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Weekly Pause &  Ponder

We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive.  He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.  There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us.  When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.

Martin Luther King Jr.  


Ordinary People Love This  Book

While relaxing at our lake house in mid-December, I came across New York Times’ bestselling author Matthew Kelly’s 2018 book, “The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity”.  The jarring title together with the claim on the book jacket that “ordinary people love this book”, piqued my interest and I began my search for the answer.  The book’s short, entertaining chapters kept me turning pages, until in chapter six, I found the answer.

In referring to the biggest lie, Kelly explains, “This lie is not one that non-Christians tell.  It’s a lie we tell ourselves as Christians”.  The lie concerns holiness. Kelly asserts, “The great majority of modern Christians don’t actually believe that holiness is possible”.  We think that maybe grandparents and saints of old reached holiness but never us.

The author spends the rest of the chapters debunking the notion that holiness is not possible for everyone.  He also explains in practical terms how to strive for holiness.  Such holiness is the antidote to the anger and ill will that is consuming today’s society and thwarting positive attitudes and the desire for peace.

Take up this easy to read book and you will learn the art of what Kelly calls the “Holy Moment”.  I think he has rebranded a concept that is as old as humanity.  In referring to the holy moment, Kelly cautions, “This single, profound, beautiful truth will change your life forever”.  It has the possibility to transform our ailing world.

I’m so convinced of the value of reading “The Biggest Lie the History of Christianity”, that this Christmas, I sent a copy to all ten of my nieces and nephews.  I’m a believer, trying to live Holy Moments every day.

By Jean Moylan, csj


Stepping into a New  Year

If you have been listening to any talk shows on the radio or TV this is the time of the year that we hear about people making New Year’s Resolutions.  Most of these are personal.  Things like shedding extra weight, putting down our devices to have a real conversation with someone we care about.  These are all good in their intent and some even life changing.  However, I stepped into this new year with a heavy heart given the very serious issues that are facing us in Canada and around the world.

I wonder if we could make a resolution that could have real impact in Canada and beyond for 2019.  Here are few thoughts to consider:

Climate Change – Canada is in real danger of failing to keep its commitments to lower its greenhouse emissions.  Somehow many Canadians do not take the threats to our country and planet as real.  It makes wonder if we are just too busy to change our patterns of living.  There is no shortage of choices we can make -like using our cars less, or supporting public transit, or lowering our house temperatures, or supporting more efficient building materials.  We can ask ourselves - What is one thing I can do that I am not already doing?

Truth and Reconciliation – We have heard more conversations acknowledging Indigenous peoples and lands and teaching a more truthful story about Indigenous history and culture.  This is good.  However, of the 94 Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of 2015 only 7 have been realized fully.  There is still much work for all of us in Canada to do.  We can ask our government both federally and provincially to take this work seriously.  We can ask our federal government to live up to the United Nation’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People that Canada signed.  Our Indigenous people must be at the table to negotiate any agreements that affect their lands, water and resources.

Use of Social Media – We can make use of these tools for honest and respectful engagement with people, on issues, and work towards a better world for 2019.

These are only a few thoughts…and we are all responsible for and can make Canada and our world more peaceful, open and inclusive for all one choice at a time.

- Joan Atkinson, CSJ | Office for Systemic Justice


Weekly Pause &  Ponder

The recurring theme of all religions is a sympathy, empathy, connection, capacity between the human and the divine – that we were made for union with one another.  They might express this through different rituals, doctrines, dogmas, or beliefs, but at the higher levels they’re talking about the same goal.  And the goal is always union with the divine.

- Richard Rohr


On The Street Where I Live, I Met  Him.

It was not on “Some enchanted evening … across a crowded room,” I saw the stranger. No, I saw the stranger on the street where I live, on a cold winter’s day just after Christmas.

At first it was a matter of mistaken identity.  You see, I was driving very close to home when I saw this person, bent over a rollator, lumbering up the hill at the edge of the road, as cars zoomed by. My heart constricted.  Was it who I thought it was?  The woollen toque pulled low over the bent head made it hard to see if it was indeed who I feared it was.

I parked in the drive way and ran to bring my elderly friend safely home, and stopped in my tracks, startled by what I saw.  A breathless man lumbered towards me. Poorly clothed, without gloves, unkempt there he stopped in front of me, his face radiant.  He caught his breath, and I caught mine.   Lost for words I took in what I saw.  In the ten years I have lived in this suburb, I have never seen a homeless person on this street.  Where had he come from, where was he going, I wondered.  So, I asked.   And he began at the very beginning, to tell me his story.

It wasn’t long before I recognised some of his mental health challenges.  While I buttoned up my coat and flipped up the collar against the icy wind, the stranger spoke of a miracle that saved him as a child.  As I listened, my mind wandered. I wondered about the Christ whose birth we had just celebrated a day ago.  Who was this stranger, I pondered?  Was ours merely a chance meeting?  What really was this encounter all about?  My question about where he was going, went unanswered. Though I began to shiver, he seemed oblivious to the cold and continued to tell his story.  So, I listened attentively, as it became evident that what the stranger was looking for, was a fellow human being with whom he could share his story.

In time, I knew I needed to end our encounter and told him I had to leave.  I would have happily given this man money and my gloves, which would have been a poor fit for his large hands, but he wanted neither.  “I do not want anything but thank you for your time” were his parting words. Then he turned around and lumbered back down that same hill, on the road, with cars zooming by. 

I stood and watched him for quite a while, feeling blessed by this encounter, thankful for meeting Christ on the street where I live.  

- Sr. Magdalena Vogt, cps


Copyright 2013. Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada.