“Life is a story in volumes three. The past the present and the yet to be. The past is gone and locked away. The present, we live it day by day. The future, the last of the volumes three, is hidden from sight. God holds the key.”

I usually write either off the top of my head or from the depths of my heart. In this article I am writing from a mixture of both and I’m not sure which will dominate—or even why I am writing it.

A busy schedule

On February 16 I traveled to Kingston by train to speak—and eat—at a pro-life dinner on the invitation of Mary Ellen Douglas, President of Kingston Campaign Life Coalition.

I spent all Friday in schools and preached on the week-end at the Good Thief Parish, as guest of Msgr. Tom Raby of Catholic Register fame.

I also had a very successful sale of my book and made some badly needed money for Campaign Life Coalition. It was a most enjoyable experience and when I arrived back in Toronto on Monday evening I felt it had been a worthwhile journey. As I got into bed on Monday night I wore the smile of the traditional “self satisfied  Cheshire Cat.”

And then!

About 2 a.m. on Tuesday I wakened with an agonizing pain in my middle. It felt as if somebody had stabbed me with a knife and was twisting it. At 7 a.m., I was in an ambulance on my way to Scarborough General Hospital and, after a medical examination and some x-rays, I was operated on. I had a twisted “something” and the operation left me with a ten inch scar of which one of Napoleon’s soldiers would have been proud on the evening of the Battle of Waterloo.

After a few days of excellent medical and nursing care I was released and an recuperating at Lasalle Manor, as the guest of the De Lasalle Brothers who run this wonderful home for retired priests and brothers or for those who are recovering from illness.

A rude awakening

When I “wakened” after the operation I didn’t know whether I was in Dublin, New York, London, or possibly Toronto. Gradually the mist began to clear and I realized, not only where I was, but also that I had a number of Lenten commitments. It was Ash Wednesday—the first one in 83 years on which I remained “un-Ashed.” That meant that Lent had begun and I knew I was unable to do anything but examine the ceiling. I sent for my engagement book and discovered that I had three Lenten parish missions plus three week-end retreats as well as pro-life talks in schools. All these had to be cancelled.


Why am I writing all this, which may not be of interest to anyone? I am not quite sure. It may be just vanity or perhaps a quest for sympathy. But I believe—and hope—there is something else and perhaps Lent has something to do with it.

I think the fact that I was simply removed from the stage and yet the world and the Church kept going on as if nothing had happened is a great lesson in humility.

We all have our functions to perform. But we can all be done without and now and then Providence steps in and lets us know—as it did in my recent case—that God is ALL and we are nothing without Him

If I were asked to sum up what I have been trying to say in a few words perhaps I would put it like this:

“The clock of life is wound but once, and no one has the power to know just when the hands will stop—at late or early hour. Now is the only time you have; Live, Love, Pray with a will. Put no faith in tomorrow for the clock may then be still.”