Saturday, December 19, 2009



Catholic Culture has a report that Popes John Paul II and Pius XII are to be declared venerable which is a step on the path to beatification and hopefully, one day, canonization. Also included in the list are two Spanish Capuchins:

Father José Tous y Soler (1811-71), a Capuchin Franciscan.

Brother Leopoldo de Alpandeire (1866-1956), a Capuchin Franciscan.

As soon as I have some information on their lives I will blog it. At the moment it's all in Spanish.

Friday, December 18, 2009


I decided to give my Fifth year students a class on Christmas. It was in part an act of desperation and in part a felt need to do something on the coming festival before we break for the holidays. That done I opened by pointing out that among all the posters decorating the school advertising Christmas not one has an image of the Crib, of the Christ Child or anything religious. No angels, no Star, no shepherds, nothing. Perhaps they were told not to put them in. What we have are images of snowmen (in Dublin, Ireland were snow is almost as rare as hen’s teeth), fir trees, presents and penguins (I don’t know so don’t ask me).

It points to at least a drift or even a push towards the total secularization of society and its religious feasts. In a national hospital staff have been told that there is not to be a ‘Christmas party’ but an ‘end of year party’. Irish minds of course being rebellious and peculiarly common-sensed are outraged and will probably ignore such nonsense but it’s the tip of the iceberg.

So I took my students through a short catechesis on the Christmas festival and it may be of use to you dear reader:

Although Christ was probably born around April Christmas is celebrated at this time of year because it provided our ancient forbears in the faith an ideal time to feast without attracting attention from their sometimes hostile pagan fellow citizens. By starting their feast near the solstice they could seem to be celebrating that event while actually celebrating the birth of the true sun, Jesus. The birth of Christ itself marks only the beginning of the festival for it extends to the Epiphany and beyond, a long celebration of the Light entering the world and history at the darkest time, taking human flesh from the womb of the Virgin Mary. Thus the birth of Christ is the root of our Christmas but not the whole of it. The festival climaxes with the celebration of His manifestation to the three wise men, to His revelation of Himself by turning water into wine and the Father’s affirmation of Him at the Jordan.

There’s more: our decorations point to the beauty of heaven and the graces He brings to us. Our gifts are echoes not just of these gifts but of Him who is the GIFT from the GIVER OF ALL GOOD GIFTS: the Father. The tree represents both the Cross and the trees of paradise that bear fruit for the healing of the nations (Ezek. 47:12).

There is an old Irish prayer:

“O King of the Friday
Whose arms were stretched on the Cross.
O Lord who did suffer
The bruises, the wounds, the loss.
We stretch ourselves beneath the shield of thy Might.
May some fruit of the Tree of Thy Passion
Fall on us this night.”

The Christmas tree like the wood of the crib points to the Cross and its baubles are symbols of the graces Christ has won for us.

Even pagan symbols such as the wreath have been taken up and given Christian meaning. The wreath becomes a symbol of the undying victory of Christ and His power to protect and save. The festal meal becomes a symbol of the Eucharistic Feast, the true ‘table where no one grows old’ and therefore also an anticipation of the wedding feast of heaven.

The birth of the Christ is the beginning of the journey that leads to Calvary and beyond. In celebrating His birth we celebrate the One who came to reveal the Father’s unconditional love and mercy and His utter worthiness to all love and glory and who reveals it above all in His Passion and death on the Cross. One feast points to the other, the Child that is born is born to die so that all of us who are dead might live forever.

Forget the snowmen focus on the Child.


David Quinn has an interesting article in the Irish Independent. He is relieved that Bishop Murray is to go but rightly wonders how if the decision was made on December 1 did it take 16 days for it to become public? Why the wait and the anguish for the Church and the victims? Rightly too does he call for the resignation of those bishops who have not been investigated but did not handle accusations as they should, who let the wolves continue to savage the lambs. He finishes with this thought:

Pope Benedict XVI has said he will clearly indicate the initiatives that are to be taken in response to the abuse scandals in a pastoral letter to be written especially for Ireland.

The two best initiatives he can undertake would be to force the resignations of all those bishops who acted as Donal Murray did, and then to replace them with as many strong, fearless and capable bishops as he can. That would help to re-energise the Irish Church very quickly indeed, restore morale, and allow Christianity to be properly proclaimed in Ireland once again.

The problem though is do we have in Ireland this kind of man in sufficient numbers? Let us hope and pray that there are enough "strong, fearless and capable" but also orthodox priests who are willing to become bishops.

Perhaps as rumour has it Rome will take the opportunity to cut the Irish Church down in size and reduce the number of dioceses to around 12 - perhaps three to a province. This would make it easier to find candidates since fewer would be needed but it might also make it easier for the clerical cliques to influence the choice.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


As the temperatures continue to fall here in Ireland and there are predictions of snow (Yes, SNOW!) for Christmas or at least this weekend (this is Dublin, Ireland we rarely see snow and almost never at Christmas) so the social temperature is falling for both Church and State.

I'll the State and the Government to their own devices but the Church is after all my true home on Earth. It has become obvious that one of the effects of the scandals is the undermining of any faith or trust in the bishops. The ordinary priest has the trust and faith of the people he works with but the bishop - the bishop is now rapidly losing his authority. If once a bishop's displeasure was something to be feared those days are long, long gone but further he is a figure to be ignored and despised. With his loss of authority the Church too loses her authority. The clergy are left without cover or protection and the people of God suffer. It is a bleak, wintry picture. Perhaps Rome's intervention will bring a new Spring and a warmer time but I'm not taking off my winter woolies yet.

How did we get here? I propose to you that one influence has been the rise of what might be called 'pastoralism'. Check that in a dictionary and you will find it means that part of agriculture that concentrates on the care of livestock and that's not a bad description of this theological approach. It has always been with us - the concern for the welfare of all the people of the Church but especially the laity. It is, after all, what a shepherd does - look after his sheep. I propose to you that it can and has become distorted. Perhaps it was the influence of so many missionaries whose pastoral efforts are so much more central to their identity. Perhaps it was a desire to refute the inroads of atheist criticism by being more practically involved in the issues of concern to the layperson. Perhaps it came from a weakening faith in the reality of spiritual experience and a corresponding flight into praxis.

Whatever the source 'pastoralism' and its kindred ideology Liberation theology put forward the idea that as long as the needs of the people were met then that was what was important. On the Liturgical/Sacramental level this means that as long as the people receive communion then almost anything else is tolerated. As long as sins are absolved then that's all that matters (some go further and get rid of the sins so no absolution is necessary). So the Liturgy is shortened, Canon Law is ignored or violated, and as long as one can come up with a 'pastoral reason' (or excuse) then no one does anything about it. The people, or rather a clique within the people, are the final court of appeal. If its OK with them then its OK.

In the end we have mediocre Liturgy and a muddled, middlebrow and mediocre Church. There are few saints if any and we have scandals instead.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


To my knowledge no decision has yet been made on the future of those bishops mentioned and criticised by the Murphy report. It's not my place to say what they should do but I do know that many of my confreres believe they should go. Indeed there's also a feeling that the Eucharistic Congress should go elsewhere too and that Rome should take it from Dublin as a sign of its disapproval of all that has happened here.

It is good news that Rome is set to act and that at the very least we will get a pastoral letter on the matter. It is to be hoped that the Holy Father will take actions that will bring a new healthy, direction for the Church.

I am trying to keep my own anger in check though, anger not just at the abuse, the negligence, the incompetence, and the cover-ups, but also at our government and its ham-fisted, partisan, and unjust handling of the budget. Again the poor and the workers (public and civil servants in this case) are asked to foot the bill for the incompetence of the bankers and the government. I know that this is an opportunity for me to face my own passions and to learn how to keep peace in the midst of turmoil.

One area where my eyes are opening is in regard to the Irish Church. Everyone says its 'conservative' but I don't think so. Now 'conservative' and 'liberal' are of course imports from the secular, political world and open to a broad variety of interpretations. I merely wish to point out that there are different kinds of liberal and conservative in the Church: doctrinal, moral, pastoral etc. The Irish Church is doctrinally conservative. There are no major wide-spread denials of the central doctrines of the faith, especially among the practising faithful. But morally and pastorally, like much of the Church in the Western world, it is liberal at least behind closed doors. After all how much flak did +Willie Walsh get for his recent statements? I have seen too many dodgy liturgies and watched liturgical abuses, heard whacky lectures, and put up with so many unorthodox opinions that I can no longer accept this Church can really be described as 'conservative'. It is certainly not in a healthy state. Over recent weeks I have heard, from practising Catholics, opinions in favour of homosexuality and abortion (don't mention contraception!). I have been challenged for asserting that the clergy are called to a higher degree of holiness than the laity (and that the laity should expect us to be that holy) because after all didn't Vatican II say we were all equal? The arrogance of earlier clergy and the negligent teaching of more recent times has done much damage. No wonder people scramble to look at the Sun at Knock or to see the pseudo-visionary at Achill.

Somewhere along the line between 1850 and 1950 the Irish Church lost its way. It went from an oppressed to a dominant majority, from poverty to riches, from hedgerow to the centre stage. In that time the nation went from subjection to the British to an independent, if dirt poor, Republic. As a nation and a Church we came to believe our own propaganda - that we were once again to be a nation of saints and scholars (and republicans). This Church sent huge numbers of missionaries throughout the world just as the country sent out emigrants. Yet the seeds of our present trouble were planted and took root in those years. Jansenism and liberalism (encased in Republicanism) came here from France in the beginning and they have been around since. If the former dominated in the beginning the latter has bloomed since,if secretly. Where the moral corruption began is hard to say, probably it was always and will always be with us. Yet how did it get into the clergy and thrive there? Why wasn't it dealt with? There's even the suggestion that a clerical paedophile ring operated, and not just in Dublin, and that it may have had its origins in seminaries like Maynooth and Clonliffe. A cancer took root and now part of it is exposed. Might I suggest that the secret liberalism of the Irish Church lacked the moral courage, conviction and self-belief to confront this evil as it grew. It could not conceive of the inhumanity involved in child abuse and when confronted with it simply tried to bury it (and save its precious reputation in the process).

Today over lunch a colleague at school told me that the Catholic Church does nothing for him, has no relevance to him. I was lost for words. At the time all I could say was that for me it is about Christ first. It is also about truth and whether it can be known and experienced. Christ is Truth made flesh and He established His Church. It belongs to Him not us (as I recently had to point out to a fellow priest and friar). It all belongs to Him. It's not about us, it's about Him and one day each of us must give an account of ourselves to Him. Who'd want to be an Irish bishop on that day?

Monday, December 7, 2009


In honour of the Solemnity tomorrow I offer this hymn to the Theotokos I found at Byzantine Ramblings. It was written by St. Nektarios of Aegina and tradition has that he wrote the words but the angels composed the air.

In Greek:

In English:

Rejoice, Bride unwedded, Immaculate spouse of God and His Most Holy Mother. O Virgin made Church pray for us!

Thursday, November 26, 2009


I actually wrote this on Thursday:

The report is out and I went and had a look, a long look. I haven't had time to read it all. I'm not sure I have the stomach to read it all. It is frightening to recognize the names of abusers and victims and to realise how close one can be to people and not know what they have done or what they may have been through.

It's not the descriptions of abuse, bad enough as they are, but the callousness and indifference of the abusers and even of their superiors that is so disturbing. The priest is meant to be an alter Christus, 'another Christ' and to use the sanctity of the priesthood to abuse children is as the Church calls it 'the worst crime'. To then fail to care for the victim and allow the abuser to continue on...

I am horrified at the pain inflicted by some of my brother priests. Even when you put it in context of the many priests who served in the Archdiocese it remains that if only one child suffered that was one too many. What makes it worse is that the victims were not listened to and many abusers were allowed to continue to abuse. The greatest evil that has resulted is that so many have turned away from Christ because of this.

Is any apology ever going to be enough? How can we ease this sorrow and heal this pain? I think we need a miracle. Bishops resigning might make some people feel better but it's only the continued and consistent implementation of the child protection guidelines that will make the difference to those who matter most: the children.

It is a grim day for the priesthood. On Thursday I took a sixth year class on retreat for the day with another priest. The report did not come up and I don't know how I can communicate my shame and disgust if it ever does while somehow also keeping to the teaching of Jesus: hate the sin but love the sinner.

For the rest of us priests we must seek to be holy, really holy. Enough of this compromise, this fudging of our commitment. One thing the Report says is that Canon Law would've dealt with a lot of these issues sooner had it been employed. If we are men of God let us start to really live that and live it so others can see it clearly. The only way to win back the people's trust is to be trustworthy, to be examples that the whole flock can follow.

This is the year for priests, so please pray for us.

St. John Vianney pray for us.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


St. Andrew was one of 117 people martyred in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862. Members of this group were beatified on four different occasions between 1900 and 1951. Now all have been canonized by Pope John Paul II.

Christianity came to Vietnam (then three separate kingdoms) through the Portuguese. The Jesuits opened the first permanent mission at Da Nang in 1615 and they ministered initially to Japanese Catholics who had been driven from Japan.

The king of one of the kingdoms banned all foreign missionaries and tried to make all Vietnamese deny their faith by trampling on a crucifix. Like the priest-holes in Ireland during Protestant English persecution, many hiding places were offered in homes of the faithful.

Again in the 19th century three times severe persecutions were launched. Between 1820 and 1880, from 100,000 to 300,000 Catholics were killed or subjected to great hardship. Foreign missionaries martyred in the first wave included priests of the Paris Mission Society, and Spanish Dominican priests and tertiaries.
Persecution broke out again in 1847 when the emperor suspected foreign missionaries and Vietnamese Christians of sympathizing witha rebellion led by of one of his sons.
The last of the martyrs were 17 laypersons, one of them a 9-year-old, executed in 1862. That year a treaty with France guaranteed religious freedom to Catholics, but it did not stop all persecution.

By 1954 there were over a million and a half Catholics—about seven percent of the population—in the north. Buddhists represented about 60 percent. Persistent persecution forced some 670,000 Catholics to abandon lands, homes and possessions and flee to the south. In 1964, there were still 833,000 Catholics in the north, but many were in prison. In the south, Catholics were enjoying the first decade of religious freedom in centuries, their numbers swelled by refugees.
During the Vietnamese war, Catholics again suffered in the north, and again moved to the south in great numbers. Now the whole country is under Communist rule.
An excerpt of a letter written 1843 by Paul Le-Bao-Tinh, shortly before his martyrdom:

I, Paul, chained for the name of Christ, wish to tell you the tribulations in which I am immersed every day, so that you, inflamed with love for God, may also lift up your praise to God, 'for his mercy endures forever'. This prison is truly the image of the eternal Hell: to the cruelest tortures of all types, such as fetters, iron chains and bonds, are added hate, vindictiveness, calumny, indecent words, interrogations, bad acts, unjust oaths, curses and finally difficulties and sorrow. But God, who once freed the three boys from the path of the flames, is always with me and has freed me from these tribulations and converted them into sweetness, 'for his mercy endures forever...

Assist me with your prayers so that I may struggle according to the law, and indeed 'fight the good fight' and that I may be worthy to fight until the end, finishing my course happily; if we do not see each other again in this life, in the future age, nonetheless, this will be our joy, when standing before the throne of the spotless Lamb, with one voice we sing his praises, exulting in the joy of eternal victory. Amen.

Above from and .

Monday, November 23, 2009


I can't let this day go without mention of St. Columban of Bobbio. He is the one on the left above accompanied by St. Basil (the younger) of Constantinople. Bobbio, in Northern Italy, was where he ended up but not where he started out. He was a Leinster man, like myself and most of my ancestors, born about 543. He studied under St. Sinnell at Cleenish on Lough Erne and then with St. Comgall at Bangor, Co. Down.

Somewhere between the 570's and the 590's he headed off with twelve companions for the Continent. Welcomed by a local king he established a monastery at the abandoned Roman fort at Annegray where he converted the ruined temple of Diana into a church dedicated to St. Martin of Tours. Columban's monasticism was the strict Irish form and it attracted followers, men in search of God. Soon monasteries at Luxeil and Fontaine followed.

Falling foul of the new king Columban and his monks were banished and thus began their long and epic search for a home. Along the way some monks founded their own monasteries such as St. Dicuil at Oignon and St. Gall at Lake Constanz.
Having passed over the Alps Columban made it to the court of the Lombard King who offered him the ruined church of St. Peter, 70 miles from Milan. Here at Bobbio he ended his days.

It was during these years he wrote to the Pope. He asserted

For all we Irish, inhabitants of the world's edge, are disciples of Saints Peter and Paul and of all the disciples who wrote the Sacred Canon by the Holy Spirit. We accept nothing outside the evangelical and apostolic teaching. None of us is a heretic, no one a jew, no one a schismatic; but the Catholic faith as it was transmitted by you, successors of the Holy Apostles is maintained unbroken.

He was, of course, an Irishman to the end, valuing informality and good-natured humour:

When an unworthy man like me writes to an illustrious one like yourself, my insignificance makes applicable to me the striking remark which a certain philosopher is said to have once made on seeing a painted harlot: 'I do not admire the art, but I admire the cheek'...

Columban was no painted harlot but a great and holy man whose monasteries acted as beacons in the darkness of Europe and made a huge contribution to its rebuilding. Robert Schuman called him the 'patron saint of those who wish to construct a united Europe'. I would add 'provided it is Christian and Catholic.'

Translations are by the late Tomás Cardinal Ó'Fiaich. Source: O'Brien Pocket History of Irish Saints by Brian Lacey.


Thanks to a link in a comment on the New Liturgical Movement's website:

It's part of a documentary on Orthodox Church life in Russia today.

Friday, November 20, 2009


This Fr. Daniil Sysoyev, 35, a Russian Orthodox priest who was murdered by a masked gunman or men last night. His assistant is in critical condition. The motive is unclear though either Muslim or Pagan extremists are among the chief suspects. Fr Sysoyev had received numerous death threats after being publically critical of Islam. May he rest in peace. H/t to Byzantine Ramblings.

As Fr. comments
it causes me to wonder if I have ever proclaimed the Faith so clearly, so powerfully, with such dedication, grace and Love that I even seemed dangerous to the pagans and other non-Christians around me. I fear that the demons have found little of interest in me due to my own sinfulness and self-condemnatory life - they needn't bother.

Shame on me.
Yet we do not know how much the Lord uses us, sometime despite ourselves. If martyrdom is for us it will come as long as we seek to do the will of God.

He also has a moving account of his wife's last illness. May she rest in peace.

Monday, November 16, 2009


This is a nice short piece on the Crucifix found at


According to David Quinn's blog over at the Irish Catholic retiring Bishop of Killaloe, Willie Walsh has decided to mark his departure with a call
for a debate on celibacy and women priests, for the Church to allow those in second unions to receive the Eucharist, Protestants as well. For good measure, called on the Church to be more welcoming towards homosexuals. You might call it Bishop Walsh's parting shot.

I always thought Bishop was a liberal so now he has come out and identified himself as one. As David Quinn points out this is the kind of approach that has not worked anywhere, for any Church or ecclesial community, ever. It shows how some senior Irish clergy are seriously out of touch with reality and how liberal the Irish clergy have been all along. Once we were poisoned by French Jansenism, since then we have embraced Anglo-American liberalism when will we embrace Catholicism?

Saturday, November 14, 2009


“The annual Solemn Requiem Mass for deceased members of St Colman’s Society for Catholic Liturgy and for all the faithful departed will be celebrated at 11 am on Saturday, 28 November 2009 in St. Patrick’s Pro-Cathedral Church, Fermoy, Co. Cork.

The Mass will be celebrated in Latin according to the Roman Missal published by Blessed Pope John XXIII in 1962.

The Gregorian propers of the Requiem and Gabriel Fauré’s Pie Jesu and In paradisum will be sung by members of the Lassus Scholars, Dublin under the direction of Miss Ite O’Donovan.

All are welcome to attend”.


From the Order's website:

GUATEMALA CITY - The body of Br. Miguel Angel Hernández was found in a province in the western part of Guatemala. He had been assigned to a parish in Ocotepeque (Honduras). Police sources in Honduras had earlier announced that Br. Miguel had been kidnapped last weekend while travelling from Ocotepeque to the eastern capital of Chiquimula (Guatemala). The body was found in Esquipulas, some 200 kms east of the capital, with multiple stab wounds. Br. Miguel Angel Hernández had been in charge of the parish of Ocotepeque in Honduras for the past four years. Speaking on local radio, his confrere Br. Juan Pablo Lobos has asked the authorities to investigate the killing of Br. Hernández. Violence against missionaries and religious has grown in recent years in Latin America.

The Capuchins of the Vice-Provincia of "Our Lady of Hope" have worked for many years in the brder region between Honduras and Guatemala,where thjey have a number of fraternities. Br. Miguel was 44. He was a Capuchin, ordained in 1994, and had worked in the parishdes of Chiquimula and Quetzaltepeque (Guatemala), Santa Ana (El Salvador), and for the past 4 years had been pastor and Guardian of the Capuchin friary in Nueva Ocotepeque, Honduras. As head of a Catholic school, Br. Miguel was a great friend to young people. He was a hard worker and had a simple manner, clear in his preaching and always sincere and consistent in all that he did.

May the Lord have mercy on his soul and on those who killed him.


The icon above is by the late Sr. Aloysius McVeigh and is kept in the parish church in Glendalough.

Today is a feast day in the Archdiocese of Dublin as we honour our patron Naoimh Lorcan Ua Tuathail or Lawrence O'Toole (1128-1180) Archbishop of Dublin and a member of the a leading noble family of Leinster. His life overlaps and is comparable with that of St. Thomas a Becket (1118 – 29 December 1170). He was given into the care of the Church after a period as a hostage and became a monk at St. Kevin's monastery at Glendalough. In 1154, at the age of 26 he was made abbot. As abbot he was a reformer but also a man possessed of great compassion for the poor, a feature of his ministry as Bishop. To the end of his life he wore a hair shirt and fasted on Fridays on bread and water yet was ever the generous host with his guests.
In Dublin he had a hard job. The tiny city was a viking (Danish and Norwegian)city. He was the first Irish (Gaelic) bishop and the son of a Gaelic prince but he had the support of the clergy and the people especially after his work during a famine. He was a true pastor and a man of peace. With the arrival of the Normans to aid Diarmait against the other Irish princes Ireland began her long saga of English interference in her affairs and Lorcan found himself 'uncle-in-law' to Strongbow.
He worked to build peace between the invaders and the out-classed Irish.
At the same time he sought to reform the Dublin diocese. He repaired the cathedral and worked to restore clerical discipline. He attended the Third Lateran Council and so impressed the Pope that he was made a Legate. While on another mission for the High King he took ill and died at Eu in Normandy. An Irish historian has suggested that there is something suspicious in the award of Irish lands to the canons of Eu after the death of Lorcan. Did Henry II fins a less obvious way to rid himself of another troublesome priest?

Saturday, November 7, 2009


I was celebrant on the 12.00 here today and I get to be celebrant on the 9.30 tomorrow morning. It seems like ages since I was celebrant here (we do a lot of supplies). When I saw the Gospels for these Masses my heart sank a little. These are not easy texts. All the way to the Feast of Christ the King the Gospels get more and more apocalyptical and we are again and again challenged to make the choice between God and the world. By 'world' I do not mean nature but the system of distorted values we keep in our hearts and lives and share with those around us. I mean also the passions, those disordered powers of the soul that constantly tempt to drag us down into the pit.

Today I interpreted 'money' in wider sense as wealth - anything that we want to hold onto as valuable. I told the people that what we really want to hold on to we grip in our fist so to speak. Yet a closed fist is unable to receive. It matters little what it is closed upon whether a halfpenny or a billion Euro, it is not the amount but the fist and the will that is wrapped around it. The love of wealth itself is often only the symptom of deeper problems. Our wealth can be our good name, our pride or hurts we refuse to forgive. The closed fist cannot receive. No matter how we pray if we pray with closed fists we are hypocrites and traitors.

What if we discover that our fists are closed are we lost? No, but we can make a start towards opening the fist and letting go. If we find no desire to do this we must pray for it for really it takes the grace of God to make any progress at all. He must open our fingers one by one. It is the open hand that can receive. What do we receive, what do we get from God? We get Himself. God the Father wishes to give Himself totally through His Son. What a deal! For nothing we get the ALL!

It occurred to me recently that God the Father really takes my salvation seriously but He takes my freedom just as seriously. He is serious enough to allow the Son to endure the Cross and death so as to reveal and make effective the LOVE of the Father for the Son and of the Son for the Father. Despite this ultimate act of worshipful love the Father so respects my freedom that He will let me choose not to spend eternity with Him. That's some love.

That total love surely demands a total response? Isn't that what Sunday's Gospel is about? Jesus admires the woman for her total love. Her love for God makes her give until it hurts, indeed it puts her life and welfare at risk. In contrast the publicly religious Pharisees only love to the point that it suits them and in the process exchange the true wealth (communion with God) for dross, the passing dust of this world.

The choice is ours: to cast in our lot with God or to hold onto what seems secure and lose eternity. Who has the guts to do it?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


The 2nd annual 10,000 MASSES FOR UNBORN BABIES Novena is scheduled to take place January 13th - 21st, 2010. People may help this effort by having one or more Masses offered for the following intention: For the protection of unborn human persons. Last year, more than 3,000 Masses were offered in at least 18 countries.

"It has been said that within the last fifty or so years, approximately one billion unborn babies throughout the world have been surgically killed. This number does not include the unborn babies killed
non-surgically," said Patrick Benedict, president of the Saint Michael the Archangel Organization which is the coordinator of the 10,000 MASSES FOR UNBORN BABIES Novena. " This unprecedented slaughter of the innocents is hellish. None of us can fully grasp the magnitude of this horror.

" We can, however, engage in pro-life efforts. One of those efforts, of course, is having the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass offered for the protection of unborn babies. And, the 10,000 MASSES FOR UNBORN BABIES Novena is designed to do exactly that.

" Obviously, the Culture of Death is waging a fierce war against the unborn babies. A major and ongoing spiritual response from the Church Militant is long overdue. I hope the day will arrive that has every priest and bishop in the world offering at least one Mass each week for the protection of unborn human persons", continued Benedict.

A person wanting more information may either go to or send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to:
P.O. Box 41257; Memphis, Tennessee 38174; U.S.A.

" The unborn babies can not have Masses offered for themselves, but each person reading this can. And, I hope a great multitude of people will be doing just that," added Benedict.

# # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # #

[The Saint Michael the Archangel Organization was founded in the year 2007. In addition to coordinating the 10,000 MASSES FOR UNBORN BABIES Novena, the Organization plans on coordinating the 3rd annual ONE MILLION ROSARIES FOR UNBORN BABIES prayer event(May 7th, 8th, and 9th, 2010) and the 3rd annual WORLDWIDE ROSARY FOR UNBORN BABIES prayer event(October 8th, 9th, and 10th, 2010).]

Friday, October 30, 2009


I thought this was interesting. By giving united witness and supporting one another in the good we seek to do we don't just further Church unity we proclaim the truth of the Gospel.


I have been on and off with this blog since the summer for various reasons. Now I am restarting my endeavours. Today is a Solemnity for us: that of the Anniversary of Consecration for our Churches. Seems strange to celebrate such a feast with a solemnity but think of it this way: the church building is an icon of the Church. The building is the place where the altar resides, where the Sacrifice of Christ, the only Son of the Father, is offered and the Blessed Sacrament is kept in the tabernacle and where the people (lay and cleric) become the People of God through the Sacraments. The Church is itself the Sacrament of the Kingdom to come and it is so because Christ makes it so. To celebrate the consecration of a church is to celebrate the saving work of Christ and the Church that He establishes. As members of that Church we are called to be, not just icons, but tabernacles of His presence in the world, bearers of His Presence to others.

I used the icon above, our Lord with the Samaritan woman at the well, because that was the Gospel of this morning's mass. We are all called not just to worship in 'spirit and in truth' but to share that call with others.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Bulgarian Orthodox Leader Affirms Desire for Unity

From Zenit (H/T to the New Liturgical Movement)

Bulgarian Orthodox Leader

Affirms Desire for Unity

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 22, 2009 ( A Bulgarian Orthodox prelate told Benedict XVI of his desire for unity, and his commitment to accelerate communion with the Catholic Church.

At the end of Wednesday's general audience, Bishop Tichon, head of the diocese for Central and Western Europe of the Patriarchate of Bulgaria, stated to the Pope, "We must find unity as soon as possible and finally celebrate together," L'Osservatore Romano reported.

"People don't understand our divisions and our discussions," the bishop stated. He affirmed that he will "not spare any efforts" to work for the quick restoration of "communion between Catholics and Orthodox."

Bishop Tichon said that "the theological dialogue that is going forward in these days in Cyprus is certainly important, but we should not be afraid to say that we must find as soon as possible the way to celebrate together."

"A Catholic will not become an Orthodox and vice versa, but we must approach the altar together," he added.

The prelate told the Pontiff that "this aspiration is a feeling that arose from the works of the assembly" of his diocese, held in Rome, in which all the priests and two delegates from every Bulgarian Orthodox parish took part.

"We have come to the Pope to express our desire for unity and also because he is the Bishop of Rome, the city that hosted our assembly," he stated.

This is good news on top of the Pope's response to the overtures of the Traditional Anglican Communion among others and a sign that there is movement - the Holy Spirit is never still and Peter is listening.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009



Global prayer effort set for October 16th - 18th

The October 16th - 18th WORLDWIDE ROSARY FOR UNBORN BABIES is being held to pray for an end to the surgical and non-surgical killing of unborn human persons. People wanting to participate will pray the Rosary for this intention on either October 16th, 17th, or 18th. In addition to participating, it is hoped many people will let other persons know about this pro-life effort(people may contact family members, priests, school personnel, friends, etc.).

It is hoped many Rosaries will be prayed at schools on the Friday, October 16th date. Also, the Sunday, October 18th date is an ideal time for people at parishes to pray the Rosary either before or after Masses.

Information about the WORLDWIDE ROSARY FOR UNBORN BABIES prayer event is available in several different languages at Or, a person may receive information by sending a stamped, self-addressed envelope to: Saint Michael the Archangel Organization; P. O. Box 41257; Memphis, Tennessee 38174; U.S.

Monday, September 28, 2009


St Colman’s Society for Catholic Liturgy




“Following on the two highly successful liturgical conferences held in 2008 and 2009, St Colman’s Society for Catholic Liturgy is pleased to announce that its Third International Liturgy Conference will take place from 10 to 12 July 2010 in Cork and Fota. The title of the Conference is “Psallite sapienter: Benedict XVI on Sacred Music”.
The expression “Psallite sapienter”, literally translated “Sing ye wisely”, is found in Psalm 46 of the Vulgate. According to Joseph Ratzinger, this text synthesises what Sacred Scripture has to say about the kind of music that befits worship. Such music must be in accordance with wisdom, and therefore with reason and, ultimately, with the revealed word that comes from God, with the Word made flesh. In this way, it becomes capable of touching the human heart and raising it to communion with God, as it did in the case of St Augustine: “Greatly did I weep at the beauty of your hymns and canticles, moved deeply by the sweet chants of your Church’s music. The voices flowed into my ears and truth was poured forth into my heart, from which the emotion of my devotion overflowed: tears ran from my eyes and I was blessed in them” (Confessions, IX, 6, 14).
Unfortunately, recent decades have witnessed an impoverishment of liturgical music in many parishes and religious communities. All too often, church music has been reduced to the trivial and the banal, providing a poor substitute for the musical entertainment easily obtainable elsewhere and sadly failing to raise the heart and mind to God. Many factors have contributed to this situation, including an inadequate understanding of the kind of music appropriate to a liturgical setting, the banishment of the Church’s extraordinary heritage of plainchant and polyphony to concerts and recordings, a superficial interpretation of “active participation” which has effectively eliminated specialised choir music in the name of congregational singing, where such exists, and a pastoral pragmatism that has led to the adoption for worship of the mass-produced melodies of popular music.
Mindful of these problems, Joseph Ratzinger has addressed the question of sacred music in various writings, especially in his liturgical trilogy, “The Feast of Faith”, “A New Song for the Lord” and “The Spirit of the Liturgy”. In these he indicates the principles which underlie its historical development, he describes the qualities which should characterise all forms of liturgical music and he proposes a way forward, which is in line with the Church’s musical tradition, while encouraging genuine creativity.
The Society’s Third International Liturgical Conference seeks to promote the ideas advanced in the Holy Father’s writings on liturgical music. It also provides a forum for a younger generation of liturgists and musicians who are presently engaged in the recovery of the Church’s musical heritage for liturgical use or in composing beautiful new and uplifting works of sacred music.
An international panel of experts in the fields of theology, liturgy and music – drawn from Ireland, Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Australia and the United States of America – will discuss various theological, historical and practical questions relating to sacred music in the Roman Rite. Following an examination of Joseph Ratzinger’s writings on sacred music, the Conference will consider such issues as the place of the Psalms in the liturgy, the importance of Gregorian chant and polyphony, the Second Vatican Council’s directives on sacred music, the contribution of German musicologist Mgr Johannes Overath and sacred music in the Church today.
The Conference is open to the general public and registration forms can be obtained from the Society at or by contacting the Secretary at Leeview, Rushbrooke, Cobh, Co. Cork.”


20 September 2009

Contact details:

Terry Pender
Telephone: 021-4813445

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Julius Caesar Russo was born at Brindisi (Apulia) Italy, on July 22, 1559, the son of Elizabeth Masella and William Russo. After his father died, Julius was sent to the Conventual friars as an oblate. Upon the subsequent death of his mother, Julius moved to Venice to be under the guidance of an uncle, a priest, who enrolled him in a private school.
At Venice, Julius was captivated by the Capuchins who lived on Giudecca Island. Especially attracted by their austerity, he entered the Capuchin novitiate at Verona on February 19, 1575, taking the name, Lawrence. He made profession of vows on March 24, 1576. Following profession, Lawrence was sent to Padua to study logic and then returned to Venice to study philosophy and theology. He was exceptionally intelligent, enamored of scripture, both as a source for intellectual stimulation and for spiritual growth. Thus motivated, Lawrence studied the biblical languages and even impressed rabbinical scholars with his linguistic fluency. Eventually he became proficient in seven languages. Lawrence balanced his studies with meditation and austere penitential practices. He was ordained to the presbyterate on December 18, 1582 by the patriarch of Venice, John Trevisan.
Lawrence quickly became recognized as an effective, scriptural preacher. Physically robust, his body was proportional in such a way as to make him appear very masculine and full of dignity. He enjoyed a depth of feeling and spontaneous dignity that attracted others and commanded their respect. He possessed a penetrating gaze and an authoritative voice. His gestures were spontaneous and energetic which gave him a dramatic flare. He also had a great memory. He was able to think and analyze quickly, with clarity of thought and precision of words that enabled him to improvise with great facility and efficacy. His erudition was vast. In addition, his holiness was profoundly persuasive.
When he preached, Lawrence impressed people with an integrity of intellect, sentiment and soul. He allowed himself to be emotionally moved by the thoughts he expressed which, in turn, moved his listeners all the more. Lawrence prepared for his preaching through prolonged prayer and penance. He would meditate for hours on the gospel of the day. Due to his fluency in the biblical languages and his knowledge of talmudic and rabbinic studies, Lawrence preached even among the Jewish population.
For three years, Lawrence was assigned as professor, then as local minister and novice director, and once again as preacher. His renown extended far beyond the borders of the Venetian province. The general minister, Jerome of Polizzi, intended to make use of Lawrence's skills. Lawrence was elected vicar provincial of the Tuscan province. He subsequently held the office of provincial minister of the Venetian province, then of the Swiss province, and, in 1596, was elected general definitor of the Order.
In 1593, the Capuchin Order was implanted in central Europe with the establishment of a fraternity at Innsbruck, the Tirolian capital. This was accomplished through the intervention of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria and his consort, Anna Catherine. The second establishment came in 1596 when, as provincial minister of Venice, Lawrence accepted a new foundation at Salzburg by invitation of the archbishop-prince Wolfgang Theodoric von Raitenau. Lawrence began establishing a chain of friaries connecting Venice, Trent, and the Tirol. In 1599, under Lawrence's guidance, Capuchin missionaries, esteemed as a major force for spiritual and clerical renewal (as were the Jesuits), were invited into various parts of ultramontane Europe. The general chapter of 1599 gave Lawrence a mandate to bring the Order beyond the Alps by selecting competent Capuchins from the various provinces for this mission. The beginnings of this missionary endeavor met with great hardship. The friars were confronted with substantial anti-Catholicism, epidemics, cold, and derision. Nonetheless, it was a purifying experience for them. They set out first to evangelize inactive Catholics. Through open and informal dialogue in homes, the friars facilitated the return of many to the faith. In 1600, Lawrence established a friary at Vienna, and one at Graz in Styria.
In 1601, Lawrence was with the emperor's troops at Albareale when the Turks began their attack. So outnumbered were the imperial forces that defeat seemed a near certainty. Nonetheless, Lawrence faced every danger with the troops, giving moral support in word and action, and stood as a physical symbol of invulnerability. Thus inspired, and against all odds, the imperial troops defeated the Turks.
In 1602, Lawrence was elected general vicar of the Order. At that time, the Capuchins were divided into 30 provinces with about 9,000 friars. Lawrence was mandated to conduct a visitation of all the provinces, including the transalpine jurisdictions. The 43-year-old Lawrence set out on foot immediately. The itinerary for his first year in office led through Italy, Switzerland, France, the Netherlands, and Spain. Lawrence then resumed his visitation of the Italian provinces. Despite a typical day's journey covering 25 to 30 miles on foot, when Lawrence arrived at his destination he never failed to be present at the midnight and daytime offices, always followed the rigorous penances and fasts of the Order, and insisted on not being shown any preferential treatment. Familiarity and affability marked his fraternal visits. His term as general minister ended in May of 1605, and at the beginning of 1606, he returned to central Europe. With the Capuchin friary and church situated next to the imperial palace at Prague, Lawrence was anxious to preach in the church in order to influence (and at times denounce) the most powerful personages of reformation Europe. Facing a renewed threat of religious and political upheaval by the Evangelical Union, Lawrence was appointed by the Duke of Bavaria as ambassador to Spain and Italy, to seek financial aid and military support for the Catholic League in their campaign against the Lutheran and Calvinist forces. On his return, Lawrence's mediation skills were called upon to settle a dispute between Prague and Monaco. The Catholic League was viable only through the efforts and accomplishments of Lawrence. For the following three years, Lawrence was papal nuncio to Monaco. To facilitate access between Lawrence and Duke Maximilian, an underground tunnel was built linking the friary to the ducal palace.
In 1613, Lawrence was elected general definitor for the third time and was sent to visit the province of Genoa (which included the Piedmont and Liguria). The Genoese province was experiencing internal tension due to the fact that friars held differing political allegiances. Upon completion of his visitation, at the provincial chapter at Pavia on September 13, 1613, the Genoese capitulars elected Lawrence (against his will) as their provincial minister. The Savoy duke was not amused, and refused Lawrence permission to set foot in Liguria. The tension of the "independents" was a cross for Lawrence throughout his three years as provincial minister.
In 1616, Lawrence returned to his home province of Venice. His retirement at Bassano was interrupted in 1618 by a papal mandate commissioning him as a mediator of peace to Milan. There, Lawrence convinced the Spanish governor, Peter of Toledo, to accept a peace treaty with Charles Emmanuel I.
On July 22, 1619, his 60th birthday, Lawrence died at Belem near Lisbon, Portugal, while on a diplomatic mission. The cause for Lawrence's canonization was introduced four years after his death. However, the process was delayed due to a decree of Urban VIII prohibiting the introduction of any cause until at least 50 years after death.
Pius VI beatified Lawrence on May 23, 1783, and Leo XIII canonized him on December 8, 1881. Lawrence was declared the Apostolic Doctor by John XXIII on March 19, 1959.
Lawrence's writings span homiletic, scriptural, apologetic, autobiographical, and Mariological themes.

The above is by Patrick McSherry OFM Cap and taken from the Capuchin Franciscan Sacramentary (© 1995 North American Capuchin Conference).

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


I apologize for the shakiness of the pics but a small digital camera (Kodak Z1285 12mp HD) is not the best camera for photos is the gloom of a cathedral. I was reluctant to use the flash and when I did it bounced off the nearby worshippers so I gained no advantage. I felt like a paparazzi (even worse I was in my habit) but I could not let this experience go by without some mementos. This was my first Extraordinary Form Mass and it was an interesting experience. I will blog about it when I've had a little time to reflect. I think these photos are in order. I don't know who the celebrant was (Cardinal Pell presided) but the MC was Fr. Alcuin Reid and the deacon (?) was one of the German FSSP priests (nice guys). I don't who the other priest was (not much of a reporter am I?) An annonymous commentator over at the New Liturgical Movement has the following info: "The music for the Mass in Cobh Cathedral was supplied by the Dublin Lassus Scholars. They sang Palestrina's Missa Tu Es Petrus with motets by Bruckner, Byrd and Palestrina." The schola sang well.
Hope you like the photos.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


I am just back from the International Liturgical Conference in Cork on "Benedict XVI on Church Art and Architecture". I had never been to such an event before (though I did attend a set of lectures by Fr. John P. Meier once) and wow! it has certainly been an experience. The lectures were informative, challenging and insightful and they have, each in their own way, broadened my horizons and raised many questions and ideas. I'll give my impressions in more detail once I get over the effects of the three hour drive in heavy rain.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Blessings on the Holy Father on this his name day. Rather than give the life of St. Benedict of Norcia, patron of Europe, I thought I'd do a brief piece on St. benedict's medal to which I have some devotion. All the inscriptions are in Latin. The medal has on one side an image of St. Benedict holding up a cross in his right hand and with the Rule or Gospels in his left. To his right is a raven carrying off a poisoned loaf and to his left a poisoned cup (both attempts to kill him). Above the cup and the raven are the Latin words:

Crux s. patris Benedicti
(The Cross of our holy father Benedict).

On the margin of the medal, encircling the figure of Benedict, are the words:

Eius in obitu nostro praesentia muniamur!
(May we be strengthened by his presence in the hour of our death!).

On the reverse side starting at the top (the medal shown above is different than the one I describe as it lacks the IHS and instead starts with PAX) we have the letters
IHS which, of course, are the first three letters of Jesus in Greek. Next going to the right around the rim we have
Vade Retro Satana
(Get behind me Satan)
and then
Numquam Suade Mihi Vana
(Do not suggest vain things to me).

The we have Pax (Peace) after which there is

Sunt Mala Quae Libas
(They are evil things that you offer)

followed by
Ipse Venenum Bibas
(Drink the poison yourself).

Around the cross in the centre are four letters

C, S, P, B
Crux s. patris Benedicti
(The Cross of our holy father Benedict).

On the vertical of the cross from the top down are the letters

Crux Sancta Sit Mihi Lux
(May the Holy Cross be Light to me).

On the horizontal there are

Non Diabolos Sit Mihi Dux
(May the Devil not be my guide/leader/commander).

The medal has its origin in Benedict's own struggles with temptation and his conquering them with the sign of the cross. Over time is has developed into its present form and comes in many sizes, sometimes coloured with enamel.
In these difficult times for Christians any aid we can get in resisting the wiles of the enemy and remaining faithful to Christ are very welcome. May Benedict bless, protect, guide and intercede for his namesake the Holy Father and lead Europe back to Christ.

Friday, July 10, 2009


Today is a feast for us Capuchins, the feast of St. Veronica Giuliani, Capuchin Poor Clare, mystic, stigmatist, Abbess and perhaps one day a doctor of the Church. She truly was an extraordinary woman. The image top is froma painting of her in Citta di Castello where she spent her life as a nun and the image below it is of her death mask kept in the same place.
She was born on December 27,1660 to Franceso and Benedetta Giuliani At Mercatello int he Duchy of Urbino, Italy. She baptized Orsola, the youngest of five daughters. Their mother died when she was young but not before she had dedicated her daughters to the wounds of Christ. Angela was dedicated to the wound in Christ's side, something she never forgot. Something of her temperament can be gathered from her childhood nickname 'fire.' Their father, a civil servant, was left to struggle on and despite his resistance she persisted in her pursuit of a vocation to the toughest religious life she could find - the Capuchin Poor Clares at Citta di Castello. From the start she was deeply prayerful and experienced extraordinary graces. She was drawn to suffer for Christ and in union with Him and yet she still managed to function successfully as Abbess and Novice Mistress and formed a devout and holy community of sisters. Even though hampered by her stigmata she managed to renovate and improve the monastery.
One of the sufferings she endured was the keeping of her diary imposed on her by her confessor and now a valuable record and resource. She did not want to do it and neither did the evil one. The diary would be ripped from her hands and damaged so that she would have to do her work all over again. The enemy saw something in her writings that made him afraid!
She opposed the entrance of Florida Cevoli to the monastery fearing it would be too much for the young noblewoman. Instead Florida became her friend, devoted disciple and successor and is herself a beatus. Veronica died in 1727 and was canonized by Pope Gregory XVI in 1839.

Today the pain in my hands, feet and heart returned and I spent a night that was precious to me because it was filled with pains and torments. Thanks be to God! Early in the morning I went to confession and this gave me the strength to suffer more. Later at Holy Communion I experienced the grace of God reigning deep in my soul with some kind of new internal sensation. As well as this, for some days now I have a certain feeling in my heart the nature of which I cannot make out; so I will simply describe the effects it has on me.

First, there is the realisation of my faults and sorrow for them; the overwhelming desire for the conversion of souls for whom I am ready to offer my life's blood; a deep trust in the mercy of God and in the loving concern of Our Lady. The second effect is that I feel myself abandoned and submerged in a sea of temptations. As soon as I experience this inner sensation I seem to become fully content and possessed by the most profound sense of peace, firmly established in the will of God.

The third and last effect is like this: when I am disturbed interiorly by the temptations of the devil and when exteriorly I concentrate on other things, running here and there in the course of my duties, the hidden working results in my doing everything without being aware of it, so that I find the task is completed but I do not know how. This happens to me in the most important events of the day, such as receiving the sacraments, in prayer and in the spiritual conversations which we have. I feel myself overcome by fatigue, dried up, empty, so that it scarcely seems possible to go on living. When I am in this state it seems a waste of time to go to confession. But hardly have I felt in my heart the smallest trace of this third effect when I find myself transformed, renewed with such strength, that no matter what the aridity, vexation or numbness, any task even the most difficult, becomes easy for me. May God be glorified in all things.

Veronica Giuliani, from her diary, Un Tesoro Nascosto VIII, pp. 629-30

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


I know the title isn't very nice but this morning has been frustrating. At long last I made up my mind to buy some stuff from Sancta Missa. I know what I want and how much it will cost (including postage and packaging) and I decide that I can probably get the whole thing done in the Post Office. There's a queue. That's to be expected. I get to the hatch. I explain that I want to send money to America. Can't do it - only do Sterling and Euro drafts. Now I could've sent the money as a euro draft but I wasn't sure if that would be accepted. She wasn't very helpful. I know American's say we accept a much lower standard of service here... So I head offf to the bank. It's like Fort Knox. Another queue. I wait and when it's my turn I explain I want to send money to America. No problem but have I an account. I'm a religious so I'm not allowed a private bank account (don't have much to put in one anyway) and I've no credit card (see previous reasons). I don't have an account so I can't PAY them to give me an International Money Order so I can send money to America and pay for the goods I want. I wanted to give these people, these institutions cash and was willing to pay extra for all the inconvenience etc., at NO RISK to themselves or their investors but no, no account no deal. Puff! There goes any good will I might have towards the banking system. I will not now be a customer of theirs. Indeed my reluctance to ever have accounts or dealings with these institutions (I have long believed them to be intrinsically dishonest and wrong) has only increased. Now I must seek other avenues. There, that's my rave.

Friday, July 3, 2009


The following conference is to be held in Cork Sunday week:

St. Colman’s Society for Catholic Liturgy
Fota II International Liturgy Conference

Benedict XVI on Church Art and Architecture
12-13 July 2009
Sheraton Hotel, Fota, Co. Cork


Sunday, 12 July 2009

4 pm
Conference Opening
Chair: Prof. D. Vincent Twomey, SVD
Joesph Ratzinger on Aesthetics and the Liturgy

4.15 pm Dr. Joseph Murphy
The Fairest and the Formless: The Face of Christ as Criterion for Christian beauty according to Joesph Ratzinger

5 pm
Fr. Daniel Gallagher
The Liturgical Consequences of Thomistic Aesthetics: exploring some philosophical aspects of Joseph Ratzinger’s Aesthetics

6 pm
Dr. Janeth Rutherford
Eastern iconoclasm and the defence of divine beauty

Monday, 13 July 2009

9 am
Dr. Helen Dietz
The Nuptial Meaning of Classic Church Architecture

Fr. Uwe Michael Lang, Cong. Or.
Louis Bouyer and Church Architecture: Resourcing Benedict XVI’s Introduction to The Spirit of the Liturgy

11 am

3 pm
His Eminence George Cardinal Pell, Archbishop of Sydney
Benedict XVI on Beauty: Issues in the Tradition of Christian Aesthetics

4 pm
Prof. Duncan Stroik
The Church Building as an Image of Eternity: Cardinal Ratzinger and the Architecture of Ecclesia

5 pm
Mr. Ethan Anthony
The Third Revival: New Gothic and Romanesque Catholic Architecture in North America

6 pm
Dr. Alcuin Reid
‘Noble Simplicity’ Revisited

7 pm
Dr. Neil Roy
The Galilee Chapel: A Medieval Notion Comes of Age


Further information is available at:

Registration forms at:

I hope to get to this myself and perhaps another brother will accompany me.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


I know the Holy Father is holding up St. John Vianney as a model for priests in this Year of the Priesthood. St. John was a member of the Franciscan Third Order and tried to join the Capuchins a number of times but was always sent back to his vocation: parish priest. There are many other saints who might also be held up as examples for imitation but for Ireland there can hardly be a better one than St. Oliver Plunkett (feast day July 1). He courageously and obediently returned from Rome to a country and a Church in chaos and turmoil. He had six dioceses in his care! He held a council and worked to support his few clergy and keep the faith alive. Betrayed by some of his own people he was taken to England for trial and despite his innocence (he wasn't even allowed to bring witnessed from Ireland) he was found guilty and hung, drawn and quartered. If I may be a little biased here but as someone once said such is British justice 'innocent until proven Irish' or in this case 'Irish Catholic'. He face death calmly and full of faith. He gave himself totally for his people.
The icon above is by Maria Gnikala who lives and works in Cavan.


This is our library at the moment. It was once the choir and a lovely one too by all accounts but then St. Bonaventures in Cork closed and the students came here along with the library. When I arrived as a newly solemnly professed friar in 1995 it had been the exclusive domain of an elderly friar until his incarceration in a nursing home. My job then was first to sort out the shelving and then the books. It's hard to believe but here am I on my second stint in Raheny and I'm still trying to sort it out. As we are facing either a redesign/new build scenario with the house it is also important to reduce the library to manageable size. Friars use libraries as dumping grounds. So my principal job has been weeding out the rubbish and reducing the library to its proper function; a resource for students of philosophy and theology. It's not all rubbish. In the past I have found books as old as 1648 (the sermons of St. Anthony of Padua in latin, wax cover) and newer books from the early 18th Cent. Some are beautifully illustrated and many are of particularly Irish interest but that's not what the libraries for. I have removed some books (such as Missalae Romanae to the Common Room). Some books have been given away. I hope to sell off the rest of the books we don't want or need to raise funds to buy more modern texts. It's dirty work but one comes up the occasional jewel such as Micahel Davies' Apologia for Marcel Lefebvre vol. I and The Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described, 10th Edition, 1958 by Fortescue and O'Connell. We have the rubbish too - Kung, Haring etc but I'm the librarian not a censor. Stilll books do go missing...

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


My previous post explains, in part, my absence from 'bloggerland'. Kayleigh's death was the fourth school-related death in less than two weeks. We buried the lovely and dearly missed Kayleigh on Saturday and everything went 'well', that is, people, especially the family were happy and no one was offended - which is the basic minimum at a funeral. The music was not liturgical, there were many there who hadn't seen the inside of a church in a while but we shared a common grief and, I am convinced, God's grace was extended to all to comfort and to call them to trust in Him. It was so intense that it constituted a kind of 'dark high'. I did not want to be burying any sixteen year old least of all Kayleigh but it was a privilege and a profound moment of shared pain that brought everyone into a bond. When I got home it was like no one really appreciated what had happened or what I had experienced - only those who had been there could understand. I hope and pray this is the start of a grace for this particular year group, their Ceann Ti (Year Head) and their teachers. Let's just say that not a few in this year have 'had their moments'. In these dark days for the Church, the priesthood and religious life in Ireland it was good to be part of the Church at her best - supporting, comforting and inviting to faith. Perhaps as time and events unfold and the coming storm reaches its climax and passes on the people of Ireland will remember this side of the Church and forgive our failures, will allow us to mediate the healing mercy of God and discover anew their faith in Christ.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


This is Kayleigh Flynn. She was sixteen and would have been seventeen in August. She drowned yesterday while out having fun with her friends at the Strawberry Beds on the Liffey. As a student she was never going to light up the academic world she wouldn't want to. Instead her dream was to care for children particularly the disabled and she had the talent and the heart for it. As part of our school's Community Care group Kayleigh volunteered and showed up for everything. Once she was helping others she was in her element. Her loss reaches out far into the community of Blanchardstown and it is heaven's gain. Kayleigh will be greatly missed.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

San Damiano Crucifix

I haven't blogged in a week or more. I was busy last week with an icon-painting course. I am working on the above Crucifix of San Damiano, the one that spoke to St. Francis. It's a slow job. I started it three years ago but only now am I approaching completion. I have other pieces to finish too.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Kevin is the anglicization of Caoimhin (pronounced either kee-veen or kwee veen) from the Old irish Coemghen meaning 'the Fair- begotten'. Little original material about his life survives. He was born about 498 into a family which belonged to the Dál Messe Corb, a noble Leinster people who lived in what is now West Wicklow.

Kevin or Coemghen is said to have been baptised by St. Crónán and studied for the priesthood in Cell na Manach (Killnamanagh or 'Church of the Monks'), now a suburb of Dublin. After Bishop Lugidus ordained Kevin a priest he left Killnamanagh and set out to find his own hermitage. On arrival in Glendalough (the Valley of the Two Lakes) Kevin chose the area of the upper lake and settled on the south side of the foot of that lake in St. Kevin's Bed, an artificial cave about thirty feet above the level of the lake which was originally a Bronze Age tomb. Kevin lived the life of a hermit there with an extraordinary closeness to nature and his companions were the animals and birds all around him. He lived as a hermit for seven years wearing only animal skins, sleeping on stones and eating very sparingly.

Disciples were soon attracted to Kevin and lead to the the establishment of a further settlement enclosed by a wall, called Kevin's Cell and Reefert Church, situated nearer the lakeshore. All this building and expansion would have bothered Kevin who never really wanted to leave his hermit's life and seemed to have sought solitude and the life of a hermit whenever possible. By 540 Saint Kevin's fame as a teacher and holy man had spread far and wide. Many people came to seek his help and guidance.In time Glendalough grew into a renowned seminary of saints and scholars.

In 544 Kevin went to the Hill of Uisneach in Co.Westmeath to establish a league of brotherly friendship with other holy abbots. Until his death around 618 Kevin presided over his monastery in Glendalough, living his life by fasting, praying and teaching.

St Kevin is one of the patron saints of the diocese of Dublin and we badly need his intercession and spirit of prayer and penance now.

The name is, of course quite common in Ireland. To my knowledge, the female variant exists only in Irish and is spelt Caoimhe and pronounced kee-veh or kwee-veh. As a surname it appears in O'Cuiv or O'Keefe.

Sunday, May 31, 2009


The icon above comes from the Stavronikita Monastery on Mt. Athos. Look at it carefully. The Apostles are gathered in a horseshoe formation - the traditional plan of an assembly of equals. In the centre an old king emerges from a doorway bearing a scroll while from above heaven is open and the Spirit descends on them as tongues of fire. Just a typical image of Pentecost right?

Yet there is no Mother of God and only the Apostles are present, indeed Paul replaces one of the Twelve, Matthias! What is going on here? In this icon the Church is teaching us that Pentecost is not a day but an event. The Church is Pentecost.

As Fr. Barron explains in one of the videos on the sidebar only Christianity proclaims that "God is love". Other religions may say God loves but we say God is love. God is love implies that in God there is a Lover, a Beloved and Love between them. The Father is the Lover, the Son is the Beloved, and the Love of the Father for the Son is the Holy Spirit. This love was revealed by the Son on the cross. He needed no nails to hold Him on the cross. He willingly embraced the cross to give us as concrete an image of the Father's self-giving love for the Son and the Son's loving obedience as was possible and to make it possible not only to know of but experience that love here and in the world to come.

When we were baptised and confirmed we were immersed into the Son so that the Father loves each and every one of us, individually, as He loves the Son. The love He loves us with is the Holy Spirit. This is not one event but an eternal self-gift of the Father to the Son into Whom we have been incorporated.

So in the icon above we are reminded that the Church is a body, the body of Christ and it therefore has an organic nature, an order instituted by Christ, a sacred order or hierarchy. The Spirit is given to the Church through that sacred order. That is why the Gospels tell us of different 'givings' of the Spirit. Christ breathes on the Apostles and yet the Spirit descends on the Church assembled in the upper room and again on the gentiles. The Holy Spirit is eternally processing from the Father and returns to the Father through the Son. So the Spirit is always being poured out on the Church. It is He who conveys to us all and every gift of the Father. As it says in the Creed hE is the Lord and Giver of Life. Love is the Lord and the Giver of Life. The universe is no accident nor are we. Love is our origin and our destiny and, although fallen, the creation is recreated by the Father through His Son in the Holy Spirit and we are bathed in their Uncreated Light. Pentecost is about this New Creation, the Kingdom made manifest that is the Church.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


With our sixth year students graduating I have not had much time or energy to blog. I am still busy but I'm taking a few moments to comment on the darkness revealed by the Inquiry into Child Abuse.

There is anger, hurt, embarassment, confusion, a sense of betrayal, a desire to deny, some 'blame-gaming' and a lot of pain around this. First two points I'd make is that the media are not a balanced or trustworthy source of information. They are too pressurized and eager for news to analyse or question their sources. Secondly is that those who can should read the report here. I doubt many will read all 3,000 pages.

A teacher in the school where I work asked "What kind of society allowed this to happen?". What kind of Church? In the 1850's, not long after the famine, there were 77,000 children in the Irish workhouses and unknown numbers living rough and running wild. The British Government eager to deal with the problem established the Reformatory and Industrial school systems through Britain and Ireland. In Ireland the Catholic Church was in the process of rebuilding itself after the Penal era and wanted to keep the Irish Catholic. The Government wanted to keep the costs low and the Religious Orders wanted to be involved, to make a difference. It worked but at what price?

The myth out there is of 'Clerical child abuse' and the 'paedophile priest'. I want to make it clear that I find it appalling that anyone, especially a priest or religious, should do such things to a child, one of the most vulnerable of people. This was not about sex, it was about power and abusing that power at the expense of the weakest. Yet when one reads the report, at least for the girls, the single biggest abusers of children were laymen, the fathers and sons of homes to which the girls were sent either to work or on holiday. Lay people were involved in abuse in other ways - often through working in the homes and were often as vicious as any others.

People claim ignorance, that they did not know. Some knew - Bishops, priests, religious sisters and brothers, police, doctors, nurses, care-workers etc. They knew and said nothing.

If you haven't seen the film Downfall you should. It's very good. It tells the story of Hitler's last days from the point of view of Traudl Junge his personal secretary. At the end of the film she speaks about her own involvement and her shock when she learned about the fate of the Jews. She talks about how she long denied she had any responsibility for what happened. Then one day she passed the plaque commemorating Sophie Scholl who, along with her brother and a friend, were executed for opposing the Nazi regime. She realised that Sophie had been the same age and that she could have found out but she chose not to. People in Ireland did not know because they did not ask. They did not ask because they did not want to know.

Irish society and the Irish Church forgot its ideals, became complacent, lacked not just the proper skills but the basic, genuine charity and compassion and failed to listen and to act. Indeed it penalised those who chose to do the right thing. It, we, were guilty of cowardice.

So we are all in need of God's mercy. We are, as Catholic Christians, part of the Body of Christ against whom these crimes have ultimately been committed. If one part sins all are affected. If one part is in pain and is hurting the rest cannot go on as normal. If one tries to isolate oneself from this and say "I am innocent, I was not involved" then one effectively cuts oneself off from the Body and from the Church.

People may object that it was a different time, a time when blind obedience was emphasized. Forgive me but that excuse was not accepted at Nuremberg so why should we accept it now? Sophie Scholl made it her business to find out. Sophie Scholl made it her business to speak out despite the Gestapo and informers. Where was Ireland's Sophie?

This Saturday the Gospel of the day invites us to hear Jesus' words "Whatever you ask of the Father in my Name He will give it to you." I say that we need to ask for the Holy Spirit and He bring with Him the gift of forgiveness. I say that we need to beg God for mercy and the grace of repentance and conversion of heart. I say we need the grace of taking the Gospel seriously and of making it the true measure in our lives not the mores of our society. I say we need to ask the Father for the courage to oppose evil and speak out.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


"If you speak of God, speak with love. If you speak of yourself, speak with love. Take care that there is nothing in you but love, love, love."-St. Bernadine of Siena

Born in 1380 in a town near Siena, Italy, Bernardine was the son of an Italian governor. His parents died when he was seven. His relatives loved him as if he were their own and gave him a good education. Tall and handsome, he was a boy who was so much fun that his friends loved to be with him (teachers just love such students). Yet they knew better than to use any foul language when he was around. He would not put up with it. Twice when a man tried to lead him into sin, Bernardine punched him and sent him on his way.

Bernardine had a special love for the Blessed Virgin. She was the one who kept him pure. Even when he was a teenager, Bernardine would pray to her as a child talks with his mother. Bernardine was tender hearted and felt great pity for the poor. Once, his aunt had no extra food to give a beggar. The boy cried, "I'd rather go without food myself than leave that poor man with none." When a plague struck the area in 1400, Bernardine and his friends volunteered their services at the hospital. For six weeks they helped the sick and dying day and night until the plague had ended.

1402 Bernardine joined the Franciscan order. He was twenty-two. Evenutally he was ordained a priest. After several years, he was assigned to go to towns and cities to preach and reminded people about the love of Jesus. Urban life was not easy and vice, corruption and bad habits were ruining both young and old.

"How can I save these people by myself?" Bernardine asked the Lord in prayer. "With what weapons can I fight the devil?" And God answered, "My Holy Name will be enough for you." So Bernardine spread devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. He used this Name a great many times in every sermon. He asked people to print Jesus' Name over the gates of their cities and over their doorways-everywhere. Through devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus and devotion to the Blessed Mother, Bernardine brought thousands of people from all over Italy back to the Church. St. Bernardine spent forty-two years of his life as a Franciscan. He died at the age of sixty-four in Aquila, Italy on was May 20, 1444. He was declared a saint just six years later, in 1450, by Pope Nicholas V.

To this day the name of Jesus or 'IHS', the symbol of that name, abounds in Italy. Considering how often that name is taken and used without thought, without awareness of its significance, perhaps it is time to re-devote ourselves to the Holy Name before which every knee must bend. There could be no finer tribute to Bernardine than to follow in his footsteps.


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