the goodness
of the coming age.
with every tear,
with every pant of breath,
the suffering deepens.
the joy of the act
enlightens the child,
so much so,
he grows, matures 
and teaches.
fruits of his father
are passed to me with
his suffering endured 
on that wood.
his joy surpasses
all happiness.
this too is mine at his giving.
could i ask  for anything,
then but to suffer
and endure as he?