“Our once great western Christian civilization is dying. If this matters to followers of Jesus Christ, then we must set aside our denominational differences and work together to strengthen the things that remain and reclaim what has been lost. Evangelicals and Catholics must stand together to re-establish that former Christian culture and moral consensus. We have the numbers and the organization but the question is this: Do we have the will to win this present spiritual battle for Jesus Christ against secularism? Will we prayerfully and cooperatively work toward a new Christian spiritual revival ― or will we choose to hunker down in our churches and denominationalisms and watch everything sink into the spiritual and moral abyss of a New Dark Age?” - Mark Davis Pickup

Friday, October 11, 2019

A BRIEF THOUGHT FOR TODAY ON THE SOURCE OF MEANING


Your connection with God, and your connection with other people is the most important thing you can do in life. Love is where meaning is found.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

I AM A PARIAH IN MY OWN COUNTRY!


It’s federal election season in Canada. Canadians have the Liberal Party, the Conservatives, the New Democratic Party (NDP), the Peoples’ Party, Bloc Québécois (Quebec's separatist party) and the Greens to choose from as the next government. The Liberals and Conservatives are in a dead heat for 1st place. On the 7th of October 2019, we were treated to a English debate amongst the leaders. A pretty motley group but there’s our choices. They shouted over, er, I mean debated about the economy, each others’ faulty characters, the economy, energy, the environment, immigration and so forth—the usual topics one would expect in such an election forum. At one point, the topic turned to abortion. 
The only pro-Life candidate is the Conservative Andrew Scheer. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) reported: 
“The debate turned briefly to the subject of abortion and a woman's right to choose, which saw Scheer facing attacks from all on the stage. 
"The laws of access on this issue have not changed for 30 years under Liberal prime ministers, under Conservative prime ministers, they will not change when I am prime minister," Scheer said.” [1] 

Pretty soft pro-Life! What’s the point of Scheer saying he is pro-Life if he’s has no intention of trying to extend Canada’s constitutionally guarantee of the right to life to the youngest and most vulnerable members of Canadian society?
What I found revealing is that the Liberals, the NDP and the Greens will not allow a pro-Life candidate to run for Member of Parliament in their parties. Liberal Leader, Justin Trudeau, challenged Scheer about why he would even sign the nomination papers of any pro-Life candidate? To 21st Century progressive thought, it’s unthinkably to the Prime Minister that the Conservatives would allow any candidate for Parliament who would not wholeheartedly embrace a woman’s right to choose death for her unwanted or inconvenient unborn child. After all, it’s a Canadian value.
In Canada, a woman can have an abortion for any reason at all, or no reason whatsoever; and she can have as many abortions as she wants—all paid by the Canadian taxpayer. All she needs to do is call her friendly neighbourhood abortion clinic and make an appointment. Remember, It’s a Canadian value. The unfettered right of women to kill their unwanted pre-born children is so deeply ingrained into the Canadian political psyche; anyone who might give any modicum of concern to the child’s life is anathema. We are unfit for public office and should not be allowed to be Members of Parliament. The People’s House is now only for those people whose views do not offend the sensibilities of Canada’s new progressive elite in government and the media.
The pressure is on Andrew Scheer to close the door to pro-Life people in Canada’s Parliament. Our mainline secular media are fully supportive of the idea and are prepared to shame Andrew Scheer into not allowing pro-Life candidates within the Conservative roster of candidates for Parliament. I predict he will cave to the pressure.
The allure of power corrupts people and the Conservatives are no exception. They want back in power. They will throw anybody under the bus who dare speak for protecting the most voiceless of the Canadian family: Unborn children. It's an affront to the progressive ideal of Choice even when it involves killing another or oneself. Choice and autonomy trump all other considerations.
In "Canadian values" it’s now wrong to oppose euthanasia. Progressives like to use the flowery innocuous sounding euphemism Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) for lethal injection of our sickest and most disabled citizens. After all, Canadians are a polite people even when embracing what previous generations called murder. We like euphemisms that disguise ugly and unpleasant truth or deeds.
The concept of the sanctity of human life is passé—so hopelessly old fashioned for Canada’s Brave New World. Dinosaurs like me who still hold dear the concept that every life is worth living and deserves protection and care, has no place in public office or even the arena of public discourse. My views are unwelcome with Canada’s political elite. Indeed! 

I refuse to pledge my allegiance to this new Canadian value of unfettered choice, regardless of how barbaric it may be. People like me are effectively shut out. I do not fit into the country of my birth. I am a pariah.

Mark Davis Pickup 

Thursday, October 3, 2019

CANADA'S RESPECTABLE BIGOTRY AND "SOFT AUTHORITARIANISM"

There is a respectable bigotry amongst Canada's liberal and progressive elite. It is a prejudice against people of faith, and particularly a  prejudice against Christians. American author Wesley J. Smith has just written a penetrating article about this politically correct bigotry in an article entitled "CANADA GOES SOFTLY AUTHORITARIAN: Morality now begins and ends with government," in The American Spectator, 03 October, 2019.

MDP

Monday, September 16, 2019

WHEN YOU STAND ON HOLY GROUND

Here is holy ground. Where is that? It is that special place where we happen to be when we find ourselves at the end of our resources; our hearts are broken, and there’s no more pretending we are not okay. We are not okay! It is that place in the broken human heart where we are about to give up. We desperately cry out to a yet unknown God in a universe that seems empty and without meaning. And yet we hope as though we are making our last stand with a last inkling of hope against hope. That is when we stand on holy ground, although we don’t know it. It is holy ground because that is the place where God can finally reach us.  We discover that there really is a God who can and does intervene in human affairs and even the lives of individuals, like you and me.  We discover that the universe is not empty—there is a Word that created it all that somehow that Entity is concerned about a insignificant tiny being like you and me in than insignificant place in an immeasurable vast university. 

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”— John 1.1-5

Somehow, a spark of hope appears and shines through our despair where it was only darkness .  Slowly, yet wonderfully, that spark breaks into an open flame that leads us out of our darkness into the light of the Entity we desperately cried out to and we discover that Entity has a name: Jesus Christ.  He is the ‘He’ who was with God in the beginning.  Once we have encountered Him, we know we will never be the same again. The Word encompasses the idea of Divine love and is found in the person of Jesus Christ, just like those fanatical street evangelists, preachers and popes, and Christian praise and worship songsters keep saying.

“… but in these last days he [God] has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.” – Hebrews 1.2-4.

If creation is God’s general revelation, then Jesus Christ is the personal revelation of God’s love.  It’s hard to believe there is a Cosmic Truth and that Cosmic Truth is the very definition of love. We are astounded to discover that we have access to that Love through Jesus Christ—but there it is: Truth.  So simple yet so utterly profound and vast.  I believe this truth of Love is simple so it can include imbeciles like me yet profoundly vast —beyond human understanding—because God is love. The experience doesn’t make sense yet it’s the only thing that does makes sense in a way that is inexplicable but brings us weep with a child-like Joy. We discover that we are not insignificant at all! 

When we first encounter God through Christ, who is the light of the world, His light does what light always does: It drives back darkness in our lives. If you are anything like me, that light with its intense purity reveals what men of older times called sin. Sin is what separates us from a perfect God. God takes you and me just as we are but He does not leave us as we are. He wants us to be perfect just as He is perfect and be with him forever.  A perfect God must that or He would not be perfect. Imperfection and perfection cannot co-exist any more than light and darkness can occupy the same place at the same time. God does not want us to remain where we are He wants the best for us. But how can we move toward His perfection when we are so imperfect? We have and will continue to fall short of His perfection. We know (in our hearts) we don’t deserve to be in the light of Christ. How do we become worthy of God perfection and love? Well, on our own, we can’t.  We have fallen short of the glory of God and always will fall short of the glory of God, if we are left to our own means and devises.  We know it.  But that is no reason to fall back into despair. We are justified before a holy and righteous God through Christ’s righteousness.  

“… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” —Romans 3.23-26.

If our sins make us unworthy to stand before a perfect, holy and righteous God, why would He give us His Son for us? Love.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.  But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” — John 3.16-21.

Real love involves both mercy and truth. Mercy is grace and truth involves righteousness. 

If God is all about love then why isn’t He willing to just forgive and forget our sins?  He is, that’s what the cross is about. Christ takes away your sins and mine through four aith, confession of our sins and repentance. Like love, it’s that simple, so simple even a small child can understand and accept it. In fact, Jesus said that unless we become as a child we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. 

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Sonfrom the Father, full of grace and truth.” — John 1.12-14.

Through faith in the Son of God, Jesus Christ, we become children of God. Small children are totally dependent and trusting of their parents. That is how we are to be with God, our heavenly Father: Child-like faith that trusts not childish faith that demands. We rest in the assurance that our heavenly Father knows what is best for us and so we surrender to His will—whatever that might be. We pray Thy will be done, not my will be done. Surrender.

That is a place of holy ground. We discover a beautiful and heart-rending mystery. It is in surrender to God that we find freedom and liberty. That is holy ground.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

INSIGHT FOR LIVING INTERVIEW

I was recently interviewed by Colleen Swindol Thompson for Reframing Ministries podcast, part of Insight For Living ministries. To listen to this podcast, click here

AN ARTICLE ABOUT MY PRO-LIFE ADVOCACY

The Texas based online magazine The Stream published an article about my pro-Life message across North America: FIGHTING EUTHANASIA: Man With Multiple Sclerosis Travels North America Speaking On The Value of Life. My last speech was in Dubuque, Iowa on the day the Governor signed into effect "The Heartbeat bill" meaning abortions can not be performed in the state after a baby's heartbeat can be detected.

After 35 years, it seems that my time for public speaking has, for the most part, drawn to a close. I am going to dedicate my remaining time to writing this blog (it has more than 800,000 hits) and Christian and/or life-affirming screenplays. Will they be produced? I don't know but I'm going to do it anyway.

Mark


Wednesday, July 17, 2019

A REASON TO BELIEVE IN LIFE AND HOPE FOR THE FUTURE

I've been asked for an update about walking after more than 15 years in an electric wheelchair. Well, it's been a number of months and the remission is holding. The photo at the right was taken July 16th 2019. I'm walking with one cane around the house & two when my wife and I are out in the community. Gait is coming back slowly but I have no stamina yet so I still use a walker or wheelchair when exhausted or for longer distances.

As you may know, remissions are rare with late-stage MS. A recent MRI revealed my brain is riddled with plague but there's been no new activity since the last MRI. My doctors stumped about my remarkable turn-around: What's happening to me right now is not supposed to happen with late-stage aggressive MS. 

There was a time when things became so serious
that my neurologist put me on a risky experimental treatment using a powerful chemotherapy drug to try to stave off quadriplegia that was threatening me. Things got that desperate! The therapy was abandoned because of adverse effects. All I had left was my faith for many years.

Now, unexpectedly, the course of my devastating disease seems to have changed course from continual degeneration. This is an example of why people in dire circumstances must not give up on life and opt for suicide or euthanasia! We just don't know what tomorrow may bring. 


What's happening to me is not supposed to happen after 35 years of aggressive multiple sclerosis and a brain so heavily damaged and riddled with plaque. 

Believe in tomorrow even when logic tells you not to. Where there is life, there is hope.


Saturday, July 13, 2019

A GOOGLE DOODLE AND A MEMORY OF HEART DISEASE


I am writing about heart disease because Google featured a doodle celebrating the birth
of Dr. René Favaloro. He developed the heart-bypass surgical procedure. It gives me an opportunity for me to write my own experience with heart disease.

The 1960s were a revolutionary time in medical treatment of cardiovascular disease. Open-heart surgery was making major advances. The first coronary arterial bypass surgery was conducted in Cleveland by Dr. Favaloro. Pacemaker technology was developing quickly. 

Then on December 3rd 1967, South Africa surgeon, Dr. Christian Bernard
performed the first heart transplant on a man named Louis Washkansky. It was front-page news around the world. Washkansky died eighteen days later just before Christmas. Not to be deterred, Dr. Bernard performed the world’s second transplant in early January of 1968, on a retired dentist named Philip Blaiberg. Again the daring of Dr. Bernard was front-page news. 


One warm summer evening in 1967, my dad and I were sitting at a small table playing chess near a lakeside log cabin we owned. The last vestiges of a glorious sunset sparkled on the lake before fading into dusk.  A fire crackled in the fire-pit giving us light. All was tranquil. Suddenly and without warning, Dad grabbed his chest and pitched forward. The table tipped over sending the chess pieces flying. I yelled, “What’s wrong Dad!” He assured me everything was fine and recovered his composure. He said he thought he was coming down with something. No kidding! Conceding the game he went into the cabin and laid down. I told my mother what happened and she asked him about it. He brushed off the incident as a minor ailment.  The next incident happened in late August while Dad was driving the family car. Suddenly and without warning again he convulsed in pain, clutched the steering wheel, moaned, and with difficulty brought the car to a stop at the side of the road.  He leaned his head against the driver side window. This time my mother saw it. She was horrified! So was I.  Mom badgered and grilled him for details about his chest pain and demanded he see a doctor.  When my father recovered sufficiently he quietly slid across the bench-seat to the passenger side. Mom drove the rest of way home still harping at him to see a doctor. He finally mumbled something about being too late, and doctors couldn’t help him. It was the first time I saw Dad being irrationally obstinate.

Over many decades of diligent practice, my mother honed the not-so-gentle art of nagging into a precise and piercing science. But nagging often has the opposite effect of its intended purpose. My father was of an era when men loathed to acknowledge personal sickness and recoiled at the thought of going to a doctor. It was seen as a sign of weakness. My dad made sure his family was well-tended but neglected himself.  In my perception as at fourteen years old, my dad seemed so strong and invincible – so much in control.

The family doctor diagnosed angina and wrote a prescription for a medication called digitalis. Dad
had a heart condition. To allay our fears, he explained to the family had people with various medical conditions lived normal lives. He pointed out a merchant who lived down the street who had diabetes; with the exception of daily insulin shots and watching his blood-sugar levels, he lived a normal and active life. But despite my father's assurances, a twinge of fear hung over me. My innocent and happy life was about to change forever.

After the 1967 Christmas break, life got back to a regular routine.  It was a typical day at school. In the middle of my grade eight class, there was a knock at the classroom door. It was the school principal. He and the teacher whispered at the door then the principal called me. In the hallway, he looked at me gravely and said: “You need to go home right now. Get your jacket and leave.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Your mother is waiting for you.”
“Why? What’s wrong?”
“Your dad had a heart attack. You need to leave right now.”

I rushed home. Something inside me seemed to know my life was changing and it would never be the same again. When I got home my father had already been transported by ambulance to a hospital. It was not a moment too soon!

Tempest of the heart & soul

When my siblings and I arrived at the hospital, we
were sent to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). We found Mom crying in the waiting room. Through her sobs, she told us that the doctor told her Dad could die at any time! It was like somebody kicked me in the head! Reality became unreality. I went into shock. My mind refused to take in her words. It’s impossible to describe my fear.

That long night, Dad’s heart stopped three times and he was revived three times.  He hung in a dreadful delicate balance between life and death.

Visitation rules for the Intensive Care Unit were restricted to immediate family and only one visitor per hour for ten minutes. The rule was strictly enforced. That meant I could only see the hero of my life for ten minutes every fourth hour and he could die at any time. Each visit could be my last. 

My first visit was more like a journey into a dreadful unknown. When it was my turn to enter the ICU, I trembled to push the intercom button and identify myself. The greenish-white metal doors unlocked and I entered an anteroom to death.

In the middle of the large open Intensive Care Unit, an observation center was raised for a proficient and clinical cadre of nurses and doctors. They peered out across the large room at their half-dead patients. They watched beeping monitors, examined charts and fanned out across the room to various patient’s beds. One side of the unit was for cardiac care. Other assorted life-threatening conditions lined the other three walls. The atmosphere was sterile in more ways than hygiene. It was like something out of a Robin Cook novel. I walked past numerous beds, separated only by curtains and medical equipment until I reached my dad.
 
I was stunned!



His skin was waxy grey. Electric cardio-shock must have still in its infancy because he had numerous burn marks on his chest as though hot stove elements had been held against his skin. The sight of him broke my heart. But even in that very critical state, he smiled at the sight of me. I had only ten minutes for the next four hours so I cut through any possibility of small talk. In four hours he might be dead!

Choking back tears I blurted, “I thought you were going to die!” He became serious but in his usual unflappable way he said, “I thought so too, Mark.”

“Weren’t you afraid?” I asked.
“Yes, I was afraid of dying before you kids were raised. I was afraid of leaving your mother to finish the job alone.”
“Your heart stopped three times, Dad! How can you be so calm?!”
My dad looked at me intensely then said,

 “I want you to understand that Christ was with
me, Mark. We all must die. We can either die with Christ or without him, but eventually we all die. This has been the point behind everything I’ve tried to teach you, son. How you respond to Christ and His sacrifice at Calvary is all that matters when you die. I want you to give your life to Jesus and live for Him.”

Silence, then tears.

Growing up in a Christian home, surrounded by evangelical Christians, I often heard the refrain, “Have you given your life to Jesus?”  As a child, I did make a commitment to the Lord. But it was a cultural commitment of a boy who worshipped his earthly father and wanted to please him rather than my heavenly Father. Now my earthly father lay at the edge of death. I held his hand and we looked at each other.  In that quiet sacred moment, we lived centuries. 

Suddenly, the silence was broken by a gurney bursting through the doors with a team of medical people frantically working on a man.  A nurse unceremoniously ushered me out of the ICU. I founded myself standing outside the doors looking at some poor wretch’s wife with soggy cheeks. She had a terrified expression on her face. I knew exactly how she felt.

Dad remained in the Intensive Care Unit for weeks. It seemed like an eternity. My family watched other heart patients either die or recover enough to be moved to hospital wards. We remained in a limbo of shadows—a no-man’s land that swung back and forth between life and death. Doctors tried to stop the downward slide of my father’s failing heart—and various other serious crisis’s that befell him. We were living in a nightmare.

The heart specialists worked valiantly to save my dad and their skills were spectacular. But I detested their casual detachment from the humanity of suffering. It was not the patient in bed 7 — he was my father! His name was Howard and he had a family who loved him, and our hearts were breaking! He was not the sum total of his electro-cardiograms, blood tests and whatever else was on his chart. He was not the patient in bed 7. He was a man and that man was my father!

The head of the cardiac team was a brilliant young cardiologist I will refer to as Dr. T. I remember he called a meeting of families of all the cardiac patients in the intensive care unit and forbade newspapers or discussions about the world's second heart transplant patient: Philip Blaiberg.  Dr. T. did not want to raise false hopes in us or his patients. He believed that Dr. Bernard’s sensational transplant operations in South Africa were doomed to failure because anti-rejection drugs were still in their infancy. Although Dr. T. was right, Philip Blaiberg lived another 18 months before dying or organ rejection on August 17th 1969. 

I remember a debate arose in South Africa because Philip Blaiberg was a white man who received the heart of a multi-racial black man. I was disgusted! What did race have to do with heart transplantation? Apparently, in Apartheid South Africa of 1968, it meant a great deal.  Heated debates erupted about the “ethics” of interracial transplantation. Ethics! It had nothing to do with ethics and everything to do with racism. My father was living at the edge of death and people had the audacity to bring racist bigotry about a medical procedure that could possibly save people like my Dad?!  I was deeply offended, as I’m sure thousands of families were offended who had loved-ones dying of heart disease.  (My father’s case was remarkably similar to Dr. Bernard’s first patient, Louis Washkansky.) 

The success of the Philip Blaiberg heart transplant led to an explosion of heart transplantation by doctors around the world.[1]  Today it is quite common.
  
Dr. T. was a rude and blunt man with an audacious bushy moustache that matched his personality. My father didn’t like him. He thought Dr. T. had a god-complex and a colossal ego that was fed by his extraordinary and dazzling skill of saving patients other doctors were losing. Most of Dr. T. patients were in awe of him. When he entered the room, one felt he expected its lowly occupants to shrink and genuflect before the superior intellect standing before them. My father was suspicious that Dr. T. saw his patients as a group of sustained arrhythmias, myocardial infarctions and faulty ventricles—problems to be solved rather than people to be healed.

Dr. T. showed my mother dad’s electrocardiogram. Before explaining the medical problem he said, “That’s the heartbeat of a dying man.” My mother broke down and wept like a mere mortal. But in the final analysis, despite his rudeness and tactlessness, Dr. T. used his vast medical knowledge and skills to pull my father back from the grip of death and saved his life.  I have always been grateful to him.

The first man I saw die

One day while visiting my dad in the ICU, a man a few beds away went into full cardiac arrest. Within seconds nurses and doctors pounced on him. It reminded me of wolves attacking a crippled prey – except this pack was trying to save a life not take it. It happened so quickly nobody had time to throw me out of the ICU. A nurse made a haphazard attempt to close the curtain but the patient’s feet were still visible. I could hear shouts of medical lingo between doctors and nurses jostling around the bed, then the sound of electro-cardio shock paddles being applied to the man’s chest. His body convulsed. There was a pause. The paddles were put to him again, again and again. With each shock, his feet jumped less. Finally, the medical team stopped their frantic work. Somebody closed the curtain around the man’s bed and they walked away. I watched in wide-eyed horror as the whole thing unfolded. It was the first time I saw a person die. 

Slowly I turned and looked at my father. I don’t remember what he said — or if he said anything at all ­— but we held each other knowing that his feet might be next to bounce on a bed. I dared not speak for fear of weeping.  A nurse told me it was time to leave. I nodded assent and made my way to the double-doors of the ICU then turned to look back at my father. It would be four hours before I could see him again. Would he be dead by then? He waved to me and smiled weakly. I left.

Then something happened. I experienced one of those inscrutable human moments in which we live a lifetime.  At such moments, a lifetime’s worth of love and sorrow (much of it still unlived) simultaneously floods our hearts. Our souls cry out in primal anguish; our pain lays open like a raw gaping wound. Such moments are stark and terrible, yet they are necessary. If our souls’ remain unstirred it would a crime against our own humanity.

How I longed to be in a boat fishing again with Dad bobbing gently on a lake in a cool morning mist. Sobbing and blinded by tears, I fell against a wall then slumped to the floor and bawled like a baby. 

Then, through blurred vision, I saw
a pair of black shoes in front of me and followed them up to see the face of a priest. He was a friend of my dad: Father Edward Lynch.  He sat on the floor and silently hugged me.

About ten minutes later those same nurses walked out of the ICU and passed us on their way for a coffee break. They were chatting and laughing, talking about their plans for the weekend or their kids’ basketball team. I hated their detachment from suffering humanity!  Somebody’s family was trying to fathom the death of their loved one, and the nurses and doctors were heading off for pie and coffee? I hoped they’d all choke on the crumbs and dregs. (I understand now, as an old man, that detachment was necessary or they would have burnt out.)

Just being there

Father Lynch gave me the invaluable gift of his presence. It was a simple yet profound witness. His compassion was real and visible—a bastion of human decency that made sense in my unravelling world seemingly gone mad and callous.

The Apostle Paul said, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”[2] The priest was not afraid to enter my pain and sit with me in my sorrow and fear. He did not try to set things right. He couldn’t. He did not spew empty platitudes about knowing how I felt. He didn’t. He simply showed me Christ-like love by his presence. His greatest comfort was simply being there with me in my anguish. Even at fourteen years of age, I understood that. It was something my family’s United Church church community did not do. 

I do not remember our own United Church pastor or church members sitting with my mother in those dark hours as my dad’s life hung in the balance. (I must be fair, they probably sent a Get Well Soon card.) It was a Catholic priest who was consistently there for my family. He wept with us and prayed with us and consoled us. I grew to love Father Lynch like a – well, a father.

I want to help you to understand the important Christian witness of your simple presence with those who hurt or mourn. I have often said that it was not cleaver theological debates that led me to the Catholic Church. I was loved into the Catholic Church. Love in action is the best witness for Christ.




[1] By August of 1968, there were 34 heart transplants. By the end of 1969, ninety-eight people received new hearts. As of 2001, over 100,000 heart transplants had been performed with a nearly 100% success rate. According to the World Health Organization about 5,400 heart transplant operations occur every year, mostly in the United States.
[2] Romans 12.15.