What a weekend it has been! Apart from the wonderful events in Rome, other major news stories have captured our attention.
There was of course the Royal Wedding which was an impressive affair. One critic said that regardless of what you think of either, Britain and the Vatican know how to put on an impressive event - very true. I was impressed by the Anglican ceremony (cartwheeling vergers put to one side!). The instruction given by the Dean of Westminster Abbey at the beginning of the ceremony was laudable - reminding the couple of what marriage is all about - children included. I thought to myself if a Catholic priest had done likewise on television there would have been howls of anger. Not so here. The sermon by the Anglican Bishop of London was also very nice - loved the quotation from the writings of St Catherine of Siena.
Then there was the killing of Osama Bin Laden. The Vatican statement sums it up correctly - regardless of who the man was and what he did, we should not rejoice in his death, but rather mourn those he was responsible for killing and the good he could have done in his life if he had resisted the temptation to violence and destruction. There is a tremendous human tragedy in his life: a child conceived and born with so much potential dies a hated man, a man with so much blood on his hands. As followers of Jesus Christ we cannot but weep. Prayer is our refuge here, and we commend all who have died to the mercy of the Lord, and to his consolation those who are bereaved. I pray we Christians, nor anyone else, will not become victims to revenge attacks.
And then there was the sacking of the Australian bishop. As some are indignant, many rejoice. Now while I do believe that if a bishop or priest, or anyone with a position of responsibility in the Church consistently acts in a manner which undermines the faith and unity of the Church they should be dismissed, I also see here another aspect of that tragedy. We must pray for Bishop Morris and his diocese.
But tragedy is not the end - and this weekend our hearts jumped with joy at the beatification of Blessed John Paul II. No doubt you were all watching it on tv somewhere, either live or recorded, in full or highlights. I got to see the first part of the ceremony on Sunday morning on EWTN (couldn't be bothered to watch RTE's coverage - did not want the annoyance of snide remarks), and caught the full ceremony with EWTN's repeat later that night. Friends were in Rome at the ceremony, so I was updated with texts. It was a wonderful event. It was the biggest beatification ceremony in history in terms of participants - 1.5 million. Damian Thompson has a very good post on Blessed John Paul's legacy.
Yesterday evening after the last of the crowds passed by the coffin, the Blessed's remains were translated to his new tomb under the altar of the chapel of St Sebastian. A video of the translation ceremony has been released (see below). I hope that after his canonisation (soon, we hope) his remains may be taken out and exposed under the altar as in the case of Blessed John XXIII, if that is possible. It would be wonderful to be able to look upon the body of our Holy Father. In the meantime, we restart our prayer for his canonisation.
We had a great crowd in St Mary's last night for the Mass of Thanksgiving for the beatification and the declaration of Blessed John Paul's co-patronage of the Fraternity. We also had relics of the Blessed, so everyone there got a personal blessing. If you live in Ireland and would like a blessing, let us know - we will probably bring the relics to our monthly Prayer Meeting in Drogheda - third Monday of the month, 8pm St Mary's Church. We are working on a Fraternity prayer card, find below the video one of our new prayers to Blessed John Paul.
Novena to Blessed John Paul II
Blessed Pope John Paul II, with confidence we turn to you and ask your powerful intercession.
Leading the Church in difficult times, your wholehearted dedication to the Word of God, your unshakable trust in the Holy Spirit, and your profound love of our Holy Mother Mary, led you to fulfil God’s will with great ardour. You assured us to “Be not afraid” but to place all our trust in Jesus, Divine Mercy himself, and to open the doors of our hearts to his love.
You proclaimed the Gospel of Life and urged the baptised to proclaim Christ in the midst of the darkness and confusion of modern life. You inspired the world by your teaching on the innate dignity of the human person, created in the image of God, loved and redeemed by Christ, and called to holiness and true freedom in the practice of virtue and the humble service of our brothers and sisters.
Help us, Beloved John Paul, to open the doors of our hearts to Christ and to walk the path of holiness. Pray that we may truly be men and women of the Gospel, living in the Heart of the Word made flesh, and entrusting ourselves totally to the care and intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church.
With confidence, we ask you to hear our prayers and intercede for our needs. In particular we ask _____________. Lead us to Christ and to the destiny he has prepared for those who love him. May he find in us, as he did in you, witnesses to hope, a disciples joyful in his peace and servants faithful until death. Amen.