“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

Thursday, April 23, 2020


Ken and Betty Epp
I have known now-retired Canadian Member of Parliament, Ken Epp, for over a quarter of a century.  He is my friend.  Ken’s beloved wife of more than fifty-eight years passed away on November 10th, 2019.  Ken’s grief is palpable, just as it would be if I were put in his position and lost my wife of forty-seven years.  He recently posted the following note on his Facebook page.

“I was just going through some of Betty's things and found this: A 3"x5" card on which she had written, "Love seems the swiftest, but it is the slowest of all growths. No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until they have been married a quarter of a century." (Mark Twain)
It brought tears to my eyes. God gave us 58+ years together. We knew this truth well!” 

Responding to someone’s comment Ken wrote: 

“I actually disagree on one small point with Mark Twain. He says it takes over 25 years to discover perfect love. In my view, it actually takes a lifetime. The idea is to love your spouse more today than you did yesterday. You never reach perfection. But I loved the journey with my dear Betty.”

I responded to Ken: “In the end, love is the only thing worth having. It is the only thing we take with us when we die. You are my friend.”

I constantly marvel at how I love my wife more each day. Yesterday I thought it was impossible to love her any more than at that moment and yet today my love for LaRee grows larger  and more intense. 

It’s impossible for human beings to know the depths of love’s possibilities. Our hearts can’t take in love’s potential all at once. We must be fed it, with growing capacity to receive it, in small increments, or our hearts could not bear it. Quite simply, our human hearts must be expanded to take insights and quantities of ever expanding love (both human and divine). Jesus alluded to this when he told his disciples, “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.”[1]  Human hearts that are open to love must expand to receive love’s new revelations. It happens over time.

When writing about how the Christian’s heart longs for God, Saint Augustine (354-430 AD) spoke of the need to increase the human capacity to receive God’s love:

“Suppose you were given some holder or container, and you know you will be given a large amount. Then you set about stretching your sack or wineskin or whatever it is.  Why? Because you know the quantity you will have to put in it, and your eyes tell you there is not enough room. By stretching it, therefore, you increase the capacity of the sack, and this is how God deals with us. Simply by making us wait he increases our desire, which in turn enlarges the capacity of our soul, making it able to receive what is to be given to us.” 

What is it that God wants to give to us? His gift of love. God is love.[2] And He wants us to love him. Relationship. To deny God is to deny love. The love of a man and woman united in marriage should be just as Ken said. It grows more each day in a Christ-centered marriage. We are in a journey toward God’s perfect love and each day our hearts are being prepared for new dimensions of romantic love. When I think of my love for LaRee today versus the love I had for her fifty years ago, our love is so much larger and more mature now. I could not have handled the immensity of today’s love back then. Perfection is only reached when we meet the Creator and essence of perfect love. God. 

There are different kinds of love and each has something to teach us about God’s character: romantic love, parental love, love of neighbour, love of friends, love of community and country.  Ken Epp knows each kind of love and his life attests to this fact. 

Throughout history there have been examples of people who were willing to die for each kind of love. Jesus said: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than to lay one life down for his friends.”[3] Millions of people have even died for an idea worth dying for (freedom or human equality).

For people like Ken and me and the romantic love of a spouse, our love for our wives grows each day. And this does
not stop with death. Love continues.  Our joy of romantic love here in this world grows, but the joy of God’s perfect love is too great for us to bear now. The love we experience here is preparing us for the completeness of love there.  The heartbreak now will make sense then. I believe that with all my heart, Ken. My heart weeps with yours. You are my friend. -- Mark

[1] John 16.12
[2] 1 John 4.16
[3] John 15.12-13. Cf. 1 John 3.11, Romans 12.9

Saturday, April 11, 2020


In Christ's resurrection we find hope for our resurrection. Our lowly bodies will be raised too. My scarred, mutilated and corrupted body will rise incorruptible.[2]  I will be like him.  I can only imagine: What it means I do not yet know. What I do know is Christ conquered death, the final enemy. Now I can only see dimly but then I will see him is, I will know just as I am known.[3] 

In the midst of disease—first with multiple sclerosis then cancer—my eyes turned toward Him. Hope grew.  Anticipation.

In affliction they shall look for me. Come, let us return to the Lord, for it is he who has torn, but he will heal us; he has struck down, but he will heal our wounds[4]

He is not a God of cruelty. I needed to trust him. As Job
said, Though he slay me, yet I will trust in him.[5] In my sorrows I drew nearer to Him because He was a man of sorrows.[6] Understanding. I needed to embrace Him on the cross before embracing him in his glorious resurrection.  I needed to see him in his death before I could marvel at the empty tomb. We can only appreciate the mountain peak after we have been in the valley. God needed to bring me low to strip my colossal blindness of pride and arrogance in order to see him indistinctly through tears. I had to realize that God is more interested in my holiness than my happiness.  And I have good reason to believe that holiness is where true and lasting happiness is to be found. 

When I began to understand this, the neurological ropes that bound my limbs were loosened and I stood and walked away from my wheelchair.  God has power over life and limb. Whatever happens is for our eternal good. Christ is the first-born of the resurrection of the dead. [7] We will follow him.  I do not know how any more than I know how my withered legs walked again. 

Easter morning declares death is defeated.  Hope rises above fear. For those who believe in Christ, we know we will rise just as He did and we will be with Him forever. God will be with us and we will be his people and he himself will wipe every tear we have every shed.

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying: “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their
God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes and there will been more death or mourning or crying or pain. for the former things have passed away. And the One seated on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” Then He said, “Write this down, for these words are faithful and true.”[8]

See Andrea Bocelli's Easter Performance,
April 12th, from Milan's empty
Duomo Cathedral, livestreamed.
Check local listenings 

[1] 1Corinthians 15.25-28.
[2] 1Corinthians 15.42.
[3] 1Corinthians 13.10-12, cf. 2 Corinthians 3.18,
[4] Hosea 5.15b-6.1. 
[5] Job 13.15.
[6] Isaiah 53.3.
[7] 1Corinthians 15.20-23, cf. Acts 2.24, 1Peter1.3-5, Revelation 1.5.
[8] Revelation 21.3-5. Cf. Isaiah 25.8.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020


waiting for the crisis to pass
COVID19 has put me into forced self-isolation. Unless you are employed in an essential service, so are you.  As this extraordinary period of time of physical distancing and staying in our houses stretches out, I am hearing people beginning to complain about the isolation they feel. Many are becoming depressed.  

Having suffered with degenerative multiple sclerosis with its accompanying disability for over thirty-six years, I think I know quite a bit about being sequestered within my home for long periods of time. After all, I live on the western Canadian prairies
where frigid winters descend for five months of the year and mountains of snow pile against the windows of my house. Wheelchairs and snow banks are not compatible.  I have spent weeks at a time not leaving my home. Rather than dreading each winter, I have come to cherish those months of seclusion. They are holy times when my little house on the prairie becomes a type of cloister where I can draw nearer to God through prayer and my rosary, reading my Bible and the works of the early Church Fathers, and more contemporary Christian authors.  What others may think is lonely isolation is actually sweet quiet solitude.

There is a world of difference between isolation and solitude.  The first is destructive while the second is constructive. Isolation can break the heart of a man but solitude nourishes his soul. Isolation depletes spiritual energy, solitude replenishes it.

Solitude and quietude can begin to open our hearts to the love of God.[1] His love is immeasurable, unfathomable and inexpressible. Its beauty will surely break your hearts, as it has mine.  In his letter to the Corinthians Pope Saint Clement 1 asked: 

“Who can express the binding power of divine love? Who can find
words for the splendor of its beauty? Beyond all description are the heights to which it lifts us. Love unites us to God.”[2]

He went on to say that it was out of divine love that Jesus gave his life on the cross for us and our salvation. That is the beauty of love that sweetly breaks the human heart.  

In his Sermon on 1 John, Saint Augustine reminds us that the Apostle promised we shall be like Christ, for we will see Him as he is. There’s that inexpressible beauty of love again that sweetly breaks the human heart. Augustine said, “By these words, the tongue has done its best; now we must apply meditation of the heart.” He tells those who know Christ:

“[W]e have received as John told us, an anointing by the Holy One which teaches us inwardly more than our tongues can speak. Let us turn to this source of knowledge and because at present you cannot see, make it your business to desire the divine vision.” 

Saint Augustine continues:

Painting of Saint
“The entire life of a good Christian is in fact an exercise of holy desire.  You do not see what you long for, but the very fact act of desiring prepares you, so that when He comes you may be utterly satisfied.”[3]

It is this desire that is sublimely heart breaking. Quietude of prayerful solitude sharpens that desire for Christ. It is in stillness that we can begin to comprehend that God is with us and that becomes more important when we are threatened by a pandemic such as the one we find ourselves now. 

This difference between loneliness and solitude is attitude and perspective. Use this time as a gift to grow and expand your interior life. Seek Jesus Christ to enlighten you.  The threat of COVID19 is nothing compared to the immeasurable unfathomable, inexpressible
love of God.  There’s no need for wide-eyed fear.  Rest in Christ. Regardless of what happens, we are under His care. Nothing can separate us from His divine love.  


[1] Cf. Psalm 46.11 in the Catholic Bible, 46.10 in the Protestant Bible.
[2] Clement I, “Who can express the binding power of divine love?” in CHRISTIAN PRAYER: The Liturgy of the Hours, Clement I, (New York: Catholic Book Publishing Corp., 1976), p. 2021. 

According to the online publication Saints and Angels, Catholic online, Little is known of this apostolic father beyond a few facts. He was a disciple of S. Peter, and perhaps of S. Paul. It is thought that the Clement whom S. Paul praises as a faithful fellow- worker, whose name is written in the Book of Life [Philippians 4:3], was afterwards bishop of Rome.  https://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=37

[3] CHRISTIAN PRAYER, p. 2025.