Friday, November 29, 2013

Germans Say Pope Endorses Their Plans

The Germans are fighting back, it seems.  There are new developments with regard to the German bishop's plans to give Holy Communion to divorced and remarried.  In the latest salvo Church "officials" in Germany are saying that the Pope endorses their plan.  The Catholic Herald has the story.  One spokesman has said that they are acting "in the spirit of Pope Francis". (Yes, I know, I can hear your groaning: here we go again: "spirit of Vatican II" and now the "spirit of Pope Francis")  It seems these comments are based on the "officials'" reading of the Evangelii Gaudium.  
For the record the Holy Father has not endorsed the German bishops's plan: he has called a Synod and raised a question as to how we can minister to those who are in irregular relationships: a pastoral issue that does have to be addressed.  He said nothing about admitting those in such relationships to Holy Communion.  In his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium he does describe the Eucharist as not being a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak, and that is true.  But that does not mean the Pope is changing the Church's law on who can or cannot receive the Eucharist - that law is based on the moral law.  To change the Church's law on this issue is to change the moral law and the teaching of Christ and not even a pope can do that. 
As regards the Church not closing her doors on people: she shouldn't and nowadays she doesn't.  However we had better be very careful not to confuse people's decision to walk away from the Church or to defy Christ's teaching with the Church's closing her doors on them.  If Catholics choose a course of action that is contrary to the teaching of Christ or his Church that has consequences: consequences of a decision they made, not the Church. 
As every act has a consequence we have to be responsible and face up to these consequences, and if one of those consequences is a rupture with the Church or, if objectively gravely sinful, excludes full participation in the sacramental life of the Church, the Church cannot be blamed for what individuals have chosen to do themselves.  Critics of the Church say the Church should change her teachings so those who chose a path that is contrary to the Gospel and the moral law are not excluded.  Well such a demand is a demand for the Church to endorse the sinful actions and decisions of individuals and if she is to remain faithful to her Saviour, she cannot do that. 
Looking to Christ we see love and mercy, compassion to the point of sacrifice, but we never see the endorsement of sin or its justification.  Those often quoted words of the Lord "neither do I condemn you" are often left hanging without the important bit at the end: "go and sin no more".  Christ does not condemn the adulterous woman because he will die for her sins, but he demands conversion - she cannot go on as before, she has to change her life.  The Church, who must be obedient to Christ, cannot endorse or justify sin, not even for "pastoral reasons".  But she should seek to help people embrace the moral law in its fullness - that is the real meaning of pastoral work. 
Let us keep praying.  Let us pray for the Holy Father, and most especially for our brothers and sisters in difficult situations.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Revelations About The "Revelations"

You may remember I wrote a post on the self-proclaimed "prophet" Maria Divine Mercy who has been creating havoc among the faithful.  Well there have been developments since then.   The Mystics of the Church website has details.  
Please note that so far her local bishop has not issued a judgement or statement on MDM or her revelations, so officially her writings and prophecies have not been condemned.  While bishops in other dioceses have issued statements and condemned the writings, the competence lies with MDM's own Ordinary to issue the formal judgement, unless the Holy See deprives him of it.
That said, I reiterate what I wrote in my post last May: many of the "revelations" which this lady is promoting are not in accord with Church teachings, she brands the Holy Father the "anti-pope" and she sets herself up as the only true and authentic messenger of God.  The faithful should stay clear of her, they should not buy her books not even for curiosity's sake: it would be contributing financially to her work.  There may well need to be an investigation into the financial aspect of all of this.
As I mentioned in my last post, many of the faithful have been led astray by this lady and, I am sad to say, even some priests are to be numbered among her chief defenders and supporters.  So please pray for all involved.  And let us hope that her local bishop will issue something soon to guide the faithful: let us pray for him too, it is not a pleasant task.

In case you have not read it, here is an excellent evaluation of the Maria Divine Mercy's "revelations" by mariologist Mark Miravalle, and once again a link to Jimmy Aiken's article which is concise and informative.

UPDATE:  It seems Maria Divine Mercy's website is not online at the moment, has it been taken down? I also notice that the websites of companies allegedly owned by/associated with the woman identified to be Maria Divine Mercy which published and promoted her books, Coma Books and Trumpet Publishing, are also down.

UPDATE 2:  The MDM website is back online, as is Coma Books. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tu Es Petrus! Standing With Francis

Pope Francis holds the relics of the Apostle Peter on the altar during a mass at St. Peter's Square at the Vatican
"Tu es Petrus": Pope Francis holds the relics of St Peter as he recites the Creed at Mass last Sunday.
It seems Pope Francis will soon be facing the first major crisis of his papacy: the effective schism of the Church in Germany.  As noted by commentators over the last few months, the German bishops threatened dissent from Church teaching on Communion for the divorced and remarried may well create a serious crisis in the Church universal.  Latest developments do not bode well for the Church: the Bishop of Stuttgart has indicated that the German hierarchy will go ahead with their plans even if in defiance of Rome, and ultimately in defiance of Church law and the teaching of Jesus Christ.  They have already explicitly rejected Archbishop Mueller of the CDF's warning, what will they do if the Holy Father himself has to come out and warn them explicitly? Rejecting the Pope's warning will be tantamount, I think, to an act of schism, and given that they seem to want to rewrite the Lord's commandment on adultery, they may also be in heresy.
The media, and perhaps even the German bishops themselves, will try and present this as an issue of compassion and inclusion.  It needs to be said that compassion must be shown to those in relationships that are contrary to Christ's law (and it is Christ's law we are talking about here) and they must be included, as far as possible, in the life of the Church commending them to the mercy of God and accompanying them on what may be a journey towards to the truth.  However, true compassion does not reject the truth, true compassion does not lead others into sin nor justifies or legitimises sin as St Paul says very clearly in his Hymn to Love in Corinthians.  Compassion has to lead to truth and virtuous living.
Some bloggers are reacting.  Fr Z reports the developments.  He suggests that there will be a big push for this change at the Synod next year.  It will certainly dominate discussions and we may well see, if we are allowed a peek, a right battle royal in the Synod Hall.   Fr Ray Blake offers some reflections on these developments seeing them as part of a larger dissent on the part of the Church in Germany over the last number of decades.  He is correct in pointing out that the Church in Germany is too wealthy, and the Church tax is not a good idea - it can enslave the Church to the State and public opinion if bishops and priests fear the loss of income should people stop paying the tax in protest at certain Church teachings.  It also reveals an unhealthy relationship between the Church and State: it may incline the local Church to Erastianism.
We shall see how things go.  Remember, we are not dealing with a man-made law here: it is derived from divine law.  The Pope cannot change that, he cannot say that what is sinful by God's decree, is now not sinful.  If the Pope cannot change the moral law, then the German bishops certainly can't.  If the bishops go ahead with their plan they will inflict a serious wound on the Church and the communion of the faithful; they will lead souls astray, lead them into error and perhaps even to damnation; they will also risk damnation themselves.  In this act, if they go ahead with it, these shepherds will be betraying the flock and the Chief Shepherd himself. 
Last Sunday the Holy Father held the relics of St Peter in his hands as he led the Church in the praying of the Creed, as Peter he may now have to assert his authority over an erring local church, and he needs the prayers and support of all the faithful throughout the Church.  The honeymoon may well be over for the Holy Father - no harm there.  As the faithful, we must stand with Peter.

The Philosopher On Screen

Following on yesterday's post, it seems there is a movie about St Catherine of Alexandria due to be released next year.  It will star Peter O'Toole, one of Ireland's great actors who, despite his advanced age, is still in demand and delivering good performances.
This new movie is said to tell the story of St Catherine, but given that we know so little about her, apart from the legends, an accurate historical biopic would be difficult to construct, but then that leaves scope for creativity.

I have posted the official trailer below, see what you think. To be honest I'm not inspired, it seems rather amateurish.  I also detect that the filmmakers have decided that Catherine will be the centre of the revolution against Rome.  Hmmm?   

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Philosopher

Disputation of Saint Catherine Giclee Print
Of all the great philosophers who attained sanctity, in her wisdom, the Church invokes the virgin martyr, Catherine of Alexandria as patron saint of philosophers.  I tend to think it is because, according to tradition, she defended the Christian faith through philosophy and revealed that faith and reason are not opposed to each other, but rather partners in the human quest for knowledge, discovering the meaning of life and discerning the existence of God.  That she was a humble lay woman also speaks volumes: no professor here, but a women who consecrated herself to Christ and sought to live the Gospel in her day to day life.
Thank God Blessed John Paul II rehabilitated her and put her back on the General Calendar: like St Christopher, St Philomena and St Simon Stock, Catherine's existence had been rejected by certain scholars who put too much weight on the legends and, unfortunately the Church, following their line, consigned her to the realm of the legendary.  Blessed John Paul could discern between the Saint who existed and about whom we may know very little and the legends which grew up around their memory, so he restored to the Church her patron of philosophers.  Quite appropriate given that he was a philosopher himself.
St Catherine is an important patron for all us and the laity in particular.  Okay, we are not all called to be philosophers, not in a professional capacity anyway, but we are called to understand our faith and be able to explain it.  No Catholic is exempted from this - the Year of Faith which ended yesterday was to remind us to our responsibility to continue learning about our faith - we are all called to catechise.  As a laywoman, Catherine, I hope, will inspire laypeople to see their role as teachers and evangelisers. 
I suppose that is why I failed to understand why Catherine was debunked by the Church in a period when she should have been becoming more important in the life of the Church: after all, she is a great example of what Vatican II wanted the laity to become: men and women living and defending the faith in the world.  Anyway, no use raking over what was done in the past - mistakes were made but we need to move on and get down to work: we have lost a lot of ground.  I pray St Catherine and all the Saints will inspire and motivate us as we all play our part in the New Evangelisation.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Crowe's Ark


Well, I didn't see this one coming.  Russell Crowe will be appearing on the big screen next year playing Noah, him of the Biblical ark fame.  It seems Hollywood is still interested in Biblical subjects, and looking at the cast list it's obvious they are certainly taking this one seriously: Russell, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Jennifer Connolly, Emma Watson.  It looks interesting and seems to present the Bible story in a realistic way.  It is due to be released in March. 
I notice the caption on the poster "The end of the just the beginning". Is this movie another in the style of 2012 or the various zombie apocalypse offerings?  Culture, or popular culture at least, seems fascinated with apocalypse disasters, is this a sign that some have realised that our civilisation has reached an end point and they are trying to work out what will happen?  Now that the Millennium has passed, one wonders why such millenarianism should be part of the zeitgeist?
As a Christian, observing the nature of the changes taking place in western civilisation and culture I can see this civilisation cannot continue indefinitely, too many of its foundations: moral, cultural and spiritual have been hacked away by ideologues: our civilisation is no longer stable.  The redefinition of marriage and the family could probably be the last straw and may well be the ticking time bomb which in a generation or two brings down the edifice of western civilisation again.  I say "again" because it has happened before, and back then only the Catholic Church was left standing; she played an important part in the reconstruction of the west morally, culturally and spiritually. Perhaps this is what Blessed John Paul II saw when he initiated the New Evangelisation and spoke of a new springtime for the Gospel: is this what the Holy Spirit is preparing the Church for?  Or, perhaps the end is near after all.  
If it is, well then: "Maranatha: Come Lord Jesus".  In the meantime, here is the trailer.  I think I will go to see this, if we're still around....

Friday, November 22, 2013

Remembering Today


I couldn't let the day pass without remembering two anniversaries that occur. The first is the 100th anniversary of the birth of the British composer, Benjamin Britten, he was born on the 22nd November 1913, appropriately the feast of St Cecilia for a future composer. 
Britten is, now, very much part of the British establishment, although his personal life, and many of the themes of his music would have proved difficult for many in Britain during his lifetime.  There are also some issues concerning his personal life that have not really been clarified and at this stage pushed under the carpet. 
I used to be a great fan of Britten's work.  I was particularly attracted to his choral work and to this day some of his pieces I find to be most beautiful and iconic: his Hymn to St Cecilia, based on a text of W. H. Auden; his Rejoice in the Lamb, based on some verses from Christopher Smart's interesting poetic work Jubilate Agno; his beautiful Ceremony of Carols which includes poems by St Robert Southwell.  I am still very fond of his Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, and his greatest work, I think, is his majestic War RequiemSince the days of my youthful musical career my interest has waned as other composers seemed more accomplished and profound in comparison.  That said, the above works are worth listening to and you can access them online.  By far one of my favourites is his poignant Hymn to the Virgin and I think we will listen to this as we might say a prayer for Britten's soul. 

Today is also the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F Kennedy in Dallas, Texas. Another figure surrounded in mystery in some ways.   Growing up in an Irish home I became accustomed to what could only be described as a veneration of this man. I think every house in Ireland had a picture of Kennedy in the sitting room or kitchen.  In my grandmother's house it was a bust, almost life-size.  I was never really impressed with it, to be honest, and when the less savoury aspects of his life began to emerge, and his ultimate undermining of the faith , I was even less impressed.  The bust was eventually replaced by an image of St Therese of the Child Jesus.
While I do not share the adulation many Irish people have for Kennedy, I see his death as a dreadful tragedy and historically important, one of those which revealed the real tension at the heart of the Cold War.  I do not subscribe to the conspiracy theories, it was possible for Oswald to assassinate the poor man from the window of the Book Depository, and Oswald as a communist and supporter of the USSR did not need any other motivation than his ideology to want to kill the President.  It was an awful event and my heart always went out to his wife who witnessed his violent killing first hand.  Regardless of what we think of JFK, Jackie or the Kennedys, no one should have to endure or witness events such as these.
There is a interesting story which I have heard, though not confirmed, regarding Kennedy's last night.  If any of you readers can confirm it I would be grateful.  Apparently the night before the assassination, a priest came to hear Jackie's confession, and when Jack heard about it he asked the priest to hear his also.  If this is true, it could only be providence and God's mercy.  Given what we has been revealed about Kennedy's private life, it was comforting to hear that he went to confession before his tragic and untimely death.  Again, as with Britten, as we remember Kennedy, let us offer a prayer for his soul.

La Beata!

Ah, Blessed Cecilia!  I love this feast day.  My mind and heart go to the Church in Trastevere, just south of the Vatican, where the sacred remains of the Virgin Martyr lie in peace beneath Moderno's magnificent statue.  There her sarcophagus lies with that of her husband and his brother, all witnesses to Christ through the shedding of their blood.
In the Fraternity of St Genesius, St Cecilia is invoked as one of the Holy Intercessors - Saints and Blesseds who are patrons of the various arts. Cecilia is patron of music, not because she was musician but because of a line in the story of her life and martyrdom that during her marriage ceremony she sang a song of love to God.  An interesting way of becoming patron, but one which reminds us that artistic activity is, and should be, ultimately, an act of praising God.  Cecilia will certainly assist us in that regard.
But Cecilia is also one of the great women of the early Church who preferred to die rather than renounce her faith in Christ.  As a strong woman of faith who embraced a life of virginity and consecration even though she was forced into marriage.  Instead of abandoning that promise to Christ she won her new husband over to her way of thinking and then over to her faith.  She remained a virgin even though married: in this she is certainly a challenging figure for us in a time which cannot understand chastity, much less perpetual virginity.
So today we might say a prayer to St Cecilia for all our musicians, but perhaps more for those struggling with chastity: in this present age they need strong examples to encourage them.
The tomb of St Cecilia: in the Basilica, the famous statue by Moderno lies over it.  Below, in the crypt, her sarcophagus is to be seen just above the altar, behind the grille:

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Imaginations Running Wild

One of the stories of the last day or so was that of the newly restored frescos in the Catacombs of Priscilla.  It seems, according to a group seeking the ordination of women, these frescos depict women priests and so the Pope must ordain women
Well, the Vatican has responded by calling the group's claims "fairy tales", and to be honest I think that was too kind.  For a good examination of the frescos and what they really depict, I refer you to Fr Z who has written most eloquently what I would express quite poorly.
Let us not forget that when it comes to certain groups looking for unorthodox change, anything will do to push the cause regardless of whether it is true, rational or sane. 

Reforming the Curia

A couple of days ago there was a report on changes in the Curia in Rome in which many of the priests who currently work there are being returned to their home dioceses.  This is all part of the reform of the Curia which Pope Francis was elected to carry out. 
Now you will forgive me for saying that I personally believe that the reform of the Curia will not be overwhelming and what the present Holy Father does may well be seen as a failure after his death.  It is not that I doubt the abilities of the Pope, far from it he is a very able man, but so far in the long history of the Church no Pope has been able to reform the Curia, be he a Saint, a warrior, a bureaucrat, a tyrant, hard worker or manipulative schemer and we have had them all and worse!  Why?  I personally think it is because human nature is fallen and that reflects on all the systems we humans invent, and also because, perhaps, there is a hint of God saying to the Church: "You last not because you are efficient and effective, but because of my grace".  The fact the Church has survived for two thousand years despite some of the characters we have had is nothing short of a miracle, and I expect that miracle will continue accompanied by all the trappings of the Curia.
That said, I do think the Holy Father can do a lot to make things better, and I do believe having a second look at personnel is no bad thing.  For one I think we need a lot more lay people working in the various dicasteries and offices.  I also think the Pope and his Cardinals should cast an eye on how many American dioceses run their Curial offices - yes some would accuse them of being too bureaucratic, but there is a basic good model there to help in reorganising the Curia in Rome. 
Someone suggested that as the priests go their places should be filled by Italians.  I could not agree with that.  One of the problems we have in the Curia at the moment is that it is too Italian, Italian work hours and mentality being supreme.  The Church is universal, so the Curia should reflect that.  This may mean other changes, including looking again at the day to day working language of the organisation.  There are plenty of committed lay Catholics with expertise in many areas who would prove a blessing to the Church in her central government.  It might be possible that these experts could be persuaded to give a term of so many years in service to the Pope and the Holy See. 
Now of course this brings us to an important issue, one which may explain why so many priests and nuns work in the Curia: salaries.  The Vatican/Holy See could hardly be described as a generous employer.  Having lived in Rome for a short time and having friends who work in the Vatican I am aware that their salaries are pretty low.  Vatican employees, be they clergy, religious or lay, manage to survive because they avail of subsidised shopping in Vatican City State and they have healthcare provided in the Gemelli Clinic.  Perhaps the reason why we have had so many priests and nuns in the Curia is because their work can be seen as part of their vocation and so the Pope can get away with paying them peanuts.  This, however, has led to problems with backhanders and brown envelopes as we all know. 
If the Pope and Cardinals are serious about reform of the Curia they will have to be prepared to give a just wage for a just day's work.  I fear from what I have seen so far, however, that might not happen.  Pope Francis's decision, following his election, not to pay his workers the customary bonus following the Sedes Vacante and Conclave was, in my view, an unfair action towards employees who had a mountain of extra duties heaped on them at an important moment in the Church's life.  This bonus supplemented their wages and was a sign of appreciation from the Pontiff.   In the private sector what the Vatican called a bonus, would be called "overtime". While this bonus, or some of it, was given to the poor, I do not think it laudatory to support charities with what is due, in charity and justice, to others. 
Talk of poverty is all very well if we speak of living it ourselves, but we cannot impose it on others, and if the Holy See wants a better run Curia then it has to be prepared to pay for it.  The privilege of poverty in the service of the Pope might seem virtuous to some, but real life dictates that families have to be fed, children have to be educated and money is necessary to live.  Celibate priests and nuns can subsist in the current Vatican pay system, but if the priests are going then they have to be replaced by laity if the work is to be done and they have to be paid a wage that reflects the work they do, the hours they put in and the basic reality of their lives.  Not replacing the priests, as some have also suggested, and having a smaller Curia is just going to increase the work load and slow down the whole organisation, and let's face it the Curia is already one of the slowest bureaucracies in the world.  
Some have suggested that bishops and local dioceses be given more competence to deal with issues and so reduce the Curia's work load: yes, perhaps.  However, just look at how some bishops run their dioceses and their attitude to the Holy See and we might realise that such radical decentralisation might not be a good thing in every case. 
These are just a few thoughts I'm sharing with you.  Just another page to add to the reams already written on this subject.  Pope Francis is well placed and able to do something to make things better in the Curia, so we must pray for him.  But let's not heap unrealistic expectations on his shoulders - he already has the Cross of Christ to carry.  If I may adapt a saying of the Lord's: "Where two or three are gathered, there's politics": the Curia, like all human systems is flawed because we human beings are flawed.  We will not construct a perfect Curia, there is no such thing as a perfect human organisation (that was the ideological flaw at the heart of Marxism and Nazism and all other ideologies).  We have to cope with imperfection while striving for perfection.  As the Church carries out her mission she may well have to carry an imperfect, perhaps even at times a dysfunctional Curia carrying out the administrative work, but all the more reason for the Church and her faithful to say, perhaps even in astonishment: "Wow, we're still here and going strong despite that mess: God is indeed in charge!"

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Prayers Please

Could I ask your prayers, please?  On Saturday at our Community meeting in Belfast I was elected president of my Carmelite Community.  In the Secular Order the president is the equivalent of the Prior/Prioress.
I was not expecting it, nor to be honest was I keen to accept it - while I am all for Diocesan priests becoming members of the Secular Order, I was not so keen on a priest being the president since it is for the most part the lay branch of Discalced Carmel.  However I was put right by my brothers and sisters in the Community - to exclude a member of the Order from becoming president on the basis of being a priest would not be fair.  So I accepted. 
Since then I have had to endure certain members of the Community humming "Hail to the Chief" behind my back.  It will be a long three years!  Please pray for me so I will be able to fulfil my obligations of service to my brothers and sisters in the Community.
If you are interested in finding out more about the Discalced Carmelite Secular Order pop over here. For more information on our Community click here - we are always happy to welcome new members, so if you are a layperson or a Diocesan priest, you might consider becoming a Carmelite.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

All Carmelite Saints

In Carmel today we celebrate the feast of all our Carmelite Saints.  Another day of celebration - time for eating partridge, if we can catch it, otherwise it will be chicken or beef, if we're lucky.  With no housekeeper it may well be a rushed beans on toast!

More importantly it is a day to be nourished by the example of our Saints - a feast of holiness. Among those we celebrate are hermits and friars, nuns and sisters, priests and brothers of the two Orders and the various affiliated congregations, and of course lay men and women, the seculars and associates, and of course Diocesan priests who in life were also members of the Order and now are numbered among the Carmelites in God's kingdom.  Under the mantle of our Holy Mother, Our Lady of Mount Carmel we rejoice in God's triumph in the souls of these faithful Carmelites.  May they pray for all of us.

 Happy feast day.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Still The Age of Martyrs

An interesting statistic for you: it emerges from Cardinal Timothy Dolan's last speech as President of the USCCB (here is a link to a story dealing with it, albeit with a different emphasis).  The Cardinal pointed out that in the thirteen years of the 21st Century already about 1 million Christians have been martyred for their faith.  That is on average about 76,923 every year.  It seems the modern Age of Martyrs continues.  So far the 20th century, the "most enlightened", holds the record of the number of Christians put to death for their faith. Will this new century surpass its predecessor's bloody legacy?  Christianity is the world's most persecuted religion, a fact much denied or ignored by our secularists and the media. 
As the Age of martyrs continues one wonders who will become the new persecutors?  Will current developments in Western society and recent legislation eventually lead to persecution as Christians in conscience cannot accept laws and situations that are immoral?  In some issues here there is already a form of persecution, but will it turn to a more traditional, less subtle form? 

The Protecting Veil

One of my favourite pieces of music is the late John Tavener's The Protecting Veil for cello and orchestra.  I love the cello - it is the one instrument I would have loved to have learned - my first exposure to it was Elgar's Cello Concerto and as a teenager that work spoke to me.  Tavener's piece really utilises the otherworldly possibilities of the cello and uses it to explore the life of Our Lady in a truly mystical way.
The concerto is based on an apparition of Our Lady - that of the Protecting Veil, celebrated in Orthodoxy as a feast.  In the tenth century St Andrew of Constantinople and one of his disciples had a vision of Our Lady in which she appeared over the city of  Blachernae when it was threatened with invasion by barbarians and spread her mantle over the city as a sign of protection.  It is a vision that reminds all of us that the Holy Mother of God wraps us in the mantle of her motherly protection.  We Carmelites see the Scapular as the protecting veil of Our Lady, one in which we are clothed not only for her protection, but also to inspire us to imitate her virtues and her humble service of her Divine Son. 
Tavener's piece begins with a musical invocation of this Veil being drawn over the city and over all of us, he then goes on to explore Our Lady's life.  One of the most stunning parts is that which represents the Resurrection, a bright and brilliant invocation after the solitary lament of Holy Saturday. My own great admiration for Tavener emerged from gratitude - this piece allowed me meditate in a deeper way on Our Lady and her life, and even today the work is as fresh as it was when I first heard it and it still inspires me to pray. 

Don't forget to say a prayer for the repose of John Tavener's soul.  Having written such a beautiful piece for and about Our Lady, I have no doubt she is interceding for him. 
If you have time to listen to it, here is the piece from YouTube.  But best to go out and buy it so you can listen to it whenever you want.   

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Great Loss

Image of John Tavener
I have just heard the news that the English composer, Sir John Tavener has died: may the Lord have mercy on his soul.   What a great loss to music!  He was 69, but was ill for a time and had suffered from various illnesses throughout his life, in particular Marfan Syndrome.   
Tavener, originally a Presbyterian, converted to Russian Orthodoxy in 1977 and since then his music was influenced by the great Eastern Orthodox tradition.  One of his most famous, and finest works is The Protecting Veil, a cello concerto written in honour of Our Lady.  My own introduction to Tavener was his motet The Lamb, a setting of William Blake's poem which is devastatingly simple and beautiful. 
Taverner was one of the "holy minimalists" with Henryk Gorecki and Arvo Part, and he has helped the revitalisation of Christian music and culture in a secular world.  He will be remembered, I believe, as one of Britain's greatest composers.  Please say a prayer for him this evening.
Christ our eternal King and God, You have destroyed death and the devil by Your Cross and have restored man to life by Your Resurrection; give rest, Lord, to the soul of Your servant John who has fallen asleep, in Your Kingdom, where there is no pain, sorrow or suffering. In Your goodness and love for all men, pardon all the sins he has committed in thought word or deed, for there is no man or woman who lives and sins not, You only are without sin. 
For You are the Resurrection, the Life, and Repose of Your servant John, departed this life, O Christ our God; and to You do we send up glory with Your Eternal Father and Your All-holy, Good and Life-creating Spirit; both now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Russian Orthodox Prayer for the Dead
In his memory:  The Lamb 


Fr Z has an interesting post on the issue of glass chalices (they haven't gone away, you know).  Even though they are not permitted in the liturgy, some celebrants and parishes are still attached to these forbidden objects, so faithful priests, when they come into sacristies, will have to have a plan of action ready. So what do you do?  Well, when I have been confronted with a glass chalice I just reminded the sacristan that I am very clumsy, and taking the vessel in my hand to admire it, I (accidently, of course) reveal just how clumsy I am.  If the vessel survives, it will be replaced with an unbreakable metal one.  Problem solved. Same methodology for those awful ceramic things.

For Unity

I  had an interesting encounter over the summer which made me realise that some of my hopes of Christian unity might just be a little too optimistic at the moment.  I had visited, in private, the shrine of an Orthodox saint and while the laity welcomed me with gentle hospitality, the same could not be said of their priest.  I won't go into details, but the thrust of the encounter was such that because I was not a minister of the Orthodox Church my validity as an ordained priest was not accepted.  That is why, this year, today's feast is poignant for me and leads me to particular prayer for unity with our Orthodox brothers and sisters.
St Josaphat laid down his life for Christian unity.  I know he is a controversial figure among many of our separated brothers and sisters, but for us he is one who recognised that union with Peter was vital for Christians, and so worked to bring Eastern Christians back into communion with the See of Peter.  His hard work both in the East and with Rome to promote the Eastern rites brought many blessings both to Eastern rite Catholics and to the Church as a whole.  St Josaphat teaches us that there can be a legitimate diversity within the Church.  His work also reveals that there is little that now divides us from the Orthodox: yes, the position of the Pope is a problem for the Orthodox, but the real barrier to unity, I think, is ultimately human difficulties, and all the theological discussions in the world might not overcome them.  At the end of the day it is God's grace that finds success in reconciliation.
So today, my friends, let us pray for reconciliation, that the hearts of Catholics and Orthodox may be opened to God's grace and healing so we may all be one.  The authenticity of martyrdom is revealed in the martyr's willingness to forgive those who kill him: Josaphat forgave his enemies, and laid down his life for them and for reconciliation.  May his sacrifice yield fruit in our lives, our efforts and our sacrifices.  And today, though many may have problems with St Josaphat, I wish all our Orthodox brothers and sisters every blessing and grace.
St Josaphat's incorrupt body now preserved in St Peter's Basilica in Rome

Monday, November 11, 2013

Justice, Truth And Charity

Now that I have stuck my neck out after yesterday's post, I might as well go all the way and ask a controversial question: is it not time that we had an official and rigorous enquiry into the death of Mrs Jean McConville, the Belfast woman murdered by the IRA during the Troubles?  Mrs McConville's case is once again in the news as the Taoiseach, who likes baiting Sinn Fein TDs on their past, has raised the case once again following a documentary on RTE a few nights ago, Disappeared.
In brief: Mrs McConville was born in East Belfast into a Protestant family in 1934.  She married a Catholic and soon after she converted to the Catholic faith, not an easy thing for a Northern Ireland Protestant to do - she must have been committed to the faith to take such a step.  Her husband died in 1971 and was left to raise ten children on her own.  She had her difficulties, her son was imprisoned for terrorist activities in the IRA - he would later go on to join another paramilitary organisation, INLA. 
In December 1972 Mrs McConville was abducted from her home by twelve IRA terrorists.  She was taken to an unknown location and shot in the head.  Her body was buried in a secret grave which remained undisclosed by the IRA until August 2003 when it was accidentally found buried on a beach in County Louth.   It took twenty years for the IRA to admit killing her.
Why was Mrs McConville killed?  According to the IRA she was a British spy, passing on information on Republican activities to the British security forces: her killing, according to the party chairman of Sinn Fein in 2005 was not a criminal act.  Mrs McConville's children have denied that she was a spy and an official investigation by the Northern Ireland police ombudsman, Nuala O'Loan in 2006 confirmed that she was not a spy.
According to her children and neighbours, Mrs McConville was killed for coming to the aid of a wounded British soldier: she was murdered by Irish Republicans for showing Christian compassion to an injured man.  As expected, this has been disputed by Republicans.
So why was Mrs McConville killed?  Are we dealing with a genuine case of a Catholic killed for coming to the need of someone who was injured?   If this is true, and she had no involvement in the Troubles and was not a spy this would make her a martyr of charity.  For the sake of clarity, a rigorous investigation is needed to establish the truth: was she a spy? Was she a heroic woman? 
The time of the Troubles was a dark period in Irish history, and it is one which is still present through strained relationships on the island of Ireland.  Would it not a ray of hope for all involved if it were proven that in the midst of hatred, terror and suffering there was a martyr for charity who laid down her life to overcome evil with good?  There were many who did so, on both sides, and their stories need to be heard.  An investigation into Mrs McConville's life, activities and death could be a starting point.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

We Will Remember

For a long time Remembrance Sunday was looked upon with deep suspicion here in Ireland - another trapping of Imperialist British rule.  The poppy was almost forbidden, and those who wore it thought to be oddballs at best and traitors at worst.   A great many Irish citizens felt alienated because as men and women who had taken part in the Great War and the Second World War their loyalty to the "Republic of Ireland" was in question.  It was decided by someone in the dim and distant past that a real Irish nationalist would not have gone to fight for the Sasanach*.   Yet plenty of proud Irishmen and women went to serve in the British Army and other national armies because they believed that the World Wars were not about British Imperialism, but something else. 
Thankfully things are changing and today many in Ireland can feel proud to be Irish, loyal to the Republic and still remember the men and women who gave their lives in the cause of freedom and peace in the World Wars and other international conflicts.  The poppy, the symbol of this commemoration, is not blooming with great abundance in Ireland yet, but that may change. 
My personal connection with the Wars is twofold.  My great-grandfather fought with the British Army in the First World War and sustained injuries, including shellshock.  A cousin of my mother fought in the Second World War, again a member of the British Army, and was one of those who barely escaped with his life at Dunkirk - he never spoke about happened him there.  I did not know either of these two relations, but their stories were recalled by members of my family, and it is only of late that I am beginning to take pride in their heroism and sacrifice: they believed in freedom so much they were willing to be ostracised in their own country for their stand.  
There are also two other connections: my growing devotion to Fr Willie Doyle, proud Irishman and priest who died on the battlefield in Passchendaele in the Third Battle of Ypres, offering up his life to tend to soldiers who were injured and dying.  And then there is a local poet here in County Meath, Francis Ledwidge, a committed nationalist, who died a few weeks earlier in July 1917, also in that battle.  Ledwidge is one of Ireland's finest lyrical poets and he was a major influence on our late Seamus Heaney.  (I wonder, did Francis know Fr Doyle?  Francis, we are told, had been to confession and Mass, and had received Holy Communion on the morning he was killed - so he was committed to his faith: perhaps he may have been ministered to by Fr Willie).
Francis Ledwidge edited-copy.jpg
Fr William Doyle, SJ, MC and Francis Ledwidge
When we mark Remembrance Sunday, we remember these heroic Irishmen and many others, perhaps some from our own families, who went to serve in the cause of freedom.  Many of these were men of peace - on both sides of the conflict.  Chief among them was Blessed Charles, Emperor of Austria-Hungary who, as soon as he came to the throne in 1916 began negotiations to end the war, even accepting defeat if necessary.  He failed in that endeavour because the leaders of the other countries in the conflict had gone too far, the taste of blood and the lust for pure victory had so intoxicated them they were unwilling to listen to reason.  Many historians are not favourable to Charles, they seem him as a weak man, incapable of carrying out his duties and whose efforts were doomed to failure from the start.  Well, that may be their opinion, Saints are rarely understood by the secular - they often appear weak and other worldly, but the fact remains: if people had listened to Charles the war would have ended much sooner.
That said, let us remember in our prayers all those who died in these conflicts and pray that peace may finally come into the hearts of men and women, for it is only when peace reigns there that we will see an end to war.
* (Irish: "Saxon", term of abuse in Ireland for British)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

For Pope Francis

On this feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica, the Pope's Cathedral, let us pray for our Holy Father, Pope Francis, and reconfirm our communion with him.
V. Let us pray for Francis our Pope.
R. May the Lord preserve him, give him a long life, make him blessed upon the earth, and may the Lord not hand him over to the power of his enemies.
V. May your hand be upon your holy servant.
R. And upon your son whom you have anointed.
Let us pray. O God, the Pastor and Ruler of all the faithful, look down, in your mercy, upon your servant, Francis, whom you have appointed to preside over your Church; and grant, we beseech you, that both by word and example, he may edify all those under his charge; so that, with the flock entrusted to him, he may arrive at length unto life everlasting. Through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

And let us also pray for Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Emeritus, who faithfully served the Church as Pontiff and continues to serve the Church through his prayers and sufferings.

Pope Benedict XVI kissing baby before mass celebration at Fatima's Sanctuary, in Fatima, Portugal, Thursday, May 13, 2010.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Lizzie's Day

One of our Carmelite Beati who is gradually gaining popularity in the Church has to be Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity.  As things stand the Congregation for the Causes of Saints is now examining a miracle which may well see Lizzie canonised in the next couple of years - and how wonderful that would be.  Like many Carmelite Saints and Beati, it is in her name that Elizabeth's contribution to  Carmelite spirituality and theology is revealed - the Holy Trinity. 
Her life as a Carmelite was short, her writings few, but Elizabeth has left us some profound meditations on the Holy Trinity and on the Trinity's call to us to enter more deeply into his divine life.  Her theology is contained mostly in prayers she wrote, and her spirituality finds its most potent expression in her letters where she forms others in her way.  She recognised that she was called to be a "praise of glory" for God - that we all are to manifest in our lives the glory of God and to praise and honour the Holy Trinity by living our lives as lights shining brightly in the world.  Lizzie is an eternal optimist, literally, she orientated herself and her whole life towards eternity, to the God who is in eternity, and found everything in him. 
Another aspect of her spirituality was her relationship with Our Lady.  Her favourite title for Mary was "Janua Coeli" - the Gate of Heaven.  She a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes and during her last illness she often referred to that statue by that title.  Our Lady is indeed the Gate of Heaven.  As she was the gate to earth for the Son of God who was born of her, now, as our Mother given at the foot of the cross, she is our Gate of Heaven, the one who can bring us to her Son. 
In her teachings on Our Lady, Elizabeth tells us that no one knows Jesus better than Mary, and if we wish to come to know Christ in a deeper way, we would be advised to see him in Our Lady's light, as she puts it.  From her retreat notes:
"It seems to me that we can also say, "No one has penetrated the depths of the mystery of Christ except the Blessed Virgin." John and Mary Magdalen penetrated deeply this mystery; St. Paul often speaks of "the understanding of it which was given to him"; and yet, how all the saints remain in the shadows when we look at the Blessed Virgin's light!
"The Virgin kept all these things in her heart": . . . It was within her heart that she lived, and at such a depth that no human eye can follow her. . . . When I shall have said my "consummatum est," it is again she, "Janua Coeli," who will lead me into the heavenly courts, whispering to me these mysterious words: "Laetatus sum in his quae dicta sunt mihi, in domum Domini ibimus!" [I rejoiced when they said to me: let us go to the house of the Lord].
Bl E of T ill, near death full pic
Blessed Elizabeth with her statue of Our Lady, "Janua Coeli"

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Pray For Exorcists Today

Today in Carmel we celebrate the feast of Blessed Francis Palau y Quer, Discalced friar who, for most of his religious and priestly life, lived in exile from community life.   Living in Spain at a time when the Church and religious orders were being persecuted, Francis was forced to leave his community and live his religious life almost as an isolated member.  That, however, led him to a deeper prayer for the Church in her suffering, and he was given many great insights into the life of the Church and her mission in the world. 
It also allowed him carry out various ministries one of which was the ministry of exorcism, so today as we celebrate his life and venerate him, let us commend to his intercession those priests and laity who work in the hidden ministry of deliverance and exorcism.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

All Saints Of Ireland

The Penal Cross: symbol of the persecuted Catholic Church in Ireland
Today in Ireland we celebrate the feast of all the Saints of our land.  From the earliest pre-Patrician saints, to Ss Patrick, Brigid and Colmcille (our national patrons), to our monks, nuns, laity, our missionaries, our martyrs and our more recent holy men and women: today we celebrate the triumph of the Gospel in the hearts of our countrymen and women, praying that it may too change our hearts and sanctify us.
Celebrating this feast after yesterday's announcement and what has happened in the last couple of decades from child abuse to abortion, to Celtic Tiger greed and the gradual abandonment of the faith, we realise that we need the intercession of our Irish Saints to sustain us and kick-start the New Evangelisation in Ireland.  There are roots and new shoots, so let us pray that they will grow strong.  Yes, perhaps the fertile effects of persecution may be required to turn the hearts of the Irish back to God, if so, then so be it: just as long as our Saints make their presence felt and they help us keep our eyes fixed on the Lord.

Next Item On The Agenda: Gay Marriage

“At the end of the day it’s about love – that’s what the matchmaking festival has always been about. Ireland is leading the world on a lot of gay issues and hopefully we will have gay marriage soon, so the time is right for something like this to take place,” said Mr McGuinness.
As expected the Irish government has announced that it will hold a referendum on gay marriage, but will wait until the Spring of 2015 for the poll.   Given the government's bruising result in the Senate referendum and the uneasy feeling among many Irish citizens over the issue of gay marriage, I imagine they are holding off to build up support and work on the electorate.  It will also allow the media to get its campaign up and running.  So I presume over the next year or so we will be exposed to lots of pro-gay stories and media pieces, hear a lot about equality and no doubt Pope Francis's remarks on the plane back from World Youth Day will be rehearsed time and again to convince the "devout Irish" that the Pope backs gay marriage.  I guess we should also expect outright, vicious attacks on those who oppose the referendum and I'm sure the media will be digging deep to get some scandal to undermine the Catholic Church again. 
Yesterday evening Bishop Denis Nulty issued a statement with regard to the referendum.  It is very clear and indicates that the Church will be actively opposing the proposal.  Here is the statement in full:
Bishop Denis Nulty statement on the decision by Cabinet today to hold a referendum on same sex ‘marriage’ in 2015
The debate at the heart of the referendum announced today by the Government is not about equality or about the false separation of a religious view of marriage from the civil view of marriage. It is about the very nature of marriage itself and the importance society places on the role of mothers and fathers in bringing up children. With others, the Catholic Church will continue to hold that the differences between a man and woman are not accidental to marriage but fundamental to it and that children have a natural right to a mother and a father and that this is the best environment for them where possible.
Married love is a unique form of love between a man and woman which has a special benefit for the whole of society. With others of no particular religious view, the Church regards the family based on marriage between a woman and a man as the single most important institution in any society. To change the nature of marriage would be to undermine it as the fundamental building block of our society. The Church will therefore participate fully in the democratic debate leading up to the referendum and will seek with others to reaffirm the rational basis for holding that marriage should be reserved for the unique and complimentary relationship between a woman and a man from which the generation and upbringing of children is uniquely possible.
As Christians our primary commandment is to love. Love always demands that we respect the dignity of every human person. That is why the Catholic Church clearly teaches that people who are homosexual must always be treated with sensitivity, compassion and respect. It is not lacking in sensitivity or respect for people who are homosexual however to point out that same-sex relationships are fundamentally different from opposite sex relationships and that society values the complementary roles of mothers and fathers in the generation and up-bringing of children.

I presume the Catholic Church will be the only Christian Church to argue against gay marriage.  Seeing as the Church of Ireland and other Christian ecclesial communities backed the abortion bill they will also back this proposed change to marriage.  In such matters the Church tends to be the only voice proclaiming the truth.
Another battle has begun, and the crucial skirmish in this battle is that of getting the truth out.  Proponents of the change will try and paint the Church as homophobic, preaching a message of hate.  They will ignore the Church's pastoral concern for same sex attracted people and her condemnation of discrimination against them, they will also ignore the Church's often hidden ministry to those homosexuals dying of AIDS: men often abandoned who have nowhere to turn but find attentive care and a dignified death in Catholic hospitals, hospices and institutions.   The message the Church teaches is clear - we must love those with a homosexual orientation and show true compassion, but it is not compassionate to change the fundamental block of society in order to facilitate people's desires. This change to marriage will have devastating consequences for our society and our children in the years and generations to come.
Here is a piece from the Iona Institute on the referendum.   With regards to marriage in general, here is a very good piece on what marriage is and isn't: for one thing marriage isn't about "me".

Monday, November 4, 2013

Providence Strikes Again

On All Saints' Day I mentioned the little "Saint's Lottery" we have here in the parish, and how it has been spiritually rewarding for some of our parishioners.   Providence seems to be at work and the Lord is reminding us, as he does, of what the Saints mean for the Church and the faithful.  Last year I drew out my own foundress, St Teresa of Avila, this year I drew out a Beata who really surprised me.  Praying to her and about her in the last few days I see God is teaching me an important lesson at this time.  Can I share?
My Patron for this year is Blessed Victoire Rasoamanarivo.  You may not have heard of her: I had, but knew little about her.  For one thing I am still struggling to say her second name - nearly there.  She is Madagascar's first Beata and she was elevated to the altars by Blessed John Paul II in 1989.
Blessed Victoire was born in 1848 in the capital city of Antananarivo.  She was a member of one of  the noble families of Madagascar.  Her mother was the daughter of the chief minister to the queen, her father was the brother of the commander-in-chief of the army.  Her father died when she was young and her father's brother became head of the household and had an important role in raising his niece.  The religion of her childhood was the native animist religion which also has a strong element of ancestor worship.  Christianity was struggling on the island, and during Victoire's childhood there had been a terrible persecution in which many Christians had been martyred.
Around 1861 Victoire first meet the Sisters of St Joseph of Cluny, she was sent to study at their school and here she encountered Catholicism at first hand.  Observing the simple, devout life of the sisters and learning of Jesus she was converted and sought baptism.  Her family were horrified, but despite their efforts to stop her, Victoire was baptised when she was fifteen years old.  Her family threatened her with expulsion and told her that she could not be buried with her ancestors in the family tomb - the ultimate act of excommunication in Malagasy society.  Victoire was not worried: "The missionaries will bury me with them", she replied.
Not long after her conversion she was given in marriage to the eldest son of the prime minister.  She was not keen - she wanted to consecrate her life to Christ in the religious life, though the missionaries had advised her that things were dangerous enough because of her conversion, becoming a sister would make things worse for her and Christians on the island.  She decided to remain a laywoman and live the Gospel in the world.  Her husband, Radriaka, was a boorish creature.  He was unfaithful, rough, a drunkard and an abuser.  He continually attacked her verbally for her adherence to the Christian faith, joining his voice with many in Madagascar and at court who were scandalised by her Catholicism.  She endured all these thanks to an intense life of prayer and service of others.  As the years passed hearts were changed as Victoire, always serene, joyful and kind, emerged a woman who was willing to help others and could give very sound and wise advice.  Her marriage disturbed many and she was advised, even by the queen, to divorce her husband because of his scandalous life.  She refused: she was bound to him by the sacrament of marriage - she had managed to convince him to marry her in the Church.  Besides, she said, how would it look if Madagascar's most prominent Catholic divorced her husband?   Victoire's endurance bore fruit: she converted her husband just before he died.
In 1883 another persecution broke out and Catholic priests and religious were expelled from Madagascar.  Before they left the Jesuit missionaries entrusted the tiny Catholic population to Victoire's care, and for three years she guided and protected the faithful, encouraging them to come to church for prayers every Sunday and to continue their catechetical formation and virtuous lives.  Of all the trials she suffered in what would be three years of intense persecution, the greatest pain for Victoire was the absence of the Blessed Sacrament.  When the missionaries and priests were allowed to return they found the Catholics to be vibrant in faith. 
Victoire' last years were spent in prayer, voluntary poverty and helping the poor and the sick, particularly the lepers on the island.  She was held in deep esteem by all, Christian and animist alike.  She died on the 21st August 1894 after a brief illness.  She was buried in her family tomb, but in 1961 her remains were transferred to the missionaries' cemetery; and then at her beatification her remains were entombed in a chapel dedicated to her in front of the country's Catholic cathedral.
Blessed Victoire was a source of consolation to her fellow Catholics in a time of great suffering.  She herself endured many trials, meeting them with serenity, prayer and joy.  Whenever people came to her almost overcome by the trial inflicted on Catholics she said: "Have trust in God!"  And here is the lesson for me, and for all of us Catholics at this time.  We live in a time when our deeply held beliefs are not just tested, but mocked, attacked and even becoming criminal as immoral laws are enforced.  Here in Ireland more legislative acts are being introduced to the parliament which are repugnant not only to our Christian faith but also to basic, reasoning humanity.  How do we cope?  How we endure?  When we are tempted to give up, how we overcome this temptation?  We listen to Victoire: "Have trust in God!  
As a priest called to teach the faith and strengthen the faith of my brothers and sisters, Blessed Victoire seems to me to be a powerful intercessor and friend.  She loved the priesthood, assisted priests and offered her prayers and sacrifices to help her priests in their trials.  I do sense providence in her being given as a patron for this year, and I suspect, well beyond.   So if you are willing, please say a prayer for us priests today, and perhaps invoke Blessed Victoire for us.  May she watch over all of us in our time of need and in these times of trial.

Sunday, November 3, 2013


I was asked about the media reports concerning the appointment of two Irishwomen to the college of Cardinals: what did I think about it?  I said I'd just check the calendar to see if it's November 3rd or April 1st.
This story is non-runner for a number of reasons.  For one thing I know those two women and if the Pope decided to appoint women cardinals these ladies would not have a chance since persistent and obstinate dissent against Church teaching has never been a qualification for a red hat.  Seeing as mistakes have been made in the past in conferring the red hat, a certain Scottish cardinal being a case in point, I would hope the Pope would exercise a great deal of prudence before making any appointments to the sacred college.
If we are in an age of reform and a return to the "purer" faith of the early Church, then the office of Cardinal, if it were to be reformed, could return to being one taken up by the parish priests of Rome only.  That might be an attractive proposition to a pontiff who prefers to refer to himself as the Bishop of Rome.
These stories in the press are no more than the media attempting to set the agenda for the Church, red herrings, perhaps, to set the Church up for another accusation of discrimination when these ladies' names are not on the list.  These are false expectations and we need be very wary of them.  As a relation of mine would say: "They've lost the run of themselves".

Saturday, November 2, 2013

A New Venerable For Ireland

Great news for us here in Ireland.  One of our saintly women, Nano Nagle, the foundress of the Presentation Sisters, has been declared Venerable: the Holy Father has signed a decree recognising that she lived a life of heroic virtue.  A nice gift to us in Ireland in these difficult times.  We now await a bona fide miracle through her intercession so she may be beatified.  As far as I am aware, I'm afraid there is nothing on the horizon yet, so we will have to pray hard. 
We have a few Venerables here in Ireland for whom we are awaiting miracles, so far  nothing:  the Venerable Catherine McAuley, foundress of the Mercy Sisters; the Venerable Edel Quinn (whose Cause is actually under the jurisdiction of Nairobi), and the Venerable Matt Talbot.  I believe there is something for the Venerable Matt, but as far as I am aware there are no developments as of yet. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

It's The Most Wonderful Day Of Year, Sort Of..

Yep, for all you who love Saints today is bumper day: All Saints.  A very happy feast day to you all.  In our parish we are adopting Patron Saints for the year.  Each parishioner is invited to dip into a lottery to pull out a Saint's name.  The exercise proved very popular last year, and many received Saints which resonated with them and their lives.  It's a good way of getting to know the Saints and forming a bond with our brothers and sisters in heaven.
If you would like to join us in this spiritual exercise, you can go to this website and receive a patron
In case you are wondering why I am doing this on the 1st November rather than the 1st January, I think it fits in better with All Saints.  Enjoy.