Meanwhile, in Dublin...

I have been in touch with many fellow priests and friends in Ireland, and their vision must be sharper than mine when it comes to the Catholic Church child abuse scandal, which will soon be in the spotlight again. Although the horrid and monstrous abuse and cover-up will soon sprout more headlines, which constantly occupies my mind, my friends tell me they see -- perhaps only at the personal level, not the "CHURCH" level -- signs of love and forgiveness, signs that many Irish people are able to separate the decent and loving PEOPLE of the Church from the Church itself, which still seems to be an ugly, malignant infection of conspiracy, false moralizing, and, even at this late date, a criminal's preoccupation with escape from justice.

If this is so, it is a sign that God's Love is at work -- which is never really in doubt! If Irish Catholics can see the grace and goodness in just one priest, friar or nun -- without seeing them all as tentacles of this hateful treacherousness -- then there is hope for a new understanding, and indeed, a new Catholic Church, in Ireland. As Jesus showed in his own Life, "death," and Resurrection, the path to redemption is stony and steep. Although the Church's criminals -- both the predators and especially those who made their predation and depravity possible -- must face civil justice and punishment, and the church must pay for what it is solely responsible for, let us pray that the glimmer of light my friends speak of will grow into a new and wondrous star over Ireland. I would love to hear what you think...

Susan Boyle, the triumph of faith and hope

That this lovely Scottish Catholic woman has triumphed over the ugly forces of greed and jealousy -- which were sicced on her like a vicious dog merely because she was a poor woman who dared to find a life by singing a beautiful song -- truly gladdens the heart! No doubt drawing on the strength she gained through annual visits to the shrine of Our Lady of Knock in Mayo, as well as the chorus of prayers from her friends near and far and he dear mother Bridget in Heaven, Susan has won her life back as surely as she won our hearts. How wonderful it was to see her on television, glowing with beauty, strength and humility!

Best of all, this supposedly "learning-disabled" woman has learned more in a few months than many do in a lifetime. When she was complimented on how stunning she looked, she replied with self-deprecating humor that "I brush up quite well" -- a moment I will not soon forget. Her humanity is back, and the Loving God Who never left her side is in her heart again. God bless her, and all who prayed for this moment, as I did!

The Vatican -- always on the job!

The pope and his legion of redcaps may be doing less than nothing about the scandal in the Irish Catholic Church, but thank God they have found the time to remove "Harry Potter" from the list of the devil's playthings! Buy your tickets, knowing they are not tickets to "hell."

"Our Lady of the Tree Stump"

Let the media have its laugh at the expense of the Irish -- it wouldn't be the first time.

When thousands of Catholics began visiting a Limerick tree stump in which they saw the Image of Our Blessed Mother the Virgin Mary, I could hear the press' guffaws even here in the mission. It's true that some people say they have seen Holy Images -- usually of Jesus or Mary -- in everything from pancakes to mountains, and it's as much a miracle for believers as it's a chuckle for others.

I have no idea whether the tree stump in Limerick is indeed the stuff of which shrines are made, and the Vatican's scholars -- if they work at top speed -- won't have the "answer" until the next millennium.

It's all beside the point.

As the wondrous and holy book "A Course in Miracles" points out so well, "projection makes perception." In other words, what we "see" is already in our minds before we actually behold it. If we "see" a bad day ahead even though it hasn't happened yet, chances are excellent that we'll perceive a bad day, too.

And so it is with thoughts of God. When we allow Him -- though the free will He gave us -- to enter our hearts and minds, there are amazing things to be seen. TRULY seen. God does not see the world we created -- a world of sin and suffering, loss and death, evil and punishment. He sees only the TRUE world which is His Own Creation -- one so radiant with love, beauty and wonder that every second spent there will enchant us beyond any dream.

Is there a tree stump that looks like Mother Mary in this world? Well, Mother Mary is there -- so why not the tree stump?

God bless you all!

-- Father Tim