Looks can be deceiving, Take for instance, Fr. Randal Joyce, C.P. On the outside, he looks like the perfect monk, quiet, reflective and obedient to his superiors. He even looked that way in the 60’s when I first met him. He was my first spiritual director. That’s when I learned what he was really like though. He gave me subversive books to read that modern day terrorists could learn from, about people who changed their worlds.
One book told of a guy who had a plush job with those in power. When they suggested that he had to go against his beliefs, he told them to get lost. They legally (today we don’t always bother to make it legal) beheaded him because he refused to accept their authority. Then there was the book about a well-respected scholar of his day who was drawn and quartered for his beliefs that happen to be contrary to his accusers’. Unlike modern day terrorists who cause suffering on others, he did not physically cause anyone violence but went to his death singing God’s praises and praying for those in power. Those are just two of the many books he gave me to read over the four years that I knew him.
Then along came Vatican II and another great imposter. He was a 77-year-old has-been who was elected Pope, probably because everyone figured he couldn’t do much harm. Hum? He was inspired to call for a council and he invited not only Roman Catholic Bishops but also people of different faiths and even lay people. OMG! He told those gathered there that they were to listen to the Spirit among them and come to consensus in resolving the issues of the day. He would not give them any easy answers. Wow! There were probably many, then and now, who would have like to do away with this humble, compassionate man for his beliefs.
Thank you Father Randal for introducing me to so many great men like the above St. Thomas More and St. Edmund Campion. Thank you Blessed John XXIII for showing us a new way of being together, not only with those who believe like us, but also with those whose beliefs are different. Thank you Jesus for warning us in the scriptures we read today, that this following you wasn’t going to be easy. At the very least it would probably mean going against the main stream, accepting the consequences and yes, changing the world in the process.
Dan O’Donnell is a Passionist Partner and a longtime friend of the Passionists. He lives in Chicago.