On not locking our doors

In his book The Secret, Rene Fumoleau has a poem entitled ‘Sins’. Fumoleau, who was a missionary priest with the Dene Peoples in Northern Canada, once asked a group of Elders to name what they considered the worst sin of all. Their answer: The 10 Dene discussed together, And after a while Radisca explained to…

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Sacred permission to feel human

It is normal to feel restless as a child, lonely as a teenager, and frustrated by lack of intimacy as an adult; after all we live with insatiable desires of every kind, none of which will ever find full fulfillment this side of eternity. Where do these desires come from? Why are they so insatiable?…

Some coping secrets worth knowing!

Monks have secrets worth knowing, and these can be invaluable when a coronavirus pandemic is forcing millions of us to live like monks. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, millions of us have been forced to stay at home, work from home, practice social-distancing from everyone except those in our own houses and have minimal social…

Praying when we don’t know how

He taught us how to pray while not knowing how to pray – that’s a comment sometimes made about Henri Nouwen. It seems almost contradictory to say that. How can someone teach us to pray when he himself doesn’t know how? Well, two complexities conspired together here. Henri Nouwen was a unique mixture of weakness,…

Society’s deep failure in charity

St Eugene de Mazenod, the founder of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, the Religious Congregation to which I belong, left us with these last words as he lay dying: “Among yourselves, charity, charity, charity.” I don’t always live that, though I wish I could, especially today. We are in a bitter time. Everywhere there…

A quite magnificent defeat

Where’s the fairness in life? Why are some people so undeservedly blessed in this world while others are seemingly cursed? Why are craftiness, self-serving ambition, taking advantage of others, and dishonesty so frequently rewarded? This has no quick answer. In his book The Magnificent Defeat, the renowned novelist and preacher, Frederick Buechner, takes up this…

Advice on prayer from an old master

At the risk of being simplistic, I want to say something about prayer in a very simple way. While doing doctoral studies, I had a professor, an elderly Augustinian priest, who in his demeanor, speech and attitude, radiated wisdom and maturity. Everything about him bespoke integrity. You immediately trusted him, the wise old grandfather of…

What faithful friendship means

I grew up in a close family and one of hardest things I ever did was to leave home and family at the age of 17 to enter the novitiate of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. That novitiate year wasn’t easy. I missed my family intensely and stayed in touch with them insofar as the…