To Search is to Find

To Search is to find
May – June 2017


Confession during a youth pilgrimage, Chile

My aunt in her last moments was asking for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Since it was Holy Week we weren’t able to get a priest. She died on Holy Thursday and I felt so sorry for her not receiving Holy Communion. Father, will her soul be at peace with the Lord? Were her sins forgiven?

Part of the background to this, I have learned, is that your aunt had just retired and had moved from the island where she had been living for many years to a town on another island and became gravely ill within a number of days. She was taken first to a local hospital for immediate treatment but then taken to a larger city hospital that doesn’t have a Catholic chaplain. And if the Chrism Mass in the cathedral of a diocese takes place on Holy Thursday morning, as I know it did in this case, it makes it difficult for a priest to be available for the sick, since he has to celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper that afternoon in his parish, possibly in two locations.

To Search is to find
March – April 2017

Because of the alarming rate of suicide among our generation, we've been discussing in class how beautiful life is and what we can do if we encounter a friend having suicidal tendencies, and how to cope if we also feel depressed. I’m wondering too if any priests or religious experience suicidal tendencies or depression. If so, what provokes this?


Café Terrace on the Place du Forum, Arles, at Night, Van Gogh [ Web Gallery of Art ]

‘Yes! What a grace it is to have faith! If I had not any faith, I would have committed suicide without an instant’s hesitation.’ These were the words of a nun a week before she died aged 24, in 1897, from a very painful form of tuberculosis – St Thérèse of Lisieux.

To Search is to find
January – February 2017

I am amazed at how some people can very well testify about their personal encounter with God, how vivid their experience of God manifesting Himself. I am happy for them but at the same time I envy them. In my lifetime I can’t remember a moment of a close encounter with God. Why can’t I feel Him? Is there something wrong with me? What must I do?


Dublin buses [Wikipedia]

In 2013 years I was traveling on a bus in my native Dublin, Ireland. There was a girl of about 16 or 17, accompanied by a little boy of about three, standing near the driver. She kept talking into her cell-phone and seemed agitated. Finally she asked passengers near her, ‘Have we come to Blanchardstown Centre yet?’ I was astonished as I had boarded the bus after it had come from there. I knew by the girl’s accent that she was from Dublin. She was lost in her own city. I figured that the boy was her brother, but possibly her son.

To Search is to find


The Angelus, Jean-François Millet, 1859-60
Musée d'Orsay, Paris [Web Gallery of Art]

I have received many messages on Facebook, through texts and emails about luck, eg, ‘Please pass this on to 10 persons and after three days you will receive luck’ or, especially on FB, ‘If you really believe, pass this on to others’ or ‘If you believe, press Amen’ etc.

To Search is to find

July-August 2016

We cannot solve all the problems in the world. Every day there is a cause promoted and a need from somewhere. If I am to be generous, when do I say that it's my turn to give? Does it also have to do with feeling the need to do so? Since there are also fake needs/causes and false generosity.


21,000 who responded to a specific, temporary need and made a difference

Yes, indeed, none of us can solve all the problems of the world nor should we attempt to do so. We are faced with endless needs that affect us.

To Search is to find

May-June 2016

How do you know that you have faith? It is said that to see is to believe. But when can a child say in its own name, ‘I have faith in God’?


The Gospel of John (2003)
Directed by Philip Saville Narrator: Christopher Plummer
(John 20:19-31, Good News translation)

‘Seeing is believing’ is a common expression. In one sense St Thomas expresses his faith in the Resurrection of Jesus when he meets the flesh-and-blood Risen Lord (John 20:24-29).

To Search is to find

Father, how true is it that the person who committed suicide cannot be brought to the church for a funeral Mass?


The Catechism of the Catholic Church deals with suicide in numbers 2280 to 2283. The second part of 2282 reads: Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide. No 2283 states: We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives.

1. From ten-year old Abe: ‘My (non-Catholic) teacher says that we do not pray to the saints. How come I saw a card saying, “PRAYER TO Saint Michael”?’


The Annunciation, El Greco, 1600s
Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio [Web Gallery of Art]

The painting above by El Greco shows two of God’s creatures, the Blessed Virgin Mary and St Gabriel the Archangel. God decided to become one of us in the person of Jesus Christ, God the Son who became Man. Jesus spent nine months in the womb of his Mother. God the Father didn’t send Jesus ‘ready-made’. Nor did God choose to speak directly to Mary. He spoke to her through the Angel Gabriel. Yet God the Father was clearly sending Jesus Christ his Son, God who became Man, to us – but through Mary. And clearly God was speaking to Mary – but through St Gabriel.

‘I often wondered why Brother So-and-so never took to the priesthood despite his academic degrees. But then each man to his chosen profession.’ This statement, in a column in a daily newspaper in which the writer was paying tribute to a recently deceased friend who was a De La Salle religious brother , is a variation of a question your editor has been asked or has heard many times over the years. Below is an expanded version of a letter in response published by the newspaper.


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