Apr 16, 2015

Healing of silent memories: for the naming of babies ...

Healing of Silent Memories:
- for the naming of babies/children who have died as a result of miscarriage, still birth or sudden infant death
takes place in Newcastle West Church
on Wednesday, April 22nd at 8.00pm.
All parents, siblings, grandparents and others affected by the loss of a baby/child are very welcome to attend regardless of whether the loss was recent or long ago.
If anyone would like to remember a baby/child, please write their name in the Book of Remembrance at the display in the church and they will be remembered at the service.

Apr 14, 2015

Christ is our hope, he is alive - Easter Reflection from Br Alois of Taize

All this Holy Week, the prayers have brought us closer to Jesus. We have watched him take the path of suffering and death.

Holy Saturday—today—has placed us in the silence of God that Jesus knew and shared with so many men and women who feel they are abandoned by God.

And here we are tonight on the eve of the resurrection of Jesus. He conquered death. How? By his love, which was stronger.

This is hard to believe for some people. We see so much violence in the world; recently it has been unleashed even more. The day before yesterday there was a terrible attack at a university in Kenya that killed 150 young people. I have spoken on the phone to our brothers who live in Kenya; they feel the shock which this event has caused throughout the country. And we are all shocked to see situations where human life no longer seems to have any value.

I was recently in Rome. I had a personal meeting with Pope Francis. We all know how much he is committed to defending the poor, those who suffer injustice. He told me he is praying with us in Taizé in this year when we remember Brother Roger. I would like to ask you all to pray for him. Entrust him to God every day, even just for a brief moment.

In Rome one image remains etched in my memory. In a church, there was a poster showing photos, just before their execution, of the 21 Coptic Christians who were killed. They were kneeling, and behind them each executioner had a knife. They died because of their faith. And how many Muslims die too because they are not on the right side!

Let us not just remain shocked or accusers. Seeing all this sets all of us in front of these questions: Do you want to review the priorities in your life? Do not we often remain caught up in questions and discussions that in the final analysis are not so important? Do you want to be a peacemaker? If so, begin where you live!

Armed conflicts are ravaging the Middle East, but also many other parts of the world. Last year many Ukrainian young people came to Taizé; here they met Russian young people. It was impressive to see the efforts that these young people made to listen to one another.

So we asked ourselves what we could do to show our solidarity. The project was born to make a pilgrimage in three stages. Next week with four brothers and one hundred young people from all over Europe, we will go to Moscow to celebrate Holy Week with Orthodox Christians. Their date of Easter is set a week after our Western feast.

Then we brothers will go to Minsk, Belarus, for two days. And the third step will be in Ukraine, where other young Europeans will join us in Kiev and Lviv.

We will go empty-handed, with no project other than to join Christians in those countries in their celebration of the paschal mystery. Christ is our hope. He is alive. He brings us together. Did he not say these words: “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself.”? So we want to come together, so that Christ can draw us together in his love.

I will be very glad to experience the Easter celebrations with the Christians of those three countries. The singing, the words, the icons, the candles, all express the mystery of Christ who loves every human being.

Putting our trust in Christ is not always a feeling that tranquilizes us. But let us remember that he always gives us his peace, and with it the courage to make tough decisions that shape our lives. If receiving Christ’s peace could become the priority in our lives, the world would change a great deal.

Tonight we brothers are happy to have welcomed a new brother into our community—Roland from the Netherlands. And a week ago, Claudio from Chile also joined our community.

They are now preparing to commit their entire lives for Christ. They will always be trying, again and again, to let themselves be led by the Holy Spirit. Walking on this road means learning to open our hands, not holding on to our own dreams and plans but heading into the unknown and believing like a child that God takes care of us.

Yes we want to surrender ourselves to God, to live each day on the peace of Christ as nourishment. In this we brothers support one another. Communion among Christians is an invaluable support. You too, wherever you are: look for support in communion with other Christians.

This communion between all who love Christ is an incomparable source of joy. This week we have been able to experience it together here. And we also find support in the believers who went before us. One of them who lived in Russia, Seraphim of Sarov, said. “Find peace and a multitude of others will find it around you.”

Apr 13, 2015

14th April - Anniversary of episcopal ordination of Bishop Brendan Leahy

A SS102fm congratulations and ad multos annos to Bishop Brendan Leahy on the anniversary of his episcopal ordination as bishop of Limerick on 14th April 2013.

And also this week we congratulate Bishop-emeritus Donal Murray on the anniversary of his episcopal ordination on 18th April 1982.

Ordination of new bishop for Waterford & Lismore

SS102fm joins in the congratulations to Bishop Phoncie Cullinan on his episcopal ordination yesterday. A friend of the programme who has contributed on a number of occasions to discussion and reflections we wish him every blessing and best wish as he takes up this new role serving the people of Waterford & Lismore. What is Limerick's loss is their gain.


From Catholic Ireland.net:
“We put ourselves at the service of others especially those most in need in our society: the poor, the sick, the vulnerable, those who feel alienated from God”. 
On Sunday, the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore saw the torch of leadership “passed from one fine man to another” as Bishop William Lee presided at the ordination of his successor Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan. 
In his words of welcome as chief ordaining prelate, Bishop Lee told the incoming bishop that the ceremony was “a historic day” for all in the diocese.
 “We are privileged, Fr Phoncie, to have you as our bishop and you are certainly privileged to be entrusted with the care of the diocese of Waterford & Lismore,” he said.
 Noting that the ordination was taking place on Divine Mercy Sunday, Bishop Lee said mercy and love have been central to Pope Francis’ message since his election.
 Bishop Lee was assisted by Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly of Cashel & Emily, and the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Charles Brown. 
The Apostolic Mandate from Pope Francis was read by Mgr Nicholas O’Mahony, the Administrator of the diocese.
The Mass was concelebrated by 29 bishops including Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, and Archbishop Michael Neary, as well as priests of the diocese of Waterford & Lismore and Limerick.
Other Christian denominations in the Waterford area included representatives from the Church of Ireland, the Presbyterian Church, the Methodist Church, the Russian Orthodox and the Coptic Churches. 
President Michael D Higgins was represented by Lieutenant Colonel Michael Kiernan and the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny was represented by Commandant Kieran Carey.
In his homily, Mgr Michael Olden explained that Bishop Cullinan is the 26th Bishop of Waterford and Lismore since the Reformation and the second Limerick priest to ‘take possession’ of the See.
Through his new role in Waterford & Lismore, Bishop Alphonsus would enter into a Christian legacy that stretches back even to pre-Christian times and to long before dioceses or parishes came into existence in the 12th century.
Continue reading HERE
Other links about the ordination of the new bishop:

Apr 12, 2015

12th April 2015 - Divine Mercy Sunday

Surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia! 
Et apparuit Simoni, alleluia!
The Lord is risen indeed, alleluia! 
And hath appeared unto Simon, alleluia!

Welcome to Sacred Space 102fm on the second Sunday of Easter where we continue to celebrate Easter Sunday within the Octave of Easter. At the same time we also wish our Orthodox brethren who celebrate according to the Julian calendar a Happy Easter as their Easter falls this weekend!!!

On this weeks programme John is joined by Martina and Michael to reflect on the devotion to the Divine Mercy as promoted through the visions of St Faustina which is celebrated each year on the second Sunday of Easter. We have our reflection on the gospel of Low Sunday - the gospel of Doubting Thomas - as well as some liturgical odds and ends.

You can listen to the podcast of this weeks progamme HERE.

You can listen to the discussion on Divine Mercy Sunday excerpted from the programme HERE.

Divine Mercy Sunday

Martina, Michael and John share their thoughts and reflections about Divine Mercy Sunday. Pope John Paul II introduced Divine Mercy Sunday following on the private revelation to the Polish nun St Faustina. Many Catholics gather in churches throughout the world today at 3pm to partake in the Divine Mercy Chaplet, veneration of the image of Divine Mercy, confessions, Mass etc.

Michael reminded us that God's Mercy can be traced back through Scripture and both he and Martina stressed that God's Mercy is for all. Both Martina and Michael shared experiences and Miracles attached to Divine Mercy as well as some details of the Divine Mercy conference held in Dublin earlier in the year.

The Feast of Divine Mercy, celebrated on the Octave of Easter (the Sunday after Easter Sunday), is a relatively new addition to the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar. Celebrating the Divine Mercy of Jesus Christ, as revealed by Christ himself to Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, this feast was extended to the entire Catholic Church by Pope John Paul II on April 30, 2000, the day that he canonized Saint Faustina.

From EWTN:
From the diary of a young Polish nun, a special devotion began spreading throughout the world in the 1930s. The message is nothing new, but is a reminder of what the Church has always taught through scripture and tradition: that God is merciful and forgiving and that we, too, must show mercy and forgiveness. But in the Divine Mercy devotion, the message takes on a powerful new focus, calling people to a deeper understanding that God’s love is unlimited and available to everyone — especially the greatest sinners. 
The message and devotion to Jesus as The Divine Mercy is based on the writings of Saint Faustina Kowalska, an uneducated Polish nun who, in obedience to her spiritual director, wrote a diary of about 600 pages recording the revelations she received about God’s mercy. Even before her death in 1938, the devotion to The Divine Mercy had begun to spread.
The message of mercy is that God loves us — all of us — no matter how great our sins. He wants us to recognize that His mercy is greater than our sins, so that we will call upon Him with trust, receive His mercy, and let it flow through us to others. 
During the course of Jesus' revelations to Saint Faustina on the Divine Mercy He asked on numerous occasions that a feast day be dedicated to the Divine Mercy and that this feast be celebrated on the Sunday after Easter. The liturgical texts of that day, the 2nd Sunday of Easter, concern the institution of the Sacrament of Penance, the Tribunal of the Divine Mercy, and are thus already suited to the request of Our Lord. This Feast, which had already been granted to the nation of Poland and been celebrated within Vatican City, was granted to the Universal Church by Pope John Paul II on the occasion of the canonization of Sr. Faustina on 30 April 2000. In a decree dated 23 May 2000, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments stated that "throughout the world the Second Sunday of Easter will receive the name Divine Mercy Sunday, a perennial invitation to the Christian world to face, with confidence in divine benevolence, the difficulties and trials that mankind will experience in the years to come." These papal acts represent the highest endorsement that the Church can give to a private revelation, an act of papal infallibility proclaiming the certain sanctity of the mystic, and the granting of a universal feast, as requested by Our Lord to St. Faustina.
A plenary indulgence (the forgiveness of all temporal punishment resulting from sins that have already been confessed) is granted on the Feast of Divine Mercy if to all the faithful who go to Confession, receive Holy Communion, pray for the intentions of the Holy Father, and "in any church or chapel, in a spirit that is completely detached from the affection for a sin, even a venial sin, take part in the prayers and devotions held in honour of Divine Mercy, or who, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed or reserved in the tabernacle, recite the Our Father and the Creed, adding a devout prayer to the merciful Lord Jesus (e.g. 'Merciful Jesus, I trust in you!')."

A partial indulgence (the remission of some temporal punishment from sin) is granted to the faithful "who, at least with a contrite heart, pray to the merciful Lord Jesus a legitimately approved invocation."

9 things you need to know about Divine Mercy Sunday

Gospel - John 20: 19-31

We are continuing this week with the gospel of St John which continues on from the account read on Easter Sunday. We read the various appearances which are spread over a couple of Sundays but when you read the passage you see that they all happened within a very short space of time of each other on that Easter Sunday.

We are presented with the disciples gathered, huddled, in the Upper Room behind locked doors, silent and afraid. A group of men gathered around trying to work out what has happened and what are they going to do next. They are probably trying to work out what actually happened that morning, discussing what Peter and John had said, what Mary Magdala said and suddenly Jesus appears in front of them. Putting ourselves in their position can you imagine the reaction? No wonder that Jesus' expresses and seeks to calm them with "Peace be with you". Peace be with you, the peace that the world cannot give, it is offered freely to us as a gift which has to be received. One of the gifts of Easter, one of the joys is that great gift of peace but like any gift we have to be prepared to receive it! The doors were closed and locked - when do we close off our lives, we know it all, we don't want to hear an alternative view of things? When do we close out the call of God to us? But Jesus appearance in the Upper Room reminds us that no matter how we seek to close God out of our lives, he is always waiting and willing to come in and extend to us his prayer "Peace be with you".

The second part of the gospel reading is the story of Doubting Thomas. But Thomas sometimes gets a very bad press.  His scepticism is to our benefit and his demands for proof demonstrate to us that the appearance of Jesus wasn't just a group hallucination, the apostles experienced something on that Easter day! Thomas also provides a model to us demonstrating the relationship between faith and reason. Too often in the world people try to tell us that to have faith requires the suspension of reason and our critical faculties. Pope John Paul II writing in his encyclical Fides et Ratio (Faith & Reason) reminds us that "There is thus no reason for competition of any kind between reason and faith: each contains the other, and each has its own scope for action (n. 17)". 

"Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves".

Thomas makes his profession of faith after seeing the resurrected Lord - "My Lord and my God". For us who journey in faith our prayer would probably be more accurately "Lord I believe, help thou my unbelief"! But the witness of Thomas gives us food for the journey of faith as a pilgrim people. We may hit potholes, take detours, go off the road, and get flat tyres enroute but like Thomas we keep going.

Other reflections on this weeks gospel:

Word on Fire
Centre for Liturgy
English Dominicans
Sunday Reflections

Liturgical Odds & Ends

Liturgy of the Hours: Psalter week 2, 2nd week of Easter

Saints of the Week
13th April - St Martin I
14th April - Saint Benezet the Bridge Builder
15th April - Saint Maximus of Persia
16th April - St Bernedette Soubirous - Seer of Lourdes
17th April - Saint Kateri Tekakwitha 
18th April - Saint Laserian of Leighlin

Pope's Intentions

Join us in prayer for the intentions entrusted to us by Pope Francis. For April 2015, we join the Holy Father in praying for:

  • Creation: That people may learn to respect creation and care for it as a gift of God.
  • Persecuted Christians: That persecuted Christians may feel the consoling presence of the Risen Lord and the solidarity of all the Church.

Daily Offering Prayer

God, our Father, I offer You my day. I offer You my prayers, thoughts, words, actions, joys, and sufferings in union with the Heart of Jesus, who continues to offer Himself in the Eucharist for the salvation of the world. May the Holy Spirit, Who guided Jesus, be my guide and my strength today so that I may witness to your love. With Mary, the mother of our Lord and the Church, I pray for all Apostles of Prayer and for the prayer intentions proposed by the Holy Father this month. Amen. 

Traditional Daily Offering of the Apostleship of Prayer

O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer You my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart: the salvation of souls, reparation for sin, and the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for the intentions of our bishops and of all Apostles of Prayer, and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month. The Apostles of Prayer offer themselves to God each day for the good of the world, the Church, one another, and the Holy Father’s intentions.

Misericordiae Vultus - Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy by His Holiness Pope Francis

[To print out a copy click here or to download a PDF version click here]



1. Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy. These words might well sum up the mystery of the Christian faith. Mercy has become living and visible in Jesus of Nazareth, reaching its culmination in him. The Father, “rich in mercy” (Eph 2:4), after having revealed his name to Moses as “a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Ex 34:6), has never ceased to show, in various ways throughout history, his divine nature. In the “fullness of time” (Gal 4:4), when everything had been arranged according to his plan of salvation, he sent his only Son into the world, born of the Virgin Mary, to reveal his love for us in a definitive way. Whoever sees Jesus sees the Father (cf. Jn 14:9). Jesus of Nazareth, by his words, his actions, and his entire person[1] reveals the mercy of God.

2. We need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy. It is a wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace. Our salvation depends on it. Mercy: the word reveals the very mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. Mercy: the ultimate and supreme act by which God comes to meet us. Mercy: the fundamental law that dwells in the heart of every person who looks sincerely into the eyes of his brothers and sisters on the path of life. Mercy: the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to a hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness.

3. At times we are called to gaze even more attentively on mercy so that we may become a more effective sign of the Father’s action in our lives. For this reason I have proclaimed an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy as a special time for the Church; a time when the witness of believers might grow stronger and more effective.

The Holy Year will open on 8 December 2015, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. This liturgical feast day recalls God’s action from the very beginning of the history of mankind. After the sin of Adam and Eve, God did not wish to leave humanity alone in the throes of evil. So he turned his gaze to Mary, holy and immaculate in love (cf. Eph 1:4), choosing her to be the Mother of man’s Redeemer. When faced with the gravity of sin, God responds with the fullness of mercy. Mercy will always be greater than any sin, and no one can place limits on the love of God who is ever ready to forgive. I will have the joy of opening the Holy Door on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. On that day, the Holy Door will become a Door of Mercy through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons, and instils hope.

On the following Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent, the Holy Door of the Cathedral of Rome – that is, the Basilica of Saint John Lateran – will be opened. In the following weeks, the Holy Doors of the other Papal Basilicas will be opened. On the same Sunday, I will announce that in every local Church, at the cathedral – the mother church of the faithful in any particular area – or, alternatively, at the co-cathedral or another church of special significance, a Door of Mercy will be opened for the duration of the Holy Year. At the discretion of the local ordinary, a similar door may be opened at any Shrine frequented by large groups of pilgrims, since visits to these holy sites are so often grace-filled moments, as people discover a path to conversion. Every Particular Church, therefore, will be directly involved in living out this Holy Year as an extraordinary moment of grace and spiritual renewal. Thus the Jubilee will be celebrated both in Rome and in the Particular Churches as a visible sign of the Church’s universal communion.

4. I have chosen the date of 8 December because of its rich meaning in the recent history of the Church. In fact, I will open the Holy Door on the fiftieth anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. The Church feels a great need to keep this event alive. With the Council, the Church entered a new phase of her history. The Council Fathers strongly perceived, as a true breath of the Holy Spirit, a need to talk about God to men and women of their time in a more accessible way. The walls which too long had made the Church a kind of fortress were torn down and the time had come to proclaim the Gospel in a new way. It was a new phase of the same evangelization that had existed from the beginning. It was a fresh undertaking for all Christians to bear witness to their faith with greater enthusiasm and conviction. The Church sensed a responsibility to be a living sign of the Father’s love in the world.

Pope Francis presents Bull of Indiction of Jubilee of Mercy

In a ceremony in the nathrax (porch area) of St Peter's Basilica this evening, before First Vespers for the Feast of Divine Mercy, Pope Francis officially convoked the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy with the publication of the Bull of Indiction, “Misericordiae vultus”. 

The Jubilee Bull, aside from indicating the duration, opening and closing dates, and the main ways in which the Holy Year will unfold, constitutes the basic document for understanding the spirit in which it was convoked, as well as Pope Francis' intentions and the fruit he hopes the Year will bear.


(Vatican Radio) - Pope Francis on Saturday afternoon proceeded with the presentation of the official Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, set to begin December 8.

The bull is the fundamental document for the Holy Year that outlines the overall spirit and intentions for the Jubilee, as well as the spiritual fruits that are hoped for.

In the document, Pope Francis says the Holy Year is “dedicated to living out in our daily lives the mercy” which God “constantly extends to all of us.”

He explains the year will begin on December 8 to commemorate both the feast of the Immaculate Conception and the 50th anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council, which called the Church to proclaim the Gospel to the world in new ways, bringing God’s mercy to everyone.

After the Holy Door of St Peter’s is open on December 8, the Holy Doors of the other papal basilicas will be opened in subsequent days. As well, as a sign of communion of the whole Church, the pope has requested that every diocese in the world open a similar “Door of Mercy” for the local celebrations of the Jubilee.

The document develops three main themes.

First, Pope Francis elaborates the theological understanding of God’s mercy, explaining the role of mercy in the life of people and of the Church, who are both the beneficiaries and the witnesses to God’s mercy in the world.

“The mercy of God is not an abstract idea, but a concrete reality through which he reveals his love as that of a father or a mother, moved to the very depths out of love for their child,” the Pope writes.

“Mercy is the very foundation of the Church’s life,” he continues. “The Church’s very credibility is seen in how she shows merciful and compassionate love.”

He recalls that the motto of the Holy Year is “Merciful like the Father.”

“Wherever the Church is present, the mercy of the Father must be evident,” he writes. “Wherever there are Christians, everyone should find an oasis of mercy.”

As  a second theme, the Pope offers practical ways to live well the Holy Year: go on pilgrimage as an “impetus to conversion”; do not judge or condemn but forgive and give, avoiding gossip, envy and jealousy; have a heart open to the fringes of society and bring consolation, mercy and solidarity to people who live in precarious situations; take up the corporal and spiritual acts of mercy with joy; and observe the “24 Hours for the Lord” initiative, which encourages prayer and the sacrament of reconciliation, in every diocese during Lent.

He also addresses confessors, encouraging them to be “authentic signs of the Father’s mercy.” And, during Lent of the Holy Year, the Pope says he will send out “Missionaries of Mercy”–priests to whom he will grant “the authority to pardon even those sins reserved to the Holy See.” They will be “living signs of the Father’s readiness to welcome those in search of his pardon,” he writes.

As a third theme, the Pope issues particular calls for justice and conversion. He asks members of criminal organizations and those involved in corruption to change their lives and to embrace God’s mercy.

He also notes that both Judaism and Islam “consider mercy to be one of God’s most important attributes.” And he expresses “trust that this Jubilee… will foster an encounter” with these and other religions that will “open us to even more fervent dialogue” toward greater knowledge and understanding, “eliminate every form of closed-mindedness and disrespect and drive out every form of violence and discrimination.”

He also recalls the relationship between justice and mercy as “two dimensions of a single reality that…culminates in the fullness of love.”

“God does not deny justice,” he continues. “He rather envelopes it and surpasses it with an even greater event (mercy) in which we experience love as the foundation of true justice.”

The pope concludes the bull with an invocation to Mary, witness to God’s mercy and recalls saint who dedicated their lives to making God’s mercy known, namely the Polish St Faustina Kowalska.

After excerpts from the document were read on Saturday evening, Pope Francis gave a copy of the bull to the cardinal archpriests of each of the four papal basilicas in Rome, as well as to cardinals from the different continents, representing the Church throughout the world. 

As with all Jubilees, a plenary indulgence is granted during the Holy Year of Mercy for those who fulfill all of the usual requirements.

The Holy Year will conclude on November 20, 2016, on the feast of Christ the King. 

Apr 11, 2015

Alleluia, Alleluia, Christ is Risen, Alleluia Alleluia - Easter Sunday again as the Orthodox Communities mark the Great Pascha


 Let everyone share this feast of faith; let everyone enjoy the riches of goodness. Let none lament their poverty; for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let none mourn their sins; for forgiveness has dawned from the grave. Let none fear death; for the Savior's death has set us free

- St John Chrysostom

This weekend the Latin church concludes the Octave of Easter - for eight days the Church has prolonged the joy and celebration of Easter Night so that liturgically we almost stop time to truly relish the joy of  the Lord's Resurrection.

It therefore seems appropriate somehow that our sister churches in the Orthodox and Coptic traditions celebrate their Easter ceremonies this weekend with the marking of Pascha when "entire congregations previously waiting in darkness and filled with anticipation will light up, their faces shining with joy and hope. Together they will all chant in numerous languages, depending on geography and culture, the triumphant hymn familiar to young and old: "Christ is risen from the dead, trampling death by death, and granting life to those in the tombs."

Patriarch Bartholomew

Read the reflection of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, Archbishop of Constantinople and New Rome and spiritual leader for the world's 300 million Orthodox Christians on this great Christian festival HERE.

Patriarch Kirill

You can read the homily of His Holiness, Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and all the Rus, Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church HERE

The Holy Fire ceremony from the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem has taken place:

From Wikipedia:
Orthodox tradition holds that the Holy Fire is a miracle that happens annually on the day preceding Orthodox Easter, in which a blue light emanates within Jesus Christ's tomb (usually rising from the marble slab covering the stone bed believed to be that upon which Jesus' body was placed for burial) now in the Holy Sepulchre, which eventually forms a column containing a form of fire, from which candles are lit, which are then used to light the candles of the clergy and pilgrims in attendance. The fire is also said to spontaneously light other lamps and candles around the church.Pilgrims and clergy claim that the Holy Fire does not burn them. 
While the Patriarch is inside the chapel kneeling in front of the stone, there is darkness but far from silence outside. One hears a rather loud mumbling, and the atmosphere is very tense. When the Patriarch comes out with the two candles lit and shining brightly in the darkness, a roar of jubilation resounds in the Church. 
The Holy Fire is brought to certain Orthodox countries, such as Greece by special flights, being received by church and state leaders. 
The Orthodox hegumen Daniil (Daniel), who was present at the ceremony in 1106 AD, says that traditional beliefs "that the Holy Ghost descends upon the Holy Sepulchre in the form of a dove" and "that it is lightning from heaven which kindles the lamps above the Sepulchre of the Lord" are untrue, "but the Divine grace comes down unseen from heaven, and lights the lamps of the Sepulchre of our Lord." 
Thousands of pilgrims gather in Jerusalem to partake and witness this annual miracle.  
In 1238, Pope Gregory IX denounced the Holy Fire as a fraud and forbade Franciscans from participating in the ceremony.
 Information about Orthodox Easter Day and further information on the Orthodox celebration of Holy Week and Easter from BBC.

Reports on the Holy Fire from Jerusalem Post and Huffington Post

Christ is Risen - Easter message of Patriarch Bartholomew

+ B A R T H O L O M E W
By God’s Mercy Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome
and Ecumenical Patriarch
To the Plenitude of the Church
Grace, Peace and Mercy from Christ, who has Risen in Glory

Brother concelebrants and beloved children in the Lord,
Christ is Risen!
All Orthodox Christians once again this year joyously celebrate The Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and chant: “We celebrate the death of death, the destruction of Hades, and the beginning of another, eternal way of living. And so we jubilantly praise the Cause.” (Troparion from the Paschal Canon).
Yet, while we gladly celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection as the reality of life and hope, all around us in the world, we can hear the cries and threats of death launched in many parts of the planet by those who believe that they can resolve human conflicts by destroying their enemies, which in itself constitutes the greatest proof of their weakness. For, by causing the death of another, by taking revenge on our neighbor, on whosoever differs from us, neither is the world improved nor are our problems solved. After all, as everyone – especially the intellectual people of all periods – admits and recognizes, evil is never overcome by evil, but always by good.
Problems are genuinely resolved when we acknowledge and acclaim the value of every human person and when we respect their rights. By contrast, all kinds of problems are created and exacerbated when we despise human beings and violate their rights, especially when it comes to the vulnerable, who must feel secure, while the powerful must be just in order for peace to exist.
Therefore, Christ arose from the dead and demonstrated in this way as well the inability of death to prevail and bring about any stable change in the world. The various situations caused by death can be reversed because, despite how things appear, they are always temporary, having no root or vitality, whereas Christ, who has forever conquered death, is invisibly always present.
We, who have our hope in Him, believe that the right of life belongs to all people. Life and Resurrection are only offered by Jesus Christ, who has trodden on death and on its power over people; this is why we should only hope in Him and His teaching. Faith in Christ leads to Resurrection, to the Resurrection of all of us, while our faith and application of His teaching lead to the salvation of all, as well as to the confrontation of every challenge in our world.
Beloved brothers and children, the message of the Resurrection, this transcendence of human weakness, is the message of life over the world’s corruption and humanity’s adventure. It is to this message that we invite all people – from the Ecumenical Patriarchate, where by God’s mercy we serve as Primate of Orthodox love in truth – so that they may come to knowledge and experience, convinced that only in this way will they also rediscover our true hope, and the hope of the whole world, which was stolen from us in the turmoil of confusion.
May the light of the Resurrection illumine the hearts of all of you so that you may rejoice with all people in love, peace and concord through the Son and Word of God, who is the Light of the world, the Truth and the Life.
To Him alone, who arose from the dead, the Lord of glory, “who lords over life and rules over death,” who lives to the ages and “grants life to those in the tombs,” belong glory, honor and thanksgiving. Amen.
Phanar, Holy Pascha 2015

+Bartholomew of Constantinople
Your fervent supplicant
Before the Risen Christ

Apr 8, 2015

"We are all Cleophas and Simeon!"

From Terra Sancta Blog:

This Monday, April 6, the pilgrims’ bus headed for Emmaus Qubeybeh for a Pontifical Mass followed by the blessing of the bread presided over by Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Custos of the Holy Land. As soon as the Israeli roadblock was left behind, the scenery changed: the winding road leading to the sanctuary of Emmaus alternates white stone houses and olive trees planted in a red ground. The sanctuary set amid the pastoral landscape offers a family atmosphere and a relaxing setting.

The Mass began to the song of the Alleluia. The prayers in Arabic, Latin, and Italian allowed the assembly to join together. “Christ will not abandon us, even in our times of doubt!” preached Brother Ramzi Sidawi, OFM. “We all made the journey of Cleophas and Simeon, we can all be in doubt. Let us walk with Him, in the Scriptures and in our daily journey based on our faith He will join us!”
After communion Father Custos blessed the bread and distributed it to every faithful, among them Maya, a young from the parish of Jerusalem. “Surely I am a local and the emotion may be less fresh than that of a pilgrim, she says, so I have to make the effort to put myself in his place. Pilgrims contribute to the faith of the local and our presence strengthens them. We feed one another. “
Brother Firas Hijazin, OFM explained that if he had to summarize the Holy Week in this Easter Monday it would be “a call for a new humanity: the world needs a new direction, because we live difficult times but we have to live them in hope, prayer and solidarity. This solidarity, he concluded, is manifested with the presence of pilgrims from around the world, because every Christian is the guardian of the Holy Land.”
The congregation was invited to lunch and to enjoy the weather. Some remained in the shade, others lay down on the grass, and others took advantage of the wonderful view from the terrace over the valleys towards the Mediterranean.

Laudate Dominum - Reflections from Taize

“Christ is risen!” That is the very heart of the Christian message.
The stories of Easter tell us how those who were previously most deeply committed to following Jesus discover that he remains present beyond death and that he entrusts to them a huge, new responsibility.
The following free echoes of a few of the witnesses of the Passion and Resurrection are an invitation to let that moment of history come into our own lives and shed its light there.
“Folly to the human mind,” the Resurrection declares that God opens a path through our world. God enables us to know him by means of a communion with him. I can only believe in God, but believing keeps me alive.

They recognised him in the breaking of bread - Emmaus

Report from Franciscan Media Centre HERE.

Reflections on the story of Emmaus:

People for Others - The Road to Emmaus

Ignatian Spirituality - Imaginative Prayer: A Meeting on the Road to Emmaus

Previous post from SS102fm - The Emmaus Experience and Eucharistic celebration

Blue Eyed Ennis reflection from 2013 - Wednesday Octave of Easter - Roads To Emmaus, Galilee, Jerusalem

Patheos - Joy for the Journey: Reflections on the Walk to Emmaus,

Ron Rolheiser - On the Road to Emmaus

Maranatha Prayer Ministry

Irish Bishops Conference Statement - "Marriage is important - Reflect before you change it".

Irish Conference of Bishops - 10 March 2015
Within weeks the people of Ireland will be asked to vote in a referendum that will change the meaning of marriage in the Constitution of Ireland.

Marriage is of fundamental importance for children, mothers and fathers, and society – all of us need to reflect deeply before changing it.  We ask the people of Ireland to consider very carefully the profound implications which this constitutional amendment would have on the family environment and on our understanding of parenthood.

We respect the views of people who think differently to us, trusting that our sincerely held views, grounded in faith, will also be heard and respected.

We come to this debate believing that the union of a man and a woman in marriage, open to the procreation of children, is a gift from God who created us ‘male and female’.  Reason also points to the truth about human sexuality that makes the relationship between a man and a woman unique.  Mothers and fathers bring different, yet complementary gifts and strengths into a child’s life.

We cannot support an amendment to the Constitution which redefines marriage and effectively places the union of two men, or two women, on a par with the marriage relationship between a husband and wife which is open to the procreation of children.
We are concerned that, should the amendment be passed, it will become increasingly difficult to speak any longer in public about marriage as being between a man and a woman.  What will we be expected to teach children in school about marriage?  Will those who sincerely continue to believe that marriage is between a man and a woman be forced to act against their conscience?  Can a way be found to protect the civil rights of gay people without undermining the fundamental meaning of marriage as commonly understood across cultures, faiths and down the ages?

Already, in The Children and Family Relationships Bill, it is proposed to remove mention of mothers and fathers from a whole raft of previous legislation.

We encourage everyone to think about these issues and to vote on May 22nd.  The effects of this proposed amendment will be far-reaching for this and for future generations.  We say to all voters: Marriage is important – Reflect before you change it.

We invite people of faith to bring this decision to prayer.  In the coming weeks, and particularly in May, the month of Mary, we call for prayer for Marriage and the Family.

Apr 6, 2015

Easter Sunday - Urbi et Orbi

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Jesus Christ is risen!

Love has triumphed over hatred, life has conquered death, light has dispelled the darkness!

Out of love for us, Jesus Christ stripped himself of his divine glory, emptied himself, took on the form of a slave and humbled himself even to death, death on a cross. For this reason God exalted him and made him Lord of the universe. Jesus is Lord!

By his death and Resurrection, Jesus shows everyone the way to life and happiness: this way is humility, which involves humiliation. This is the path which leads to glory. Only those who humble themselves can go towards the “things that are above”, towards God (cf Col 3:1-4). The proud look “down from above”; the humble look “up from below”.

On Easter morning, alerted by the women, Peter and John ran to the tomb. They found it open and empty. Then they drew near and “bent down” in order to enter it. To enter into the mystery, we need to “bend down”, to abase ourselves. Only those who abase themselves understand the glorification of Jesus and are able to follow him on his way.

The world proposes that we put ourselves forward at all costs, that we compete, that we prevail… But Christians, by the grace of Christ, dead and risen, are the seeds of another humanity, in which we seek to live in service to one another, not to be arrogant, but rather respectful and ready to help.

This is not weakness, but true strength! Those who bear within them God’s power, his love and his justice, do not need to employ violence; they speak and act with the power of truth, beauty and love.

From the risen Lord we ask the grace not to succumb to the pride which fuels violence and war, but to have the humble courage of pardon and peace. We ask Jesus, the Victor over death, to lighten the sufferings of our many brothers and sisters who are persecuted for his name, and of all those who suffer injustice as a result of ongoing conflicts and violence.

We ask for peace, above all, for Syria and Iraq, that the roar of arms may cease and that peaceful relations may be restored among the various groups which make up those beloved countries. May the international community not stand by before the immense humanitarian tragedy unfolding in these countries and the drama of the numerous refugees.

We pray for peace for all the peoples of the Holy Land. May the culture of encounter grow between Israelis and Palestinians and the peace process be resumed, in order to end years of suffering and division.

We implore peace for Libya, that the present absurd bloodshed and all barbarous acts of violence may cease, and that all concerned for the future of the country may work to favour reconciliation and to build a fraternal society respectful of the dignity of the person. For Yemen, too, we express our hope for the growth of a common desire for peace, for the good of the entire people.

At the same time, in hope we entrust to the merciful Lord the framework recently agreed to in Lausanne, that it may be a definitive step toward a more secure and fraternal world.

We ask the risen Lord for the gift of peace for Nigeria, South Sudan and for the various areas of Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. May constant prayer rise up from all people of goodwill for those who lost their lives – I think in particular of the young people who were killed last Thursday at Garissa University College in Kenya – for all who have been kidnapped, and for those forced to abandon their homes and their dear ones.

May the Lord’s Resurrection bring light to beloved Ukraine, especially to those who have endured the violence of the conflict of recent months. May the country rediscover peace and hope thanks to the commitment of all interested parties.

We ask for peace and freedom for the many men and women subject to old and new forms of enslavement on the part of criminal individuals and groups. Peace and liberty for the victims of drug dealers, who are often allied with the powers who ought to defend peace and harmony in the human family. And we ask peace for this world subjected to arms dealers.

May the marginalised, the imprisoned, the poor and the migrants who are so often rejected, maltreated and discarded, the sick and the suffering, children, especially those who are victims of violence; all who today are in mourning, and all men and women of goodwill, hear the consoling voice of the Lord Jesus: “Peace to you!” (Lk 24:36). “Fear not, for I am risen and I shall always be with you” (cf Roman Missal, Entrance Antiphon for Easter Day).

Easter Sunday Homily at the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre - Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem

Easter Sunday Homily
Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre

+Fouad Twal
Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem
April 5, 2015

Dear brother Bishops and Priests,

Dear men and women religious,

Dear faithful of the Holy Land,

Dear pilgrims and faithful from around the world,

On this glorious day in this Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher, we relive the joy of Easter, and the Risen Christ, truly He is risen who, “is going before us to Galilee” (Mt 28:7).

I wish you all a beautiful and holy feast of the Resurrection! Every day in the Middle East, we are witnesses of tragic events that make us even contemporaries of Calvary. But our joy and our faith in the Risen Lord, “no one will take away”(Jn 16:22), because the Lord invites us today, even in the midst of difficulties that are ours, to taste the first fruits of the Resurrection.

When the women followers of Jesus went to the Tomb with spices to anoint the body of the crucified Christ (Mk 16: 1-2), they found an open and empty tomb and saw a young man, clothed in a white robe saying “You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the Crucified. He has risen, he is not here.” (Mk 16: 6-7) Then they went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce this to his disciples. (Mt 28: 8)

Today thousands of us who seek the face of Christ, His Word and His peace. And we struggle to find Him in this world, as nothing seems to quench our thirst, neither political discourses, nor the business world, even our surroundings sometimes. Like the women at the tomb, fear pervades us before this emptiness. Because this tomb, brothers and sisters, where thousands of people are seeking God every day, no longer contains the body of the Crucified.

God is not necessarily where we seek Him. It is not in obscure and isolated corners, it is right beside us, in our brother and sister, in our neighbor! Just like the disciples, standing in amazement in front of the empty tomb, we are invited to grow in our relationship with Jesus and become heralds and witnesses of the Good News, to finally understand that we will find God in our brothers and sisters, in spreading and sharing the joy of our salvation. Even when the darkness of Good Friday and of death overwhelm us and darken our hearts and our country, believe and sing: Christ is risen, Alleluia

To do this, brothers and sisters, we must live the first miracle of the Resurrection, a radical change of heart, a conversion, just as the Roman centurion at the foot of the Cross, “who saw how he breathed his last and said, Truly this man was the Son of God!”(Mk 15:39) There is the conversion of the soldiers, but also of the disciples gathered in the Upper Room and locked up in fear. The Resurrection transformed them and they became witnesses, joyful witnesses in suffering for Christ.

One day, we hope to sing our Alleluia and share eternal glory with all the saints, with our two holy Palestinian saints: Mariam and Marie-Alphonsine. Therefore, let us bury in the tomb of Christ our worldly inclinations, our contradictions, our religious divisions, our hostilities, our lack of faith and our fears. We must “put away the old self of our former way of life… be renewed in the spirit…and put on the new self, created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth” (Eph 4:22-24), believe in good, believe that peace is possible, that we “may have life and have it more abundantly. (Jn 10:10)

From this tomb emanated light and peace. And here today, from this battered Holy Land, light and peace must spring out again. Let us pray for the grace of God for the Holy Land and the whole world.

Brothers and sisters, let us equip ourselves with faith, courage and joy of our encounter with Jesus, to proclaim His resurrection and His victory. As Christians, we are called to the heart of the Middle East, shaken by wars and anguished by violence, to be signs of contradiction, signs of hope beyond everything. Our future in this region and in the world is uncertain and even incomprehensible, but do not be afraid, Christ assured us, He is “with us always until the end of time”(Mt 28:20).

Politics and the international community are less concerned of our freedom and fate. Personal interests prevail over the good will of those who desire and work for peace and justice.

Nevertheless, contemporary martyrs continue to bear witness to the Resurrection of Christ. Processions, the stones of Jerusalem, Iraqi and Syrian refugees who have lost everything for their faith, and prisoners in the name of Christ, are signs that our Lord is alive. With the intercession of Blessed Mariam and Blessed Marie-Alphonsine, we follow them that we become true witnesses for Christ

During this Year of Consecrated Life, dear consecrated brothers and sisters, let us rekindle the joy of our first call and return to God to be faithful disciples at the service of our Church of Jerusalem and our brothers and sisters.

Many come to the Holy Land in search for Christ, while trying to find or rediscover their roots. Our roots are here, in the Mother Church, on Golgotha and this empty Tomb. For this, we have a great responsibility, that despite the numerous adversities, we must persevere in hope for a life of joy. The living Christ always triumphs over evil.

Dear brothers and sisters; dear friends; the sick; the elderly and the prisoners; to you dear faithful refugees, who live a Good Friday with uncertainty for the future because of injustices and violence; to all who are deprived of the experience of the joy of Easter; to you who have come to the Holy Sepulcher to share and celebrate with us this feast – for you, I raise my prayer, in the hope that you enjoy the peace of the Resurrection. This peace will fill your heart with love, solidarity, by the power of the Risen Christ who wants us to rise with him. (Phil 3:10-11)

The Lord is risen! Go and proclaim this Good News to the world. Yes, Jesus is truly risen. Amen. Alleluia!

+Fouad Twal
Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem