Posted September 02, 2009 in New Millennium:
Of Politics, Hope, and Little Things

by Fr. David May.

As you go about your daily business of living wherever you are, whom do you carry with you? I mean by that, what is the concern of your heart as you do the daily chores at home or drive to work or go to Mass or maybe take a walk for exercise?

As a member of Madonna House and a director of same, I naturally carry the concerns of our Apostolate always—problems in relationships, or in our missions; the need for vocations; the sufferings of our members, questions of discernment about future directions.

As a priest, I am mindful of all those for whom I am responsible, especially in spiritual direction. The journey of each is so individual, so perilous and fraught with danger, yet filled with such potential for good. Discernment is key for each step, and it takes a lot of prayer.

Then there is the task of spiritual warfare on behalf of each, for the sake of true liberation in Christ.

Since I am part of a blood family, my loved ones, who are all many miles from here, are never far from my mind and heart. I think of them often, keep in touch as I am able, pray for each one. There is always an ache inside from the human loss of being separated from one’s own.

As a citizen of both Canada and the U.S.A., I pray for the peoples and leaders of each. I intercede for those I know who are caught in the travail of the current economic downturn.

Especially the issue of abortion torments my soul, like a wound that never closes. Admittedly, it is not often that I have been called to be involved in the specifics of a decision concerning the choice of abortion.

My calling has been more that of listening to and accompanying many who have been traumatized in one way or another in their lives. Many of these I have accompanied over the long haul. Truly those struggles often reach the intensity of the choice for life or for death, at least at the level of the will.

But abortion is like blood flowing silently from a gaping wound in the very heart of our society. I wonder: when will it ever close?

In the present political context, both the Canadian and American governments stand squarely behind the "right" to abortion. The American president has spoken of his respect for the Catholic Church and for those opposed to his point of view; he promises that a "robust" conscience clause will be put in place to protect Catholic medical personnel in their work. But it is clear where he stands on the main issue: the wound of abortion will not be closed under his leadership; and its extent will be sustained internationally by U.S. money and influence.

I also carry in my heart the peoples of various suffering nations. There is a seminarian from Sri Lanka who likes to keep in touch and to whom we send a few books now and again. How can one not grieve the deep divisions and sufferings of civil war in that beautiful land?

I have friends in Israel—both Palestinian Christian and Jewish—who long for both peace and justice, who reach out to their brothers and sisters of all backgrounds in that land. Their agony at times is beyond telling. They accompany me wherever I am as I go about my day.

I’ve met some of Canada’s Native Peoples in Alberta, the Yukon, Saskatchewan, and Nunavut. I’ve touched both their astonishing beauty and heroism and what one spiritual leader calls a "pathological sadness." I never go far without these various peoples coming quietly to mind. One of them, Edie Scott, now deceased, was a dear sister in our MH family.

When I actually stop to pray, all of these and more are with me. Sometimes they come quietly, sometimes more like a flood.

I am not immune to worry and anxiety for certain ones and certain situations, but it is the aborted children that are with me especially as I write this article. So are their mothers and fathers. So are those, especially Catholic leaders, who think they are helping the situation by promoting abortion "rights."

Is it just my overactive imagination or do I hear the cry of these little ones in the silence of my prayer? Are they crying out for mercy for us all? Or justice? Or is it both? Perhaps it is indeed both.

I remember once when Catherine Doherty was visiting our farm, and she was talking about the "anger of God" in the context of either the sins of society at that time or of the Church. Someone asked her, "How can you claim that God is merciful if you say that he is angry?" She instantly replied, "But, sweetheart, God’s anger is also his mercy!"

Perhaps it will take the judgment of God to awaken us to the offer of mercy that is always ours. I don’t know. But I am reminded in these days of the Old Testament prophets through whom God harangued the kings of Israel. Those ancient leaders, whatever their personal moral state, were desperately trying to make alliances to assure the survival of the Jewish kingdom in the face of terrifying and powerful invaders. But God was not concerned about those invaders or about the state of Israel’s army. Instead, he chastised with the words of the prophets a people who were oppressing the widow, the orphan, and the immigrant. It is as if he were saying: What is the use of fortifying the frontiers of society when in its very heart a wound has opened that is bleeding it of life?

Such are the thoughts coming to me these days. But there is another line of thinking that comes, one I also learned from Catherine. She taught us over and over that every moment of life is meant to be an offering, an identification with the suffering Christ in his members.

In addition to any means within my power to help a person directly, I also have a great power for good at my very fingertips—if I realize that this cup I wash with love and a prayerful spirit is the cleansing not only of a cup but of the mud on the face of a fallen soldier or civilian in a war somewhere.

This floor I sweep with care and with an interior cry for peace is the sweeping away also, by my prayer united to Christ’s, of the obstacles to reconciliation—in the Middle East or in the middle of my own living room.

This article now coming to its end is also a prayer from my fingertips to the hands of President Obama or any national leader who pursues worthy goals (helping women in distress) by evil means (abortion). May Christ take his hand, my hand, our hands, and guide us to the fullness of his truth. For the power of a single act united to Him is great enough to change the balance of the world, especially if such prayer rises as one from the whole Body, from the whole Church.

Such was Catherine’s teaching to us on the meaning of little things done exceedingly well for love of Christ. And all that I have written of here—and so much more according to your or my circumstances in life—can be carried in the offering we make of our lives today, united to Christ’s great Offering in the Mass.

On this teaching, of course, a community like Madonna House stands or falls. And strangely enough, so does our world as it hangs over the precipice where it is now poised.


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One Man's Scrap, Another Man's Gold (July-August 2009)



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