Saturday, May 16, 2009

St. Paul and Hockey: Priests' Retreat for Kingston Ontario: May 11 - 15, 2009

May 16, 2009

Peace and Good,

I just finished a priests' retreat in a resort at Rideau Lakes, Ontario, just across the border from Watertown, NY. This was for the priests of the Kingston, Ontario archdiocese. Kingston is the first English speaking diocese in Canada. The present archbishop and a previous archbishop were both present. There were about 50 priests there as well. The theme was the usual for this year: the Letters of St. Paul.

It is always great to preach to priests. First of all, many of the older ones did not get all that good a formation in scripture. Before the council, most scripture classes in the seminary were a very different style than what is available today. For the younger priests, it is an opportunity to refresh what they learned in the seminary. Furthermore, since they have all preached for years, they immediately see the usefulness of various insights for their preaching and their own lives.

For me, it is an incredible privilege to be able to share what I have learned in my own training and along the road. What is especially good is that my insights will be shared with hundreds and thousands of people through the preaching of the priests to whom I am speaking.

The welcome was typical Canadian, very friendly, courteous, etc. This is also the Stanley Cup play off time, so I could see how hockey crazy many of the men are. It was an enjoyable time for me and I hope for them.

I finished a book on tape: Fire Lover by Joseph Wambaugh. It is the story of a serial arsonist who especially like to set fires in stores which were still open. The irony of the story is that the arsonist is a fire investigator. A couple of things hit me as I listened. The first is the incredible ability to some people for self-deception. They just cannot see or care that what they are doing is terribly harmful to others. The other thing is the whole question of radical evil. I understand that people who do these things are sick, probably sociopaths if not worse. How do we respond to their crimes? How do we stop them and yet treat them with dignity as a child of God? (I know that we might think that they don't deserve that dignity, but our faith tells us otherwise.) I do not mean that they should be let out on the streets again. That is not a real solution. But what to do?

You might know that when I give parish missions, I set up a prayer basket for people's prayer intentions. Then, when I leave, I take the intentions with me and pray on ten of them each morning and evening when I am saying my morning and evening prayer (from the breviary). I read one this morning of a parent whose child is suffering from mental illness. It is so difficult for parents, spouses, siblings and children when mental illness visits a family. Please keep those individuals and families in your prayers.

This coming week I will be preaching a mission at St. Paul's Parish in Kensington, CT.

God bless and


fr. Jude


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