Tuesday, December 21, 2010


I don't know how many people know this but the Christmas crib is a Franciscan invention. The first was built by St. Francis in the little town of Greccio on the side of a hill in the Rieti valley. Spending Christmas there in retreat Francis wanted to recreat the circumstances of the Saviour's birth so as to meditate on them. While Mass was being offered, at which Francis was deacon, the statue of the child came alive and all were deeply touched and consoled by the grace of God. From these humble beginings springs our practise of having a crib in our churches and homes. Something which must delight the little poor man of Assisi.

Below is the cave where the crib was built with the later fresco painted in commemoration of the event.

St. Francis kneels before the Christ Child:

The Virgin breast feeds the Christ with St. Joseph in contemplation in the corner:

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Zenit has the ful text of the Holy Father's talk on St. Veronica Giuliani:

St. Veronica has a markedly Christ-centered and spousal spirituality: Hers is the experience of being loved by Christ, the faithful and sincere Spouse, and of wanting to correspond with an ever more involved and impassioned love. She interpreted everything in a key of love, and this infuses in her a profound serenity. Everything is lived in union with Christ, for love of him, and with the joy of being able to demonstrate to him all the love of which a creature is capable.

The Christ to whom Veronica is profoundly united is the suffering Christ of the passion, death and resurrection; it is Jesus in the act of offering himself to the Father to save us. From this experience derives also the intense and suffering love for the Church, and the twofold way of prayer and offering. The saint lived from this point of view: She prays, suffers, seeks "holy poverty," as "dispossessed," loss of self (cf. ibid., III, 523), precisely to be like Christ, who gave his whole self.

In every page of her writings Veronica entrusts someone to the Lord, strengthening her prayers of intercession with the offering of herself in every suffering. Her heart dilated to all "the needs of the Holy Church," living with longing the desire of the salvation of "the whole world" (ibid., III-IV, passim).

Veronica cried out: "O sinners ... come to Jesus' heart; come to the cleansing of his most precious blood ... he awaits you with open arms to embrace you" (Ibid., II, 16-17). Animated by an ardent charity, she gave care, understanding and forgiveness to the sisters of the monastery. She offered her prayers and sacrifices for the Pope, her bishop, priests and for all needy persons, including the souls in Purgatory. She summarized her contemplative mission in these words: "We cannot go preaching around the world to convert souls, but we are obliged to pray continually for all those souls who are offending God ... particularly with our sufferings, that is with a principle of crucified life" (Ibid., IV, 877). Our saint conceived this mission as a "being in the middle" between men and God, between sinners and Christ Crucified.

I was in Citta de Castello some years ago and it has made a lasting impression. I have blogged about her before. A great lady, perhaps the Pope will declare her a Doctor of the Church?


The Irish Times has this report:

The European Court of Human Rights will today rule on whether Ireland’s restrictions on abortion violate women’s human rights.

The ruling, which could have significant implications for Irish abortion law, is based on a case taken by three women in Ireland who say their health was put at risk by being forced to go abroad for abortions. The court will issue its ruling at a public sitting of the court’s grand chamber this morning, rather than a more common written judgment.

This, legal observers say, reflects the gravity of the judgment. If the court rules the women’s rights were breached, it is likely the Government would be under pressure to legislate for abortion under the circumstances of the 1992 “X” case, where the Supreme Court ruled terminating a pregnancy is lawful where the life of a mother is at risk.

The Strasbourg-based court, which is separate from the EU, adjudicates on human rights issues among all 47 member states of the Council of Europe.

As a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights – now incorporated into Irish law – the Government is obliged to remedy any breaches of the convention. The identities of the women – known as A, B and C – are confidential.

One of the women, a former alcoholic whose four children were in care, feared her pregnancy would prevent her getting her children back and went to a money lender to finance the abortion in England; another – a Lithuanian national – became pregnant while undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer and feared for her health and that of her child; a third who took the morning-after pill was told by doctors the drug had failed and she ran the risk of an ectopic pregnancy, where the foetus develops outside the womb.

At a hearing last year, lawyers argued restrictions in Ireland made having an abortion abroad expensive, complicated and traumatic. In particular, they argued restrictions stigmatised and humiliated them and risked damaging their health and, in one applicant’s case, her life.

The Government, however, robustly defended the State’s positions and argued that Ireland’s abortion laws were based on “profound moral values deeply embedded in Irish society”. Attorney General Paul Gallagher argued that the European Convention on Human Rights had consistently recognised the traditions of different countries regarding the rights of unborn children.

Please pray that this Court's ruling goes the right way (though I'm not holding my breath). Considering how they decided on the issue of the crucifixes in Italian classrooms one could expect them to take a liberal stance.


According to the BBC the court has ruled against Ireland. No surprise there. It is interesting that the women argued that they 'feared' injury or death because of their pregnancies (in Ireland which has the lowest maternal mortality in the world).

It was said at the last amendment that this challenge would come and here it is. If abortion gets in then euthanasia and other crimes against life will follow eventually as society becomes deadened to the sanctity of life. Our Lord warned us that hearts would grow cold. Cold some hearts already are and only too willing to condemn others to death. This in a Europe where the population is already well under the replacement rate. The culture of death is a symptom of the slow suicide of western civilization; a suicide rooted in the denial of God.

Simon's Cat at Christmas

On a lighter note has this from Simon's Cat. I love these. Very funny.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Apart from the report on developments among the Legionaries of Christ there is news of Turkish and Kurdish Muslim persecution of the Mor Gabriel monastery (Syrian Oriental Orthodox). The Turkish Government, having long refused to let them register their ownership (they've been there since 397) is trying to seize their land. This is another reason why Turkey is not a suitable candidate for admission to the European Union. Things are bad enough as they are.

Please remember them in your prayers and protest to the Turkish Government!

Monday, December 6, 2010


This little video I found at Gloria.tv just goes to show that high ethical standards and fine oratory have not yet died in Ireland (though our leaders may give little evidence of the same). This young lady certainly presents her case and exposes another side of the corruption in Ireland: a callous disregard for the sanctity of life from the very people who are so swift to identify themselves with the high moral ground when it suits them. It should come as no surprise to anyone that the media do not cover these issues.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Between the school being closed by the ice and snow and the friary having no internet connection (and probably won't have one until after Christmas when we move in) this is my only time to surf and blog. The weather is practically a mirror for the economic conditions - cold and unpredictable.

It's hard to believe but the politicians voted themselves a 5% increase in their expenses for next year's Dail budget. Cutting the minimum wage and increasing their expenses is that evidence that our leaders have really grasped the situation or are taking it seriously? With all the debate about whether we got the deal we could have there's little to build one's confidence that our leaders know what they are doing. Still this country, like many others, has survived plague, famine, war and persecution, poverty and the long and persistent attempt to wipe out our culture. We're still here and we can survive this crisis, with or without our politicians.

In Britain the bishops are debating whether to restore fasting and penance on Fridays. Some argue that this is externalism. Surely one cannot really separate the external and the internal for long? One, if genuine, will surely express itself through the other. Something needs to be done to express our sorrow for the sins of our nation and in particular sins against children. At the moment one could be forgiven for thinking the bishops are hoping it will just go away.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


During the week I got a lovely surprise: an envelope with a beautiful card inside of the icon of Christ the High Priest and a prayer card. Someone called P. Pike in Portlaoise has been praying for me. That was very much appreciated (I need all the graces I can get). It's nice to know that the priesthood really is appreciated. So thatnk you P. Pike. You are in my prayers.


This was posted over at Gloria.tv by holyrope 3. It's some rare footage of Padre Pio which also has footage of Capuchin traditions and life of the time.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Rebellion and Loss of Faith

While I don't always agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Voris' interpretation of events he makes many valid points and he certainly can speak. There is no doubting his committment to the Faith. If only there were more like him.

Not so Bishop Walsh. I've blogged on him before. No wonder Ireland is where it is today if this is what has been going among the hierarchy. If he has struggled with his belief even in the existence of God why didn't he resign and let someone else shepherd his diocese? It has become fashionable for clerics to confess struggles with their faith. We are human but after a while such confessions begint to sound trite. We need bishops with backbone who love the Lord and His Church and believe in Him and who are willing to be loyal to the Holy Father. If they don't then they should retire.


The news in Ireland, of course when not reporting on our economic crisis, blows the Holy Father's comments out of proportion and indeed misreports him. Thanks to his hermaneuticalness we have link to the full text at Catholic World Report.

There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants. But it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in a humanization of sexuality.

The Pope was pointing out that the modern approach to sexuality trivializes it and dehumanizes it turning sexuality into a search for pleasure and a 'drug' to self-medicate oneself rather a means to a truly human self-communication within a lifelong committment to another. He calls for a recovery, a recommittment to humanization and puts condom use and the fight to defeat AIDS in that context. If comeone uses a condom to avoid harming another this does not make the activity right but it is not as bad as the activity would be without it. As my fellow Capuchin Br. Charles reports a commentator on his blog as saying
When robbing a bank, just don't shoot the teller.
The Pope has said the equivalent of 'Bank robbery is evil but if you must rob a bank and choose not to use violence then this is better. Still we would prefer if you gave up robbing banks altogether.'

The Holy Father is pointing to the turning away from selfishness which may be present in the use of a condom rather than approving of their use. As he goes on to say:

She of course does not regard it as a real or moral solution, but, in this or that case, there can be nonetheless, in the intention of reducing the risk of infection, a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


As I am now over half way through my forty-two Memorial services (I do them class by class) here in the school I thought I would write-up my sermon. I use Luke 24:13-27, the road to Emmaus.

Why is November the month for remembering the dead? Autumn-Winter is the answer. As one of our staff pointed out returning to Ireland at this time of year is like returing to a country that's dying. The leaves are yellowing and falling, it's colder, wetter, and the nights longer. The birds hardly sing and there are no insects around. Our ancestors, those of us that are from the Northern Hemisphere, saw this time of the 'Earth's dying' as a time when the realms of the dead and the living were very close. Close enough for one to travel from one to the other. From this awareness came the feast, for the Celts, of Samhain (pronounced sau-when). They dressed up to conceal their identities and had food and drink on hand while they kept open house. Thus the dead and the living could easily mingle and the dead be appeased with food - if not the dead might take the living with them when they left. They gathered by fires and kept one another company praying for the return of the Sun.

When Christianity arrived it brought it traditions from the Roman world. If you go to Rome and visit St. Peters you can, if you book in advance, go on the SCAVI tour which takes you deep under St. Peter's into the Roman cemetary it's built over. There one can walk on Roman cobblestones, and touch beautiful Roman brickwork and look in through Roman doorways into the family vaults of the richer Romans. There in the walls and floors lie their dead. Often in the centre there's a small altar to offer sacrifice to the dead and the gods and a stairway to the roof or an upper room where the family could gather to eat in the presence of their dead relatives. The Romans did this usually around November 2nd which date the early Christians adopted as the time to pray for their own dead. They brought that tradition to Ireland and it meshed nicely with the local custom.

It serves another function though. It reminds us that we will not live forever. No matter how we might think ourselves young, beautiful and strong we cannot live forever. You will not live forever. You will die. Hopefully this will be when you are ninety or one hundred or a hundred and ten, when your teeth are no longer your own and you're all wrinkly. By then the ladies will have given up dying their hair and the guys have no hair to dye. Hopefully when that day comes you will be surrounded by family or friends who want you to stay but you will be ready to go. Hopefully by then you will be able to say that you want to go to God and that you have done your best to be the best you can be. Hoepfully by then you will be able to say you have no regrets, not because you will not regret but because you have done nothing to regret. What a waste to get to that moment and wish you could start again.

Our life is not meant to be a search for wealth, fame or power. If these come to us honestly, well and good, but they can be a blessing or a curse. Our lives are meant to be a preparation for death, for going to God where we belong. Like a baby in the womb we are to develop into full 'manhood' before we get born. This time of the year reminds us of that reality and we must ask ourselves the questions - "How have I spent this last year? Have I grown as a human being or have I shrivelled?"

This time of year also reminds us that we cannot hold on to our loved ones. They too must die. We would love to wrap them in cotton wool and surround them with steel but that would probably suffocate them and defeat the purpose. Death will come and with it grief. Many years ago a priest told me of a man who came to him for advice. He said he had married a woman and their first eight years had been the happiest of his life. Then she died. He was devasted but after some time he met someone else, fell in love and married. This too was a happy marriage but he was troubled by guilt. He still missed his first wife and felt he was being unfaithful to the second wife by missing the first. The priest told him that the human heart is able to love more than one person and that he should thank God for finding two women to love him. Then he asked how long the first wifehad been dead. "Fifty-four years" was the answer. After fifty-four years he stilled missed the firt wife. We do not get over the deaths of those we love. We learn to live with them and they become a part of us. I know of a man who still misses a friend he lost when he was twelve. We should love others while we have them.

The two men in this gospel had suffered a great bereavement. Jesus had promised them so much and they had come to hope in him, "Our own hope had been that he would be the one to set Israel free". Yet now he was dead and all their hopes were dashed. Marching out of Jerusalem, downhill, Jesus walks downhill with them. He does not identify himself nor do they recognize him, after all he's dead. He asks that innocent question "What were you talking about?" Of course they stop. They're stunned. There could've been up to a million or more Jews in the city for the festival and here's one who doesn't know what everyone else knows! Out of them flows their grief, anger and sorrow. Their hopes and expectations were betrayed when Jesus was betrayed by their own leaders and handed over to the Romans. The Romans had cruelly murdered him and now the women, finding no body have come up with this story of angels and a resurrection. No wonder they walked away. The Jesus begins to enlighten them. They are the foolish ones. The prophets had foretold this, Jesus himself had warned them, this was how the Christ was to enter His Glory, by suffering. This was how he was to conquer the Romans, take away sin, save Israel.

Only once have I had that experience of my hear buring within me. It is not easy to explain but it brings the certainty that what one hears is the truth, the absolute truth as one's soul cries out "YES!". Their souls told them this was the truth.

The message for us is that God walks with us in our lives whether we want him to or not, whether we know it or not, whether we believe it or not. God walks with us on our good days and bad days, in joy or sorrow. But God is so gentle, so humble, so shy that He will not impose on us, He will not force His presence on us or intrude upon us without our invitation, without our permission. He will not violate our freedom or our will. He waits patiently to be invited in. The 'door' to ones heart is locked on the inside and He will not force His way in. It is often at the key moments of life that He is most visible. The example that stands out for me is of a woman I knew many years ago. She wrote a poem about the first time she was alone with her new-born child (I wish I'd kept a copy). It is a very precious moment for a mother and she wrote those two stanzas about that time. There she spoke of her love for her child and that other love, not her own or any other human being's, that was there and surrounded her. The poem ended with the line "The world returned, click-heeled". Each of her children was born with Cystic Fibrosis, a genetic illness of the lungs all too common in Ireland. At that time such children had a life expectancy of about fifteen years with medication and therapy. Now they live into their thirties. Yet this lady had a strength, depth of faith and peace that radiated from her. She had found that Presence that makes us strong in our weakness. You have to discover that for yourself, no one can do it for you.

That is more or less my sermon. What I have learnt as a school chaplain is that however children and teenagers seem to be they are often deeply affected by the loss of someone. Grandparents are the most common obviously. Still among our students we have a goodly number that have lost brothers and sisters, parents and close friends. Parents can sometimes miss the signals that their child is in pain usually because the parents themselves may be suffering.

One final point, if you know or suspect someone is suffering grief be kind, support them. We all get there someday.

Friday, November 12, 2010


Well, it's either a feast or a famine. This is a video from the American program 60 Minutes posted over at Gloria.tv which has an interview with the Patriarch of Constantinople, His Holiness Bartholomew. Worth watching.


Just checking in.  Unfortunately, due to damage (?) done by the builders we have no internet service in the Friary so I am reduced to whatever access I can get at work or when I visit my parents on Sundays.  That means my blogging has suffered.  In addition I am holding memorial services on a class by class basis.  That's 42 services before the end of November.  Our school oratory is small so these services are intimate and hopefully helpful.  One first year thanked me becuase it had never occurred to her that she will die.  More importantly my hope is to console the grieving, inspire their friends to support them and make everyone that bit more appreciative of their loved ones.  I did notice that as one moves up the years there is less and less of a response to the prayers.  Whether that is from genuine unbelief, peer pressure or just teenage resistance I don't know.  For me it is tiring and after a while boring but we don't do it every year (retreats get in the way).  

Monday, October 11, 2010


Actually that's the wrong question. One should ask: why is ordination into the Catholic Sacrament of Holy Orders restricted to men? The answer requires first answering some other questions such as what is the Sacrament of Holy Orders and what is its relation to the Church?, what is a priest?, who is Christ? and what is the significance of gender to the human person?

Let us take the last one first. To be human is to be gendered. We never meet just a human being but a man or a woman, boy or girl. That we are male or female shapes our relationship to ourelves, our community, the cosmos and God. For a believer this differentiation of the human race into two complementary genders is no accident. It is a dimension of the Divine plan and a reflection of the Divine Mind. You can see this in ancient myths and pagan spiritualities: Earth Mother and Sky Father, and Ying, Yang etc.

I would propose to you that the fact that Christ was a man was no accident nor was it incidental to His mission. The Son was sent to reveal the Father and only a son can reveal his father. In choosing masculinity Christ the Word was fulfilling His plan, making a statement about the Father, revealing something of the heart of God. He it is who establishes His Kingdom on earth and incorporates us into His Body, the Church. In case you didn't know ancient kingdoms weren't democracies. He has chosen us, called us, saved us. We depend upon Him, for everything.

Those in Holy Orders (Deacons, Priests and Bishops) are further called to be incorporated into Christ as head of the Body, a role that not only involves offering and celebrating the Sacraments but governing the Church. In a sense it is like a 'second baptism' for it confers a 'character' on the one ordained that sets him in a new relationship vis-a-vis the Body. As only the Son could reveal the Father so only a son can become an icon of the Son and stand in His place. Gender is not incidental but part of our fundamental make-up. It is so for us and was so for Christ, so it must be a condition for ordination.

Nowhere does the Church deny ordination to women on the basis of lack of intelligence or moral weakness. On the contrary the Church has repeated praised and supported women for both their contribution to the Church and Society and for the example of their lives and the depths of their spirituality.

We must also reject attempts to us the idea of equality. Equality is a legal fiction, useful but a fiction nontheless. It is easily put to the test and found wanting. Besides since membership of the Church is by invitation who can demand 'rights' to anything not given by Christ? In addition we must object to interpreting through the lens of 'power'. What actual power do clergy have? Besides our Lord teaches us that service is how He sees the Church's mission.

If not on the thin grounds of 'equality' and 'power-sharing' what basis is there for arguing for women's ordination? Scripture only opens the door to men. Tradition is clearly against it and the Magisterium has consistently ruled it out. The Church cannot and will not ordain women.

That in a nutshell is that argument against the ordination of women.

Further I went and had a look at the arguments given at the womenpriests site.  I was not surprised. 

Argument one confuses the priesthood of the faithful in which all the baptised share and the sacramental, ordained priesthood which is open only to men, because only they can bear the image of Christ as Son offering Himself to the Father.

Argument two, that women must have been present at the Last Supper, fails to take into account that Jesus looked for a room and according to Luke He sent Peter and John (His closest men) to find it by following a 'man carrying a jar of water'.  Water fetching was women's work and that's why such a sight would stand out.  A man fetching water implies a male-only house (perhaps Essene?).  There is no mention of women present in any of the accounts of the Last Supper most notably Luke and John that are so sensitive to women especially His mother.

Argument three depends on cultural bias.  That bias existed is not denied but that does not necessarily mean the decision is wrong.  A racist judge may condemn a black man found guilty of murder and still be just in his condemnation.  This argument also means an implicit denial  of the influence and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Argument four raises the issue of women deacons.  If only the early Church had used a consistent and clear terminology from the begining but even now we talk of 'permanent deacons' as if diaconal ordination were not of itself permanent.  That aside research shows that although women were called deacons this service did not include service at the altar but in assisting with the formation and baptism of women and children not unlike the work done by generations of nuns since.

Argument five is another example of confusing the priesthood of the faithful and that of the ordained.  Mary's vocation is unique but remains firmly within that of the laity.

Argument six confuses ecclessial communions with Churches.  There is actually only one Church from which some parts are in schism but yet retain all that is necessary to be the local manifestation of  the true Church.  these have the threefold order of Bishop, Priest and Deacon, valid Sacraments and maintain Tradition.  Other communities have, while believing in Christ, abandoned these elements and are not local 'Churches', they have no valid Priesthood.  It is these bodies that have 'ordained' women.

Argument seven relies on personal experience.  Women feel called so the Spirit must be calling them.  Christ has given His Spirit to all who receive baptism but the discernment of spirits He has reserved to the Bishops.  Rome has discerned and identified this 'spirit' speaking in the women's ordination movement as not being from God.  Draw your own conclusion.

At heart these arguments attack the very nature of the Church, denying the Spirit's action on and in the  Church, denying Tradition, denying even reason itself.  In over twenty-five  years of listening to arguments for the ordination of women I have seen no deepening, no movement.  The same old arguments are proferred while the orthodox side makes progress in its undestanding.  At heart we have to rediscover the mutually enriching but distinct roles of lay and clergy, the differences between the priesthood of the laity and that of the ordained.  We have to rediscover our living Tradition for the Church is her Tradition.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I avoided commenting on the 'Sleeman intiative' over the weekend as the press scans for comments and I didn't want to be quuoted. Now that it has been a flop I can pass my remarks. My own experience was that there were no noticeable absentees from the 9.30 here in the Friary but one woman seemed (she was at the back and I can't see much beyond six feet without my glasses) to wear a scarf over her face and dark glasses. The glasses alone would've been wierd. She didn't come up for communion and was gone before we had left the church (we wait outside to greet people - very 'protestant' but it can lead to useful conversations). I was furious and I still feel it as an insult to the Mass, the congregation and myself.

In addition I heard today that a priest in a wealthy parish in Blanchardstown welcomed anyone wearing a green armband and proceeded to speak up for women's ordination with some dodgy exegesis. It's this kind of theologically illiterate dissent that has us in the state we are in. Doesn't anyone try to find out the truth? Is no one interested in obedience and humility? No wonder there are Sleemans in the Church if there are pastors such as this doling out their opinions rather than serving the Gospel.

After Mass on Sunday I had a long conversation with one of our regulars who, despite being quite mature, is studying theology. She told me of the sacramental theology she's getting and from what she told me it does not qualify as Catholic. It seems that some theologians are too intelligent to believe in the Real Presence.

The more I see and hear the more I believe that there's a deep unseen crack in the Irish Church that could split open any day. At that point there will be great pain. I am haunted by Jesus' question 'When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?' (Lk 18:8).

The good news is that the mature student I spoke to knows the Church's teaching and can challenge those who pretend that something else will suffice. There are faithful Catholics who struggle to hand on what so many others are denying or abandoning. We live in a time of iconoclasm but there are those who still choose Christ.

Monday, September 20, 2010


It's either a feast or a famine but over lunch one of the teachers told me about this guy Nick Vojicic, an Australian born without arms or legs who gives inspirational talks. This is a very moving video.


I'll be trying  a new initiative with this blog - posting from my work as a chaplain.  So to begin I am in my little office with a free period because a third year has just asked could she move her spot to last period.  A first year I was expecting has not yet turned up.  Therefore I am free. 

One never knows who will walk through my door or what problem they carry.  It takes time to build up the relationship and the level of trust.  Clerical child abuse, on top of all the other pain it has caused, has done so much damage to the image of the priest that we are all suspects in someone's eyes.  At least now the boundaries are clear to everyone.

It was good to hear the Holy Father reinterating our pain and shame over what has been done and urging the bishops to make care of the victims of abuse our principle act of reparation.  Working with teenagers one sees that life can inflict so much suffering on the young.  Thanks  be to God this school works hard to provide a high level of care and support.

On a lighter note the one thing that made a deep impression on me was the silence after communion in Westminster Cathedral.   TV doesn't do silence very well.  It likes action, movement and noise.  The stillness in that great church with the Pope sitting surrounded by his clergy and people in silent prayer was very striking.  It brought home to me the need to cultivate that silence at the Masses I celebrate.  After all when one has just received God what ought one to do but sit and listen?

Friday, September 17, 2010


Please pray to Ven. Pauline Jaricot for a swift, full and enduring recovery for Philip Johnson, an American seminarian who has an inoperable brain tumour.
Almighty God, who knew us all from before creation, who called us into being according to Your plan, we humbly beseech You, through the intercession of Venerable Pauline Jaricot, who cared for the sick during her earthly life, that the seminarian Philip Gerard be swiftly and completely cured of his cancer, in a lasting way, so that God’s glory and mercy may be manifest.     Venerable Pauline, we ask you in this urgent need, pray now before God’s throne that Philip Gerard be completely and swiftly healed by God’s miraculous act, that God be glorified in the working of this miracle, that we be edified by His mercy.     Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we thank you for all your gifts and mercy.  In Jesus’ Name we beg that this be done according to Your will.     Amen.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


The funeral took place last week in Holy Trinity, our principal church in Cork, of Br Donal O'Mahony OFM Cap. He was a native of Blackrock, Cork, who joined the Capuchin order in 1958 and was best known as the founder of Threshold, the national housing organisation, that came about following his appointment as chaplain to flat-dwellers in Dublin.  He also worked in Northern Ireland during the 1980s, engaging with paramilitaries on both sides to promote and facilitate dialogue as an alternative to violence, most importantly in the Herema kidnapping case. 

Most recently, Br. O'Mahony acted as International Director of the Damietta Peace Initiative whihc he founded to promote peace and a non-violent culture through the African continent. In 2008, his contribution peacemaking was marked with a Peace Award from the Interfaith Foundation South Africa.
Described as an "unsung hero", Br. O'Mahony was membered on the day of the funeral by contributors to Joe Duffy's RTE Liveline programme. Speaking on the programme, Br. Kevin Crowley OFMCap of the Capuchin Day Centre in Dublin described Fr O'Mahony as "a real and true follower of Francis, who had concern for all those in need. In all ministries, he was loved". Speaking of Br. O'Mahony legacy, Aideen Hayden Chairperson of Thresh said: "Br. O'Mahony's vision of a more inclusive and just society, where everyone has a proper home still informs our work today."  The friars remember him as a gentle optimist and a man of deep and active faith.

After leaving doing the Leaving Cert at our school in Rochestown he studied journalism in UCC before going to work for the Irish Independent as a sports writer. On his way to attend the golf tournament in St. Andrews he met a friend, now Br. Sylvester O'Flynn, who was on his way to join the Capuchins and over a coffee they had a good chat. At St. Andrews Donal got into a debate with an atheist. Something was stirred in him. He came home and a month later he joined the Capuchins.

In his early years as a Capuchin he edited a number of periodicals in Ireland, all long now defunct. In America he made some wealthy and powerful friends but never ceased to be a humble and unassuming man, gentle and truely Franciscan.  Even over the last few years as he struggled with illness he remained a man of hope. As his health declined he wanted nothing more than to return to South Africa and continue his work for peace through dialogue. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


I found this talk over at Gloria.tv. A good priest who speaks from the heart.


The History blog has this report:

19th c. Irish immigrant mass grave in Pennsylvania

August 16th, 2010
In the August of 1832, a group of 57 Irish immigrants started work on a section of the Philadelphia and Columbia railroad known as a cut 20 miles west of Philadelphia. A few weeks later, they were all dead, most probably from cholera. Philip Duffy, the man who hired the Irish workers, had the shanty they slept in burned to keep disease from spreading and the dead buried in the railroad fill. Their families were never notified.

Continue reading here.

I saw a documentary about this a few years ago. It's a reminder how tough things were in the past and still are for many in our world. May they rest in peace.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Fr. Finegan over at the Hermeuntic of Continuity has posted some beautiful pieces of chant and that led me to follow the link to the above. I have about three of Ensemlbe Organum's albums and they are well worth having. The obvious musical connections between the Church's East and West really emerges in these pieces. The one above is of the Kyrie from the Mass 'Orbis Factor' and the one below is of 'Pascha Nostra' a chant from the Church of Benevento, Italy. They were posted on Gloria.tv.

This is what our Church music could sound like. Our Masses could be beautiful and full of mystery. What stands in our way is our submission to erronious ideas about what Vatican II asked of us and what is appropriate to worship. We have allowed our altars and churches, our liturgies and spirituality to be stripped away from us on the promise of something better in their stead. Like the generations of the Iconoclasm in Byzantium and the Reformation in the 16th Century we find that the replacements empty and ugly, banal and not only unable to speak of God but unfit to speak to Him.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Sandro Magister has an interesting article on Catholic-Orthodox relations under the title

"Ecumenism. The True Story of a War That Never Was"

It's worh reading.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Thanks to Zenit I now know there is a website and association dedicated to promoting the work of Dietrich von Hildebrand an German Catholic philosopher, friend of Edith Stein, Adolf Reinach, Martin Heidegger and Edmund Husserl and part of the school of phenomenology. I have long admired the Catholic end of phenomenology since my days as a student of philosophy when a young American taught us. I am glad to be remaking the aquaintance.

Monday, July 26, 2010


I’ll attempt a Fr.Z on this from today's Irish Times:
The Vatican must no longer be granted immunity from equality legislation, in the name of liberty, equality, and even the Gospel

THE VATICAN'S recent Normae de Gravioribus Delictis document prescribes automatic excommunication for anyone involved in the ordination of a woman. In according greater penalties to those who "attempted " women's ordination than to clerics [Because with clerics it is traditionally considered enough punishment to reduce them to the lay state, excommunication still being a possibility, but with lay people excommunication, and in the case of attempting the ordination of a woman it is automatic, it is the only real punishment left] who abused children it has further shocked many loyal Irish Catholics prompting them to inquire about the theological reasons why the Roman Catholic Church objects to women's ordination.[She hopes. It think most people have their minds on keeping their jobs and paying their bills.]
A Vatican document issued in 1976 set out some of these arguments clearly.
1. That incarnation took place in the male sex and therefore women were excluded from the priesthood.
Logically, this means that women should be excluded from baptism as well, since it is an ancient teaching of the church that "whatever has not become incarnate cannot be redeemed". If the church insists here that "God became man" means God became male, then it cannot simultaneously argue that in liturgical language "man" means both male and female. [Apparently it was St. Gregory of Nazianzus who said 'that which was not assumed is not healed; but that which is united to God is saved.' What was assumed in the Incarnation was matter. Humanity and through humanity the created order is saved through the Incarnation. That matter is in the form of human nature with two genders, one nature in two complementary forms, male and female. Both forms of human nature are saved through Christ when baptised into Him but liturgically only the baptised male can be an image or icon of the Incarnate Word, the Saviour, as a historical person. A woman as a priest is like a man representing the Blessed Virgin.]
2. That no women were ordained in the New Testament.
Jesus did not ordain anyone.[There’s an infallible statement for you. So Dr. Condren you were there were you? A careful reading of the Gospels will easily show that Christ had only to speak for something to be so. His command ‘do this in memory of me’ and His breathing on the apostles were sufficient. They themselves understood their mission as permanent otherwise why pick a replacement for Judas? Why have imposition of hands in the early Church if it wasn’t fulfilling the Lord’s will?] Ordination as we know it today did not take place at all in the New Testament, and took another 300 years when Christianity and empire merged. [The good doctor needs to read more of the Fathers and less feminist propaganda.]
3. The practice of the, church has a normative character in the fact of conferring priestly ordination only on men, it is a question of an unbroken tradition throughout the history of the church
This is the argument from tradition whose logic is as follows: If something wrong goes on for five years it might be mortal sin; if it goes on for 10 years it becomes venial sin; if it goes on for 2,000 years it is no longer considered wrong, but tradition. [Where has the Church ever used that argument? Dr. Condren seems not to understand that the Church is her tradition. The Gospels are written tradition (cf. Lk 1:1; 1 Cor 11:23) and we have them because the Church preserved them and handed them on. This lady doesn’t even attempt to engage with the Church’s teaching.]
The argument from tradition. was also used against freedom from slavery, and many other issues in the history of the church. [Citation of which Church document? Just because an argument is abused by some doesn’t invalidate the argument.]
4. When Christ's role in the Eucharist is to be expressed sacramentally, there would not be this "natural resemblance" which must exist between Christ and his minister if the role of Christ were not taken by a man; in such a case it would be difficult to see in the minister the image of Christ
The church appears to be saying what feminists have suspected all along: that the image of Christ cannot be seen in a woman.[No, the Church is saying that in the Liturgy and the celebration of the Sacraments the priest functions as an icon of Christ the Incarnate Word who actually entered history as Jesus of Nazareth. It is the priest’s role to represent Christ as the one who speaks for His Father to humanity and for humanity to His Father. It’s not hard to understand if you have an open mind.] Does this not make nonsense of the whole of Christian moral theology, which is based on the fact that we must "see Christ in the image of our neighbour, man or woman"? [I thought the Church’s moral theology was based on reason aided by revelation. Seeing the human being as made in the image and likeness of God is not the same as seeing Christ in them – imagine asking a rape victim to do that!]
What are the theological criteria for deciding between what is authentic Christian theology and mere phallic worship? [Is this a Freudian slip? Notice the nastiness coming to the surface?] Over the years, man other arguments have been put forward to exclude women from ordination. Thomas Aquinas, for instance, could find no theological reason [Not so] for such exclusion, but eventually concluded that women, like slaves,[he doesn’t mention slaves] could not "signify eminence", and therefore could not become priests. (Mary Robinson, Mary McAleese?)[Has Dr. Condren bothered to read St. Thomas or is she relying on second hand sources? St. Thomas does give the argument short shrift and merely asserts that “we must say that the male sex is required for receiving Orders not only in the second (licitly), but also in the first way (in reality i.e. validly). Wherefore even though a woman were made the object of all that is done in conferring Orders, she would not receive Orders, for since a sacrament is a sign, not only the thing, but the signification of the thing, is required in all sacramental actions. Accordingly, since it is not possible in the female sex to signify eminence of degree, for a woman is in the state of subjection, it follows that she cannot receive the sacrament of Order." Summa Theologica Qn. 39, art. 1. St. Thomas is saying the one to be ordained must bear the likeness of the one he will represent. Women do not have eminence of degree he says, which is not the same as saying that they lack eminence of power, intelligence, creativity etc., but women are not men and do not stand in relation to God and creation as men do and vice versa. It seems to me that Aquinas is saying the ban on women’s ordination is rooted in the order of creation.]
Others sought to argue for women's subordination in the realm of nature but by 1976, even the Vatican knew better than to go down that road. In reality, they invented new arguments, and the one regarding Jesus's "maleness" was considered by many distinguished Catholic theologians to be "approaching heresy ". [Which theologians? No citations given. Something approaching heresy is still not heresy and new theological insights can often seem heretical or are painted as heretical by those threatened by those very insights as, I’m sure, Dr. Condren would agree.]
Before the Vatican issued the document it had asked the pontifical biblical commission to explore the biblical reasons for excluding women. Seventeen out of 17 members concluded that they could fine none. To their credit, several members resigned in protest at the use the Vatican had made of their work. [They were consulted and didn’t deliver. There are lots of scholars who disagree with them – e.g. Hauke, Butler]
The 1976 document was a watershed for many women who had sought to serve the church and had begun theological and ministerial studies to that end. Some persisted and, at least in Ireland, remained mostly impoverished and marginalised. [My heart weeps for them! They studied for a place in the Church that the Church had clearly and repeatedly said was not the Church’s to bestow and complain when the Church is consistent.]
Others despaired of remaining in perpetual opposition, and began to explore the deep seated psychological, anthropological and political reasons for the Vatican's stance. [When in doubt (or defeat) psychologise! Don’t for one minute actually question oneself.]
They looked, for instance to Scandinavia where, since the late 1960s, women had been ordained.[Note this is the Lutheran church and their orders are not valid in the eyes of the Church] However, a "let-out" clause allowed those male clerics who disapproved to maintain "clean dioceses" "clean parishes" s and even "clean vestments", i.e. those that an ordained female body had yet to defile.
But [Lutheran] the clerics [actually laymen] continued their deliberations. What would happen if a pregnant woman came to be ordained? If her foetus turned out to be a male child would apostolic succession automatically pass onto him? Would funeral or Eucharistic rites "take" if a woman priest happened to be menstruating?
The arguments raged until a cartoon appeared in the national newspapers. A male [Lutheran] cleric was depicted asking the Lord whether he should resign. The Lord replied: "Think of your salary my son."
Where equality legislation has been passed throughout the world, the Vatican has been granted immunity. But this latest document is the last straw. [Now she has worked herself up she really begins to lose it.]
In many impoverished countries in the name of religious freedom, such misogynist attitudes legitimise violent practices toward women and children. [A ban on women’s ordination is equivalent to beating up women and children. Am I missing something here? Dr. Condren’d idea of religious freedom is simple: one is free to believe what one wants to believe provided one believes what Dr. Condren wants you to believe.] All such immunity must now be withdrawn in the name of liberty, equality, and even the Gospel. She left out ‘fraternity’ but it probably stuck in her craw anyway. Instead we have the ‘Gospel’ even though scholars like Manfred Hauke and Sarah Butler have shown how the Gospel and the Church’s tradition excludes women from ordination.

Dr Mary Condren lectures at the Centre for Gender and Women's Studies in TCD and is director of the Institute for Feminism and Religion.

Yes, there is a war on for the soul of the Church. Arm yourselves with the truth.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


I've been watching the Would You Believe? discussion and I have not been surprised. There are the usual predictable liberals: Frs. Enda McDonagh, Tony Flannery, Brain Grogan, (would be priest) Soline Vatinel, plus the ombudman Nuala O'Lone, a journalist from the Irish Catholic, a few Irish bishops including retired bishop Willie Walsh, and bishop John Kirby. There was the token gay Catholic, one of four people who were asked to write to the Pope (as if the Pope doesn't get enough post and those letters were likely to get past curia officials in Rome). It was typical RTE religious fare - work up the drama and exaggerate the issues.

My experience is that while the Irish Church is in trouble (but then when has the Church ever not been in trouble?) the people I meet are far more worried about keeping their children away from drugs and bad company, as well as in school/employment and ensuring that they have some faith/value system to get them through life.

Surely talk of changing structures is really a resort to clericalism, to wit 'the system is wrong (not us) change the system and all will be well'. Has that actually worked anywhere? Some people want power sharing; how that is supposed to work would be interesting to hear and would the representatives be paid? Has that worked for the Anglicans? Have these people forgotten that Christ spoke of a kingdom? It's His Kingdom, His Church, and His Body and kingdom's have Kings, with hierachies etc, the body has a central nervous system with a brain and the Church has a hierarchy, a system that goes back all the way to the Apostles and through them to Christ. He established it and the way it is comes from the way He established it and so the Church is ruled by her clergy. That rule is not meant to be like that of the world - it is supposed to be a service - but we are sinners and sometimes clergy behave like lords not servants.

Blaming Rome is easy especially when one has spent the last forty years ingoring Rome. Didn't bishop Willie Walsh once say he threw everything from Rome in the bin? Some of the clergy on the show, for all their heartfelt talk, have been in positions of power and influence all the while that the abuse was occuring - have they no questions to answer? In addition they have been spreading their liberalism and the crop is nearly ripe for harvest. Never before has the Irish Church had such an educated laity and yet such levels of ignorance of her beliefs and traditions. The people and clergy of the Church have been bombarded for years with propaganda that opposes the teaching of the Church and discouraged from even accessing that teaching. Simply put many are Catholic in name but de facto protestants in practice.

In addition there remains that old-style belief in the absolute power of the Pope, an echo of the respect that attached to the likes of Popes Pius XII and John XXIII. In reality that respect has long been abandoned and many bishops, clergy and laity around the world have for years simply ignored the Papacy. Now people expect that the Pope can snap his fingers and they'll all pay attention. If they had actually been listening and implementing Church teaching and discipline many of the abuseres would've been ejected long ago. That discipline was ignored and we are suffering the results.

Things are going to get rough in Ireland. The Church may split or large groups may break off. Perhaps it will be like the days of Iconoclasm where the Church was hit by waves of heresy before she achieved peace. The liberals have gotten wind that Benedict is capable of building on the work of John Paul II and real implementation of Vatican II (the real one, the one in the texts not the imaginary 'spirit of Vatican II' version) is on the way, a Vatican II understood in continuity with the Church's tradition not in rupture with it. Hopefully the Apostolic Visitation will make a difference.

Well, I for one stand with the Pope even if I'm the only one.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Fr. Finnegan over at the Hermeneutic of Continuity has this notice:

Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate, Lanherne Cornwall

DARLINGTON CARMEL (one of the very early Carmels to be established in England [1830]) is up for sale. The very few remaining sisters are soon to move out. At Lanherne we have known about this for several months and we have been to visit the establishment. Wonderful for our needs! The Sisters are not going to leave Lanherne, in fact another house is needed as a new foundation. The Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate (see photo above) have a goodly number of vocations; especially sisters who at the moment belong to the “active” branch who have a vocation to the contemplative life. So another contemplative house is needed. There is a major problem. Yes, you’ve got it! The FSI have no money and the Carmelites at Darlington require one and half million pounds. If you know Darlington and the Carmel then you will be surprised that it’s going for only £1,500,000. It’s large and fine, in good order and a Grade 2 listed building.

So we are looking for a benefactor. Franciscans cannot own property and therefore a possible benefactor would continue to own the Carmel and would let the FSI use it – or a trust could be set up. It is possible that with a serious bit of thinking other activities may be considered - retreats etc. ALL is possible. May I remind you that the FSI use ONLY the 1962 liturgical books. A centre for traditional Catholics in the north of England would be a great help to many people.

Please pray that a benefactor or a group of benefactors may be found.

Please contact me and let me know your thoughts.

Father Joseph M Taylor
Lanherne Convent
St Mawgan

The Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate are unusual not only that they follow the 1962 Liturgical books and have lots of vocations but they also follow the First Rule of St. Francis the Regula Bullata of 1223 which is usually only followed by the friars, for whom, of course it was written. I don't know how that is applied in practice but it's interesting. So these Sisters are not Poor Clares but a new form of female Franciscan enclosed life. May they flourish like the palm tree!

Below is the only photo I could find of the Carmel:

Thursday, July 8, 2010


With the passing of the Civil Partnership Bill in the Seanad (Irish Senate) there remains only for the President to sign it into law. Perhaps she will take the opportunity to protect the rights of citizens who work for the Government not to have to violate their conscience. As it stands the Government has imposed its own morality on the nation and its servants and denied them the right to decline to co-operate. What next? Is the Government or some other body to use equality legislation to force clergy to solemnize such 'unions'? That no effort was made to include other forms of 'family units' such as siblings living together or friends who decide to share a home reveals that this is an ideologically driven law and a narrow one at that.

It seems to be beyond our Government's powers of comprehension that it can have no legitimate interest in any union that does not, or to be more exact, cannot produce children. The Government needs to support those unions which can produce, nourish and support children because these are the citizens of the future. Supporting unions that can't is wasting valuable funds, time and energy. In addition this is the State legislating in the bedroom, deciding to give 'equality' in the eyes of the law to one type of union that does not serve the State and the Nation in the way that the other, heterosexual, one does. One wonders not only how much financial support has been channeled by homosexual lobby groups towards this end or indeed, whether some of our representatives owe us an explanation of where their true loyalties lie.

After all, this is going to cost the State money at a time when we are nearly bankrupt (or rather we are bankrupt but can't admit it) and yet time and energy are wasted on a law to benefit a tiny minority, as well as to debate banning stag-hunting! It really does appear that the corrupt, the lunatics and the incompetents have been in charge for some time. God help us but we elected them.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

This is the new Provincial of the Irish Capuchin province with the Minister General and one of our Definitor Generals. They are, from left to right, Brs. Peter Rogers (Definitor General, and of the Irish Province), Adrian Curran, Dermot Lynch (Vicar-Provincial), Mauro Johri (Minister General, Swiss Province), Des MacNaboe (Provincial), Sean Donohoe and John Wright. The Provincial and his Definitory were elected last Wednesday so this is old news. The Minister General presided with the help of General Definitor Peter Rogers and Br. Charles Serignat of the British Province but working as a translator for the General in Rome.

The new definitory begin their first meeting next week and we all await their decisions. Please keep them in your prayers.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


I should've mentioned the upcoming FOTA III conference before now but the prospectus can be seen here. It's on for next weekend and I hope to get down to it.

Provisional Programme

Saturday 10 July

10.00 Registration


Dr D. Vincent Twomey, SVD, Professor Emeritus of Moral Theology, St Patrick’s College, Maynooth
Sursum corda: An Introduction to Ratzinger’s Theology of Sacred Music

Fr Uwe Michael Lang, CO, Consultor to the Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff
Defining Criteria for Sacred Music: From Benedict XIV to Benedict XVI

Fr Sven Leo Conrad, FSSP, Liturgical Scholar (Germany)
Joseph Ratzinger and Johannes Overath: The Intellectual Connection


Fr Stéphane Quessard, Episcopal Vicar, Archdiocese of Bourges (France)
Towards a Renewal of Sacred Music

Dr Alcuin Reid, Liturgical Scholar (Fréjus-Toulon, France)
Ut mens concordat voci: Sacred Music and Actual Participation in the Liturgy

Fr Samuel Weber, OSB, Director of the Institute for Sacred Music, Archdiocese of Saint Louis (USA)
Benedict XVI on the Psalms in the Liturgy

19.30 Pontifical Vespers
Celebrant: Archbishop Raymond L. Burke
Sts Peter and Paul’s Church, Cork

21.00 Organ Recital
Thomas Lacôte
Sts Peter and Paul’s Church, Cork

Sunday 11 July

11.30 Pontifical High Mass
for the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost
Celebrant: Archbishop Raymond L. Burke
Palestrina, Missa Papae Marcelli (Lassus Scholars, Dublin)
Sts Peter and Paul’s Church, Cork


Dr Andreas Andreopoulos, Director of the Centre for Orthodox Studies, Department of Theology, University of Wales, Lampeter (Wales)
Music in the Orthodox Liturgy

Fr Alberto Donini, Lecturer in Sacred Music, Diocese of Brescia (Italy)
Gregorian Chant in the Liturgy according to Joseph Ratzinger / Benedict XVI

Dr James MacMillan, Conductor and Composer (Scotland)
The Spirit of the Liturgy: Rejoice in Tradition and Embrace the Future

20.00 Gala Dinner

Monday 12 July


Dr Frank Lawrence, Department of Music, University College Dublin (Ireland)
The Spirit of the Liturgy: Gregorian Chant as Mystagogy and Exegesis

Thomas Lacôte, Titular Organist of St Stephen’s Cathedral, Bourges (France), Composer, Professor at the Musical Academies (Conservatoires) of Orleans and Aubervilliers, Associate Professor at the Conservatoire National Supérieur, Paris
Liturgical Texts, Rites and Symbols and Contemporary Musical Creation: An Example for the Feast of the Dedication of a Church

Dr Kerry R. McCarthy, Assistant Professor of Music, Duke University (USA)
Listening to William Byrd

12.30 Solemn High Mass
William Byrd, Mass for Five Voices (Lassus Scholars, Dublin)
Sts Peter and Paul’s Church, Cork


Mgr James O’Brien
Annual General Report of St Colman’s Society for Catholic Liturgy

Archbishop Raymond Leo Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura
The New Evangelization and Sacred Music: The Unbroken Continuity of Holiness, Beauty and Universality

Ite O’Donovan, Director of the Lassus Scholars, Dublin (Ireland)
Choral Music in the Celebration of the Liturgy: A Musical Heritage of Inestimable Value, a Tradition to be Fostered and Protected …


Inquiries about the Conference may be made to the Society in writing, by telephone or by e-mail:
In writing: Terry Pender, Leeview, Cobh, Co. Cork, Ireland
Telephone: 021-4813445/4813636 (within Ireland); +353-21-4813445/4813636 (from outside Ireland)
e-mail: colman.liturgy@yahoo.co.uk

At the New Liturgical Movement they also note that:

St. Colman's Society for Catholic Liturgy
Fota III International Liturgy Conference
Gregorian Chant Workshop

Chanoine Wulfram Lebocq of the Institute of Christ the King will conduct a workshop on Gregorian Chant during the Fota III International Liturgy Conference.

The workshop commences at 9.15 on Saturday, 10 July at the Imperial Hotel, South Mall, Cork. It will resume on Sunday 11 July at 10 am and conclude on Monday 12 July with a third session commencing at 9 am.

The course is intended as an introduction to the singing of Gregorian Chant. No previous experience or knowledge of chant are required. The workshop is free.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Picture above from Catholic Online.

Picture above from Examiner.com

From CNN:
The oldest known image of the apostles Andrew and John have been discovered in catacombs under the city of Rome, dating back to the 4th century A.D., archaeologists announced Tuesday.

The paintings were found in the same location where the oldest known painting of St. Paul was discovered last year, the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archeology said Tuesday.

They are part of a group of paintings around an image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd on the ceiling of what is thought to have been a Roman noblewoman's tomb, experts said.

A painting of St. Peter makes up the fourth member of the group, but older images of him are thought to exist, Vatican experts said.

continue reading here...

H/t to David Clayton over at New Liturgical Movement.

This is interesting. The more evidence dug up of early Christian art the more complete is our picture of the practices of the early Church. I am convinced that in time we will find the Church's art tradition goes right back to the earliest days. Also of interest is that these are images of John and Andrew and it will be interesting to see how they compare to more traditional images.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Interviewed at Asia News Archbishop Ruggero Franceschini OFM Cap, 71, 6 years Latin archbishop of Izmir comments on the death of Msgr. Luigi Padovese OFM Cap who was murdered recently. The archbishop is sceptical of accounts of the insanity of the murderer or of Islamic reasons for the crime. Instead he links it to anti-European elements in Turkey. Read the article here.

Good news is that the death of Bishop Padovese has helped draw the different Christian Churches together and that more and more they all look to Rome for support.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Fray Leopold de Alpandeire Capuchin friar (1866 - 1956).

Born on 24 June 1866 and baptised as Francisco Tomas Marquez Sanchez, he became a local celebrity at the turn of the 19th century. At the age of 33 he left the village to become a Capuchin friar in Granada, where he remained until his death in 1956. He will be beatified in Granada on September 12.

Also to beatified:

- Manuel Lozano Garrido, Spanish layman, on Saturday 12 June in Linares, Spain.

- Lojze Grozde, Slovenian layman and martyr, on 13 June, 11th Sunday of Ordinary Time, in Celje Slovenia.

- Stephen Nehme (ne Joseph), Lebanese professed religious of the Order of Maronites, on 27 June, 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time, in Kfifan, Lebanon.
Mary of the Immaculate Conception (nee Maria Isabella Salvat y Romero), Spanish superior general of the Institute of Sisters of the Company of the Cross, on Saturday 18 September in Seville, Spain.

- Chiara Badano, Italian lay woman, on Saturday 25 September at the Shrine of Our Lady of Divine Love, Rome.

- Anna Maria Adorni, Italian foundress of the Congregation of Handmaidens of Blessed Mary Immaculate and of the Institute of the Good Shepherd of Parma, on 3 October, 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time, in Parma, Italy.

- Szilard Bogdanffy, Romanian bishop and martyr, on Saturday 30 October, in Oradea Mare, Romania.

- Barbara of the Blessed Trinity (nee Barbara Maix), Austrian foundress of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, on Tuesday 9 November, Feast of the dedication of the Lateran Basilica, in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

Source: VIS.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

More on the murder of Bishop Luigi Padovese OFM Cap

From Romereports.com.


picture courtesy of asianews.

According to a number of sources Bishop Luigi Padovese OFM Cap., Vicar Apostolic of Anatolia (Turkey), was murdered, allegedly by his driver, at his home in Iskenderun a day before he was due to fly to Cyprus to join in the historic visit of the Holy Father to that island.

Born in Milan, Italy in 1947, Bishop Luigi joined the Capuchin Franciscan Order in 1964 and was ordained in 1973. He taught patristics at the Antonianum (where in held the chair in that subject and was director of their Spiritual Institute) in Rome and also at the Gregorianum and Alfonsiamum and for ten years he was visitator for the Congregation for the Oriental Churches to the Oriental College in Rome. He was consecrated titular Bishop of Monteverde in 2004 and since 2007 has been president of the bishop's conference. His motto was In caritate veritas. Details of his life from the Capuchin Order.

His death is a loss not just to the Church in Turkey but to the Order too. Martyrdom can come at any time but this is more true of those who serve in places such as Turkey where extremism is on the rise and targeting Christians, especially clergy. May he rest in peace.


As the school year comes to an end and the Summer examinations grind on and with the Leaving Cert. just around the corner I offer this video. This is the first part of four from the slide-show we made for this year's graduation. It gives a small insight into my working environment and the young people I work with. It's a privilege to know them and to have had this time with them. Teachers and those who work with the young have that blessing - they are remembered by thousands. Without their work education would not happen, nor could the country compete, advance and grow. When the Government cuts back it's these young people who lose out.

The song was written by two students, Rudy Douglas and Aoife Davis, back in 2004 for their graduation. The previous year had ended badly and so there was a big effort to do things differently and offer a time that the students would want to cherish and protect. That was the beginning of the 'brunch' and our present grad ceremony. It has never been released but our students are going mad for copies. I think it's a good song and our unofficial school anthem.

Cypriot Orthodox Archbishop Rejects Criticism of Pope

NICOSIA, Cyprus, JUNE 2, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The leader of the Orthodox Church in Cyprus is denouncing those in his community who are criticizing the upcoming visit of Benedict XVI.

Orthodox Archbishop Chrysostom II of New Justiniana and All Cyprus is underlining the fact that although some of the other Orthodox leaders are protesting the visit, the majority of the 17 members of the Holy Synod voted to invite the Pope to their country.

The Pontiff accepted the invitation from Archbishop Chrysostom II, as well as from Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias, and will begin his visit on Friday.

To

Monday, May 31, 2010


From Romereports:

VATICAN CITY, 31 MAY 2010 (VIS) - This morning the Holy See Press Office released the following English-language communique concerning the apostolic visitation of Ireland as announced in the Holy Father's 19 March Letter to the Catholics of Ireland:

"Following the Holy Father's Letter to the Catholics of Ireland, the apostolic visitation of certain Irish dioceses, seminaries and religious congregations will begin in autumn of this year.

"Through this visitation, the Holy See intends to offer assistance to the bishops, clergy, religious and lay faithful as they seek to respond adequately to the situation caused by the tragic cases of abuse perpetrated by priests and religious upon minors. It is also intended to contribute to the desired spiritual and moral renewal that is already being vigorously pursued by the Church in Ireland.

"The apostolic visitors will set out to explore more deeply questions concerning the handling of cases of abuse and the assistance owed to the victims; they will monitor the effectiveness of and seek possible improvements to the current procedures for preventing abuse, taking as their points of reference the Pontifical 'Motu Proprio' 'Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela' and the norms contained in 'Safeguarding Children: Standards and Guidance Document for the Catholic Church in Ireland', commissioned and produced by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church.

"The visitation will begin in the four metropolitan archdioceses of Ireland (Armagh, Dublin, Cashel and Emly, and Tuam) and will then be extended to some other dioceses.

"The visitors named by the Holy Father for the dioceses are: Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, archbishop emeritus of Westminster, England, for the archdiocese of Armagh; Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley O.F.M. Cap., archbishop of Boston, U.S.A., for the archdiocese of Dublin; Archbishop Thomas Christopher Collins of Toronto, Canada, for the archdiocese of Cashel and Emly, and Archbishop Terrence Thomas Prendergast S.J. of Ottawa, Canada, for the archdiocese of Tuam.

"In its desire to accompany the process of renewal of houses of formation for the future priests of the Church in Ireland, the Congregation for Catholic Education will co-ordinate the visitation of the Irish seminaries, including the Pontifical Irish College in Rome. While special attention will be given to the matters that occasioned the apostolic visitation, in the case of the seminaries it will cover all aspects of priestly formation. Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, U.S.A., has been named apostolic visitor.

"For its part, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life will organise the visitation of religious houses in two phases. Firstly it will conduct an enquiry by means of a questionnaire to be sent to all the superiors of religious institutes present in Ireland, with a view to providing an accurate picture of the current situation and formulating plans for the observance and improvement of the norms contained in the 'guidelines'. In the second phase, the apostolic visitors will be: Fr. Joseph Tobin C.Ss.R. and Fr. Gero McLaughlin S.J. for institutes of men; Sr. Sharon Holland I.H.M. and Sr. Mairin McDonagh R.J.M. for institutes of women. They will carry out a careful study, evaluating the results obtained from the questionnaire and the possible steps to be taken in the future in order to usher in a season of spiritual rebirth for religious life on the Island.

"His Holiness invites all the members of the Irish Catholic community to support this fraternal initiative with their prayers. He invokes God's blessings upon the visitors, and upon all the bishops, clergy, religious and lay faithful of Ireland, that the visitation may be for them an occasion of renewed fervour in the Christian life, and that it may deepen their faith and strengthen their hope in Christ our Saviour".

From the Vatican Information Service.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Monday, May 24, 2010


Sandro Magister writes:

Benedict XVI will soon create a new "pontifical council" expressly dedicated to the "new evangelization." Not for mission countries where the congregation "de propaganda fide" is already at work. But for the countries of ancient Christian tradition that are today in danger of losing the faith.

Pope Joseph Ratzinger wants to link his pontificate to this initiative. And this was the main topic that he discussed one morning in the spring of 2009, at Castel Gandolfo, with four prominent cardinals he had called for consultation: Camillo Ruini, Angelo Bagnasco, Christoph Schönborn, and Angelo Scola, the last being the most resolute in promoting the institution of the new office.

Meanwhile, one great ally has already united with the pope from outside of the Catholic Church, in this enterprise of a new evangelization.

This great ally is the Russian Orthodox Church.
Continue the article here.

This greater cooperation and mutual respect can only be a blessing. It is a work of the Holy Spirit and with the grace of God will lead to the re-evangelization of Europe. Please pray for this.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


We have our triennial chapter in the Summer and the last one had the theme 'Duc in Altum - Launch out into the Deep'. This article has just been published in our internal Bulletin and I offer it here for more general reading. It took some time to finish and still feels and reads, to me, as unfinished. Still perhaps it will spark good thoughts and actions in others. The picture above is from the Florae Seraphicae.

Duc in altum or ‘launch out into the deep’ was the message over the last few years. We were exhorted not to be afraid but to forge ahead, try new things, and to persevere and, of course, if we do not go out no one will come in. But sailors as a rule do not launch their ships without being fully stocked and with not only a very definite destination in mind but a clear route as well. They do not wander over the deep aimlessly and when they explore they go slowly and well-prepared, mindful that shallow water is more dangerous than the open sea. As Seneca somewhere says “The man who goes to sea without a port in mind will find no wind favourable”.

That said I have long been listening to young people saying ‘Mass is boring’ and I have come to the conclusion that from their perspective they are right. Yes one needs to put something ‘in’ – one’s faith-filled participation but I have also heard older people complain that the mystery is gone and that rites and rituals they loved and that provided a sense of encounter with God have been taken away from them. We might tell them the modern Church and her Liturgy is better and more ‘inclusive’, more accessible but their experience tells a different tale. For some it seems that all the liturgical renewal has achieved is the triumph of the ‘low Mass’ and an even lower theology. I am sure we could all cite examples of abuses or instances of shocking ignorance of the faith and irreverence towards the Blessed Sacrament. It is also commonly believed that contrary to expectations the years since the Council have been, over all, years of crisis and decline. So I have been reading material related to the state of the Church worldwide and especially the state of the Liturgy and the various efforts being made to remedy the situation.

For the first time in history anyone, anywhere can access the Church’s texts and its accompanying music in Latin, or in English, in Gregorian or modern notation, as new or traditional musical compositions, for nothing- all via the internet. You can even listen to it for free! This is the most revolutionary event in the history of music since the invention of notation.

Much of this worldwide activity is in response to Pope Benedict XVI’s 2007 motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. In fine what the Holy Father has said is that the Missal of 1962 was never abrogated and is still licit to use; that any priest, who knows how to, may do so in private without any need for permissions; that laity may attend those Masses and pastors who receive a request from any ‘stable body’ of people for such a Mass must meet that request. The Mass, as of 1962, is henceforward to be called the Extraordinary Form (but some call it the Gregorian Mass, some the Mass of St. Pius V, some the usus antiquor and some the Traditional Latin Mass) while the Novus Ordo, or Mass of Paul VI, is called the Ordinary Form. Thus the Roman Rite now has two forms, following different calendars (e.g. the Ascension is on a Thursday) and disciplines (e.g. communion is only on the tongue while kneeling). This is not without problems as you can imagine and the Holy Father is quite well aware of this. Still, as he signalled, while still a Cardinal, in his book The Spirit of the Liturgy, he is committed to Liturgical reform, a ‘reform of the reform’ as it has been called, which he sees as reinforcing the connection of the OF to the Church’s 2000 year tradition of worship. This ‘reform of the reform’ has given birth to a new Liturgical Movement. The Pope seems to believe that the Liturgy of the Church must be organically connected to its origins and, contrary to those who have read the Council as a rupture, he insists that the Council must be read in continuity with the Church’s traditional teaching and practice. He actually called for a ‘hermeneutic of continuity’, that is, reading the Council as a continuation of, and in the light of, the Church’s tradition and not as a rupture or break with that tradition. To this end he has allowed the free celebration of the Extraordinary Form with the hope that the two forms will mutually enrich one another as a step on the road to fulfilling what the Second Vatican Council asked for but did not entirely get.

This is why we have new translations and the re-introduction of old forms. The Council in its first document Sacrosanctum Concilium famously declared the Liturgy to be the source and summit of the Church’s life and ministry. As any ecologist will tell you, if the source of a river is polluted or impeded then everything down river from the source is affected, usually detrimentally. The Holy Father, among others, has noted that what the Council mandated was exceeded by the designers of the Ordinary Form and even, some claim, subverted. The subsequent years have seen abuses, divisions and the decline of Catholic life in general despite some areas of growth.

What is envisaged by this reform of the reform? Essentially that depends on to whom one talks. While Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith the future Pope called the Ordinary Form a "hybrid mass," and said that

"I believe, though, that in the long term the Roman Church must have again a single Roman rite. The existence of two official rites is for bishops and priests difficult to “manage” in practice. The Roman rite of the future should be a single rite, celebrated in Latin or in the vernacular, but standing completely in the tradition of the rite that has been handed down. It could take up some new elements which have proven themselves, like new feasts, some new prefaces in the Mass, an expanded lectionary - more choice than earlier, but not too much, - an “oratio fidelium”, i.e., a fixed litany of intercessions following the Oremus before the offertory where it had its place earlier."

From a Letter of Cardinal Ratzinger to Dr. Heinz-Lothar Barth, dated 23 June 2003.

The Pope, in union with the Council and his predecessors, has also called for a real effort to bring back the Church’s heritage in music i.e. Gregorian chant and polyphony. This is because the Church does not need new forms of music for her Liturgy - she already has her own! (Since the copyright to these texts was let lapse in the 60’s they are now being reprinted without copyright or distributed on the net for free) The Dominican Master of Theology Aidan Nichols OP has suggested that the most effective reform and perhaps the most radical is a return to ad orientem prayer. That’s ‘turning your back to the people’ for the unreconstructed liberals, or turning towards the Liturgical East which has always represented heaven and God. This orientation in prayer is ancient, universal (the Orthodox do it) and symbolically better than our versus populem. The latter was never sanctioned by the Council nor even envisaged by them, was never part of any tradition (outside of some forms of Protestantism) and is always in danger of turning the priest into a performer on a stage.

What the Pope is NOT looking for is complete abandonment of the Ordinary Form and a return to the Extraordinary Form. He is not looking to take the Church back to 1962. What he is asking for now builds on what John Paul II, and all the Popes, repeatedly asked for: faithfulness to the Liturgical tradition of the Church. The Pope seems to believe that if we get the worship right the Church will be more truly herself and eventually the Church’s spiritual and moral life will improve and she will be more effective in her mission of evangelization.

What is not proposed is a return to the ‘one hundred and twenty mortal sins’ approach to Liturgy and treating rubrics not just as canon law but moral law as well. The Liturgy is more than rubrics but without rubrics the Liturgy becomes distorted and its effectiveness blunted. Consider any sport or dance, or indeed any discipline. There are rules and it is by following these rules and making them one’s own that the performer can produce a work of skill, of art even. The same is true for Liturgy. When the rubrics are followed with reverence and love the Liturgy emerges in its beauty and grace, and the people will not mind how long it takes but rather they will want more. Yet the people need to be educated about the true meaning, nature and purpose of the Liturgy too. It is not and never was about us. It is always about the prayer of the Son to the Father in the Holy Spirit.

What then of the Capuchins? As Franciscans we are responsible for the universality of the Roman Missal. Francis asked the Pope for permission to use the Rite of the Papal Court and his friars took that Rite all over Europe and beyond. In the process they began to shape what we know as the Roman Missal and the Roman Breviary as well. We pride ourselves on our long closeness to the Church, her people, and above all loyalty to the Holy Father. We even promise that loyalty in the Rule. How is that loyalty visible today?

To renew our opening nautical metaphor the Holy Father has offered us a destination for our voyage, a way to contribute to the future of the Church. We are not asked to launch out blindly into the deep but to steer a course towards a renewed Church. That course is the effort and work to renew the Liturgy. There are dangers: to starboard are the traditionalists who want nothing but the Extraordinary Form and effectively a return to 1962 while to port there are the liberals who want us to continue in the shallow waters of banal innovation and the ‘spirit of Vatican II’ without following the letter of the documents or having faithfulness to the Council’s intentions. Ahead there is the barque of Peter and he is aiming for renewal through faithfulness to Tradition.

What will this mean for us? If we are serious about launching out into the deep then we must be consistent. One side cannot be running out the sails if the other side is dropping anchor. If we are truly sons of St. Francis then we should follow the Pope and the place to begin is by reading his writings, especially those on the Liturgy. Further we could, as individuals and communities, read and study the new translation of the Mass (available online at the USCCB website) especially as these have a different rhythm to the one we presently use. We can study the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM), especially the new edition, and ask ourselves the questions: ‘what should the celebrant do?’ and ‘what should the people do?’ In a nutshell ‘say the black and do the red’. Learn to follow not just the rubrics but the symbolism of the Liturgy. Do it by the book and explain to the people WHY. After all it is not our Liturgy – it belongs to God and is His gift to us. Our objective must be to reveal how beautiful is Christ and His Kingdom through the beauty of the Liturgy.

We can work to help the people really achieve the active or ‘actual’ participation the Council spoke of, but keep in mind that it understood ‘active participation’ by the laity primarily as a spiritual action expressed through the song of the Church. The Liturgy of the Mass is not the sung form of an originally spoken action (the Last Supper). The Liturgies of the Church were always sung and we have reduced their poetry to prose. This song of the Church as the people of God is above all expressed in the ancient Propers of the Mass (those parts that change such as the entrance and communion antiphons) and also the unchanging parts proper to the people (e.g. the Sanctus). As the Liturgy of the Mass is first and foremost a participation in the saving work of Christ through an act of worship that is properly sung so we could invest thought, time, effort and cash (there’s always a cost!) into training and developing scholas and choirs that can sing Gregorian chant and teach the people to do likewise. The hymn singing and guitar bashing of the last forty years just doesn’t cut the mustard. The good news is that it is often easier to get a choir and the people singing this music than to get a group of musicians to play well together and it’s cheaper! (So some American church music experts assert). In Ireland it might even get the people to sing since there is no similarity in chant to Protestant hymn-singing.

Even if we do not go as far as ad orientem worship we could at least consider adopting the Holy Father’s proposal of the Benedictine arrangement for the Mass: a large crucifix with six (for Sundays) accompanying candles on the altar between celebrant and people so that the true meaning and focus of the Mass (Christ) is clearer. Perhaps we might even move on to experiment with ad orientem celebration. We could consider the reintroduction of some Latin (sanctus, agnus dei etc.) – it was what the Council wanted kept but the permission for the partial use of the vernacular was expanded to push it out. The Holy Father definitely wants to re-introduce communion on the tongue while kneeling (it’s still the norm it’s just that we all follow the exception) to restore reverence for the Blessed Sacrament. We must be consistent though. Nothing scandalises the people more regarding the Liturgy than unexplained inconsistency and disparity of practice. I put it to you that whatever we do we could seek nothing better that to remain in concord with the Holy Father so that we can make a Capuchin Franciscan contribution to the renewal of the Church as our brothers did in the past.

“We need to foster worship which stuns, which leaves the newcomer, long-time practicing Catholic, above all the fallen-away simply thunder stuck. Worship must at some point leave people speechless in awe. We need language and music and gesture which in its beauty floods the mind with light even while it swells the heart to bursting. The more people encounter mystery through liturgy, the more hollow will clang the false or incomplete messages of those who have strayed from the good path, either to the left or to the right. Our goal must be that which is good and beautiful because it is true, that which reflects what is of God, not man’s image merely. Give us mystery, not fabrications smacking of the world, fallen and transitory.” Fr. John Zuhlsdorf on his weblog What Does The Prayer Really Say?.

Suggested reading:

The Spirit of the Liturgy (Benedict XVI)

A Song for the Lord (Benedict XVI)

The Heresy of Formlessness (Martin Mosebach)

The Mass and Modernity: Walking to Heaven Backward (Jonathan Robinson)

The Organic Development of the Liturgy (Alcuin Reid OSB)

The Bugnini Liturgy and the Reform of the Reform. (László Dobszay) (free on-line at www.musicasacra.com )

Sing like a Catholic (Jeffrey Tucker) (also available at www.musicasacra.com)




www.musicasacra.com (Church Music Association of America)

www.choralwiki.net (On-line database of public domain music)





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