18 Aug 2018

19th August 2018 - 1978: The Year of the three Popes

On this weeks programme John, Shane and Lorraine take a look back into the history books to mark the 40th anniversary of the Year of Three  Popes. We have our regular notices, reflection on Sunday gospel as well as our usual visit to this weeks saints of the week.

You can listen to the podcast of this weeks full programme HERE.

1978 - The Year of the Three Popes

This year is the 40th anniversary of the Year of the Three Popes which occurred in 1978. The three popes involved were:
  • Paul VI, who was elected on 21 June 1963 and died on 6 August 1978. 
  • John Paul I, who was elected on 26 August 1978 and died thirty-three days later on 28 September 1978.
  • John Paul II, who was elected on 16 October 1978 and held the position until his death 26 years, 5 months, and 18 days later on 2 April 2005.
So on this weeks programme we discuss that eventful year and the impact it had on Church and world history with the end of the Italian stranglehold on the papacy and a shift to engagement with the world following the implementation of the Second Vatican Council.

BBC - 1978: Year of the three popes
‘Year of Three Popes’: Paul VI’s Death 40 Years Ago Heralded Whirlwind in Church



You can listen to the discussion about 1978 excerpted from the main programme podcast HERE.

Gospel - John 6:51-58

Jesus said to the crowds:
"I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I will give
is my flesh for the life of the world."
The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying,
"How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"
Jesus said to them,
"Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you do not have life within you.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
has eternal life,
and I will raise him on the last day.
For my flesh is true food,
and my blood is true drink.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
remains in me and I in him.
Just as the living Father sent me
and I have life because of the Father,
so also the one who feeds on me
will have life because of me.
This is the bread that came down from heaven.
Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died,
whoever eats this bread will live forever."
Reflections on this weeks gospel:

Word on Fire
English Dominicans
Centre for Liturgy
Sunday Reflections

Liturgical odds & ends

Liturgy of the Hours - Psalter week 4

Saints of the Week

August 20th - St Bernard of Clairvaux
August 21st -  St Pius X
August 22nd - Queenship of Mary
August 23rd - St Eoghan
August 24th - St Bartholomew
August 25th - St Louis of France

17 Aug 2018

Church at crossroads as Pope arrives says Bishop Leahy


Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy has said that visit of Pope Francis to Ireland is a crossroads moment for the Church in Ireland to acknowledge our past, good and bad.

In a pivotal moment in what he described as his own personal pilgrimage in preparation for the World Meeting of Families and visit of Pope Francis, Bishop Leahy said it is good for us to recall with a grateful heart just how much the Church contributed to Irish society.  But to acknowledge with gratitude the good can never eclipse recognition of sin, criminality and evil, he said.

We need, he said, to prepare for the Pope’s coming with a desire to want to “repair” the Church first of all by seeking forgiveness for the sins of the past.  As well as needing to pray for those who have been wounded we need to keep listening and to learn from them how to clarify and repair our church.


Bishop Leahy delivered his Feast of the Assumption of Mary homily at the Mass Rock in Killeedy, Co. Limerick, following Mass earlier at Ashford Church.  He chose the location as a symbolic gesture to bring, as is needed he said, the Catholic Church out into the open and to acknowledge the inspiration of not just Mary herself but also Limerick’s own St. Ita, after whom the parish of Killeedy is named.

“Without gratitude we grow cynical. We can and should be proud of the living commitment in faith and hope of those of previous generations. We can draw inspiration from it and express our thanks to them,” he said.

“But, then, we need to acknowledge the dark aspects of our Church’s history that have come to light especially in recent decades – a clericalism that ended up confusing power and ministry, the sexual abuse of minors by clergy and religious that did untold life-long damage to victims, the violent and repressive treatment by church representatives of young people sent to the State’s reformatory institutions, the dark experience of vulnerable women in places meant to be residences of refuge.  Sadly, as has been highlighted, cover-up, wilful or otherwise, and mismanagement compounded the damage, adding to our shame.

“We know that not every bishop or priest or sister or brother or lay person engaged in church circles was bad. And we know that not everyone was good. Those of us of a certain age, however, know many, many who were very kind, caring and helpful.  But to acknowledge with gratitude the good can never eclipse recognition of sin, criminality and evil. In some way, everyone in the church bears the shame of these darks aspects of our history. Few of us can throw stones as if we ourselves were not somehow associated.”

Bishop Leahy’s homily was built around three pillars for preparing for the Pope’s arrival, the first was the need to acknowledge the good and bad of the past, with the second that we need to be proactive in repairing the Church. It really is better, he said, to light a candle than curse the darkness.

“The Church isn’t just the Pope or bishops or priests or nuns. The Church is a people, it’s you and me who continue, despite (or, indeed, in and through) all our limits, to be Jesus Christ in this world. What’s most important in the Church is love. And this is why the family is so important. It’s the place where we first learn the ways of love. True, there’s no such thing as a perfect family. Each family is on a journey but it is the special place of love given, love received, love shared and experienced.”

The third element, he continued, was to look to the future with hope. “Catholics can be downbeat today because it is painful to acknowledge in our family story that we have wounded people. It isn’t easy, not least for those who are proud of their Church and the good work that it does and they do in it, to hear our own Catholic identity pilloried daily in one way or another.

“The group think that says to be Catholic is out of date seems sometimes overwhelming. But let’s remember, if Jesus had spent his time worrying about what people were saying about him or seeing how the numbers following him were declining - and the numbers following Jesus declined dramatically in his life time - he would have achieved little. Instead, he kept going forward in hope. Likewise, for us. We need to move forward, attentive to what the Spirit is saying to us,” he said.

Bishop Leahy said that it would be a shame to lose the memory of our Christian heritage.  “The Church of tomorrow will be very different,” he continued.  “To be Catholic isn’t simply about Mass on Sunday or certain moral rules or pious practices. Unfortunately, too often, and perhaps we ourselves are partly to blame, our Catholic faith has been reduced to this caricature.  Catholic faith is something much more alive and dynamic……

“It can seem at times in Ireland that religion has to be relegated to the private domain alone.  I acknowledge a Catholicism that spoke to a previous era might seem too confining to people today. There is a desire to break out, open new horizons, be in dialogue with world horizons, go beyond frontiers. But this is the very change the Catholic Church itself knows it needs.

“But in searching for the new, let’s be careful not to discard too easily what is valuable and noble and deep in our Irish Christian heritage. To throw away what seems no longer fit for purpose shouldn’t mean we end up eclipsing the huge resources of insight and wisdom, intellectual research and enlightenment within the Christian parameters that speak of human fulfilment and freedom.”

Addressing young people, he said: “There are many, many very fine young people today, with great values of respect and toleration and inclusiveness. Their difficulty with finding a connection with the Church isn’t their fault. We need young people to help Church-attending members to find the way forward on how to reconnect youth cultures and Church.  Might this visit of Pope Francis be a moment when young people might look again at what the Church really has to offer? We need you because you are part of our access to what God is saying to the Church today. We need you to help us find the ways towards the future that God has marked out for us all.”

Concluding, he added: “We’re here in a region associated with St. Ita, the great woman saint who built the Church community in her day. And today, Feast of the Assumption, we think of Mary, the mother of Jesus, our mother. She did the most important thing in history – she brought Jesus into the world and so transformed it. Now it’s our turn to do our part. Pope Francis’ visit is like an appointment with history for us. Let’s not miss it.”



Bishop Leahy’s full homily:


Limerick Diocese’s Preparation for Pope Francis


We are now beginning the Countdown to the World meeting of Families and the arrival of Pope Francis to our shores, the 266th Pope in history and only the second ever to visit Ireland. While the Pope is certainly a world celebrity and hugely popular for Catholics he is an instrument in the hands of God. Of course, he is a human being like all of us, a “sinner” as he defines himself, and yet he is a special person linked particularly to the Holy Spirit. As Catherine of Siena, one of the great women saints of the Church put it, the Pope is the gentle Christ on earth.


Our Lady of Knock - Queen of Ireland



Our Lady of Knock , Queen of Ireland, you gave hope to your people in a time of distress and comforted them in sorrow. You have inspired countless pilgrims to pray with confidence to your divine Son, remembering His promise, “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find”. Help me to remember that we are all pilgrims on the road to Heaven. Fill me with love and concern for my brothers and sisters in Christ, especially those who live with me. Comfort me when I am sick, lonely or depressed. Teach me how to take part ever more reverently in the Holy Mass. Give me a greater love of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Pray for me now and at the end of my death. Amen.



Follow the Lamb
(Source)

Right at the end of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, one of C.S. Lewis’ Narnia stories, there’s an extraordinary passage, rich in spiritual insight. Having sailed further than anyone before, the characters in the story have reached the edge of the world, and are on the border with ‘Aslan’s Country’ (an allegory of heaven). There, in this strange, liminal space, they meet a little lamb on a beach, a lamb ‘so white they could hardly look at it’. The lamb addresses the children ‘in its sweet milky voice’, and while Edmund and Lucy dialogue with him, a transformation takes place: ‘As [the Lamb] spoke, his snowy white flushed into tawny gold and his size changed and he was Aslan himself, towering above them and scattering light from his mane’. Aslan the Lion, who of course represents Jesus Christ, had been showing himself to the children in the form of a Lamb.

If you’re familiar with the Book of Revelation, this Narnian scene might ring a few bells. In Chapter 5 of that book, John is shown a scroll sealed with seven seals which no-one can open. John weeps because the scroll cannot be opened, but is then told: ‘Weep not; behold the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals’. But when John looks up to see this great Lion, he sees instead ‘a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain’. The Lion of Judah is none other than the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ.

This scene from Revelation is essential to understanding the nature of Jesus Christ and his saving work, represented so clearly for us in the apparition at Knock. John is expecting to see a great strong beast who will tear the seals from the scroll, but is shown instead a slain little lamb, the very epitome of weakness, who is nevertheless ‘worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals’.

This gets to the heart of Christ’s saving work. Jesus Christ was true God, he created the entire universe, and holds it all in being, yet he came among us as a defenceless child, as a simple carpenter’s son, as one who weeps, is hungry, is rejected, and finally as one who suffers and dies on the Cross. At any point in his earthly life, he could have shown his omnipotence and vanquished all his assailants, but he deliberately chooses not to: the great Lion of the tribe of Judah shows himself as a slain Lamb.

And yet, in this deliberately chosen weakness lies the invincible strength of Christ’s work for our salvation. It is by means of his suffering and death that he saves us from our sins. The slain Lamb rises, victorious over death, scattering light on those who approach him, opening up the way to salvation. The Lamb of God is not a frolicking pet; He is powerful enough to ‘take away the sins of the world’. He is, as we love to sing in Knock, the Lamb who conquers.

What does all this mean for us? If the Lamb who appeared in Knock all those years ago is also the Lion of Judah, if his meek sweetness is allied to iron strength, how should we seek to follow him? How should we imitate his curious mix of weakness and strength?

There are many in the contemporary world, and especially in contemporary Ireland, who relish the idea of a weak Church. Some point to a time in the past when the Church had too much worldly power, and propose that the time is ripe for humility on the part of the Church. Others go further and suggest that the Church should have little to no role in official Ireland: no schools, no universities, no hospitals, no influence in public life. Christianity is thereby nicely neutered, and becomes so meek and mild as to be easily ignored. Strangely, this attitude is not just prevalent among those outside the fold, but also among many followers of Christ who are, perhaps, keen to avoid conflict.

There are others, far less numerous, who hope the Church will return to worldly power. Especially in the face of the rise of Islam, one hears murmurings of ‘new crusades’ and ‘muscular Christianity’. Strongman politicians in both east and west make gushing promises about the return of the Church to the corridors of power. What the Church needs, according to this approach, is more money, more buildings, greater manpower, and a new boldness.

Each of these approaches falls short of what it means to follow the Lamb-who-is-Lion, and each is boringly predictable. One is all Lamb and no Lion, the other is all Lion and no Lamb. To follow Christ authentically means being willing to be weak even when strength is an option, and being willing to be strong even when weakness is attractive. Christ is not ‘tame’, he is not domesticated or predictable, he does not fit into our worldly or political categories, and neither should his followers.

In our own times, perhaps the greatest example of such a follower was St Teresa of Calcutta, who visited this shrine in 1993. Think of how she deliberately chose weakness by responding to her ‘call within a call’: God’s invitation to leave the solid structures of the Loreto Sisters and serve the poorest of the poor by living among them. Here is the lamb who was slain. And yet, what a lion she was when she received her Nobel Peace Prize, shocking her bien pensant audience with her ringing denunciation of the violence of abortion.

Following the Lamb, in other words, being a Christian, is not something we can plan ahead of time. We can’t always know in advance when to be defiant in the face of injustice, and when to suffer it meekly, when to denounce wrongdoing, and when to tolerate it, when to preach the Gospel with words, and when to demonstrate it in silent actions. As followers of the Lamb-who-is-Lion we are called, not to predictable security, but to adventure. This adventure can be unsettling, but He is with us.

Together with all the living creatures and elders and angels of the Book of Revelation, let’s take this day in Knock as an opportunity to kneel before the Lamb and to say: ‘Lord, I let go of my own plans and projects, of my limited ideas and tame dreams. I let go of all these things and I choose to follow You, the Lamb who was slain, the Lion of Judah’.

Fr. Conor B. McDonough. O.P.

15 Aug 2018

Bishop says church needs to recognise ‘dark aspects’ of its history

From The Irish Times


The visit of Pope Francis to Ireland is a pivotal moment for the church to acknowledge its past, good and bad, the Catholic Bishop of Limerick has said.

In a key homily delivered ahead of the second ever papal visit to Ireland, Bishop Brendan Leahy said, in some way, everyone in the church bears the shame of the dark aspects of its history.

Speaking at Mass Rock in Killeedy, Co Limerick, Bishop Leahy listed out the litany of grave issues that have damned the Catholic Church in Ireland over recent decades. He said, that as has been highlighted, cover up, wilful or otherwise, and mismanagement, had compounded the damage adding to the shame.

During what he described as his own personal pilgrimage to the World Meeting of Families and visit of Pope Francis, the Bishop of Limerick said it was good to recall how much the Church contributed to Irish society. But to acknowledge with gratitude the good can never eclipse recognition of sin, criminality and evil, he added.

“We need to acknowledge the dark aspects of our Church’s history that have come to light especially in recent decades - a clericalism that ended up confusing power and ministry, the sexual abuse of minors by clergy and religious that did untold life-long damage to victims, the violent and repressive treatment by church representatives of young people sent to the State’s reformatory institutions, the dark experience of vulnerable women in places meant to be residences of refuge.

“Sadly, as has been highlighted, cover-up, wilful or otherwise, and mismanagement compounded the damage, adding to our shame.”

Bishop Leahy delivered his Feast of the Assumption of Mary homily on Wednesday morning at Mass Rock in Kileedy following earlier mass at Ashford Church. He chose the location as a symbolic gesture to bring, as is needed he said, the Catholic Church out into the open and to acknowledge the inspiration of not just Mary herself but also Limerick’s own St Ita, after whom the parish of Killeedy is named.

We need, he said, to prepare for the Pope’s coming with a desire to want to “repair” the Church first of all by seeking forgiveness for the sins of the past.

“We know that not every bishop or priest or sister or brother or lay person engaged in church circles was bad. And we know that not everyone was good. Those of us of a certain age, however, know many, many who were very kind, caring and helpful.

“But to acknowledge with gratitude the good can never eclipse recognition of sin, criminality and evil. In some way, everyone in the church bears the shame of these darks aspects of our history. Few of us can throw stones as if we ourselves were not somehow associated,” he continued.

Bishop Leahy said even though the Catholic Church in Ireland now has a range of services in place and very active training programmes in safeguarding, it needs to know how to stay with an awareness of the pervasiveness of abuse and those dark parts of our human nature that tend to exploit weakness and vulnerability.

“As well as needing to pray for those who have been wounded we need to keep listening and to learn from them how to clarify and repair our church,” he added.

Bishop Leahy said the church of tomorrow will be very different, and appealed directly to young people to find a way forward to reconnect youth cultures and church.

“Might this visit of Pope Francis be a moment when young people might look again at what the Church really has to offer? We need you because you are part of our access to what God is saying to the Church today. We need you to help us find the ways towards the future that God has marked out for us all.”

14 Aug 2018

15th August 2018 - Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary


It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give You thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God,
through Christ our Lord.
For today the Virgin Mother of God
was assumed into heaven
as the beginning and image
of Your Church’s coming to perfection
and a sign of sure hope and comfort to Your pilgrim people;
rightly You would not allow her
to see the corruption of the tomb
since from her own body she marvellously brought forth
Your incarnate Son, the Author of all life. 
(The 1973 version of the Preface for the Mass of the Solemnity)

The 15th August in the Latin/western tradition is the celebration of the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. While having different theological foci on the celebration, it is a common liturgical date of celebration for both Catholics and Orthodox Christians.

The dogma was officially declared by Pope Pius XII in 1950 in the apostolic constitution  Munificentissimus Deus. The apostolic constitution traces out the ancient understanding of the dogma going back through the centuries and emphasises that its official declaration by Pope Pius XII was seen as only the official confirmation of a belief long held in the Tradition of the church rather than as something new. Rather than something imposed by Pius XII, consultation was made with the bishops and on May 1, 1946, a letter "Deiparae Virginis Mariae," was issued which asked, "Do you, venerable brethren, in your outstanding wisdom and prudence, judge that the bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin can be proposed and defined as a dogma of faith? Do you, with your clergy and people, desire it?" with a response very much in the affirmative.


So, Pius XII declared that:


"Hence the revered Mother of God, from all eternity joined in a hidden way with Jesus Christ in one and the same decree of predestination,(47) immaculate in her conception, a most perfect virgin in her divine motherhood, the noble associate of the divine Redeemer who has won a complete triumph over sin and its consequences, finally obtained, as the supreme culmination of her privileges, that she should be preserved free from the corruption of the tomb and that, like her own Son, having overcome death, she might be taken up body and soul to the glory of heaven where, as Queen, she sits in splendour at the right hand of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages.......after we have poured forth prayers of supplication again and again to God, and have invoked the light of the Spirit of Truth, for the glory of Almighty God who has lavished his special affection upon the Virgin Mary, for the honour of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages and the Victor over sin and death, for the increase of the glory of that same august Mother, and for the joy and exultation of the entire Church; by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory......
 The following reading on the Assumption (known by eastern Christians as the Dormition) of Mary is taken from the first homily of St. John Damascene on the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
“But even though, according to nature, your most holy and happy soul is separated from your most blessed and stainless body and the body as usual is delivered to the tomb, it will not remain in the power of death and is not subject to decay. For just as her virginity remained inviolate while giving birth, when she departed her body was preserved from destruction and only taken to a better and more divine tabernacle, which is not subject to any death . . . Hence I will call her holy passing not death, but falling asleep or departure, or better still, arrival. . . .

"Your stainless and wholly immaculate body has not been left on earth; the Queen, the Mistress, the Mother of God who has truly given birth to God has been translated to the royal palaces of heaven. .

 "Angels and archangels have borne you upwards, the impure spirits of the air have trembled at your ascension. The air is purified, the ether sanctified by your passing through them. . . the powers meet you with sacred hymns and much solemnity, saying something like this: Who is she that comes forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, elect like the sun? [cf. Cant 6:9] How you have blossomed forth, how sweet you have become! You are the flower of the field, a lily among the thorns [Cant 2.1] . . . Not like Elijah have you entered heaven, not like Paul have you been rapt to the third heaven; no, you have penetrated even to the royal throne of your Son himself . . . a blessing for the world, a sanctification of the universe, refreshment for those who are tired, comfort for the sorrowing, healing for the sick, a port for those in danger, pardon for sinners, soothing balm for the oppressed, quick help for all who pray to you. . .

“Good Mistress, graciously look down on us; direct and guide our destinies wheresoever you will. Pacify the storm of our wicked passions, guide us into the quiet port of the divine will and grant us the blessedness to come.”



  • While no longer being updated, one blog which we often recommend for reflections is Blue Eyed Ennis; check out these posts here, here and here (the last one is an interesting reflection on Struggling with the Assumption).

15th August 2018 - The Dormition of the Birthgiver of God


In the Orthodox Churches, the feast of the Dormition or Falling-asleep of the Theotokos is celebrated on the fifteenth of August, preceded by a two-week fast. This feast commemorates the death, resurrection and glorification of Christ’s mother. It proclaims that Mary has been “assumed” by God into the heavenly kingdom of Christ in the fullness of her spiritual and bodily existence.

As with the nativity of the Virgin and the feast of her entrance to the temple, there are no biblical or historical sources for this feast. The Tradition of the Church is that Mary died as all people die, not “voluntarily” as her Son, but by the necessity of her mortal human nature which is indivisibly bound up with the corruption of this world.

The Orthodox Church teaches that Mary is without personal sins. In the Gospel of the feast, however, in the liturgical services and in the Dormition icon, the Church proclaims as well that Mary truly needed to be saved by Christ as all human persons are saved from the trials, sufferings and death of this world; and that having truly died, she was raised up by her Son as the Mother of Life and participates already in the eternal life of paradise which is prepared and promised to all who “hear the word of God and keep it” (Lk11.27–28).

In giving birth, you preserved your virginity. In falling asleep you did not forsake the world, O Theotokos. You were translated to life, O Mother of Life, and by your prayers, you deliver our souls from death (Troparion).

Neither the tomb, nor death, could hold the Theotokos, who is constant in prayer and our firm hope in her intercessions. For being the Mother of Life, she was translated to life, by the One who dwelt in her virginal womb (Kontakion).

The services of the feast repeat the main theme, that the Mother of Life has “passed over into the heavenly joy, into the divine gladness and unending delight” of the Kingdom of her Son (Vesperal hymn). The Old Testament readings, as well as the gospel readings for the Vigil and the Divine Liturgy, are exactly the same as those for the feast of the Virgin’s nativity and her entrance into the Temple. Thus, at the Vigil we again hear Mary say: “My soul magnifies the Lord and my Spirit rejoices in God my Saviour” (Lk 1.47). At the Divine Liturgy we hear the letter to the Philippians where Saint Paul speaks of the self-emptying of Christ who condescends to human servitude and ignoble death in order to be “highly exalted by God his Father” (Phil 2.5–11). And once again we hear in the Gospel that Mary’s blessedness belongs to all who “hear the word of God and keep it” (Lk 11.27–28).


Thus, the feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos is the celebration of the fact that all humans are “highly exalted” in the blessedness of the victorious Christ, and that this high exaltation has already been accomplished in Mary the Theotokos. The feast of the Dormition is the sign, the guarantee, and the celebration that Mary’s fate is, the destiny of all those of “low estate” whose souls magnify the Lord, whose spirits rejoice in God the Saviour, whose lives are totally dedicated to hearing and keeping the Word of God which is given to men in Mary’s child, the Saviour and Redeemer of the world.

Finally it must be stressed that, in all of the feasts of the Virgin Mother of God in the Church, the Orthodox Christians celebrate facts of their own lives in Christ and the Holy Spirit. What happens to Mary happens to all who imitate her holy life of humility, obedience, and love. With her all people will be “blessed” to be “more honorable than the cherubim and beyond compare more glorious than the seraphim” if they follow her example. All will have Christ born in them by the Holy Spirit. All will become temples of the living God. All will share in the eternal life of His Kingdom who live the life that Mary lived.

In this sense everything that is praised and glorified in Mary is a sign of what is offered to all persons in the life of the Church. It is for this reason that Mary, with the divine child Jesus within her, is called in the Orthodox Tradition the Image of the Church. For the assembly of the saved is those in whom Christ dwells.

- From the Orthodox Church in America


13 Aug 2018

"The Future of the Irish parish: Lessons from around the world" (28th & 29th August 2018) - IIPS -MIC St Patrick's Campus, Thurles




The Irish Institute for Pastoral Studies at Mary Immaculate College is a new part of MIC which is based on the campus of St Patrick's College in Thurles. It is intended that Thurles will serve as a centre for theological, pastoral and spiritual renewal in the entire region.


Fr Eamonn Fitzgibbon joined the SS102fm team on our weekly programme on 29th July 2018 to introduce the IIPS-MIC to WL102fm listeners and also to promote an upcoming exciting conference to be held at IIPS-MIC in August immediately after the WMoF2018 in Dublin.

The conference has as its theme "The Future of the Irish parish: Lessons from around the world" which brings together sharing's and experiences from all corners of the globe about the changing nature and meaning of parish life both within the church but also as an external manifestation of identity.

Parish life in Ireland both urban and rural has been under going massive change over the last number of years but is still a key part of Irish self identity and understanding. It is not for nothing that often the first question an Irish person asks another is not who are you, but rather where are you from?

With the forth coming decline in the number of priests in active ministry, the challenge has been for the Irish church to get to grips with how we understand and celebrate parishes as vibrant, living expressions of lived communities of faith with a model which is no longer so centred on the role and identity of the parish priest. 

The aim of the conference is to look to examples of this from around the world and to remind ourselves of the words of Pope Francis that "the parish is not an out-dated institution" (E.G.28, Pope Francis).



Speakers and topics at the conference are:
  • Lessons from New Zealand, Launch Out: Lay Pastoral Leadership Roles, (Cardinal John Dew, Archdiocese of Wellington, New Zealand)
  • Lessons from South Africa, The Parish as a Community of Communities (Bishop Michael Wüstenberg, Bishop Emeritus, Aliwal, South Africa)
  • Lessons from Liverpool,  The Experience of Widnes as a Witness to Team Ministry (Rev. Matthew Nunes Episcopal Vicar for Formation, Archdiocese of Liverpool)
  • Lessons from Canada,  Rites and Responsibilities: The Role of the Clergy and the Laity in the Catholic Church, (Dr Margaret Lavin, Professor Emeritus at Regis College, Toronto)
  • Applying the Learnings, Facilitated by Martin Kennedy and Dr Jessie Rogers.
You can visit the website of the Irish Institute for Pastoral Studies HERE.

Register for the conference 28th and 29th August HERE which also includes the full schedule and back ground information on each of the presenters and facilitators.

You can listen to Fr Eamonn Fitzgibbons interview excerpted from the main programme on 29th July 2018 podcast HERE.

12 Aug 2018

Some web browsing........


The Church and Clergy in Crisis: 7 practical first steps we must take

Set prisoners free to mark Pope’s arrival 

New pope emojis will mark Francis’s visit to Ireland

Papal plague cautions ‘overplayed’, expert says

Minister should not feel threatened by Catholic Church imparting its doctrines to the faithful of all ages 

Health Minister attacks Bishop for defending Humanae Vitae

Hanging Bishop Doran for what he didn’t say

Baroness O’Loan rejects Simon Harris’ conscientious objection definition 

Violent pro-choice protests in Argentina as Senate rejects abortion law

A fairer media and powerful pro-life women: how Argentina succeeded where Ireland failed 

Stop letting Michael D off lightly: here are the questions he should be made to answer 

Confusing the Self-Emptying Love of the Cross with Political Power 

Scandal in the Church: God made room for sinners as well as saints

Reflections on the abuse saga: It’s not just about McCarrick

Why the Left Is So Afraid of Jordan Peterson

Householders asked to invite elderly to watch Pope’s Mass - Irish Catholic

From The Irish Catholic:

Homeowners are being encouraged to invite elderly people who may have mobility or other issues to their houses to watch the papal Mass in a group setting. 
Pope Francis’ Mass in the Phoenix Park on August 26 is set to be an historic event for all involved, but with many elderly people unable to attend, an Irish charity is encouraging friends and family to come together to offer alternative options. 
Anne Dempsey of Third Age says the 5km walk from public transport points and the standing – despite the rest stops, food and drinks stations, medical and toilets facilities that are organised – would mean many wouldn’t chance attending. 
“Some people who are very staunch Catholics, weekly and even daily Massgoers, are not going because they say they wouldn’t be able for it,” she said. 
“I have heard that friends are gathering and meeting in houses. It will probably generate a lot of conversations about the Church. 
“This is also an opportunity for people to come together in an interesting and different kind of way. 
“I would say to people to invite their (elderly) relatives and neighbours. It could be nice for people to sit around in a group setting and perhaps reminisce about the last papal visit.”

I am the Bread of Life

12th August 2018 - Visit of the relics of Saints Louis & Zélie Martin and Saint Thérèse of Lisieux to Limerick

On this weeks programme (via some very dodgy Skype connections!) John and Shane are joined by Sr Beatrice Cotter from the Dominican Sisters of St Cecilia in Nashville (and also of St Saviours Parish Limerick!) to tell us about the up coming visit of the relics of Saints Louis & Zélie Martin and Saint Thérèse of Lisieux to Limerick and the example of the Martin's to us in our daily lives. We have our regular run through the saints of the week, local notices and of course a short reflection on the Sunday gospel.

You can listen to the podcast of the full programme HERE.


Visit of the relics of Saints Louis & Zélie Martin and Saint Thérèse of Lisieux to Limerick



Sr Beatrice Cotter joins us on this weeks programme with a reflection on the example of the Martin family as saints for us. While one member of the family may be more well known than all the others, the example of St Louis and Zeile Martin cannot but have influenced St Therese of Lisieux and her sisters - three of whom also entered Carmel and one became a Visitation sister.

The Dominican Church, Glentworth St, Limerick will be hosting the relics of Saint Therese of Lisieux, and of her parents, Saints Louis and Zelie Martin, on Saturday 18 August, beginning with the 1pm Mass. Blessing of roses, veneration of relics, and reflections by the Dominicans will follow, with sung Vespers concluding the event at 5pm.



You can listen to Sr Beatrice reflection on the example of the Martin's HERE.



Gospel - John 6:41-51

Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven.’ They were saying, ‘Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, “I have come down from heaven”?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Do not complain among yourselves. No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. It is written in the prophets, “And they shall all be taught by God.” Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.’
Reflections on this weeks gospel:

Word on Fire
English Dominicans
Centre for Liturgy
Sunday Reflections

Liturgical odds and ends

Liturgy of the Hours - Psalter week 3

Saints of the Week

13th August - Bl Con O'Rourke
14th August - St Maximilian Kolbe
15th August - Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
16th August - St Stephen of Hungary
17th August - Our Lady of Knock (as per the revised Irish liturgical calendar)
18th August - St Ronan of Iona

11 Aug 2018

Homily of Archbishop Michael Neary for Reek Sunday


Questions enable us to clarify our priorities, what is taking place in our lives and how we are coping in the world we share with others.  God’s first question to humankind in the early pages of the Bible: “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9) is a question each one of us is called to answer and a question which we are called to answer together.  It is a question which is of huge importance and the answer to which is very informative and revealing in our culture today. 

The rugged, jagged edges of the slopes of Croagh Patrick challenge and question us.  We are very conscious of the slow, silent decline of faith in Ireland.  Many feel they are “strangers in a strange land”.  Pilgrimages provide an opportunity to take stock but also a time to discover new heart.

Croagh Patrick, long seen as one of the acid tests of continuing practice throughout the country, was always far more than that.  It was never simply a communal celebration of the status quo. Its uncompromising and inhospitable terrain,  cut through all groupthink and sentimentality and roughly summoned the individual believer back to the absolute rock bottom, the “ground zero” of his or her experience.  Back to the desert, so to speak,  where any believer in Jesus Christ can share prophecy with Moses, and God is encountered face to face.  

We are familiar with the way in which we have questioned our faith but we also need to be questioned by our faith.  We need that encounter as never before, as individuals and as Church. As in the Roman Empire, the Church, again small, peripheral, suspect and despised, faces a brilliant, glittering and self-assured civilisation. Short and medium-term goals animate terrific and sustained concentration and effort.  In politics, business, entertainment and sport careers are made, unmade or simply just die unnoticed, all at a tremendous pace.  Our educational system makes fewer and fewer bones about the socio-economic goals of learning and there is less and less value placed on knowledge for its own sake and wisdom as an end in education.  The questions are also of the short and medium-term:  Where? When? How? There is little patience for the questions of “Why?”.

But God is not in the hurricane or the earthquake or the fire (1 Kg 19: 11-13).  He is not the bewildering competition of sounds and voices saying variations of nothing. He is in the “still, small voice” (1 Kg 19: 12). To hear Him, we must, like Elijah, forsake familiarity, comfort and safety and go out to the entrance of the cave (1 Kg 19: 13).  We must perfect a key skill of our trade as disciples, a hard skill: we must learn to listen. And to listen we must learn to be quiet, to stop our incessant chatter, to look away from the social mirror which allegedly tells us who we are.

It would be easy, as Church,  to avoid the long, hard personal journey.  To spend all of our remaining energy on desperately vying for the attention of this culture.  Grabbing any chance to speak to society as a whole.  To address the nation from any pulpit at which it will now briefly gather.  The truth is that we must ensure before talking that we have something to say.  No prophet goes to the people without having first listened to God.  The process cannot be reversed.  The one must always precede the other.

Today the Church in Ireland is called to return, for the umpteenth time in the repeated ebb and flow of its long history, to penance and prayer.  To begin yet again that historical process of Christian discernment which has at its heart the attitude of listening “to what the Spirit is saying to the churches”.   Could it be that we yet have our best work to do?  And that this work will be done by a small, socially and politically peripheral and poorer Church?  A Church which has rediscovered through adversity the honesty and authenticity of the suffering servant, the prophet, the abandoned Messiah?  A Church which has rediscovered its own ancient wisdom and which places God first, confident that all will then be well?

Just as once we were consulted and heard in the most powerful circles, now we must get used to preaching on street corners and making the Gospel heard over the incessant hubbub of the public square.  What will we have to say?  Are we to become enmeshed in an endless pattern of reaction, forever back-footed by events or do we take the opportunity now to come in from the desert, from places like this and the necessary retreat and recollection they symbolise, and give the Good News of God’s love and grace?  Unbidden and even unwanted?  An outright free gift at God’s initiative? 

If we have one mission it is surely to subvert the closed shop that is the modern, western world view and to startle that careful, calculating world with the unaccounting largesse, the generosity, the hospitality of God. 

We are indeed strangers here.  The truth is that we always were. For all its grandeur, and there is no shortage of grandeur in the view from this mountain, this world is too small for us.  We will not be strangers forever.  The call of Croagh Patrick is not to unthinking and endless renunciation.  It is simply a call to powerful things beyond the frail and undependable present.  It is a call to holiness: to meaning, belonging and home.

7 Aug 2018

The Relics of Saints Louis & Zélie Martin and Saint Thérèse of Lisieux are visiting Ireland - August 4 to Sept 9 2018


In conjunction with the organisers of the World Meeting of Families, the Irish Order of Carmelites, Order of Discalced Carmelites, Carmelite nuns and Lay/Secular Carmelites have arranged that Relics of Saints Louis, Zélie and Thérèse will come from Lisieux and be in Ireland for the World Meeting of Families. The relics will arrive on August 4 and remain in Ireland until September 9

The Relics of Saints Louis & Zélie Martin and Saint Thérèse of Lisieux visiting Whitefriar Street Church, Dublin
The Relics will be at the Opening Ceremony in the R.D.S., Dublin, on Tuesday, August 21, and they will also be in the sanctuary in the Phoenix Park for the Papal Mass on Sunday, August 26. The Carmelites have also been invited to give a forty-five minute presentation on the spirituality of the Martin family in the Phoenix Park before the Papal Mass. This will consist of interviews with people on aspects of the Martin spirituality, texts from the writings of the saints and intercessions and have engaged the services of Kairos Communications to ensure that this will be done to a professional standard. Music will be provided by the Comhaltas Ceoltóiri Eireann orchestra.

The Relics will also travel to several places across Ireland before and after the World Meeting and this gives a much wider group of people who cannot the Congress in the R.D.S. or the Festival of Families in Croke Park or the Papal Mass at the close of the World Meeting to participate in the Meeting in a different though tangible way. Given the short time the Relics will be in the country it is not possible to visit every diocese and every part of the island, but the hope is that given the time available, that as many people as possible will be able to spend time with the Relics and to consider the life of this saintly family. The journey of the Relics through Ireland is a form of pilgrimage leading up to the World Meeting itself and leading away from it afterwards.

Each place that will receive the Reliquaries will organise their own liturgical celebrations and times for veneration and these will be made known over the coming weeks. Information regarding the preparations in each place can be had direct from each place.

You can find more information from the Carmelites website here.

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The Dominican Church, Glentworth St, Limerick will be hosting the relics of Saint Therese of Lisieux, and of her parents, Saints Louis and Zelie Martin, on Saturday 18 August, beginning with the 1pm Mass. Blessing of roses, veneration of relics, and reflections by the Dominicans will follow, with sung Vespers concluding the event at 5pm.