Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Ecumenical Pope?

This time of year the Dominicans have a great time. Celebrating Easter with the rest of us, they then have the solemnity of their spiritual mother St Catherine of Siena and the next day, today, the feast of their great Pope-Saint, St Pius V. Both of these Dominicans were important figures of reform. St Catherine sought to contribute to the spiritual reform of the Church in a stagnant age and to bring the Pope back to his See. Pius sought to implement the reforms of the Council of Trent and reform the liturgy. He also had to face a rising threat to Europe and European Christianity from a Muslim empire.

I think, and some might find this hard to take, that St Pius V was an ecumenical figure. Yes he excommunicated Elizabeth I of England, but to be honest in doing so he was merely confirming an action that had already taken place: in her rejection of the Catholic Church, her persecution of those who adhered to the Catholic faith, her so called "Settlement" and ultimately her construction of a quasi religious cult centered on herself, Elizabeth was no longer in communion with the Catholic Church. Of course Pius's action infuriated her and she intensified her persecution of Catholics, and we cannot deny that. 

However in his defence of Europe, Pius was very much an ecumenical figure. He saw that there was a common threat, and so he appealed to all Christians to unite to defend Europe and her Christian faith. There may well have been disputes within the Christian community, but a time had come to put such disputes aside and stand together to protect Christians and their faith. Few responded to his call, Elizabeth stuck her head in the sand, and the German princes thought that the Ottomans would defeat the Pope and Catholicism, getting it out of the way, and they could negotiate with the Ottomans. Better to have Muslim allies than Catholic ones. Naive approach, I think. At the end of the day Pius called on a greater ally, Our Lady, and she responded to his call at Lepanto.

Drawing on this and seeing its relevance for us today I think we Christians must also stand together now as another threat is rising - radical atheistic permissive secularism. Despite our differences, those Christians and other faiths who have not fallen under the sceptre of this threat should stand together and face it.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Santa Caterina

In this time of reform, St Catherine of Siena offers us a marvellous example of how to work for reform. Begin with prayer and sacrifice, live the Gospel with the fidelity, seek to guide your brothers and sisters in the truth of the Gospel teaching them to pray, and then get out in the world and do what you have to do. Reform begins from the inside out.

Monday, April 28, 2014

A Saint Speaks To Ireland

For your reflection, the homily St John Paul delivered to the young people of Ireland during his visit in 1979. He has important things to say.

Given that Ireland has abandoned its Christian faith, we might do well to listen to what he advises: when we think we are above religion we have lost something important.  Something else is needed - something that can only be found in Christ. In Christ we discover the true greatness of our humanity, make us understand our dignity as human being created in the image and likeness of God.

Sunday, April 27, 2014


Greetings from Rome and from the canonisation ceremony of Blessed John Paul II, or should I say: SAINT JOHN PAUL II. 

Today the Church has two new saints: the great Pope St John XXIII who sought to prepare the Church to proclaim the Gospel for the centuries ahead, and St John Paul the Great, who took the mission to heart and thrust out into the deep to proclaim the New Evangelisation. 

It is a day of celebrations, the atmosphere here in Rome is great, even if we are almost drowning in a sea of people!  We are remembering all who could not make it here but are united with us in spirit. We commend you all to our new Saints's intercession.  

May St John Paul pray for us all, bless our Fraternity and encourage us to be ever more zealous in our service of Christ and the Gospel. Ciao from Rome, we're off for our lunch and I think a gelato would be most appropriate!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Greetings

Easter Sunday
Station Church 47: Santa Maria Maggiore

I wish you all a very happy Easter: may the Risen Lord grant you every blessing and grace on this holy day, and throughout the entire Easter season. After the weeks of Lent, the Church begins the great feast - seven weeks of celebrations.  Gathered around the Paschal Lamb, sacrificed, but now raised to glory, we feast in one long Passover - this holy season really is, if I take the Jewish celebration, our Feast of Weeks!

The pilgrimage of Station Churches comes to the Basilica of St Mary Majors again. This connects the birth of the Lord with his Resurrection. In his conception and nativity, born of the Virgin Mary, we see the mystery of the Incarnation. That mystery emerges into the Paschal Mystery where Jesus, God made man, destroys death by his dying and confers new life by rising from the dead.  Our Lady, Mother of God and Mother of the Church is witness to both of these divine actions. And so on this day we come to her Sanctuary to celebrate with her and to learn more from her. She is the first disciple, she can show us how to be good disciples.

Morning light shines through the dome of St Mary Major's 

I am surprised that I actually got through the Station Churches this Lent. I hope they gave you some idea of what the annual pilgrimage is like. I am aware of glaring failures, so I ask your pardon. I will continue the series over Easter Week because while the Lenten Stations end, there is a Roman custom of Easter Station Churches. The posts will be very short and most of them scheduled because I leave for Italy on Easter Tuesday on the Fraternity pilgrimage to the Canonisation of Blessed John Paul II. You will all be remembered in my prayers.

Now, enjoy the day and the season!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Dublin Archdiocese Statement On "Maria Divine Mercy"

The Archdiocese of Dublin has issued a statement with regard to the alleged seer "Maria Divine Mercy". Given that this lady lives in the Archdiocese many had been waiting for a communication from the Archbishop - an investigation had been going on. The statement is straightforward and clear, which is good, so it will not be misunderstood by the lady or her followers, or the faithful who are confused. Here it is:
Requests for clarification have been coming to the Archdiocese of Dublin concerning the authenticity of alleged visions and messages received by a person who calls herself “Maria Divine Mercy” and who may live in the Archdiocese of Dublin.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin wishes to state that these messages and alleged visions have no ecclesiastical approval and many of the texts are in contradiction with Catholic theology.
These messages should not be promoted or made use of within Catholic Church associations.
Spread the news. Given how she has operated in the past, I would expect MDM to have a "revelation" from "Jesus" condemning the Archbishop and the Archdiocese. I would hope her more fervent followers will see the light and stop supporting what has become a major publishing business and very lucrative source of income for this lady.

Thanks to the Archbishop for this necessary clarification. Let us pray for all concerned in this matter.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Who Needs Spiderman When You've Got Guido...

The Holy Father has confirmed Mgr Guido Marini as Papal Master of Ceremonies for another term.  As people have commented, it seems that, despite the differences in approach to the liturgy, Pope Francis has a genuine fondness for Mgr Guido.  Indeed the Holy Father is on the record as saying that he has much to learn from the humble priest.  

To mark this confirmation of his office, I thought I'd share this video with you, one of Mgr Guido's glorious moments during Pope Benedict's papacy. Who needs Spiderman when you've got Guido.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Here We Go Again...

Eyes wide open: St John Fisher

There are stormy times ahead, and like St Thomas More we Christians will not be allowed to live out our lives in silence tolerating what is going on around us.  There will be no room for dissent, not even silent, unexpressed, hidden away in the ghettos dissent. 

And, I think, as Fr Dwight suggests, the apostles, the shepherds may well be asleep, and perhaps some are may even be encouraging us all to snooze.  Where's John Fisher?

Monday, April 7, 2014

No No Noah

I went to see the movie Noah last night.  What can I say? Well, British film critic Mark Kermode described it as: "It is what it is", and that's the best thing we can say about it. No doubt you have read many or at least some of the reviews, which have not been favourable. My review can be summed up in one word: excruciating. 

As we know, it bears little relation to the Biblical texts, quite apart from the ark and the animals and the names of Biblical figures given to the characters. On the positive side there is some good cinematography, and a tableau of creation at the centre of the movie is very good.  But after that, wow.  

The portrayal of Noah is nowhere near the Scriptural exploration of his character.  Crowe's Noah is a looney eco-warrior who is so convinced that the earth and the animals can only be saved by the destruction of humanity, he is determined to kill off his unborn grandchildren and refuses to find wives for his sons for fear they would procreate. He wants to ensure that they will all die so earth will be paradise again (we have heard that proposition before and not only from mad ecologists, but also from respected media naturalists). Aronofsky's Noah is a man absolutely saturated in despair and hatred of humanity: he is a nihilist. 

What is really disturbing for me is that God gets the blame: Noah is convinced that it is God who does not want humanity to survive at all and he is only following God's command. This is not just a departure from the Biblical text which concerns God's enacting a new creation, but almost an attack on God who is portrayed as a tyrant and misanthrope. 

And as for the fallen angels who become rock monsters and then are redeemed and readmitted to heaven in the end....well, we'll say no more. 

If you see it, do not take it as a version of the Biblical story, but watch it as a stand alone movie, a fantasy movie about another dystopian world, and come to your own conclusions....if you choose to go.

That said, I think should Russell Crowe and companions ever meet the real Noah in the afterlife, I sense that it will be a very awkward encounter.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Is This A Virtual Solemnity ?

I'm wondering if this is a solemnity on the internet?  Not that the internet is a diocese or ordinariate, but given that today is the feast of St Isidore of Seville, patron saint of the internet, one wonders where we stand liturgically in this virtual world.  There's one for the liturgists among us.  

Anyway, happy feast day to all of you.  I hope the holy bishop of Seville, Doctor of the Church, will watch over all of us as we use the internet, that it may be used for the glory of God and the proclamation of the Gospel and not the degradation of men and women.

We can celebrate this feast, according to the rules of Lenten commemorations, anything more solemn and any festive events may well have to be virtual, I presume.

Relics of St Isidore preserved in Leon

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Interview With Blessed John Paul's Postulator

As we prepare for the canonisation of Blessed John Paul II, Zenit has published an interview with the Postulator of the Pontiff's Cause, Mgr Oder.  Here is the link, and it is worth reading.

Among the interesting pieces of information we discover that Blessed John Paul corresponded with St Pio of Pietrelcina for a period of time; that John Paul was a mystic, though the Postulator cannot identify exact mystical experiences in the Pontiff's life; and it seems the rumours of the pope's desire to go to Medjugorje are actually true.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Aprilis Stulte Dies

Be careful out there today. It's a mad world, this time of year. For a good one see Fr Z's blog.

And I love this one - the Olympic Flame in Dublin...

View image on Twitter
"Local Dublin athletes, dressed in tracksuits, parade the Olympic flame through our capital"